TITUSVILLE FLORIDA:From Texas, we drove back across the southern states once again all the way to Florida where we landed in Titusville, on Floridaâ€™s east coast, very close to the Kennedy Space Center. We all enjoyed having Sissy with us. We rang in 2007 by going to a late showing of Eragon which let out just before the midnight hour. We spent two days touring the Kennedy Space Center which is SO incredibly awesome I could write a whole blog about it. The rest of the time we just enjoyed hanging out with Sissy. We were sad to see her leave.
FIESTA KEY FLORIDA: After Titusville we drove down to the gorgeous Florida Keys for some serious fishing. The last time Brian and I were in the Keys was in the mid 90â€™s with about 20 kids from the youth group. We hooked up with Scott Welchâ€™s (our Pastor friend from Tampa) youth group and biked the Keys, staying at KOAâ€™s along the way. We reminisced about those good olâ€™ days as we set up for the next 7 days of fishing, swimming and more fishing. The Gulf was our back yard! Each morning the boys were out there catching Mangrove Snapper for dinner. They even reeled in a moray eel, stingray and a puffer fish! Those were just for looking at and letting go of course. What a marine life education they are getting. Ben studied the south Florida ecosystems for school and we enjoyed a hands on field trip to the Theatre of the Sea facility where they touched and actually got a smooch from a dolphin and a sea lion and watched a colorful Parrot show. They were taught about conservation and responsible fishing to help preserve the natural habitats of the vast array of marine life in the Florida Keys.
Brian booked a 6 hour sea fishing trip on a VERY, VERY WINDY day. The boat rocked and rolled, swaying wildly with each swell. Did I mention it was a VERY, VERY WINDY day? Thanks to a family from Canada we had dinner with the night before who gave us sea sick medicine, I did not violently spew all my innerds into the sea, not once, the whole trip. Brian was not so lucky. Jack passed out within an hour and awoke an hour before we made it back to shore. With eyes fixed on the horizon, not an easy thing on a VERY, VERY WINDY day, I enjoyed the amazing blue of the sea and the hypnotic effect of the sun sparkling across the waves. Oh, and I enjoyed watching Ben and Brian catch very big fish and thinking about eating very fresh fish for dinner. In all they caught enough to freeze for another day.
ORLANDO FLORIDA: It was a little tough to pull ourselves away from such a spectacular place but we had an exciting time ahead with Grams and Papa at their condo in Orlando. Each year Grams and Papa spend three weeks at Orange Lake Resort and the family is always welcome to join in on the fun. The last time we were there is when Jack was only one year old. He barely remembered the place but Ben remembered well the pool and putt-putt golf area. This visit was timely because the RV was scheduled for maintenance. I must say it was nice having a little more room – especially in the shower. Jack gets so excited now when he can spread out and play in the tub! After school time weâ€™d head to the pool and on the last day Papa took us to a water park on the property. The boys played hard but itâ€™s hard to wear Papa out. Heâ€™s such a kid! One night Grams and Papa treated us to dinner at Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament where we got to eat with our fingers and watch Knights on beautifully dressed horses entertain and compete for the King and Princess. That was lots of fun! We thoroughly enjoyed our week at Orange Lake with Grams and Papa.
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH FLORIDA: On Sunday, January 21, Brian and I did music at Scott Welchâ€™s church – Fresh Start Church – in Oldsmar (Tampa). We always enjoy what Scott has to say, how unafraid he is to tell it like he sees it. He is refreshing to listen to and to talk with because heâ€™s always stretching, growing and wrestling with stuff. It is so nice to have a friend you can say things to and know that heâ€™s not judging you, he trusts you and he accepts you just the way you are. I strongly encourage you to check out his sermons online at http://www.freshstartchurch.com and see what Iâ€™m talking about. This time we got to meet his wife, Lori, and have Tijuana Flats lunch after church with them, their kids, Keenan and Marissa, and several people from his staff. Once again Scott let us stay in his condo on Indian Rocks beach while the RV was in service and once again it was such a blessing. The weather turned pretty cold and rainy which made fishing less of an option but it is a wonderful thing to be able to look out your windows and see the ocean. I could get used to that.
ORLANDO AND TITUSVILLE (AGAIN): We spent a couple of nights boon docked near the Parentsâ€™ condo in Orlando. Most of the time was spent at Orange Lake hanging out with mom, dad, Aunt Dianne, and momâ€™s cousin, Caroline, whoâ€™d come to visit from Fredricktown Missouri. As the Missourians headed back to their wintery Missouri, we packed up Aunt Dianne and headed back up to Titusville. Aunt Dianne spent five days with us there. We got lots of great hanging out time with her even though the weather continued to be rainy and cold. The boys KNOW that if they ask Aunt Dianne to play with them the answer is likely to be â€œSure!â€œ so they took full advantage of her playful self. Sheâ€™s not going to settle for watching them play video games or watch TV, sheâ€™s going to insist on something more inventive and imaginative and sheâ€™ll spend hours doing it. I really admire her for that. (Check out her website http://www.diannebecker.com and see for yourself how inventive and imaginative she is.) For a school field trip we went to the Jungle Adventure Nature Park where we got real close to Florida Panthers, Black Bears, Gray Wolves, White-Tailed Deer, tropical birds, and other reptiles and mammals. We petted a baby alligator and the boys had a four foot Python wrapped around their necks. We took a jungle swamp cruise and were surrounded by dozens of alligators. We saw how Spanish Conquistadores lived in the 16th Century at a Replica Spanish Fort and went on a Live Guided Exploration of a Native American Indian Village Replica. Before we took Aunt Dianne to the airport we went on an airboat ride on Lake Tohopekaliga (the lady in the bait shop couldnâ€™t even pronounce it so have at it!) We experienced the central Florida everglades with its native wildlife in style, flying (at times) in a very loud airboat through the wetlands, catching glimpses of exotic birds, turtles and alligators in their own natural environment. The boys fished a while but caught nothing and then we were off to find a spot to have dinner before dropping Aunt Dianne off at the airport. We found, of all things, a German restaurant and ate stuff like wurst and schnitzel and goulash. It beat BK or Dennyâ€™s all to heck. We said goodbye to Aunt Dianne and headed back to the RV.