Must Do Miami

Follow me on Bloglovin’

South Beach is bit like Las Vegas. Both have lots of alcohol-fueled partying with young men and women celebrating their youth while destroying their livers, live music and the obligatory minute millionaires driving their rent by the hour Lamborghini for everyone to notice.  But South Beach is so much more than what you first notice. Take a longer look and you see and appreciate the diverse culture reflected in the eclectic food and music. There is a deep pride and respect for the past, instead of tearing down buildings, the Art Deco buildings are restored and the past is celebrated.

IMG_0255

We chose to stay in a boutique hotel on Collins Avenue, right in the middle of South Beach. The Kimpton Beachcomber Hotel, a small three story boutique hotel. What is a boutique hotel you may ask? Most often they are small and have unique amenities. The lobby was unique and eclectic with live edge wood sculptures, bookcases, sofas and comfy chairs and lots of interesting art. This is not a homogenized hotel! As we are checking in we are offered wine at the complimentary happy hour. The hotel personnel are both friendly and genuinely helpful. The room is small yet beautiful. The beach is located behind the hotel pool area. The back area includes a bar, towel service and a variety of yard games, rocking chairs and sculptures of cows. I did say this place was eclectic.
IMG_0359
The Kimpton offers seats on the beautiful sandy beach, as well as bar service. The bites and drinks were not exorbitantly priced, and who doesn’t enjoy a picnic lunch in the sand? There are several miles of beautifully manicured walking and biking paths just before the beach. We took advantage of the hotel’s free bike rentals and rode up and down the paths early one morning.
image
In South Beach you must try the diverse food offered. We were given the recommendation by a waitress to try a Peruvian restaurant called CHALAN ON THE BEACH. The uber fresh seafood was lightly seasoned and plentiful. We shared a sea bass ceviche which was nothing short of spectacular. The patrons were mostly locals ordering house specialities. We also enjoyed a seafood dish with rice, seasoned with Peruvian spices that seemed to sweeten the fish and rice.

When in South Beach trying some authentic Cuban food is mandatory. We visited HAVANA 1957 and ordered the daily specials of Cuban meatballs and rice. The dish was also served with soft, sweet plantain slices. The prices were very reasonable, except for the mojitos. At $15 and up they seemed pricy for lunch. No worries, we came back a couple of hours later and enjoyed delicious half priced mojitos at the bar inside
IMG_0235
We also had chicken, lamb and steak kabobs as well as incredibly delicious deeply roasted Brussels sprouts at CLEO a Middle Eastern place. The bar was ornate and the restaurant was a cool respite from the Miami afternoon heat.

On our final night in Miami our hotel had a pig roast (but from the looks of the poor fellow I think he was deep fried). For only eight dollars we each enjoyed pork tacos, homemade tortillas, rice and beans. The beer was local and cold and soon the Latin band was playing music and everyone was dancing to the beat as the ocean breeze blew.
IMG_0322

Jackie Gleason had a show many years ago that I watched as a child. He used to say how beautiful Miami Beach was as he began each show with the words “How sweet it is!”

The Often Bumpy Road To Retirement

The road to retirement often has detours and bumps ahead.

About a year ago I retired from nearly twenty five years of teaching.  I loved the job and the kids but I believe every good teacher knows when it’s time to leave.  I was lucky enough to be able to retire financially, but mentally I was still a teacher, longing for my kids and the joy that I felt from teaching.

I am spontaneous and a fly by the seat of my pants kind of person, but that was not working for me as a retired woman.  My husband had an eighteen month head start on his retirement.  He had a routine, a schedule, a cool hobby and his day planned out.  At first I felt like I was floundering.  Lack of planning was not really working for me.  Where did my day go?  At the end of each day I felt like I accomplished nothing, nada.

I needed to expand my world.  I started by substitute teaching for some other teachers.  I enjoyed it, but I always needed to remember that I was the visitor.  This was NOT my classroom.  I enjoyed spending time with the kids but it was not enough.

Slowly, things have changed.  My days no longer feel wasted and unproductive. I have come to a place of contentment and satisfaction. Retirement, to me feels like a great pair of jeans you have picked out long ago, saved for and finally just went out and bought. Initially, they were uncomfortable and foreign, maybe a bit too tight and restrictive, they did not feel “comfortable.”  After “wearing” my retirement for a while (nearly a year)  I now feel more at home with it.  It’s a much better fit than it was initially, and I like the way I feel at the end of my day. I have settled into my retirement.

When I first retired we traveled so much I really didn’t get a chance to manage my time at home.  I value every day and I realize that we may never know when it is our last day on this earth, so I need to make all my days count.

Slowly, I began to build my week. At the recommendation of a friend, I started with an outdoor fitness class three times a week.  I had always enjoyed working out and had recently left my long time workout group.  I don’t like change, who does?  But I was exhilarated with the new group.  I was modifying my workouts and felt great afterwards.  Unfortunately I hit a detour.  My doctor said no more working out while my foot fracture was still healing.  I was wearing the ortho boot but apparently my foot was not ready for the extra stress.

I was instantly deflated. I NEEDED to workout.  Swimming came immediately to mind and I signed up for water aerobics at a local community center.  I arrived early to the large facility, complete with a gym, rock climbing wall and multiple swimming pools.  Very quickly I was greeted by “the ladies”.  These nine ladies have been part of the morning water aerobics class for years.  They ranged in age from sixties to eighties.   I was the young one in the group.  I was also the third Nancie, so they referred to me as “Nancie number 3.”   I removed my boot and stepped intrepidly into the warm water.  After sixty minutes I was beat!  This was going to be fun!

In addition, I started a watercolor class.  For several hours each week I would learn some new techniques and meet new people.  Most of the people in my class were obviously very talented.  I don’t consider myself talented necessary, but I am motivated and driven.  I set up my casita with painting supplies and most days I will spend several hours painting and enjoying the solitude.  I have not yet completed a painting that I’m going to frame, but I’m getting closer.

IMG_5430
My hummingbird, a work in progress
IMG_2462
Free form tulips
I make time to see my family and friends.  My schedule is flexible so I love it when I can enjoy a leisurely lunch or activity with a good friend.  My photography interest have expanded and I do try to find opportunities to take interesting photographs.  I now control the hours in my days, and that is a very good feeling.  I am now back at my outdoor fitness class and water aerobics, it feels great.  I have also located a charity that I may volunteer at, my dance card is filling up.

We continue to plan more travel and I have been researching some of the places that we plan on visiting this year.  They include:  Chicago, Annapolis, Miami, Key West, the Caribbean, Barcelona, Gibraltar, Madeira , and San Juan, Puerto Rico.  That will keep us kind of busy, and I really do enjoy having the freedom to be as busy as I want.

This blog began about a year ago.  I love reading other blogs and hearing from people that take the time to read my blog.  Thank you for reading my thoughts.  I would love to hear from some readers about their retirement journeys.

Exploring Down Under

Taking in the sights, sounds and flavors or Sydney and Auckland

When our cruise ship arrived in Sydney at sunrise I was awed by the absolute beauty of the city.  The Sydney Opera House, Harbor Bridge and gorgeous downtown were all so spectacular.

temporary
Harbor Bridge, Sydney
temporary
Downtown Sydney at sunrise

We had only one day to spend in Sydney before we headed to Auckland, New Zealand so we wanted to make the best of it.  We checked  into our hotel and because it was a Sunday we headed over to the Market at The Rocks.  The Rocks are located on the site of Sydney’s historic city center.  We shopped some of the stalls of hand made and recently imported items then ate a terrific lunch along the way at playfair cafe.  They offered sandwiches and salads but we also decided to order the berry crumble, which was the better than you could ever imagine.  The owner, Sean told us it was worth the wait and was going to change our lives.  It was and it did.  We ate it so quickly I forgot to take a photo of it in all of it’s deliciousness.

temporary
Home of the life changing “crumble”

We walked along the ferry terminal to the  Opera House.  It is spectacular up close as well .  I had no idea that the surface was covered with tiles.

 

temporary
A bit of a different view of the Sydney Opera House

We have some friends from Phoenix who now live in Sydney so after our shopping we met them for dinner at Ripples.  It is located outside a community pool and has a beautiful view of both the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge.  The food and wine were so delicious and it was so very nice to spend time with our expat friends.  After dinner they suggested we walk the bridge.  It was a short walk and the evening views did not disappoint.  It was also free, not the  $250 charged by the company that escorts walkers slowly across the highest point of bridge.

temporary
Seafood salad from Ripples

 

temporary
My friend Brooks and I outside Ripples Restaurant in Sydney

 

temporary
Beautiful bridge architecture
temporary
View of the Sydney Opera House from the bridge

The next morning we were at the airport headed to Auckland, New Zealand for a few days.  We arrived in Auckland and recognized the SkyTower before we even hit downtown.  We checked into our Airbnb in the center of town and were ready to explore the city.  Since we only had four days in New Zealand, we decided to explore Auckland and the surrounding area by foot and by ferry.

We went to the ferry terminal and took Fuller’s  Harbor tour, which provided us with a nice narrated cruise with view of Auckland’s downtown from the water, Bean Rock Lighthouse, the Auckland Harbor bridge and stops in Rangitoto, an island created by volcanic rock, and Davenport.

temporary
Downtown Auckland from the harbor
temporary
Bean Rock Lighthouse
temporary
A seagull perched on top of a roof in Rangitoto

I may get scared easily, but ultimately I am an adrenaline junkie.  I like to be scared.  As soon as I saw people bungee jumping off of the Sky Tower, I knew I had to do it.  A thrill, with very little risk in my estimation.  After you sign your life away, participants are weighed, placed in jumpsuits and harnesses and sent up to the top of the tower to free fall for about twelve seconds.  It was terrifying and exhilarating. I screamed the entire way down and loved it.

img_4720
Freefalling from the 630 foot Auckland Sky Tower

We celebrated after the jump by enjoying a New Zealand delicacy, Green Lipped mussels.  They were gigantic and fabulous.

img_2106
Green lipped mussels, order the small portion

For our final day in Auckland we booked a day long wine tasting tour with Waiheke Island Wine Tours. We were met by our driver Wayne, a life long resident of this picturesque island, who explained the history of winemaking on the island as well as information about native Maori culture.  We visited three wineries and finished with a gourmet lunch at The Shed at Dunleavy Vineyards.

temporary
A view of the small marina from Waiheke Island
temporary
One of the many vineyard in Waiheke Island
temporary
Wine tasting at Miro Winery
img_2124
Luggage for the trip home

The next morning we woke up early for a very long travel day back to America.  We were able to keep our baggage down to two suitcases and two backpacks. For our return We did check our luggage since they were now heavy and expanded to maximum capacity, also we needed to put our wine somewhere..

We have completed our journey of thirty one days visiting the other side of the world.  We tried new foods, met new friends and experienced things that we will never forget.  There is no one else in this world that I enjoy traveling with more than my husband.  As we waited for our Uber to arrive a bus passed us by and on that bus was the message of our travel.

img_2113

 

 

 

Singapore: (Where Today is Tomorrow and I Have No Idea What Happened to Yesterday)

Why you need to visit Singapore

We had been traveling for over twenty nine hours to get from LA to Singapore.  But all of the Ubers, taxis, TSA security pat downs and planes were completely worth the effort to get here.  Singapore simply put, is spectacular.  It is a beautiful clean, metropolitan city that honors its history and diverse cultures.

temporary
Singapore at night

The journey was relatively painless on Qatar Airlines. We left LA on a Wednesday and arrived Friday morning.  Somehow we lost a day but no worries.  We’ve never flown with Qatar before but would happily fly them again.  The courteous staff, tasty food and extras such as socks, headphones and entertainment system made for a comfortable journey.   We flew coach but had isle seats, a quiet plane and no annoying captain announcements about where we were flying over.  On the second leg of our flight I was sitting with a mom, her five year old and the most adorable six month old.  I held the little one to help her out and they were the best behaved children anyone could ask for.  I slept well on both flights.

By the time we arrived in Singapore I was well rested and ready to explore this beautiful city.  My poor husband had not slept but after a brief nap in our AirBnB he was ready to go out and show me the city.  The weather reminds me of Florida, hot and muggy with frequent afternoon rains.  We bought an umbrella that doubles as a walking stick.

img_3236
Chinese New Year The Year of the Rooster

We arrived on the eve of Chinese New Year.  We explored Chinatown did some shopping and had some delicious food from the hawker stands.  The area was packed with people anxious to celebrate the new year.  Stands were selling Chinese herbs, mandarin oranges, decorations and many items to celebrate The Year of The Rooster.  The streets were brightly decorated with colorful orchid lights, lanterns and giant roosters.  On the stage there was music, dancing and at midnight fireworks.  When visiting family and friends the Chinese custom is to bring an even number of mandarin oranges to wish one another an auspicious new year.  At the visitors center we were given oranges and welcomed.

img_3202
Streets in Chinatown decorated for the new year

We had some delicious dinner at the hawker stands, but chose not to have the dishes that included live frogs since we are not really adventurous eaters.  We left Chinatown at about two in the morning and the streets were still bustling.  As we walked back to our flat from Chinatown, we noticed even at this hour men were cleaning the streets from the celebration making Singapore a very clean city.

temporary
City view from the marina

This week we have visited Orchard Road, where high end shopping is at its finest. Because we love to travel I spend my money more on experiences than on things.  We did stop for some snacks and drinks.  Apparently its a good idea to check prices before you order or you end up paying $20 for a glass of pear cider.  But it WAS really good cider.

We had the opportunity to enjoy a neighborhood dragon parade.  All of the kids had a chance to try on the costume and witness the dragon dance.  The best part of the parade was when they handed out confetti rocket launchers to everybody, including the three year olds.  Nothing says celebration better than an explosive in the hands of the three year old.  The neighbors were so friendly we really felt like we were part of the community.

temporary
Dancing dragons and children playing with explosives, so much fun to celebrate
temporary
Who doesn’t love a confetti rocket launcher?
temporary
Colorful confetti exploded all around
temporary
The best part of any parade is how much the children enjoy it

Must Do Activities

We went to the Gardens by the Bay and enjoyed the beautiful flowers and visited the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Shopping Plaza and the Float at Marina Bay.  There was a carnival like atmosphere.  Lots of families waiting for fireworks, and enjoying various “Fair Foods” like deep fried Oreo cookies, ice cream and squid on a stick.

temporary
View of the Maria Sands Hotel

 

We love Chinatown for its food, shopping and overall active vibe.  They offer a Fish Spa treatment, where you place your feet in a tank and a bunch of fishies nibble on your skin.  The experience is worth the $30 and feels pretty good.

For dinner one night we went to Mama Chong’s to enjoy a Singapore specialty, Chili Crabs.  They are a pricey item,  about 40 bucks a serving, but well worth it.  The local beer here is Tiger and it is delicious, a nice combination of a mild yet slightly sweet beer.

temporary
Singapore’s specialty chili crab

We rode the Singapore Flyer, a giant enclosed ferris wheel.  The views of the city, the bay and the night sky were phenomenal.  It cost 33 bucks each but the pictures and experience were unforgettable.

temporary
Inside view of the Singapore Flyer

Get a MRT Pass to ride the incredibly clean and efficient subways to almost anywhere in Singapore.  It is well laid out and all of the signs are also in English.

img_2018
The clean and comfortable Singapore subway system MRT

I can not leave out the body and foot massages we treated ourselves to.  I had a sixty minute body massage followed by a thirty minute foot massage at Joneling Chi Spa.  My Fred Flinstone feet always hurt, but following my foot massage they were feeling fine.  During the body massage I was pretty sure that the ninety pound girl was accompanied by a three hundred pound suma wrestler.  All I know was that at some point she was straddling me and somebody was doing handstands on my back!  I was being massaged by her hands AND her feet.  I consider a massage a wrestling match, where I am loathe to “tap out” no matter how uncomfortable I might feel.  When our massages were complete both Greg and I had smiles on our faces and said we had never experienced anything like that before.

temporary
View from the Singapore Flyer

 

 

 

 

.

 

The year in review

This has been an epic year for my husband Greg and I.  I retired from a teaching job that I loved, learned to live with my husband full time, started blogging, traveled extensively and rekindled my passion for photography.

My husband and I have learned the dance of being retired together.  He has his hobbies and interests and I am learning to take time to do the things that I love.  First I had to figure out what those things were (writing, photography, crafts)  but now we give each other space, so that later we want to spend time together.  This year our European travels have included Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Amsterdam, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland.  My husband and I are very different people, he is quiet organized and cerebral and I am spontaneous, outgoing, and attention seeking.  But the one thing that we agree upon is that we both passionately love to travel and meet new people from around the globe.

For this blog  I decided to include some of my favorite photographs from the year.  I hope you enjoy them.

 

img_9482
View of the Vatican at night from our balcony

This was a special gift we enjoyed nightly in Rome, our Airbnb was located in a fabulous area with shops, restaurants and so many sights to enjoy.

 

img_9504
A wonderful dinner at Alfredo e Ada with a young California couple in Rome

Sometimes you find you stumble upon a real gem of a restaurant, a family run place with homemade pasta and delicious specialities offered each night.

img_9611
Greg, enjoying a sweet gelato at the end of the day

 

The location of our Airbnb in Florence was just steps from the Ponte Vecchio.

img_0155
Pointe Vecchio in the evening inFlorence

The sheer size and beauty of David was worth the trip to Florence.

img_0121
Michaelangelo’s David

We spent five days in the beautiful area known as Cinque Terre, where we enjoyed the spectacular scenery, hiking and seeing the beautiful cities clinging to the cliffs..

img_0204
Manarola on the Cinque Terre coast
img_0290
My attempt at an “artsy” photograph from Nessun Dorma
img_0480
Trattoria Dal Billy a fabulous restaurant with even better views
img_0412
I love this photograph of a lovely Italian lady checking out the neighborhood

Following Cinque Terre we rented a car and explored Siena and Tuscany.

img_0533
Appetizers and wine with views of Siena from our backyard.
img_0484
Sienna at sunset
img_0575
Tuscany landscape

It was a great pleasure to turn in our car in Rome and board the Celebrity Equinox.  No unpacking for a week and we were able to visit some great new places on the way to Barcelona.

img_9861
Grass growing on the top of the Celebrity cruise ship
img_0819
View from the hilltop town of Eze, France
img_9867
We loved the sangria, beer and olives in Mallorca
img_9990
Street view near our flat in Barcelona
img_9959
La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s masterpiece

After a week in Barcelona we took a flight to Geneva, Switzerland to visit friends and see much of the pristine beauty of Switzerland.

img_1133
“The Void” on Mont Blanc, France
img_1132
Fabulous times with friends
img_1173
Sunflower fields in Switzerland

We left Switzerland and headed for a few days in Amsterdam, a city we loved because of its beauty, accessibility, friendliness and rich history.

img_1185
Greg standing by the canals in Amsterdam
img_1268
A different point of view
img_1286
Zaanse Schans windmills

Next, we flew to London for a few days before we boarded a cruise to the British Isles.

img_1464
The band playing Queens’ “Fat Bottom Gor;s”
img_1734
Belfast’s famous murals
img_1680
Falling for Giant’s Causeway with my friend Brooks
img_1699
Looking up from Giant’s Causeway
img_0255
Nearing the end of our journey, taking time to snuggle together.
img_1880
One last stop before we fly home, a lucky detour to Stonehenge 

 

 

I hope you enjoy seeing some highlights of Europe 2016.  I promise there is more travel to come in 2017.  I wish you all a wonderful, happy and healthy new year.

Beyond Tacos and Tequila How to Make the Most of Mexico

How to avoid disaster when visiting our neighbor to the south.

People respond to bad news.  The news media has known this for years.  “If it  bleeds, it leads.”  We want to hear terrible things, things that happen to other people.  Customers write horrible reviews because they are often embolden to write a review when they feel ripped off, slighted, or are generally pissed off.  I know this from personal experience.  Last year we visited Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) with a large group of friends.  Our trip was spoiled by a very unresponsive resort and some unpleasant experiences. We left with a bitter sense of dissatisfaction.  We complained to management but were not satisfied.  I’m never reluctant to point out to a business when something is wrong, but since we were not listened to  I went home and wrote a scathing review of this very “upscale” resort.  I included a litany of issues we encountered and warned everyone to stay away.  That review has over six thousand readers!  My blogs, which I attempt to carefully craft to be relevant, honest and engaging have a grand total of twenty five subscribers!  What the hell am I doing wrong?

Now I will tell you all how to avoid disaster in Mexico.  I have experienced some disasters in Mexico so I can share what I’ve learned.

 

img_1610
Low tide on Sandy Beach
Rules to not ruin your trip to Rocky Point Mexico

  1.  Travel with people you enjoy spending time with.  It is amazing how many people go on trips with relative strangers and end up ruining a budding friendship.  On our most recent trip we traveled with one other couple we have traveled with before.
  2. Have a shared goal for your vacation.  Relaxation? Sure.  Beach  time?  Absolutely.  Sampling local cuisine? Yes.  End up in a Mexican jail?  No thank you.
  3. Remember you are a guest in the country DON’T BREAK THE LAW!
  4. Set realistic expectations.  In Rocky Point you are likely to have great fresh fish, tacos and other local specialities but not likely to find many fine dining places. Accept it and move on.
  5. The most important rule is to go with the flow.
  6. Do your research on your accommodations.

temporary
Sierra Bonita Resort Swim up Bar
Rocky Point Mexico is a four and a half hour drive from Phoenix Arizona.  Locals in Arizona refer to the boarder town as our own beachside community.  Not too many years ago Rocky Point was a place to camp on the beach and enjoy a quiet, fishing community with spectacular beaches and cheap food.

temporary
Enjoying a walk on the beach
Today it is dotted with many condo communities and hotels filled with Americans enjoying the natural beauty of the town.  The town has grown and although there is little camping on the beach there is still a wide variety of accommodations to suit every taste and budget.

We spent three days in a condo community known as Sierra Bonita “Pretty Mountain”.  We rented through VRBO a beautifully appointed two bedroom condo with beach and pool views.  The community included, palapas, sandy beaches, swim up bars and an onsite restaurant.  To put it simply, we loved the place!  Decorator touches, a large patio, entertainment, and good proximity to many restaurants and bars.  Don’t forget to try the street food and drinks too!

img_2581
Pina Coladas in town
The town of Rocky Point is filled with bars, taco stands and many shops selling cheap tours items like t-shirts, cowboy hats and blankets.  Haggling for prices is encouraged in the shops.  The shrimp is inexpensive and plentiful.  Be sure to pack the cooler with some to bring home and marvel at the price you get the giant shrimps for.

There are so many activities to take part in Rocky Point Mexico.  Rent a horse or an ATV.  Swim on the beach and walk for miles in the sand.  Get up at sunrise or enjoy the sunset.  Eat like a local.  Go to the chicken taco stand and get chicken, go to the carne asada stand and get steak.  But most of all enjoy what Mexico has to offer and appreciate the beauty of our neighbor to the south.

img_1650

 

The Adventure of the Traveling Clock

Surviving a 2500 mile road trip across America with your spouse.

image
Sarasota Beach

We have embarked on a new adventure, a road trip across America. The last time my husband and I traveled on a cross country road trip was thirty two years ago when we were relocating to Arizona from New Jersey. For that trip I drove a total of two hours, he is hoping that I will share a bit more of the driving this time.
We are calling this adventure “The adventure of the traveling clock.” About forty years ago my husband made a grandfather clock in his high school shop class. His aunt and uncle wanted a grandfather clock and paid for the black walnut and the clock mechanism and in a year he had completed the project and gave the clock to his aunt and uncle. I saw the clock once when we were dating and thought it was beautiful. When the opportunity presented itself and the clock was generously offered to us we jumped at the opportunity to pick it up in Florida. Today we fly to Florida. We are hoping that both the clock and the marriage survive.
We were home from Europe for a little over a week when the clock trip seemed to be a possibility. Greg did the planning and set up the rental car and hotels and I found and Airbnb for us to stay at in New Orleans.
We flew into Miami and were able to get our rental van easily. We grabbed a bite to eat in La Rosa Cuban restaurant in Miami before we headed to Port St. Lucie. Once in town we went to Greg’s aunt’s home and picked up the grandfather clock. It looks amazing after over forty years. The moving of the clock was pretty uneventful and we set out for Siesta Key. On the road for a couple of minutes, we started hear chimes banging from the clock. A quick stop at Walmart for bubble wrap silenced the chiming.

image
Greg and his clock

 

 

In Siesta Key, known as America’s most beautiful beach we had some beach time and explored the town a bit. It was so quaint and beautiful, with white sand beaches, warm but refreshing water and some great sand sculptures on the beach. This little town has a “free” cab service for the surrounding area. The cabbies are locals who rely on tips. Fantastic idea to allow everybody to enjoy the night life safely.

image
Sand sculpture at Siesta Key

We (Greg) drove to Sarasota to our hotel and found the most amazing place for dinner called Owen’s Fish Camp. It’s a charming little house with great vegetation and a sweet screened in front porch. We sat at a mismatched table and ordered scallops, jambalaya. Every bite was delicious. Mine came with succotash. I have hated succotash since I was a kid so when I asked the waitress to leave those off she told me the succotash was made with corn, edamame and dried cranberries. It was so good! After dinner we moved to the back yard to check out the band. Old iron patio chairs, giant trees, an oyster bar and a tire swing fill out the back yard. It was a perfect night!

image
Owen’s Fish Camp Restaurant

The next day we headed for Orlando. We arrived early and decided to take an airboat tour in the Everglades. We saw alligators, hawks, egrets and more. The driver was informative and truly loved his job. For almost the entire trip it rained. Even though there was a cover over the boat it made no difference we were SOAKED.

image
Not so friendly alligator smile

Finally we were in Disney World.  I have never been to Disney World, nor to Florida before so this is really special for me. Greg is the easy going guy willing to visit Disney World again. His last visit was thirty five years ago. Things have changed a bit. I was worried that we would look out of place at Disney without kids. But we weren’t alone. We arrived early and were on the first ride by 9am. We loved everything! We even got to see Mickey Mouse. While in line, I met a little boy who was so excited to see Mickey. He told his mom he was going to “hug and squeeze Mickey”. His mom told him to remember that Mickey is a boy so maybe you should  just shake his hand. He replied, “No I’m going to hug him because he’s so soft and cuddly ”.  I hugged him too.