Florida

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Last night my inlaws (Junior and Linda) evacuated Sarasota with Linda’s daughter and her family. They arrived at our house last night. Hurricane Irma passed over Key West as a Cat 4 storm and entered the Florida penninusla around Marco Island as a Cat 3. At 5 a.m. this morning, she’s a Cat 1 and headed up central Florida.

Hurricane Irma Cone

The wind has been picking-up since about 2 a.m. and is whipping pretty good now. We have a couple of minor leaks, but nothing too serious.

Leak

UPDATE: 8:00 a.m.

Irma is coming through the panhandle now and is somewhere around Lakeland, Florida. It’s still a Cat 1. The wind is really gusting outside, but I’m just sitting here sipping coffee.

Hurricane Irma Cone

UPDATE: 8:00 p.m.

Well, the day is coming to an end. Our evacuees laft after the wind died down (about noon) and headed back to Sarasota. Although we were on the wrong side of the storm, we really dodged a bullet. The original predictions for this storm were pretty bad. As it turns out, we didn’t even lose power. I can’t say the same for a lot of people in NE Florida, though. There are a lot of folks without power and there was a lot of flooding along the river.

Hurricane Irma Cone

Overall, we had very minor damage. A couple of leaks, my pool pump isn’t working (think it might be the capacitor), and the wind pushed over my Big Green Egg…

Big Green Egg

Feeling very fortunate.

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So, it’s the first total solar eclipse to be visible from the continental U.S. since 1979 and the first to cross the U.S. from coast to coast in 99 years. The next one that will be visible from the continental U.S. won’t be until April 8, 2024…

The total eclipse was viewable in the U.S. along a path from Oregon to Charleston, S.C. In North Florida, this is what we got…

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Well this morning, we started the second leg of our vacation, traveling down A1 to Key West…and in Florida, this is where the road ends.

Where the road ends

of course, it’s also where the road begins…

Where the road begins

We’re staying at Hilton’s Grand Tree Resort; it’s in a good location and pretty close to everything!

Grand Tree Resort

It was a pretty night in town and we couldn’t come to the Conch Republic without visiting Jimmy Buffet’s original “Margaritaville”…

Margaritaville

and after we enjoyed our Cheeseburgers in Paradise (and Margarita’s for mom and I)…

Cheeseburger in Paradise

we ventured down the street for a bit of sightseeing. This is where we encountered the nice man with a parrot…

Parrot Parrot

Parrot Parrot

Parrot Parrot

And how can one visit the southernmost tip of the United States without getting a picture in front of the marker?

Southernmost Tip of Florida

Tomorrow we’re looking forward to some more fun in the sun!

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Today we begin our 10-day summer vacation. We arrived this afternoon at our resort in Palm Beach Shores. After unpacking and grabbing a quick bite to eat at the Cabana, we strolled out to the beach. I arranged for some chairs and umbrellas that should be up and ready for us to spend the next few days soaking-up some sun!

Palm Beach Shores Resort

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Yesterday was the boys’ last day of school and Sumer Vacation has officially started. I had some work to do in SW Florida, so Cindy and the boys were able to join me. As usual, while I worked, they soaked-up some sun. And since we were only a few miles from Lido Key, well…

At the beach

The boys had a great time in the water…and Alex even got in a little body surfing!

At the beach At the beach

This is Florida Living!!

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Today, the Tiger Scouts in Den 1 are meeting at the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium for an Astronaut adventure! This is Adam and Alex first visit to a Planetarium and they’re pretty excited…

Astronaut

after the show, the Tigers worked together on various science experiments…

Science Experiments

and even stood in a hurricane machine that generated 79-mph winds…

Hurricane

A fun day. We’ll be back again for more planetarium shows!

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Well, the boys’ Spring Break is in full swing. This year, we decided to do a “staycation”, which means, essentially, a vacation in our own backyard. We’ve spent so much time traveling recently, it’s nice to just relax and take it easy.

Today, the boys and I took a quick trip to the Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, just outside of Starke.

Camp Blanding

Camp Blanding is the primary military reservation and training base for the Florida National Guard, and covers about 73,000 acres. It’s named after Lt Gen Albert H Blanding, who is among the most distinguished military figures in Florida’s history. He commanded the 31st Infantry Division and was appointed by FDR to serve as the Chief of the National Guard Bureau. During WWII, he was the military adviser to the Florida Governor.

Not that the boys were too interested in any of that. They wanted to see the heavy equipment on static display, like…

The C-47, which the 101st jumped out of in “Band of Brothers”…

C-47

C-47

A Sherman Tank…

Sherman Tank

and a Howitzer…

Howitzer

An amphibious vehicle, the DUKW, otherwise known as the “duck”…

DUKW

A field ambulance…

ield Ambulance

and a “Huey” Medivac Helicopter…

Huey

These static displays are part of the Camp Blanding Museum and Memorial Park. Located in one of Camp Blanding’s restored World War II buildings, the museum catalogs the history of both Camp Blanding and the Florida National Guard. The boys thought it was interesting, especially the Army uniforms and the weapons on display. Of course, I would’ve liked to have spent a little more time reading the history behind some of the displays, but the boys (being 8-years-old) were more into the “stuff” than the “substance”.

We’ll need to come back when they’re a little older. There’s a lot of military (and Florida) history on these grounds and within these walls…

Flag

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This year we decided to forego the traditional Thanksgiving holiday at home and instead, over the river and through the woods, to Orlando we will go! So, piling in the family truckster, our Disney World Thanksgiving Extravaganza begins! Yesterday afternoon, we arrived at Hilton’s Tuscany Village Resort, one of our favorite hotels…an oasis in the middle of the city.

Tuscany

and today, “HAPPY THANKSGIVING”, we were up early and off to the Magic Kingdom…

To Orlando!

posing for selfies on the tram…

Mom and Alex Mom and Alex

and, of course stopping for even more pictures before Mom would let us enter Main Street USA! Fearlessly, Adam inquired, “Why do we have to take so many pictures?” That’s a rhetorical question, right? Cause I ain’t touching it with a 10-foot pole! 😛

Magic Kingdom Entrance

Anyway, once we crossed the threshold we headed to Tomorrowland so the boys could race the Grand Prix. This is a “must ride” every time we visit…and Adam, like Ricky Bobby, knows if you’re not first, you’re last!

The park was pretty crowded today, but we got around pretty well by timing our Fast Passes to take advantage of shows, like the “Hall of Presidents”, and fast moving lines, like Alex’s favorite ride, “The People Mover.”

We did endure one long line for “Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin”…not exactly sure why, but it did give Adam and I a chance to ride it, as we normally split the Fast Passes for this ride, which Alex likes, and “Space Mountain”, which Adam likes…

Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin

By late afternoon, we had been moving non-stop and it was time to take a break for Thanksgiving Dinner. So, we headed back to Tuscany Village for a GREAT Thanksgiving spread! The food was great and there was A LOT of it! After dinner, we went back to the room and rested-up for our return to the Magic Kingdom to see the lights and fireworks!

Naturally, and to Adam’s chagrin, we had to take more pictures…

Magic Kingdom Christmas Tree

but it was worth it!

Christmas Castle Christmas Castle

and once more before we leave!

Magic Kingdom Christmas Tree

Tomorrow, we’re off to my favorite park: Disney Hollywood Studios!

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Florida is known for it’s sunshine and beaches, but’s it’s also known for bugs and lizards. The nice thing about lizards is they eat the bugs, so we let them move freely in-and-out of the house. When I was a kid, we’d catch-and-release these little guys all the time. Now, so is Adam…

Gecko Gecko

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but the POOL IS STILL OPEN!

Pool is Still Open

I Love FL

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