Archive for2006-09 – Fall Fun in Florida

Last Day of our Fall Florida Trip – But scroll to the bottom to START the journey

Our trip home (north) has been fairly uneventful but not perfect.

Our first problem came up when, even with trusty GPS, we made a mis-cue while going through Atlanta on I-75. We ended up heading on I-85 east instead of north on 75, but we eventually got on the 275 loop which at least got us back on track. It added probably 20-30 minutes to our already long day and John wasn’t happy.

We also had a problem with sand burrs. It seems Willow got a little frantic about needing to stop at a rest area (she’s on medication and it has affected her thirstiness and subsequent output). There was no place to stop and we recognized her urgency, so we pulled over on the shoulder of the highway near a truck weigh station.

As soon as I stepped out on the shoulder I was ankle deep in sand-burrs. I had on sandals and there were probably a dozen between the sole of my foot and my sandal. These were really sharp buggers and not like the gentle kind I’ve seen in Michigan. I sat Willow on the only clear spot I could find so I could get them out from between my sandal and the sole of my foot. While I was busy pulling them out of my foot, she took a step or two forward into a thicket of them. Of course her little feet were immediately in agony so she rolled over, yelping. John came to her rescue and soon his chest was covered with burrs where Willow had transferred them to him. They also impalled his sandal clad feet (but not under his soles). Thankfully all were easily (but uncomfortably picked off).

But other than that, our trip has been fairly uneventful.

Florida and Georgia looked like summer, although the temperature had dropped dramatically. Tenessee had the very few colorful trees, but Kentucky was cloaked in a beautiful fall display what I’d consider “peak color.” In Ohio, there was still some color, but it’s definitely well-past peak. There were a lot of bare trees. Michigan is about the same.

Temperature is currently 49. Overnight both Monday and Tuesday, it was below freezing. This a.m. the grass was definitely frosty in Florence, KY.

We should make it home by about 2:30 this afternoon. We’re just crossed the border into Michigan so we have only about 130 miles to go.

I’ll probably write a little more, when we get home

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Headin’ Home!

It’s a gloomy cloudy day so I don’t feel as badly as I would if it we had bright sunshine and the promise of perfect weather.

We will overnight in Locust Grove, GA. The 1,300 mile trip, when divided over three days, isn’t bad. Of course, we’ve heard the reports of the bitter cold Michigan is experiencing, but I am looking forward to a fire in the fireplace, and relaxing in our comfy living room then bedding down in our own bed.

Yesterday I said good-bye to Mom and it bothered me a lot. I made her promise she’ll remember us when we return in February. There was a little problem in the unit, so the residents were restricted. Therefore I wasn’t able to stay as long as I’d planned, but we did have two visits with her. and brought her a milk shake. The rest of the day was glorious. We spent several hours in the pool chatting with “friends.”

Last night we took another golf cart “night ride.” This time we took Willow with us. We toured much of Kings Point, but it was a little cooler than Saturday night. Nevertheless it was a nice final evening outting and I’m glad we did it.

The golf cart was a wise purchase. It was so much easier than using our big diesel truck. We figure we put close to 300 miles on the cart just going back and forth to the pool and to Mom’s facility.

But now it’s time to get back into Michigan mode. We have some fun stuff coming up that we’re looking forward to.

‘Ain’t life grand??



We’re here in Locust Grove, Georgia, and a frost is predicted tonight! Until 9:00 a.m. tomorrow, they expect it’ll be about 32 degrees. what a difference from yesterday’s 89 degree pool time!

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The end of our Fall Florida Adventure

We’re about ready to head home from Florida to Saginaw, Michigan. I can’t begin to tell you how nice the people at Kings Point in Sun City Center (Florida) are or how welcome we’ve felt.

Last night it we were invited to a concert at the Methodist Church by our new friends, Gary and Darlene. Friday noon we lunched with Sandy and went with Gary and Darlene to a Pennsylvania Club Party, Thursday it was the Rockin’ Rendevous at the South Club, Wednesday a gormet dinner at Bob’s house. Every evening it’s been a fun time.

Both John and I love Michigan and our Michigan friends can’t be equaled but this Florida adventure has been really awesome! There are beginning to believe there is something about the conversations shared in a warm swimming pool that brings about a special openness.

I must admit that we’ve discovered a different lifestyle that is really fun for us.

Tonight, long after dark, I talked John into a “night ride” in our golf cart. It is a fun experience. The warmth of the evening is enveloping. We drove through different areas we’d been curious about. It was fun. John said he wished we’d done it before. (“Why’d we just discover this when we’re heading home?” he asked.) We have only one more night left.

Tomorrow we need to finish packing. But I also want to spend time with Mom, and a long soak in the pool is MANDATORY! Then tomorrow night, I’m hoping for another “night ride.”

I can’t imagine how life could be better. Our friend Bob, who has experienced a lot, frequently says, “It just doesn’t get any better than this.” I’m beginning to believe him.

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Retarded Grandparents

After Christmas, a teacher asked her young pupils how they spent their holiday away from school. One essay sounds just like Kings Point complete with golf cart and the guard at the gate:

The child wrote:

“We always used to spend the holidays with Grandma and Grandpa. They used to live in a big brick house but Grandpa got retarded.

“They ride around on their bicycles and wear name tags because they don’t know who they are anymore.

“They go to a building called a wrecked center, but they must have got it fixed because it is okay now, and do exercises there, but they don’t do them very well. There is a swimming pool too, but in it, they all jump up and down with hats on.

“At their gate, there is a doll house with a little old man sitting in it. He watches all day so nobody can escape. Sometimes they sneak out.

“They go cruising in their golf carts. Nobody there cooks, they just eat out. And, they eat the same thing every night: Early Birds. Some of the people can’t get out past the man in the doll house. The ones who do get out, bring food back to the wrecked center and call it pot luck.

“My Grandma says that Grandpa worked all his life to earn his retardment and says I should work hard so I can be retarded someday too. When I earn my retardment, I want to be the man in the doll house. Then I will let people out so they can visit their grandchildren.”

Ok, so we wear name tags, ride golf carts, no one cooks, and all of us wear hats in the pool (’cause very few really swim, most of us just soak and want to keep the sun out of our eyes), but most of us are retired NOT retarded.

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Love Bugs!

They seem to have followed us. Last year we ran into them in Georgia and northern Florida, but none were in this area. This year, they seem to be enjoying the hospitality of Kings Point.

Again, for clarification, what are love bugs? I found this technical explanation:

The love bug (also known as lovebug, march fly, honeymoon fly, telephone bug and double-headed bug) (scientific name Plecia nearctica) is a small flying insect common to the southern United States, especially along the Gulf Coast. It was first described in 1940 in Galveston, Texas, and was said to be invading Texas and Louisiana. By the end of the 20th century, however, it had spread heavily to all areas bordering the Gulf of Mexico, as well as Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, and other parts of Central America.

The female is the larger one on the right.

love bugs

We find them floating in the pool, and in the air around it. They don’t bite, but there are just too many of them. And the fact that they are so obvious about their passion makes them like lovers who have no consideration for the priopriety of keeping their bedroom antics behind closed doors.

John said he fears that they’re spreading to this part of the state, but today at the pool, it was said that they’ve been here for at least 19 years. Guess we were just lucky last year. I don’t miss them, when they’re not here.

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End of Week Observatons

Time here in Florida flies. I suppose it’s because we’re having fun.

Last night we hung out at Rockin Rendevous in the club house. It was a lively bunch and we enjoyed ourselves. Folks are really nice – as are our Michigan friends.

I looked around last night and came up with a few rules old folks should observe when it comes to a “senior dress code.*” Some things just don’t go well together:

1. Nose ring and bifocals.
2. Spiked hair and bald spots.
3. Pierced tongue and dentures.
4. Miniskirts and support hose.
5. Ankle bracelets and corn pads.
6. Speedos and cellulite.
7. A belly button ring and gall bladder surgery scar.
8. Unbuttoned disco shirts and a heart monitor.
9. Midriff shirts and midriff bulge.
10. Bikinis and liver spots.
11. Short shorts and varicose veins.
12. Inline skates and a walker.
And lastly(and most scary)….
13. Thongs and depends.

* Credit should be given to Mary Perdom from “Senior Connection,” Tampa Bay’s award winning magazine, who came up with these 13 items.

Today at the pool we saw a fellow who came close to violation #6. He had to be 90 and he was in a skimpy speedo. There is also a guy who swims in his whitey tighties. Yup, his fruit of the looms are his choice for a swim suit! Look away, Girls, no fair peeking.

John and I fit in but we’re not in the extreme. We dress appropriately. I’ve mentioned that down here I’m more aware of my wardrobe and definitely have decided that (FOR SURE!!!) before February I’ll lose some weight. Last night we saw everything. Old men with younger women, younger women with really old guys. And on and on.

Last night several of us realized we don’t have one answer… We are puzzled. Are there any rules when it comes to which ankle on which you wear your ankle bracelet? We’re afraid that we could be giving the “wrong signal.” Maybe there’s some code we don’t know. We looked around and most wore them on left ankles, but is there a difference? Does it mean anything? Now we’re concerned. (Don’t laugh. I looked on the internet for an answer and apparently others are concerned about the same thing. We all wonder if we are not “in enough” to know the signals given for a left or a right ankle.)

Ahhhh… such are the mysteries of life.

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Oodles of Noodles

Today it’s a bit cloudy, but it probably won’t stop us from enjoying the pool after we stop to see Mom. (I’m pretty much over my cold.)

I haven’t mentioned one of the must-haves at the pool: a foam snakey looking thing everyone uses for floating in the pool. We call them noodles. Noodles are mandatory. Everyone has one. We started with the popular variety which is about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. One day we stumbled across two that are a larger version in the Goodwill store. It’s probably close to 4 inches across. I love the larger one because it keeps me high enough in the water so my hair doesn’t get wet. We float for hours at a time. The pool is the social spot. We meet folks, enjoy lively conversations, and relax. No store locally sells the big ones, so with our big noodles, we’re the envy of everyone at the pool.

Below you can see both the smaller ones being used in an exercise class and John using one of ours. (Mine is a pretty royal blue.)
a noodle exercise class


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Sniffling Sunday

The cold’s still with me. It seems slightly better today so hopefully it won’t hang on too long. I’m still hesitant to visit Mom. I’d hate to pass it on to her.

At 2:00 we’re going to go look at a house like Mom and Hoagie’s that’s for sale here in Kings Point. Probably late this afternoon, we’ll find time to hang out at the pool.

It’s a weird tempo around here. Things like lunch at Taco Bell become “outtings.” A trip to Walmart is a day’s excursion. Since so little time is spent doing “work,” doing the laundry or cleaning becomes an accomplishment. It’s an adjustment to get used to 24/7 relaxation, but we’re managing.

We only have three weeks left, and then we’ll head home and start planning for our February return visit.

When we get back to Michigan, we need to be ready for holiday plays. John’s taking every opportunity to practice Christmas carols, and does it ever seem strange. The temperature is 90 but he’s playing “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.”

I was down here right after the first of the year in 2005. It amazed me that there were Christmas lights decorating homes. It felt like someone had mistakenly left them up into the wrong season. For me Christmas includes snow and cold weather. I guess I’m a died-in-the-wool “Northerner.” I love the crunch of snow underfoot. I love the drifting of snowflakes past the window while enjoying a fire in the fireplace. I love to wrap up in a cozy warm robe or afghan while enjoyng a nice glass of wine. We have scheduled things so we’ll have the best of both worlds. We’re darned lucky!

(Later in the evening:)

We did take Mom in the golf cart about 3:30 for ice cream but skipped the pool. (I figured it would be hard to blow my nose when neck deep in water.) It was a beautiful day. Feeling punk didn’t fit the setting. I dressed nicely in crisp white pants, black off-the-shoulder top, and a big-brimmmed straw hat with black band. At least I looked ok. Generally that’ll perk me up but it didn’t work. I felt red-nosed and yucky.

Mom is much more alert than when we arrived. She expresses herself more. Today she asked me to sit beside her and talk, but I explained that I wasn’t feeling well and wanted to avoid spreading my germs to her. She seemed to understand. We said we’ll see her tomorrow or Tuesday. She was ok with that.

Tomorrow there’s a sale at Beall’s and I want to go shipping. I have a totally different-than-Michigan wardrobe when I’m here. The hot item at the Rockin’ Rendevous are fitted white cropped pants. I need some! It would be great if I could just leave my summer clothes here until we return in February, but after our experience with all the stuff being taken from the condo when we arrived, I won’t take a chance. So we’ll haul them home and I’ll bring them back. Between now and February, I’d like to shed about 10 pounds. Nothing like bathing suits to make you aware of your body.

I hereby vow I’ll be in better shape when we come back.

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Feeling yucky!

When I last wrote, it was Thursday and we were anticipating Rockin’ Rendevous, the weekly clubhouse dance.

We enjoyed the evening. This time it was held around the pool. Normally we’re tightly packed in the lounge, and we missed feeling of closeness that is present when it’s held inside, but the crowd was huge so it wouldn’t have fit in the normal lounge/dance area anyway. It was kinda neat to see dancers around the huge pool, and at sunset, the sky was unbelieveably beautiful. I could kick myself for not having my camera. It was fantastic. Against that background, the dancing couples looked like a postcard.

We sat with Bob and Marilyn and had a nice time.

That was Thursday. Friday after visiting with Mom, we enjoyed more pool time. Friday evening we went out to dinner in Ruskin.

Today’s Saturday. I have a miserable cold. It’s at that drippy stage and I’m feeling rotten. We therefore we didn’t go to see Mom or Hoagie today. It wasn’t wise to infect them. We did hang out at the pool from about 3:00-5:30 or so. I’m going through kleenex like mad.

I can’t believe I have a cold. I know they are caused by viruses and you can catch them anywhere, but it seems so wrong to catch one when you’ve just come from Michigan to Florida. I hope it’s one of those I can over-come in a day or two.

I am still functioning, but have a headache and my drippy nose is making me feel lousy.


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Thursday in Paradise

Tuesday night we were invited to dinner at the home of a fellow we met last year. He’s a widower. I think he’s kinda lonely. We spent a nice evening with him, and the meal was super. He’s an interesting guy who has a million stories. We both like him.

Tonight we’ll go to Rockin’ Rendevous in the clubhouse. Friday there’s a noon pool party/barbeque.

It’s really nice down here. Yesterday it was over-cast, but it didn’t stop us from spending a couple hours at the pool. Today it’s supposed to reach 86 degrees and should stay under 90 for the next week.

When we drove in our golfcart back from Bob’s house it Tuesday night was about 8:45. We couldn’t believe how there was no one on the streets. We saw two or three other golf carts, but in the two miles or so that we traveled through the complex, the roads were empty. Normally the traffic is really heavy. But these old folks must be in bed by 9:00.

We’re about ready to head over to see Mom. We’ll be back here by 4:00 so we can go to the South Clubhouse for an evening of fun. Hopefully we can crowd in a visit to the pool before then. We’ll try the main pool. Since we started going to the South Club, we haven’t gone back to the main facility. I guess it’s been remodeled and it’s lots closer.

The cart is really working out perfectly for us. 20 mph sounds slow, but when buzzing around, it’s warp speed.

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Sunday in Sun City

Our new (to us) golf cart is getting quite a workout. About 1:00 we picked up Mom and took her out for a milk shake at Java Cow (a new business in town). Mom rode willingly but did complain that the sun was hot. She woofed down her shake and really seemed to enjoy it. We took her the “round about” way back to her nursing home.

After leaving her, we decided to drop in on her husband, Hoagie. He’s miserable, not because his care isn’t top notch, but he feels he’s totally lost control of everything. He wants to make decisions and be free to come and go. He’s 97, can’t walk, and is in no condition to be on his own. Previously he lived in the assistant living part of the same facility, but he had no one to interact with him. Now he’s in a secure unit, with people around him. He’s forced into a “community.” It is actually a better set-up for him but the decision to be moved wasn’t his. He’s mad. He’s resentful.

So we took him out. Getting him in the golf cart wasn’t easy, but we managed. We drove him back to the condo complex and he visited with some of his good friends. He’s especially close to his friend, Dale. He talked out some of his frustrations, and we found some ways to make him feel more in control.

When it was time to take him back, he didn’t complain. I think he felt we’d given him the opportunity to be “in charge” and to make some decisions. He felt he had some of his dignity back.

Over the next month we’ll give him lots of chances to go out with us. If we can get him to tell us where he wants to go and what he wants to see, maybe he’ll realize he can have some “control.” I’m sure he’ll feel better about his situation. At least I hope so. He’s a proud man. He needs his dignity back.

Visits with Mom and Hoagie took up most of the afternoon. We also needed some groceries so it was about 4:00 before we finally got to the pool for our daily dip. At 4:00 the sun was low enough that we didn’t have to worry as much about getting a little too much like we did yesterday.

It was a fun Sunday.

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Florida’s deserted

As I’ve stated several times, we make two trips to Florida each year: one from mid-September to late October, and the other from early February until late March. The February-March visit is peak season and the crowds then are huge. Everywhere you go the snowbirds have the place straining to capacity. In February-March, we must arrive at the pool early in order to secure two lounge chairs. And you can be sure that every available chair at the Thursday evening Rockin’ Rendevous will be taken.

This time of the year the absence of the majority of the snowbirds is noticeable. This picture was taken Wednesday afternoon with temperatures about 90 degrees. Today (Saturday) there were a few more folks, but definitely not like we experience during the spring. (If you scroll way down, you can see a photo taken in March and I’m sure you’ll see the difference.)

No one's around

The Thursday night dance had a crowd that was down by about 75%. We left early because “nothing was happening.”

This afternoon we were pleased to run into our friend, Bob Taylor. We call him the “Worm King” because he made his fortune selling night-crawlers to fishing outlets all over the mid-west. He’s a sweet, single widower, and a really down to earth guy, dispite his “very comfortable” financial situation. He’s interesting with quite a remarkable history in his 75 years. It was great to see him looking tanned and relaxed.

When we left in the spring, Bob was having a new home built. He’s since moved into it. We missed his house-warming party in April when he had 125 guests.

Bob was especially pleased to see us because (like us) he’s finding that a lot of his friends are still up north so he feels a little deserted. He invited us to come over to his place Tuesday evening for small dinner party (six of us). Sounds like a fun evening.

I’m anxious to see his new glorious “digs.”

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We’re now true Florida old folks

Yesterday we bought a golf cart:

New to us golf cart

We’ve been struggling with the problem taking Mom places since our only available vehicle is our four wheel drive diesel truck. There’s no way we can get her up into it. And it’s so large that it’s difficult to manage it in crowded parking lots. So Thursday we purchased a used golf cart and we picked it up yesterday afternoon. It’s fun. We can get nearly anywhere in Kings Point and Sun City Center. There is a grid of golf cart trails that take you from one end of town to the other. In 1999, there were about 9,500 residents and 4,000 registered golf carts. There are probably twice that many people now and an equal ratio of golf carts. We’re now part of the “in crowd.”

Before we bought it, we took Mom for a spin in it and she did fine. As you can see above, it’s a four seater. We had a seat belt installed for the front passenger seat and the back seat directly behind so we can buckle her in and maybe even take Hoagie with us. It also has a full “enclosure” so we can close it in if the weather is bad.

Tomorrow we want to take her for a milk shake, Tuesday we’ll be taking her to her dentist. We’ll get on the cart trail and be there in less than 10 minutes.

It’s fun being Florida old folks.

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Joy in small things

Mom knew us!

We visited her the first thing Wednesday a.m.

Her glasses were broken so she had to squint to see, but I asked if she knew me and she said, “Yes, you’re Sharon.” I was so relieved.

I said to her, “You told me you’d remember me and you did. Thank you!”

And then to make things better she said, without prompting, “Hi, John.”

She’s gained a little weight. She had just had her hair done and she looked lovely.

I see a real improvement in her from day to day. The stimulation of family and the extra attention brings out the best in her. Today she looked at a photo I’d brought her of her siblings. She recited their names, all seven of them!

We had the bow replaced on her glasses, tomorrow there’ll be shopping for some new clothes for her, Tuesday we have a dental appointment for her. Being a daughter in this situation is a full time job.

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Settling in — the problems

When I last wrote we were fighting the love bugs. It was Tuesday. We were somewhere north of Sun City Center.

We got to the condo about 3:30 and expected that we’d move in and relax.

Nope! It wasn’t to happen.

We were locked out. The locks had been changed in April and we weren’t advised. So we stood outside in the 90+ heat waiting for a lady who had a key. Needless to say, we were upset. They knew we were coming but no one told us about the lock change and provided us with a key.

But the problems didn’t end there. We found the place had been stripped of a lot of the stuff that was here when we went home in March. It wasn’t theft in the genuine sense of the word, but we felt victimized.

My mom and her husband (Hoagie) had lived in the condo for 16 years before they were moved into the nursing home where they are now cared for. It was “his” place when they got married, but when they combined homes much of the stuff was Mom’s.

We have been using the condo regularly for the past two years (four times for a total about a month to six weeks each time). Hoagie’s daughter is the only other one to use the place. She comes about once a year for a weekend.

She came down in April to take possession of Mom and Mom’s husband’s car. (That’s another story.) While she was here she cleaned the place out. I’m sure much of it went in the trash. A lot of it she was entitled to and I have no problem with her taking. Things like crystal that was her dad’s should have been removed, but she went well beyond that.

She may have felt all the food stuff was all old and out-of-date, but much of it we had purchased. We had left behind lot of staples that wouldn’t spoil. It’s all gone. When we went home in March, we left a fully stocked house and now nothing is here including toilet paper. At least she left the furniture, but Mom’s dishes, towels, most of the silverware, everything is gone! And we didn’t bring the stuff we knew we left. Things like the toaster, mixer, spices, etc. etc. are missing. We’ll be here for six weeks and we will have to buy lots of essentials.

It’s maddening! I should explain my mother has a “Life Estate” in the condo. It’s a legal term that is written into the deed and says that for her whole life, the place is hers to use (or rent out) or do whatever benefits her. We feel our presence is the best thing for her.

She and her husband jointly owned the condo for a period of time, then she deeded it over to his trust so that eventually it’ll be inherited by his kids (which is only fair), but during her life-time it’s hers to use. The presence of that “Life Estate” provision gives us the right to be here.

But Tuesday our problems didn’t end with the discovery of the missing items.

Let me describe the condo. It has two bedrooms, two baths, a small kitchen, dining area, living room, and then across the back there’s a glassed in “lanai.” Connecting to the lani is a small room normally used as a golf cart garage and next to it a laundry room which has a door leading to a workshop. The golf cart garage was used for storage of lawn furniture and had a couple of cabinets for miscellaneous items. There’s also an extra refrigerator.

When we opened the sliding doors between the living room and the lanai the overwhelming stench of mold hit us. The lanai isn’t air conditioned but it is carpeted and is arranged like a living area. Normally the door between that room and the golf cart garage is closed, but it was open. The golf cart garage roof had leaked and the place was a disaster. Things had molded all over them. There had been a bag of charcoal but the bag had dissolved! An animal had gotten in and there were feces all over the place. It was sickening.

Then it started to rain hard and the roof in the golfcart garage roof leaked.. not a tiny drip, but like a facet turned on. We brought out buckets and tried to catch it, but the carpet was soaked from previous rain storms.

What a mess.

But we’re here.

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Day Three of our Trip..

We just left Tifton, GA, after enjoying a nice “brunch.” complete with pecan waffles. We had a few showers last evening in Macon, Ga, and now we’re just ahead of huge black clouds that are in the forecast for the area. Hopefully we can out-run them.

We’re wondering if we’ll run into love-bugs. Last September, when we came down, they were really bad near the Florida/Georgia border.

And just what are “love-bugs,” you ask? They’re harmless flying critters that seem to do nothing but mate, multiply into vast hordes, and then aim their duo-linked bodies for your windshield and headlights. Last September the infestation was especially bad. In a restaurant near the Stephen Foster National Park in northern Florida, we asked what they were, and the waitress explained that they are a real nusiance. If not washed from your vehicle, they can corrode the paint. They’re just nasty. She said they sweep them up several times a day. They’re always mating even when they fly, hence the name.

Along the roadway, Georgia has planted a lot of decorative grass. It’s the really tall, heavy tassled stuff. They use it along the highway right of way fences.

So what are our plans while in Florida, beside visiting with Mom? We want to hang out at the pool, go to Rockin’ Rendevous at the South Clubhouse every Thursday (it’s a fun friendly dance), go to the Moose for grouper on Friday nights (it’s fish that’s not as good as Michigan walleye, but not bad), and just take it easy. In mid-October, we need to get busy practicing our holiday tunes for our first Christmas gig at Warmbier Farms on November 4th.


At the 18 mile marker (near Valdosta, GA ) we spotted our first palm trees. Yup, if the ya’alls and grits had convinced us that we’re in the south, we now have visual proof.


The forecast for the Sun City Center area of Florida is for a few days of showers. Hopefully they’ll be spotty enough so we can enjoy the pool.

We’ve established a pattern of two extended (about six week) trips down here to Florida; one in February-March and one in September-October, so we kind of know what to expect. This time of the year, there aren’t the crowds of “snow birds” that we experience during our spring trip. Lots of folks who spend part of their year in Florida wait until right after the holidays to come down. We’ll probably have some hot weather, but not any worse than a Michigan summer. We just passed a couple of large campgrounds which were nearly empty. It’s definitely not like the February-March period when everyone wants to be down here it the warm climate.


Well, we hit the bugs. We stopped for gas at the 2 mile marker just before leaving Georgia and there they were, flying in tandem. The female appears to drag the male along. She’s definitely larger and stronger. They’re totally black except for a little red on their heads. They were so thick that you found yourself batting them away as you walked. Take my word for it, they’re yucky.

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On the road again

By the end of 2006, we’ll have been away from home 40% of the time. Our travels included the cross country adventure to visit my daughter in California, attendance at festivals, camping trips, trips to the U.P. and trips to visit my mother (who has alzheimers and lives in Florida).

This morning (September 17th) at about 9:15 we started out for Florida. We’ll be down there approximately six weeks (returning on October 26th). This is the fourth time we’ve driven down since February 2005. (Each time we stay from 4 to 6 weeks.)

Mom and her husband, Hoagie, both reside special needs units in a lovely assisted living facility, Aston Gardens.

Mom’s life certainly isn’t what I’d have wished for her, but she’s comfortable and her deterioration seems to have slowed down considerably. She has a lovely room, nice care-givers, and great food. In her condition, there isn’t more I can wish for her.

Folks often ask why we don’t bring her back to Michigan, but 97-year-old Hoagie her husband of 17 years is down there, and she’s doing well. We have been told that consistency is important so she will probably live out her life there. Besides, the facility is actually less expensive than similar places in Michigan.

The condo that they lived in is empty, except when we or Hoagie’s daughter visit.

It’s a two bedroom, two bath duplex, in King’s Point, a gated community. The place needs major up-dating and remodeling. We love the King’s Point community where it’s located. There are lots of fun people, activities galore, and facilities (pools, club houses, exercise rooms, etc.) and a luxury resort feel. The neighbors are super nice people. We feel more welcome there than at our home in Michigan.

You can see the King’s Point South Club Pool here: One of the King's Point pools

If anything ever happens to Hoagie (he’s 97 and has had multiple strokes, we know it’s always a sad possibility), we may buy the place so we can continue to visit Mom. We can’t imagine a nicer community to live in.

We will arrive in Sun City Center by Tuesday mid-afternoon.

Our over-night stops will be in London, KY, tonight and Macon, GA, tomorrow night. (We’d thought about taking a more easterly route rather than going straight down I-75, but we’ve decided that we’ll go directly down, but maybe, on the return trip, we’ll schedule some extra time and come back through the Smoky Mountain National Park since the color should be excellent according to the Foliage Network website , which provides an archive of previous years’ color patterns.

Last time we visited Mom, one of the nice people we’ve met (Sandy), organized a lunch cruise out of Clearwater. It was great fun. That evening we ate at a beach front restaurant as the sun set.

Sunset at Clearwater

Should be a nice stay. Today is Mom’s 85th birthday. I will be calling her shortly to remind her that we’re on our way. Sadly she won’t remember when we hang up that we’re coming, but hopefully she’ll still know me.

I’ll write more later.

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