Okay, I'm finally ready to get this caught up. I start at the end & work backwards, so I hope this all makes sense.
On Sept 25th we are heading down Interstate 4 through Orlando. Tried to find Micky, but I couldn't find the real thing. Someday maybe we will meet.
Bill is always fascinated with all the big, tall buildings. He has the camera. Sometimes I have to say okay now, snap it.
Oh, there's Micky. Snap it Quick!!! Not sure exactly what this is, but wires are coming out of it all over. Maybe part of the power lines????
Finally, we arrive in Venice. The mobile home park, Florida Pines, is a very nice, clean, well kept park. They have 2 rows reserved for transits like us. Nice wide, level, cement pads. Very pleased with our stay.
Once set up we make a quick trip to Walmart. I spotted this tree. I think it is some sort of wisteria tree. Beautiful lavender blossoms.
Friday night all Aunt Ethel's family went to Outback Steak House for her birthday. Yup, I forgot my camera. A great meal & good time was had by all.
Pat & Jim rented a 5 bedroom rental to make sure all the grand kids traveling to Grandma's 90th birthday had a place to stay. It was older decor, but very roomy. We went over on Sat. afternoon & I went swimming before we went to Jon's house for supper.
Here is Bill with his Aunt Ethel. She looks great & she says she doesn't have an ache or a pain. I can't say that & I'm not that close to 90!!!! She is a sweetheart. She's a poet, but she knows it. She writes some of the cutest things for her kids or grand kids. She does crossword puzzles every day. Lisa, Barb & Chris
The men...Jim, Jonathan, Andy
We thought we were going to Jon & Val's for hot dogs & hamburgs. Ya Right. They had all kinds of goodies. They had cooked up a storm. Bill & I were fascinated by Jon & Val's home. Jon & my son, Mark, certainly are related. They definitely must both be Bullock's. Mark, this bar looks like something you would have!
And on the bar sits...........
And in this case is............
And for the sports minded PA friends...................The Pittsburgh Steeler's. Oh ya, that's right, they beat the Arizona Cardinals at the Super Bowl last year didn't they???!!!
Jim & I taking a picture of each other. We aren't even the real part of the family, but I guess we fit in!
Mackenzie, Katie, Lisa, Val, Pat, Chris
Jonathan & Kate (We keep teasing.....& they make eight)
Lisa & Andy...........Boy I think he's related to my son Mark. They look alike when they smile.
The big kid & the little kid. Jim & Madison
Denny and his mother-in-law, Aunt Ethel
Sunday morning most all of the family joined Aunt Ethel at the Presbyterian Church she attends. She was so excited when she read her name in the bulletin about her birthday. Then behold, during announcements, it was projected on the screen........Happy 90th Birthday to Ethel Bullock.
Her party was held in one of the church rooms from 2-4 on Sunday. She looked beautiful. Now if you look in the lower right corner of the picture you can see something blue & gold. Well look at that lady, she was a cheerleader & she still remembered those cheers. She was giving us the Little Valley, NY cheer!
Aunt Ethel with her wedding gown.
A beautiful, delicious cake
I took this picture of Jon & Val's oldest daughter, Jessica & her family. It turned out really good. They said they hadn't had a family picture done in a long, long time. So here you go.
Jessica, Madison, Brendan, Joe
Aunt Ethel with her children: Jon, Barb & Pat
While the others were having family pictures taken, I guess I was eating cake or something as I missed the other family pictures. Her we have Jon & Val with their family:
Joe, Val, Grandma, Jon, Jessica, Katie
Grandma with her great-grand children: Mackenzie, Madison & Brendan
Grandma with the grand kids: Jonathan, Andy, Joe, Jessica, Katie & Mindy
Cousins from both sides of the family: Sue, Bryce, Chris, Barb, Jon, Pat & Bill
On Monday, everyone had gotten their flights home except Pat & Jim who moved back in with Mom & were staying the week to keep her company & do some more repair work on the shed roof. Pat & her mom came over to the trailer to see our home & then Pat again became our chauffer & gave us a tour of downtown Venice. This is on the Gulf right outside downtown.
Banyon trees. Very interesting the way they grow. Never seen these before.
On the way to the beach from downtown
We then took a ride out to the small Venice Airport. This Florida Flight Training Center is where the pilots that piloted the planes that hit the towers on 9-11 did their training.
Pat said that years ago when they would come to Venice to visit, Ringling Brothers did their training here in Venice & they would see shows at the building there in town. The building now is in disrepair, but we think they might still do some trapeze training there. This is a wall along one of the main streets in Venice.
That ended our tour. We went back to Aunt Ethel's for supper. Jim had just finished up working on the roof for the day, got cleaned up & grilled chicken for our dinner. We spent a very nice, enjoyable evening with them. We ended up looking at old pictures & found a couple cute ones of "Billy" that she gave us. Thanks to Uncle Bus, Bill got his nickname. There was a picture of Uncle Bus in his uniform holding Bill when he was only 1-1/2 mo. old. The other picture was of him when he was 10 yrs. old. I hadn't seen that picture before.
Our special day (41 yrs.) was spent having a good time in Venice, Florida with family. We toasted with a cup of tea at breakfast & a glass of wine at dinner for many, many more years of wedded bliss.
Tuesday, Sept. 29th started out to be a pretty nice day. Sunny, hot, humid. What more could you ask for? It was time to get everything packed up & ready to start back to the east coast of Florida to visit our friends Donna & Ricky. Since cousin Joe told us Rt. 70 was a great way to go back across the state, we were ready for new scenery. We had a lot of the preliminary things inside done on Mon. night. I try to get a lot of that done before I go to bed, then we just have last minute things inside to do & all of the outside things. That way I can help Bill. Well, he was up & outside doing his thing before I got all my stuff done inside. We have not used our "check list" for quite awhile. We thought we pretty much remembered everything.
Well......................almost everything! We don't often use our awning but since it's been so darn hot down here, we used it to keep some of the heat off the side of the trailer. Would you believe???? No trees on our site, so Bill hops in the truck & Peggy drives off. Out of the park, down the 3 lane highway for about 500 ft. in the right lane to make the right hand turn onto Rt. 41 South. Then clunk, clunk. What is that funny noise?
OMG! The AWNING!!!! Fortunately the park we stayed at had 2 entrances & we pulled back in. The awning was ripped out of the side of the trailer. The end had a little bit of green plastic stuff on it. Hmm. Must have been that sign that says Punta Gorda...xx miles. Sure enough, after we got the awning hardware all off, called the insurance company & drove through the park & back around the same road, it was the sign that the awning hit. The owner of the park saw us pull out & he hurried up & jumped in his truck to follow us, but couldn't catch us before it was too late. He had an errand to run, then came back & helped us take the final part of the awning itself down. I had gotten all the arms, etc. off, but then he & an employee of the park helped Bill get the rest down.
Did I cry? Nope. It doesn't do a darn thing to help. I have just come to the conclusion that awnings & I are NOT compatible!!! Had to cut the wire where the wire for the automatic part came through the side of the trailer & down the arm. These bolts were pulled out & sideways, but because the putty was hardened, I screwed them back in to keep bees & water out. Well, we only lost 1 hour getting all that taken care of. Since it was a 20' awning, we had no way of taking it with us. We paid the park owner to dispose of it for us. He was a gem. If you are ever in Venice, I would recommend the Florida Pines Mobile Home Park!
We decided to continue on to Ft. Myers, FL, go to Camping World & have them give us an estimate. We since then have contacted Camping World in Mesa, AZ & they got together with Ft. Myers & prepared the estimate on their end. So we ordered the new awning & will have it installed when we get to AZ.
Always something! Just like a permanent home!
After eating lunch at Camping World, we were on our way. Instead of Rt. 70, we now took Rt. 80 which goes south of Lake Okeechobee. Almost all along this route we saw canals of water along the roadway & fields of something that looked like reeds. The soil was really black. I don't know what they grow here. We arrived in Ft. Pierce, FL at Road Runner RV Resort. Very nice park. The lady in the store was from Williamsport, PA. Such a small world! At the entrance of the park was this palm tree that was growing crooked. While Bill ran in to buy a bottle of water, I snapped the picture. Yes, I drove to the left. Didn't want to hit the top of the trailer.
Wednesday, Sept. 30, we arrived in Titusville, FL at Manatee Hammock County Park. Here we are heading to Merritt Island to visit friends Donna & Ricky, daughter Amanda & the kids. Had we kept going on this road & not turned off to their home, we would have seen where the cruise ships come into Port Canaveral. Not many boats out there. Must have been the wrong time of day for fishing. Donna & Ricky's grand kids were so excited that we were coming. Katie sat in the garage in a chair waiting & fell asleep. She is a sweetie. Donna had prepared a real southern feast for us. Wow! It was scrumptious & she can cook for me anytime! Thanks, Donna. It was terrific! After eating, the kids couldn't wait to get into their new pool. They went clothes & all. It was like bath water! They had a ball. If it hadn't been school the next day for Katie, they would have probably stayed in there all evening. Josh showing me he could float on his back. Jake & Josh swim like fish! The three monsters. Just kidding. The boys are twins. Definitely not identical! Bill, Donna, Ricky & Amanda. Look at those chairs! Just like being back home in N. Warren. We let our set like that go with our home. Donna & Bill after dessert. Chocolate Cake! Our favorite! There huge home! Lots of room for the kids. Can you believe this family all stayed in a 35' (I think) trailer for almost a whole year in V. Beach???? This is like a palace after being squeezed into a 5th wheel. Katie's favorite chair. She likes to fall asleep in it. We had a great visit with Ricky, Donna & family. Since Ricky works at NASA as a tour bus driver, he gave us passes for us to visit the space center. He shouldn't have done that, but as you read on, you know we certainly appreciated it & enjoyed it! Again, Thank You Ricky from the bottom of our hearts!
Thursday Bill & I spent the day at Kennedy Space Center. What a place to visit! I've never been to Disney World, but for this trip we decided to table that one & visit the space center. Great Choice! It was so fascinating. It made you realize just how small you are compared to the rest of the universe! Remember, if you want to see a picture closer, just click on it. This is the entrance to the Visitor's Center. For those of you who are reading this from the northern part of the country (i.e., PA & NY).......notice the BLUE sky! Oops! Sorry, that was a dig! Rocket Garden This is one of the buses that our friend, Ricky, drives. There is quite a fleet of them. They take you to 3 stops, drop you off & let you spend as much time at each stop as you want. They run every 15 min. We started out at a little after 10am & closed the Visitor's Center at 5pm. We didn't miss too many things. Thank you Ricky for the passes to NASA! You & your family are terrific! We had a wonderful day! Looking out the bus window as we started down the NASA Causeway. This is the Vehicle Assembly Building. I houses the space shuttles that are shot into space. This building is as large, space wise, as 3.75 Empire State Buildings. Remember, as the shuttle is ready to traverse down the graveled roadway to the launch center, it is in the upright position. On the backside of this building, doors open up & it is moved on a humongous Crawler Transporter at 1 mile per hour. This is Launch Pad L-39A It's a l--o--n--g way out there at 1 mile per hour! It is moved to the launch pad about 1 month prior to launch date. This is the transporter This engine is positioned in the middle of the observation tower. Every side had different parts of that engine. Amazing! Bottom of engine Another picture of the Crawler Transporter Look at the size of the man on the ladder compared to the size of the crawlers tread. See what I mean about how small we are! On the way back on the bus, I took this close up of the track that the crawler goes down. The side view of the Vehicle Assembly Building. The day before our tour, they happened to have the doors open which is very unusual & tourists were able to get a sneak peak from the bus. Construction of a new crawler transporter. Our 2nd stop was the Apollo/Saturn V Center. We saw the re-enactment of the actual launch. Even though you can't read these, each one lights up as they go through the sequence of countdown. The following pictures are a partial sequence to lift off of the Apollo. Talk about goose bumps! I can't imagine what it would have been like to be there! These are the actual computers used during the launch. Each of the following shows the parts of the shuttle that are launched. You can see the different sections that break away & the re-entry engines. Again...........we certainly are small! This is the lunar transporter used on the moon. More of the shuttle So much information, I can't remember which is called which. This is part of the shuttle landing facility. If the shuttle has to land in Calif. & be transported piggyback back to the space center, this is where it is removed from the carrier jet. Our 3rd & final stop of the tour was the International Space Station Center. Pay loads (like sterile suitcases) This is where countries work together to learn from each other what has been sent into space in a pay load & what is returned. Everything is absolutely sterile in this room. Notice the surgical (bunny suits) used by anyone who touches any thing in that room, even if it is only a screw. Here a crane is lifting & moving a pay load that is being readied to return to a European country. These items have already been in space & returned. Notice the blue box, center-left; this has been packaged & ready to be returned to Japan. After our last stop, we returned to the Visitor's Center. Here Bill & I Vertical! We got strapped in & experienced the sights, sounds, feelings & excitement of a vertical launch. It was awesome! Hearing those engines, feeling the shaking, then the sound of the engines dropping away from the shuttle & gliding through space! Wow! The top opened up & you could see the stars just like you were orbiting the earth. It was fantastic! Glad I didn't chicken out! I took so many pictures (233) it is impossible to show you all that we experienced. If you ever have a chance to go there, Don't Miss It! After leaving the Visitor's Center, we drove to the Astronauts Hall of Fame. Here are some pictures from there: This is the piggyback ride home after reentry. Want to be an astronaut? Unbelievable how many started out in scouting & how many were Eagle Scouts. The ultimate award to a lifetime of service. That completed our tiring day. We were really pooped by the time we got back to the trailer.
On Friday morning, Oct. 2nd, we left Titusville, FL to head to friends & relatives near Ocala, Florida. We decided no Interstates for most of today's trip going East to West. We followed this old timer (being towed) for several miles across Rt. 40. Nice looking car. We arrived at our campground in Ocala around noon & then called our friends Tom & Rita to get directions to their home. There are many, many horse farms around the area. According to Rita, Ocala is the winter home for several horses from the Kentucky Derby. This is on the corner of Rt. 40 & 80th Ave. called the Double Diamond Ranch. Hopefully tomorrow when we go out riding around we can see several more & take more pictures. We arrived at Tom & Rita's. They have a beautiful home in a community/development called On Top of the World. Rita & Tom's picture even appears on a billboard in Florida advertising this community. Tom still has his sense of humor & his love of flowers, insects & butterflies. Rita is still the sweet friend of the years when our kids were in high school. We all were band parents together & had loads of fun every weekend during football season & other times throughout the year when the marching band was raising funds. One of Florida's famous lizards crawling on Rita & Tom's screen. I was trying to get a picture of the many butterflies around their house but that darn digital camera just wasn't as fast as those butterflies! Tom did find a caterpillar though. I guess I have better luck snapping pictures before they become butterflies. These are some of the homes around the golf course inside the community. Right after finishing our meal at Rita & Tom's, Bill saw a large bird up in the tree that had caught his meal. This is a red tailed hawk that had captured a squirrel & was eagerly eating away. You can see the squirrel hanging down. Tom was a science teacher in Warren H.S. prior to his retirement. These are some of the collections of insects (aka bugs, Tom), butterflies & moths that Tom has collected over the years. So organized!!! Beautiful butterflies After we finished watching Penn State beat Illinois in a 35-17 football game, we got ready to leave. Tom & Rita have a trip planned that they needed to get ready for so we wanted to give them some time for that. We had a wonderful time catching up & reminiscing about the old days. This sunset was an end to a perfect day. The moon was rising on the opposite end of their street. The sun rises & sets, the moon rises & sets & friendships, like the planets, go on & on forever. Thank you Tom & Rita for a wonderful weekend. We loved visiting & who knows, we may get Bill back to Florida again someday! Tomorrow we have plans to visit my cousins, Phyllis & Pud in Dunnellon, FL. When I called them today, they sure were surprised to hear we were in the area.
So until next time.........................The Traveling Cardinal's