Monday, March 30, 2009

Heading Home via Memphis, Tennessee - March 23-27, 2009

We sadly said good-bye to our beautiful site and warm weather in Port St. Lucie, Florida on Monday, March 23rd, knowing we were heading back to cold weather. But on the way back to Minnesota, we decided to make a side trip to Memphis, Tennessee. George really put the pedal to the metal driving that big rig over 450 miles each day so that we could be in Memphis by Tuesday night. We arrived early in the evening & checked into the Graceland RV Park & Campground. It was the perfect place to be since we were only staying for 2 nights and didn't want to take the car off the tow dolly. The campground is located right behind The Heartbreak Hotel and across the street from Graceland, so we could either walk everywhere we wanted to go or catch a shuttle. This is me sitting in the lobby of the Heartbreak Hotel. Even the furniture here was extremely "Elvis" style. Since we only had 1 day in Memphis, we got up early in the morning (okay, it was 9:00, but that's early to us!) and headed off to Graceland to tour the mansion of Elvis Presley. It looked exactly as I thought it would - incredibly gaudy and 1970's. If you remember how Elvis Presley dressed, you can imagine how his house was decorated! The furniture was unbelievable and some of the walls even had green shag carpeting on them. The living room was all white & blue with a 30 ft white couch in it. Who has a living room that can fit a couch that long?? The downstairs television room was done in yellows & blacks and the pool table room was done in some sort of wild print on the walls & matching lights.The Mansion grounds and the Meditation Garden were beautiful. I think our favorite part of the tour was when we went to Elvis's Automobile Museum. He had so many really cool cars and a ton of motorized toys. I think George & Curtis were really coveting the toys! We also liked touring the "Lisa Marie", which was one of his two custom planes. Here's a picture of the dining room and the bedroom on the plane. Oh, if only we could fly in something like that! After spending the morning touring Graceland, I decided to stay back at the rig with Bailey while George & Curtis hopped a shuttle to Sun Studios in downtown Memphis. This is still an actual recording studio so Curtis was really in his element. Sun Studios is where Elvis Presley made his recording debut as well as Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and many of the old blues musicians. Since we only had the one day in Memphis, we had to keep going once they got back to the rig. What's a day in Memphis without going down to Beale Street?? We hopped another shuttle in the evening to Beale Street, the home of the blues. If you look real close at the picture of the outdoor restaurant, in the upper right hand corner, you'll see a real live goat standing on the ledge by the triangular cone. We're not sure what it was doing there, but it definitely was alive! It was great listening to all the different bands performing outside. The weather was perfect to walk up & down Beale Street & enjoy the atmosphere. However, I'm not sure I would want to walk it by myself after dark - there were tons of cops, both on foot & on bikes to keep order. I only saw one arrest while we were there so I guess it's probably a pretty safe place to hang out. We also couldn't believe the way they decorated their horse-drawn carriages around Beale Street. We thought we were in Cinderella's fairy tale! The last picture here on the left is the Meditation Garden at Graceland. I wanted to include it because I thought it was so different from the rest of Graceland. It was really a nice tranquil spot to sit down & rest for awhile. After a busy day in Memphis on Wednesday, we still got up early on Thursday to continue the long drive home. I was grateful that the entire drive home was uneventful. The weather remained clear & mild the entire 1700 miles. We spent one night in a roadside rest in Florida, where they have round-the-clock security and/or police, and one night in a Terrible's Casino parking lot in Missouri, which is where we first experienced cold weather after so long in warm weather country. It was time to put away the shorts and flip-flops and get out the long pants and shoes & socks. It was a great trip, but we're glad to be back in Minnesota and enjoying being with family & friends again!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Port St. Lucie, Florida - March 2-23, 2009

Well, we made it over to the Atlantic side of Florida, where we stayed for 3 weeks in a small town called Port St. Lucie. It's located about 45 miles north of Palm Beach and is on the Indian River. It was a great place to stay because it's not real busy or touristy. We stayed at St. Lucie West Motorcoach Resort. The site we had was beautiful with a great view of a small man-made lake & waterfall. George went out fishing in the lake almost every day & he actually caught a fish once! Otherwise, the only thing he caught was a nice sunburn! The weather was perfect in the 80's during the days and 60's during the nights. The convertible was a great car to have especially when I had George to chauffeur me around all the time! Being so close to the ocean meant that we made almost daily trips to the beaches. We drove up to Fort Pierce one day and went out along the South Beach Jetty, which has the Atlantic on one side & the Indian River on the other. We watched the men fishing & were surprised when one of them caught a fish that was 27" long and he had to throw it back because it had to be at least 28" to keep. Back home, it would have been a great catch! We took a drive down to Miami to drop Curtis off at a friend's (Rob Rogers) apartment for the weekend & when we went by the Harley dealer in Stuart, of course we had to stop by to see what they had. George went nuts over this Ridley Vintage motorbike, which is a replica of a 1903 Harley. I think he really wanted to bring one home, but couldn't figure out how to pack it in the rig. Once again, we met up with our friends, Becky & Gary Rogers. This time we met at Vero Beach and toured the McKee Botanical Garden. It was incredibly beautiful! As hard as we tried, Becky & I could not get this bell to budge. Besides the beautiful flowers, trees and plants in the garden, there was a special glass art exhibition. There were glass displays & figures throughout the entire garden. These are a few of my favorites & are called, "Aces & Deuces, Jokers Wild" and "Frogs in the Waterfall". Can you find all the colored glass frogs in this waterfall? It was incredible to see all the different shapes and colors that the artist used in the displays. We were incredibly lucky to be in the right place at the right time! The Discovery Space Shuttle lift-off took place while we were in Port St. Lucie and since we were less than 100 miles south of Kennedy Space Center, we were able to see the lift off. While it wasn't as good as it would have been had we been at the Space Center, we were close enough to see the shuttle and when it dropped off the rockets into the ocean. I had to include a lot of pictures of this because it was just so cool to watch & I think we got some pretty good pictures. On a whim, we decided to drive down to West Palm Beach to go to Lion Country Safari. George was a little nervous when he realized that we would be driving our car through it because he was afraid that one of the critters might sit on the car, ram the car or chase the car. It was really neat to get so be able to get so close to the animals. We decided that the picture of the rhinos & zebras hanging out together would make a great jigsaw puzzle. The wildebeest was one of the ugliest ones we saw. George did get nervous & drove off pretty quickly when he realized the rhino was heading right for our car, but the rhino only wanted to cross the street to get to the other mud pond - he didn't care about us! I also couldn't believe what long ugly tongues giraffes have. There was no way I was going to feed it with a tongue like that! Again, a lot of pictures were taken here. Curtis got into the animal theme & decided to take a ride on a lion! A couple days before we left, it got incredibly windy on the beach, but I just had to get in at least one more walk on the beach before heading home. Since I was barefoot, I had to watch where I was walking with all the jellyfish washing up on shore due to the rough water. It's been fun, but it's time to pull up stakes and start the trek back to Minnesota. We're planning a short stop in Memphis on the way home to visit Graceland & see for ourselves whether or not Elvis has left the building!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Naples, Florida - February 27-March 2, 2009

We left Fort Myers and headed south just a little ways down to Naples, where we spent the weekend at an RV resort that is just being built and will be a super fancy resort when and if they ever complete it (with the economy being so bad, these fancy resorts are losing lots of money). Since we were only there for the weekend, we didn't mind not having a pool. The view we had from our motor home was beautiful, especially at sunset. Since we only had a few days in Naples, we headed to the beach the day after we got down there. The beach was beautiful, but the walk down to the beach passing all the huge beautiful homes was incredible. One of the things we like to do when we're out walking is to try & find the little chameleons that are always climbing around the trees and shrubbery. I couldn't believe it when one held still long enough for George to get this picture of it. Isn't he cute?? On Sunday, we headed down to Everglades National Park to do some gator watching. Boy, can those things move in the water! I couldn't believe how fast they swam. I'm just glad that they aren't found near the beaches. On the road down to the Everglades, there were signs posted on the roads stating to be careful not to hit the panthers. I guess the Florida panther is an endangered species around here. I never knew they existed, but we did see this huge one at one of the roadside tourist attractions so decided to take a picture of it since we never did see a live one! On Monday, we leave Naples & head to the Atlantic side of Florida to Port St. Lucie. It's not a tourist area so life should be a little more relaxing once we get there!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Fort Myers, Florida - February 1-27, 2009

The beginning of February found George alone down in Fort Myers as I was still back in MN dealing with the family emergency. George wasn't alone for very long, though, because two of their friends from Minnesota, Gino & Connie, came down to visit for a week. As you can see, George was not the only one enjoying their company. Mr. Bailey was glad to have someone to play with besides George. While Connie & Gino were visiting, they not only had to tour the beach scene like Sanibel & Captiva Islands, they had to hit the two casinos in the area. George said the one on the boat was the most fun and Gino even won a t-shirt while Connie came out the bigger winner walking away with $100 more to her name! (I don't know why, but George didn't take any pictures of Connie, but I know she was there with Gino!) A couple of days after Connie & Gino left, our close friends, Becky & Gary Rogers (the ones who we saw when we were in Orland0) came down to the Fort Myers area with their entire family (all 9 of them!) and George joined them on a few of their excursions. Gary & Becky were excited to have their grandchildren here for a visit since they live in California and George enjoyed having some little kids around (gave him an idea of what life will be like when/if we have grandchildren of our own). George went to Everglades National Park with the Rogers to go on a boat ride. He didn't see any alligators while on the boat, but there were plenty after he got off. He did get to watch a few dolphins that took to swimming around their boat for awhile. After the Rogers left, George had only a few days to get the RV all cleaned up because Curtis & I were flying down to Fort Myers on the 22nd. After much persuading, Curtis decided to join us on the last part of our winter trip. Since I had planned on being in Fort Myers for a month & had lots of ideas of what to see & do, we didn't spend much time relaxing around the campground once we got there. The day after we got there, we went down to Fort Myers Beach and walked around. As you can see, Curtis made friends with one of the local birds shortly after we got there. However, we did discover that you do not walk on the beach while eating ice cream cones. After getting our ice cream, we decided to take the scenic walk down the beach back to our car and all of a sudden we were attacked by sea gulls. They hit George on the hat & got it all sandy and knocked my sunglasses right off my face! But they didn't get our ice cream! Curtis decided that putting the mattress from the hide-a-bed on the floor was the most comfortable way to sleep, but he forgot that by being on the floor, Mr. Bailey was going to be his morning wake-up call! Even though none of us are Twins Baseball fans, we just had to make a stop at their spring training camp. As you can see, it's an incredibly beautiful area. Too bad we won't have time to see a game because I think it would be fun to watch them play at this stadium. We went to Sanibel Island and enjoyed doing some shelling and beach walking, but the most fun was stopping by the little shopping center where Curtis found the perfect pair of sunglasses! Unfortunately, we couldn't convince him to buy them when we told him he looked just like Elton John! While Sanibel is supposed to be the best beach for shelling, I found that Lovers Key was much better. There were fewer people and the water was milder so it was easier to walk in the water and pick up shells. I couldn't believe that I actually found a sand dollar all in one piece and it's got to be at least 3" in diameter. I was absolutely ecstatic because sand dollars are my favorite kind of shell! I even found a baby starfish that was about 1" big, but since it was still alive, I had to throw it back into the water. I've found bigger starfish before when I was in California and walking around the tide pools, but never have I seen one when walking along the beach. It was so adorable! One of the nice things about our campground was that it had a mini-golf course and we made use of it a couple of times before we left. As you can see, Curtis is quite the pro golfer! Now we're off to Naples for the weekend!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Fort Myers, Florida - January 19-31, 2009

We left Orlando and headed across the state to Fort Myers on the Gulf Coast. We only had time to check out the huge outlet mall and go to the RV show in Fort Myers before I was called home to frozen Minnesota on a family emergency. Needless to say, George & Mr. Bailey are down in sunny warm Florida and I am back in the frozen tundra. Mr. Bailey is enjoying his new friend, Chloe, and he especially likes that he can now ride in the EOS with the top down (Bailey & Chloe are hoping George is going to take them for a ride in the car!). George took Chloe on a tour of the RV Park we're in and she seems to like the mini-golf course. While I'm up here in Minnesota, George is enjoying getting out and meeting the other residents of the park. He found that several of them play musical instruments so he has gotten together with them to jam. It's not quite his kind of music, but he's enjoying having people to share music with him. Maybe he'll even have the opportunity to try his talent out on some new instruments. He's never played with an upright bass or dulcimers before so it's really been fun. When not strumming the guitar, George has found he has other talents like washing clothes and cleaning the RV - something he never thought he would be doing when we decided to head to warm weather in the winter. He's anxiously awaiting my return so I can take over those chores for him. While George hasn't gotten out to do much exploring around Fort Myers yet, he & Bailey have gone out on some adventures & hopefully, he took some pictures that I can share with you later in our blog.