Friday, February 25, 2011

February 25, 2011

After a week back in Mexico after the big Florida tour, this is a summary of what we've done.
Getting the garden planted was a big accomplishment.
By dinner time tonight, the vineyard will be completely pruned.
The patio plants which froze have been replaced.
The house is not spotless by a long shot, but it's clean enough for us.
We've cleared and racked the red wine.
Everything from the Florida trip has been unpacked and put away.
We've had one day of no electricic and one day of no water. Lived through both.
The head of the Department of Culture of Coahuila University came by for a visit. Stayed about an hour. Nice lady.
Stanley has done research on the one orchid that did not freeze in the bodega.
I've read a book about immunizations. Panic Virus. I'm amazed at what I didn't know.
The yard under the big tree has been raked.

We have started the job of pruning back the cactus garden plants that partially froze and removing some that bit the dust. The roses have been pruned.
The weather here has been perfect. So nice that we've been able to stay outside longer in the day. Hence, the long list of accomplishments. When it gets hot, we start coming inside earlier and earlier.
We have neighbors this week-end. A group came in last evening. They've been pretty quiet.

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Sunday, February 20, 2011


There was no way we could keep up Jesse's pace so we said good-by and
proceeded at a much more leisurely pace.

Back to Breaux Bridge LA.

It seemed stormy weather followed us every step of this trip and it
wasn't ready to stop now.

We were bone tired by the time we got to our motel so we settled in for
the night pretty quickly.

The next morning we went into Breaux Bridge to check out the shops and
take pictures of the church.

In and out of the first shop, across the street to the church and it was
suddenly raining so hard we had to seek shelter under the eaves
of the parsonaage.
When we were finally able to get to the car, we went back to
the motel where we stayed until time to go
dancing at Mulate's that night.

What a great time we had!
There is nothing like Cajun music to get you on your feet!

The pictures below were taken the next
day before we left town - a bright and beautiful day!

We drove to Houston the next day for a brief but wonderful
visit with Ivy and Ken.
Then, on to San Antonio for a few days with famiily and
a few more days with friends in McAllen.
We left the Valley on a southbound bus on Friday, Feb. 18th.
It was time to be home!!!!!!
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Getting Jesse Off to San Diego

At Jacksonville we made a sharp left hand turn and headed west.

Back to Pensacola where Jesse was making preparations for
his big trip to San Diego.

First, the boat had to be readied for transport
which seemed to involve a lot of duct tape and foam.

Then it was taken from the water - something I had never seen before.
From left to right, top to bottom:
The lifter is in place.
Here comes the boat.
The boat is situated on two straps that will cradle it as it is lifted
from the water and moved.
The boat is lifted from the water.
It is moved to its place.
And there it sat until the truck arrived.
I wasn't present for that but Jesse assures me it made it to San Diego just fine.


Then, it was time to load up the Ranger and the trailer.


And off he went.
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Monday, February 7, 2011

St. Augustine Winery

There comes a time in every vacation when it's time to head home.
I suppose this is a very personal thing for everyone.

For us . .. a huge sign is the disinterest in wine.

Here we were in a Florida winery that actually sold wine
made from grapes instead of avocados.

We couldn't even make ourselves interested in tasting it.

Time to head home!

But first . . .just one more picture.

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Walking the streets of St. Augustine is a feast for the eyes.

The mix of historic architecture and modern function is seamless.
And - everywhere - there is Flagler!


If I ever go back to college, I want to go to Flagler College in
St. Augustine FL.
I wouldn't be going to improve my mind so much as to enjoy the
Spanish Renaissance architecture, the relaxed but civilized atmosphere,
and sandwiches like the great Ruben I had for lunch that day.

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I took a lot of pictures at the fort, but none were quite as good as the ones I made
of the men who volunteer for the sole purpose of firing the cannon.
What a group they were.

They made it look like an entertaining show,
but they were deadly serious!

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In Key West, we became fascinated with Henry Flagler.
If you aren't familiar with this lion of an entrepenur, I
invite you to click here to read about him.

Credited with inventing Florida tourism,
his name can be found on streets, public buildings,
universities, hotels, museums, and even churches.

His home in Palm Beach has been converted into a museum.

It was worth every penny of the admission price.

Museum quality art and fabulous furnishings compliment the
architectural detail of the house itself.

The best part of the museum for us was Flagler's
personal rail coach.  Trust me:  It is
very different from the compartments
Stanley and I get when we travel on Amtrak.

We were able to walk through and study it to
our heart's content - even if it did make me
green with envy.

The grounds are as beautiful as the interior of the home.

Pure outdoor oppulence!

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With the tour over, we were glad to be
back on our own again.
Driving out of the city, headed north toward
Palm Beach,
we stopped for a few minutes at
the famous Haulover Beach.

By the time we got there, the sun was going down;
all the beautiful people had gone home;
the water was warm, but the air was cold.
At least I can say I was there.
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Our tour bus slithered and slipped on through
Coconut Grove and the Downtown District
with the guide happily jabbering away.
I'm afraid I was on "severe overload" at this point.
Thankfully, I was able to refocus for the next
part of the tour.

We went by boat all around the harbor . . .

. . . and out to Star Island,and Palm Island
where we reveled in the glory
of the rich and famous.

Our guide was excellent.
He had jokes and songs that kept
the tour entertaining and moving along.
Unfortunately, as I look back on the photos,
I haven't a clue who lives
in which house.
It doesn't really matter.

A grand piano was found on a sandbar in Biscayne Bay while we were in Florida.
I was very bummed when I learned we wouldn't go
anywhere near it on the tour.
If you didn't hear about this, click here to learn more.
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The tour continued through Coral Gables,
and although the guide
gave us lots of information about
different homes
and important buildings,
I wasn't able to retain very much.

The picture on the left is one of the
 oldest homes in Miami.
Like many of the other homes in the area,
it is made of coral -
 hence the name Coral Gables.

The building on the right is the Biltmore Hotel,
one of the oldest
luxury hotels in Miami.
Built by hotel magnate, John McEntee Bowman,
in 1926, it continues
to operate as an exclusive resort today.
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With so little time allocated to Miami,
we decided a city tour would be the way to go.
Our bus wheeled through the Art Deco district
with very little narrative.
I actually learned more about this part of Miami
on our romantic sunset walk
than I did from the tour guide.
Little Havana was a different story.
We had time to get out and walk around.

Traces of Cuban Folk art were everywhere!
Please note the migration of the chicken
from Key West to Miami.
(I wonder if the chicken is Florida's state bird?????)

We popped in for a quick look at Maximo Gomez Park.
The park is used primarily for domino games.
The rules are simple:  You have to be at least 65 years old to play.
It helps to be Cuban.  And to be a man.
And to hate Fidel Castro.


We visited the Tobacco Cigar Co.
where cigars are made with Cuban tobacco
and rolled by hand.

The gentleman in the blue shirt is the
owner of the place.
He is quite a character.

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I want to go back to Miami!
Especially the Art Deco district of South Beach!
I liked the food, the glitz, the history and the international feel of the place!
Running out of time, we didn't explore nearly as much as we would have liked.

I want another opportunity to get lost in the neon lights and curved walls.
What a contrast South Beach is to the stark skyline of Miami.

It was like an advertisement in a single's column:
Wanted:  Someone to walk with me on South Beach
at sunset
on a stormy day.

Response from Stanley:  "Let's go!"
I am a very lucky woman!

Walking back to the hotel from dinner that night,
I tried my hand at some artsy photography.
The neon lights were irresistible.
I was fairly pleased with the dance I created for them.

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Sunday, February 6, 2011


Not being ones to pass up a winery, we made a sharp turn when we saw the entrace to Schnebly Winery.  Located just a few miles outside Everglade National Park, the gardens were a tropical paradise.  I can only imagine what they look like in spring and summer.
Likewise, the tasting room was a thing of beauty.
However . . . the wine itself was a different story.
Can you imagine avacado wine?
That was just one of several very unsual flavors on offer.
Instead of buying wine, we opted for another stroll through the gardens.

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Winding up our Everglade adventure, we took the boat trip out of Flamingo, the western headquarters of the park.
My hope of photographing birds on the water was dashed fairly quickly by inclimate weather.
Most of the birds we were able to see were too far away for my little camera.
However, there is almost always a bright spot and this stormy trip had three.

First, the young man in the top right of the collage, our skipper and guide.
He deserves a raise based on enthusiasm and local knowledge.

Second, the osprey trying to build a nest on top of a channel marker
deserves a medal for courageous efforts in spite of insurmountable odds.

Third, the crocodile in the bottom right gets my vote of thanks for being the only crocodile I saw.  Lots of gators - one croc.
The weather was very cool and our trip was cut short by
rough water, but I enjoyed every moment.
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I took hundreds of bird pictures.
The following are a small sample.
Most of these were taken at Eco Pond and on
Anhinga Trail.
Some were taken from the car as we drove along.
Each and every bird was amazing
in its own way.

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