My Travel Philosophy

“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” – Saint Augustine

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sightseeing in Florida

Really having a good time.  It was pretty chilly for a few days when we first arrived so we were in jeans and long-sleeves.  Enjoyed a really fun day just driving around Lakeland and seeing how big the town is and how beautiful the downtown area is.  There is a lake in the middle of downtown populated with swans and other waterfowl.  The swan must have been adopted as the city's mascot because large cement swans are all over town.  They're painted and remind me of the lions that decorated Appleton for a while, the cows in Chicago, and the pigs in Seattle.  Had to be careful where you walked!  I wasn't sure if they'd be mean, but they're obviously used to people being around and pretty much ignored us.  As a matter of fact, it must be mating season as we saw a lot of strutting going on with the males!

Sylvia, Tom, Mom, Carol, & Dean - great Italian place
This one is at the library.
 It's just so lovely to be outside in beautiful weather (although my cold or whatever it is is being reactivated by all of the blooming going on).  We've already hit Golden Corral and decided to go to Dean's favorite Italian place for lunch.  It's just a little hole-in-the-wall kind of place with really fabulous food!  The building used to house an old movie theatre and there are photographs on the wall showing what the place used to look like.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Florida Break from the Winter

I just can't believe the amount of traveling that I've been doing since the first of the year.  This is another driving trip.  Mom went to Florida in December for the winter months and I had mentioned that, when I came down for a visit, maybe Tom & Sylvia would like to go along.  We've spent the past several weeks getting everything planned as we also wanted to coordinate so we overlap the time that Susie and Doug will be down there.  Got it all planned out and I headed over to Rice Lake on Tuesday to stay overnight with the plan to pick up Tom & Sylvia on Wednesday morning.

Mom had been hoping that I could grab a tote full of photographs from the storage unit as she would work on getting them organized over the next couple of months.  So I guess that was on my mind when I went to bed on Tuesday night because I ended up dreaming that I was in the storage unit when someone closed the door and locked me in and stole my car.  I actually work up so I guess it was a nightmare!  Then, I couldn't get back to sleep so I got up really early so I could get everything done and be over to Tom's by 8 a.m.  When I went to the storage unit, I backed my car up under the open door so it couldn't be closed and kept my car keys in my pocket.  It seemed a little ridiculous in the light of day, but better safe than sorry.

So I got over to Tom's and, having told Sylvia to pack light since we'd be able to do laundry in Florida, we had a pretty good laugh over her huge suitcase!  Got on the road, though, and made it to the Dells for lunch at Buffalo Phil's and stopped somewhere later at a Cracker Barrel for dinner.  As a result of the stopping, we didn't get as far as I had planned (Elizabethtown, KY) when we stopped for the night.  I was pretty tired after not sleeping the night before.  Good hotel, good night's sleep and we were off again.

Today was really a long day as we really wanted to get to Florida rather than staying in another hotel.  We only stopped for gas, food, and bathroom breaks doing all of our eating in the car.  The drive between Nashville and Chattanooga was beautiful, as always, and we had no weather or traffic trouble anywhere around Chicago or Nashville or Atlanta or, really, anywhere along the route.  Finally got to Florida, though, in the evening and just want to sleep for a month!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Famous Faces & Places in Vegas

Didn't see any of the guys there
While doing our running around in Vegas, we decided to finally check out the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop downtown and see if the Pawn Stars were around.  They weren't.  It's amazing how much smaller it is than it looks on TV.  There were a fair number of people there but we were lucky with our timing.  We had both been told that there could be lines out the door and down the street but we got right in.  However, there were lines forming when we left.  We didn't buy anything but it was fun to see some of the things for sale that we had seen on TV.  Not only that, we spotted some things for sale that we have tucked away in our basement and shed.  Probably need to pull some of those things out and get out to Vegas to sell them!  For instance, Jeff has 2 or 3 copper fire extinguishers that are in far better condition than the one we saw for sale in the pawn shop.

Took a while to find Rick's
Couldn't believe he was actually there!
After leaving the pawn shop, we set out to find Rick's Restoration -- another show that we enjoy watching.  This was even better because there was a free tour involved.  We went back through the building and saw the rooms where various work is performed, and saw restorations in different stages.  Once again, we spotted a copper fire extinguisher that they had restored for someone.  This one was in a lot better shape than the one at the pawn shop -- more like the ones we have.  So, again, we're thinking maybe we should be thinking about digging them out and selling them.  The question is whether they're worth more shined up or left as is.

Before the tour, we were asked if we'd like to get our picture taken with Rick.  Of course, everyone said 'yes' and we assumed it would be a cut-out or a back drop.  Pretty astonished when Rick came out and took the time to get his picture taken with everyone there.

The only thing we forgot was the Count.  Jeff also likes to watch that show and we forgot to go find his garage.  Oh well, something for next time.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Incredible Trip to Sin City

Hoover Dam from the bridge
Walkway to get up to the bridge
So Jeff had another conference in Las Vegas and we headed out right after our cruise.  I was still sick (although far better than I had been on the ship) and figured the dry desert air would help.  Prior to Jeff having to get stuck in class all day, we decided to get some sightseeing in and, as neither of us had been down to Hoover Dam since construction of the new highway, thought we'd spend a day checking on that.  The highway goes over the gorge created by the river so, when you're standing on the highway viewing platform, you're actually above the dam.  This photo doesn't really capture how far up you are above the river.

To get up to the viewing area at the highway, you have to climb a pretty steep trail with switchbacks.  The trail itself is paved but it's really a long way.  You can either take the trail back and forth, or climb stairs that are put in occasionally.  Either way, it's quite a hike! Then, you're up at the highway and you walk along what would really be the shoulder of the road.  There are concrete barriers between you and the traffic but that traffic moves pretty fast! It's a one-way walk, too.  You walk out onto the bridge to get your photo and you turn around and come back the same way to get back to the parking lot.
Welcome sign on the way to Hoover Dam
Huge Rosemary bush near visitor's center
I thought maybe there might be something interesting in the Visitor's Center so we parked in the parking structure and, while coming out, spotted this enormous rosemary bush.  It had little purple flowers all over it and smelled heavenly. There not only was nothing interesting in the Visitor's Center, we decided to grab a sandwich which we were there and it was absolutely the worst food either of us had had in a very long time!  We made a brief stop in Boulder City to do a little gambling but we both lost so that wasn't great.  Found a great Packers bar on the way back into Vegas and learned from the bartender that her brother still runs a bar in Wisconsin.  Also spotted a Welcome to Las Vegas sign on that end of town, which I had never seen before.