Tuesday, September 25, 2018

A Bubba Day at the Dog Park

Home in Holiday / Tarpon Springs area, FL

Tarpon Doggie Park 1

As we have talked about before, when we live in the Condo, due to their silly HOA rules, Bubba needs to live at Marcia’s brother’s house.  Last year we were only home for less than 3 months, and Bubba stayed out in California with Arny and my sister Sandy.  Arny and Bubba are “best friends”.  This year we might not make it back to California until May, and 10 months is too much to ask for even for “best friends”…after all, Bubba is 15, going on 16 years old…though he does not act his age most of the time.

Tarpon Doggie Park 2

So on Sunday, after church was over, I took Bubba over to the Tarpon Springs Doggie Park…a real ‘jewel’ for dog owners.  Unfortunately, I did not take the camera, and the flip phone camera is not very good…but it is what it is.

Tarpon Doggie Park 3

Bubba is in all three of the above pictures.  We were at the Doggie Park for a good 45 minutes, over half of that time alone…except for the sounds of the huge crowd next door at the Kids Splash Park.

Tarpon Doggie Park Chloe1

Well…Skruffy too.  Doesn’t she look cute?

Tarpon Doggie Park Chloe2

Well, I got you there … that was not Skruffy.  It is Chloe, who showed up with her mommy about 30 minutes after Bubba and I got there.  For her mom, Cici is her name, it was one of those “two for the price of one” things…she brought her grandchild and a neighbor child to enjoy the splash park, while she sat with 4 month old Chloe at the doggie park (of course, everything is free).   As for Bubba…well he was EXHAUSTED from the heat when I got him back into the car…but he loved every sniff and smell, especially Chloe’s butt.  Chloe is normally very afraid of dogs, but she had little problem with Bubba, which her mama liked a lot.  But when she heard a much bigger dog bark as it got out of its car, right as Bubba and I were leaving, well she hightailed it back to her mama with her tail between her legs.  As I got in the car, the big dog entered the big dog area of the doggie park, which I was happy for Chloe for…unfortunately, many people ignore the rules and bring their big dogs in with the little dogs.  All I can say about that is “GRRRRRRRR”

Saturday, September 22, 2018

LoveBugs and Thunderstorms

Home in Holiday / Tarpon Springs area, FL


Until I got to Arkansas I really did not understand the term “LoveBugs” very well.  I knew, growing up in the 50’s through 70’s, that the VW Beetle was referred to as a “lovebug”, and as a former owner of one, I KNOW it is not from what one can do in the back seat…way too small. (Mom, don’t ask me how I know)


Meet the true Florida LoveBugs (Plecia nearctica) .  These bugs love to, umm, how do you put it…’connect’, and then they stay ‘connected’ for days, flying around, getting into one’s hair, on clothing, covering outside doors and windows, and, of course….

LoveBugs on Motorhome 

…they LOVE motorhomes…and cars…and anything moving.  YES, this is really a motorhome (not ours) covered in lovebugs and other flying things.  Marcia and I saw a motorhome a few years ago up near Tallahassee, a white motorhome, just COVERED in squished lovebugs.  They came up Interstate 75…we came up US-19, and we hardly had any of them.  They LOVE the middle section of Florida, and are very active (if you know what I mean) during Spring and Summer, and I would assume, early Fall (since today is the first day of Fall).  Now I tried to get a picture of them flying…but when I tried I just could not focus.  Anyway, lovebugs are best photographed SQUISHED.

A look to east from Condos

So far, home for seven straight days, and seven days of afternoon thunderstorms.  Now it doesn’t rain at the condo each day…but we hear the thunder and see the lightning, and it has rained half of the days…twice very, very hard.  Yesterday was one of those heavy days.  Around 4 pm, the storms moved in.  It was in the low 90’s, and quickly dropped down to the upper 70’s.  By 5:30, it was gone…and the temps moved back up to the mid-80’s, with puddles of water everywhere.  Talk about a humid evening!  But at least it was a bit cooler.

Tarpon Springs Anclote River

This is a look to the east along the Anclote River in Tarpon Springs, near the Sponge Docks.  The Anclote is less than 30 miles long, formed from springs and creeks, and runs down into the Gulf of Mexico.  The Sponge Docks are right on the river.

Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks

The Sponge Docks are on Dodecanese Boulevard, which means "twelve islands" (even though it represents 15 larger and 150 smaller Islands in the southeastern Aegean Sea, off the coast of Asia Minor (Turkey), of which 26 are inhabited.)  Just ahead of me is one of the many Jolley Trolley cars which run from the city of Clearwater, through Dunedin, Palm Harbor and to the Tarpon Springs sponge docks.  Another route goes from Clearwater Beach, down to St. Petersburg and also over to the city of Clearwater (where you can pick up the northern route to Tarpon Springs).  For $5, you can ride it all day long, and the Trolleys are fairly heavily used.

Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks

Along the docks you can typically see some of the Greek spongers and fishermen sitting or working on their boats.  Don’t get too close to any of the sponge boats as they are cleaning the sponges…the smell is a bit difficult to handle.

Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks

Near the end of the docks is a popular restaurant called “Rusty Bellies”, and you can see the storm clouds to the west over the restaurant.

Spring Bayou

Here is Spring Bayou, where each Greek New Year the Archbishop tosses a white cross into the water in celebration of Holy Epiphany, and the young men of the Greek Church (16-18 years of age) jump in to retrieve it.  The crowd is HUGE, this is one celebration which I doubt I will ever witness in person…seeing it on the news is good enough for me.

Crystal Beach Area

I finally made it over to the Crystal Beach area in northern Palm Harbor.  This is one of my favorite places to take pictures of the gulf in this area.

Crystal Beach Area

Although it was still 45 minutes before sunset, I got the pictures I wanted…and besides, I told Marcia I would only be gone an hour…make that 70 minutes since I decided to go down through the Sponge Dock area.  (During winter it would have taken an extra 20 minutes due to the crowds!)   And NO, it did not rain in our area today.  It is 8:30 pm and it is 84 degrees, 65% humidity…lovely…

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Settling In -- (Mom, I am BOILING)

Home in Holiday / Tarpon Springs area, FL

Moving In from motorhome

Ok, moving from the motorhome to the condo isn’t as bad as moving from one home to another…but it is an ordeal, that’s for sure.  For the most part, we feel settled in.  On the way to church tonight we stopped by the motorhome to pick up a fan (I like it cooler than Marcia) and the water measurer for Marcia’s hard boiled egg maker (Christmas gift last year from sister Patti..and Marcia loves it.  Hamilton Beach 25500 Egg Cooker with Built-In Timer

Amazon Delivery

Part of settling in has to include a trip to Sam’s Club, Publix, and orders from Amazon.  The thing about Amazon…you make one order, but they might break it up into multiple delivery orders.  Today, three orders came by Amazon Van, the other via USPS.  The thing about Amazon Van Deliveries…

Amazon Delivery

As they get closer to your place, they will tell you how many stops away your are.  Under the “Arriving today…” message, it says, “The driver is currently 7 stops away”, and the green dot shows you where the van is…which in this case, is about a mile away from us.

Amazon Delivery

Now they were only two stops away…

Amazon Delivery

…and just a little bit later, “…the driver is on the way to you.”   So I stepped outside, waited for the van to pull up, and took the delivery right from the van.  Now you don’t have to reload the computer screen…it will automatically update for you.  Now that is pretty neat.

Car Wash

Part of settling in includes emptying the HHR, and taking it over to the car wash.  Tomorrow is the day for that…as well as changing filters in the Heating/Air System here at the condo.  I just hope that I can get myself motivated to clear out the car before it gets too hot. 

As for the “Mom, I am BOILING” in the title…she gets it, and I will fill in the details for you.  When I was young, old enough to where I HAD to wear a tie to church (don’t know why anyone would ever come up with something as stupid as a TIE…it does NOTHING…too thin to be used as a napkin at dinner time, too short for a tall person, too long for a short person, too thin to cover a big belly, and TOO TIGHT around the neck, even if you don’t button your top button!!!)  Anyway, when church was over, I would have my tie off before I got out the chapel’s doors, would have my shirt unbuttoned before I got down the stairs, and the shirt was off before I exited the church building.  And on the ride home, I would always say, “Mom, I am boiling!!!!”, as if she could magically produce an air conditioner…because in my youth, an air conditioner for a car was four rolled down windows.  Air conditioning in a house was a swamp cooler or a swimming pool.  During the summer, when it was real hot on those nights that the delta breeze did not blow through to Sacramento, we would sleep out in the backyard.  I don't know HOW I would have ever survived living in Florida during the summer without A/C...

Monday, September 17, 2018

Home Again…But AREN’T We Always?

Home in Holiday / Tarpon Springs area, FL

Home Sweet Home

On March 22nd we left our home in Holiday / Tarpon Springs Florida.  The Condo is in Holiday right near the city line to Tarpon Springs, the PO Box is in Tarpon Springs, and the motorhome is stored in Palm Harbor right near the city line to Tarpon Springs…hence, Holiday / Tarpon Springs Florida is where we live.  On Saturday, September 15th, we arrived back in the Holiday / Tarpon Springs Florida area.  Our six month trip included just over 8,000 miles, 16 states, and if I counted right, 75 blog postings.

Sandy Arny's

But we live in the motorhome more than we live in the Condo…so our “Home Sweet Home” is ALWAYS with us…like at Sandy and Arny’s house above…

Alabama Hills

…the Alabama Hills in California, a new place for us this year…

Leob State Park    Huntley Park

…at Loeb State Park (left) and Huntly Park (right), where we spent five cool weeks in Oregon for our second straight year…

Lake Granby

…and Lake Granby in Colorado, two more cool weeks in the middle of summer, also a new place for us.


But the Condo is our Winter Home…this year, our Fall and Winter Home…our HOT FALL HOME, where our temps have been in the low 90’s with humidity that is very unbearable. Right now, 10:30 pm, and 80 degrees and 80% humidity.  YUCK!  But inside, it is a comfortable 72 degrees…and now that we have everything out of the motorhome that we needed out of it, well, the comfort of home is here, and cool temps are just around the corner (in a month or two).  We pulled in around 3 pm Saturday, unloaded a chunk of it, and put the motorhome in the RV park nearby for two nights…besides moving stuff out, it needed a good cleaning before storage.  We surprised everyone at church on Sunday too.  All is fine at the condo, we got our Internet up this morning, that huge stack of mail has been taken care of, and Marcia has the laundry all caught up.  Tomorrow, after I help our neighbor retrieve her walker from the airport (she flew in yesterday and forgot her walker at the airport), there will be some shopping to do, and a run over to the motorhome because I just remembered that I forgot to open the ceiling vents.  There is always something…

Friday, September 14, 2018

500 down...Cracker Barrel hot night

At Cracker Barrel in Crestview Florida

Other than some very heavy rain and wind in Southern Mississippi, the trip today went well.  Having made the trip from Arkansas to Florida many times after we got married, I felt very comfortable with our route.  Leaving at 8:30 am, we pulled into Cracker Barrel by 8 pm having traveled 500 miles or more.  Unfortunately, it is 80 degrees with 70 percent humidity...but it is what it is.  No pics tonight...time to catch some hot ZZZzzz...

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Six Years After Retirement

At Saracen RV Park, Pine Bluff, AR


Above is Saracen Landing, it is where, back in February 2011, Marcia and I got married.


That was us back then…me, 100 pounds or so more than I am now…her, as lovely as ever.  It was a cold, slightly rainy, February day…dogs in the car, and just her, me and the minister.


This is Robert…the minister.  Back in 2011, he was also a fellow Rotarian, and a member of my Library Board.  He would not take any money to marry us, but I insisted that he take it and “give it to someone who needs it…”, which I am sure he did. 


In 2005 I separated from my first wife, a devout Mormon, and I just could not go along with the tenants and beliefs of the church anymore.  That said, I bought a 5th wheel, and moved out to Saracen Park, 2+ miles deep into the Jefferson County Regional Park, safe from the crime and rampage of the Pine Bluff area.  Abundant with deer (above) and and a $300 (now $350) monthly rent including water, power and a dump station…it was the best place to live.  By 2010, I had met Marcia online, in February 2011 we married with the plan that I take an early retirement, and we travel for most of the year.  That was in 2011…in 2012 I retired and we started our travels.  It is one of the best things I ever did in my life….

3a    3b

While here, I paid my respects to the living and the dead.  Miss Ann, Virginia Ann Lightsey (bottom right), was the children’s librarian at the Library for over 30 years.  I can remember coming home from church on Easter, and she and a friend had decorated the outside of our house, and hid Easter Eggs for our kids, and left…knowing that they would enjoy them.  Every Halloween she would stack up on Halloween Candies and Cakes and Treats, and had something SPECIAL for each and everyone of “HER KIDS”, those who came to Storytime on a regular basis, when they came by her house…we would go by each year with the kids, near the end of the night, and she would have so much stuff that she tried to load off on us.  The next day at work, the break room became a candy/cake store.  That is how Miss Ann was.  I miss her to this day…she was a very special person, never married, never had biological kids, but has as many kids today as any school teacher around.  Her influence moved kids to become doctors, lawyers, you name it, they became it.  In 1999, one Wednesday night in February I left work, headed to church for a youth program…saw this wreck on the way going the other side of the major road.  Did not think much of it…until I got home an hour or so later.  That wreck was Miss Ann and her mom…her mom died the next day.  Miss Ann was fine, but they were worried about shadows in her abdomen.  It was Cancer.  She lived another 6 years.  On the way to a Library Conference in Phoenix, March 2002, three of us drove there…left early enough that we could visit the Grand Canyon if weather permitted…it did.  She LOVED that trip…and somewhere in the middle of Oklahoma, in a Cracker Barrel Restaurant, a young man, about 22, comes up to our table.   “You are ‘Miss Ann’, aren’t you?”  “Yes I am, and you are (and she named his named).  WOW, one of her “KIDS” had found her all the way in the middle of Oklahoma!   I will never forget that.

4a    4b

It was nice to see the folks at the Rotary Club of West Pine Bluff today…my club for 20+ years, and I am still a Honorary Member.  There was a time that we had around 70 members…40-50 coming to meetings…today there were around 20 there.  I was the President for a year back in the mid-90’s…then the newsletter and webmaster, moving the club from paper newsletters to the Internet, saving lots and lots of $$$$.  Today, Robert told me that he is the webmaster, and it is a nice website which creates webpages from a database of names and important dates. 

I decided early on not to take pictures of the various libraries…but I visited or drove by each one of them.  Took Skruffy to the Main Library where for 2 years she was the “Library Dog”.  I surprised many a staff member by just showing up…it was fun.

After Rotary I went by the local “older peoples” home, this one which has apartments, then Assisted Living, then Nursing all at the same location.  One of my favorite Library Patron, Ann Johnston, moved in there a few years ago.  Ann is 98 years old…living in the ‘apartment’ living area.  I knocked on her door, which was partway open…said, “Hello, Ann…”, and she said, “Come in”.  The look on her face as she saw me was just precious.  When she was 95 years old, she was still bowling…even broke 100 once in awhile.  Back in 1994, I first met her because she was looking for a way to gather and store her genealogy.  I told her the computer was the way to go, and she had NEVER used one before.  By 1996, she had over 500 names in her genealogy database.  Many times I would go over to her house and get her computer working again…replacing a power supply, or a mouse or keyboard.  I acquired at least two newer computers over the years, through her limited funds, to keep her up and going.  Last I remember, she had sent over 2000 names to a genealogy database to store for the use of others in the future. 

Pine Bluff is combating Poverty and Urban Deterioration of the town.  In 1970, Pine Bluff had a population of 57,400 people.  Today, it is estimated to be under 43,000.  White Flight has plagued the community since the 1980’s, and the downtown area is now nearly non-existent outside of Simmons Bank Headquarters, the County Courthouse, and the City Complex (where Main Library is located).  By 2020, there should be a new Main Library across the street from Simmons Bank.  They have demolished some of the more derelict old downtown buildings, and there are commitments for new buildings and revised older buildings…but none of this has come to pass yet.  Time will tell.  I hope things get better.

It was so nice to see so many friends and former colleagues.  It is sad that a few of them have passed on, a couple since I left in 2012.  Those who are still around, I hope to see again when we come through in April of next year.  Now, the final stage towards home…

Monday, September 10, 2018

Made it back to Arkansas

At Cracker Barrel, Alma, AR

Cracker Barrel, Alma, Arkansas

We left Blue Springs right around 9 am, had light traffic most of the way.  Stopped in Joplin Missouri for gas, coffee (at Flying J), and an RV Wash (Blue Beacon next door).  The line to get washed was a little over average, taking nearly an hour to get through, but at least our baby motorhome is clean again!

Cracker Barrel, Alma, Arkansas

Stopped in Alma because Marcia’s first husband has a cousin living in the area, Jim, the son of Sophie whom we use to stop and see every time we were in the area.  Jim and wife Pat came over from Fort Smith to the Cracker Barrel, and we all enjoyed a nice two hour visit with dinner.

Kansas City Airport

Yesterday I picked my youngest son Ryan up at the KC Airport, flying in from a SACA meeting in Milwaukee.  Ryan is the chapter president of the Student American Chiropractic Association for Cleveland University - Kansas City.  He loves it anytime he can be an advocate for the Chiropractic field.  He graduates next April.

Ryan at Kansas City Airport 

His dad, however, needs to learn how to take “stealth shots” with the camera better…this is him getting in the car at the airport with guards looking at me with that “You have 30 seconds at the curb buster” type of look.

Kansas City Royals Staduim

On the drive to the airport I was able to get this shot of the Royal’s Baseball field…tried to get Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Chief's too, but this is the best I got.

Cracker Barrel, Alma, Arkansas

Just before I went out to get pictures, this truck pulling a small trailer pulled up.  WHY they felt so compelled to park right next to us, is beyond my comprehension.  As of now, I don’t know if they are going to stay the night or not.  It is not that this was the only spot available…there is an empty spot right next to it, and the parking lot is not that full.  I know they have a small black dog, it stared at me as I took Skruffy and Bubba out for their last walk of the day…big buggy eyes, did not bark, just stared.  Hoped that the rest of the family, “IF” they stay the night, are not loud either…but they came out of the restaurant, got the dog, got into the truck and OFF THEY FLEW!  Winking smile

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Family Visit and Blue Springs Lake Campground

At Blue Springs Lake Campground, Lee’s Summit, MO

Back in 1991 when I took a job in Arkansas, mom and dad followed very quickly by moving from California to Independence / Blue Springs Missouri area where they had friends, and mom had two brothers, two sister-in-laws, nieces and nephews living nearby.  Now, mom and dad live back in California…and only one sister-in-law is left…Aunt Vera.  I have shown pictures of my cousin Donald a few times…he and I are the same age…this is his mother.  Don’s sister Cassie has lived in the area since the 1970’s, and her and her husband Rick sold their home recently and moved in with aunt Vera who is 92, still climbs the stairs a few times each day, and has lived independently since Uncle Harold, a Pearl Harbor survivor, died in 2002, shortly after attending the 60th anniversary of the attack with a honor trip back to Pearl Harbor.  It was nice to see Aunt Vera and Cousin Cassie, her daughter Allison and Allison’s three children…sorry that Rick had to work, but as a bonus, my oldest brother’s daughter Kathryn and her husband Dallas, a Jackson County Fire Fighter, were able to meet us there.  Before long, 3 hours had come and gone...and we were gone again without any pictures.  Gotta remember to take that camera to these events!

Blue Springs Lake, Lee's Summit, MO

Blue Springs Lake is a 720 acre reservoir located near Lee’s Summit, west of Kansas City, south of Independence. It is located in Fleming Park, a public park in Jackson County which also contains Lake Jacomo, another 900 acre lake which is right up against Blue Springs Lake.  There are two campgrounds in Fleming Park, both administered by the Jackson County Parks and Recreation Department, which also operates a third campground nearby called Longview Campground along Longview Lake.  All three campsites have a combination of full hookups ($33) or electric/water ($25) or tent ($21) with water nearby, and there is a slight discount for senior citizens.  (We are paying $31 per night for full hookups)  All campgrounds take reservations, but we are outside of the busy season, and easily got in without one…but there is no extra cost if you do reserve, which can be done through the Park and Rec website.

Blue Springs Lake Campground, Lee's Summit, MO

Most RV sites are very deep, and can handle any size of a RV.

Blue Springs Lake Campground, Lee's Summit, MO

Some, like the one above, have two sites right next to each other…great for camping with a friend…not so great if you don’t know your neighbor because they are like “right next to you”.

Blue Springs Lake Campground, Lee's Summit, MO

Here is an example with a large Class A motorhome in a full hookup spot.

Blue Springs Lake, Lee's Summit, MO

Although there are no sites with direct access or views of the lake, it is a short drive in either direction to get to the lake.  There is also a boat marina located at all three lakes, and there are also picnic shelters, and Blue Springs Lake has a swimming beach, and lots of fishing at all three lakes.

Blue Springs Lake, Lee's Summit, MO

Here is a playground which is close to our campground.