Monday, February 23, 2015

My Grandkids

If I had known grandkids were this much fun I would have had them first!




Sarah & Isabelle with Christina
   There they are. I may not be rich but as you can see I do have priceless grandchildren!  gws 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Florida in February Part 3

After so many years of Mom and Dad living in their little home on Lake Lindsey Road in Brooksville it saddens me to think this place will now be silent. As Dad prepares to move to his trailer at Lyn and Don's it was time to take one last long look about the property and remember our many visits over the past decade. It was a warm winter day as we walked about, Mom's favourite sand hill cranes feeding quietly to one side as we reminisced. The county folks were in the process of widening the road and a few feet of the property was being appropriated  to accommodate this change - trees along Lake Lindsey road and the fence were to be removed in the coming weeks. Dad seemed resigned to all the change and when we spoke about the move to the new trailer he appeared to think rationally although a bit sadly. At 91 years of age he knows he can no longer do the things he could even a few months ago and must now trust those in the family who can make daily decisions for him.

The neighbours to the left as you came in the drive were also making changes, replacing the old weather-beaten fence that lined the roadway to their house. His old friend Bud's property directly behind Dad's place was now well maintained and the new owners had their horses, donkeys and dogs out while we were there. The property to the west still looked rundown and garbage, old boats and rusting car parts were visible behind Dad's fence. It was still a favourite topic of disgust to him but he now will no longer have to care. He will miss driving around on his new Husqvarna riding mower and the hours raking the tiny oak leaves that always seem to litter the ground and bothered him so much. I'm not sure who will feed the cranes once he leaves but they too, like us all, will eventually move on...gws

Dad and Lyn, both lovers of the rake!

Florida in February Part 2

Marie and I left Brooksville early the next morning before Lyn and Don were up, heading south on highway 98 towards the coast. We wanted to visit what the locals there call the "Big O", Lake Okeechobee, Florida's largest fresh water lake, and do some sight seeing along the way. More scenic than the Interstate, and just as fast, highway 98 would go through Lakeland, Fort Meade and just bypass one of my favourite place names, Frostproof, then past Sebring, Lake Placid, and Clewiston. Mile after mile we passed fields of dark mineral-rich soil in which sugarcane, citrus fruits and corn were growing. Always in the distance we could see the sugarcane factories belching black smoke, a scene that seemed to stay with you forever in that flat horizon stretching-for-ever countryside. Before heading east and the Palm Beach shores we stopped for an hour in Pahokee, on the eastern edge of the lake, a small and poor town that has seen better days. We were the only white people in evidence and except for Florida license plates it was difficult to believe you were in the USA. Most of the businesses in this town have closed, aside from a few grocery stores, and the economic plight of Pahokee is painfully obvious. Except perhaps for the new marina which might rejuvenate business. We walked around there on the stone breakwater where locals were fishing for the bass that are famous here. Seabirds flocked here and gazing out over the lake we were unable to see the distant shore. It was a beautiful day, already hot and I could only imagine what it would be like here in the summer.

Pahokee, Florida
We arrived in Lake Worth around 6pm that evening and found Richard and Rose in good spirits. No doubt from being in Florida for almost three months now and from the look of things neither had no intention of returning north until the snow had gone. They had planned to take us out to Havana, the Cuban restaurant we all liked so much, but being a Saturday night there was a one hour wait. We ended up at Brogues Downunder, an Australian sports bar and pub, on Lake Ave, where we enjoyed a surprisingly good feast of baked brie, rare seared tuna, corned beef and cabbage, fish tacos, pastrami and corned beef sandwiches, all washed down with Harp draft beer. We even had our waiter find a hockey game on one of the TV monitors, while in the other room a very good house band played the latest hits.
Rich and Rose, Brogues Downunder, Lake Worth
We had an Indian breakfast the next day at the Pelican Restaurant on the way to the water, a first for us and one of Richard's favourite spots in the town. The day turned out rather nice, the sun breaking through some haze so I could at least get a bit red as we spent the next few hours strolling the beach, collecting shells and drinking Bloody Mary's at Bennie's on the Beach. We hadn't brought our bathing suits with us as Richard had claimed the water would be too cold (!) but, as I was wearing shorts and the water temperature a pleasant 73 degrees, I decided to go swimming anyway. It was wonderful thank you Richard. The quiet and clean beach in Lake Worth was always one of Marie and I's regular spots to visit whenever we were there and we will miss it.
Pelican Restaurant, Lake Worth

Marie, Lake Worth beach and pier

Sunday afternoon we had tickets to the Florida Panthers vs the Nashville Predators hockey game in Sunrise, just north of Miami. We drove down with an Alaskan couple Rich had met at the condo and had a fabulous time. It was our first NHL game in Florida and we had excellent seats, 11 rows up from the ice surface. It was an afternoon game so we got out just as the sun was setting, the evening warm and pleasant. We didn't want to pay the $20 parking fee so we had walked to the game from the big shopping mall not far away where parking was free. I was going to mention the hour we spent wandering lost in the parking lot looking for the cars but I won't...It was a great experience none the less and for us a complete different atmosphere for a hockey game.

Marie, BB&T Centre, Sunrise, Florida

Marie & Rose outside BB&T Centre, Sunrise, sunset

Our last night with Rich and Rose was spent relaxing. Marie and Rose went shopping at the local thrift stores while Rich and I went for a swim at the condo pool, talking about the years that have slipped by and planning a BBQ by the pool for supper. Unfortunately the weather closed in and rain and lightning was forecast so we opted for a last dinner out at Havana, on the Dixie highway in West Palm. "The Best Cuban Food in Town" is their motto and we can once again attest to that!

                                                                The next morning we packed up and bid farewell to Rich and Rose, wishing them luck with the condo sale and heading back west past Okeechobee lake and on to Brooksville. We had intentions of checking out some RV dealers on the way as we are still in the market for a slide-in camper for our truck but found very few available in that part of the state. Near the shores of a small lake, Istokpoga, we stopped for lunch in the village of Lorida before making our way to LazyDays, an RV superstore on Interstate 4, just north of Tampa to see if they had a better selection. This is the dealership Dad had brought a trailer many years ago from. Don had also purchased his big class A motorhome from them over 10 years ago as well. They claim to be the biggest RV dealer in the world and I can understand why : over 100 acres of every type of camper imaginable and miles of roads interlacing all the lots, busy golf carts scurrying around at every intersection taking prospective buyers to their new home on wheels. The place is so big I thought we would have to show our passports to get in! But again, even though they were eager to help, we didn't see anything that suited us. After an hour or so there we thanked the sales consultant that had driven us around the grounds, left him our email address just in case something came in and were back in Brooksville in time for supper. Before we returned north we wanted to visit again with Dad and make sure he was ready to move into his new digs...  gws

Farewell to Lake Clarke Estates

enjoying fried chicken in the tiny town of Lorida, Florida

LazyDays, Tampa, Florida