Sunday, January 28, 2018

Bucket Lists and Future Planning: Dream Big

As we travel around the country, we have stayed in some beautiful campgrounds. But, as you can imagine, it takes a little advance planning ... you don't just park a 40 foot RV anywhere you please.

We were happy to have some time to devote to "future RVentures planning" this past week at Lake Louisa State Park. The park is located close enough to Orlando to hear "booms" from the nightly fireworks shows, yet far enough away to enjoy the beauty of "Old Florida".

While we were thinking about possible destinations, researching campgrounds, and planning fun "side trips", we were also able to soak up the beauty of our surroundings. Located twenty miles west of Disney World, we were far enough away to enjoy quiet hiking and bike trails while still being within striking range of all the reasons people visit Orlando. 

Since we saturated ourselves with Disney two years ago, we were happy to just be able to go there one evening to meet a friend who was in town for a conference. We enjoyed a visit and dinner at Big River Grill and Brewery at Disney's Boardwalk Inn. There Doug scored with his first beer coaster from Walt Disney World ... probably one of the cheaper Disney souvenirs one can get!

Being so close to all of Orlando's attractions, we were feeling a slight magical pull to check out Harry Potter World at Universal Studios. But after realizing that it would cost us almost $250 each for one day's admission and the "Express" pass, we withstood the pressure from his magical wand and enjoyed the ordinary beauty of our "muggle" world.

We drove eight miles up the road into Clermont and picked up the South Lake bike trail on the shores of beautiful Lake Minneola. The trail joins up with the West Orange bike trail, and twelve miles later we discovered the fun town of Winter Garden. Live music, great pizza and craft beer on the patio of the Crooked Can Brewing Company made this a trip that I could easily talk Doug into doing more than once.

Another afternoon we explored the other "wild" side of Florida on the James Van Fleet bike trail.

The flat trail seemed pretty mellow ... until that "log" on the side of the trail turned out to be a rather large alligator.

Fun to see a few more of those smiling gator faces from a safer distance further down the trail.

When we weren't biking or hiking, we spent quite a bit of time planning for the future ... looking at our bucket list, creating some long term RV plans, and making changes to some of the current plans. 

Working on a few RV maintenance projects got us thinking about our next "home". We have both decided that we want to downsize further in the future ... but how small? A campervan would be more nimble and allow us to get into more primo campsites. But could we survive life together in a 20 foot long campervan? We decided to visit the Tampa RV Show one day to check out our options. 

 What do you think? 

I think that the Wildebeest just perfect for the time being ...

... especially with my talented "fix-it" man! Thanks to him, I have a refrigerator that is working again.

Other future planning had to do with some "Bucket List" items.

Learn Spanish: As we quickly realized during our trip to Colombia, we are far from fluent in Spanish. Immersion in the culture and language is key ... and Medellin is a beautiful city to immerse ourselves in. Doug researched and booked the apartment where we will live and learn for four months next winter.  

Sail the Caribbean: This past week we received an invite to join some friends for a sailing vacation at the end of March around the British Virgin Islands. That is a BIG bucket list item for Doug ... that will be fairly easy to accomplish with a little juggling of campsite reservations. I better start studying some sailing terms ... bow, stern, port, starboard ... oh, my!

See Kennedy Space Center from an adult prospective:

Being close to the Space Coast, we decided that maybe we could finally do our "bucket list" visit to the Kennedy Space Center.  We had tried to see it in 1992 with a then 5 year old in tow, but didn't get much past the entrance sign.

Now is our time to explore space!

We were happy to see that we qualified for the "senior" rate and got in for an admission price of $48 each that included a bus tour, a Shuttle flight simulation, the IMAX movie "A Beautiful Planet", rocket displays, and much more. 

The Vehicle Assembly Building is the tallest
one story building in the world.
The American flag on the side is 22 stories long!
A different kind of beauty attracts Doug's
attention in the "Rocket Garden".
The astronauts ride in style
to the launchpads ... how about that for a future home?
Spectacular from any view!
Do you "old folks" remember where you were
when you saw Neil Armstrong walk on the moon
on Sunday, July 20, 1969?
And on a more somber note, we also
remember where we were when we saw
the Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986.
But despite some setbacks,
space knowledge continues to grow today
with the success of the International Space Station

As we were leaving at around 4:30, large groups of school age children with suitcases and sleeping bags were coming into the Kennedy Space Center to begin an overnight visit. Their excitement and enthusiasm helped us realize that they are working on their "bucket list" items .... and one item could very well be:
To be the first to travel to Mars!

All great adventures just take a little planning to fulfill those BIG dreams!

Until next time ... dream BIG ... turn those bucket list items into reality ... and enjoy the adventures in your life!

We are off to Sebring, Florida for the next month to work on another bucket list item ... help build a house and hope for those affected by Hurricane Irma.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Colorful Colombia

We are thinking today about our friends in the "great white north" who are dealing with even more of that "great white snow". 

Hang in there. Stay safe. Get ready for skiing, sledding and walking the dog ... as soon as you can get out of your driveway!

We are currently at Lake Louisa State Park about 20 miles west of Orlando. And although it isn't white that we see, the drought conditions and just being "winter in Florida" has definitely decreased the colors around us.

We all need some color in our lives.

So until your daisies start blooming again, we would like to share some of the colors of Colombia's "eternal spring" that we experienced during our recent visit there.

Colors of wild orchids

Colors of the fresh fruit in the 
village "supermercado"

Colors of roadside art

Colors of the other type of "snowbird"

Colors of
hand-painted ceramics

Colors of clay houses and the
beautiful gardens that surround them

Colors of minas de sal tunnels
leading to the ...

... Colors of the magnificent underground
Catedral de Sal de Zipaquira

Colors of "Pozos Azules",
the blue wells near Villa de Leyva

Colors of the succulents that adorn
Piedad and Luis' garden patio

Colors of the greenery
that surrounds a country cottage

Colors of orchids
cascading along a garden path

Colors of an open air church
welcoming all ... even a stray dog

who appears "dog-tired"

Colors of a Colombian

cafe and mangostino fruit

Colors of flowers
framing the mountain lake

Colors of ...
oh, I wish I could remember
the name of this flower

Colors of a huge apple-shaped
shrub that blooms year round

Colors of a friendly critter who
greets us as we get off the elevator 

Colors of beautiful but invasive weeds
that overtake the roadside fields

Colors of "oh so many
wonderful crafts to buy"

Colors of "tomate de arbol" that is,
tree tomatoes growing right out the door

in the ... 

... Colors of a well-loved garden


everywhere you look ...

reaching to the skies ...

and bringing the promise of another day!

Until next time ... savor the colors around you ... and enjoy the adventures in your life!

One more "Christmas" picture to
fit in with the snow!