Saturday, January 31, 2015

Wheeler's Cafe

If you are ever driving through Arcadia, Florida and have a desire for some good 'ol home cooking, be sure to stop by Wheeler's Cafe on Monroe Avenue just off of Oak Street.  The cooked-from-scratch meals are served seven days a week starting at six in the morning.  Be sure to leave room for dessert. There are so many homemade pies and cakes on the menu, it may be hard to decide which one (or two) will "hit the spot".  Pick a booth or pull up to the counter, there is something for everyone.  The diner is not big but it is comfy/cozy and the atmosphere brings a more peaceful time to memory.  Located in a century old building, the diner has been in business for decades and is known as a great place to catch a bite to eat by the "regulars".  Enjoy the food.  Enjoy your stay.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Playalinda Beach

There are many wonderful beaches along the Atlantic coastline of Merritt Island, Florida.  Playalinda is one of these beaches.  It is part of the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge and is maintained by the U. S. Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.  There is a fee charged to use this beach but there are passes (military, senior, etc.) that will allow unlimited free access to the beach.  On a windy January day the beach is populated for the most part by people leisurely walking the beach and enjoying the sea air.  Very peaceful even with the rough surf.  A natural beauty!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge

Today I visited the wildlife refuge on Merritt Island in the Titusville, Florida area.  It is a naturally beautiful and very peaceful area under the administration of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  It is federally protected land open to the public.  I started my tour by visiting the welcome center and picked up all the maps and info needed to truly appreciate my visit.  The wildlife refuge covers several different eco-systems associated with wetlands.  The area offers several hiking trails of varying length and each trail offers opportunities to bird watch, look for manatees or spot small wildlife in their natural habitat.  I chose a two mile hike through the palm hammock.  Absolutely superb.  Nothing but me and a few hundred butterflies (and some armadillos) walking along this peaceful forested pathway.  The path was marked and relatively easy to follow.  It took me about forty five minutes to hike along the wooded path.  The refuge also offers driving tours for those that would rather drive and stop at assigned viewing areas.  No matter how you do it, you will enjoy your day at the wildlife refuge.  This is a great family activity!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

satellite beach

One of the many lovely beaches along the "space coast" of Florida's eastern coastline is Satellite beach.  This picture was taken on a very blustery winter day (yesterday) and, therefore, the beaches were primarily empty except for a few people strolling along the beach looking for seashells or possibly sharks teeth.  During the summer months this beach would be crowded.  There is something very peaceful about an empty beach.  The sounds of the waves repetitive slap against the shore is calming and the birds are able to run freely on the soft sand.  One could very easily get lost in their thoughts on a day at the beach like this.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Kennedy Space Center

If you are interested in the space program, the Kennedy Space Center is a must see.  The Atlantis space shuttle is housed in its own building here and the display area is amazing.  The "reveal" was particularly effective.  Visitors are in an adjacent room watching a short introductory film about the shuttle and then at just the right moment the lights come up behind the screen and the Atlantis is revealed in all its glory.  Somewhat breathtaking, I'd say.  There are other buildings that house displays following the history of the space program with I-MAX presentations, mock space shuttle walk throughs and uniform and equipment show cases.  Allow two hours to take the bus ride into the secured area where the launchpads, assembly building and mission control are located.  This is a great photo opportunity and the bus will stop at the best viewing locations.  I spent several hours walking through the buildings housing the displays and enjoyed every minute of it.  There is so much to see.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

old forts and shops

Visit St. Augustine, Florida.  It is a wonderful place to be and see.  The old fort, built during the Spanish occupation of Florida, offers everything history buffs require.  Guided tours are available as well as the opportunity to explore the fort and grounds on your own.  The heavy walls are constructed of crushed shell and each room in the fort has detailed informational plaques to read.  The fort is operated and maintained by the National Parks Service.  When you are done visiting the fort, please amble on over to St. George street and enjoy the flavor of this quaint shopping area.  There are small shops offering everything from handmade designer handicrafts to more commercialized items.  Restaurants abound with a Cuban sandwich shop catching my eye.  yummy, yum  Just delicious!  Stay for the day and bask in the history.   (also, wear sunscreen because the fort is open to the elements.)

historic neighborhoods

In the older historic area of Jacksonville, Florida, there are three walking neighborhoods that offer antiques and cafes, each with their own flavor.  I discovered them while driving down Park Street on my way to the Cummer museum.  The first area is called the Park Street/Riverside district and it offers quaint old cottage style homes with the first floors converted into antique shops.  I was very interested in the styling of the buildings with their original wooden floors and well maintained interior features.  Walking into these stores gave me the opportunity to investigate the interiors of these old homes.   The rooms were filled with antique and vintage items and the proprietors were friendly and easily shared the history of the area.  A little farther down the road is the five points district with it's share of antique stores in commercial buildings and tattoo parlors, smoke shops and small cafes.  This area is geared mainly for a younger clientele.  The Avondale district is filled with quaint older homes and is a great area for strolling along the tree covered streets.  Very good restaurants and small antique shops are located in this area.  Avondale is definitely a throwback to a quieter, more peaceful time.  All of these areas are very close to each other and worth the time to visit.  Be prepared to let your mind take you back to another time in history and enjoy the trip.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Cummer Art Museum

I spent the day in Jacksonville, Florida, primarily touring the Cummer Art Museum and gardens.  I highly recommend this gallery if you like visiting art galleries.  There are hundreds of exhibits on display in the well curated rooms within the gallery.  On display are works from Roman and Greek sculptors as well as pieces by Rodin.  There is a good selection of work by Flemish, Dutch, French, German and Italian painters.  American painters and sculptors are well represented.  On display is a work named VANITAS by de Claeuw.  Originally part of a vast collection owned by a Jewish art dealer, Goudstikker, in the Netherlands, the painting was stolen along with the rest of his collection during the nazi raids during WWII.  Purchased by the Cummer museum in the 1960's and later identified as stolen property by the heirs of the art dealer, the museum and the family came to an agreement and the painting remains on display at the museum.  The informational plaque posted next to the painting tells the entire story of how this painting was obtained and pays homage to the art dealer and his descendants.  Very well done.  Please take time to visit the gardens behind the museum.  The gardens were part of the original Cummer mansion and were preserved during the construction of the new building.  The gardens overlook the St. Johns River and offer a wonderfully fragrant spot for quiet reflection or day dreaming.  

Saturday, January 17, 2015

cloud stitches

I was driving south on I-75 in Georgia and as I was looking ahead at the sky and the cloud formations I saw something I had never seen before.  The clouds were layered in a horizontal pattern of alternating light and dark rows.  There was one row of dark clouds that pushed into the light row above it at regular intervals.  The slivers of clouds looked like threads and the entire row of threads reminded me of the stitches in a skirt hem.  What a laugh!  I'm sure it was just my imagination going into overdrive.  I do that a lot.  I may have been the only one with that thought.  Probably.  I sew a lot  and I may have been thinking of some sewing project.  The stitches looked like a French hem stitch to me.  Nice job, clouds!

Friday, January 16, 2015

no driving today

...just a lot of sleep.  And, I needed it, apparently.  The car didn't move from its parking spot and I didn't move very far from the bed.  I am trying to knock out an annoying cough and I was given a prescription cough syrup with the instruction not to drive after taking the medication.  Oh, wow, I was out like a light and don't recall moving an inch all night.  Who could drive after taking THAT anyway? I believed I was already in Loop-y town so I wasn't going anywhere.  Ah, but I feel much better now so tomorrow I shall venture out on the roadways.  No meds.  Just me, a bottle of water and a handful of kleenex.  Keeping it tidy, folks.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

driving in the rain

I'm OK driving in some rain (no downpours, please) but when you mix in fog, a busy highway and lots of trucks I'm not happy on the road.  This is what I had to drive through today while heading south from Atlanta on I-285 and I-75.  The traffic was moving slowly, which was good, but the lanes were crowded and there are some crazy lane changes that needed to be negotiated while switching from one highway to the next.  Then, add in the rain and fog.  Puts me in high tension mode.  The roads eventually dried up, though, and the fog went away.  I arrived safely at my next destination.  Happy again.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

from my past

These china nut cups have been in the family for over sixty years.  My mom purchased them for use in our house during special dinner events.  They were brought out of their hiding place in the buffet and used at Easter or sometimes for a Sunday dinner.  There are eight matching nut cups in the set.  Since there were seven members in my family, we each had one placed by our table setting.  We always knew something very special was going to happen when the nut cups appeared on the table.  There were three standard fillers for the cups-pillow mints, peanuts or m and m's-with pillow mints being on the top of the list.  The cups always adorned the table during that most momenteous of meals-THE BIRTHDAY DINNER.  Today is my birthday and the nut cups made their scheduled appearance at the table.  What a joy to see them.  You see, my sister, Susan, is the keeper of the cups these days.  She served a delicious home cooked meal and topped it off with an ice cream cake and even lefse.  The table was set beautifully and the nut cups took their place of honor by each persons place setting.  What beautiful memories these cups evoke.  Memories of childhood birthdays and other special times came to mind.  The setting was complete.  Thank you Susan.  Love from your big sis.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

the DQ

Just driving around today and what do you know.  There it is on the left.  The mecca of all things ice cream.  The DQ.  My sister and I were out doing errands and then all of a sudden we were eating ice cream (on a cold wintery day) and it tasted so good.  Before we entered the store we had to sing from memory the old advertisement song for this brand from the 1960's.  It just makes the visit to the DQ so much more official.  yum-m-m-m!!!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

the original Grandma B

My grandmother was born on January 11, 1891.  124 years ago today.  She was born in Henning, Minnesota.  She and I have something in common.  We are both January babies separated by fifty seven years, three days and many cold winter nights.  She married a minister and traveled with him to his various assignments within the state of Minnesota. Along the way they brought forth four children with the eldest, Bennett, becoming my father.  Grandma and I celebrated a joint birthday dinner each year, usually after church on the Sunday nearest to our birthdays.  The dinner was prepared by my mother and there was always a cake.  I remember them well and I was happy to have a "birthday buddy".  It felt special.  So, here's to you Grandma!  Happy Birthday!  And thanks for the memories.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

poetic justice

I was on my way to Atlanta the other day and I was listening to the radio.  I was interested in the traffic reports.  As I was driving around Macon I heard about a big traffic tie up ahead but I was sure they were saying it affected the southbound traffic lanes.  I made note of the exit number referenced in the report.  I left the bypass and merged onto I-75 at about that location and there it was.  A major traffic jam in the southbound lanes that stretched for several miles.  The traffic was creeping along very slowly.  I was driving north so I was unaffected by the slow down.  I felt badly for the unsuspecting drivers as they approached this mess.  There were so many trucks crawling along at very low speeds, if any.  I was glad I was not caught up in this.  However, during another traffic report, I was made aware of a different traffic tie up in the northbound lanes near a bridge overpass closer to Atlanta.  The report mentioned a five mile backup on the road.  I realized that this was shortly going to affect me.  And, it did.  Just as the traffic report stated, the back up was at least five miles long and moving at a snail's pace.  I just toughed it out and held my lane.  I wasn't in any hurry so I was fine.  So, I guess what I'm trying to say is, pay attention to the traffic reports, be patient and courteous on the road and remember, what ever happens on the other side of the road, will probably happen to you at some time, too.  And, it will probably happen sooner than later.  So, no laughing at drivers caught in traffic jams,  no sighs of relief when it doesn't affect you and no thinking it won't ever happen to you.  It can and it will.  Now, stay safe out there.  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

going north

I'm on my way to Georgia.  Atlanta, actually.  Beautiful driving weather today with no hiccups along the way.  I'm stopping in Valdosta for the night.  There is a deep freeze blowing in from the north and the temperatures should be in the 30's tomorrow.  I'm prepared with heavy jackets and sweaters.  hmm...winter weather.  Bring it on.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

sunday drivers

That would be me today.  I drove to church, I stopped by the cemetery and I drove to the b-b-q place for a late lunch/early supper.  And, yes, I obeyed the speed limit and stayed in my lane.  That's about it.

Saturday, January 3, 2015


Yep, today was pancake breakfast day at the church.  That's two huge fluffy pancakes, scrambled eggs and sausage links with OJ and coffee.  What a way to start the day!  Now it's time for a little refresher nap.    p.s. I drove twenty five miles for that delicacy and I'd do it again.  It's that good.

Friday, January 2, 2015

changing temperatures

Nothing much happened on the road today.  Just one wrong turn but that was easily corrected.  A few days ago I was shivering in near freezing weather in Mississippi.  Today I am wearing short sleeves and flip flops.  It's near eighty degrees and humid in Florida.  I'm heading back north in a few days so I need to keep sweaters at hand.  Oh, that's right!  It's winter.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


I did it today.  I went to my first major bowl game.  I saw Minnesota play Missouri at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida.  Today.  And, I had a blast!  I arrived at the stadium about two hours before the game and just walked around the outside of the stadium enjoying the sights and the sounds.  Both of the universities bands were marching about and then they would break off into smaller groups and entertain the crowds.  The drum corps was fantastic!  They played on and on.  There were lots of tailgate parties with grills and lawn chairs in the parking areas.  The cheerleaders were..... cheering.  I went into the stadium about an hour before game time and found my seat.  I was sitting in the upper deck area and I thought I might have trouble seeing the field action, but I was very wrong.  I was seated on the aisle right on the fifty yard line.  Perfect for viewing everything.  I saw it all.  The pre game and halftime shows featured both of the schools marching bands plus a choreographed cheer squad. There was a military jet fly over at the end of the national anthem.  The crowd went wild.  Fortunately, I was seated in a great spot for commentary.  The guys seated behind me were very entertaining in their play calls.  They were knowledgeable but not in a "clipboard critic" kind of way. They were more of the "lazy boy and chips" variety.  They knew a lot without being stuffy about it.  They made some good calls.  All in all it was a terrific game.  (except for one tiny, little thing)   (my team lost)   (shhhhh)   (we'll get 'em next time)  It was a great way to start out the new year.  I'll say!