March 29, 2009

Mother Takes a Trip

My grandma recently turned 93 and Aragorn and I thought it would be a good idea for me to go down and visit her in Naples, Florida. My parents live there most of the winter and my aunt also lives there. My sister was going to be doing work down there. So, I took Bilbo with me.

I was suppose to leave on a Sunday. That particular Sunday was a very blustery awful, rain, snow and sleet day. All was going fine, until the delays. We eventually got loaded on the plane only to sit there in a sweltering 90? degree plane (perhaps not that hot but close enough!) for two hours about some 100 yards from the airport.

The first de-icer wouldn't work, the second de-icer wouldn't work.... we did get a bag of (5) free mini-pretzels..... the generosity was overwhelming! Two hours later we were given a choice, fly to Cleveland or get off the plane. Hmmmm, fly to Cleveland and try to find a hotel and go through that rigamarole or go home...... I decided to get off the plane but there was one minor problem, we were not attached to the airport and they couldn't find any stairs to push up to the plane.

I was beginning to wonder the wisdom in this trip. So off I get and Aragorn arrived and we went to the ticket counter to see what could be done. This is the kicker.... there was 1 woman at the counter who has no authority to do anything about passengers who need to rearrange tickets.... but "here is an 800 number". We just went home and as it turned out they rearranged the whole trip, which ended up being a much better deal.

Take Two: Here was the beauty which I left for the second time. Ice covered trees

Ice and snow covered trees.

Now isn't this the cutest little airplane, with wind-up propellers and all! (or so it looked like anyway)

Bilbo feeling like a frequent flyer. The look on his face as we got to the airport a second time just to "take a nap" on the plane was very humorous.

Bilbo watching the airplane business.

I beleive this man was getting ready to wind up the rubber-bands on the propellers.
As it turned out we didn't have a single delay and arrived in Cleveland early. It was a beautiful flying day. Cleveland has got to be the stragest airport I have ever seen. All my days of flying as a child and young adult I had never been to that airport. We arrived at concourse D and had to travel a mere 3 miles to concourse C down steep escalators and across the moving walkway and up the steep escalator, mind you I had Bilbo strapped to the front of me and this huge backpack on the back of me and my laptop. Let's just say I didn't go entirely unnoticed. "Wow, that's quite a load you've got there."

We arrived in Naples just fine. Palm Trees!

Bilbo was a very good traveling companion but fasting on a shared 3 bags of (5) mini-pretzels shared between the 2 of us and a bit of water was just a bit dissatisfying. We were both ready for the proverbial horse to eat.
We finally arrived at my parents' condo. The idea of a garage in Naples is about the size of a garden shed. I could not believe it. Certainly not made for the 15 passenger van.

My parents live in a lovely condo (during the winter). This is the stairwait up, yes, it seemed rather steep! But not as steep as the escalator in the Cleveland airport.

This is where Bilbo and I slept *with the windows open*. The days were hotter than blazes up in the 80's in *March* for Wisconsinites. But the evenings were glorious at 67 or so. Everyone in Naples dons sweaters while Bilbo and I finally felt comfortable!

Now excuse the many photos of the condo, they are mostly for a friend of mine who will be borrowing my parent's place. But it is a pretty little place. This of course is the privy. (did you the word "privvy" is in the Bible? There is a lovely bible verse where it talks about the things that go into your mouth comes out in the privy and those that come out of your mouth comes from the heart. Ouch, kinda tells us what kind of heart we have) This bathroom has the hugest shower (without bathtub) I've ever seen. It's family size! Well, not my family size but what they call "family-size".

Living Room and to the left, you can barely see the door, is a "den" or couch with a pull out bed and a very slow computer... Mind you, I hauled my lap top and there was no wireless. I had forgotten there was computer life without wireless!

Dining area, all in an open style as you can see the living room is foward and to the left.

Here is the full view.

The kitchen is just opposite the stair railing.

The Master Bedroom is huge. King-sized beds are enormous! The door there goes into a huge master bathroom.

Master Bathroom with a huge tub and huge shower.

And a lovely outside "patio" screened in porch.

With the noteable palm tree outside.

Bilbo hungry again. Dad is a good cook and made this absolutely delicious baked fish. I'm not a baked fish eater but this was delicious. He has a thing for veggies so there was any number of sauteed greens and other veggies. It was very yummy (as one of our priests always says)

Dad's famous omlette. When I was a youngster in high school and playing sports (soccer, volley ball, skiing and softball) I had an extremely high metabolism (hello, where did that go?!) And dad would make me a loaded 3 egg omelette once or twice a day... with my favorite Velvetta cheese (I know, ewwwwwww) so here is one of his impeccable omlettes (minus the velvetta cheese). No, I didn't set up the smiley face, it was just a coinky-dink.

This is the beautiful avenue we walked on many times. I never did find one single vegetation that represented anything from up in Wisconsin. I had many unanswered questions about every tree, bush, bird and flower. Once a homeschooler always a homeschooler, with or without the children!

Bilbo and Great Grandma.

Bilbo taking delight in Grandma's Florida Beanie Baby Bear (they still make beany babies?)

Every building in Naples is absolutely immaculate, surrounded by palm trees and all of similar make, some kind of white-is stucco. Everything matches! I even saw a storage facility that was just as fancy as the homes.
I'm not sure what these are called (bushes or trees?) but they are kind of like palm trees with fan-like leaves.

They bear these interesting pointy-leaved flowers.

I believe these are pink hibiscus "trees".

Bilbo in his chariot for a walk to the beach on the Gulf of Mexico. This I am told is not the ocean but the gulf. Now history was never my subject and I was rather well-known for my lack of Geography skills but I recall vividly learning that the Gulf of Mexico was an ocean. I was deeply wounded that one of the few facts I learned in gradeschool was erroneous. Notice I did not say I was surprised!

Now these trees held my entire fascination!

On our way to the beach I marveled at how many places were locked up behind bars. I nearly had fits of laughter imagining Aragorn caged up behind gates and fences.

After what I would guess was about a lovely mild walk, we would hop on these over-sized golf carts to ride through the mangroves to the *gulf*.

One could walk the extra mile or whatever it was to the beach but notice we never did.

Aren't they cute?
At the beach, who I call the beach boys, set up chairs, umbrellas and cabanas.

The first glance out over the Gulf of Mexico.

Bilbo and Grandma (my mom). This is the "private" beach just for those in what I think is all of Pelican Bay. So visitors have to have guest passes from residents. It was very neat and tidy.

Bilbo tried to make a friend.

Blbo liked the sand once he got used to it.

Just an ordinary Gull at the Gulf.

There were rows and rows of chairs and umbrellas at the "private" beach.

Now this was the funniest thing! You arrive at the beach and remove your shoes and leave them on the side and walk down to the sand. The first time we did this I nearly died. My children are not shoes people but I always wear shoes or slippers. I put my feet down on this wooden path and ran like mad to get down to the sand. The man who is there to make sure only residents and guests were there just looked at me. I said "Oh, I'm from Wisconsin, that is very hot!" (first episode of nerd-visits-Naples)

Bilbo was not impressed with that hotness of that path and then the first time he put his feet in the sand and in the Gulf water, he was ready to go back to where the weather made a man out of you. But he got used to it (as you could tell by the above pictures)

I think this was a pelican but I believe I have the Looney toones version of pelicans in my noggin so I'm just taking a guess at this enormous bird.

Now this is not a very good picture of what I got to see. But under the water was a whole school (flock? swarm? herd?) of *stingrays*!! It was so fascinating.

Here is the beach in one direction...

.... and here it is in the other direction.

Can you see the alligator? There is an alligator who had 10 babies back in October who has the territory right were we get on the ol' golf carts. I was delighted to see her... *at a distance*. Yes, I dreamt about getting eaten alive by her. I didn't though....

Bilbo and my sister Bridy. You know, some people always come out perfectly in pictures. (I'm not one of them as you will see later)

How delightful! A full moon. Yes, that little white dot is a full moon.

This is my Aunt Sue, trying to hold Bilbo for a picture but he was very intrigued by her "toys" namely phones and remote controls....

....and objects to be climbed upon.

But the two got on splendidly.

Here is one of the baby alligators!!! Only about a foot long or so (though I did not measure him, mama "addidator" as Pippin says, isn't very friendly and is rather protective.)

I've no idea what kind of bird this is but I had to keep following it around to try and get a picture of him.

See him?
I think someone may have said this was an egret?

The boardwalk through the mangroves.

Parasailing. No, I did not go parasailing, but I did many years ago when I was a nut. We went on Lake George in upstate NY. I must have been crazy. Now these birds fascinated me! Anyone (of you 5 who look at this) know what these are?! No one could tell me.

Now here is the mama aligator.
And another baby.
Mama and baby, I only counted about 4 or 5, I forget now.
Another one of those interesting trees that seem to grow up by their roots.
Curly headed...
.... cutie pie.
For our last evening we had dinner down on the beach so we could watch the sunset out over the Gulf.
I thought the birds floating in the water in the shine of the sunset was really beautiful.
What can you say?
We at "outside" (on the porch) of a restraunt right down on the beach. I had the most delicious shrimp with pasta. The sad part about a good meal is that it ends.
Sinking down lower and lower....
Last weeeeeeeeeeee bit. And when the sun set completely they sounded gongs and everyone clapped.
We visited my grandma again on our way out of Naples. I couldn't help taking a picture of this painting in her room. This painting was always in my grandparents' room when they lived in Nebraska and I always had a fascination for it. Grandma had 5 daughters.
Grandma with the picture in the background.

I am so not photogenic.
The flights home were rather uneventful. Aragorn picked us up and took us out to eat at an Italian restraunt. I guess it was the least he could do since he said I was gone for 3 months! (I was actually only gone 4 days)
We arrived home to some welcome-home posters.
They missed me *almost* as much as they missed Bilbo! :)
Everyone made pictures but somehow they all didn't get photo'd.
It is always good to get back home!

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