Sunday, March 9, 2014

Visit to a House of Refuge

After breakfast and a walk on the beach


we visited Gilbert's Bar House of Refuge, built on the "St. Lucie Rocks" (Hutchinson Island).  It is the only one remaining.  You can find more information by visiting

Houses of refuge were built along Florida's east cost, a sparsely populated area when this one was constructed in 1876.  A keeper and his family lived in residence, and after storms, he walked the beach, looking for shipwreck survivors to rescue.

This would make a cozy place to live.  I can totally imagine myself here.  Come with me on a tour.

A cozy room for a quick breakfast.

A formal dining room to entertain guests when they drop by.

A nice old desk to write at and a gramophone to play my favorite tunes.

A cheerful bedroom complete with mosquito netting.

A great veranda for a morning coffee break


with an awesome view.

Sign me up.  Oh, wait.  There wasn't any internet back then.  Guess I'll stay in this time in the wilds of Maine.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Fun in the Sun

It's March.  It's sunny.  It's possible to walk on the beach wearing shorts.  So, I guess I'm not in Maine.

I think these tiny birds are a variety of plover.  As the waves recede, they run out to catch any food carried in on the water.  As the waves wash ashore, the scurry back across the sand.


Then back for lunch, yummy cheeseburger soup, at The Grill in the clubhouse.

Thanks to Tony and his Christmas gift of a shirt from Asheville Sun Soo Tai Kwon Do (, I was able to get into the Grill Room ('golf' shirts required).

Later that afternoon, after a short drive and we reached the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center.  This an awesome place.  Located on Hutchinson Island, which is a barrior island, they have great activities and educational programs.  I chose not to join the fun of sting ray feeding.  With my luck, they would decide I was attack worthy.

There was a great presentation about the three kinds of sea turtles, loggerhead, green and leatherback.  The females dig nests in the sand, lay eggs and cover them.  When the babies hatch, they have to dig up through something like three feet of sand, then head for water.

They've also created a game fish lagoon, 

complete with sharks, jacks, snook and others.  And turtles.

 (These were taken during the fish feeding)

There's also a wonderful nature mile-long trail with a guided walk.

We hiked through a mangrove swamp

past Spanish Moss (named by the Native Americans because it resembled the bearded Spaniards)

And saw a replica of their dwellings.

The turn-around point is the Indian River Lagoon (named for the Ays Indian Tribe who were the original inhabitants of the area, known as the Ays Coast or the Province of Ays).  As you can see from the waves, it was a windy day.

On the return walk, we spotted a gecko in a tree beside the trail.  If you look closely, you can see him perched on the branch (he's the tiny light green slash just above the middle of the picture.

It's all about fun in the sun.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Weather report: It's warm and sunny

On Tuesday, I headed south where it's warmer.

Here's my back yard a few days before I left.

(Some of you may have seen this when I tweeted it)

So here's what greeted me on Wednesday:

View of the golf course at Miles Grant

and later, here's a pic of the back yard at Starbucks.

In case you've forgotten, you can scroll up to see what I left behind.

Yesterday, replicas of the Pinta and Nina were docked at a marina near where I'm staying.  I couldn't resist a visit.

The first reason being that I visited the tomb of Christopher Columbus in the Cathedral in Seville during my visit there in October.

So, here's a shot of the boat Pinta.  

Can't see it?  Because the honkin' big yacht is blocking it?  Hint: It's the tiny square flag 

Here's she is from across the water.

And here's the Niña

The Pinta had a crew of 26 and the Nina 24.  The ships were so small the crew slept above deck because below decks were filled with provisions.

From under cover looking toward the deck
On the deck of the Niña

Factoid:  Columbus chose the Niña as his ship.

Their diet was especially varied:   

Personally, I can't imagine spending 24/7 on a ship between 65 and 85 feet in length crowded to the gunnels with 26 or 24 other bodies.

How about you?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy New Year

It’s the first of a new year and the beginning of the first year of a new decade for me, so here’s what’s happened so far on January 1st.

Ate my first meal at Cracker Barrel.  Back in the day, it was a shop along side the turnpike selling cheese and cheese stuff plus my favorite pecan logs, a seriously sweet pecan treat.  Cracker Barrel is a whole different creature now.  Lots of chachkies and all kinds of candy, but not a piece of cheese in sight.  I did spot a couple of pecan rolls hiding in a corner.

After breakfast, we drove to the airport in Asheville. On the way I commented that I wasn’t looking forward to  the travel day, retracing my flight from Asheville to Charlotte to Philadelphia to Portland.  A premonition.  At the reservation desk, I couldn’t check in.  When I asked for help, I wasn’t on the list, despite the very nice print-out I had of my reservation from Travelocity.  Ooops.  In the many (3) re-bookings on my trip to Asheville the cancelled the flight from Asheville to Charlotte on the 1st.  They were very apologetic and said they’d fix it.  And they did.  They had their driver take me to Charlotte.  Instead of going to Portland by way of Philly, they re-booked me on a direct flight to Portland.  There was only one seat left—in First Class—and she upgraded me without blinking.  So a second first.  My first flight in First Class.

And here’s the third.  My first selfie taken in the van on the way to Charlotte.  Not sure why folks do this 'cause the pictures kinda suck.

Based on these serendipitous events, 2014 is going to be an awesome year for me.  I hope it is for you, too.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Little Tour of Asheville

Friday we went on the LaZoom comedy holiday tour of Asheville.  

Okay, so we board a painted-purple-on-the-outside, pimped-out-on-the-inside school bus to tour around the city.

Windy Gale (I think that was her name) was our tour guide.

She was hilarious, interacting with the ‘tourists’ by planting kisses on the lucky bald guys (one of them was my SIL)

teasing passengers and ‘interviewing’ several drop-in, like the poor lost forest tree looking for a good time in the city

Santa, who was a bit worse-for-the wear after Christmas, and a giant cookie, Ginger Dreadlocks Man.

Along the way, we actually learned some interesting facts about the city, including that she has six degrees of separation from the owner of the only one of Elvis Presley’s guitars that isn’t in Graceland, that Asheville has been Beer City USA four years in a row, only losing this year to some city in Michigan (Grand Rapids, she reluctantly admitted).

We made a quick stop at the Grove Arcade, the concept for the first indoor shopping mall.  During World War II, it was used by the federal government for war purposes and later housed the National Climatic Data Center.  In 2002 it reopened as a public marketplace, with restaurants, boutique shops, offices, and luxury apartments on the top floor.  There’s a great coffee shop there, True Confections.  Tasty treats, too.

Last night we attended the 80th birthday of one of Lisa & Tony’s friends.  In between and after I watched more basketball than I have since I was a cheerleader in high school.

Just restin’ and relaxin’ today.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas at the Biltmore Estate

Last night we had dinner in the Stable Café, a dining room located in the original stable at the Biltmore Estate.  Seriously, I bet those horses lived better than I do.  I forgot to take pictures while we were eating—too busy enjoying the delicious food—but here’s a link if you want to check it out.  Scroll dow to the bottom to see the pictures.

After dinner, we toured the house or castle or chateau—not sure exactly what to call it—built by George Vanderbilt.  Construction began in 1889 and was completed in 1895 of the 250-room summer estate.  Fortunately, we didn’t have to visit all the rooms.

It is an impressive sight, especially decorated for Christmas.

As we walked inside, live Christmas music was playing in the entry hall, decorated with greenery and poinsettias.

There is a ginormous decorated tree in the banquet hall.  They decorate a 35-foot tree that doesn’t begin to reach the nearly 70-ceiling.  I couldn’t begin to get a picture of the whole thing.

I will have to reassure my small fiberoptic Christmas tree not to be intimidated.  I truly prefer her.

There are 50 additional decorated trees throughout the house.  Here's a couple of them.

It is a spectacular house, but I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to live there.  It wasn’t exactly a cozy vaca cottage.

If you want to see more pictures click on the link below.

An if you're ever in the Asheville area, the Biltmore Estate is truly worth visiting.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas

I’m spending Christmas with my daughter and her family in Asheville this year.

Everyone was nice ‘cause there was no coal in anyone’s stocking.

But we did have some unexpected visitors.

An alien arrive with stylin’ glasses

Then Mr. America stopped by for a snack.

And Wonder Woman ran in to see if we needed any help.

After all the excitement, these two settled down for an afternoon nap.

and the kittens curled up and quit attacking the tree.

I hope everyone had a wonderful day!