Friday, July 24, 2009

Summer Vacation

Hello YaYa Sista's! Sure have missed seeing you guys the last few weeks, but we did have a great vacation.

The short story - What I did on My Summer Vacation - Fun, Sun, Surf, Family and Friends.... now, if you want details, keep reading,

Long Story....

Sat. July 11 - Flew to Orlando through St. Lewis without a plane change or lunch break. Got to Orlando and was retrieved from the airport by Jim - brother-in-law - Trisha was still on her way back from Carolina with girlfriends. On the way to Melbourne, we stopped for lunch at Lone Cabbage Creek (AKA Lone Cabbage Fish Camp on the St. John River). Ate Gator and saw a gator. mmmmm.... gator...... Then, off to Trisha and Jim's to relax and wait for Trisha and Jan to return from their fun up north. Kendra and Tom (Jan's) came by and the girls swam and we had some wine. Then, Trisha and the girls and I made a fast sunset beach trip to check out the fabulous east coast shore near Patrick AFB. BEAuuuutiful.

Sun. July 12 - Made early tracks to Disney Animal Kingdom for the day of roller coasters (Ivy's favorite - not), animals and etc. Ivy may be jumping Pico bareback but Expedition Everest and even the smaller coasters were NOT FUN and I almost lost my arm to her vice-like grip. Alaina loves coasters and talked Ginny into riding with her even though she-Ginny is not a coaster fan. Both girls like the water rapids ride (soaking) as well as animals. So, after racing to rides, fast-pass lines, shows (Nemo and Lion King) and "its tough to be a bug" (my favorite, a 3D attraction), we headed to the west coast to see Aunt Beth and Uncle Pete and have a late supper. Their place is beautiful and located on the Manatee River. And, a special treat - to discover that my cousin Jimmy was visiting too.

Mon. July 13 - Lovely, leisurly breakfast of Suptuous Strata prepared by Aunt Master Chef Beth. mmmmm. strata..... Then a stroll around the grounds taking pictures and learning about rare and interesting FLA plants. Uncle Pete is an active member and officer of the local Rare Fruit group and has wonderful specimens including the usual mango, orange, grapefruit, etc. as well as kumquots, leeche, and macadamia nut trees. The gardens and orchards are beautiful and include a lovely pond as well as the river front. Of course, the whole place is gracefully draped with Spanish moss. Then, a trip to Linger Lodge for lunch (famous for interesting taxidermy - they were closed) which turned into lunch at the Polo Grill. mmmm. lunch...... After lunch, we headed an hour south to the Peace River and Cousin Tommy and Sonya's home on the river - complete with an artesian spring feed pond. The girls played in the pond with the dog, surfboards, and pounding rain. The rain cleared and Tommy took us all out in the everglades on his rare, 15 foot Boston Whaler (he is a boat aficionado and has more boats than I have horses). Both girls got to drive the boat through the swamp creeks and we had a wonderful time. Then, back to P&B's for late supper (with AB's famous homemade Peach Cobbler) and fishing on the dock. The huge snook that Ivy caught broke the line and stole the hook, so we went in for bed (girls) and visiting(Trisha, Aunt Beth, and me).

Tue. July 14 - After breakfast and a little morning fishing (Ivy got a big catfish - Alaina helped), we visited the outlet mall for some back to school shopping and then met Aunt Beth for lunch at the local dockside restaraunt. Good food and it was really fun to get to have one last visit with Aunt Beth before we headed on down the road. Wish we got to see P&B more often, it was a lovely visit. Then, we headed up the coast and visited the De Soto Monument on the south side of Tampa bay - great place but De Soto was insane dragging his men all over the - southeast. Then, off to the old bridge across the bay, now converted to a 1 1/2 mile long fishing peer - saw lots of sea birds and fishermen - the girls got to feed a pelican too. Then, across the new bridge over to Fort De Soto and the number 1 ranked USA beach for 2005. The fort was cool too. Finally, we headed back across the state to Melbourne in time to go to sleep at almost midnight.

Wed. July 15 - The girls swam like crazy as soon as they got up and soon it was time to meet Trisha's inlaws at Slacker's (their daily lunch spot). Then off to the base to visit the Flight Line and watch Jim's unit prepare for their mission up at the shuttle launch. Very Impressive. Then, off the the beach on the north end of the base to play in the surf and wait for the launch. The shuttle went off at 6:02 and we heard and felt the RUMBLE a few minutes later! Very neat since the launch had been re-scheduled several times just so we would be able to see it. Back to the Johnson's we went in time to meet Julie and Tom who came up from Miami to see us. Great visit and the girls swam some more.

Thurs. July 16 - Headed up north to the Merritt Island National Sea Shore and visited Turtle Mound and Eldora House as well as the beautiful beach on the very north end of the park. While we had our picnic lunch at Turtle Mound we saw several dolphins swimming in the river and lots of birds including red-headed woodpeckers and a Great Blue Heron. Eldora was a steamboat stop before the railroad came through FLA. Ginny joined us for the beach and manatee viewing but went back to Orlando before dinner. After swimming, we were off to see Manatee at the Haulover Canal where they like to hang out. The wildlife loop was still closed for launch security so we went to the Dixie Crossing Restaurant for a great dinner and to feed the fish. Dropped Tom off at the base to hang with Jim for the rest of his shift and then visited until the boys came home after midnight.

Friday July 17 - Morning swimming and more visiting until Tom and Julie had to leave at noon. Then, off to Cocoa Beach for tourist trap shopping and a visit to the base where the girls had custom air brush shirts made with sun, surf and dolphins. Late afternoon and JD came home to take the girls and me on a boating outing to Lake Washington to fish at the dam and to look for GATORS. GATORS are EVERYWHERE and not very impressed with people. No fish were biting and the biggest gator was cruising closer, so we headed back across the lake with a little detour though the cattails and a canal. Since we escaped the gators' dinner plans, it was a fun ride. The girls got one last swim in the Johnson pool and we packed to go home.

Sat. July 18 - Headed back over to Orlando to catch our mid-day flight. Orlando needs a 2 hour arrival and we were at the airport by 10am. But, we stopped one last time at Lone Cabbage to get Ivy a real gator head, her new prized possession named Scrappy. Gator heads in several sizes are made for tourists from scraps at the gator farms where gators are raised for food and purses. Gators are no longer endangered or even threatened which is a real change from my childhood days when we saw an alligator in real-life only rarely - usually at the zoo. Steve and Kale picked us up at TIA and we went out to Lone Elm for our first load of 500 bales of hay. Yay!

Summary - We had a wonderful trip and enjoyed visiting with relatives and friends. Uncle Pete and Aunt Beth are wonderful hosts and very generous with their economic stimulus package for each girl. As instructed, both spent all their money before leaving the state. Checked out beaches on both coasts and I think the beach closest to Trisha and Jim's house is the BEST. Got to see 2 of my 3 cousins and Julie, my best friend from 7th grade on, and her hubby Tom. The girls were mostly good and we all had a great time. Trisha and Jim took great care of us too. Thanks!

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