Turning 50 and thankful.

01a9d287640be9bbe296b3c5b12df64cabd30017aeYesterday was my 50th birthday. Does that make me old now?  Because I certainly don’t feel any older and I definitely don’t feel any wiser.   We decided to do something special, so we booked a hotel in Miami Beach and drove up for the night.  We stayed at a really cute little hotel right on the beach called The Beacon.

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It was just what we needed.  Hotel, night out, Mojito’s and king crab legs.

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What more could you ask for, for the big 5 0?  Well, not much. But, here are a few things that we saw in Miami Beach that everyone could use:

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Seriously though, do women actually wear these things? All I can think about is how painful it would be.  Maybe I am getting old.

I was going to say something philosophical about turning 50.  But, I remembered something a very wise woman once said  “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”  So, I’ll just leave you with one piece of wisdom that I think I’ve finally accepted.  Life is too short to waste on things or people who SUCK!  See, isn’t that profound?

 

11/27:

Today is Thanksgiving! So a BIG Happy Thanksgiving to you all.  We’ve been feeling homesick and I think holidays make it harder to be away.   Our family never spends holidays apart and this was not an easy day.  Fortunately, we will be together for Christmas, so I think we will survive.   I always thought that the saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder” was bullshit, but maybe there is something to it after all.  Or maybe it just applies to your family.  No matter how crazy they drive you when you are around each other, you still miss them when they are away.   Although I do really miss pumpkin pie right now too.  Okay, so it applies to family and pie.   Can someone send me a piece of pumpkin pie?  Anyone?

To all of my family and friends, I am thankful for all of you.  I’m serious.

Happy Trails.

 

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Love a Sea Turtle

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We went to the Turtle Hospital today.  They currently have 43 turtles, 13 are permanent residents and cannot be released due to their injuries.  It’s such a sad thing to see, but they are such beautiful creatures and all of the proceeds from the admission price goes directly back to running the hospital and helping the turtles get back into the wild.  The day before we came they had released 2 of them into the Everglades and they had received 3 new hatchlings.  They had turtles injured by boats, by fishing hooks and by things they had eaten, like fishing line and plastic bags.  When the turtles eat those things they get sick and sometimes get life threatening infections.  Our guide told us that if you see a turtle floating, then the turtle is sick and needs help.  They have people who actually sleep at the facility 24 hours a day so they came come to the rescue when someone calls to report a sick or injured turtle.

The tour lasted 90 minutes and was very interesting.  I did not know that there are only 7 species of sea turtles in the world and 5 of them, they have in Florida.  Loggerhead, Green, Leatherback, Hawksbill and Kemp’s Ridley, which is the rarest sea turtle in the world and there are only about 1,000 of them left.

The saddest thing was to see the ones that had been injured by propellers and as their shells healed, bubbles formed under them,  causing them to float to the surface and not be able to dive for food any longer.  The Turtle hospital puts weights on their shells to help them dive.  If the turtles with this condition are not found, they will get weak and starve.  Luckily, someone had found the ones here and they would be helped.

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Mantee heaven…Blue Spring State Park.

We went to Blue Spring State park yesterday and it was really worth the trip.  It’s about an hour from Orlando in a small town called Orange City.  We had planned to camp here, but after our experience at Tokoma State park, decided to skip staying here.  The park is well-known for being a sanctuary for Manatee’s.  Not too long ago, they even allowed people to swim with them, but they close the spring when the Manatee’s start their migration here in late fall.  Unfortunately, the spring was closed to swimming when we visited.  The park is small and reminiscent of the movie “Creature from the Black Lagoon”, with the blue-green water and big over-hanging mossy trees.  In Fact, episodes of “The Lost Mermaids” series from Underwater with Jacque Cousteau were filmed here.

You can rent tube’s and canoe’s when they allow swimming and float down the St. Johns River from the spring head.  This was ever more surprising after seeing the large alligator’s resting on half-sunken logs.  After seeing them, I’m not sure I would like to swim here after-all.  There are several signs saying “swim at your own risk”.  And I wondered how many swimmers they’ve lost?  Or parts of swimmers!

There were quite a few Manatee’s floating by and even a baby or two.  Their tails propelled them down the river and made them look like very large, bulbous mermaids. The water was a really bright green and looked both ominous and inviting at the same time.  I wanted to just stick my toe in the water to see how warm it felt, since it is supposed to be a constant 73 degrees summer and winter, but they have the walkways that go down into the water roped off now.  Waaaaa.  So, I’ll have to just imagine how warm it was.  I hope to come back some day and maybe swim…if the alligators don’t look too hungry.

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Kennedy Space Center…unexpectedly AWESOME!

I am not a space nerd, have never watched Star Trek or any show like that (on purpose) and have never really been that interested in “space travel”.  That is why I was so surprised at the awesomeness of the Kennedy Space Center.  It may be in their “presentation”, but this place is….AWESOME.   We took an Up-close tour, which I would highly recommend, and got to see two launch pads, the Saturn V rocket, the Space shuttle Atlantis, the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building) and a giant “crawler” that transported the rockets.  Before you get to see the space shuttle Atlantis and before you get to see the massive Saturn V rocket, you are shown a presentation of the events leading up to and the launch, before the doors open to these exhibits. At the Apollo/Saturn center, the presentation is made in a room that has all of the original control consoles used during the launch. At the Atlantis exhibit, you are shown a move about the concept, design, production,  failures and success of the shuttle idea.  Then this giant door opens up to the actual Atlantis shuttle.  It is very moving and makes you want to cry.  When the giant door opens up to the Space Shuttle Atlantis, it takes your breath away…yes I’m serious.  Go see it!  Then let me know how many of you actually cry.

Our guide told us that someone reviewed the park and said “It was lame, there are no rollercoasters here.”  No, there are no rollercoasters, but you get to see history!  Our history, up close and personal.  If you are not moved by this place, then I’m not sure what would move you.  The inventions that came out of the space program has not only saved lives, but made life better for all of us.  I’m not sure if young children or even teenagers would understand the impact that the space program has had on the world, hell I didn’t.  Without it we wouldn’t have TV remote controls, scratch-resistant lenses, invisible braces, memory foam, cordless tools, etc….the list goes on.  Who knew? I’m so glad we came here and didn’t even miss not getting to ride a roller coaster!

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Happiest place on earth?

We decided to get out of the Tokoma State Park and move on over to the Fort Wilderness Campground early.  The park was scary and they really should not allow RV’s that are the size of mine in the park.  Driving to our campsite was one of those “thread the needle” experiences and the sand road kept getting narrower and narrower.  By the time the road was just wide enough for me to squeeze thru, I reached the campsite.  Since the road is so narrow, it was not an easy task to back into the site without taking out a shrub.  Fortunately, it didn’t do any damage to my camper!  But, it became clear to me, why the park ranger looked at me funny and said “Have you ever been here before?”  I thought it was just a random question that he asked everyone, but the look on his face made the meaning change to “Are you seriously going to try to get into one of these campsites?”  During my research for campsites I specifically called this park to ask if they had any height/length restrictions and was told “no”……Maybe they need to think about that and tell people “No, BUT….”

So, off we went to Fort Wilderness!   The drive was short….the kind I prefer, and this campground is pretty much what you’d expect from Walt.   The park has 1788 campsites and 408 cabins!  Wholly smoke!  We were greeting with “Howdy!” and asked if we needed any help backing into our site.  Due to the recent Tomoka State Park incident…I said “Yes!”.   One of the employee’s actually came and parked my camper for me!  How nice is that?  All sites are paved and have a small sandy area behind them with a picnic table and grill.  There are recycle stations in front of your campsite and the post with your campsite number has a plug for your golf cart.  (And I thought the Hilton Head RV resort was nice!).  We parked and set up and then headed up to get our golf cart….yes, it is necessary to get around, I did not just get one because I am lazy, this campground is massive.

We decided to just visit the Walt Disney World park this time because mom really wants to see the “Harry Potter” stuff at the Universal Studios.    We had a perfectly beautiful day for our visit. A boat takes you from the campground to the park entrance which was great not to have to worry about parking.  And the park has changed the rules so that everyone gets four “fast passes” for the rides for free!  Last year when mom and I came to one of the Disney parks, you had to purchase a fast pass and we didn’t because we didn’t know if it was worth it.  The day SUCKED, because we were in line most of the day and I think we only got to ride two things..  So, it was nice to get to jump the line at 4 of the rides this time and we actually got there early enough to ride other things that we didn’t have to wait too long for.  I don’t care how old you get, it’s still exciting.  I still love the Haunted Mansion, the Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean.  And when you are too pooped to walk anymore, The Carousel Of Progress is a good place to rest.

I still believe that they need to have an “adults only” day though, not because of the kids really, but because of the number of gigantic strollers that the parents bring to the park.  Some of those strollers are the size of small cars. When my sisters and I were little, our family did not even own a stroller.  Mom said that if you were too tired to walk, then you needed to go home and go to bed!  It certainly does open your eyes to how spoiled kids are these days.   There were very few people with children, that we saw, that did not have a stroller and the size of these kids in those strollers was pretty astonishing.  I would swear that I saw a kid that looked like he was a teenager riding in one.  And then the ultimate in spoiled brats rolled by:  In a stroller, IN DISNEY WORLD, with an iPhone in her hand playing a game!  WHAT?  You are in Disney and you are SO bored that you have to play a game on an IPhone?  Good LORD!  I must say that we also saw some really well-behaved kids too, but they were usually with people who I assume were their grandparents. Those were the kids that were actually walking on their own and actually seemed engaged in what was going on around them.

Here are my recommendations:  Go early.  Make a reservation for lunch or dinner at one of the full service restaurants …because you will not be able to get one on the day you go and because you will be tired and it will be nice to sit down and relax for a bit before heading back out there!  Take the train at the front of the park to the back of the park and work your way forward.  You will beat the crowd back there and get in line faster.  Choose your “fast passes” wisely.  If they are too close together, you do not have time to wander.   Make them for later in the day.  By the end of the day, it was nice not to have to wait in line anymore and you will be  tired and  who wants to wait in line when they are tired

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“Life is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve…”Henry Van Dyke.

Gloria F. Bryant

 

 

Yesterday we received some tragic news.  My aunt Gloria was killed in a car wreck several days ago.  She was with her boyfriend and several other people who all lost their lives when they hit a semi-truck while driving thru Arkansas.  The last time that I saw her,  was on the cruise that me, my sister and mom were also on last year.  So that  is how  I will remember her, enjoying her life and traveling to wonderful places.  My heart goes out to my cousins, Larry, Teresa, Mike, Mark and Johnny.   I think that we are all still in shock over her death and also reminded of how short our time is here on earth and just how precious it is.  Rest in Peace Gloria.

 

Friendly Floridians

I think it was inevitable that I would get sick during my travels, but even though you know its bound to happen it still SUCKS.  I had not felt well for about a week, so decide to suck it up and go see a doctor.  We spent 4 hours in the walk-in clinic in St. Augustine….boy, that was fun!  Fortunately, there was a little girl waiting with her mom and grandmother that kept the entire waiting room entertained, otherwise there may have been some violence!  Turns out I have “”Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo”….Yes, it is official….I’m DIZZY!  For the past several years, I thought that I was having ear infections, but according to this doctor, I do not have an ear infection.  So, He does the “Epley Maneuver” to try to fix it, which is basically flinging you backwards with your head tilted to the side to induce an episode of vertigo. It was like being on Mr. Toad’s wild ride without being in a teacup. It was supposed to re-adjust the crystals that were in my ear canal.   So far….nothing.  It’s not that I’m dizzy ALL the time, it’s just that I don’t feel….right and if I looked up or  bend down…or look in a different direction very quickly, then I have horrible vertigo and almost fall down.  It probably looks like I’m drunk.  Maybe I should just get drunk and stay that way until this passes!  I’m hoping this will run it’s course soon, because it’s exhausting.

**Last night, my eye was itching so I rubbed it.  I got up and my mom looked at me and said “Oh, My GOD, what just happened?”  I’m not sure what happened or what bit me but my  eye swelled shut in 3 minutes flat.  Mom had to run to the drug store and get some eye wash and eye drops that were recommended by the pharmacist.  I swear to god, someone has a VooDoo doll with my name on it.**

Despite my vertigo affliction, we have been roaming our new location.   we went to the Jacksonville zoo two days ago.  I have a love/hate relationship with zoo’s, because I still find myself wanting to see the animals.    When you are a kid, seeing exotic animals that you normally only read about or see on TV, was such a big deal.  It was a thrill.  When you are little, you don’t understand what being in a zoo is possibly like for the animal.  I remember going to a “zoo” here in Florida one time and we thought it was funny because there was a chimpanzee going crazy in this tiny round cage.  At no time did we think “Oh how horrible for that poor animal”.  Now as an adult, I still get thrilled with seeing wild animals, but it’s also difficult  to see them in these small enclosures and cages.  Some of the exhibits were pretty large, but most of them were really small and some of them were dismal.  The Bonobo exhibit was really, really crappy.  Most of the zoo left me feeling sad. (There was a turtle humping another turtle…that was pretty funny, but otherwise…it was sad.)

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Today we went to the Castillo de San Marcos, the fort here in St. Augustine.  Another place I visited when I was little, but do not remember the least little bit!

It was interesting but I imagine that when I was little, that all I probably wanted to do was go to the beach.  Actually, I was wishing that I was at the beach this time too!

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One thing that both my mother and I have noticed here in Florida is how friendly people are.  The day we spent in the walk-in clinic, we met a woman who was with her mother and her 3-year-old daughter.  (This was the little girl who entertained the office while we all waited.)  We learned that the young woman was pregnant, when her due date was, that the Grandmother had just moved in with them and she had run out of her medicine, which no doctor seemed to care about.  Her little girl, Jazzilyn, was incredibly friendly and immediately gravitated toward my mom and wanted her to read her a book. Then, last night at dinner we met a woman, her brother and her mother.  Her mother was 90 years old, her brother had a horrible car wreck 20 years ago in which the doctor’s told them that he would never walk again.  Surprising everyone, he was walking.  His wife left him after 5 years and he now lived with her.  It seems that everyone we have met here are VERY interested in sharing their life stories.  Some people might find this annoying, but I actually find it fascinating.  I don’t believe that I have ever been in a doctor’s office back home and someone’s child interacted with strangers the way this little girl did.   And I certainly never went out to dinner back home and had complete strangers tell me their life stories.  I’m sure not everyone in Florida is like this, but so far, we’ve been lucky enough to meet some pretty nice people.  Maybe it’s all of this sun.  Maybe the farther south you go, the friendlier the people get!

Another thing that we have noticed is that everyone we meet in the campgrounds automatically wonder where “the husband” is.  Yesterday, when I was getting some things out from under the camper, a man walked by and said “I noticed you are the one doing all the work around here, where’s your husband?” I told him that I was traveling with my mom and he said “Were did you learn how to do all of this stuff?”  First of all, what the hell?  Is it 1950? Seriously, every couple we have met have asked those types of questions.  Today mom was talking to a couple and they wanted to know, if it was just the two of us, then who was driving the RV?  Like, surely a WOMAN is not driving that thing!  Mom explained that I was driving it and they were both  shocked.  And They are not the first ones we have met that expressed that sentiment either.  I’m not sure I understand what’s going on here.  Surely, I’m not the only female that drives an RV?  I also  know that no one wants to hook up the sewer hose, but how hard is that?  You can read how to do all of this stuff on-line!  That’s where I’ve learned to do most of it. The next thing you know someone will ask me where I learned to read!   Maybe I should start a single, female RVer’s web site for those of us that are apparently….surprisingly competent.

Happy Trails to all the competent females out there!