Saturday, December 31, 2011

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year’s Eve to everyone.  As 2011 draws to a close, we reflect that it was a pretty good year.  Marilyn and I had a wonderful trip to Alaska with great friends (both previously known, and those that we formed on the trip).  We attended great Escapees rallies at the chapter level and at the national level.  We also were able to attend one of Nick Russell’s Gypsy Journal rallies – wonderful.

Then it was back south to FL.  We had decided to spend the winter at Sumter to recoup finances for future trips, and it is working out just fine.  We drove up to Columbus, GA for Christmas with family.  Our son Doug is a great cook, and it was so good to be able to hug our daughter Beverly, Doug’s roommate Harley and her son Gauge.  We hope we can all be together again next year.  Everyone seemed to receive gifts that they wanted and/or had asked for.  All in all a great Christmas.DSC04344

Tonight, New Year’s Eve, we will spend with friends at the clubhouse here at Sumter Oaks.  you will have to wait until tomorrow (or later) for pictures of their activities.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Since the 14th, life just goes on.  We cleaned some more Alaskan dirt out of the Jeep.  We had thought we had gotten all of it off, but I found some more under the tailgate window – it won’t go away before I try again to clean the Jeep.

On the 15th, we drove to Eustis.  My new glasses were not in, but we ordered new frames and lenses for Marilyn.  We spent the rest of the day shopping.

Monday and Tuesday, Marilyn baked cookies and pumpkin bread.

Tuesday, the 20th, I took Larry Jarvis out so he could shop for Carolyn.  His cataract surgery has left his eyes still a little too cloudy for him to drive.  We both shopped.

Wednesday, was get ready to leave for Christmas at Doug’s.  Marilyn did wash, then we delivered some of her pumpkin bread.  In the afternoon,  Marilyn went to a tea and cookie swap at the clubhouse.

Thursday, we drove to Doug’s house in Columbus, GA.  Of course we stopped for Chick-fil-A in Tifton, GA.  Gas at the WalMart in Tifton was $2.91 using the card.  It has been great to see Doug (too long in between visits).  Doug’s friend Harley and her son, Gauge, were there.  We are always happy to see these two.

Today, Marilyn and I did some grocery shopping.  It is starting to look like we will not be able to do a rally in Columbus when we wanted to.  Doug  got out of work early – he was home by 5, and Harley and Gauge returned from visiting their friend in AL.  Marilyn decorated the tree.xmas 2011-12-23

Type at you later.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

November and December 1 to 14, 2011

The last time I wrote we were in Defuniak Springs, at the Chapter 26 Escapees Rally.  After leaving that rally, we drove to the Escapees’ Sumter Oaks RV Park in Bushnell, FL where we are staying for the winter.  Most of November was taken up by driving back and forth to Eustis, FL (an hour each way) to visit Doctors, Dentist, etcetera.  We did go to the Florida Sun Gators (Chapter 57) rally.  The highlight of the rally is always attending the Veteran’s Day Ceremony at the Florida National Cemetery.  We had a very festive Thanksgiving dinner at the clubhouse here at Sumter Oaks.  The park cooked the turkeys, and each couple brought dishes to share at their table.  Then, the day after Thanksgiving, we had a potluck dinner at the clubhouse to use up all of our leftovers.

I thought that I would include here in the blog, the Christmas letter that we included in the Christmas cards that were put in the mail this week.  Marilyn writes a short one, that still gives a good review of our calendar year.  But first, I think I will write a little about our trip to Cancun, Mexico.  We left on Saturday, the 3rd from Tampa.  It was a long day, because we had to change planes in Miami, where we did meet up with most of the group we would be staying with in Cancun.  The first to arrive at our Miami gate were Roseanne and Jo-Lynn.  Then Marilyn’s high school friend Lynn Holmgren along with her boyfriend arrived in wheel chairs (saves on the walking at airports, plus get you through security faster).  We stayed in Lynn’s time-share two bedroom suite.  They were really nice rooms with windows facing the ocean beach and pool area.DSC01601DSC01603  We did get to walk around Cancun some on Sunday, but Marilyn met up with Montezuma, which limited our activity Monday through Wednesday.  I went fishing on Tuesday with Bill.  We caught barracuda, bonita, and amber jack.  The bonita were used as bait for the amber jack.  We did not send fish home, because the mate said that the amber jack had parasites.  There were only 4 of us paying fishermen on this boat, but the mates did a lot of the work.  They baited and set the hooks, and then gave the poles to us to reel in the fish.IMG_0108IMG_0110IMG_0115

On Friday, Lynn treated Marilyn and I to a bus trip to see the ruins at Chichen Itza, which was very interesting.DSC01605  On the way back to Cancun, we stopped at a Cenote (a sink hole that the Mexicans turned into a swimming pool.DSC01624DSC01626

Saturday was go home day which was marred only by the process of entering the US.  At the Cancun airport, we bought 2 liters of Kahlua at the duty free shop, and were told that they could be brought into the US as carry-on parcels.  Unfortunately that was wrong information.   After arriving in Miami, we found out that they were supposed to tell us on the airplane that any liquids had to be in checked baggage because we would have to go through the security check again.

That brings us up to the Christmas letter.

Merry Christmas 2011

Dear Friends and Family,

What a year we have had!! The year 2010 ended with a nice Christmas at Doug’s.clip_image002 Bev flew in, so we were all together. Once again, we spent the rest of the winter at Haines Creek RV Park, and Larry did his final year of doing tax returns for others. We also kept busy with rallies and park activities. On April 1, we headed out – our destination – Alaska. On the way, we stopped at Doug’s; spent 10 days in Red Bay (our motorhome factory); a few days with Bev, along with service stops at Springfield, MO and Loveland, CO. While in Loveland, we were able to visit Linda & Harold Hills (Larry & Harold served together in Viet Nam).

We met up with Sharon & Don Del Rosario and Dennis & Carol Hill in Ogden UT, and then headed North. We crossed the border into Canada on May 9th at Sweetgrass, MT. And we met up with the other 3 rigs in Dawson Creek, BC. We called ourselves the “Loosey Goosey Last Frontier Gang” and, as many of you know, we had a ball for the next 3 months.

We started up the Alaska Highwayclip_image004 with a detour to Skagway. clip_image006 Larry was popular with the ladies of the evening there. clip_image008 Then we were off to Whitehorse, BC. Again, Larry was selected by the ladies. We continued North to Dawson City, crossed the Yukon River by ferry, and then over the Top of The World Highway to Chicken and Tok, AK. We cleaned the rigs in Tok, and headed to Valdez, AK. We took a glacier tour there and saw whales, sea lions and otters as well.clip_image010clip_image012 Then we were off to Palmer, Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula.clip_image014 On the Kenai, we stopped in Ninilchik where we saw hundreds of bald Eagles. Then we stopped in Homer and Seward, where Larry went out on Halibut fishing charters, the highlight of which, was a 99.2 lb. halibut.clip_image016 With the others he caught, we shipped 65 lbs. of halibut fillets to Doug’s freezer in Columbus, GA. Moving North, we stopped in Talkeetna, AK for the 4th of July weekend. They had a nice local parade on the 4th. While there, Larry and 2 other couples took a bush plane to Mt. McKinley and actually landed on a glacier.clip_image018 Next was Healy, AK where we took tours on ATVs and in Jeeps. We spent 3 nights in Denali National Park’s Riley campground. We were fortunate enough to see Mt McKinley from top to bottom.clip_image020 Only 30% of visitors get to see the mountain at all because it creates its own weather and is often in its own clouds. We visited Fairbanks, took a day trip by Jeep to the Arctic Circle for a picture, about 200 miles each wayclip_image022; and then went back to Anchorage for some rig repairs. After repairs, we met back up with the rest of the gang at the end of the Alaska Highway.clip_image024 We had traveled all 1422 miles plus side trips. On our way back to the lower 48, we stopped in Haines, AK, Hyder, AK, and Jasper, BC.

From January 1, 2011 until we reached Sumter Oaks RV Park in Bushnell, FL in October, which is where we will spend the winter, we spent $8,300 on diesel fuel and put 15,610 miles (7 mpg) just on the motorhome. Of that 15,600, we drove 7,100 in Canada and Alaska. Along our travels, we saw lots of wildlife – moose, elk, caribou, bison, grizzlies and black bear to name a few. We were fortunate enough to see a glacier calve. We met up with many old and new friends, and really enjoyed the folks we were traveling with.

After crossing back into the lower 48, our leader, Dennis Hill, gave Marilyn a motorhome driving lesson, so now she feels she can drive the big rig when necessary. We have attended several RV rallies, visited Bev and Doug, and several friends on our way back to FL. Now we have settled in to Sumter Oaks RV Park in Bushnell, FL for the winter. We will, again, spend Christmas at Doug’s home in Columbus, GA. Our tentative plans for next year are to eat our way through the Maritime Provinces of Canada during the summer – lots of lobster.

Bev and Doug are both doing well. Bev has started her Masters in Archivisim online through Drexel University in Philadelphia, and still lives in southern IL. Doug is still in Columbus, GA working as a Deportation Officer. We are ending the year with another trip. We will join Marilyn’s friend Lynn in Cancun, MX for the first week in December at her time share. We are looking forward to a relaxing week of beach and pool.

We do hope this finds you all well and enjoying family and friends during this Holiday Season, and we hope that 2012 is a good year for you too.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Love and hugs,

Marilyn and Larry