Thursday, March 31, 2011

A few things on our list before we go

We are wrapping up our stay in Florida for the year. Besides walking on the beach and spending time with family, we have visited a few other spots in the vicinity the past few weeks. Paul picked out some pictures and I'll just add a little narration as I see what he has chosen. Here goes!

The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota was on our list of must sees this winter. They specialize in the study of epiphytes.

Obviously, the orchids are always a favorite of ours.

Where there are orchids, you will find Paul and Barb.

Paul, of course, easily rattled off all of the correct names as we walked through.

Me? I just say, "Oh, look at that spotted one over here! Wow!"

The gardens and grounds are incredible. Look at the root structure on these fig trees.

We went on a boat tour on the Myakka River, right by our campground, with Kent and Margie and her sister, Karen, brother-in-law, Jeff and nephew, Steve, who were visiting from Iowa.

This was another "must do" on our list. Just think, this guy lives two minutes from where we are staying!

There were a few more of his friends out there to greet us as we slid by in the boat.

They filmed Tarzan movies here in the 50's. It makes me want to watch them again to see if we recognize the river. I think it is beautiful!

We toured the Clyde Butcher Studio here in Venice and went to listen to him speak. Clyde is an incredible photographer/artist who lives in Venice and specializes in photographing outdoor scenery and specifically, the cypress swamps of the Everglades. Paul was fascinated with his photography studio. I was amazed they let us walk around and look at it! Next year, we want to take one of his swamp walks. We have family members who are freaked out by that concept, but that is another story!

After the lecture, we went with Beth and Gary to the North Jetty to watch the people, boats and dolphins.

And then we stopped at the Tiki Bar for a cold one. Life is rich!

The four of us also went to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary this week. Paul and I visited last January with Tom and Jayne. We had put it on our list for this March, because we wanted to see Spring in the cypress swamp. Luckily, it had rained the night before, so the resurrection fern were everywhere.

If you ever find yourself in the Naples area, go to Corkscrew Swamp.

Look very carefully, you can see a snake in the water lettuce. Paul, what was the name of that snake again?

Oh, yeah, a Florida Banded Water Snake. That's what they told us while we were watching it from the board walk. I only know garter snakes, being from the northern tundra and all. Do you think we'll see one next year when we actually go walking right in the water?

I can hardly wait! Talk to you soon.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Broderick (and some other people, too)!

We had a great visit with family and extended family this past week. Marge's sister, Karen and her family escaped from Iowa, Jim, Dave and Rosie ran away from Fargo and Jen and Eric and Broderick came in from Virginia. Little Broderick stole our hearts. He gets top billing here today. Here he is at Beth and Gary's on their first day, saying to Paul, "I think I know how you work this camera."

"Yeah! I've got it! Smile, Mom and Dad!"

The next day, Broderick experienced the beach for the first time. His opinion? "This place will have to grow on me."

Jen and Eric took a little side trip to Miami, providing an opportunity for Grandma and Grandpa McDougall to bond with their grandson.  Of course, the rest of us old fogies were pretty thrilled with the chance to get to know him as well.

The brothers caught up with each other.

Jim and Mary's home is a great gathering spot.

I think Mom would be happy to know we enjoy cooking and eating together! Jim, those kabobs were excellent!

We had one last picture of the whole group before the Iowa crowd left.

The next day the guys golfed at Pelican Pointe and cooled off afterwards in Kent's pool.

After another great meal, we enjoyed the super moon.

On Sunday, we took in some sights around Venice, starting with the jetty. Grandpa and Grandma McDougall took excellent care of their little guy.

Broderick rolled along beautifully with the older set.

He loved watching the birds and the boats.

He is one happy little boy.  I think Grandpa is, too!

One cannot put a price on family time.

I'm not sure, but I believe Broderick may have been enjoying his first taste of french fries and ketchup too much to enjoy the sunset at Marker 4. The rest of us took it in, though. This is the view from our table.

He charmed us all.  All too soon, the week was over and we had to say goodbye.

We can hardly wait to see you again. I hope you remember us!!

I have to check to see if Jim can get back to Fargo today. Bad weather up north held him at their Venice home one more day.

Don't you feel his pain?  I'll talk to you soon.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A little foreshadowing...

Life is good in Venice, Florida. We continue to be comfortable in our little cabin on wheels.

This morning, Paul and I finished making our arrangements for our trip home to Minnesota in April. I am not going to share the entire plan, but with throw a few hints your way.

We need to get a few pictures for some good friends who are big fans. That's the kind of friends we are.

We are planning to soak up some local culture and do some hiking on our way through the Ozarks.

Our last stop will take us to a judging class. Then, we will come home!!!

Dave and Rosie and Jen and Eric are coming to Florida this week. We are excited to see them. I hope they are prepared because we plan to spoil their little "B"! Talk to you soon.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Go Twins!

We went to a Twins game last Saturday afternoon.

A friend of Kent and Margie has season tickets to the Tampa Bay Rays, who play in Port Charlotte at Charlotte Sport Park, which is 20 minutes from Venice.

The stadium has been nicely renovated in recent years. We arrived early to watch some batting and infield practice.

Paul and I had seats right by third base.

After a couple of innings there, we moved down by Kent and Margie, who were sitting right behind home plate. We could really watch the bonding between the ump and the batters.

And, we could tell the ump if we agreed how he called the pitches. Kent was very good at that!

Twins won! Great day. Awesome seats! Thanks Kent and Margie! Glad your friend wasn't using them!

Next, we want to go to Fort Myers and watch the Twins at their "home" stadium. We'll talk to you soon. There's a botanical garden around here somewhere...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Ding Darling and Dinners

Another week is gone. Where do the days go?
Paul and I drove to Sanibel Island early Wednesday morning to the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

We wanted to be there when the refuge opened because we read there was a birding bike tour led by volunteer naturalists that morning. If you ever have a chance to visit Ding Darling, I would highly recommend you take advantage of these programs. It cost us $1 each to ride our bikes through the reserve.

We lucked out because it was low tide that morning and the birds were on the mudflats.

Although our camera wasn't able to get close pictures of the birds, there were huge flocks of birds out there for us to view. Also, there were knowledgeable birders at each stop with excellent scopes and they invited people to view the birds close up. I have been trying unsuccessfully to learn shore birds and this experience really helped. The people who led our tour and the birders at each stop were so accommodating.

We both really enjoyed the day. I counted at least 20 different species of shorebirds.

After our bike ride, we drove to one of the beaches on the island, sat in the shade at a picnic table, ate the lunch we had packed and then walked the shore for a little bit. There were no sharks teeth here, but thousands of shells. You can see a line of them next to Paul's feet in this picture.

Paul said he like the Sanibel beach, but it doesn't hold a candle to his beloved Caspersen!!!

Back at the camper, we continue to eat well. Beth told us about Angelo's, a local Italian market. We stopped there one afternoon, bought some fresh sausage and grilled a pizza on the Weber.

Our miniature herb garden outside has come into its own, so we harvested the first crop of basil and made bruschetta one night.

And last night we grilled chicken and made parsley/rosemary/garlic "new" potatoes. Yum.

Well, I have to go. Paul went golfing today and I just might have gone to Best Buy to buy myself a Kindle...I see it's charged up, so I am excited!!!!!  I got tired (literally, eye strain tired) of reading books on my phone. Talk to you soon.