Monday, May 28, 2012

Early Morning Beach Walk

The second day of our Cocoa Beach fun started way earlier than I normally enjoy.  We were sleeping on a sleeper sofa and sleeper sofas are like bad oatmeal-lumpy and and unpleasant.  So when I woke up at 6 am, I decided getting up was better than sleeping some more.  In this particular case that worked out wonderfully because it got me out on the beach which is always a wonderful thing.  Since we were there so early, we practically had the beach to ourselves. 
 Just a few other people and the birds.
There was the ocean, of course, and we soaked that up as much as we could.
Mostly, we watched the birds though.  They seemed to enjoy the rising sun as much as we did.
 I was very excited when I spotted one that was eating, because that meant it might stand still long enough to get some decent shots of it.

I was so excited about witnessing this creature having its breakfast until I walked over and saw that the bird had plucked the eyeball out of a fish.  Nothing else.  Just the eyeball.  At which point I said, "ewwww...nature can be so gross sometimes" while pretending to dry heave.  Nathan laughed and said, "yep", and I know he was thinking that is what makes nature so cool to him sometimes.  I will spare you the picture of the eyeless fish because even though it was gross, I still thought it was interesting enough to capture with my camera.

I'll email Nathan the fish picture and since I would like to remember this beach morning walk in a "this is my happy place" kind of way, I'll end on this note:
 Ahhhh, much better!  Living the life in beautiful beach filled Florida!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cocoa Beach and Good Friends

I had the chance not once, but twice this past week to share with family members of ours how great of friends we have made since living this lifestyle.  I was so fanatical in my sharing with one of them that I think I may have scared them a bit.  It's hard not to be really passionate when trying to explain how special of a crowd we have been lucky enough to hang out with the past few years though.

We have said time and time again what exceptional people the pickleball crowd in particular are. This past week was a great example of that.  Rich and Donna invited us to their beach condo.  I can honestly say we have never had friends invite us along on their vacation to stay in their condo with them, let alone a beach one!  I am so grateful to them!

We had to squeeze this trip in around my work schedule so we only had a few days to visit, but we made those days as fun filled as possible.  We were also spoiled rotten by Rich and Donna who definitely have the gift of being great hosts.  I do not have this gift, so I will have to bake extra goodies when they come to stay with us to make up for it!  First thing we got to tour the facilities at the place where there condo is at, and we were very impressed with it.

We then headed out to do a bit of sight seeing.  We have never actually visited Cocoa Beach so it was neat to visit some place new in Florida.  There was the typical touristy Florida beach stuff of course, but they took us to some non-touristy unique spots.  We stopped at Manatee park where they have been able to see manatees and dolphins in their previous visits.  Sadly, we did not encounter any wildlife but the park was really pretty so we still enjoyed the stop.

We then visited the pier there, which Donna already wrote about so I'll just send you to her blog Florida Picklers.  The first thing I saw there was this cool 3-D mural on the side of this building.
We stopped to catch a few waves, with the ladies trying out the surfboard first.
Then on to the pier, where we visited a shop and I found a pair of flip flop earrings that I loved (and bought).
We saw some fishing being done, birds flying around, lots of beach activity and real surfing in the water.
I thought the pier itself was really neat.
Donna had a great idea for a group shot, taking a picture of our reflections in the water.  Love this!
We also managed to squeeze in dinner at an Italian restaurant they have eaten at before.  Nathan was able to try one of their small stombolis.  Yes, folks, that is their small size!  The food there was very good!
After all of that, we still were not done with our day.  We took our drinks outside and lounged by the pool and chatted for a bit.  Once we digested enough of our dinner we headed over to the tennis courts and chalked off lines for some pickleball.  It was very windy and we had fun even with the frustration of not knowing at all where they ball would go after we hit it.  I didn't realize until the next day how hard I had really played because the wind really kept me cooled off.  After so much fun, we headed to bed for the night gearing up for another fun day the next day. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sunday Drive

Aric spent his vacation with us, so we had the pleasure of having his company for this past week.  This is the most time that we have had with him since we left Clermont, so it was a real treat that he did choose to spend the time here.  He went back home on Sunday so we headed out for a Sunday drive afterwards.

Arcadia ended up being our final destination and there was plenty to see along the way.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Night Live Festival

Each third Friday of the month, Wauchula has an event that they call Friday Night Live.  We have always been impressed at all that this town does to build and keep business downtown and this event is one of those things that drives people to Main Street.

Each month has a different theme and you can walk Main Street and visit booths, eat great food and hear live music.  We went with my work and worked in a booth we set up for the event, but that still gave us a chance to enjoy the night.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dolphin Fun

 I just realized while catching up on reading blogs, that I never came back and posted the dolphin pictures.  I guess with all of my new computer fun and a visit from Aric, it completely left my mind to blog.  The completely leaving my mind seems to be happening more and more lately but that's a story for another day.  Back to the dolphins.  When we got to the pier, I could hear there was some hype over something in the water.  You can never tell just what that might mean with the ocean.  So it was a happy surprise to see that it was dolphins that were visiting.
This is one of those times that I'm so glad I am the weirdo that brings her big camera to the beach with her.  While everyone else was using their phones to get pictures, I got some decent shots with a real camera.
It was interesting to watch dolphins here vs somewhere like Sea World.  They were just doing their thing being dolphins instead of doing tricks to get treats.  Pretty cool.  The only downside is they didn't surface much so we couldn't see them that well.  Again, they were just being dolphins and weren't worried about us in the least so that is understandable.  Then someone went to wash their fish at the fish cleaning station and the water trickled down below.  
The dolphins seemed to love this and they fought to get underneath the water from that point on.  This is where the real life dolphin show became a blast for us humans that happened to be there.
 It turned this into one of my best beach days ever.
We stood there for a very long time.  I snapped hundreds of pictures.  I murmured things like this is so cool, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, this is awesome! over and over.  I told Nathan later that it was right up there with whale watching because we were so close to them.  He smiled at me in that way he does sometimes like he is amused at my simple mindedness. 

 That's ok.  He didn't read Island of the Blue Dolphins 433 times as a child like I did.  And he laughed non-stop at a movie recently that I am pretty sure was made for ten year old boys.  So we're even! 

 It was way awesome.  Just ask the dolphins!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Mother Nature's Curves

For those of us who are Monk-like, straight lines are the way to go.  They are clean, they allow you to line things up nicely and they just make sense.

I noticed when editing some pictures from the Sunken Garden, that Mother Nature really isn't so much into straight lines.  In fact, Mother Nature has glorious curves to most of her creations.  Some things are simple circles and ovals.

Some are more twisted and are complicated in their form.
Some have a bit of a pattern to them, even if it is a rough, loose sort of pattern.
There are bold curves, that make bold statements!
And then there are the sort of luscious curves that have me thinking va-va-va voom curves are here!
As much as I love straight lines, I gotta admit that Mother Nature knows what she is doing with all of those curves!  Just stunning!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Pier at Fort DeSoto

After seeing the inside of the fort, we decided to go up on top of it and walk around.  We wanted to get a better look at what else was at the park.  We saw a nice beach.  Excellent!
Then we look the other way and see a fishing pier and more beach.  Even better!
Let's zoom in here and get a closer look:
Yup, that's where we want to head next!  We take the short walk over there.  We watch the fisherpeople fishing.  We watch the birds and note how fearless of humans they are here.
And then the truly magical moment happened:
I saved the best for last-dolphins!  I will tell you more about them tomorrow!

Living the life in Florida!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Fort DeSoto Park

Sometimes we visit a place that is nearby, and I find myself thinking I can't believe we have never been here before.  This park was one of those places.  We knew it was in the area, and we even tried to find it one day when we were with our travel buddies but we never actually made it to the park.

I am glad we finally did because it was one of the more awesome state parks we have visited in Florida.  The park sits on an island, which is always a cool bonus.  That means there is a beach, pier and park facilities like kayaking and biking.  There is also the fort, which you can walk through.
  Fort De Soto has the only four 12-inch seacoast rifled mortars (model 1890 mounted on 1896 carriages) in the continental United States. Also at the fort are two 6-inch Armstrong rapid-fire rifled guns (model 1898) which were originally mounted at Fort Dade, and are the last two guns of that model year in the United States.
 The walls on the fort were incredibly thick, meaning the inside was unusually cool.  I can't imagine how dark and lifeless it would have seemed though, to stay inside for any length of time.
I'll be honest, my favorite part was watching Nathan explore the fort.  He goes into complete guy mode in places like this.
He was trying to find evidence of firing, so I looked it up.  "Ironically, Fort De Soto was never the site of any major battle, and the weapons of Fort De Soto and Fort Dade were never fired in anger at an enemy. However, it played a significant part in the evolution of modern weaponry. In 1977 Fort De Soto was added to the National Register of Historic Places.  Very interesting place to visit!