Winter 2011


4/1/11 -- April Update

We spent a day at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers.  The estates encompass 20 acres of historical buildings, gardens, a research lab and museum.  We enjoyed the self-guided audio tour, strolling at our leisure.  The first thing we saw was beautiful orchids on trees along “Orchid Lane.”  They looked just like you would find in a corsage.  The property was definitely designed by an engineer’s mind, pretty much straight lines with 90 degree angles, even the tree plantings!   The Edison estate contains original furnishings; the Ford estate reproductions.  Both are quite exquisite, sitting along the Caloosahatchee River.  It is definitely a must-see in Fort Myers.  Afterwards, we had lunch at The Veranda in the heart of historic downtown Fort Myers.  We ate in the enclosed veranda looking out on a lovely courtyard dining area.  On the way home we stopped at The Shell Factory, probably not something we would do again.  It is a glorified flea market!

We attended the Arcadia All Florida Rodeo, billed as a top rodeo in the Southeast.  We enjoyed ‘Mutton Bustin’, 4-6 year olds trying to ride sheep; bare-back riding; saddle bronco riding; steer wrestling; team roping; tie down roping; women’s adult & junior barrel racing and bull riding.  We also show an excellent Quadrille show, described as “square dancing with horses.”  It was very well executed. 

We were able to spend a few days with son Eric, and daughter-in-law Kat prior to Eric’s deployment to Iraq.  We enjoyed spending an afternoon at the Indianapolis Museum of Art while in Indiana. 

We spent March 25-27 in St. Petersburg, enjoying the Honda Grand Prix, our first street car Indy car race.  We had paddock passes, so we were able to wander through the garage areas, and get great pictures of various drivers.  We talked with Bob’s friend Joe with Panther Racing, whose big sponsor is National Guard, an organization close to our hearts.  We also met and talked with Christopher, the team trainer; it was interesting to learn about his role with the team.  He is also involved with the Green Castle, IN National Guard.  Kathy is definitely now a Panther Racing/National Guard fan.  Driver JR Hildebrand did very well, moving from 25th starting position to finishing 10th.  Our seats for the race were in the first turn, where we saw a lot of action as well as being able to see the start/finish line.  It was a great race and an excellent start to our IRL summer!

We will be leaving our winter home at Oak Haven Mobile Home & RV Park and will begin our journey north.  We plan to visit state capitols in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, as well as the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama in Birmingham.  We will spend a couple of weeks visiting son Mike & family before returning to Indiana early May.

3/7/11 -- March Update

We recently visited Solomon’s Castle, a very unique and interesting sight in nearby Ona, FL.  As the brochure indicates, it “is one man’s dream of paradise.”  We toured the home and galleries of Howard Solomon, an internationally renowned artist who built the castle, stained glass windows and countless metal sculptures from recycled materials.  Our tour was led by the queen of the castle, Mrs. Solomon, and each sculpture had a unique name and story.  We had lunch at the Boat in a Moat restaurant on the property, where we enjoying dining dockside under the spectacular live oaks. 

 Stained Glass Windows in the Castle. Howard Soloman inside the Castle. Sculpture inside the castle. Kathy in front of Soloman's Castle

Mrs Soloman -- The queen of the castle. Chess Set Train Bob inside the castle Merry Go Round

Plane Wall in the living quarters. Boat in the Moat -- where we had lunch. Howard Soloman Last view of the castle

We spent an afternoon at Hermann’s Original Royal Lipizzan Stallions of Austria farm near Myakka City, FL.  Founded in the 16th century for the exclusive use of the Hapsburg Royal family of Austria, the Royal Lipizzans are unquestionably the rarest, most aristocratic breed of horses in the world. The pride of the Hapsburg Empire, the Lipizzan breed was first established by Archduke Charles at Lipizza (now part of Yugoslavia).  Only a few hundred have ever existed at any one time.  Gen George Patton rescued 500 of the stallians from certain death at the hands of the Nazis during WWII. Assisting Patton in the clandestine mission to rescue the regal Lipizzans, Colonel Herrmann and his father, Colonel Ottomar Herrmann, Sr., smuggled the horses out from far behind enemy lines, riding at night and hiding by day. "We moved out into the night with nothing," recalled Herrmann, "only a handful of horses".  We enjoyed watching a 90-minute training session that was absolutely fabulous.  It was interesting to see how the staff works with the stallions and the various levels of training among the stallions.  We also walked the stables to see the various stallions and enjoyed the grounds. 

Lipizzan Horse barn Friendly horses....except for this Othello Bob with Yuri

Costumes Stallians in the pasture Getting ready for the training session Gabriella Hermann

Bow for the crowd! Trained to defend themselves and their riders! Once more with feeling 3 in a line All the boys lined up!

We continue to enjoy the beautiful Florida weather, the nice park pool and the activities at Oak Haven.  We are beginning to make our summer travel plans, and hope to attend multiple Indy car races as well as see more of our beautiful United States of America. 

2/10/11 -- February Update

We recently enjoyed the Fort Myers RV show where we browsed lots of units but still didn’t find anything we like better than what we have.  We bought a new personalized welcome sign and ran into fellow NOMADS Gary & Joan; what a pleasant surprise!

We attended the Warbirds Air Show in Punta Gorda, where we enjoyed looking at vintage aircraft and talking to owners. We were able to talk to Stan Berry who rebuilt a WWII vintage Stearman (see first picture). I have included a few of the pictures we took.

 Kathy with a Russian Trainer Ike's executive plane used to take him to Gettysburg. B25 Bob sitting in a WWII trainerWWII vintage Stearman he rebuilt

We just returned from a 5-day Western Caribbean cruise with friends from Highland Wheel Estates.  We really enjoyed both the cruise and connected with old friends. 

Waiting to leave - Marilyn, Bob, Phyllis, & Kathy Kathy on the rail of the Cruise Ship Sea from the Ship

We spent a day in Roatan Island, Honduras where we enjoyed a dolphin encounter in the beautiful Caribbean receiving kisses and hugs from Bailey, a 5-year old dolphin.  We also enjoyed an authentic island lunch of red beans & rice, boiled bananas and oxtail.  You can see Baily perform here.

Roitan, Honduras Bob enjoying the sun on the Cruise Ship View of the pilot boat as we prepare to dock.

Dock at Roitan Welcoming group in Roitan Bob with a couple of the dancers! View of Roatan from tour bus

Bay where we had the Dolphin Encounter Dolphin Encounter with Baily (Dolphin) and Lauren (Trainer) Lauren and Baily showing us a few tricks! Baily taking Laurens hat off Kathy, Baily & Bob with a big Dolphin hug!

Baily giving Kathy a big Dolphin Kiss!!! Bob getting a Dolphin kiss! Almond Tree in Roatan. Colorful plant life in Honduras.

More colorful fruit in the trees of Honduras! View of the sea from the restaurant. View of our restaurant in Roatan. Roatan City Hall in Roatan.

We spent a day at the magnificent Mayan ruins of the walled city of Tulum, Mexico, rising high above the crystal blue Caribbean Sea.  These ruins are the only remaining Mayan ruins  in Mexico and our guide, Julio, was very informative as he explained the history and life in the Yucatan and the mysterious Mayan culture.  The city sits 40 feet above the Caribbean and the views are spectacular!  We enjoyed an authentic Mexican Buffet right on the water; the buffet was delicious and the view indescribable.  It was a wonderful day.  We both enjoyed all the delicious food onboard the ship, Celebrity Century as well as the shows and just relaxing.  When we returned to Highland Wheel Estates, we visited with some friends who didn’t take the cruise before returning to Oak Haven Park. Here is a youtube video of the ruins.

Cute little fella in Cozumel Mexico! Playa Del Carmen (Beach of Carmen) Mexico Julio Bus 12...great trip! Julio Dairy Queen!

Our first look at the Mayan Ruins in Tulum, Mexico Mayan Ruins Information about the Mayan Gods. View of the main Temple View of the Caribbean from the Myan city.

Bob & Julio

Note the red hands still visible on the wall! Bob & Kathy at Tulum Private Beach where we ate lunch. Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Bob on the beach.  Restaurant where we ate a very good Mexican Buffet. Womens Restroom Water Taxi to take us back to Cozamel

Cozumel Mexico -- Celebrity Century Cozumel as we're leaving. Bus heading home.

The southwest Florida weather has improved so we’ve enjoyed getting out to walk, bike and enjoying the pool.


12//6/10 -- We are currently staying at the Oak Haven Mobile Home and RV Park just south of Arcadia, FL.. We spent the fall in Greenfield, IN at the S&H campground. We spend most of November working with NOMADS at the Vashti Center in Thomasville, GA. It was our first project with NOMADS and we thank Gary, Joan and David for all the help and all the hard work. Vashti is an institution for severly troubled children. They have a cottage for the girls and one for the boys. The cottages are lock down facilities. Because many of the children are violent at times, we spent most of our time there fixing up things that had been broken. We worked there for 3 weeks. We were able to work in some sightseeing. Thomasville is a very old, rather rich town surrounded by Plantations. One of the things we did was to visit the Pebble Hill Plantation which is open to the public.

January 2011 Update

Before Christmas, we spent an afternoon at Fisherman’s Village in Punta Gorda, FL, a waterfront mall on the Charlotte Harbor.  It’s filled with interesting & unique shops as well as places to eat right on the water.  The Military Heritage Museum was especially interesting.

Fishermens Villiage Carver of animals out of stone

We spent an afternoon at Ft. Myers Beach, where we enjoyed walking on the beach, people watching, wandering the shops and dinner on the water at the Beach Pierside Grill.  While eating dessert at our table on the deck, we saw a dolphin frolicking in the gulf; what an added treat!

Bob @ Ft Meyers Beach Poinsetta Tree Birds at the beach

Horse Shoe Crab Kayak in the surf Sand Sculpture Sand Sculpture with artist

Sand sculpture Sand Sculpture

Paddling on their surf boards Sign at the beach Dolphin playing in the surf

We had a wonderful Christmas visit with family and got our annual snow fix! It was nice to visit friends and family for the holidays! It was cold and snowy but we managed without any problems.

Eric & Mike Granddog Zoey and the IU Gnome

McCorkle family Christmas Picture Vaughn family Christmas picture Abby, Shelby, Grace & Patrick

Abby, Shelby, Patrick with Grace in front

We spent an afternoon at Siesta Key a beautiful barrier island west of Sarasota, where the sand is boasted as the “World’s Finest Whitest Sand”.  We had a picnic lunch while fighting off the gulls who were apparently also hungry, then walked the beach where we talked to Sean, a parasailer and met a nice couple from Pierre, SD who were vacationing in Sarasota. 

Beach at Siesta Key Sea Gull Kathy with kites in the background Sean with his parasail

Sean getting his parasail in the air. Rescue surf board by the lifeguard station

Last week we spent an afternoon at Alligator Creek Preserve where we saw our first “up close and personal” armadillos who were totally oblivious to us.  We enjoyed walking a nature trail through various vegetation and seeing an alligator sunbathing on the far side of a pond.  We then spent some time at Port Charlotte Beach Park on Alligator Bay.  We enjoyed walking the beach, watching the water activity and watching people playing bocce ball.  It was fun to watch, but we certainly didn’t understand much!  We ended the day with dinner at Harpoon Harry’s on Charlotte Harbor where we enjoyed a delicious meal & a beautiful sunset.

 Trail at Alligator Creek Preserve Alligator Creek Preserve Alligator Creek Preserve Alligator Creek Preserve

Armadilloa at Alligator Creek Preserve Alligator sunning across the pond