Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Tax Man

As an addendum to yesterdays entry, Bob and I didnt just move our money from that ministry because of the apparent moral downfall of its founder.  We feel that we are stewards of our money and we dont know the founders new husband.  We dont know how he handles money.  We dont know, as the new director, how he will allocate funds or run the ministry now.  We would like to have more information before we proceed to give more money to this ministry.  Maybe after a year, we will revisit our contribution plans and see how things are being run there.  If they are in the black, still growing, and still in the business of helping orphans around the world, then maybe we can resume our donations to them.  We just feel that as good stewards, we cant knowingly continue to give to this ministry in light of the change of leadershipas well as in light of the apparent moral decline of its leader.

Bob met with the tax guy he knows yesterday.  Our taxes are done and we are getting quite a good refund this year.  Everything has been filed, so we could be getting our refund as soon as next week.  This is the earliest we have ever had our taxes done.  Usually we complete them in February or March.  The guy who did them is a paraplegic Bob met while working at the store.  He said he would do our taxes for $60 and then after he did them, he only charged Bob $30.  He also looked over last years and the year befores taxes and said that they were done perfectly.  That was a relief to me as I did them using tax software. Last year, if you remember, I thought the software had cheated us because of a glitch.  It turns out that everything was right and correct.  Whew!  We are using most of our tax return to pay bills, but a small portion will be put aside for next years vacation and another small portion will be used to buy Bob a juicer since the Magic Bullet juicer isnt really doing the job in that sense.

Robyn at www.bitchypoo.com had RNY Gastric Bypass surgery yesterday.  Go and wish her well on her journey.  I sent her a card and bought her a couple of books off her wish list because she will certainly have some time to read.  This is a slow healing surgery.  Not so much on the outside, but she will be on liquids only and purees for at least a month if not more.  When I had my surgery, I read a lot because watching TV was almost torture because of all the food featured in commercials and such.  Although I do remember watching a lot of the Food Network for some reason.  I think I was torturing myself, apparently. Anyway, go say hi to Robyn.

I had my first night of school in 3 weeks last night.  It was good to be back and good to see my classmates.  Its a pretty easy class.  Mostly it is how to use Photoshop. Its about time I had a cake class after last semester.  Our assignment for next week is to format 3 photos for web and 3 photos for print.  CAKE I tell you!

Oh, I found out something yesterday.  You see, it pays to pay attention and ask questions. I emailed our local MDA office to ask for more information about Bobs nomination for the MDA Goodwill Ambassador.  It turns out the nomination is not for him to be NATIONAL Ambassador, but to be the Minnesota/State Ambassador.  Oh! There you go.  Still, quite an honor and he is still quite flattered.  We still dont know much more than that though.

So, next Saturday, February 11 is the Walk for Wheels.  We are walking to raise money for a handicapped accessible van for Bob.  Do any of you want to sponsor me on this walk?  If so, please email me at amiebea@msn.com and I will get you a copy of the sponsor sheet.  We will be walking for 2 hour, from 1-3 at local area malls.  Please join us if you are in the Minnetonka area.  Also, we are having a potluck at work tomorrow to raise money for the van.  People bring food and then pay $6 to partake.  Whats funny is these are the people I work with, but we are no longer a part of them as far as the corporate structure is concerned.  When my boss contacted the department that we are a part of, corporately speaking, they said they couldnt do anything.  Nice.  However, my bosss boss is giving a rather large donation from her own pocket, so thats nice.  I think we are about a third of the way there.  Wont you consider helping us?  We will still be collecting funds until April.  We HAVE to have the money in the sellers hand by April 15th.  Donations ARE tax deductible.  Please contact me if you want to help.


Monday, January 30, 2006

The Pedestal Topples

Bob and I had to make a very tough decision yesterday.  It is heartbreaking.  Some back-story

There is a ministry that Bob and I have supported since the start of our marriage.  It is a ministry that helps orphans in Kenya, Ukraine, Guatemala, Russia, and Haiti.  We have always thought that one day we would work with this ministry to adopt a child from one of those countries.  We liked the ministry, we felt linked to it.  We liked the founder/originator and staff of the ministry.  We sent money annually through the United Way fundraising campaign through my work and sent other funds as needed when we could.  We attended their parties, read their letters, cried over the many, many children who needed homes and longed to be parents to them.  We rejoiced in the stories of the children who found forever families and praised God for all He was doing to make the lives of orphans around the world better through the efforts of this ministry.

Sometime last year I received a correspondence from the founder of this ministry and noticed her last name was different.  I thought that odd, but was not really concerned since the name I used to know her under was quite lengthy and difficult to spell.  I thought maybe she changed it to her maiden name for ease and simplicity.  I logged onto the ministrys website in hopes of finding some info on the change and didnt find anything. After that, I basically forgot about it.  Until this week.

We received our year-end giving report from this ministry and once again, the different last name of the founder puzzled me.  At church yesterday, I was chatting with a friend and happened to mention this curious development.  My friend told me that the founder and her husband went to counseling for a family matter and the founder ended up divorcing her husband of many years and a month later married their counselor.  He is now no longer a counselor, but is the director of this ministry. 

Bob and I are heartbroken by this development for many reasons, many of which I cant share here.  We looked up to this woman and her (original) husband.  We enjoyed their company and admired their marriage and family.  We were proud to be a part of such a wonderful and growing ministry and looked forward to working with them in the future.  We wrestled with this all day yesterday.   We have money going to this ministry every month.  Bob wondered aloud if we should be donating to them any longer.  I was hesitant to pull our money out because of the children we have helped and could continue helping.  We decided we would each take 3 hours to pray and think on the matter.  We came back later and both agreed to put our money into another ministry that helps children and orphans.  The thing that swung us both in that direction is the fact that this counselor guy is now the director of this ministry.  Since we dont know him nor do we know of his business acumen, we are hesitant to give any more money.  If, in another year, we see that this ministry is still going strong, is growing, and still helping orphans, we may rethink our decision.  However, based on the details we know (much of which I have not shared here), we feel this is the best course of action.

When Bob first learned of all of this, his first reaction was anger and harsh judgment.  When I first heard, I felt as if the world had turned upside-down.  It made no sense at all in light of the woman I felt I knew.  I was so sad, sorry, and confused.  I still am.  I am dragging my feet in changing our contribution, though the ministry we are changing to, is very dependable and a strong presence in the community I wish this hadnt happened.  I wish things were different. 

Sunday, January 29, 2006

A Weekend of Nothing Much

Well we are definitely not in Florida anymore. It snowed a bit over the weekend and has been a little bit colder and more winter-like. My parents are on the tail end of their trip to Hawaii and I wish I were with them, if just for a little bit more sun and warmth.

I didn’t do much this weekend and yet a got quite a bit accomplished. I managed to finish my homework from last week and for tomorrow and submit it all by email so that’s done. Feels good. I also got all our receipts and tax info together. Bob is meeting with the tax guy tomorrow and not only did he want all this year’s info, he requested Bob bring last year’s tax info as well as the year before. Bob met this guy at the station. He’s also in a wheelchair and is only charging us $60! Anyway, I managed to get all our receipts and tax info together and then I shredded all the old bills and tax paperwork we had been holding onto for way too long.

I made the best chili yet. I browned a pound of ground beef and a pound of ground turkey along with chopped onion and some garlic. I added that to a large can of tomato puree, a can of black beans, a can of red pinto beans, a can of rotel tomatoes with chilies, a couple of teaspoons of cumin, and a couple of teaspoons of medium chili powder and a bottle of beer. It was THE BEST. I served it over home made mashed potatoes and covered it all with cheese. So good.

I washed about a million dishes this weekend. Our dishwasher is horrible. It doesn’t matter what soap I use or if I use jet dry or not…our dishes all come out with a white filmy glaze on them, so I have to wash them all by hand. That kind of sucks. I also cleaned the cat boxes. Another job I’m not so fond of.

I got a call from my Grandma yesterday and it turns out she is moving to our town! She is coming from the town she has lived in or near since she married my Grandpa. This is HUGE! Apparently one of her cousins has an apartment in a senior living facility on the other side of the interstate from where we live and invited Grandma to live there too. She will have a two bedroom, two bathroom place and will be near family. They have activities and shuttles to local stores. She will be less than 3 miles from us! She is moving here in a little over a month and I can’t wait! I hope she likes it and isn’t too lonely for her old home town. It’s the town all 6 of her sons, my mom, me, and my brother were all born in and with her moving here, we kind of lose our connection to it. Well, other than my parents class reunions, I guess. There isn’t much there anymore. My mom has a sister there, but the town has been slowly dying and once they lost the meat packing plant to fire several years ago, there wasn’t much left of it to save.

We went to church today for the first time in forever. It was nice. So many people commented on how they thought we must have left the church, but really, it’s just because we can’t get there as often when the weather is so iffy and because of Bob’s weird sleep problems and pain. Anyway, it was so nice to see our old friends again and be part of the service. It was like coming home.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Back to the Grind

So its only been 3 days since we got back from Florida and today is only my second day back at work and, other than brief remembrances of sun, warmth, and sleeping in, it doesnt feel like I went on vacation at all.  However, the weather here in MN has been somewhat Florida like.  Yesterday was sunny and the temperature was almost 50 degrees.  Today is sunny and they are expecting the temps to top out over 50.  How crazy is that?  Presumably, we brought back the sun and warmth with us.  Bob and I are both peeling now, so if this weather holds, maybe we can get some color back.

Bob and I are still flying high with the news that hes our local MDA chapters nomination for the national Goodwill Ambassador.  We still dont know much more on that, but they have emailed him a form to fill out.  And we did find out that MN Hearing and Service Dogs will be contacting Bob at the end of February or beginning of March to match him with a dog.  So we will be waiting a while on that.

 So Ive used the Magic Bullet.  Ive only juiced with it, I havent used it for its chopping or slicing capabilities yet.  It works fineits OK.  Why was I so excited about owning this product?  Stupid Infomercials! Its fine for juicing, but you have to juice a ton of fruit and veggies to get one cup of juice and I have to stop it and clean it out at least 4 times before I complete a full cup.  Today I cut up 8 apples, 2 carrots, and a handful each of strawberries, watermelon, and cranberries and was able to fill one of the Magic Bullet plastic cups about ¾ full.  Its worth it to me because this is the only way Bob will eat any fruit and some veggies.  At least this way I can get a cup of good stuff into him.

I dont know why this gets me so jazzed up, but it does.  Ever since weve been married, whenever Ive sneezed, Bob just ignores me and wont say, Bless you.  Its always kind of bugged me, but he explained that hes never done that and probably never will.  Well, the other day, I sneezed a GIANT sneezetwice.  And Bob said bless you both times!  This was huge for me but I dont know why.  Ive never felt so loved by this man who is my husband until he blessed my sneeze.  Weird, no?

Speaking of my husband and our relationshipI have an issue that I need to work out.  I am willing to accept advice, but I am NOT willing to accept assvice and you assvice givers know who you are.  Also, if you are a member of my family, please do not read further.  This issue is kind of sensitive and it might upset you to read of it. Everybody got it?  Ready?  Good!

Heres the deal.  Bob and I have been trying to communicate about our sex life.  When I am in the mood, our sex life is very, very good.  When Im not, its not.  It ends up where I feel I have to be the initiator because Bob wont.  He says that when he tried to initiate, I tell him no or say Im not in the mood.  This might be true.  While in Florida, he asked me and I said I wasnt in the mood, but given the right circumstances could probably get there.  So he held me and kissed my neck and rubbed me andI fell back to sleep.  He was sad.  I tried to tell him that women are not like men and cant get turned on in seconds.  We need to be wooed and involved and warmed up.  I even gave him the women are like crock pots, men are like microwaves analogy.  Even after all of that, he didnt understand that I wasnt rejecting him, I just need more time and motivation than he does when hes the one initiating.  He said he just wont initiate anymore.  So, were kind of at an impasse.  Anyone else have any experience with this?  Let me know how you worked through it. Im not so good with you telling me how to get through this as I am interested in know how you worked through it yourself.  Thanks.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Good News Keeps on Coming!

This man is my hero!

I didn’t have to go into work today. I had planned to take today off in order to run errands, unpack, buy groceries, etc. I had a doctor’s appointment after 10 this morning. It was for my annual physical, minus the pap smear I had done the first week of January. I was thankful for the appointment because my right thumb has been hurting. I took off the Band-Aid I had covering it and it was all angry red and puss-y. Blech. The doctor prescribed an antibiotic for me to take so the infection clears and my thumb feels better. All day long I’ve been banging my thumb on stuff and that stinker HURTS! Plus, you never know how much you use your thumb for stuff until it hurts to use it.

Before my doctor’s appointment, I called the attorney who subpoenaed me. She said I was called because I was the reporting party that got the guy arrested. She gave me a couple of the details, including the date of the call. I still could not remember this event, so I told her I would send in the orange sheet with my contact details and for her to let me know if the guy pleads guilty. She said she would.

The doctor asked me a bunch of questions about my health history and personal habits. One of her questions was about my use of sun screen. I laughed and said I do use it but just came back from Florida with a nasty sunburn despite my use of it. She said in the future I need to wear at least SPF 45 and reapply it every half hour.

After my doctor’s appointment, I stopped to pick up lunch for me and Bob and drop off my prescription. I got home and Bob was awake and crying. I was immediately alarmed and asked Bob what was wrong. He’s really been suffering through a lot of pain lately, so I thought maybe it finally got to him. Thankfully, that was not the case. Instead, he told me that Jodi from our local MDA office had called and asked him if he would accept their nomination for national MDA Goodwill Ambassador. This is a high honor and one we don’t take lightly. I’m not sure what happens next, but as the cliché says, it’s just an honor being nominated.

Bob and I ate our lunch and then went to pick up the mail the post office had been holding for us. We got almost a whole plastic tub full after being gone 10 full days. We also went by our church to pick up Bob’s wedding ring. He lost it over a month ago after a fall. One of the pastors found it and had been holding on to it since then. Once he had that, we stopped by the pharmacy to pick up my prescription and then headed for home. While we drove, we talked about the subpoena. I told him what the attorney told me and we figured out that Bob was the one who made the call and he was the one they should call as a witness.

Once home, we started to go through the mail where we found more good news. Bob has officially been accepted into the MN Service and Hearing Dogs program! He is going to get a service dog. The next step is to be matched with a dog. Bob is so excited and is anxious to see what kind of dogs they will put him with. His favorites are German Shepherds, Australian Shepherds, and Blue Heelers…all of which are in the program.

Also in the mail was my new “Every Day with Rachael Ray” magazine. LOVE IT! I also got my new Cooking Light magazine. I like it, but their recipes seem a little on the fancy side. I just don’t have the things they use on hand and would have to buy these things special. Rachael’s recipes are more user and pantry friendly.

Also in the mail was our late Christmas present arrival. We finally received our Magic Bullet! I can’t wait to use it. I want to make salsa and smoothies and grate cheese and herbs. Bob wants me to make fruit juice for him with the juicer attachment. I hope it’s as fun and easy to use as they make it seem on TV. Anyone else have one? Leave me a comment and give me your story.

Once we went through all the mail, I went to the grocery store. We were out of everything. I bought some fruits and veggies to use with our new Magic Bullet. I am most looking forward to making some homemade apple cranberry juice. Yum. What was not yum was our grocery bill after I found everything we needed. I still didn’t get everything on my list. Bob will get the rest from Aldi’s tomorrow.

After I got home, I called the attorney to tell her what Bob and I had figured out and that he was the one they should call. She wondered aloud why my name had ended up on the original paperwork and I had to admit I did not know. She said she would mail Bob’s subpoena and I should have him mail back the enclosed portion when he receives it. I assured her I would but also let her know that Bob needed to use Metro Mobility and would not be able to just get there at the drop of a hat. She noted that and said it probably would not go to trial anyway.

Tomorrow is my first day back at work. It is my first day back to the normal grindstone. I feel ready and hope I am. I have gifts for people there and am excited to hand those out. I hope there is not a gigantic pile of stuff for me to catch up on.

Finally, I was tagged by B.E.C.K. at http://animperfectlife.blogspot.com with this meme:

- kitchen aide at a nursing home
- morning drive time announcer/DJ for non-profit radio station
- news reporter/anchor at a big time news/talk radio station and another non-profit station
- admin for a large project in Amsterdam working for the Billy Graham Association. I lived there for over a month while working on that project
- When Harry Met Sally
- The Emperor’s New Groove
- Elf
- The Wedding Singer
- Sioux Falls, SD
- Basking Ridge, NJ
- Frederick, MD
- Wisconsin Rapids, WI
only four????
- Lost
- Gilmore Girls
- Veronica Mars
-any CSI or Law and Order
- http://www.lileks.com/bleats/index.html
- http://www.startribune.com/
- http://www.televisionwithoutpity.com/
- http://www.fm107.fm/
- Pizza
- Pad see yew with chicken
- omelets
- Mexican food in all shapes and sizes
- California
- Hawaii
- An island in the south seas

Seriously, if you would like to be tagged for this little game, please consider yourself tagged and write me a note in comments so I can be sure to visit your site, too! It’s good to be back. Posted by Picasa

There is No Place Like Home

We left Daytona today. Last night we slept with the window to our room wide open. There is no lullaby greater than that of the ocean waves crashing against the shore. I will miss that.

I woke up at 4:30 and could not get back to sleep. So I got up, got dressed, and went outside to watch the sunrise. Bob heard me and followed me out. He said I would have to wait at least another hour and a half to two hours. It started to rain while we were out there, so I moved to one of the tables with an umbrella and sat down to enjoy the sea. We could see the shrimp boats on the horizon and the white foam of the crashing waves but little else in the inky blackness. We grew cold so we went in to have some coffee and breakfast. I made toast for Bob and heated up my leftover omlet from the day before. Once we were finished eating, Bob decided he wanted to sleep a bit more and I went back outside.

Once outside, I could see people walking the dark beach and a lone fisherman not too far down the shore. I could see the sea gulls gathering around the fisherman, hoping to snag his catch before he could get it fully reeled in.

The sun was slow in coming and it seemed as though it would be night forever. Finally, the sky began to lighten and I decided to go for one last beach walk. Today I wore jeans and a sweatshirt in preparation for our trip back to MN. It worked though as the sea air can be chilly first thing in the morning. Though I LOVE the ocean, I’m not so hip to living near it as I once was. Everything gets coated in a salty mist and the air is so humid, it makes everything feel wet. I wasn’t a fan of that.

When I got back to the motel, Bob was on the veranda waiting for me. He was feeding the gulls the remainder of our bread and cereal while he waited. I met him on the veranda and we watched the ocean some more together, saying goodbye. We were both homesick and ready to return to MN, though we weren’t ready to return to winter and our landlocked state.

While Bob had some more coffee, I packed up the Cruiser and check us out of the motel. Overall, I have to say, we would stay at the Atlantic Ocean Palm Inn again. It wasn’t a 4 or 5 star place, but for a family run place, it was clean, well run, and when I complained of ants on our first full day, they were sprayed right away and we didn’t have a problem again. Two thumbs up.

It was 8am and we were on the road back to Orlando to drop off our rental car and check in for our flight. It was cloudy and somewhat rainy when we left Daytona, but the closer we got to Orlando, the sunnier it became. We got to the airport around 10 and found the drop-off point for our rental car. They scanned our mileage and gas gauge and charged us only what we were quoted. Whew. It turns out we ended up driving the Cruiser almost 800 miles in 10 days. I am glad they had unlimited mileage. It’s funny; I used to loathe the PT Cruiser. I thought it was a twee family van and just too cute for words. But after driving one for 10 days, I ended up really liking it. It was sporty, zippy, got good gas mileage and had lots of room for Bob’s manual wheelchair and our other stuff. I would buy one if given the opportunity and cash. I admit this much to my own humiliation.

Once we dropped off the car, we loaded up a cart and headed for the Sun Country counter. We got there and there was no one at the counter. So we waited. After about 10 minutes, other travelers began to line up behind us. After another 10 minutes, someone finally came to the counter to wait on us. They tagged our bags, printed our boarding passes, and sent us on our way.

We got to the inspection line and there seemed to be hundreds of people waiting. But with Bob being in a wheelchair, we have found we are usually ushered right through and ushered through quite speedily. It’s a nice perk in an otherwise horrible circumstance.

Once through inspection, we stopped at Burger King to have a bite and then headed for our gate. While there, I took out my laptop and was pleasantly surprised to see that I could get free wifi. Score! Thankfully, we only had to wait for an hour before boarding. I have to give Sun Country credit. Once pre-boarding began, they came and got Bob and wheeled him to the plane. They seated us in the very front row and then they took Bob’s chair to the bulkhead storage area.

The flight was fine…uneventful…which is what you want in a flight. It was also a pleasantly empty flight. Flying on a weekday is apparently better if you don’t want to be crowded. They served us two beverages, a warm cheeseburger, and a cookie. Another nice perk for flying Sun Country. I read four trashy magazines while Bob napped and then we were descending into Minneapolis. It was grey and looked cold and there was a wind advisory. There were unusually strong winds when we flew into Orlando on the start of our vacation and there were unusually strong winds at the end of our trip at home in Minneapolis. Weird.

When we got off the plane, a Sun Country staff member was there with Bob’s chair and she pushed him all the way to the baggage area. I have to say, this is the first time I have flown with them and I am impressed. Based on this experience, I look forward to flying with them again in the future.

We got our bags in short measure and then set to wait for our Metro Mobility ride. We had to wait a whole hour. I got out my laptop and saw that while the Minneapolis airport had wifi, they charged a one time $6.95 fee to use it. Bummer. I spent the time writing this journal entry in Word and updating my photos.

The Metro Mobility guy showed up on time (for once) and turned out to be a guy Bob grew up with in the “hood in North Minneapolis. Apparently, Bob had been good friends with this guy’s twin brother. They chatted all the way to our home and had a great time catching up.

Once we got home, we greeted our kitties and I set about unpacking. I did so in about an hour and hoped to spend the rest of the night just chilling in our apartment. Apparently, this was not to be. Our neighbor Becky was going to stop by to see us, so when I heard a knock on the door, I assumed it would be her, so I yelled out, “Be right there Becky!”. I opened the door only to find my friend from work standing there. She was one of our cat-sitters while we were gone and was stopping by to drop off our key. We were in the midst of a good “catch up” when someone else knocked on the door. I yelled out, “come in Becky!” only to have the door open and reveal a tall, dark, handsome policeman. This was somewhat disconcerting. He laughed and said, “It’s not Becky.” He then served me with a subpoena and checked my ID to see that I was who I said I was. Then he left. I opened the envelope only to be more confused. It seemed I was a witness for the State of MN against a guy whose name I didn’t recognize. It said I had to be available to testify on Wednesday, Feb 8th. Bob and I tried to think what this could be in reference to, but we could not come up with anything. I put the paperwork by the phone so I would remember to call the attorney in the morning.

While Peg and I were still talking, there was another knock on the door. It still wasn’t Becky. It was a father and son from our building asking for Bob. They wanted to chat with him about his fish and what they could be doing wrong with theirs as several have died in the past week. They chatted while Peg and I chatted and then they all left. Becky finally showed up about an hour later.

After all that activity and my early wake-up, I was exhausted so it was time to go to bed. It felt so good to be sleeping in our own bed. We had a great vacation. It was perfect. However, it is good to be home. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Another Low Key Day in Daytona

Today Bob woke me up around 7am to see the sunrise. I wasn’t sleeping so well due to the sunburn from the previous day and I had to get up to go to the bathroom anyway, so once I finished my business, I went outside to see what I could see. It was cloudy over the horizon, but the sun crept up over the clouds and it was pretty spectacular. There were people walking everything along the beach and a ton of noisy sea gulls and other birds. Once I’d taken in my fill of the scenery, Bob and I decided to go to breakfast. There was an IHOP and a Denny’s just down the street from our hotel. Bob had never graced the doorway of an IHOP, so it was decided that we would go to IHOP. It turned out to be a good decision. Bob ordered a ham and cheese omelet with toast and hash browns and I ordered a black bean and tomato omelet with pancakes. The coffee was good and hot and the food was fabulous and our bill was under $20.

I went to the front to pay our tab and met a woman who looked one cigarette away from death. She was skeletal thin, old, and wrinkly. Her teeth were nicotine yellow and black and her voice was gravelly and smelled of her last cigarette. I asked her and/or the gal taking my money who had won the football game last night; the Panthers or the Seahawks and they said the Seahawks. Go Mike Holmgren! They asked if I was from Washington and I said, “No, Minnesota”. They laughed about it being winter in MN and how cold it is there and that it was supposed to get colder in FL later in the week so it must be our fault. I laughed and said FL cold and MN cold are two mighty different things.

I went back and got Bob and the half of the omelet I couldn’t finish and we headed out. We were stopped in the parking lot by death lady who wanted us to go to a resort open house. She said they would give us a $60 dinner for free and a 5 day vacation in Daytona next year just for stopping by. We chatted a bit and then left. Both Bob and I agreed that we didn’t have it in us to sit through another timeshare presentation, so we baled on that and went shopping. Bob spotted a coin shop he wanted to check out and we also wanted to see what we could find to bring back as thank you gifts for his sister and brother in law.

At the coin shop Bob found a coin he liked, so he got it. I was perusing a case of rings and found 2 that I kind of fancied. Bob said if I found out how much they cost, he would get me one. I asked the guy and he said he’d give them both to me for ten bucks. One is silver with a turquoise star. Turquoise is my actual birthstone and I don’t usually like it, but this ring is cute. The other ring is gold plate with my other birthstone, blue zircon cut in an emerald shape and set with cubic zirconias on the side. I got them both.

After the coin shop, we went looking for a thank you gift at a local gift shop. We found several cute things, but the prices were prohibitive. Also, there were two sales girls working and neither one of them ever said anything to us or acknowledged our presence. So we left. We eventually decided to get his sister and brother in law an American Traveler’s gift card for their cruise next month. Across the street from the gift shop was an ice cream shop called Uncle Bob’s “Home Made” Ice Cream. I laughed and wondered aloud why Home Made was in quotes. It certainly did not make me want to stop in and see why their selections were called “home made”. Yikes!

We traveled back to the motel so Bob could sleep. He hadn’t slept at all the night before and instead had sat out on the terrace watching the ocean and the sky until the sun rose. He was exhausted. Not to mention that he was lobster red and probably not feeling the best because of the heat of his body. I changed into my swimsuit and a T-shirt and went for a walk. My muscles didn’t hurt as much today on my walk. I wish I had an ocean beach I could walk along every day at home in MN. I would have the butt of a Greek goddess! I walked about a mile, found a couple of cool shells and turned around and walked back. Once back, I swam in the sea for a bit before chickening out and coming back in. Also, the ocean water was cold and I wanted to warm up. I arranged a chaise on the motel veranda and read in the sun for a bit. It wasn’t as sunny as it had been the day before so when the clouds would cover the sun, the ocean breeze was a bit much. I decided to go in and change.

Bob was sleeping when I got in so I changed quietly and went to Publix to get some oranges to bring home. I also got change so I could do one load of laundry before we left.

I got back to the motel and made myself some lunch. Then I gathered our laundry and stuffed it in the washer. I was desperate enough to pay $1.50 a load for wash and $1.50 a load for dry, though I ended up having to pay ANOTHER $1.50 for more drying since one course of drying didn’t work.

While the clothes were washing, I read a book in our room as Bob slept. Once the clothes were done, I brought them back, folded them up, and packed them away. I also packed everything else that could be packed and threw away what could not be kept. Then I took a Jacuzzi while I watched the new Kim Possible movie.

Bob was still sleeping, so I decided to take a nap. Bob woke up and woke me up around 6 and he was bummed that he slept the whole day. I told him it was OK since it was cool and cloudy most of the day and I didn’t do much either. We ended up ordering a pizza for dinner and just chilled the rest of the night. We watched the DVD of Madagascar and then went to bed. It was a nice day.

This part of our trip was what I referred to as a vacation from our vacation. It was slower, lower key, less planned and way more relaxing. It took me about 24 hours to feel myself calming down. I kept thinking of things I had to do or places I had to go and there was nothing to do but sit by the ocean or the pool or take a dip or a walk. Or take a nap or rest. It was awesome. I realized that I need to do more of that kind of thing when I get home. I fill my day with so much activity and “must dos” that I miss just being. This part of the vacation was great to just be. Posted by Picasa

Sunday in Daytona With Bob

Today was our first full day in Daytona. Bob woke me up just before 7 to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic but I was so tired, I could not rouse myself enough to get up to see it. I ended up waking up close to 9, showering, slathering on some sun screen, and taking my coffee on the patio in order to take in the ocean in all its splendor. I ended up eating breakfast out there too. It was awesome. The air smelled of salt, sand, and sun tan lotion.

As I ate my breakfast, I reflected on a dream I’d had overnight. It was completely random and weird, as dreams can be. I dreamt I was married to a man I knew a long time ago named Kane. Except once we got married, we never consummated our marriage nor did we live together. For four years. I had wedding rings and remember saying vows but after that, we went our separate ways. In my dream, I asked Kane why we had even married and he said it was due to parental pressure. I also knew he was in love with another woman named Carrie. (In real life, Kane is married to Carrie.) So I was living my life alone but still married. Then a man I knew from church came to me and told me his wife had died the day before, leaving him to raise their four children alone. I cried with him and told him I’d be there for him for whatever he needed. In a not so coincidental turn of events, he told me he had been admiring me for a while and he’d like to pursue me and marry me. And he did just that. But I was conflicted for I was a married woman who though I was not living with my husband, nonetheless took my vows seriously. The whole rest of the dream was about this man pursuing me, me loving it and yet feeling very guilty and conflicted because of my sham of a marriage. I woke up without resolution. Odd, no.

Anyway, after breakfast I decided to take a walk down the road our motel is on. I walked about half a mile when I came across a drive-in church. Yes, a drive-in church. Church was in session, so I stopped in and joined part of the congregation in an air conditioned meeting room. The pews were lawn chairs and most of the people in that room were retirees. During the sermon, one guy even clipped his fingernails. That was a little distracting. Otherwise, the pastor gave a sermon, we sang songs, and we took communion, and gave tithes and offerings. Other than the fact that most of the congregation was sitting in their cars, it was just like church. It was pretty cool. The people were super friendly and it was extremely casual, just like you might expect a church near the beach to be.

After church I walked some more and found a fun souvenir store. I picked up some things to bring back as thank yous to the people who helped make our vacation possible. I got a couple of wind chimes, some refrigerator magnets, and other knick knack type things. I walked back to the motel to see if Bob was awake yet. He had been having a rough morning due to extreme pain and I thought it best if he slept as long as he could. He was awake and showering when I got back to the room, though. I had been gone almost 2 ½ hours and it was lunch time. I made us both sandwiches and chips which we ate on the terrace by the ocean. When near the ocean, you must eat every meal by the ocean.

After lunch we decided to walk the beach a bit. It was hard for Bob because the tide was high and the sand was not very stable where we were walking but he did pretty well, at least for a little while. We got to a point where he could go no further so I told him to wait where he was and I would go get the car and drive down the beach to meet him. It would have been fabulous except the tide was so high, they weren’t letting cars drive on the beach at that time. Thankfully, the lifeguard heard my plea and let me drive down to get Bob. I picked him up and drove him back to the motel. Once he was settled comfortably into a lounge chair, I went down to frolic in the surf. The water was cold but the day was warm and the cool water felt good. I tried to wade far into the waves, but they were big and frightening so I chickened out and stayed in the shallower, safer end of the ocean.

After swimming a bit, I decided to go for a walk. I walked a mile and a half down the beach and them back. By the time I got back to the motel my leg muscles were burning. Walking on sand gives you quite the workout. I decided to swim a bit more and then went to join Bob in a lounge by the pool. He was sitting exposed in the sun without sunscreen. I had sunscreen on but had been outside the entire day. I picked up a book and started to read and Bob decided to go in and watch a football game. I stayed outside until I could feel my skin heating up. I came in and showered and saw that I had the start of a sunburn. Not too bad of one, but enough that it would tingle and hurt overnight.

Once I showered, Bob thought it would be fun to go for a drive. So we hopped in the Cruiser and off we went. We ended up in Ponce Inlet and found a roadside bar and grill on the ocean. We stopped for dinner and had an amazing meal of fresh grouper. There were a bunch of people at the restaurant watching the football playoffs so the mood was light and jovial. I got up to go to the bathroom and had to wait. While waiting, a man went into the men’s room. Soon after, another man came by to use the men’s room and opened the door on the first man who had neglected to lock the door. THAT was a site I didn’t need to take with me. After dinner and watching the Pittsburg Steelers win their playoff over the Denver Broncos, we took off.

Once back in the motel room, we turned off the air conditioning and opened the window so we could hear the roar of the ocean and watched a DVD. As the evening progressed, it became evident that Bob had gotten badly burned. He was turning more and more red and looking very much like a lobster. I slathered lotion on him and put him to bed while I watched ABC Sunday night TV. Poor guy was burning up and was not too comfortable. Tomorrow he is going to swim in sunscreen. Tomorrow is our last full day at the beach and we are supposed to have another full, warm, sunny day. Yay!

The book I am reading while here is very good. It is one my mom gave me and it has resonated with me every page. It is called “Captivating” and is all about the call on a woman’s life. I am only four chapters in but have been moved to tears at least 8 times. I keep thinking of all the women in my life that would benefit form this book. I may go broke buying it for them all. Posted by Picasa

Leaving Kissimmee

Today I awoke in the best possible way. Bob woke me up and wanted some loving. Morning delight is the best. After which, we packed up and checked out of the villa in Kissimmee. On the way out of town, we stopped by an orange/grapefruit stand only to find out that it would be better to buy the stuff the day we actually leave town, so we will have to stop on our way to the airport.

It only took us an hour to get to Daytona. I thought it would take longer. It was a beautiful day, with sunny skies, temps near 80. We got to Daytona around 11:30 and could not check in to our new hotel until noon. So we drove down to the beach and drove on the beach for a bit. The beach was busy with sunbathers, beach combers, and autos driving down the stretch of sand. It was heavenly. We sat in the sun for a half an hour until we could check in.

At noon, we went to the hotel and checked in. We have an ocean front/view room with a Jacuzzi. It’s a very nice dive-y place. We have a kitchenette and a king sized bed. We can hear the waves from our room, though it’s kind of humid and damp if we leave it open too long. The room also has tile floors that sweat and make for slippery and somewhat treacherous walking for Bob, but I supposed it’s easier to clean sand and water from tile versus carpet.

We have two full days of relaxation ahead of us. I have a book I want to read while I sun myself on the beach or at the pool and Bob is fascinated with sand crabs and the stuff that the surf leaves behind. This is the vacation portion of our trip. The first part was the trip/sightseeing part. This is the part I looked forward to most.

Tonight we ate dinner at Friendly’s. I haven’t eaten there since I moved back to the Midwest from Maryland in 1993. It was nice, but they were super busy and our waiter was a little overworked. He served me the wrong entrée, but I was hungry and it looked OK, so I told him I would just stick with what he served me. We ended with a yummy sundae.

We got back to the hotel and watched the surf in the starlight. It’s kind of scary to me. I don’t think I could walk the beach at night, but it certainly is nice to sit by the pool and listen to the surf in the darkness. If you look out over the ocean, you can just barely make out the white of the surf. There are stars in the sky, but not visible much. It’s kind of hazy and the moon is at half light. It’s still quite beautiful. I am looking forward to waking up to the sun rising over the ocean in the morning. Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 20, 2006

Last Full Day in Kissimmee

Today started out a little iffy. I can’t really go into it here because it’s very personal, but suffice it to say that Bob and I had a misunderstanding earlier this morning and had to work through that before we could get a jump on the day. That wasn’t very fun, but it was a good reminder to keep working on the communication stuff. After the misunderstanding, we ended up sleeping some more. We had intended on getting up early in order to go back to Sea World. When we originally went on Monday, we were told we could come back as much as we wanted any time in the next six days. Since we really didn’t have anything planned for today, we decided to go back to Sea World.

Due to the misunderstanding and the extra sleeping, we got a late start. We didn’t get to Sea World until almost 2. The park closes at 6 this time of year so that gave us a good 4 hours to hang out.

We had another misunderstanding right inside the main gate. We wanted to use the courtesy wheelchairs as Bob found them to be more comfortable than his own manual chair. We had JUST gotten past the flamingos when we were told we couldn’t use the chair beyond that point. If we wanted a chair, we would have to shell out some money to rent one or rent a scooter. Bob was PISSED to the point that he was embarrassing me with his reaction to this bit of news. At one point, I just left him at the guest relations window so he could vent. They ended up just giving him a form to fill out and send in. We went back to the Cruiser to get our own chair and in the long run, everything went fine.

Once we were back inside the park, we had a good time. Today was much warmer than previous days, but it was cloudy and it rained/sprinkled a little bit. It didn’t rain enough to mar the day at all though.

We saw all the stuff we saw before…the sting rays, the dolphins, the manatees, and the seals. I took more photos and ended up with some nice shots, if I do say so myself. When we were in the area where you can view the dolphins swimming under water, we saw the coolest thing. One of the dolphins would go to the surface and then would come back under and blow air through its blow hole, forming a ring. It looked like a smoke ring a cigarette smoker might blow. Then they would play with that ring, either by nosing it, biting it in two, or swimming through it. It was the coolest thing.

We also saw some dolphin lovin’. A male dolphin was “hitting” on a female dolphin and was...um noticeably excited. Unfortunately, there were lots of little kids watching the action as well. Nothing like giving young children a lesson in the birds and the bees first hand.

We spent a long time by the seals, watching them play, fight, and eat. One of the seals was blind from cataracts but he knew when people were there with fishes for feeding. He would bob up in the water and slap himself or the water to get attention. It was the cutest thing. The Sea World employee said that most of the seals there outlived their natural life expectancy because they were so well cared for. She said in the wild, the blind one would not have survived very long because he would not be able to get himself enough food or he would be eaten by predators.

We also stayed in the manatee area for a good long time. Bob has a particular fondness for manatees. Sea World rescues many manatees that would otherwise die from boating or fishing accidents. They look like a combination of seals, walruses, and beavers.

We also got to see the dolphin and whale show that we missed on Monday. It was amazing. They had a dozen dolphins, faux killer whales, tropical birds of every kind, and aerial performers. It was really a sight to see. I am glad we got a seat this time.

Truthfully, going to the park after noon seemed to be a good idea all around. It seemed less crowded and we were able to amble about with little to no trouble. We also were able to stop and see the things we wanted to see without people walking, standing, or moving in front of Bob. It was a nice change from when we were there Monday. Although, Monday might have been so busy because it was MLK Jr. Day and schools were off.

After we left the park, we went to dinner at a local buffet. Bob likes Buffets. I’m not a big fan. Never have been and am even less so since my gastric bypass surgery. But it ended up being an OK meal. I was crazy impressed with the steak I got. After dinner, we came back to our villa. Today is our last full day in Kissimmee so I ran around the villa picking up and packing up stuff so we wouldn’t forget it when we check out tomorrow. I am also finishing up some laundry before we go. Bob fell asleep on the couch early on, so I sent him upstairs to bed while I finished this entry.

Tomorrow we head for Daytona for the last few days of our trip. It’s supposed to be sunny and 80. I can’t wait. Our hotel room is supposed to feature a full size Jacuzzi in room and an ocean side view. I can’t wait. I don’t know what the internet access will be like there, so I may not be able to post for a few days.

As always, check my Flickr badge for the latest in vacation photos. Posted by Picasa

Rocket Man (and Woman)

Wireless internet access has been spotty at best, so I am posting when I can. Here is yesterday's post. Today's will be posted whenever I can.

Yesterday we thought we would give it one more try and see if they would launch the rocket. We slept in, again, which was heavenly. I got up and packed up a lunch for us to take. We thought we would try to view the launch from Jetty Park at Port Canaveral this time instead of going to the pier at Cocoa Beach.

The day was sunny and warmer than previous days had been. The drive was pleasant. We took the Beach Line Expressway. They used to call it the Bee Line. It’s also called the 528. If you had just moved here, it might be confusing if someone were to give you directions using different names for the same road. We have that in The Cities too. The Crosstown isn’t even marked at The Crosstown. It’s actually highway 62. But no one calls it that, which I’m sure is confusing to visitors and newbies.

Anyway, we hit the 3 tolls and then just rolled on to Port Canaveral. I wasn’t sure which exit to take, so I took the first one. It wasn’t the right one, but we saw a bunch of cars lined up on the side of the road, obviously watching the launch site. So we agreed to park there as well. Port Canaveral is where all the cruise ships launch. We parked near where Disney and Fantasy Cruise lines were docked. Those are some mighty big boats.

We parked at noon and the rocket was not set to launch until 1:07. So we settled in and dug into our cooler for lunch. We chatted with the people around us, most of whom had stopped to see the launch on Tuesday too. We met a couple from Colorado who live in Florida 3 months out of the year. They had 2 dogs named Pricilla and Elvis. Pricilla wanted to swim in the ocean but was denied that pleasure. We also met a man who had quite a set up. He had a high powered telescope hooked up to a monitor and a recording device. Most of us had our radios tuned to the NASA frequency so we could hear the checks and the count down when it happened.

At first we didn’t know if it would happen. They went through the checks and everything was a go until they got to the weather. There were clouds, but the problem seemed to be the high ceiling clouds which were blocking the tracking programs. So they pushed the launch to 1:20. Then they pushed it to 1:30, 1:40, 1:50, and finally 2:00. The weather was finally OK for launch. So we waited with anticipation while they counted down and watched and clapped when the rocket was launched. Looking back, it’s a lot like Christmas. Or sex. Lots of build up and anticipation, and then it’s over all too quickly. But it was pretty cool. We watched it soar into the sky as far as we could see and then most of the people took off. We waited around for a little bit until the crowd cleared.

I couldn’t help but thank God for a successful lift off. There were military helicopters circling all around us before lift off and a Department of Homeland Security van drove slowly by, checking us all out. There were 24 pounds of plutonium on that rocket and if there had been any problems or if there had been a terrorist attack, we would have had to deal with quite a little explosion. Bob and I would probably have been obliterated instantly, but the rest of the area would have had to deal with nuclear fall out. Thankfully, all of that had been avoided thanks to the proper planning of NASA scientists, military police work, and the goodness of God.

After the launch, we decided we would go back to the Cocoa Beach pier. It was a much warmer and less windy day. We hung out on the pier a bit watching the waves and surfers. Then we shared a basket of fish and chips and a couple of cokes. We watched a couple of birds fly onto the plastic table next to ours and steal sugar and sweet and low packets and fly away with them to enjoy them out of site. Later on, I went down to the beach. I took off my shoes and socks, rolled up my pant legs and walked through the shallow waves as they lapped on the sand. Bob watched from a spot on the pier and chatted with some guys fishing there.

Closer to sunset, we left the pier and drove to a manatee spying spot we found earlier in the week to watch the sun set. We didn’t see any manatees, but I did see a dolphin swimming in the distance. We saw lots of pelicans and other birds too. The sunset was well worth the wait and so beautiful. Of course I took photos and they turned out quite great.

We drove back to the villa in the darkening sky. We chatted about how sometimes it feels like we live here…or are supposed to live here some day. We talked about how much fun it is to drive the Cruiser and how speedy and zippy it is. We talked about how great this vacation has been and about how if we were here the usual number of days, Friday would be our last full day. However, since we planned to stay until Tuesday, we still had several full days to enjoy the sun and surf of Florida.

When we got back to Kissimmee, we stopped at Publix for more bread and water and then headed to the villa for some frozen pizza for dinner. As that cooked, I called the hotel we will be staying at in Daytona to confirm our reservation. They have it and are expecting us on Saturday. We ended the night watching CSI and Without a Trace and the evening news and then hit the hay tired, sunburned, and satisfied with a day well spent. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Hump Day in Florida

The photo above was from the Arabian Nights dinner show we attended tonight.

Today was supposed to be rainy and yet, it wasn’t. It rained over night, but nothing today. It was, however, quite chilly. We had intended to stay in today as it was supposed to rain, but it didn’t, so we didn’t.

We slept in, did other stuff, showered, and then I took a nap. Such an arduous schedule we keep. After my nap, we had lunch and then decided to cruise about for a bit. I found a coin shop online and drove us there. Bob had a good time shopping for a good find for his collection.

After cruising around, we decided to go to Downtown Disney. It’s part of the Disney World resort, but you don’t have to pay to get in. Unless you count all the shopping one can do in this place. The first place we visited was Ghirardelli chocolate shop. Bob had a chocolate sundae and I had a small strawberry cheesecake cone. Oh, it was sooooo good!

Of course we did some shopping. We picked up a couple of little souvenirs for our neighbor kids, a Christmas ornament, and a snow globe for our collection. We took some photos and…that’s about it. Since it wasn’t raining, we really enjoyed being outside, even if it was a little on the chilly side.

Our big activity today was attending the Arabian Nights dinner show. It’s kind of horsey dinner theater. It was pretty good. I am a horse lover, so of course I loved it. We were served salad, prime rib, mashed potatoes, veggies, and “wedding” cake. We were given a choice of unlimited beer, wine, or soda. I had some wine, but it hits me so hard, I only had one glass.

The show had a story, but was mostly a showcase of different horse acrobats. They had the Arabian white horses and a big black stallion, western horses, chariot races, Broadway type dancing, Native American horsemanship, gypsy acrobatics, and other such examples of horsemanship. It was quite well done although right at the beginning of the show, the emergency announcement kept going off and we were not sure if it was an actual emergency or a mistake. It turned out to be a mistake, but it was a little disconcerting.

I will say if you ever wanted to get good seats to a show, show up with your date in a wheelchair. Every place we have been on this vacation, we are shown such great hospitality and get the best seats. The accessible places are almost always right up in front and it rocks. I don’t recommend getting a disability, but if you have one, make good use of it while on vacation.

You know what’s weird here? We will be driving around Orlando and Kissimmee and there will be strip malls and gas stations and such and all of a sudden there will be cows fenced in on a grassy strip of land. It just seems so random.

Tomorrow they are going to try AGAIN to launch the rocket. We hope to be there to see it. I think we are going to try to see it from Jetty Park at Port Canaveral this time. It’s supposed to be nice weather-wise, though still a bit on the cooler side. It’s not supposed to warm up until Friday/Saturday. This is nice, because Saturday is when we check into the Daytona hotel. Whoot! Anyway, hopefully we will see the rocket launch tomorrow and we will not be pulverized by a plutonium blast. Here’s hoping!

Don’t forget to click the Flickr Badge to see the newest photos. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Sunset Photo From Last Night

I tried to post this last night but my Picasa link wasn't working with Blogger. So, even though this wasn't tonight, tonight's sunset looked much the same. Don't you wish you were here? Posted by Picasa

Bob and Amy Standing By a Tree K.I.S.S.I.N.G.

Why does my head look 10 times bigger than Bob's? I look like I am going to completely overtake him and do away with him praying mantis style. Look out, honey!

We are almost done with our third full day of vacation. It is going so fast, but it’s been so good. Today we slept in. Bob slept later than I did. I finally had some alone, quiet time to read. I’m almost done with Jennifer Weiner’s book, “Goodnight Nobody”. It’s very good. I brought four books but may only finish three. I want to read a book my mom gave me when we are in Daytona and there is another novel I want to finish while we are still here in Kissimmee. So, we’ll see.

Today was beautiful! Sunny, warm, but very breezy again. We weren’t sure what it would be like out by the Atlantic, but it was very much the same. We started out around 11 or 11:30. I got turned around and stopped at a “Race Track” gas station to get directions and a map. I wasn’t too far off and we were back on track just 10 minutes later. We took the Bee Line Expressway to Cocoa Beach. Once there, I wasn’t sure how to get to the pier, so we turned off on a side street and just happened to be a block away! We parked and headed out to the end of the pier to wait for the rocket launch. It soon became clear that we would need to dress in more layers. Off the pier, the sun was still warm and it was breezy, but not like it was on the pier. I went back to the Cruiser to get our jackets and towels so we could wait out the launch with some warmth. We ended up talking to some folks around us as we waited and it turned out the couple next to us was from Savage, the guy fishing next to us, from Farmington, and the guy next to him, from Forest Lake! Not only were we all from Minnesota, we were all from the Twin Cities Metro area. Small world, indeed.

They kept pushing back the time of the launch because of the wind and weather. By 2:20, we were starving, so we went back to the restaurant/bar on the pier to eat. Twice, the guy on the TV news said they would launch, so twice we ventured back out onto the pier. The last launch window was for 3:23 and they ended up scrapping it altogether. They may try again tomorrow, but it’s supposed to be rainy and cloudy, so maybe the next day. Don’t know if we will go back to see it. It would be cool. This is the fastest rocket that’s ever been launched. They said it could fly from one end of the US to the other in 4 minutes. There were some protestors trying to shut the launch down because the power behind it was plutonium and if the launch went awry, there would be nuclear fallout. We kind of joked about it and made light of the fact that the wind was blowing the opposite way of where we were watching, but it is sobering to think about. I would still like to see the launch though. This is a very weighty mission. This rocket is going to Pluto. This mission has been 9 years in the making and it will take the rocket 10 years to get to its destination. Almost 20 years will go into this whole thing making me realize that we’re not all instant gratification junkies after all.

Right now my hair is all windblown and flyaway in curly ringlets, my hands are browning from the sun, there is a stamp on the back of my right hand from the pier money changer, and my nose is pink despite the sunscreen I so liberally applied this morning. I am tired with the feeling you get after having been outside all day and it feels good. Sometimes I get the feeling that we aren’t so much here on vacation, but are here to try on Florida…to see how it fits. How can two lifelong Midwesterners with hopelessly albino white skin hope to fit into the land of sunshine and oranges? Can we make it here? The past three days have been heavenly but what would it be like to settle here and stake a claim, to put down roots? Maybe part of being here right now is to find out. What would be like to live in a place where everyone is a tourist and no one is “from” here? Yesterday at breakfast there was a guy in line in front of me that so looked like my brother from the back I was startled. But then he spoke and a different language tripped from his tongue. At Sea World, yesterday, there were visitors from Russia, Brazil, Puerto Rico, England, Japan, China, and India. It was amazing to see all the world represented in one park.

Still, what gets me is how we always run into the folks from home. At the dolphin tank, I took a photograph of a little girl and her brother as they looked through the glass for the dolphins. Their mother was standing by and asked to see the photo on my digital camera screen. I showed her and in talking, I told her I would email a copy to her if she didn’t mind giving me her email address. She did and as we talked some more, she mentioned Bob’s Vikings jacket and asked if we were from Minnesota. We said that we were and she said so was she originally, though she had lived in Disneyworld’s backyard for 13 years. She was from near Duluth where her folks still lived. We chatted a bit more and the parted ways, though we did run into them from time to time throughout the rest of the day. Maybe that’s what it would be like to live here. It would be an extension of where we came from.

Right now Bob is at the resort bar making friends. We met a man from Michigan and a man from England. There is a family from Pennsylvania staying next door to us and the man and his two boys came into the bar as I was leaving. Bob is so chatty and friendly, he makes friends with everyone. I was just looking for a quiet night to journal, read, and relax. We both got what we were looking for tonight.

Don’t forget to click the Flickr badge to see today’s photos from the beach. Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 16, 2006

Floriday Fun

Please click the Flickr badge to see all the new photos I took at Sea World today.

Our day started early. Earlier than either of us might have planned. Bob wasn't feeling well and got up around 5:30. We lay in bed and talked for a while before getting up and showering. As I got ready, I flipped on the TV only to see breaking news of a suicide by traffic death. Some guy apparently jumped onto I-4 and was killed by the fall and several cars in morning rush hour traffic running over him. So sad.

Once we were ready, we went to a breakfast buffet. It was OK, not great, but OK. They did have my all time southern favorite, biscuits and gravy, so that was good. Mmmmm, biscuits and gravy.

After breakfast, we drove to Sea World. We are staying about 5 miles away, so it didn't take long. We were a little bit early and had to line up outside the main gates for about 5 minutes. They let us in, gave us a parking pass for handicapped parking, and we were golden. We parked in the spot closest to the park gate.

We got out Bob's manual wheelchair, our e-pass park tickets, and we were in! We had our photo taken right inside the gate. Last year we did the same thing at Busch Gardens and bought the photo, but this year we decided not to splurge on that. After all, I had a camera and I took about 89 pictures myself.

We decided to rent an electric scooter for Bob while we visited the park. Bob didn't want to at first. He didn't want to shell out the money for it, but I insisted. In the long run, we were both glad he had it. It really gave him (and me) more freedom in the park. The only thing (that seems to be universal) is that people just stop right in front of him or walk directly in his path. It's harder for him to stop than it is for them to reroute or wait. It's sad, but we were very impressed with ONE guy who said "excuse me" and apologized for stepping out in front of Bob. The whole day at the park and only one guy excused himself.

We had packed a lunch but coolers weren't allowed in the park, so we left it in the car. At lunch time, we just went out to the car and had our lunch. It was a nice break in the day and a good way to save cash. Things were super pricey in the park and we didn't pay for anything other than the scooter and a small souvenir. That is the way to do things on a budget. We bought our park passes online about 3 weeks ago, so they were already paid for. Oh! And we had to pay for parking. Other than that, we had a great day at the park on the cheap. AND we were given 2 free passes to come back as much as we want anytime in the next 6 days. We may go again on Friday.

I really liked Sea World. We saw dolphins, manatees, sting rays, sharks, and so many fish. I got to touch a dolphin and sting ray. That was cool. As I said, I took about a million pictures. I got some good ones of the dolphins and of the Shamu show. LOVED the Shamu show. We sat in the Soak Zone but didn't get a drop on us. Thank goodness, it was cool in the shade, where we were sitting and we would have frozen. Thankfully, today was sunny and in the low 70's. It was a beautiful day to be in Florida and tomorrow is supposed to be nicer.

People here drive like maniacs. It is as though everyone is in a race to get where they are going first. People will weave in and out of traffic from one stop light to another. They will cross 3 lanes of traffic to turn left. It is crazy. Another thing we noticed is that there is blown tire rubber all over the roads here. What is up with that? Also, the same stretch of I-4 that was under construction when we were here last year...is still under construction. Every season is road construction season here.

Tomorrow we are going to Cocoa Beach to see the rocket launch from Cape Canaveral. It's supposed to be sunny, breezy, and almost 80. We are going to pack a lunch and take off in time to be there by 11:30. I cannot wait to see the, smell, and hear the ocean again. It's been too long. Tonight is some wine, a book, and an early bedtime.