Monday, December 17, 2012


Hi, Everyone.

Hope you all had a great weekend.  No doubt you were as busy as I was shopping and preparing for Christmas which I simply can't believe is just days away.  Boy, did this year go quickly.

I also hope I didn't bore you with my last post about our vacation because guess what, this post is going to be about our vacation, too.

Ok, so on our second day once we dropped our suitcases at our place, we went food shopping at Walmart and then at Publix.  I made the mistake of buying the meats at Walmart last year and what a mistake that was so this year, we got most of our groceries at Walmart but then went to Publix to get the meats.

While in Publix, Jim noticed this display made out of Coke cases.  I totally missed it but once Jim pointed it out, I put Spiro and Emma in front of it.  It was a very clever display considering we were so close to Disney, don't you think?
Behind our townhouse there is a lake wherein you can find all sorts of waterfowl.  We usually feed them in the back but this particular morning, they came to the front door and we were all too happy to provide them with breakfast. 
Nothing like having a giant pool all to yourself, right?  This is the pool just 1 block away from us.  There are other pools in the complex but we prefer this one.  There's Logan down by the waterfall.  He wasn't alone long as both grandparents and Jim joined him in the water.  
As you can see from their pale skintones, neither one of them gets a lot of sun.
 After some frolicking in the pool, Spiro went to get a massage.  Those are his feet you can see as he's lying on the table.  I snuck over and unbeknownst to him, I crawled under the head rest and took a most unappealing shot of his face.  Do I hear blackmail anyone?  Ha! Ha! 
One afternoon we took a short drive to an area attraction called Old Town.  There are quaint little shops, rides and bars there but it's a quiet place in the day as it comes to life at night time.  Here's Jim having a chat with a puppet. 
 This is one of the rides at Old Town.  It's a sling shot except it shoots people!  Just looking at it from the ground made me dizzy.  
The main thoroughfare where the businesses are located is closed to cars so we strolled carefree down streets and enjoyed ourselves as we visited many of the shops.  We had a fun time here.  We went back a day or two later but we never did get there in the evening.
So one day we decided to check out a wildlife park we'd never been to.  According to the advertisement, it was only 17 miles from Orlando.  Well, after more than an hour's drive, we realized they had to be measuring from the outskirts of Orlando because it was more than 60 miles away.  As we drove we kept saying, this place better be worth it to make us drive this far!

We finally arrived there and this was the first sight I saw, a beautiful peacock.  In fact, there were several roaming the grounds.   They came right up to us looking for food.          
There were many alligators here.  They number in the hundreds.  Here's one covered in something called Duckweed.  It's a plant that according to the guide regenerates itself every 24 hrs.  It rather thickly covers all of the water in the park.  The strange thing she mentioned, the park has no ducks.  Not hard to understand why when there are so many gators hiding beneath this stuff. 
We were given a presentation by an American Indian who not only taught us some things but did it quite entertainingly.  He showed us all sorts of different tools his ancestors used in their daily life and made it fun in the way he delivered the information.  That structure everyone is standing under was a dwelling.  The center support pole has indents in it which they used to climb up into the loft area. 
Here we are at another informative demonstration using a few of the big gators.  Brave girl there ready to toss a piece of chicken into that gator's mouth.  
We took a boat ride around the park.  When we came around the bend which opened up to this view, I felt like I was in the Amazon.  It was hard to tell it was Central Florida.
Ok, who reading this thinks of "Ice Age, The Meltdown" when they see this picture?  As soon as I saw all those vultures in that tree, I immediately thought of the movie and started singing the song the vultures sing as they are looking down on Manny and the rest of the gang, Food, Glorious Food...   Oh man, now I've got that song stuck in my head again. 
This park had all sorts of animals from this pretty coyote, to lynxes and mountain lions, to wolves, to foxes to parrots and even two black bears named Boris & Natasha. 
We took part in a show and tell which actually turned into a show and touch of all sorts of creatures.  Here Logan is touching a skunk.  I was so surprised by how soft the skunk's coat was.  I expected it to be much coarser.  I held a snake and a baby alligator.  I even touched a rose haired tarantula. 
There's Jim with his chance at holding the snake.  
This guy had no clue what he was in for when he volunteered from out of the audience.  They proceeded to put a large, hairy spider on his head and a really big scorpion on his shoulder.  Brave man, indeed!
We had a great time at this park so even though it was a drive, it turned out to be very much worth it.

Hope you had fun reading about our animal encounters.

Have a great day!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Aaaahhhh Vacation!

I've been meaning to write about our recent vacation but just haven't had the time.  As some of you might know, we have a place in Orlando and we made our yearly visit to it at the beginning of the month.  We left the day after Thanksgiving and spent the following week in sunny Florida.  My stepdad, Spiro, and my mother-in-law, Emma, came with us so Logan was a lucky kid to have 2 grandparents there to spoil him.  I was happy both of them came with us.  He made lots of memories with both of them that will stay with him forever. 

We had absolutely great weather this year.  High 70's, blue skies every day, and it wasn't even that humid, thankfully.  If Florida weather was always like that, I'd finally give in to Jim's request to move there.

So after a small delay in our flight to Tampa and picking up our rental car, we drove to Plant City which is half way between Tampa and Orlando.  This mural was on the wall of the cafe across the street from my Uncle Kenny's antique store.
Here is one side of the store front window of my Uncle's store.  What a lovely store he has.   I know nothing of antiques or the stores that sell them but his store was so pleasantly arranged.  I am so proud of my Uncle for opening the store he's always wanted to own.   He has so many lovely and unusual things in there so if you're into antiques or just like to browse those kinds of shops and you're ever in Plant City, Florida, be sure to visit his store.         
Here's a picture of Logan with my Uncle Kenny.
After checking out all the wonderful things he has for sale in his store, we drove back to Tampa but Logan stayed with Kenny who was going to close up the shop and meet us for lunch later.  So what to do while we waited for them to join us???  Why, visit Joann's, of course!  There's one ever so conveniently close to my Uncle's house and since we had time to kill, what better way to spend that time than perusing the aisles of a craft store, right?

Once inside Joann's, I came across this sight.  A lady was pushing the cart that contained her obviously pampered pouch named Lily.  I just had to take a picture of this and the owner graciously allowed me to photograph her "baby". 
After a little scrap shopping, we met up with everyone at a cool little taco shop named Tijuana Flats.  They have fabulous tacos and I think I might have done permanent damage to my taste buds by trying some of their hot sauces but lunch was delicious.  Here's a picture of Uncle Kenny and his son, Josh, and Logan at Tijuana Flats.
We enjoyed a fun night of catching up, game playing and great homemade lasagna at Kenny's house.  He was so kind to put all 5 of us for the night.  It was so wonderful to see my family.  I've missed them so much. 

The next day we said our goodbyes and drove to Orlando where we would spend the rest of the week.  On the way, we stopped at an attraction called Fantasy of Flight.  My thought in going there was to give Logan an opportunity to take a ride in a biplane.  However, once there and he learned he could go up in a different biplane that he could actually fly, he no longer wanted to just be a passenger in one.  Ok, so $250 later and a whole lot more grey hairs on my head, he got his chance to fly a replica of a 1942 Stearman biplane that was used to train pilots during WWII.  Here he is in the cockpit prior to taking off.
 There he goes as they are speeding up to take off.  The pilot is behind him. 
 And they're up!
Thank goodness the pilot told me she was going to blow smoke or I would have been a wreck thinking something was wrong with the plane.  They were gone for about a 1/2 hour and he had a great time.  The best part is that flight actually counts toward a pilot's license.
This picture is for my friend, Lisa.  We saw these round hay bales as we were leaving the airfield.  I made Jim stop the car so I could get out and take a picture just for her.  (Sorry folks, inside joke here.)
We made our way to Orlando where we dropped our luggage at our place and then went food shopping.  Here are Spiro and Jim goofing around in the Walmart parking lot. 
Here's one of my mother-in-law, Emma.  Her birthday was the day we were flying home we so we celebrated her birthday while we were down there. 
I've got more to share but right now there are presents to be wrapped and cards to be written out.  I'll be back with more pictures of our great vacation.

Thanks for stopping by!