Been gone, but not forgotten…I hope!

It’s a glorious morning to be perched at my desk, after a great Friday workout in my Jump Start Your Heart exercise class earlier this morning, and I’m actually inspired to get some writing done today! No appointments or other need-to-do items lurk over my shoulder as I begin here. There is so much to get caught up with, so I probably should just begin.IMG_8126

Not only do I want—need—to get some cogent words shaped into a long overdue blog post, but getting back to editing and rewriting that musty manuscript of that novel I’ve been “resting” for such a long time, beckons! That’s up next after I finish this post.

Such a long time since my last post, and a lot has transpired in my life. The highlight of my time away from posting would have to be our winter journey. On the morning of January 26, with the temperature reading -4 degrees here in Aurora, Illinois, Carolyn and I set off on a month-long vacation to Florida (Naples, Sarasota & Ormond Beach) and it was a terrific time from beginning to end.

Everyone’s first question, How was the weather? is an easy one to answer: Perfect! Getting away from Illinois in February is a good thing, we discovered, and we definitely will be planning to do the same next year.

Our first night out, we stayed with good friends at their beautiful home on Kentucky Lake. We’d left any trace of snow and really cold weather behind, and for the next several weeks, we would live in shorts and t-shirts and no socks. Life is good!

And all during our delightful drive down, we enjoyed everything (gas prices an exception!) as mile after mile clicked off. Even Atlanta didn’t cause too many slowdowns as it so often has, but we must have timed our trip through there just right this time.

Our second night, we stopped in Gainesville, Florida, and continued on to our daughter’s the next day in Cape Coral for an overnight. Up and out early the next morning, we traveled down to Naples to check in to the time share condo, where we’d spend the next week with our friends, Barb and Bill, who we’d be picking up at the Miami Airport that night. They were flying in from St. Maarten. Never having spent any significant time in and around Naples, other than traveling Route 41, The Tamiami Trail, the experience was all brand new—and quite delightful as it turned out.

Anyway, the hour-and-a-half drive over to Miami and the airport was a new experience which  I managed to IMG_7107survive, but I am very thankful for the Maps App and the friendly Siri voice who guided me there and back without mishap. At any rate, Barb and Bill’s flight was right on time, and our wait in the Cell Phone lot was not bad at all. By the time we got back to  our condo at Charter Club Resort of Naples Bay, we were all ready to finish unloading our stuff and to get some much-needed sleep.

IMG_7953As they always do, our week flew right on by, but during that time we managed to enjoy the fabulous Naples Pier and and a trip over to the nearby Everglades National Park for a wonderful pontoon cruise to see wildlife and the friendly dolphins riding our wake for a good deal of the time.

To my liking, I made plenty of time for sitting and reading on the screened-in lanai and some sunshine on the pool deck each day, and even managed to get some longer-than-normal walks in. Without a doubt, we enjoyed some wonderful seafood (grouper!) during our Naples time. It’s a “no brainer” that we look forward to exploring more of Naples on our next visit!


After our week’s stay there, it was time for Barb and Bill to fly home to Illinois from the much-closer Southwest Florida Airport, and I didn’t mind driving them, despite the very early hour they needed to be there.

Quick goodbyes ensued as I deposited them there in the early hours, and I returned to the condo so Carolyn and I could finish packing the car and checking out to head off for the next “leg” of our vacation: Sarasota, an old and friendly and familiar place for us. We had great expectations for a couple of weeks there, and, as it turned out, we weren’t disappointed!

I’ll tell you all about it in my next post. I promise it won’t be two months from now!

Back home and the song of the open road…

I’m writing this and looking out into a foggy world, punctuated by a heavy drizzle that seems to be trying to do its best to get rid of the existing snow that is leftover from the last two weeks’ storms. And it’s a bit depressing at the moment since we spent the last three weeks in warm and sunny climes such as Florida, New Orleans, and Memphis.

I know it’s only late February, and this weather is typical for northern Illinois this time of the year, but I was beginning to get awfully comfy and content with those temperatures that hovered in the 80s down there in Dixie!

Siesta Key Beach
(24 hours later…)

Up early today to take our Malibu in to have the right-rear tire checked to see why it has been losing air. Since the tires aren’t that old, there probably is some slow leak or nail causing the problem.

Driving through thick fog for the second straight day made for a slow trip to Firestone, about 20 miles away from home. As it turned out, the good Firestone folks couldn’t find anything significantly wrong with the tire, so they cleaned and sealed (whatever that entails!) and aired everything up and told me to “keep an eye on it.”

OK. Not a problem. So I’m hoping that this is the extent of any further issues regarding the Malibu’s right rear tire. We shall see.

Now, at this writing, it’s 55 degrees, and the fog has  finally cleared. I can actually see way out past the water tower and on across the sodden and barren fields which lie there rather ugly with all of the snow gone.

About an hour ago, I strolled out back and filled the bird feeders. Afterwards, I had even thought about grabbing a chair and sitting out on the driveway for a while. Just then, the wind kicked up and a steady blast of rain started to beat down, squelching any further thoughts of having a “sit” outside in the mild temperatures. Perhaps tomorrow.

Things are slowly returning to normal after three weeks away from the norm. We’ve spent the past couple of days sorting through mail and taking care of those domestic chores that we were free from thinking about over the past few weeks. Even with accomplishing much these past two days, there’s still plenty to do in the days ahead.

And soon I’ll be doing my civic duty once more, serving as an election judge for the upcoming election in March. I’ll also be working a few days at the early-voting polling place beginning next week. That part of the experience will be something new, so another adventure lies ahead.

Our travels are finished for the time being, but I will be making a trip out to Ohio sometime in March to visit my mother. By that time, I’ll be ready to once more listen to the song of the open road!

Sunset at Punta Gorda Pier-Harpoon Harry’s

Way down yonder…

images-1.jpegNow that January has wound its way down to being nearly finished, we will be eagerly counting the days before we pack up the Equinox and make haste to the south once again on February 19. Our ultimate destination will be Fort Myers to spend some time with our daughter. Before that, though, we’ll spend a week in New Orleans the week before Mardi Gras and then motor on over to Florida and see some friends in various spots as we work our way farther south.

Having never been to New Orleans—not even for spring break all those years ago in college—I’m looking forward to the five days we’ll be spending there. We’re actually going to be part of a bus trip leaving out of Northern Illinois University right next door to us, but we’re not traveling down or back on the bus. Instead, we’ll drive ourselves and hook up with the tour group the first night out at dinner and overnight near Memphis, Tennessee.

We’ll continue on the next morning and meet up with the bus once again for dinner that evening near New Orleans and check into our hotel for the week. We’ll leave our car at the hotel the rest of the time and do all the touring, etc., with the group on the bus. Friday morning, when the bus folks board for the return trip back to Illinois, we’ll point our car toward Florida.

We had a pre-trip meeting last week, and it sounds like a terrific time awaits us. I’m especially looking forward to some wonderful Creole cuisine and authentic Louisiana hospitality. All of the pageantry and pre-Mardi Gras activity will be a pretty good indoctrination for us. Each day there is plenty of “free” time in the French Quarter, and there are also several tours and side events planned. I will have the MacBook Pro along and look forward to chronicling each day’s events on this blog.

As of this writing, we don’t have a “set” itinerary once we leave New Orleans. We know that we want to stop to see one of Carolyn’s cousins in the Clearwater Beach area and some good friends in The Villages. From there, we may be hopscotching here and there en route to Fort Myers.

Plus, Major League Baseball spring training will be in action during this time, so I have a wide array of teams and venues to choose from hither and yon. It’s been a few years since Iimages-2.jpeg took in some spring games, and I’m very much excited to have that opportunity to do so this year. Sarasota, Bradenton, Fort Myers to name but a few from which to pick. Of course, while in Bradenton, we’ll no doubt stop by Mixon’s Fruit Farm and enjoy the gloriously refreshing orange juice samples and orange swirled ice cream cones!

Writing this, I’m beginning to get the “urge” to pull out the suitcases and start with the packing, although there’s still time for all of that. But with the passing of January, February promises to be full of excitement and a time to get away—for a time—from the winter blahs on another fabulous road trip. I love it when the road ahead is calling and the days of warmth in the sun and orange swirled ice cream cones beckon. Time to start packing!



Way down yonder in New Orleans
In the land of the dreamy scenes
There’s a Garden of Eden
You know what I mean

Read more:  Louis Armstrong – Way Down Yonder In New Orleans Lyrics | MetroLyrics

TV sports, quiet T’giving, and Challenger memories…

Thanksgiving came…and went.


Not the kind we’ve been used to for all those years, but we made it anyway and had a nice day with friends who were nice enough to include us in their day.

The weekend that followed was pleasant and quiet and perfect for getting the outdoor “stuff” done before the cold and snows of winter arrive. Best of all, there was plenty of time to enjoy college and pro football and some Blackhawks hockey. Without a doubt, I managed to take it all in!

By Sunday evening, though, having had enough TV football and hockey for one long weekend, I happened upon a documentary from CNN titled The 80s-The Tech Boom. And though I don’t usually watch CNN, I realized that this program was made up of actual archival news footage and would be presented in an unaltered and honest fashion. So I watched and enjoyed the hour-long show.

It was fun to see again the “cutting edge” gadgets that would become staples in our lives right on up to today. Particularly interesting to me was the section on the birth of the personal computer and the cell phone. It’s hard to imagine that what was “state of the art” not all that long ago, is so cumbersome and awkward looking by today’s standards.

Seeing young and fresh out-of-the-box geniuses such as the two Steves–Wozniak and Jobs–and a seemingly still-wet-behind-the-ears Bill Gates and Paul Allen was quite amazing. Watching all of this from a 2016 perspective adds an extra-special realization as to how far things have advanced in such a short period of time.

Near the end of the documentary, the focus shifted to the technology involved with NASA’s Shuttle Program, where things were full speed ahead for so many years, until the January 1986 launch of the Challenger, another one of those memorable moments in time for my family.

On that frigid morning, I was teaching a high school English class at Astronaut High School in Titusville, Florida. (It’s not named Astronaut by chance, since the Space Center and Cape Canaveral are located nearby.)

Following our dream to live in Florida, the previous summer I accepted a job in Titusville, and Carolyn and I and our two young kids moved there in time to start the new school year.

Photo: ABC News

January 28, 1986,  began as usual, in a pretty normal manner for everyone in those parts. It seems as though most folks had become used to the regularity of the launches and had seemed complacent (?) in a way about the space program, although so many were employees of one of the many companies who worked for NASA in some capacity.

I suppose it’s human nature to take things for granted and not think too much about what could go wrong after such an outstanding long string of successful launches and missions. It’s not that folks didn’t care, it’s just that everyone thought that something terrible would never happen.

But on that cold Tuesday morning in Florida, terrible things certainly did happen!

I was first made aware of the explosion when one of my seniors, Danny, returned from one of his many trips to the restroom (to avoid class time, I’m sure!) with a serious expression and a tone that  instantly told me that he wasn’t joking around.

When he said, “The shuttle blew up,” I really hoped that he was, indeed, pulling everyone’s leg as he tended to do frequently. But he was dead serious, and I could now hear commotion in the hallways, as two girls nearly sprinted past the door in tears and panic in their efforts to get to where they were going.

It was one of those moments when everyone seems completely mired in the muck of trying to figure out exactly what has happened and how we should handle things. Soon, a school-wide announcement informed everyone that there had been an accident with the launch and any further information would be relayed at the appropriate time.

As so many others were doing, I hurried down the hall to the east side of the building where large windows provided  an open view out towards the Space Center and the Atlantic beyond. And it was then that I saw the brilliant blue sky filled with the snow-like contrails from the Challenger’s explosion, scattered and splattered in all sorts of directions. Anyone who has seen the famous photographs of this knows exactly what I mean.images.jpeg

I don’t really remember much else of the rest of the day other than getting home that afternoon and learning that our 3rd grader, Josh, and the rest of his classmates had witnessed the whole thing on the playground, as had Carolyn, daughter Laura, and my mom, who was visiting from Ohio. They had a pretty “up close and personal” vantage point along the river. It was my mom’s first time to view a launch.

That day certainly played a major role and turning point in our lives, one that would bring our time as residents of Florida to an end. But that’s another story for another time. Suffice it to say for now, though, that the reason I’m writing this from northern Illinois is all because of that terrible day in January 1986.

Now that Thanksgiving has faded and the Christmas and New Years holidays lurk, I know that another anniversary of the sad event on January 28, 1986, won’t be far behind. And I’ll remember…

Spring break all those years ago…

Every year about this time…

Iimages-1.jpegt’s officially spring, according to the calendar, even though it’s still not very warm yet. However, local forecasts say that we’re supposed to enjoy temperatures near 60° today, but they could have fooled me. I’ll believe it when I feel it!

Anyway, it’s that time of the year when the mass exodus to parts warm and sunny begins in earnest for folks in the northern climes. It’s called spring break. And though we just returned from our own wonderful sojourn to warm and sunny Florida and Texas, I can’t help but think about all of those other spring breaks to Florida we enjoyed for so many years during my teaching career.

And we definitely had the spring break ritual down pat as we prepared to get on down to Florida, year after year. It was always the same: Carolyn, our two kids, and dog(s), would be waiting in my school’s parking lot at 3:00 on the final Friday before spring break.

As soon as the last bell would sound, I would hurry out of school, hop in behind the wheel of our waiting van, and start out on our twenty-four hour drive—straight through—down to Stuart, and later Sarasota, Florida, where Carolyn’s mom and dad resided.

We were young then and were never daunted by the wear and tear that a straight-through drive like that inflicts on a person! That was always part of the adventure, I thought.

Furthermore, trying to leave Chicagoland at 3:00 on the Friday at the start of spring break was (and still is, I would imagine!) basically insane. It was always a slow crawl as we edged along, reaching the tollway to connect to I-65 and points south.

Of course, it seemed as though everyone else under the sun was doing the same thing. And if there were other factors, such as construction issues or ridiculous drivers, our pace was slowed even more.

Regardless, there was always a  sort of festive atmosphere amongst the passengers in our 2190748.jpgFord Econoline all those years ago, and we knew that every turn of the tires took us that much closer to our sunny southern destination and a week’s worth of fun and sun.

Writing this now from our small town in northern Illinois, I feel a million miles away from those exciting days when spring break rolled around. If nothing else, it was an annual family adventure, laden with laughter, nonsense, and togetherness.

Perhaps thinking such thoughts this morning is another little sign that I’m realizing my status as a senior citizen (how can that be, really?). And, I suppose, there’s that inevitable stream of nostalgia that tends to creep in to my daily life more and more frequently.

Both kids grew up, married, have lives of their own now. We see them—never as often as I’d like—but that’s how it goes in this wonderful pageant that is life. Carolyn’s mom and dad had to give up their Florida place several years ago due to failing health. They’re both gone now, and it never seems quite right being in Florida without their presence. And it can truly be said that they made spring breaks a wonderful thing for us—for so many years!

And maybe that’s why each year about this time, recalling those many spring break adventures, and the long, long drives involved, is so special. If it were possible, I would love to be eagerly anticipating 3:00 this coming Friday in my old school’s parking lot. Alas, I’ll have to settle for the rembrances of another time.

Happy spring break, lucky ones…daytonabeach.png


Our day of fun on the Key West Express…

The Key West Express
Leaving Ft. Myers

Well, our trip to Key West from Fort Myers was excellent! We got there by way of the Key West Express, which left right at 8:30 Saturday morning, just a short drive from our daughter’s apartment.

It was wonderful to be able to leave the car parked for the day and know that it would be conveniently accessible upon our return that evening.


As soon as we arrived, we hopped on the Conch Train for an hour’s tour around the town and then spent the remainder of the afternoon browsing the shops and enjoying lunch at Sloppy Joe’s, the saloon Ernest Hemingway made famous!

Time for lunch

A cold Budweiser and crab cake sandwich solved the hunger dilemma, and then it was time to buy Key West “stuff”—coffee mugs, hats, and shirts.

Since the return trip to Fort Myers would leave at 6:00, we had to plan our time so that we’d be back by 5:00 for boarding check-in. So we kept a close eye on the clock as we enjoyed the plethora of the rather unique and off-the-wall shops and businesses along Duval Street and other bustling thoroughfares that are the heart and soul of Key West.

Carolyn and Laura on the top deck

As always seems to happen, it was time to leave before we realized it. But we had squeezed in plenty during the afternoon hours and were happy to wend our way back to the boat, by way of Mallory Square, the spot that is famous for viewing sunsets that are always works of art, although we were a bit early for the coming sunset.

Back aboard, we settled in as twilight began to settle over the area. As we pulled away and out into the channel to reach the Gulf of Mexico for the ride back, the sunset out over the water to our right didn’t disappoint.

After displaying its brilliance and beauty, it finally gave up for another day and disappeared completely, leaving us in darkness, and the worn and tired passengers content to be riding back to where the fine day had all started.

Up on top is the place to be!



Florida fun keeps on comin’…


One Good Thing…

It’s time for the weekly  post of a feature I’ve chosen to title “One Good Thing.” Each weekend, I’ll post something about what has been good to—or for—me during the week.

It’s very easy to share what has been so very good during this past week as our Florida trip just keeps getting better.

Since my last post earlier this week, we have continued to log the miles—wonderful miles—and catch up with vey dear friends in Titusville and Naples, following our departure from Saint Augustine.

Just what the “doctor” ordered!

After leaving Saint Augustine Tuesday morning, we travelled A1A, following the coast and stopping for

From Joe’s Crab Shack-Daytona Beach Pier

lunch on the Daytona Beach Pier.

We were treated to splendid weather and tasty seafood and cold drinks, while we watched the beach walkers and others having fun in the sun and surf.

Upon reaching Titusville later that afternoon, and after the usual “updating” of our lives with Richard and Sandy, they drove us around the town, showing us how much had changed and how much hadn’t since our last visit. We lived there for a year in 1986-87.

We finished things off a while later with a visit to the new Playalinda MicroBrewery. The cold Bottomless Blonde Pale Ale certainly hit the spot, as we sat outside in the late-afternoon warmth and watched the traffic roll past.

Moving right along...

Wednesday we set off for another long jaunt southwest to Naples. Our original route on I-95 had to be altered not too far along as heavy traffic congestion–due to road work– brought us all to a standstill.

Refusing to accept that, at the first opportunity, we left the big highway and made our way through the interior of Florida, passing ranches, cattle farms, and various fishing and outdoor spots. Of course, it slowed our arrival in Naples a bit, but really not all that much.

Since this was an entirely new place for us, it was all foreign territory, but our friends, Bob and Martha, had provided excellent directions to their new condo off a wonderfully named street–Rattlesnake Hammock–so we made it without any problems. (I immediately became curious as to the history of that name!)

Something out of a work of art

Quickly settling in after having another grand tour of the place, we made our way to the beautiful Naples waterfront for dinner. We weren’t disappointed in the seafood and the harbor side seating.

Needless to say, it was wonderful to stroll out on the Naples City Dock, under a warm night sky, and dream about all of the large and glorious boats moored there.

Off to see the 'glades...

Thursday morning we decided to drive over to the Everglades National Park and hop on board one of the large boats for a 90-minute cruise out to the Gulf.

The Everglades National Park
On board to see the dolphins and other wonderful creatures

Dolphins appeared frequently in the distance and even followed playfully in the wake of the boat’s twin Yamaha motors.

There were also countless ospreys in their nests, cormorants, terns, and pelicans thriving in this marvelous tract of nature.

Fort Myers and Sanibel...

And then it was time to make the short trip up to our daughter’s in Fort Myers where we spent the night. She had to work Friday, so Carolyn and I adventured once more and paid a visit to Sanibel

Carolyn on the boardwalk with her friend’s condo in background

where one of her clients from her salon spends a good portion of the winter.

A couple of hours there and we were then off to the mainland once again to locate a place for lunch, which turned out to be the delightful Parrot Key Restaurant directly on a marina where charter fishing boats came and went.

On the way there, we passed a sign advertising an express boat to Key West. Oddly, my daughter and I had been talking about this the night before and thought that it would be fun to take the boat sometime. Over lunch, Carolyn and I said that we should look into it and “do it” the next day (Saturday)—if Laura was free to go along.

She was and agreed to join us. And our thinking was that what was a few more dollars spent to make this a wonderful part of our vacation!

And so we made our reservations and returned to Laura’s apartment to get things ready for our next-day excursion. We had to be there by 7 a.m., and would arrive in Key West three hours later. We would be back in Fort Myers by 10 p.m.

In my next post, I’ll have plenty to share about that part of our trip.

IMG_1479 2.JPG
The Gulf of Mexico beckons!
And that’s one good thing…

On the road…(pt.1)

On the beach

Last week I wrote about our plans for driving to Florida and then on to Dallas. And I’m happy to report that it has been a wonderful start to all of that.

Leaving last Friday morning, we had a terrific drive to Nashville, stopping by Metropolis, Illinois, enroute, for a quick view of the famed statue of Superman.

Metropolis’s claim to fame

Despite very heavy traffic–thanks to Friday rush hour and various road construction–we arrived safe and sound to our hotel right next to the Nashville Airport and were quite pleased with our accommodations.

Nothing like a good cup of hot coffee to soothe the rankled nerves after an eight-hour drive!

Carolyn ready to tour the Carnton House.

Saturday we were up and out early to drive down to Carnton Plantation in nearby Franklin, Tennessee. For anyone who has read Widow of the South, that’s where it all took place.

It was quite impressive, to say the least, and the weather couldn’t have been any better!

That evening, we took in the Grand Ole Opry, something we had enjoyed doing three or four times many years ago. Not only was it relaxing and lots of fun, but it reinforced my belief in the importance of traditions.

Ready for the Opry!

And whether or not one is a country music fan (I am), there is no doubt that what the Grand Ole Opry represents is a mighty strong tradition that should be around forever.

On the road once more Sunday morning, we pointed the Chevy Equinox southeast and set off for Saint Augustine, Florida.

As usually happens, though, we were slowed up in the traffic congestion of Atlanta. Patience and a calm attitude were in order, and we finally made it out of that mess without being delayed too much.

IMG_1441.jpgSaint Augustine, Florida, offered us better weather than we could have dreamed of. We spent most of the day riding along on the Red Train Tour, one of those hop on-hop off deals.

Not only did we re-learn the historic significance of the oldest city, but we met some very nice people along the way.

Leisurely strolling through the many streets that are chock full of shops of just about every genre, we found the time passed pleasantly and it was a most delightful day.

A canopy of live oaks and Spanish moss near the Fountain of Youth


Vilano Beach

After we’d had enough of it all by 4:30, we were ready to get in our car and leave the historic Old Town behind and drive over the big bridge out to Vilano Beach and get up close and personal with the Atlantic.

Then, it was a short drive north on A1A for a delicious seafood dinner at an oceanside restaurant called the Reef.

Without a doubt, it offered great food, wonderful ambiance, and a fantastic ocean view well worth the visit.

We wrapped up our first day in Florida with a quick drive over the Bridge of Lions and out to the famous lighthouse.

We were just in time as twilight held off long enough for us to snap a picture of the old structure that’s been standing there since 1857.

By that time, we were ready to call it a day and head back to our hotel and relax and think about the next leg of the trip: a short drive down to Titusville to spend the next night with friends where we used to live.

To be continued…







Road trip…half the fun is getting there!

This time of year has always been special for me. The hardest part of winter is behind us—usually—and thoughts begin to turn to spring and all of the good times that will follow.

Suddenly, I’m struck by the urge to “drive south,” as I did annually for countless years as a rite of spring. Older and wiser (?) now, I still get that restless feeling, as though Florida’s spell once again persists in tugging me to her.

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.
-Ernest Hemingway

And so, unable to resist the siren call again, this coming Friday morning, we’ll be setting images-2.jpegoff early for points south, our ultimate destination being Dallas, Texas–via Florida.

Unlike the “young and foolish” days, when we’d drive straight through to Florida for spring break, we’ll be breaking this year’s sojourn into smaller segments.

We’ll spend Friday and Saturday night in Nashville, a place we’ve visited a few times before and passed through enroute to Florida numerous times.

Since we have the extra time there on Saturday, we plan to make the short drive to Carnton Plantation and the historic site where the Battle of Franklin was waged during the Civil War.

After that, we’ll visit the Grand Ole Opry and see the show that evening. We attended several years ago and had a great time and are looking forward to the fun of attending this year.

It will be an early wakeup on Sunday morning as we’ll hit the road to Saint Augustine, Florida. There will be good, long walks and leisurely browsing and nosing about through the historic sites on Monday. Without a doubt, we’ll be making a concerted effort to lose the lily-white winter complexions, too!

Tuesday’s drive will be much shorter, since we’re only going down as far as Titusville, near the Space Center. We’ll hook up with good friends, Richard and Sandy, who live there, and enjoy dinner out and spending the night at their home.

images-3.jpegIt will be good to return to our old neighborhood with them for a brief time and reminisce about the year I taught at Astronaut High School before moving back to Illinois following the Challenger disaster.

After what will no doubt be a quick evening, we’ll bid our good friends farewell on Wednesday morning and set sail once more to Naples, over on the other side of the state. There, we’ll meet up with another couple who have recently moved from Illinois and have graciously invited us to spend the night at their new place.

Naples is a place neither of us has been before, so this part of the adventure will be new and exciting. We told our friends we’re not expecting to be “entertained,” only a quick orientation of the area, with a nice walk followed by plenty of poolside sitting!

Our next port of call on Thursday will be a short jaunt to Fort Meyers where we’ll spend the weekend with our daughter Laura. It’s a long and involved story as to the “how” and “why” she lives in Fort Meyers, so I won’t get in to any of that. But we’re eager to see her and to learn the lay of the land of another place we’ve not been previously.

Our plans are to stay at her apartment through Sunday before pointing the Chevy Equinox northwest for a very long day’s drive to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

On this next leg of our grand tour, we’ll eventually meet up with our son’s family who will be flying in to Dallas on Thursday.

Why Dallas?

Here’s the scoop. For the past few years our son and his wife and our two grandsons have gone to see our favorite hockey team, the Chicago Blackhawks, play at an out-of-town venue.

This year they chose Dallas. Thus, this past Christmas, Santa left game tickets for us all for the Friday, March 11 game there in “Big D.”

Carolyn and I had the crazy idea that we could tie a Florida trip in with the Dallas one, and so our winter travel plans were formed!

After Carolyn and I depart Baton Rouge, we’ll arrive in Dallas a few days ahead of the rest of the folks, and we plan to tour the Kennedy assassination sites and maybe meet some other friends from the Dallas area for lunch.

There will be plenty of time to spend with the grandsons on Saturday before they have to fly home to Illinois, and we have to pack the car again for our drive home as well. It will be fun beyond belief, I’m certain.

On paper this all looks like a piece of cake. Of course, the reality of the many miles between here and there is something else altogether. Nevertheless, I’m eagerly looking forward to getting the whole thing started this Friday morning and clicking off those abundant miles. It’s a good thing I enjoy driving.

Like Hemingway,  I always remind anyone traveling with me, that half the fun is getting there. 

Let the journey begin!Unknown-1.jpeg