Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Dog Beaches

So I woke up this morning and decided I was not going to sit around and waste another beautiful Florida day. So I dragged Casey out of bed, packed up the car with a few essentials, and we headed out for the afternoon.

Dogs, in general, are not allowed on the beaches around here. I don't know if that's a city or state thing, but we had to do a little digging to find pet friendly places. So I had read about a little park in Bird Key, aptly named Bird Key Park, that allows dogs. It's not too far from here, so we set the GPS to get us there and off we went, excited to play with Olivia on the beach for the first time.

Bird Key Park ended up being a strip of grass alongside a parking lot that was about 1/5 of a mile long and maybe eight feet wide. No beach, either, just rock. We made the most of it though; we walked from end to end, Olivia got to tinkle, and Casey waded in up to her ankles (in the bay, not in the tinkle).

So that killed about 20 minutes of our day.

We sat there wondering what we were going to do to amuse ourselves, when we remembered that there is supposed to be a reallly great dog beach in Venice, about 20 miles south. So back to the car we went. We took the scenic route through Osprey and Nakomis on Tamiami Trail, and got to the beach about an hour later (thanks, Danny, for looking up the address for us!)

Quite excited, we sprung from the car and headed for one of the few dog beaches in our area. There was a little trail that connected the parking lot to the dog park, and the first thing we saw when we rounded the corner was a small lake and a little wooded area. The next thing we saw was this Beware of Alligators sign. Now the thought of leading our eight pound puppy to her death wasn't very appealing to us, so Casey carried Olivia to the enclosed area that we hope was gator free.

What a great beach this was! It was very windy, so the waves were aweome! There were skimboarders there, a bunch of dogs (most of which were 50lbs+ and scared the bejeezles out of Olivia), a few clouds, and not crowded at all. Unfortunately the battery on my camera died, so the only pics I have were taken with my phone.

Casey played in the ocean pretty much the whole time, doing her spin on body surfing. We tossed our water ball back and forth for a while, jogged up and down the beach, and tried to coax Olivia in to the water, but she was having none of that. So we spent about an hour and a half there and had enough. Olivia slept the entire way home and is passed out at my feet as I type this. Casey is sitting in front of the television (go figure) and I am in serious need of a shower. So I'm off to get cleaned up and then we're going to find the Winn Dixie that we've been searching for for days! Tonight's movie is Cheaper by the Dozen 2, in case any one wants to join us!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Just a regular day

Kent left yesterday after leaving us with the necessary house instructions for the rest of our trip, and of course another golf cart lesson for Casey! (Thanks, Uncle Kent, for everything!)

Now we're on our own, pretending to be Floridians for the rest of June. We did a pretty good job ... you'd never know we were on vacation if you had a window into our world today. I woke up, drank my coffee, and half-heartedly worked. Casey slept until noon, during which time the delivery men replaced Kent's refrigerator (works great, Uncle Kent!). After sleeping beauty was fully rested we left and we traded our death mobile for a Nissan Maxima with 3,000 miles on it ... this is much more our style! We drove it to Walgreens and Publix, then got lost looking for the Winn Dixie. Thank God for GPS receivers!

We did find our way home, cooked dinner, and watched Nanny McPhee instead of driving to the beach. Probably a big mistake since it's supposed to rain the next four days. But that's ok, it's been six months since we've seen anything fall from the sky, so we're ready!

All-in-all an uneventful day. We'll see what kind of mood we are in tomorrow!


Monday, May 29, 2006

The Rental Car

So looking back on this blog I realized that I didn't mention my lovely rental car!

In my attempts to be frugal last month I contacted all of the local car rental agencies in Sarasota. I found a little place by the Hob Nob restaurant whose rate was $450 - for the entire month! That was about half the cost of the national chains, so I jumped on that deal.

Since we were arriving on a holiday weekend, the owner said he would leave the car in the parking lot and put the keys under the seat. We found the car lot thanks to my GPS, but I could not believe my eyes when I saw this thing! It was a ten year old Oldsmobile, but it looked like it was originally purchased by Sanford and Son in the 70s! It is beyond hideous. These pictures do not do it justice. And it's a real shame that we don't have smellovision yet, because you have to breath inside of this heap of metal to truly get the feel for how crappy it really is. It may just be toxic!

Unfortunately I couldn't leave it there with the keys under the front seat until Tuesday, so I did drive it home. I'm sure I'm breaking an association rule just by parking it in the driveway here, so I'm counting the seconds until Tuesday at noon so I can take it back and pick up a new car from Enterprise. Thank God Kent has been here all weekend; otherwise I'd have been actually driving this thing for the past two days!

Update 6/3/06: Here's a pic of the new car. What a difference, eh?!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Our First Day In Florida

Another beautiful day in Sarasota. It was about 90 degrees, sunny, and not as humid as everyone has warned. Casey slept all morning while I was on the phone with Comcast trying to get my internet connection going. (If you haven't guessed yet, it works now).

We got up and moving around noon. Uncle Kent took us to St. Armand's Circle ... it's the artsy part of the city. We ate lunch at Cha Cha Cocunuts and had Ice Cream at Scoop Daddy's. You'll never guess who we ran into ... Molly from the airplane! We thought that was a lot of fun, even though they were on their way to visit their great grandma and couldn't stay long.

We walked around for about an hour then decided to go to check out the gulf. After a quick stop at Target for beach toys (Kent refused to go to Wal-Mart) we were off to Lido Beach. It was considerably windier there, and putting up the sun-block tent was comedic for the people around us (not so much for Kent). But we did it! We hung out on the beach for a couple of hours. Kent read. Casey played & collected shells, and I fought off a sunburn with a gallon and a half of sunscreen (my dermatologist would be proud). It was pretty sea-weedy there, so swimming wasn't the best. We need to find a beach that we can call home for the rest of our stay here. I don't think Lido is going to be it.

We drove home and Kent gave Casey a golf cart driving lesson, after all, the 50 paces to the pool is too long to walk :) So after a couple of donuts in the street, they made it to the pool. Our day ended after ordering in Carrabas and chasing (what we think are) Cuban Tree Frogs around the neighborhood. (Good thing Casey didn't listen to her mom and catch one to taunt Kent with -- apparently they are poisonous.) I thought we only had sharks, alligators, and hurricanes to deal with here. Now we have poison frogs, too? No wonder people looked at me like I was crazy when I told them we were going to Florida for the summer!

One day down, 29 to go!

We made it to Sarasota!

It took eight hours and a stop in Atlanta, but we got here in one piece. Casey and Olivia both did a great job traveling. Casey played her Nintendo DS and the puppy just hung out under the seat and slept most of the way. I got to read and recouperate from lugging carry-ons.

We met a ten-year-old little girl named Molly on our
layover in Atlanta. She sat with us on our hour and five minute flight to Sarasota. She and Casey played Mad Libs and read magazines. How nice it was for Casey to have a playmate for at least a little while!

Uncle Kent picked us up at the airport, brought us back to the house. What a beautiful place Palm Aire is! Kent's house is lovely, too. And what a good uncle he is: he slept in the guest room and gave Casey and me the master suite.

Kent took Casey out on the golf cart right away. She thought that was a hoot and can't wait to drive it on her own!

We have dinner reservations at "the club" so we're off to get cleaned up. Will post again soon!

Monday, May 22, 2006

MIght be a wet summer

Sometimes I just don't like Breaking News Alerts. This morning MSNBC put a damper on my exuberance when they announced predictions of yet another active hurricane season:
MIAMI - The 2006 Atlantic hurricane season will be very active, with up to 10 hurricanes, although not as busy as record-breaking 2005, when Hurricane Katrina and several monster storms slammed into the United States, the U.S. government's top climate agency said on Monday.

"For the 2006 North Atlantic hurricane season, NOAA is predicting 13 to 16 named storms, with eight to 10 becoming hurricanes, of which four to six could become 'major' hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher," said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad Lautenbacher, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Last year saw a record 28 named tropical storms, 15 of which became hurricanes. That, too, was a record.

'06 hurricane forecast: 8-10 big storms - Weather -

Little different from the drought we have going in the southwest, huh.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Aww Shucks

It looks like someone rented the Jacksonville Beach Condo right out from under me. Oh well. Maybe next year!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Still thinking about Jacksonville

Really what started this whole Florida thing was reading about Jacksonville on

So I've spent a bit of time looking, and I found an apartment that, from the pictures at least, is exactly what I am looking for.

What do you think ... could you live here for six months?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

It's ON!

Ok, after contemplating whether or not I should travel or spend my summer couped up in this house yet another year, I opted to get out and enjoy what's left of my thirties.

Casey, Olivia, and myself are going to the Sunshine State and Ohio this year. Our tickets are booked and we've started our summer itinerary.

We leave Memorial Day weekend for Sarasota to stay in Uncle Kent's house at Palm Aire Country Club. We even managed to get Kent to come visit the first couple of days!

The following week we're going to meet up with Hollie and her family in Indian Shores (close to Clearwater/Tampa). We're going to spend a day at Busch Gardens, another day at Adventure Island, and hopefully get some quality beach time.

After that we'll go back to Sarasota for a day or two before we visit Uncle Danny, Teri, and Paige in Fort Lauderdale for a day (yes, we reserved a room with a view), then we're finally going to meet Bob from Stork Avenue in Coral Gables!! He's promised to take us out on his boat, so fingers crossed we'll have good enough weather to do that!

We may spend an extra day in south Miami sight-seeing (assuming there are no hurricanes). But after that we're scheduled for stops in Del Ray, Cocoa Beach, and Jacksonville to check out the real estate market. On the final leg back to Sarasota we're planning on one final stop in Orlando to visit Blizzard Beach and beat the heat for a day.

I'm sure we'll be needing some R&R after that, so we're shooting for nothing to do in Sarasota our last week, except for local stuff and hanging on the beaches a bit. Unless, of course, a fabulous weekend fare to the Caribbean rears its head. Then it's boarding for Olivia and island hopping for Shannon & Casey! :)

Come the first of July we'll be on our yearly pilgrimage to the land of Skyline Chili, and finally we're planning a weekend trip to Indianapolis to see Chris and Dave and their swanky new house. Maybe we can even get Schmoo to come visit too!

We'll end up back in Albuquerque in time for Casey to squeeze one week of summer camp in, then it's back to school and business as usual. The question is, where that will be?