Journey of a Lifetime


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Disney World Tour

Hello friends, I am putting up another short post just to let everyone know we have arrived at Disney and even did the Animal Kingdom today. We will be posting a deluge of pictures and stories when we get back to the land of free WiFi. A little teaser...there is a picture from the coaster camera on Dinosaurs Jennifer and I took but Jennifer is missing from the picture... Thank for following along and don't be shy about leaving comments after your favorite posts and pics.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Pop Century Resort

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Day 9 - Mission: Relax

Today, the goal was to relax. We have a whirlwind 3 days of Disney World coming up.
Colby, Cathie & Jim went to play tennis and swim at the club. Jim showed off his Harley Davidson to Colby. I didn't feel up to it, so I stayed in and tried to catch up on the blog.
We had a delicious dinner this evening - Jim grilled up some Filet's and Jumbo Shrimp.
We finished off the evening relaxing in the hammock. I finally feel like I am on vacation.
Please forgive us in advance, because we will most likely not be able to update the blog until after we leave Disney World.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 8 - Mission: Homosassa Siteseeing

This morning we were off to Homosassa Springs - the local attraction.

A spring fed refuge & rehabilitation center for native wildlife. We took a boat ride to the main entrance and spent a few hours in the park. All in all, it was a very well put together and well kept park. The most famous resident at Homosassa Springs is Lucifer.
A 50 year old Hippopotamus and we just happened to be there for his afternoon snack of melons.
Fortunately we weren't here for this. (The splatter zone) Hippos mark their territory in a very disturbing way.
Florida Gators
Gopher Tortoise
My first sighting of a real CARDINAL.
And a Roseate Spoonbill - a bird that seems to be right out of a cartoon.
A mother swan and her babies.
Whooping Crane
A sleepy Owl
And even a Bald Eagle
A Red Fox
A Red Wolf
And even a Black Bear
This beautiful turquoise blue water is the source of Homosassa Springs. A 50 foot fresh water aquifer. It is a place that fish and manatees love to hang out.
We arrived in time to see the manatees eating their afternoon snack of Romaine lettuce.
That evening, we drove out to the Gulf again and had a delicious seafood dinner at Peck's with my cousins.
Their specialty on the menu is blue crab.
We plan to relax tomorrow and save up some energy for a 3 day whirlwind tour of Disney World.

Day 7 - Mission: Family Dinner - Part 1

Today's post is very short. I hope to add pictures later.
This morning we went to the Crystal River Congregation meeting and heard a very nice public talk.
We are looking forward to seeing all of Cathie & Jim's kids and their families at dinner tonight. Cathie was brave enough to take on the task of hosting it at her home.
It was so nice to see everyone and meet the new additions to our family. A hilarious game of Password & then Balderdash finished off our night. We all learned something new: the clues party and pagan automatically led Cathie to the word Bacchanalia instead of Birthday! HA!
A fantastic electrical storm came through this evening. There were tornado warning out again today. The bad weather seems to be following us.

Day 6 - Mission: Homosassa, FL

And now, the moment you have been waiting for....(drumroll, please) The Coast to Coast with the Douglas Duo - Choose Your Own Adventure Series!
But first, a picture of our very tropical campsite at the Shady Pines Campground at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park.
We made our way out to the beach. It has been ranked as the top beach in the US twice. It was just beautiful! The sand is soft and sugar white.
We found out right away that this would be truly just a dip in the Gulf rather than a swim.
Here's why:
Because of the storm last night and another one on its way, the surf was especially strong.
First the water test:
The air was still on the cooler side, but the water was much warmer than the Pacific Ocean.
Shortly, thereafter we had completed the obligatory dip in the Gulf of Mexico. (To be honest, we would have done it even if it hadn't won the vote.)
Before leaving we left our marks on Port St. Joe Beach.
Its just too bad that the time and weather were not on our side. We still had a 5 hour drive ahead of us. On our way back to the mainland, we took some shots of the Cape San Blas Lighthouse, though its really more of a tower than a building.
We accidentally stopped in a town called Panacea known for their Blue Crabs and had lunch at the Coastal Restaurant. We had excellent Fried Green Tomatoes and Chicken.
I mentioned accidentally stopped in Panacea because we had taken a wrong turn on the highway just before this town. We ended up adding an hour to our drive but at least it sent us in a circle. (We had that I have been here before feeling.)
We finally got back on the road and made it to my cousins house in Homosassa, FL. Homemade Cuban Sandwiches, Black Beans & Yellow Rice. We will be here for a few days and have a big family dinner tomorrow.

Day 5 - Mission: Port St. Joe, FL

Please excuse the delay in the postings. We are frantically trying to catch up!

In this episode of Coast to Coast, we will be recapping the events of Day 5. It ended in a really extreme way, which most of you now know about, based on our "Alive for now" post.

It is DouglasDuo tradition to photograph our campsites. So we begin with that & our departure from our campground at St. Bernard State Park, a very well-kept and beautiful state park.
Also, the motivational sign in St. Bernard Parish - we passed this everyday - a definite reminder of the disaster here not so long ago.
If you notice the sky in the last two pictures, you will see its dark & ominous appearance. A humongous storm was coming on shore from the Gulf of Mexico. So, before heading out for our destination for the night, we drove back into the French Quarter one last time. This trip called for the original Po-Boy's at Johnny's - Colby had the Oyster Po-Boy & I had the Roast Beef. Both were excellent!
Jazz Fest was beginning today, and the streets were insane, so Colby was the gopher while I circled the block in the van.
And of course, we couldn't leave without a farewell Beignet & Cafe au Lait (addicted much?).
At this point, it started to rain. Actually no, pouring is more like it. And the lightening! It surrounded us on all sides...time to get out of dodge!
The trip to Port St. Joe was about 8 hours. We quickly entered Mississippi after crossing Lake Pontchartrain.
(The wind was so strong in Mississippi, my triceps were sore from fighting with the steering wheel. Come to find out, major tornado's occurred there that day!)
Shortly thereafter was Alabama.
Finally we pulled into Florida & stopped at the welcome center for the famed cup of OJ just before they closed for the day.
The drive out to Port St. Joe, on the Gulf of Mexico, was uneventful until the very last minutes. As we approached the peninsula, the storm that we had only out run by an hour, caught up to us while we were trying to complete some of the blog updates at a McDonald's (no Starbucks out here, friends). We hurried out and back on the road when the lightening strikes seemed to be approaching. As we drove out to this isolated part of Florida, I began to think we were crazy. And again, being the worry-wort of the duo, began barraging Colby with lightening storm questions. (Will we get hit in the van? What if I have to go to the bathroom? Are we going to die? - All valid questions I thought.) En route to the beautiful St. Joseph Peninsula State Park (we called ahead this time and got the gate code) the most awesome lightening strike occurred right in front of our eyes, out in the Gulf somewhere. A huge bolt with half a dozen "feeler" bolts streaming off in all directions. Words can't describe it. Even Colby's heart stopped for a second with this one. I think I may have really been speeding at this point.
Well, we arrived safely, as many of you know, and we were left to ride out the storm in the safety of the van. The storm hit, thunder & lightening, rain began falling, then pouring, possibly even some hail. And then.....nothing. Really....NOTHING. It fizzled out entirely when it hit us. (Was I disappointed? Maybe.) The only photo we got of the light show was this:
Colby will have to wait for his next big photography break, some other time. (I thought this shot was still great, considering it was raining and taken from inside the van.)

So, our cliffhanger for next time:
The "Choose Your Own Adventure" winner - A dip in the Gulf of Mexico.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Alive for now on the Pennisula

We just wanted to do a quick post to let everyone know we are safe and sound in the van at St. Joseph's Pennisula State Park. We arrived about fifteen minutes ago amidst a light show on all three sides in the sky. There is a major storm front moving through and we were able to just get ahead of it by about an hour. Thank you all for following and we will have some of our adventures from New Orleans posted tomorrow with more pics as well.

-- Post From My iPhone

Location:Kenny Mill Rd,Port St Joe,United States

Day 4 - Mission: New Orleans Siteseeing

This morning we got in touch with the St. Bernard State Park and found our campground. It is a beautiful campground, the only downfall is the distance out there.
On our way out, we drove through some of the still destroyed parts of St. Bernard, Louisiana.

Many houses have been rebuilt, but many still sit condemned. "Snack & Nap & Random Facts", aka Colby, learned that 80% of this parish was underwater due to Hurricane Katrina.
We headed back to the French Quarter, making our first stop at Central Grocery for the original Muffuletta.
If you love olives, like I do, you will love these sandwiches. But their size is tremendous, so you could share one with four people, or like we did, share half between two people.
Then walking through the streets of the French Quarter, I began a photography project involving the unusual doors of New Orleans (more about that later).
On our way, we passed Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop - the oldest continually occupied bar in the US.
A very cool place that looks like the local pirate bar. Continuing our walk - we were on a mission for the best Fried Chicken, and the locals recommended the Praline Connection on Frenchmen.
We also sampled Zapp's potato chips - Cajun Dill,
and a "Snowball" - the Louisiana snow-cone, which hit the spot on this humid day.
Our next stop was the Garden District in New Orleans.
A community of old southern mansions from the 1800's, known for the beautiful foliage and gardens throughout. Beautiful & ornate it truly is.
Finally, we set off on the Canal Street Ferry for Algiers, with views of Downtown & the Natchez Steamboat.
Driving through this historic town, on our way to the Aurora Congregation meeting.
This group of new friends were so warm, hospitable, and friendly - we only wish we could be in town longer to get to know them all more closely. Thank you for making us feel so welcome.
Afterwards, we headed back into the French Quarter for dinner at the Chartres House Cafe where Colby had the Crawfish Etouffee and I had the Chicken Gumbo.
Finishing the night off with another round of Beignets & Cafe au Lait at Cafe du Monde. Sleep well we did.