FLORIDA  November,2003

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Reminiscing and Visiting
An orange grove

It is said that you can't go back to the past and that is a true statement but the memories of that past are still filed away somewhere in our minds. Since we hadn't been to Florida for nine years we decided to go back and visit places where we made some of those great memories. When our sweet little niece, Vickie, invited us to stop and visit with them in Georgia we started our trip by making a new memory.

Since Vickie was on a job demonstrating Arbonne products and got home a little late, David showed us their home while Stan fixed a delicious dinner for all of us. Then while Vickie and I were busy talking and talking at the dinner table the guys cleared the table. Don't we have good husbands?!! We had such a nice visit with them.

I-75 thru Atlanta is usually much busier than this.
David in front of their beautiful home.
David, Vickie, and Stan at breakfast.

The next day we drove to Orlando and stayed at the Howard Johnson's motel that is "right around the corner", as Aunt Pauline used to say, from where they lived and we lived for a short time. There have been many changes in the old neighborhood.....the street that the house is on was sand, now it's paved; Walmart moved; a super highway cuts through the neighborhood a few blocks away; another lane or two have been added to many of the roads and, of course, much more traffic.

The one mile walk around a lake at Crane's Roost was a memory revisited. Another favorite place was Wekiva Springs State Park. We found some boys still trying to dive into the spring and no matter how hard they tried the spring pushed them right back up. We also remember the New Years Day when Dave, Ralph, and I went canoeing on this river that supposedly had alligators in it. That memory rates right up there at the top!
Cranes Roost
Crane's Roost.
Wekiva Springs State Park.
Wekiva Springs
The Springs at the park.

When we were residents of Florida we had "season's passes" to Disney World and went many times so we added this to our reminisces. We went to the Hall of Presidents, the Haunted House, a ride on the Sternwheeler, etc. and got ice cream at our favorite store. We were disappointed in the parade. Now, instead of the high-stepping band leader and marching band they just have elaborate floats.
Disney World.

Cinderella's Castle.

The Haunted Mansion.

He's trying to beg some of my ice cream.

These guys were very entertaining.

There were several parade floats.

We left Orlando for a night's stay in Titusville on the east coast. There on Merrit Island is the Black Point Wildlife Drive where another memory was made when Dave was with us, a memory of moldy donuts that we had brought along for breakfast.
This is on Merrit Island.

Lots of ducks.

We saw four alligators.

At the Visitor's Center on Merrit Island we learned about a couple of places we had never been to. One was the Enchanted Forest where we had a nice walk through palms and huge live oaks with Spanish moss hanging from its limbs. Live Oak is the name of these oak trees that are quite a bit different from our oak trees. At another place there was an observation deck for people to watch the large pre-historic looking manatees that come in from the ocean to the warmer river for winter.

The Enchanted Forest walk.

Coquina Rocks.

Since Dottie still works full time we planned our visit with her and Richard for the weekend and had a wonderful visit with them. Even though Richard has been ill with a lung infection he was able to go out to eat with us and able to play 12 holes of miniature golf. However, an episode of being unable to breathe sent him to the hospital on Sunday morning but thankfully the doctors were able to help him and he didn't have to stay there.

Saturday morning Dottie, Ralph, and I checked out McKee Botantical Gardens in Vero Beach. It's a place that began in 1932 as McKee Jungle Gardens famous for growing beautiful orchids but it went into decline and had been closed for several years. Eighteen acres of the original 80 acre plot have been restored and it is now on the National Register of Historical Places. This was Dottie's first visit, also. When you get two happy fun-loving sisters together.....well, it was a wonderful time. Ralph was very patient and took pictures of us clowning around.

Sunday evening Paul, Evie, Renee, and Alex not only came over to Dottie's to see their Aunt Dodo and Uncle Ralph, they also took us out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants. We love those kids!

Spent 4 hours here.
Dottie took this picture.
Rabbit ears.
Fan dancers.
A sleeping tree.
Wise older sister.

Our next destination was a favorite place that we went to every May for several years, Sun & Sea's Resort on St. Pete Beach. We knew the name and address were still at the same place but what would it look like, run-down, or maybe a high-rise on the spot? What a relief to find the exact same Sun & Sea as we remembered, even better with new landscaping and newer furnishings in the rooms. We kept saying "Wow" and "Super" and all kinds of happy words! There is nothing quite like walking on the beach next to the ocean and looking for shells, four miles before breakfast and another two miles at sunset. We loved it.

Our motel from the beach.
Motel backyard.
Our room inside.
Shell hunting.
A beautiful sunset.

Some of my shells.

Sun & Sea was the last thing on our agenda and we hated to leave. To make our trip last a little longer we decided to go home via the Smoky Mountains. It was a beautiful pure blue-sky day and the park had a different kind of beauty than in the summer. The millions of trees with no leaves on them, just lacy looking branches was impressive. We hiked to Laurel Falls and savored the warm weather and the beautiful mountains.

The Smoky Mountains.
Hike to Laurel Falls.
Can you find Ralph?