Monthly Archives: January 2016

When Last We Spoke

When last we spoke we were still in Florida but now we are in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Getting here was a bit of a trial. While sitting at the Orlando airport Terry discovered that she did not have her car keys. Hm. We both went through all the bags. We called Dave and Debbi and they checked the house – no keys. What to do? Called the airport parking in Phoenix where the car was parked and they said no problem – they have a locksmith they use. Guess we aren’t all that unusual.

On the second of the two flights getting here we had a late middle aged woman (let’s call her Lady X) sitting behind us. Next to her were a black man and a white woman. Lady X leans over and asks the woman “Is this your husband?” and gets a yes. Then Lady X says “When I was 15 I was in love with a black man but then I got pregnant by a white man. I was heartbroken.” It was a good thing for the couple that the plane wasn’t full – they were able to find a couple of seats elsewhere.

As we waited for the locksmith, I decided to go through Terry’s suitcase one last time. And there, tucked into the bottom corner of the outer pocket were the keys. Thank goodness – who knows how much a locksmith would have cost us at 12:30am.

Red Hat Ladies

The Red Hat Ladies Christmas Tree

The road in to Oatman has many trees/shrubs decorated with Christmas decorations and tinsel. Oatman is an old gold mining town. (Side Note: Arizona’s Barkerville but with burros.) Between 1906 and 1941 they took 1.8 million ounces of gold out of the mine. When the gold ran out, the prospectors turned their burros loose. Now there are approximately 5600 of them roaming the desert. Apparently some government department says there should only be 1700 so there could be some serious culling going on at some point.

A few of the 5600 wild burros. 50 yards away was as close as I could get. They were very skittish.

A few of the 5600 wild burros. 50 yards away was as close as I could get. They were very skittish.

They not only roam the desert, they come right in to town looking for food. As we wandered in and out of the stores, I thought about how similar tourist stores are around the world from Oatman to Xian. Local artists, local crafts, t-shirts, kick knacks. It is all the same junk/stuff.

Choose one: Terry was a. excited or b. not going to touch that "dirty smelly thing."

Choose one: Terry was a. excited or b. not going to touch that “dirty smelly thing.” Nancy was more adventurous.

They may look docile, but they are wild and will kick if provoked.

They may look docile, but they are wild and will kick if provoked.

Nice way to travel

Nice, comfortable way to travel

Lake Havasu and environment are in the Mojave desert. It is not a welcoming environment. Look carefully at the horizon. Just left of centre is a building. It is a school. Nice.

Mojave High School

Mojave High School

Saturday morning was “Camaros on the Bridge” on London Bridge in Lake Havasu City. They close the bridge for 20 minutes so the Camaros can get a group shot. Some pretty nice cars – old and new.

89 Parked Camaros

89 Parked Camaros

If you are a car guy, here is a video of the 89 Camaros arriving for their photo shoot. It’s 5 minutes long – but has cool music from the Ramones and Rascal Flatts to listen to.

 

And now, this from the “Let’s Do Something Really, Really, Really Stupid and Laugh While We Are Doing It” department. At Desert Vista High School in Tempe they have a seniors photo shoot for the school yearbook. This week, it was on the Friday of the week when America celebrates Martin Luther King Day – you know – the famous black civil rights leader. A number of the students make up some slogan and spell it out on their t-shirts.

"Best*Class*You've*Ever*Seen

“Best*You’ve*Ever*Seen*Class*Of*2016”

Nice idea. However 6 girls decide to make their own word.

Pretty sure I don't have to spell it out for you.

Pretty sure I don’t have to spell it out for you. The faces are blurred, but the original unblurred version is also on the net and they all think this is hilarious.

There have been calls for everything from extended suspensions to expulsion to firing the principal.

The Shoe Blog

Pickings are VERY slim in Lake Havasu

Pickings are VERY slim in Lake Havasu

Space, God and The Clydes

Here we are in sunny (LOL) Florida. I’m not advising everyone not to travel with us, but our ability to attract rainy, cloudy, cool weather is unbelievable. One example among many. A few years ago we travelled to the island of Cyprus. They had not had rain in 5 years – yes FIVE years. The day after we arrived the skies opened and it rained or was cloudy for almost the entire two weeks we were there. Condos found out for the first time that their roofs leaked; roads were flooded out; the water on our front porch washed under the door and into our apartment.

Anyway, since it was cloudy and cool, we decided to take the 1 1/2 hour drive to the Kennedy Space Centre. It was a very cool place – took me back to when we used to get up at 4 am to watch the lift offs.

Welcome to the NASA meatball

Welcome to the NASA meatball

Just after the entrance is a rocket garden consisting of Apollo and Saturn rockets.

I Never Promised You a Rocket Garden

“I Never Promised You a Rocket Garden”

A Saturn 5 Rocket - the most powerful rocket ever built.

A Saturn V Rocket – the most powerful rocket ever built.

Apollo - pretty powerful

Apollo – pretty powerful

The Apollo Engine

The F1 Engine

A tour of the Space Centre gives you an entirely new perspective on what the early astronauts, and I assume, cosmonauts had to deal with.

Terry in the Apollo command capsule

Terry in a Gemini command capsule

How big is that capsule?

Not very big

Not very big

From there it was off to the bus tour of the grounds.

(Side Note: When going on a bus tour and you are the 3rd and 4th people on, always ask the driver which side of the bus you should sit on, otherwise the best you can get may be this.)

The highlight on our side of the bus. Photo credit to a somewhat irate Terry

The highlight on our side of the bus. Photo credit to a somewhat irate Terry

At 160 meters tall, when this building was erected, it was the largest building in the world. The American flag is 28 stories tall.

VAB - Vehicle Assembly Building

VAB – Vehicle Assembly Building

The mobile crawler to take the rocket from the VAB to the launching pad.

The mobile crawler to take the rocket from the VAB to the launching pad. For comparison sake, take a look at the white truck. It was no more than 20 yards away from it. What’s the fuel range? 33 feet per gallon

One of those treads weighs one ton

One of those treads weighs one ton

The crawlway from the VAB to launch pad

They were built to handle big weight

They were built to handle big weight

Launch Pad 39A has hosted 92 launches to space from the Apollo and Shuttle Programs.

Launch Pad 39A has hosted 92 launches to space from the Apollo and Shuttle Programs.

Then it was the Saturn V building.

How massive are the rockets?

Terry looks up at the base of Stage 1

Terry looks up at the base of Stage 1 – the base of the 110 meter high rocket

This is the last actual Saturn V rocket. It was the backup for the Apollo III mission (Side note: I am pretty sure that is what I heard the guide telling his group as I eaves dropped.)

Stage 2 didn't seem much smaller than stage 1

Stage 2 didn’t seem much smaller than stage 1

Terry and the service module and command module for Apollo XIII. When you see how small the command module actually is, you wonder how the three astronauts were able to get home.

Not too big

Not too big

The Kitty Hawk - actual command module for Apollo XIV

The Kitty Hawk – actual command module for Apollo XIV

Self explanatory

Self explanatory

Terry touches a moon rock

Terry touches a moon rock

From the USSR on July 21, 1969

From the USSR on July 20, 1969

Next up was a visit to the Atlantis Centre, which houses the last space shuttle. Did you know that NASA began designing the Space Shuttle in February, 1969 – even before they landed on the moon.

There is the Canadarm

Look closely – there is the Canadarm

The Solid Rocket Boosters were used to launch the space shuttle.

The Solid Rocket Boosters were used to launch the space shuttle.

We took a simulator ride, which simulated the actual take off of the space shuttle – including the noise and the G4 thrust. I could feel my cheeks shaking. Almost as cool as skydiving!

Okay, enough about space, let’s talk about God or at least the God Cafe’. This place has been , I thought, in Leesburg Florida for 8 years. It is a Christian restaurant which started out taking donations only for their food and giving meals to this who needed them. Nice thought. Their sign says they have the best breakfast in town, so I thought I would check it out today. (Side note: This photo is from a couple of days ago – I went alone for breakfast.) Gary is the owner and, according to Yelp, he can be a little, hmm – mercurial or moody. Today he was tepidly friendly. The food is not the best in town by a long way but the coffee was good. That isn’t what was interesting though.

I have no idea what the apostrophe after Cafe means

I have no idea what the apostrophe after Cafe means

Ten minutes or so after I got there an older – 80ish couple arrived and sat down at a table in the window next to me. It was easy to hear their conversation and they were clearly a Christian couple. Ten minutes after they arrived, a second couple pulled up and parked right in front. The woman quietly says “There they are.” I thought, “Hmm – could be good.” The driver got out and as he waited for his wife to join him on the sidewalk, he looked anywhere but at the couple. When they came in, the woman forced a smile on her face and said “Good morning” and they replied in kind. Then the man said the same and they also replied “Good morning”. As they moved away, to the other side of the room, my male neighbour mutters “Well, there you go.” Is this how 80 year old Christians are supposed to act? I don’t think so.

(Side note: You know how I wrote earlier that I thought The God Cafe’ had been there for 8 years. Well, apparently that wasn’t so, as I heard Gary saying that he had closed a few years ago and then “They prayed me back.” Also, he now charges – no more what you think it was worth.)

Finally, today we were at Walmart in nearby Clermont. A visit to Walmart in nearby Clermont would not be complete without a visit from the Budweiser Clydesdales.

The whole team

The whole team

Terry is a little spooked...

Terry is a little spooked…

The Shoe Blog

Finally, finally, finally. I was sitting in Starbucks at 8:30 am and this woman came prancing in. What I couldn’t get was a photo from the front – the over the knee top and accompanying short skirt. She never turned around.

And she wasn't even of Asian heritage...

And she wasn’t even of Asian heritage…

A Visit to Barberville Produce

If you follow me on Facebook, you may know that on Sunday Terry, Dave and Geoff visited Barberville Produce AKA Barberville Produce and Yard Art Emporium. Here is a 5 minute video of SOME of the things we saw. The accompanying music has nothing to do with what we saw, but it is my favourite David Bowie songs.

Make it full screen, turn up the volume and enjoy.

Three Songs For One

Do we go with The Irish Rovers “Wasn’t That A Party“, The Guess Who “Guns, Guns, Guns” or “I’m Afraid of Americans”  by the Nine Inch Nails/David Bowie? You tell me.

As we were coming home from having a great lunch AND seeing Terry’s big HUGE butt at the Ramshackle Diner,

Someone needs to go on a diet.

Someone needs to go on a diet.

we saw a sign advertising ‘GUN SHOW January 9-10’. Off we go! What a way to spend an afternoon.

Our ticket to a new world.

Our ticket to a new world.

The first table we stopped at had a couple of good old boys who were pleasant to chat with. We told them that we were from Canada, had not been to a gun show and was it okay to take pictures. After some jibber jabber, the one guy says “No, it really is morally unethical.” Terry held her tongue. So, taking that into account, I had to be quite surreptitious in my photo taking. I will say that the folks at the gun show – both dealers and individuals selling their own guns, did not look as if they would be pleased to see me taking photos – and they did have, you know, guns.

The building was a free standing building about the size of a school gym. According to the good old boys, next week the show is in a building approximately 3 times that size, but THE show to go to is in Tulsa – one in November and one in April. The building area there is 11 acres. How big is that? A Canadian Football field is 150 yds by 65 yds which is 2 acres. Do the math.

We began our wandering.

Long guns 1

Long guns 1

Long guns 2

Long guns 2

Terry has decided that if she ever needed a hand gun, it would be a Glock. “It just looks like it would scare someone – and would take a big piece out of anyone you hit.”

Hand guns 1

Hand guns 1

Hand gun 2

Hand gun 2

Just before we left, I asked this guy if I could buy a gun at the show. He said not from him unless I came down to the shop. If I could prove I was a Florida resident, I could leave that day with a long gun. If I wanted a handgun, it would take three business days for the background check. However, if I went to one of the private guys, I could walk out with one that day. (Side note: Terry saw one exchange where after the money had changed hands the seller said “I guess I should see some id.” Good luck enforcing your new regulations President Obama.) When I said that we didn’t have gun shows in Canada (Side note: As far as I, who knows nothing, knows), “Yeah, after all the guns were taken away and put in metal chippers.” Huh?

There were probably 10 tables of ammunition as well as another 10 of knives.

One of many

One of many

These are handbags – and quite fetching ones – specially designed for carrying concealed weapons.

Lovely

Lovely

Some things mystified me.

I have no idea, but I don't think it would be for hunting squirrels.

I have no idea, but I don’t think it would be for hunting squirrels.

This fellow was doing a lesson on “Florida State Law on Use of Deadly Force”. When he saw me listening, he asked if I was in the class and then said “No standees, move along”. Okay. The charge was $65.00 – $50 for “Class” and $15 for “Other Things”.

"Move along"

“Move along”

Apparently this is a smoking deal. The AR-15 was "$595 out the door" Listened to a couple of guys talking about how it was so much cheaper than the other sellers there. Like I know.

Apparently this is a smoking deal. The AR-15 was “$595 out the door” Listened to a couple of guys talking about how it was so much cheaper than the other sellers there. Like I’d know.

Mr. Trump has his followers.

The button says it all

The button says it all

And I won’t even get into what the Libertarian Party was handing out as we left.

The Shoe Blog

Okay, so maybe they didn’t actually have these and maybe I just pulled the pictures from the internet, but where would the wearer of these be going?

Shoes

It Takes The Villages

Here I sit on a Saturday morning observing life in central Florida. Dave and Terry are golfing, Debbi is at work and I, well I am at a temporary office – outside the Starbucks in a “census-designated place” know as The Villages. If you haven’t heard of or visited The Villages, it is a fascinating place. It is a retirement community which covers approximately 30 sq. miles (Side Note: Burnaby is 34 sq. miles), with a population of approximately 114,000 – in 2010 it was 51,000. As of July 2014, it was the fastest growing city in the U.S. for the second year in a row.

View from the office today

View from the office today

The Villages consists of a large number of communities and three throwback town centres which are designed to reflect a far simpler, idyllic time. Think “The Music Man”. The main street in Sumter Landing is the “Old Mill Run”. Get the picture?

They have everything here – recreation centres, a hospital, Panera Bread, Starbucks, Chico Women’s Wear, Bass Shoe Outlet, Winn Dixie Groceries, theaters, over 60 restaurants and golf carts galore!

Just a few, just a very few.

Just a few, just a very, very few.

It also has people from all over the States – you can tell by the accents. However, New Jersey seems to dominate. It has been fun listening to them talk about the Jets, the Colts (Side note: Baltimore, not Indianapolis), and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Sounds to me like everyone has left Pittsburgh and lives here now. (Side Note: Nothing about Donald so far though.)  In an area roughly the size of Burnaby, serving approximately the population of Coquitlam, there are 32 executive golf courses – when you buy, you get free golf for life on them, and 12 18 hole championship courses. Kind of puts something into perspective, doesn’t it. Today they had a 5K run starting and finishing in the square and there seem to have been an awful lot of over 55 fit and not so fit participants.

(Side Note: There are 2 groups of approximately 10 men each just along  from me. Why is it there is one Alpha’s voice you can always hear and the other 18 or so are just background noise?)

(Side note: Just saw a three wheeled motorcycle go by with  a dogue de Bordeaux sitting on the back with an old time pilot’s helmet. Everybody oohed and aahed, so I guess it was unusual even for here. Sure wish I could have taken a photo for you. 🙁  Instead here is a unusual daschund/dalmation – dalmshunation?.)

Hmm - does the word mottled work?

Hmm – does the word mottled work?

I have been sitting here for an hour now and it has been a steady stream of people going by or going in to get their latte. When I got in line there was one person in front of me and by the time I had my latte, there were 6 or 7 in line and it has been that many ever since. Even Jiaxing had the odd break of motion, but not here.   The retirees of America are certainly on the go.

A brief video of a few of the Old Mill Run shoppes.

 

Tomorrow we are off to the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Florida – should be good.

On the way back, this car was in front of me.

Good for Delaware

Good for Delaware

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Typical Villages Footwear.

Shoes

 

 

 

Suwannee River aka Old Folks At Home

Some little know facts about the sunshine state. Little known fact #1: (Side note: At least by the author) The state song, which has had the lyrics updated so as not to offend, is “Suwannee River”. As far as I can tell, Stephen Foster never even visited Florida. This version is by the incredibly talented Paul Robeson. (Side note: Quite unlikely to have been one of the old folks at home.)

Little known fact #2: The state bird is – wait for it – the Northern Mockingbird

Northern

Hey, I’m from the north just like all those damn Snowbirds!

Little known fact #3: The state flower is the orange blossom (Side note: Thanks Anita Bryant)

orange-blossoms-wikimedia-2

If this is the state flower, then why isn’t THIS the state song? (Side note: Or at least the lullaby “Hush, Little Baby” – author and date unknown, figure it out people)

Little known fact #4: The former governor is Jeb Bush – you know

o-JEB-facebook

Listen to Stephen Colbert’s take below

 

And now stuff I do know about…

We played golf today and for the first time in a long time:

Jan 7

I started AND finished with the same three balls!

Terry had a tough lie

Jan 7 -2

Good out Terry

The course was groomed to a tee

tee

Eat your heart out Capilano!

Trees

However, there were some magnificent looking dying/dead trees to espy.

pool

Almost every home in Florida has a “birdcage”. Some are just big enough to handle a pair of chairs so you aren’t bothered by bugs and some cover a little more area.

And

house

Just because your house comes to a point doesn’t mean you’re sharp.

In light of the apparent meltdown of the Chinese stock market, some pricing information. (Side note: How is it going for you Rosie? Rosie is a Chinese lady who lives in the complex we lived in in Jiaxing. She is a retired university professor  – they’re smart, right? – who was investing HEAVILY in the market and constantly maintained it would “Never, ever go down”. Ask her about that the next time you see her, Tim.)

We filled up Dave’s car today. 13.14 American gallons $25.00 US OR in Canadian speak 48 litres $34.77 CDN. Seems about right, right?

And finally, we bought some chicken today for dinner.

Chicken

No comment

The Shoe Blog

To quote Jeff Probst – “I got nothin’ for you. Head back to camp.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Florida: The Sunshine (?) State

Before we hit Florida, here are the flamingoes which guard the entrance to the JW Marriot Resort Hotel in Palm Desert.

Are they live - or symbolic replications?

Are they live – or symbolic replications?

And at a rest stop on the highway…

IMG_6938

Is the water only for the disabled? Does it mean to water the disabled?

We had an interesting time getting here from Palm Desert. Thinking we were leaving ourselves lots of time to make our flight, we stopped at Starbucks and weren’t even frustrated at how long it took the barista to take our order. Amazing how many people show up on a Saturday morning at 7. Just like Christmas, why aren’t these people at home doing something – like sleeping? Anyway, we cruised along at 75 mph through California and 80 mph from the Arizona border. More often than not we were the passee and not the passer.

We finally arrived at the long term parking lot 1 hour an 15 minutes before our flight. Hmm, getting a little close. The driver of the shuttle says “No problem, lots of time”; the United Airlines pilot says “Cutting it a little close aren’t you?” We get to the curbside check-in and had only one person ahead of us. Great! Except she and Debby, the check-in person, were having a grand old time talking about the woman’s teaching job in Bahrain. Move it lady!

We get to the security line – oh oh. The security guy says that he can’t do anything – all we can do is to ask people if we can go ahead of them which we do and everyone says no problem. Very nice people. We finally get through, get to the gate and we still have 30 minutes until take off. Perfect. Sadly, for the writer in me, there were no incidents at all.

And now here we are in the Sunshine State.

Look at that sun!

Look at that sun!

Here’s the problem with travelling in the good old U.S. of A. They are just like us – not particularly worthy of note since they are so darn normal. We are having a very pleasant time visiting with Dave and Debbi (and son Jeremy) – and for all those of you who ask about Dave, here are the words straight from his very own mouth: “I am cancer free and able to eat most things, feeling stronger every day and generally doing hunky dory fine.”

Unfortunately we will not be making it to Charleston this trip since our good friends Sherrie and Tim will be busy with the birth of their grandchild. Hope all goes well there and we look forward to seeing them down the road. Update! Update!

photo 1

Say hi to Charlie everyone.

We have played a little golf thus far at Crane’s Roost Golf Course. Terry was a standout in the all male shotgun, and Dave, despite shooting higher than the other three of us, won all the money. Boo, hiss..

The 16th Green at 8:30am

The 16th Green at 8:30am

Apparently the cranes all move in pairs –

Pair number 1

Pair number 1

Pair number 2

Pair number 2

Many of the incredibly beautiful oak trees in Florida are being slowly killed by the Spanish Moss which covers them.

Magnificent Oak

Magnificent Oak

And please check out the “Why are we not surprised” department. (Side note: Click on it)

The Shoe Blog

Where are these from?

Where are these from?