Sanibel and Captiva, FL

I traveled with the Valencia Lakes Travel Club to Sanibel and Captiva, Florida in June 2017.  This was my second trip with the travel club and it was an adventure.  We were picked up at the club house of our development and taken by bus down to Sanibel, where we enjoyed a lovely lunch at CIP’s.  The painting on the wall behind our booth is of people from the area.

After lunch, we headed over to Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. It is named for the cartoonist Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling.  He designed the first duck stamp, which then sold for one dollar toward the purchase of refuges. Ding Darling’s artistic skill can still be seen today in the “flying goose” symbol he created for use at all federal refuges. We visited the visitor center and took the tram on the four mile wildlife drive.

After which we went to check in at our hotel and then after a brief time to relax it was off to the dinner theater, where we saw the show CLUE.

The next morning we jumped back onto our bus for a ride over the causeway

to the Sanibel Historical Village and Museum.

Here is our group –


After our tour we headed out to lunch at The Green Flash 

Before our boat tour of the waters off Sanibel and Captiva

 This was Ding Darling’s house on the water where he did some of his works.

 These were two energetic dolphins who wanted to play in our wake.  A couple of the fish houses.  And as we departed back to our bus for the ride home a few natives watched us leave.



New Orleans, LA

New Orleans with friends April, 2017.  What more needs to be said.  Good Food and Good Friends. Sorry for the big delay in posting this.

Starting at the Acme Oyster House – for crayfish (for some) and oysters for others.

Then we have to walk off what we just ate.  So on to the sights and sounds of NOLA. From big kids to little kids with drum sticks and empty pails.



Lots of walking.  The next morning we head over to Cafe Du Monde for what else – beignets. But first a walk by the river – with the morning fog.

 and who do we spot – but Darth Vader.

Now we have to walk off this…so back by the river – and Becky finds these two to pose with.

Ahh then it is lunch time – and off we go to Mother’s.  
OK, so more walking because of all we ate here – back to the French Quarter and to get a carriage ride.

And not just any carriage ride – but our mule – named Mother in Law, has her hooves painted purple.  
And Becky with our driver. So off to see more..

Oh dear – its dinner time –    heck of a decor – all those bottles – who dusts them?

The next day its off to the Garden district – via the trolley.

first stop is the oldest cemetery.   and then on to some homes..  and Gloria finds a cat and a dog on the porch. 

  Gee it must be lunchtime again…..

  and there are beads everywhere..

Next morning its time for breakfast – and you can’t eat beignets all the time – so now its time for The Grill.  

and more walking.   Yes that is our carriage (with all that purple). in front of Jackson Square with Saint Louis Cathedral behind.
 all manner of things decorate balconies.

and to the French Market for a little jazz – 
and all manner of things you can buy.  
and even someone who looks like a young Boy George 
And it must be time to eat again – seriously – 

Dancing in the streets.

And fun as it has been – its our last day – and time for one last breakfast at the Grill so we could celebrate my birthday – and blow out his lighter  (lol).

    Becky shaking the painting’s hand good bye.

I’m still FULL (and I am posting this months after the trip).  It’s time to go again.



Valencia Lakes Mystery Trip 2017

The Valencia Lakes Travel Club does a mystery trip, in which, you sign up only knowing the dates and length of trip, which is usually 3 days and nothing further.  They then email out clues, one at a time, so you can guess. Here were the clues.

Clue 1 Edison
Clue 2 Springs
Clue 3 President Clinton played his saxophone   🎷 in this establishment.

Clue 4 President’s hearse
Clue 5 Mission Control
Clue 6 Founded in 1851, we’ll have lunch here.

Clue 7 World War 2 and the Civil War are featured
Clue 8 Fifty-eight years ago, Freddie had a good friend here.

This was my first trip with the Travel Club and my first mystery trip.  Everyone needed to be at the clubhouse prior to 6:15 AM to board a bus to who knows where.  I had some idea that it would be Tallahassee, based on the facts that wherever we were going, it needed to be reached by bus and within one day’s drive.  That coupled with I googled president’s hearse in FL, and got Tallahassee.  I didn’t get the mission control piece, but then again, I was in Hawai’i at the time the clues were being emailed with no internet and I didn’t want to use up my data on my phone.

This was a 3 day trip – but I am going to do this in one post – so it is long.

It was Tallahasse, and our first stop was FSU, Florida State University for a buffet luncheon club suite.  The school was founded back in 1851 – so that is the answer to clue 6.




The Unconquered Student stands in front of Doak Campbell Stadium at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. 1947 started a new era for Florida State.  This year was when Florida State would become a coed school and stay that way through today.  In 1957, the Seminole Tribe gained Federal status.  1958, a new mascot was introduced to Florida State University, Sammy Seminole. The Seminole Warrior, the character Osceola and his horse Renegade. The Seminole Tribe approved of everything Florida State did to represent the Seminole Tribe.  The Tribes Council is still in collaboration with Florida State University and will let them maintain the mascot as long as they continue to represent the tribe in an honorable manner.

After lunch, we were provided with a bus tour of Tallahassee and then on to our hotel. Our dinner that night was at Edison restaurant. Edison restaurant is the answer to clue 1.

Next morning after breakfast we headed off on our bus to Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park. Here is the answer to Clue 2.


Here is Arlene in front of the sign.  Wakulla Springs is the home to one of the largest and deepest fresh water springs in the world.  Scientific interest in the spring began in 1850, when Sarah Smith reported seeing the bones of an ancient mastodon on the bottom. Since that time, scientists have identified the remains of at least nine other extinct mammals that date to the last glacial period, deposited as far as 1,200 feet back into a cave. Today, at a depth of about 190 feet, the fossilized remains of mastodons are in full view along with other fossils.

It is also the place where a number of films were made. Starting in 1938, several Tarzan films with Johnny Wiessmuller, Return of the Creature, Night Moves, Airport 77 and Joe Panther were filmed here. mystery-trip-5


While there we took a boat ride out to see some of the wildlife and the clarity of the water in the springs.


purple gallinule – also known as the yellow-legged gallinule.




semi friendly gator





beauty of the area – I can see why the films were made here.


Spider Lily


another gator


Those black dots are black vultures.


Juvenile black crowned night heron

From the boat, we went into the Lodge at the springs for lunch.  Initially, the lodge was built as a guest house and was turned into a hotel after his death in 1981 by the Edward Ball Wildlife Foundation. The ceiling in the lodge is unique and each picture on the 5,800 square-foot ceiling depicts historic Floridian scenes. The techniques are a combination of many, namely European folk art with Native American influences.


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while we waited for lunch, some people enjoyed a couple of games.


I had to put this in here – I had a hamburger steak, served on top of mashed potatoes, with a topping of brown gravy and grilled onions.  The gravy looked so much like frosting as the burger stood on the base of the mashed potatoes – looking like a big cupcake.
The lodge had a store which contained the normal stuff, but also, real old style candies, and mystery-trip-18

the mask from the creature from the black lagoon.

As we walked back to the bus, full from lunch, I stopped to get this gardenia –


We headed to our next stop – the Tallahassee Automobile Museum.  Boy is that name a misnomer.  If you look it up, it is listed as Tallahassee Automobile and Collectibles Museum.  Now that fits.  It has over 140 automobiles, toys, boating items, motorcycles, can openers, typewriters, cash registers, doll collections, and you name it. mystery-trip-29






Yes even cars – 1929 Auburn Boat-Tail Speedster

And pianos –


White House Gold Piano –

One of the most famous and ornate instruments created by Steinway & Sons, the first White House piano (serial no. 100,000) is the third instrument to be reproduced as part of the Legendary Collection –one-of-a-kind re-creations of the most historically significant Steinway pianos.

The magnificent painted lid was originally created by Thomas Wilmer Dewing, and was exhibited as a painting before completing the piano at the White House in 1903.  Paintings of 13 state seals and acanthus scroll encircle the case of this gilded instrument.


The Chihuly art case piano by Steinway & Sons, a one-of-a-kind design created by master American glass sculptor Dale Chihuly. The piano’s striking design features winter images, bright Promethean colors representative of the Olympic spirit, a clear glass piano desk and a translucent glass top, the first ever designed for a Steinway piano.


guns guns and more guns


Oh Yeah – and Abe Lincoln’s hearse – so that answers clue 4.

And outside the museum –



And a number of the ladies wanted their picture taken with Elvis – (he had left the building)








Kathy and Saida



From here we headed off to dinner (yes and I was still full from lunch)

at Andrews Capital Grill and Bar, where Bill Clinton once played Saxophone – the answer for clue 3.


Sistie, Kathy and Pat


Saida and Jane

From here we headed over to Challenger Learning Center and Imax theater.  It has a state-of-the-art Space Mission Simulator and space station laboratory, a 50-foot dome Planetarium and the area’s largest IMAX® 3D Theater. We were entertained by a High School Science teacher explaining how aurora’s happen.  So this is the answer to Clue 5.


and we saw a video on the auroras.



It was a jam packed day and now it was time to head back to our hotel for a little sleep.

Next morning, we were packed and back on the bus for our last day. We started off, heading to the Florida State Capitol.




The state seal which was included in one of the paintings in the lobby.

Then we went to the top to overlook the city.

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FSU in the distance


MFH Museum of Florida History building.

Then we went down to see the rooms for




House of Representatives


Then to the mezzanine to look at some interesting facts on Florida.


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As we departed the Capitol building, the Supreme Court was across the street.


And on to our final stop – the MFH Museum of Florida History.  This building contains some displays on the civil war. mystery-trip-59


I loved the detail in this set.

And finally to the World War II memorial outside the museum, which solves clue 7.



So that only leaves clue 8.  Well, I learned Freddy Cannon wrote and sang a song – Tallahassee Lassie, which I will spare you. I found out it was written by his mother.  While I enjoy a number of songs from the 1960’s this isn’t one of them.

A Mystery Trip to our state of Florida’s capital. It was quite a trip. We  settled in for the 4+ hour drive home.

















California – Last Day of Trip – Part II


We are now heading up to Los Angeles, for a short look around before heading off to dinner.  Here is downtown as we approach on the freeway.


Ahh, the old Transamerica building no longer has the T but USC on the side.


My office was on the second floor – it was fun when they were making movies or tv shows below on the first floor.  I remember them standing on this balcony shaking shaved plastic down on Cagney and Lacy with them standing in winter coats in the middle of summer in the heat.  How did they not sweat?

An interesting structure – los-angeles-a4

We parked and walked in and around Union Station.








And a piano for you to play – remember I said you not me…..


And a chair to rest waiting for your train.




On to Olvera Street –


Yes it did sort of move on the street – not in my camera.


Becky was surprised to hear that all the time I lived in LA, I never went to Olvera Street.


Lots of stuff to buy …..



And restaurants



Becky told me stories about driving down here and letting someone out of the car to place and get the order from this stand while they drove around the block.  Must have been good.




Becky hanging out with the guys again….


and kitties galore for me


And we must include the statue of Antonio Aguilar before leaving Olvera street. The 18-foot, bronze statue of Aguilar features him sitting on a horse — a fitting depiction of the performer who died in 2007, and was known as “El Charro de Mexico” (the Mexican Cowboy).

Now on to Chinatown and one of my favorite restaurants – Hop Li.

But we parked next to this temple which I don’t remember from years ago when I lived here.


Living in Florida, I do so miss certain foods that I enjoyed living in Los Angeles.  Squid with Spicy Salt, Hop Li Beef, wonderful green beans with garlic, etc.



Of course, we had to introduce Bear and Bearbette to Hop Li


We had a wonderful meal and grand conversations. It was so much fun to be with my friends – my travel buddies, my best friends.

Becky, Carol, Gloria, and Lloyd.  los-angeles-31

Thank you Carol, to you and your family, for taking me around Hawaii. and Thank you Besties – for the nicest ending for this trip.

Til our next trip together…….Much Love





California – Last Day of Trip – Part I

This was basically the last day of the trip as the Los Angeles weather decided I needed to remember how it is out there when it rains, and I mean really rains.  But we did manage to get in a drive to San Pedro Ports o Call, and to dinner in Chinatown before the sky opened on us. I am breaking this into two posts so you can see the fun we had in San Pedro.


Bear and Bearbette in the car making sure they have some water before walking around.



Becky and Carol checking out the fresh fish.






And just next door is another fish market.


And games for the little ones – or maybe the big ones.


Here I am “Grabbing the Bull by the Horns”


And Becky – well she is hugging it.


Here are the Brigantine Irving Johnson and the Brigantine Exy Johnson.  They are training ships, with a length of 111′ ft, they can hold 30 people.  The twin Brigantines and their youth crews are  “The Official Tall Ships and Maritime Ambassadors of the City of Los Angeles”.

And of course, Carol found flowers.


and we were in Los Angeles’ port.


And another fish market/restaurant.








and the kids must play….





They are supposed to be fixing the area up, and there were some quaint little shops at the end of the walk.



Where of course, Becky had to propose. Hmm what does Louie have to say about this?




Nothing like a best friend.


And more flowers for Carol




Now we see the Welcome sign.


And the squirrel welcomed us


rubbing his paws together – “Oh my lovely”


And Bear and Bearbette were feeling left out – so here are some pictures of them posing by a couple of places.



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Back into the backpack for our trip to Los Angeles.



Hawai’i – Last Day #14


And so soon it is over.  For our last full day, we are heading over to see if the Hawaiian Green Sea turtles are on the beach.  We were told to look for them at Richardson beach.


Also known as Richardson Ocean Center, Natural seawalls made out of lava create natural pools and coves, which keeps the water calm. The park is named for George Richardson, a former Chief Detective of the county of Hawaii.  He received the land as a gift from the Malo family.  In 1920, the Malo family were stricken with typhoid fever. A daughter who though afflicted, walked to the home of George Richardson to seek help.  Richardson, took the young girl on his boat, and returned to the Malo home, where he gathered up the rest of the family and headed for hospital in Hilo.  Unfortunately, two of the children did not survive, but his efforts saved the rest of the family. The Malo family offered the land to Richardson because of his efforts. The house was built with large doors at the front and back of the house to provide a corridor for the periodic inundations by high surf and tsunami.  This actually saved the house a number of times.  The Richardson Ocean Center is now located in the house.  This beach is the only beach in the Hilo area with black sand and green sand.



Black sand makes my sandal look blue.


Can see a little of the big mountain with snow yet.


Lots of rocks to negotiate. I walked out to the area where the turtles were supposed to be, but none today so far.


Lovely pools


From here we drove to Onekahakaha Beach Park.  This is the beach that Carol used to go to as a child to swim.


Here we saw a Hawaii Amakihi, a little green honey creeper.


From here we drove over to the Mauna Loa Factory to see how those wonderful chocolates were made.


And we walked around their nature walk, but after all the botanical gardens, we had seen most of these plants already.


But for Carol – here is a flower.hawaii-14-12


We did some shopping and then had some ice cream with macadamia nut. Yum.

Not enough sugar yet – now it is on to Big Island Candies . Oh my.


It was almost Valentines Day after all – with Love in the air.


And Little Kitty standing on shortbread cookies –



And we watched them making some of the wonderful treats.


And if you are like me and never saw a macadamia nut in the tree – hawaii-14-20

And after they are ready to drop –


OK my chocolate fix has been satiated for now…. (give me 5 minutes), now unfortunately it is time to go pack and get ready for our flights back to the mainland. WHHAAAAAAAAAAAA!




Hawai’i – Laupahoehoe Point and Waipio Lookout – Day 13

The trip is winding down. We are going to two places today – Laupahoehoe and Waipio Lookout.

Laupahoehoe Point is the location of a devastating tsunami back on April 1, 1946.  This beach park is situated on a peninsula of lava that just out from the northern coastline creating a very scenic area that is well worth the drive off the main thoroughfare.  The giant waves rose to 56 feet above sea level sweeping away a schoolhouse on the point along with 21 school children. The name of the area comes from the word describing the type of lava (pahoehoe) that formed this peninsula which is shaped like a giant leaf, or lau. If the wave had come just a few minutes later, they would have been in their classroom which was higher in elevation and would have survived.






People leave things in memory of those lost.


this is the remains of a pier and you can see how it tossed around the supports.


It is beautiful but rough.


Here you can see some of the effects of the VOG – making it hard to see clear as it hugs the coastline.




Carol found a spot for Bear and Bearbette with some flowers.



and then a short drive up the coast to Waipio Lookout.


Wow what a drop off – and what a view!



A black lava beach – but it is not easy to get there.


and a valley that they farm taro.





Now when I said it is not easy to get down to the beach – this is what I mean –



yes – it says 25% grade.

Now even walking down to the lookout is a drop.  And we have earned our lunch.

Off to Tex Drive in – in Honoka’a – for some lunch and some Malasadas.


What is a Malasadas you ask –

Malasadas, as they are known in Hawaii, are a yeast-leavened doughnut enriched with eggs, butter, and sometimes evaporated or fresh milk. They fry them, and roll them in sugar.  Some will have a filling but normally they are just plain.  I had apple filling.  Well, I shared mine with Carol as these are not small – half is more than enough.  Yum.