Places we have visited since my last post…..

It has been awhile since I have written and today I felt like sharing where we have been since my last post.

~Lake Seminole-East Bank Campground – A beautiful U.S Army Corps of Engineers Park located in Bainbridge, GA. (on the GA/FL state line near Chattahoochee, FL). This state park offers lovely views of Lake Seminole and a fantastic place to bird.

~Our favorite RV “park” located on the outskirts of Purvis, MS.  This is where we enjoy the company of those we love!!!

“Souring hearts upon arrival, broken upon departure and always filled with love until the next visit.”

 ~Fairview Riverside State Park in Madisonville, LA – the friendliest people, beautiful old Oak trees and the Tchefuncte River makes this state park one of our favorites. Did I mention the food – New Orleans food longed for all year and eaten here in the area until we bust. Also, some fun time spend with wonderful friends leaving lifetime memories. Back to our roots!

~Stephen F. Austin State Park – located near Katy, TX. This is a lovely, picturesque and peaceful state park where you are surrounded by forest and the songs of birds announcing spring! I have never seen so many Northern Cardinals in one location – ever!

~ Frog City, LA – a one night stop simply to eat some delicious Louisiana seafood!! A last chance opportunity and one taken with mouth-watering anticipation! Being from LA and having grown up enjoying this delicious food we love stopping here in the heart of Cajun country.

~Kerrville, TX – our Hill Country favorite town. A quite place to re-group, to get the Rambling Rose washed and waxed, to experience some authentic “cowboy” hospitality and enjoy west Texas at its finest. We love to stay at the Buckhorn Lake Resort.

~South Llano State Park located in Junction, TX– one of the very best birding places anywhere. Also, Rio Grande wild turkeys roost within the park. The Rio Grande Wild Turkeys depend on this perserve. This state park is perhaps my very favorite!

~Balmorhea State Park located in Balmorhea, TX.  I consider this state park a one or two night stop over.  It is a favorite destination for locals and divers from all over the country giving them the opportunity to experience the natural, spring pools. I would rather drive the extra miles and go to Davis Mountain State Park. I prefer dark, clear skies over deep pools!

~Three new stops during our 2012/2013 adventure

–      First – Brantley Lake State Park located 12 miles from Carlsbad, NM. We enjoyed visiting Carlsbad Caverns and Sitting Bull Falls.

–      Second – Bottomless Lakes State Park, Roswell, NM where you can enjoy the peaceful surrounding of the state park with its 90 foot deep sink holes or you can drive into Roswell to hunt for aliens!!

– A Roswell side trip, just seven miles away, brought us to Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge. This area is a biologically significant wetland area and is located where the Chihuahuan Desert meets the Southern Plains. A gorgeous place and a winter refuge for thousands of birds.

–      Third – Santa Rosa State Park, Santa Rosa, NM with its 360 views of the New Mexico plains and stunning views of the Pecos River. We did not have the best weather while we were there. Strong winds and freezing temperatures did not invite exploration!

As you can see, from our choices in where to camp, we love the state parks and they never disappoint filling our souls with the beauty of nature and a deep longing to return.

After six months of travel we are now back at home in Loveland, Co. During this first week we have had almost two feet of snow and extremely low temperatures lasting for three days. The lowest temperature, I think, was 9 degrees. Where is spring?

This transition, from traveling in our coach to being stationary at home, generates feelings for me that are truly inexpressible. Maybe one day I will be able to put these feeling into words.

Needless to say I am happily awaiting the arrival of spring to northern Colorado and appreciative for a way of life that allows me to experience it several times a year. How fun!!

Ah-To Be a Kid Again! My husband having a little fun at Fairview Riverside State Park
Palm Warbler (eastern) at Eastbank Campground
Louisiana Swamp
Louisiana Swamp at Fairview Riverside State Park
The joy of a baby! Our favorite RV site!
Evening Primrose at Stephen F. Austin State Park
A lovely path at Stephen F. Austin State Park
A Northern Mockingbird at Stephen F. Austin State Park
A Fallen Tree at Stephen F. Austin State Park
Northern Cardinal (female) at Stephen F. Austin State Park
Northern Cardinal (male) at South Llano State Park
Cedar Wax Wing at South Llano State Park
Black-throated Sparrow at South Llano State Park
Seems like Fall – South Llano State Park
South Llano River – South Llano State Park
Sunset on a Pond ~ Coot looking for a last grassey nibble ~ – Balmorhea State Park
Persistence – a Snowy Egret at Balmorhea State Park
Sunset through the reeds at Brantley Lake State Park
New Mexico Dessert Sunflower Flower at Sitting Bull Falls
Blooming flowers at Cardsbad Caverns
A beautiful wetlands – Bitter Wildlife Refuge
Black-necked Stilt – Bitter Wildlife Refuge
Lazy Lagoon in Bottomless Lakes State Park (sink holes/90 ft deep)
Canon Towhee – at Santa Rosa State Park
This little guy was frantically searching for food. It was very cold!
A beautiful Robin in my snowy yard – Loveland, Co

The Villages – Spanish Springs Town Square…..

Two of Three posting on The Villages –

Spanish Springs, the original – Village! It is a quaint area with a peaceful ambiance. I enjoy it more and more with each visit.

The Villages - Spanish Springs Town Square
Golf Bridge connecting Spanish Springs Town Square with it communties.
Golf anyone?
Golf anyone?
Let the dancing begin!
Let the dancing begin!
The Villages - Spanish Springs Town Square - relax and enjoy the pools and fountains!
The Villages – Spanish Springs Town Square – relax and enjoy the pools and fountains!
Must be a favorite stop for coffee! A Florida company.
Must be a favorite stop for coffee! A Florida company.
A Mallard pair. Female must be Albino!
A Mallard pair on a lake in Spanish Springs. Female  is Albino!

The Villages – Lake Sumter Town Square…..

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”
                                                                   Confucius

First of three posting on The Villages –

Lake Sumter Town Square

If one tries to explain the uniqueness of The Villages in Florida to someone that has never visited there, it is completed inadequately.

Without visiting and experiencing The Villages for yourself, you can’t possibility appreciate or begin to understand “Florida’s Friendliest Hometown”. This statement is true – everyone we meet is friendly.

It is, as I have said, unique. However, it is much more – it is beautiful, inspiring and a true gift to the family that makes it their home.

It is a place for the active person with its many golf courses, walking and bicycling trails, numerous other outdoor activities, exercise and recreation facilities, clubs, town centers and one-stop-shopping for – well everything!

As we travel in Florida, I love to stop in Wildwood and spend a few days roaming around The Villages – walking in and out of the many shops, listening to music in the evening at the town square, enjoying a meal overlooking a lake, relaxing on a park bench watching the wildlife of the four or two legged variety, or taking photos (one of my very favorite activities).

Simply stated – “It makes my heart sing with joy to see so many people, of all ages, truly enjoying their life.”

A lovely outdoor dance floor!
A lovely outdoor dance floor!
A nice place for lunch overlooking Lake Sumter
A nice place for lunch overlooking Lake Sumter
Lake Sumter on a cloudy day
Looking for a line dance!!
Looking for a line dance!!
Get your Golf Cart and lets go shopping!!
Get your Golf Cart and lets go shopping!!
He made his choice - Chocolate Cherry Kiss!
He made his choice – Chocolate Cherry Kiss! Hubby coffee shopping.

When Evening turns to Sunset…..

When Evening turns to Sunset.....
When Evening turns to Sunset…..

You bring us your beauty at the end of each day,

Shared so unselfishly.

No one really notices beyond the brilliance that you offer,

When evening turns to sunset that your display is scientific – no matter.

You ceremoniously paint the western sky with your light,

Bringing dramatic, warm, romantic hues of color for all to admire.

You guide us to the horizon with your nightly descend,

As we stare in still wonder never taking for granted this amazing sight.

Some days you’re aided with clouds and other aspects of nature,

Maybe birds soaring high one last time this day.

If one is so inspired we may be standing by a lake,

To see your beauty not once, but twice as it spreads on the surface.

Reflections of emotion caught in the beams of your light,

To be remembered and imprinted in our mind.

We thank you for your contribution at the end of this day,

And look forward until tomorrow when you become visible to us again.

Staring out to sea…..

Everyday he sits on a bench staring out to sea; how long he has been doing this I’m not sure. His skin is deeply tanned so I am thinking he has sat many hours on this bench.

He is Italian. You know this upon first meeting him; he proudly wears a hat with Italy written across the front. I don’t recall ever seeing him without this hat. This winter he tells me “I am doing okay for an eighty-five year old.” So now I know his age.

Over the years, I have learned he was born and raised somewhere in the mountains of Italy, exactly where I am not sure. Be assured that wherever it was he truly and deeply loved it there.

His father and mother moved to New York City from Italy when he was 27 years old. I am not sure if he really wanted to leave Italy, but I do know that he had a wonderful life in New York City. From the way he talks about America, he loves this country as well as Italy.

His family members were cheese makers. From all accounts, as the stories are told, the very best cheese makers! I believe him.

His father felt that at the age of 27 he was not ready to venture out on his own. He had to learn the family business first and that he did by working for free until his father said he was good enough to be paid. Oh my can you imagine a father telling his son this today.

His father also felt that at 27 he was still too young to marry, so he waited. I think he had already picked a wife, an Italian, and when given the okay from his family, they were married and eventually had two children. I don’t know at what age he got married. As I write this story I realize there are so many questions I need to ask him.

They all lived in the same home, with one kitchen; he likes to laugh about that now – his parents, him and his family. Many squabbles took place mostly about what and how to prepare the evening meals. Two strong-headed Italian women wanting to cook “their” way – Geez! As he tells this story it is shared with love and not regret, I can tell by the way he laughs as he speaks.

His cheese making abilities led to another successful business, a deli and grocery, which was located on a corner next door to their home. “I did not have to drive to work” he tells me. “We made and sold the very best cheeses” he states proudly. I think they must have owned this deli and grocery for a very long time.

Exactly when he and his wife moved to south Florida from New York City, I don’t know. I do know that his wife loved both the warmth and the sea, because he tells us about her – a little. She passed away not that long ago and I get the impression it is still painful for him to talk about her.  I do know that he loved her more than life. At times he seems sad and he has stated that he misses her very much. When he stares out to sea, as he sits on his bench, he is thinking of her – I just know this to be true.

My husband and I met him about three years ago, because we drive to the beach to walk our dogs and after our walk, we spent a little time cooling off while sitting on a bench staring out to sea. You see it is a very relaxing and comforting habit. It is also a wonderful way for a stranger to become a friend. From year to year he remembers our name, which amazes me. Of course what I love more is that he calls me “sweetheart” in his still heavy Italian accent.

I truly adore him! His name is Joe and we have become friends. He always has a smile to share, a story to tell and what I think I enjoy most – a lesson to be learned, if you truly listen, on how to prepare an Italian meal!  He still cooks his own meals all from scratch and of course all prepared with the very best Italian ingredients and with the very best cheese! You won’t catch Joe eating in any Italian restaurant!

As he stares out to sea, probably remembering those he lost, may he please be at peace knowing he will see them again someday. Not too soon I hope, because I want to see him sitting on his bench, starting out to sea and enjoying the warmth of the sun, upon my return.

Until next time Joe – be well my friend and think of more stories to share…

Enjoying retirement: On The Road & At Home