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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Friends and Family

One of the main reasons we came to Florida was to visit my parents in Naples, my sister in Ft. Meyers, and my Uncle Mike and his wife Adele who live in LaBelle. We also wanted to visit friends Hal and Lois who are spending a couple of months in Key West, JoAnne’s friend Fern Nelson in Sarasota, and special friends Ellen and Franny who live in Avon Park. Finally, I had an insurance industry event to attend in Tampa.

Mission almost accomplished.

We arrived in Florida on February 9 and celebrated our 21st Anniversary. At this time of year most Florida campgrounds are fully booked and we had a lot of traveling back and forth to do we decided to store our RV and found a great spot in Big Toy Storage. So, on February 10th we parked Tiger II (our RV) and headed to Naples visit Mary and Dick (my parents).

Flying down to Join us in Naples was our daughter Andrea and grandson Caleb. On Saturday, JoAnne, Andrea, Caleb and I headed out for a day of exploring the blustery beach on Marco Island, Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, and the Historic Smallwood Store. According to Caleb the highlight of the trip was seeing lots of alligators while driving along Alligator Alley.

Our trip was timed to coincide with my parent’s 68th wedding anniversary and on February 12th. Mom’s brother Mike and his wife Adele, daughter Tracey and her husband Eric, granddaughter Andrea and great grandson Caleb, JoAnne and I celebrated Mom and Dad’s anniversary at Erin’s Isle. 68 years…Wow!

I was able to spend Monday February 13th at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary with my sister Tracey photographing birds. I don’t get to spend much time with her. So, this was special. Thanks Tracey for letting me use your 600mm lens.

On the 14th we headed back to Tampa and an insurance conference. In my current stage of “phased” retirement I am still very involved on a national level with the Agents Council For Technology and serve as Chair of the Social Media Workgroup.

The Tampa event concluded on the 16th and on the 17th we headed to Key West. We got a late start and planned on stopping overnight at a motel along the way. What were we thinking? We were headed into one of the most popular areas of Florida on a Friday night of the long President’s Day holiday weekend. Needless to say all of South Florida was booked – except for one room at the Florida City Travel Lodge. Check out our $192.00 luxury suite.

On the 18th we traveled the 105 miles on the spectacular Florida Keys Scenic Highway from Key Largo to Key West. By the time we reached Sigsbee Naval Air Station Campground we had successfully made the transition from business casual to tee shirts and flip-flops.

As expected Hal and Lois were great hosts and tourist guides. Our trip was filled with “happy hours”, plenty of great meals, Mallory Square sunsets, and even a trip to the historic Key West Cemetery. Yet, the highlight had to be our side trip to Dry Tortuga National Park. It was a perfect day for the boat ride to the park. I say perfect, but the seas were a bit choppy and probably over half the passengers ended up seasick. Once at the park we had plenty of time to explore. Hal and I also got in some great snorkeling. JoAnne and I also added the Snooty Tern to our life bird list.

On the 21st it was back to Tampa to pick up our RV. But first, on the way we made a quick stop at Biscayne National Park. Once in Tampa we decided to stay at LazyDays RV Campground and attend a Winnebago Rally. There is more to this story, which will be the topic of another blog. For now, I can say that an RVer going to LazyDays is like a Chocoholic being set loose In a Godiva factory. Our time in Tampa also gave us time to visit JoAnne’s friend Fern. She is 92, lives alone, still drives (ok that is a bit scary) and is as sharp as a tack. 

Tomorrow we are headed to Anastasia State Park just 5 miles outside of St. Augustine.

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