Saturday, July 17, 2010

We're Back !!

We're back.  The last few days have really flown by.  Tuesday morning started with PJ having breakfast with his friend Chris in Naples.  PJ enjoyed re-connecting with Chris and catching up on all the gossip about Naples Community Hospital and their other co-workers.  PJ said Chris really looks good!  She is now working for the school district in Naples.

We went to Nanna Vetta's for lunch so Marcella could experience some great home cooking in a restaurant frequented by laborors and workmen who know value and value quality.  This family owned and operated restaurant is always full (even on weekends by the fishermen) although they are off the beaten path. 

After lunch, we said goodbye to Naples again and headed north.  We took a driving tour of Sanibel and Captiva islands, driving over the bridge we had boated under the previous day.  Good memories.  As we headed towards Sarasota on I-75, the long drive home began.

Arriving in Sarasota, we toured St Armands circle (one of the places we might want to relocate to) and other interesting spots in Sarasota.  Up the coast to the Skybridge over Tampa Bay.  As PJ drove over the Skybridge, the lanes were reduced to a single lane (the outside lane of course) so Marcella and I closed our eyes for the trip up so high. lol  It was over soon and we were in Gulfport, St Petersburg, St. Pete's beach, Reddington Beach, Largo and Clearwater for the rest of the day.  We resorted to eating at McDonald's (salads) and spent the night in Clearwater.

Wednesday morning, we started meandering north again and wound up in Pensacola Wednesday night.  We went back to Pensacola Beach for dinner and tried to eat at Peg Leg Pete's, but the wait was about an hour.  SO, we reverted to the old standby - Flounders.  It was really good.  PJ & I had the seafood nachos (I know, sounds 'different') and Marcella had baked orysters.  (She did share with us, and they were delicious.)

Spent the night in Pensacola.

Thursday morning we explored more of downtown Pensacola (the other area we might be interested in relocating to).  The downtown is very nice and is reminiscent of New Orleans -- living quarters over the 'stores' and bars, filigreed wrought iron balconies.  It was very clean and there is a lot of 're-development' going on.  There is an area of all new single family homes that looks a lot like Key West -- the bright colors, close to each other, walking friendly, etc.  Reluctantly, we left Pensacola and drove towards Memphis thinking that we would stop there for the night.  However, we passed thru Florida, Alabama, Missisippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri before stopping in Sikeston, MO for the night.  It was a long day of driving. 

Friday, we faced about 7 hours of driving -- not much left.  We made it to the house about 3:30.  PJ gave us 30 minutes to get the car unloaded because he wanted to return the rental car yesterday and sleep late today.  We got it turned in by 4:30 (beating his deadline).

It's been fun.  Thank all of you for your comments and I hope you were able to 'tag along' for some of the fun.  We drove about 4,300 miles in 14 days, saw a lot of old friends and had some good times. 

It's good to be back.

p.s.  PJ said to tell everyone he is fine!
p.p.s.  Marcella and Bob are fine, too!

Monday, July 12, 2010

3 days

My bad.  Haven't posted for almost three days.  Need to report on Saturday, Sunday and today (Monday).


Left Bob and Diane's place about 9:00 a.m. and headed to Spring Lake to see Lynn and Debbie.  Arrived a little eary (Debbie was preparing lunch) so I tried to download a bunch of of pictures from the camera that you saw on the previous post.  Kept screwing up, finally discovered the camera battery was almost dead and kept quitting.  Gave up and drove on to Lynn and Debbies.

I didn't get a picture of their house, but Lynn and Debbie have really fixed up the place.  They remodeled and added a bedroom which is about 50x50 and a living room about the same size (lol) and a big office for Lynn and a closet the size of most peoples' bedrooms.  Great job, you two.  Debbie fixed a terrific meal straight out of Texas.  (She's a Texas gal.)  We all really enjoyed the meal (including the fried okra and tomatos from her garden).  After filling up on peach pie (Georgia peaches of course), we took a tour of Lynn's garage and saw his '65 Chevy pickup and 65 Ford hardtop.  The Ford is in perfect shape (and runs too).  He has another one outside that is ready for the restoration process.  Three hours flew by and the time arrived that we needed to hit the road.  Thank you Debbie and Lynn for your great hospitality and wonderful conversation.

Leaving Lynn and Debbie's, we drove on down I-75 to Naples.  PJ and I lived here for about three years while working on a software project here.  I forgot how nice the place is and we started recalling memories (like old folks do) of things that we did here and what a great time of our lives.  We are staying at the Cove Inn (on the water on Naples Bay and connected to the Municipal dock). 

The view from our room

Another view from our room

This was PJ's only request for the trip -- to be able to stay here.  We are really enjoying it.  There are so many places we want to take Marcella, but there is no way we can do them all.  We took a motor tour of some of the high points of Naples and I think she was pretty impressed.  She got to see the Gulf and beach here.


First thing Sunday, we contacted Cathy and told her we were ready for breakfast.  She suggested we forget her fixing any kind of meal but she would meet us at IHOP.  (lol)
Had a great visit with her.  Cathy is one of the programmers we worked with here in Naples and is always good for a fun time!!  It was great visiting with her.

Then we went to check out the boat.  It had sat in storage about 2 1/2 years without being run.  Not good for a boat.  I had the marina get it out, tune up the motors and generator so they worked, but they wanted an outrageous price to clean the boat.  Instead, we got a local person who wanted to rent us his dock behind his house, to get the boat from the marina, take it to his house and clean it.  We are renting his dock and he will take the boat out every week to keep it in good working order.  So, we worked on cleaning the boat, testing it out, etc but did not take the boat out for a long run yesterday.  We left Cape Coral and on the way back to Naples (about 40 miles) the car just pulled into our favorite Mexican restaurant in the world!!  So we had to get out and go inside and have some great Mexican food, drink margaritas, listen to a Mexican marache band senerade us, and have a few laughs.  It was grand. 


Today (Monday) we got up and went directly to the boat.  We loaded up, backed out of the small canal, turned into the main canal and headed out to the river, then the gulf.  Marcella got to see Sanibel Island and Captiva Island from the water.  She had been there many times, but this was a new look at them.  The old drawbridge to the islands has been replaced with a 'sailboat' bridge (fixed bridge with the centerpoint with about 60 feet clearance for sailboats).

The new Sanibel bridge from the Calooskahatchee river headed to the Gulf.

We took Marcella to one of our favorite marina restaurants for lunch.  She had conch chowder (manhatten style).  Outside the restaurant was a 'pirate ship' that can be rented for parties, cruises, etc.

The pirate ship from our lunch place (Parrot Key)

Seems like I mention eating a lot doesn't it.  We do a lot of things, but we always wind up eating somewhere !!

We were out on the Gulf (off Sanibel Island) and on the Caloosahatchee river for about 6 hours.  Sure felt good.  I think Marcella (and PJ) enjoyed it.

Here is a shot of some of the shimp boats we passed on the way to lunch.

Here is a shot of Marcella riding her yacht on the Gulf.
Marcella Relaxing

We are back at the Cove Inn now, recovering from the sun, wind and water.


P.S.  PJ wants everyone to know he's fine!!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Leaving Leesburg

Well, it finally happened.  Budget Rent-a-Car checked out PJ's credit card and sent us a message that said "You can't afford to drive a Lincoln.  You can pick up your replacment vehicle at the pro shop in the Villages."  There seems to be a problem though.  It's only a two-seater and PJ is out now learning the 'jog-along-like-a-secret-service-member' routine so he can keep up with Marcella and me.  Luckily we brought a couple of umbrellas and we like blue.

The replacement vehicle

On a more serious note, here are PJ & Marcella waiting for the bus to church.

We went to say goodbye to Curly and Gene yesterday.  Here is a shot of Curly and Marcella.

Marcella's good friend Richard presented PJ with a stained glass creation as a token of his appreciation for bringing Marcella back to the area.  It is really special and PJ says "A Special Thanks to you, Richard".


Spent time in an area called 'The Villages' yesterday.  This must be the golf cart capital of the world.  They're everywhere......  People use them as transportation within 'The Villages' and there are dedicated paths and parking for the golf carts.

And finally, PJ has started searching for new digs in preparation for relocation to Florida --

p.s.  PJ says to tell everyone he is fine!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Celebrating Marcella

The last two days have really been touching.  All of Marcella's old friends have welcomed her with wide open hearts and good times.  It is obvious she is a good friend to many and they respect, admire and love her.  None want to let her go when the time comes to depart.  If one can say that the measure of a life is the trail of friends one leaves, she has lead a rich life and will continue to do so.  From her lunch with Karen (using the term loosly -- lunch was a bunch of nachos and a bunch of margaritas :p) to dinner with Richard (a stained glass master) who prepared a delicious meal and served it elegantly -- to sharing a watermelon with our host when we returned to the digs -- to lunch with Don C and Mrs. Don and a three hour session of memories and laughs and finally -- to a lobster dinner with Larry and Delores (Larry swears the lobsters followed him home).  All were a lot of fun and shared memories.

While Marcella has been having these loooooong lunches, PJ & Bob have been exploring the area more.  Of course, PJ can't pass a Bealls without going in to see if 'they have anything new'.  And there are a lot of Bealls in this area.  Bob is really getting good at using the navigation on his phone to find the next marina that needs to be checked out.

We're having a relaxing, fun time.  Wish you all could be here with us.  Thanks for your comments and nagging.  I haven't posted in two days, and I heard about it!! 

p.s.  PJ said to tell everyone that he is fine !!


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Day two in Leesburg

We have a problem brewing.  PJ is really liking this life -- drive around in a Town Car, living in a wonderful lake house, being treated like royalty.  I will have my hands full when we get back to KC to get him 'adjusted' to real life -- taking out garbage, doing laundry, eating at McDonald's, etc.  I may need a lot of help or even an intervention to bring him back to ......

Our digs on the lake in Leesburg

We had a busy day yesterday.  We picked up Marcella's sister at the assisted living place and took her and her husband to their house.  There were some items that Curly wanted to give to Marcella.  So we wrapped the glass items in bubble wrap, loaded them in the car and took the whole crew to dinner for Curly's 90th birthday celebration and Gene's 91st birthday.  They really enjoyed the outing and were tired by the time we got them back to their place. 

We also toured Marcella's old neighborhood and she saw some of her old friends.  They were pretty surprised to see her and arranged a neighborhood gathering for Thursday evening so she could see all the people she knew there.  What a great surprise for her!

It was pretty late when we got back to the digs on the lake, but it was a satisfying day.  Today is lunch with a co-worker (with a few margaritas) and dinner with another co-worker (and really good friend of Marcella's).

Observation:  This is my (Bob's) first visit to this part of Florida.  Pretty different than the Naples area.  A lot of large lakes and multiple small communities.  Good to see it.

P.S.  PJ wants everyone to know he's fine!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Sitting Still

Well, I missed posting anything last night.  When last we met, we were leaving Jackson, MS and heading to Mobile, AL.  We didn't make it.  About 12:30 a.m., we passed a motel about halfway from Jackson to Mobile and pulled in for the night.  There were two rooms left, so we took one.  It wasn't in a town, just on the side of the road.  'Billy' owned the motel, the Huddle House next door, some apartments on the motel property, cabins nearby and a very nice water park.  We tried to introduce Marcella and Billy, but never made the connection.  So we left Billy's empire and headed on to Pensacola Sunday morning (after having some wonderful waffles).

Arriving in Pensacola, we headed to Pensacola Beach to look for tar balls (lol).  Instead we looked for a southern belle named Sue.  We called her from the parking lot of the condo complex and she graciously asked us to come up.  (back story:  Sue is the sister of a friend of ours in Jefferson City - Steve).  She is a gracious, vivacious lady and we really enjoyed meeting her.  We asked for her recommendations for having a seafood lunch on Pensacola Beach.  She suggested Flounders and we're glad she did.  It was great.  After lunch, we drove thru downtown Pensacola and decided we really liked it.  But, we had to press on.

We left Pensacola about 3:00 p.m. and headed to Apalachicola for the oysters.  We drove the road along the gulf and went thru several interesting areas -- Fort Walton Beach, Panama City, Destin, Mexico Beach and several other 'beach' areas.  It was good to see them all in a short time so our limited memories could compare them pretty easily.  (If we had taken a few weeks to visit them all, we probably couldn't remember specifics about any of them -- you know what aging does to the memory.)

Arriving in Apalachicola just before sundown, we went to Caroline's River Dining -- a restaurant where Marcella remembers some good times.  It is situated right on the Apalachicola river and is where fishermen bring in their catches.  Well, it was as good as she said it would be.  Nice atmosphere, good food, beautiful views.  Marcella and PJ had oysters on the halfshell, Bob stuck with the grouper. 


By the time we finished dinner, it was about 8:30 and we were tired. We tried to get a room at the motel connected to the restaurant, but there were no rooms. The desk clerk was very helpful, calling all the other motels in a 50-mile radius -- to no avail. All were booked solid. (We didn't take into account the fact that it was a holiday weekend.) She gave us 'shortcut' routes to Ocala, indicating that we could get there in about the same time it would take to get to Tallahassee and -- we would wind up much closer to our destination.

We headed out to Ocala.  However, somewhere along the way, Bob took a deliberate wrong turn to get us to Tallahassee in about two hours.  The chances of finding a room was much greater in a larger town.  It worked.  About 1:00 we arrived in Tallahassee, got a room and immediately passed out from exhaustion. 

This morning we got up, ate a quick continental breakfast and headed out for Leesburg.  After another 4 hours of driving, we stopped at Billys restaurant near The Villages for breakfast/lunch.  GOOD food.  Pushing on to Leesburg, we arrived about 3:30.  Our hosts, Bob and Diane, welcomed us to their home.  (back story:  Marcella worked for Bob for several years when she lived in this area and she and Jack became good friends with Bob and Diane.  We will use this as our base for the next 4-5 days as Marcella visits her sister and other good friends she made while living here.  We are actually staying in the 'original' part of the house which is self-contained with kitchen, bath, etc.  Even though this part of the house is attached to the 'new' part of the house, Bob and Diane consider it their guest house.  It is actually Bob's dad's house which Bob remodeled some and made it very comfortable guest quarters.  We are on a large lake, and have a great view out the back of the house.

Enough for now.  We will be picking up Marcella's sister tomorrow and take her to her house.  She and her husband are in assisted living and want to prepare their home for sale.  She wants to check on the progress being made. 

This has been fun getting here.  Now we can relax a little, catch up on our sleep and explore more.

Special note:  PJ has not gotten into one fight, I think he is saving up for later down the trail.

p.s. PJ wants everyone to know he is fine!!

Saturday, July 3, 2010


After all the work last night (loading the box truck), we decided it really wasn't the right thing to do. A lady like Marcella deserves a classier ride than sitting in the middle of a box truck's cab. Besides, where would we carry the snacks. So this morning, PJ went on a search mission and (after promising who-knows-what to various car rental counter personnel) he came home with the vechicle shown here.

This fits Marcella's style much better. SO.....we unpacked everything, repacked everything and guess what.....everything fit in the cavernous trunk of the TownCar.

We loaded up and headed to St. Louis. Left town about 10:00 am. Bob did a stupid thing just before leaving -- dropped the GPS and broke the power cord. He tried to fix it, but it kept falling apart. We can't drive all over like we want without a GPS!! Either fix that one or get another one. It couldn't hurt to try to fix it, it was already broken. The solution appeared in a dream so we went to Walmart in Columbia, MO and walked directly to the automotive section and picked up a replacement part, did some shade-tree mechanic'n and voila !! a working GPS.
The Hillbilly fix

The next challenge aflicted PJ and Marcella. They spent about 4 hours trying to kill a Kansas fly. Apparently it got in the car while loading, flaunted its presence frequently and was beginning to enrage a couple of passengers in the car. It finally succumbed to the 857th swat with a folded 'Living Aboard" magazine to the relief of PJ and Marcella. No other insect has the lack of sense to set foot or wing in this car.

Right now, we are about 50 miles south of Memphis -- headed to Jackson, MS, then Hattisburg, MS, then Mobile, AL, then Pensacola. We will probably stop in an hour or two for the night, getting to Pensacola tomorrow some time.  Note:  PJ is driving and doesn't know when to quit.  Heck we might end up in Naples before stopping!!  lol

Driving this car is very nice. Doesn't wear you out like some...... And it rides good, too. That's another story --

A little background -- Marcella has always wanted a Cadillac, but never owned one. So, PJ reserved a Cadillac 2-3 months ago. We finally got around to checking the size of the Cadillac, and were very disappointed in the interior size and trunk space. This was last week. Panic ensued. He searched all rental agencies, but could not find a large Cadillac. He finally got Budget Rent-a-car to reserve a Lincoln Towncar -- plenty of space. When he went to pick up the Lincoln this morning -- Budget said 'Oh, we don't guarantee a specific car, just a class of car.' Their 'equivilant' of the TownCar was a Volvo (not big enough to carry two adults). Using his persuave personality, PJ finally found a TownCar at another Budget location, took the Volvo over there and traded for the TownCar. Bless his heart -- he was going to make sure Marcella would enjoy this trip. My hat's off to him.....

p.s. PJ wants everyone to know he is fine!!

I'll report more tomorrow when we have more to report.......Bob

Friday, July 2, 2010

Getting loaded

We searched for weeks for the appropriate vehicle for a two week trip for three people,   After checking out a small Cadillac, large Cadillac, Lincoln Town Car, cargo van.......we settled on this one for Marcella's and PJ's luggage...(Bob is taking a gym bag for his stuff.)

Of course, the gas mileage won't be 21 mpg, and the gas budget goes from $900 to $9,000, but what the heck.  We got all the necessary stuff that has to go!  The last bag is for the clothes.

Satisfied with his accomplishments, The MASTER PACKER stands astride his conquest.....

Tomorrow is the big day ..... departure. 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Itinerary

July 3: Saturday          Drive to ?? (600mi 9 hours)
July 4: Sunday            Drive to Pensacola (350mi 6 hours)
                          Explore Pensacola                           
July 5: Monday            Explore Pensacola 
                          Drive to Apalachicola (163mi 3½ hours)
                          Lunch/dinner at great Aplachicola restaurant
                          Drive to Leesburg (260mi 5 hours)
July 6: Tuesday           Leesburg visit
July 7: Wednesday         Leesburg visit
                          (Leesburg>Tampa (82mi 1½ hours))
July 8: Thursday          Leesburg visit
July 9: Friday            Leesburg visit
July 10: Saturday         Drive to Brooksville (47mi 1 hour)
                          (B)L)unch w/Lynn&Deb      
                          Drive to Cape Coral (175 mi 3 hours)
July 11: Sunday           Boat                                       
                          Visit Kathy                            
                          Drive to Naples (35mi 1 hour)
                          Cove Inn
July 12: Monday           Boat
                          Cove Inn
July 13: Tuesday          Boat
                          Cove Inn
July 14: Wednesday        Breakfast w/Chris
                          Drive to Ocala??
July 15: Thursday         Drive to Pamama City/Destin??
July 16: Friday           Drive to KC 
July 17: Saturday         Sleep

                                   *All activities and schedules are subject to change at the whims of the participants