Florida in January: 2017

What a wonderful way to start off the New Year; two weeks on Ft. Myers Beach condo along the beach.  And it was doubly exciting because my sister, Edi, planned on going with me.


Because of a lower cost airfare and my niece, Vicki, living 20 miles from the St. Louis airport had us making our reservation was out of St. Louis instead of Cedar Rapids.  We planned on leaving late Friday morning, the 13th, and meet Youngs for lunch on our way; we were going to spend the night with Vicki and her husband, Mark, with them taking us to the airport for our flight the next morning. However, due the threat of ice in St. Louis, we left early morning from home, drove directly to Vicki’s, and they took us to the Marriott (located .8 mile from the airport with free shuttle service) where I reserved us a room because of the weather. We had lunch in the hotel restaurant while our room was being readied for us. After settling into the room, we spent the rest of the day reading. I did contact my travel agent who suggested we take the shuttle to the airport early in the morning in order to get on the 6:35 flight instead of our scheduled 11:50. That evening, we went to the restaurant for a bowl of soup. Both of us agreed to an early night because of rising at 4:25 the next morning.

We were up and leaving the room before the time we had originally planned. Checked our one bag and, after going thru Security, found an UAL agent who put us on standby for the early flight. And we were able to board the flight! After de-icing the plane, we were in the air and on our way to Chicago; arrived about 5 minutes after the scheduled time. We then found the gate for the next flight to Ft. Myers which would depart at 11:50; we were scheduled on the 1:50. Again, a very nice UAL agent put us on standby for the earlier flight. We then found a place for breakfast. Back to the gate to where we patiently waited until the boarding was on its way. And, again luck happened, we got the last two seats on the plane! Upon arriving in Ft. Myers we retrieved my bag and went to Dollar for our rental car. The car reserved for us was not the size I thought it would be when I made the reservation so we upgraded to mid-size. Choose our car and off we went. As an added note, I will not rent from Dollar again; the agent told us that most people who rent the smaller size return it because it is too small so why even have it as a rental unless your trying to make money by charging $25/day for an upgrade?  Felt like I got “ripped” off and, to add insult to injury,  it took over an hour of standing in line before getting to the rental counter.  Guess Hertz has spoiled me! On our way to the condo, we stopped at a grocery store for breakfast supplies; onward to the condo which was easy to find but I was glad it was still light when we arrived. Got into the condo, unpacked, and decided to have cantaloupe as a snack and cereal/banana for my evening meal.

Inside condo looking at screened in porch

From porch toward Ft. Myers

Both of us were very tired but did not go to bed until 10:00 or so; I finished reading a book before turning out my lights about 11:30.

Rose around 6:30; had coffee and decided to walk the beach. It was a beautiful morning and we enjoyed the walk.

Beach walking

Let’s play

Had breakfast, cleaned up, and then took a shower. We were ready for the day with was our driving up to visit brother Bob and his wife Linda outside of Arcadia. Stopped at an art and craft market where a friend of Bob, big Paul and wife Connie, sold microwave potato bags and items. Found their booth and had an enjoyable visit. Onward to Bob and Linda’s; they had moved the previous year so we were anxious to see their new digs. Found their place without trouble and, after saying our hellos, got a tour; very nice, comfortable place where they have done a lot of work outside! After conversing and having a beer, the three of us girls went to WalMart where Edi and I wanted to pick up some supplies. When we were finished, Linda called Bob; he met us at a local Mexican restaurant called El Pirata. Nothing fancy about the place but great food and wonderful/friendly service. After eating, we parted ways with our heading back to our condo. We stopped at Target on the way for some cold items that we did not want to leave in our car while eating. Arrived back at the condo around 7:30 and found the NFL play off game between Kansas City and Pittsburgh. Earlier, Green Bay had defected Dallas by 3 points so they will move on.

On Monday, we had our coffee and breakfast after I took a walk on the beach. We then left for Port Charlotte where we were meeting Linda for lunch at Whiskey Creek. On our way, we saw a welcome center so stopped for information about the Fort Myers area. As we were leaving, we stopped at a fruit/vegetable stand where a gentleman was selling fresh produce. We decided to go back to the stand the next day. Onward to Whiskey Creek where we arrived just a few minutes before Linda. It was a nice lunch with decent food and easy conversation. After lunch, we went to Beall Outlet but did not find we were looking for. So we proceeded to drive to a regular Bealls’s in the shopping mall. Both of us found some items we purchased. Sunset was watched from the beach with pictures taken.

It’s going down

And down


Had cheese and crackers plus vegetables for our dinner. We had no plans for the next day.

On Tuesday, we had coffee on our screened porch and took a walk across the bridge.

Sunrise thru screen of porch

Back at the condo, we fixed our respective breakfasts. Decided to drive the fruit stand by the welcome center in Ft. Myers; purchased pepper, oranges, and strawberries. The man running the stand did not appreciate my pointing out some rotten peppers; told me I would never be able to work at a fruit stand. 😺! We went to a marina mall at Ft. Myers Beach where there was a farmers market going on;  nice booths displaying a variety of items including one with fresh fruit and vegetables. Walked to the marina where we got information regarding cruises. Ventured into a half price book store and purchased one book. We ate lunch at Sand Bar Grill; I had fish tacos and they were good. Went back to condo where we looked at pamphlet regarding cruises and decided to book the sunset cruise on Saturday. Fixed an evening meal of sautéed vegetables and garlic bread which was very good. Watched the Iowa State game; they lost.

Wednesday morning saw us heading to the north part of Port Charlotte to visit my friends, Yvonne and Earl. We had a great visit with lunch at First Watch. We dropped them off at their house and drove to Bob’s. Linda took Edi and I into Arcadia where we got pedicures. And then a visit to WalMart for additional supplies plus new thongs for Edi. Met Bob at the Moose where they were serving tacos. Got back to the condo around 9:00; had a glass of wine and then off to the bedroom for reading and sleep.

Thursday was another day of no plans. We walked over the bridge and back. While having breakfast, we decided to drive to the northern part of Ft. Myers Beach which turned out to be really busy; drove across the bridge and came back through some of Ft. Myers where we stopped at a very nice Publix for more groceries. On the way to the condo, had lunch at Seafood Grill which is located by the water. Got back to the condo where both of us read while doing laundry. I went to the pool, swam, and laid around. Fixed lasagna, vegetables, and garlic bread for dinner. Watched the Iowa Hawkeyes get defeated by Maryland. Went to bed early for reading; lights out around 10:45.

After our breakfast on the 20th, we got ready and headed to Bob’s; we were going with him to an RV show at the state fairgrounds in Tampa. An uneventful ride saw us finding a parking space and paying admission to the show. First we walked through the inside exhibits where Bob hooked up with a couple he knew from the park where their home is at. I was impressed with the 2.6 million dollar mobile home; in order to visit the inside, you had to have an appointment and needed to put booties over your shoes. As we were venturing outside, we watched a bag pipe band parade through the grounds. We went into some of the mobile homes, had lunch, went through more homes and left around 2:00.

Pipes playing

$2.5M “home”

Visiting outside vendors

Got back to Bob’s and left for our 1.5 hour drive to our condo. Arrived back and fixed dinner of nachos and vegetables. Both of us read; I finished the book I was reading at 11:30.

Saturday we walked the beach, had breakfast, went to Publix’s, read, updated my notes, went to the pool for swim and laying around, and then got ready for our sunset cruise. It was a great time; friendly passengers, saw birds and Dolphins, and experienced a beautiful sunset from the water.

Captain Jason getting ready to depart

Osprey nest

Condo complex from water

Sun going down

Enjoying the ride and view

Beautiful looking sky

Sun is down

Dolphin spotting

Another dolphin

Returned to the condo and had dinner of sautéed vegetables with garlic bread plus cheese. Went into my bedroom relatively early for reading in bed; finished the book I was reading around 10:30.

On Sunday, after breakfast, we got ready to meet Bob. Since there was some time, I took a short walk. It was windy which was a sign that the area had the potential for storms. Met Bob about 9:45 Bass Pro Shop; we loaded into his vehicle and headed to Cockscrew Sanctuary located outside of Naples. This is a swamp area run by the Audubon Society and has a boardwalk — a 2.5-mile adventure through pine flatwoods, wet prairie, around a marsh, and into the largest old growth Bald Cypress forest in North America.

Edi and Bob ready to walk

White Ibis

Gator on log with turtle below

Blue heron

Gator resting

We finished our walk and went into the gift shop where neither of us purchased anything. On our way back to where we left our car, we stopped for lunch at Famous Dave’s BBQ; had a very good chicken BBQ sandwich with a draft of beer. Next stop was Costco where Bob was going to show Edi the flex seed he uses; however, they were out of it. All of us went into Bass Pro Shop but we said our good byes once inside; Edi and I headed to the shoe department while Bob was going to look at men’s clothing. Did not see the type of sandals I wanted so we headed back to our condo. We were having some very strong winds with possible thunderstorms mixed in. Some areas of Florida, including Bob’s, were under tornado watches. Turned on the NFL conference championship games and listened while fixing/eating our dinner of pizza. NFC was won handily by Atlanta Falcons over the Green Bay Packers. The AFC was won handily by New England Patriots over Pittsburgh Steelers. After the game and some reading in bed, I turned off the lights about 10:30.

We had no plans for Monday, the 23rd, which was good because Edi had an upset stomach. So I went for a walk on my own.

Debris for storm

Looking for food

Once I returned, I had my breakfast while Edi went back to bed. Left to drive to WalMart but stopped short of the destination when I came upon a Dollar Tree. Ran my errands and returned to the condo. Edi was up; I brought her back soup and 7-up for lunch. I had a tuna sandwich, potato chips, and cantaloupe. Updated these notes and read after getting a package ready to send to granddaughter Savanna. Spent the afternoon reading in the condo and at the pool. Edi felt good enough to take a walk later in the day. Warmed up sautéed vegetables and baked garlic bread for our evening meal. Lights out around 10:30.

We were meeting Edi’s friend, Ronda, at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota so got up early, had coffee, and ate breakfast; we were on the road for the 2 hour drive about 8:15. Arrived at the gardens about the same time as Ronda, her husband Ed, and daughter Kendall. The gardens are named after Marie Selby who was a lover of nature. Upon her death, she bequeathed her home and property (7 acres) to the community of Sarasota with the aim of forming a garden “for the enjoyment of the general public”. The grounds were beautiful with a diverse collection of tropical and subtropical plants, rain forest reenactment, and waterfall/pond full of koi. The gardens were smaller than we thought so we were through our exploration by 1:00.

Beautiful flowers

Pitcher plant

Selby residence

Bamboo trees

Garden scene

Hugging the tree

Koi, pond, waterfall

All of us were hungry so Ed lead us to an eating place by the water called Phillippi Creek; food was very good with conversation flowing. After lunch, we decided to head back to our condo stopping on the way for gas. Got back to the condo; read, took a walk, fixed pizza for dinner, and retired for reading in bed shortly after 9:30.

No plans for Wednesday, the 25th, so after walking and having breakfast we decided to look for t-shirts to purchase. Thought we would go to the outlet malls and asked sister-in-law Linda to go with but she declined with making plans to meet her for breakfast this Friday with a stop at Back on the Rack in Punta Gorta afterwards. We decided to venture to the northern part of the island where there are many restaurants and shops instead of going to the outlets. Found a parking space and walked to the shops; both of us found t-shirts. And then we found the ice cream; I went to an ice cream store for one dip of Chocolate Carmel Cashew and one of Toasted Almond….ymmmmm! Edi went to DQ and got a blizzard. We met outside and sat on a bench eating our desserts in fat/sugary delight! Returned to the condo where we read and had dinner of raw vegetables with cheese and crackers. The manager of the condo stopped by later in the evening to check out the beds in Edi’s room (she had been sleeping on an air mattress since the third night we arrived because the beds were not comfortable and I had notified the manager of the situation). After the manager left, we read for awhile; I adjourned to my bedroom around 9:15 leaving Edi in the living room reading.

Thursday, the 26th, came with no real plans. After our coffee, Edi suggested we walk the state park across the bridge called Lovers Key. I put my dirty clothes in the washer and we were off. It was a beautiful morning and we had an enjoyable walk of over 2 miles.

Edi ready to hit the trail

Path went along water

I’m enjoying the morning

Looking across at condo; notice middle of bridge rising?

Returned to the condo where I put my clothes in the dryer, we had breakfast, and started to pack up for our departure on Saturday. I went down to our rental car for the agreement; we were not happy with Dollar and their gimmicks. It turned out they had charged me for toll insurance when I told them I did not want any; called them up and was told I had to go to a Dollar counter in order to have the charge removed so I wrote down the address of the nearest Dollar office. Both of us were ready to leave so we went to mail my package to Savanna, got a fresh green pepper from a vegetable stand, went to the used bookstore where we turned in our read books and purchased others, went to the Dollar agency where I was told they could not give a refund since it had to come from the original counter where rented (airport) but the guy was kind and contacted a person at the airport who said he would give me the refund, and then we had lunch by the bay at Coconut Jack’s. I had shrimp while Edi had grouper; very good and I HAD to get coconut cream pie which was delicious. Very full so dinner will not be for awhile. Got back to the condo, read, laid down and rested my eyes for about 30 minutes, continued to read, and went for a walk about sundown.

Lunch at Coconut Jack’s

Sun ball

Pretty sun behind cloud

Not one of the prettiest sunsets we have seen but okay. Had a later dinner of nachos; updated my notes and into the bedroom around 9:15.

Friday, the 27th, was our last full day and night in Florida so, after having coffee and yogurt, we took off for Port Charlotte where we were meeting Bob and Linda at Cracker Barrel for a late breakfast at 10:00. Arrived early so went to WalMart where Edi picked up items she needed. Killed some time in the gift shop at Cracker Barrel. They arrived and we had breakfast. After breakfast, Linda went with us to Back on the Rack in Punta Gorda and Bealls’ in Port Charlotte. Drove to Bob’s but, because of the late hour, we sat around and talked instead of taking a walk in Arcadia as we originally planned.  Drove around the park where they live to look at trailers that are for sale. Then us three gals drove to Arcadia where we went to Dollar Tree and purchased a wine glass to replace one we had broke. Met Bob at the Mexican restaurant along with his friends, Paul and Connie, for an early dinner. Left the restaurant around 6:00 for the drive back to the condo. When we arrived, we washed/dried a load of towels and ran the dishwasher. Went into the bedroom to read around 9:30 with lights out at 10:45.

Saturday was our departure day and we had made the decision to go to the airport to check about getting on an earlier flight. But first we unloaded the dishwasher, had coffee, took a walk, had some breakfast, discarded any food in the refrigerator or on the counter not needed, called the manager to let her know we were leaving, and headed for the airport. We filled the car full when we arrived at the airport area, turned in the rental car (never will I rent from Dollar due to their hidden costs), paid to get on earlier flights, and went to the departure where we had about 2 hours to wait before boarding.  No problem with any of the flights and arrived in St. Louis around 6:45 with Vicki & Mark picking us up.  Got back to their house and talked until 9:30 or so; off to bed.

On Sunday we went to breakfast at Pancake House; afterwards we departed St. Louis and headed home.  Got to Edi’s around 1:30; got into my car and headed home with one stop at HyVee Drugstore for some breakfast supplies.  Arrived home with Beauty and Cutie right inside the door making it look like they were anticipating my arrival which was very doubtful.  It was a wonderful vacation and, maybe next year, we will go for a month someplace besides Florida.  And, in case you did not notice, I really like watching sunrises and sunsets!!

Christmas in Tucson

Once again, I spent the Christmas holiday at Steev’s in Tucson.  My flight to Tucson was on Wednesday, Dec. 21st, and return was Tuesday, December 27th.

Wednesday, 21: Shuttle pick up was at 5:15 AM. Took AA from CR to Dallas to Tucson without any problem. After retrieving my luggage, I called Steev to pick me up. Dropped him off at his work and proceeded to my lodging for check in. Went over to see Greta and Savanna later in the afternoon. Once Steev arrived from work, we had a drink and talked while Greta fixed dinner. Since it was an early rise morning, I went back to my lodging and lights out by 9:00.

Thursday: Went to breakfast and took a walk down University Ave. to CVS where I picked up ribbon to wrap Steev’s birthday present. Greta called around 10:00 or so and I went over there; her niece, Liliah, was there and spent a few hours with us while her mother went shopping.

Cousins having a treat

Once Greta’s sister and niece left, we ran some errands and sat around talking. When Steev came home, Greta went grocery shopping while we talked and played with Savanna.

Driving Papa

Dinner was made; when it was time for Savanna’s bath, I retired to my lodging.

Friday, the 23rd: Had breakfast and, while on my walk, got a call from Steev; they were going to breakfast for Steev’s birthday and asked if I wanted to go along. They picked me; since I had already eaten, I just ordered coffee. On our way to their house, we stopped for gelato at a place on 4th Avenue. When back at their house Steev opened his present from me…a solar-powered weather station.

Happy Birthday Papa!

Happy father and daughter

Then we went for a hike and picnic at Kings Canyon. It was a fun day! Beautiful weather and Savanna was quite the hiker! Returned back to Steev’s where Greta made ravioli (one of Steev’s favorite food items) for his birthday dinner; it was delicious!

Saturday: Greta and I had planned on taking Savanna to a tumbling gym but it was not open so we drove to the University campus where Savanna rode her new bike while Greta and I tried to keep up with her.

Let’s go riding!

Who got to the top first?

Taking a rest

After lunch, I went to my lodging to take a nap after a restless night. Returned to Steev’s; a good friend of Greta’s, Caroline, was there and they had spent the afternoon making Bailey’s Cream while sampling their creation as they went along. That evening Greta made tamales while I put together a salad. Their friend, Cindy, her son, and boyfriend, stopped with Christmas greetings.

Sunday: Christmas morning found me going to the kids where we opened presents and had a huge breakfast.

Reading instructions of joint present

New helmet and robe; life is good!

We had planned on going to the Desert Museum but they felt it was too cold so Steev and I walked while Savanna rode her bike to a park where she biked and played on the swings. Greta stayed at home in hopes of taking care of some household tasks. After lunch, Greta’s sister and niece stopped over with their presents. It was after 3:30 when I left; Steev, Greta, and Savanna left to have their Christmas with his mother and stepfather. Around 5:30, I went to the bar at the BW where I ordered dinner and had a couple drinks while watching NFL on the television. Returned to my suite; called both brothers and sister to wish them a Merry Christmas while watching another NFL game.

Monday: Steev had to return to work so I was going to watch Savanna while Greta ran with her friend; however, Greta returned home as he was leaving for work. We decided to visit the Desert Museum; it was a beautiful day and Savanna enjoyed looking at all the animals but especially liked the stingray exhibit where you put you hands in the water with food and they would come up/grab the food out of a person’s hand.


Sure we should put our hand in the water?

Never get tired of scenery surrounding the museum

We had thought we would eat lunch there but it was too crowded so we went home and warmed up leftovers. I went back to my lodging to organize my packing for my departure the next morning. Returned to the kids; we called for pizza and had a drink while waiting for the delivery. Once it was time for Savanna’s bath, I said my goodbyes to Greta and Savanna; Steev took me back to the BW where I finalized my packing, set multiple alarms for waking at 4:00 a.m., and watched NFL before falling asleep relatively early.

Tuesday, the 27th: My ride arrived and got me to the airport with plenty of time to spare. The two flights had no problems and I arrived in Cedar Rapids early afternoon. Once again, another wonderful Christmas spent with Steev & Family but it was nice to be home with Beauty & Cutie.