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Parrottrek Journal 2013

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Our proud graduate enters the field

The class of 2013

Hayley gets her diploma

Turning of the tassels

May 31st - Graduation Day - Santa Ynez High School -
One of the main reasons for coming to California this summer was to witness today's festivities. Hayley Kaaren Smith, our beloved niece, graduated with honors from high school. Our cheering section was made up of all sides of the family from all over the country and I'm not sure who had more fun, the graduates down on the field throwing their caps in the air to celebrate their accomplishments, or all of us up in the stands catching up on each others lives and screaming like maniacs as they read the names of Hayley and all her friends we've watched grow up over the years. After the ceremony we had a brief photo shoot and then off to Renee and Kevin's to continue the celebration.

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Hayley and her best friend Sam

A family photo on the field

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A perfect day to take the top down in the Jeep and head to the beach

Refugio Beach

The boys hit the waves, or at least sit and wait for the waves

Kevin and Eric cheer them on from the top of the hill

June 1st - A Family Beach Day - Refugio Beach, Santa Barbara, California -
Aaaahhhhhhhh!!!! Finally, a warm day. So what do you do on a warm summery day with all of the visiting family still in town? You pack up the cars and head to the beach of course. Frank and I decided we would take the top down on the Jeep and enjoy even more fresh air, but as soon as we stopped off at Casa Smith, I was quickly evicted from my seat and the Jeep was invaded by a bunch of teenagers who wanted to work on their tans all the way to Refugio. Once we set up our lounging/sunning area we headed to the water. YIKES! We forgot about the chill factor of the Pacific Ocean. I spent a wee bit of time in it before heading back to shore to catch some rays with the ladies while Frank ran right into the waves and went surfing with Quinn, our niece Torrie's boyfriend and a few other teenagers. The old man did a pretty good job keeping up with the youngsters.

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Enjoying a day with Pops!

Captain Frank at the helm

It was a crystal clear day

Nothing but blue skies and great wind

June 6th - Sailing, Sailing Over the Bounding Pacific - The California Coast -
We couldn't have asked for more perfect weather today as we set sail with my dad out of the Santa Barbara Harbor. The sun was out, the wind was up and seas were full of wildlife. Dolphins swam around us, seals floated by and a flock of pelicans soared overhead. A couple summers ago, Frank was a deck hand for the Santa Barbara Sailing Center, so he knows these little boats and this area of the Pacific quite well. We spent a little over an hour tacking and taking in the views.

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This is a 40 foot oak tree at Frank's grandparents house

This is an adventurous parrot who loves scaling the 40 foot tree

This is the adventurous parrot at the top of the 40 foot oak tree

This is a fun loving parrot who likes to hang out in the shade

Our Birds Lead a Hard Life -
People often ask us "Is it hard to travel with birds?" or "Aren't you worried that they will fly away when they are outside?" My usual answer is, no it's very easy to travel with parrots, especially if they are near us they are very happy. Yes, at times they get noisy, but it's usually because we are either gone a lot that week, or they are just excited to see us when we return. My answer to whether or not they would fly away is often answered with a question. Would you fly away from people you loved, who pretty much wait on you hand and foot, feed you yummy things everyday, scratch your head, give you love, spoiled you rotten and haven't ever made you work a day in your life? Heck No! These little feathered friends have it so good, and they know it.
Since we have been staying on Frank's grandparent's property, Cody's favorite thing is to climb up their 40 foor oak tree. He starts at the base and climbs up as far as he can eating acorns all along the way. He gets to the very top and starts to sing and dance and talk to himself. Once he is full of acorns and bored with the tree, he climbs back down to Frank. It is the cutest thing to watch him have the time of his life high above the house as Abbey snuggles with me playing with whatever toy, or accessory she can find on a blanket below as I work on this very page.

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A few years back this spot was right next to the water. Talk about a drought

A self portrait of all the happy campers about ready to load into the boat

We found a great area to wake board in since the lake is so low

Frank lands a back flip on his first try in 4 years.

June 10th - Camping at the Lake - San Antonio, California -
Since we have to be in San Francisco this weekend to run our marathon, and some of our very best friends are spending this week up at Lake San Antonio which just happens to be about the half way point from Santa Ynez to San Francisco, we thought it was too good of an opportunity to pass up so we headed to Lake, or should I say Pond, San Antonio. We haven't been up here for a couple years, but boy is the water low. We parked on what is called Road 2, where we have parked many times before, but this time instead of having lake front property, we were about 300 yards away. The Gideon clan have four wheel drive trucks and trailers so they braved off-roading in order to get to the new lake front area, but since the sand down there is very very soft and we are very very low to the ground, not to mention that we weigh over 40,000 pounds, we decided to play it safe and stay on hard packed ground. Besides, that's why we have a four wheel drive Jeep, right?

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John tries his hand at wake-boarding

We were blessed with glassy water all day each day.

Frank gives Jeff tips on flipping

A great BBQ dinner and a beautiful sunset

June 11th - The Lake to Ourselves -
This turned out to be the perfect week to be at the lake. We have about two neighbors on the entire lake, we haven't seen one other boat all day and the water is pure glass which makes for unbelievably great wake-boarding. And wake-boarding we did! We all went for a few runs until our arms were so sore we couldn't hang on to the rope anymore. Frank successfully attempted a backroll, and is teaching our friend Jeff to land one as well. John, who hasn't wake-boarded in about 10 years looked like and old pro behind his boat. Hopefully within the up and coming days, we'll have two (or three) flipping riders.
After we drug our tired bodies back to camp for lunch and recovered a bit, we noticed that the lake was still glassy, which never in all our years of hanging out at this lake has ever happened. Usually we would have to wake up at the crack of dawn to see this kind of water, but lucky for us old souls who now like to wake up around 8:30 instead of 5:30 for such lake activities, Mother Nature was looking out for us on the water and the land since the sunset tonight was stunning! And the tri tip John grilled was just what the doctor ordered after a long fun day in the sun.

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A mama eagle soars overhead, and a baby was right behind her

A deer family grazes near our campsite

Cows come down from the hills for a drink of water

Our two brave watch dogs kept nature at bay

June 13th - A Day of Nature - San Antonio North Shore -
While we ate breakfast al fresco this morning, we noticed some big birds flying overhead. As we took a closer look, we noticed that they were a bald eagle family. There were a pair of adults and a young one flying directly behind them, we could tell his age by his coloring. We watched as the mom and dad eagle taught the baby to fish and Bill just happened to catch one of his successful fishing attempts on film Click here to watch
After the family flew off and we headed out to the water we saw a mama and baby deer grazing not far from our Jeep. Once on the water we saw groups of cows and little calves coming out of the trees and hills to drink from the lake. We figured since there aren't any human neighbors around us, the animals feel more comfortable to roam.

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We're ready to run and ready to warm up. It's cold here in San Francisco

The bridge gets closer and the hills get steeper

Frank and I cross as I run across and he returns.

Another nice runner and I exchanged taking pictures of each other

June 16th - San Francisco Half Marathon -
As another item is marked off my bucket list Frank and I are finding ourselves needing to add a few more so the grimm reaper doesn't show up anytime soon and cut our travels short. #37 = Ignore the pedestrian sidewalks and run through a lane of traffic across the Golden Gate Bridge and not get arrested. Yes, it was an organized event, but still fulfilled the requirements to be checked off - Yahoo! It was awesome to run on the streets of the bridge and what made things even better was the fact that it was a crystal clear day. San Francisco is known for being a very foggy city and all the other times we've crossed the Golden Gate via vehicle, you could hardly tell you were over the ocean due to the lack of visibility and the rolling fog.

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We're only half crazy... ... this time. As we finished the full marathon branched off

For some reason this race went by quick but this was still a great sight to see

The rest of the run was through the very big hills of San Francisco, but since the first part of the run was filled with anticipation of the upcoming bridge you didn't even realize that you had to run 4 miles to get there, and the bridge itself took another 4+ miles so the hills, even though steep and not so scenic, flew by. All of a sudden I came around a corner filled with ballons with a finish line sign. I thought to myself "Good heavens, I must have made a wrong turn and cut off half the run." Nope, I was truly at the finish line and had beaten the time I had set out to beat. Double Yahoo!

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The clear day made for some great photos

The windy road we drove down

The windy road we hiked down

A gorgeous bobcat crossed our path

June 17th - Fun In The City and Beyond - San Francisco by Jeep -
Since our legs were still working this morning when we awoke, we decided to explore a few parts of San Francisco that we haven't seen before. We started out by heading in to the hills on the north-west side of the bridge, where we came across a road that wound through the hills and by the water. We stopped off in a couple of the pull off parking areas and snapped the above photos, and about 100 others that I spared you from. We found fun roads to drive down right by the water and noticed a hiking trail off in the distance, so of course we had to investigate. We parked at the closest pull out we could and began to walk along the windy dirt road out to a lighthouse that we could see in the distance. As we walked along, enjoying the scenery around us, I started to get a bit of an odd feeling, almost as though someone was watching us. As I was about to say something to Frank I realized it was a something that was watching us and not a someone as a big bobcat walked right in front of us and up the hill to our right. He was gorgeous! He looked at us the whole time we walked by us, but not in an "I'm going to eat you" sort of way, more like a "what the heck are you and why are you walking on my trail" sort of "kiss off" look. I of course did not kiss off, instead I pulled out my camera and began to take pictures of him. Over the last eight years of our travels I seem to have lost my fear of being eaten by wild animals when there is a great photo op to be had. We've crossed mama bears with babies in the Smokey Mountains, 5 foot diamond back rattlers and 12 foot alligators, so if those things aren't going to kill us, what are chances of a bobcat cruising down a trail?
After we had our fill of hiking, we headed in to town to hit a couple touristy spots with great views, and chocolate. We hit Ghirardelli Square and inhaled about half a dozen samples, we walked all over Coit Tower and took in some great aerial views of the city, we drove down Lombard Street and had dinner on Fisherman's Wharf before heading back to our house on the beach for a long soak in the jacuzzi, a glass of wine and a long nights sleep without an alarm clock in the house set for two days.

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Coit tower, from here the views of the city are amazing!

Alcatraz off in the distance

A stop off at Ghirardelli Square

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The guys make sure all our bikes are in working order before the ride

The views on the ride were amazing, and took my mind off my legs

We passed by acres and acres of vineyards

I could almost reach out and pick the grapes as we rode by

July 20th - Another Bucket List Item Checked Off - The Windmill Century - Orcutt, California -
Who knew this summer would turn into the bucket list summer. We didn't plan it this way, it just sort of happened. Take for instance # 61, which I added a few years ago after I ran my first full marathon. #61 = ride a bike in a century, which translates to either 100 miles, or 100 kilometers (around 53 miles). One of Frank's best friends recently got into cycling in order to loose a few pounds, get in shape and enjoy the outdoors a bit more. He is now addicted, has lost more weight than he planned and is tackling 100 mile centuries as though they were walks in the park. After talking to he and his friends about 6 weeks ago, Frank decided to try his hand at cycling and since he began to enjoy it, and I've always loved it (a bit more than running I might add) we headed to a local bike shop, bought some entry level gear and hit training in full force. Lucky for us there was a century this month so Frank signed up for the 100 miles, I signed up for the 100 kilometers and the rest is history.
The great part of being here in Santa Ynez is the fact that there are dozens of back roads full of hills and flats and views to die for. We've been riding between 18 and 40 miles a day, about three days a week. (Frank throws in a few 60 - 80 mile days) So we were all set for this morning's ride. We woke up around 5am and the 5 of us headed to Pioneer Park where the ride started. It was a bit of a cold morning, freezing cold in fact, but the quicker we pedaled, the faster we warmed up. My ride went through all the hills behind Orcutt, California through wine country and dairyland, passed old historic churches and tasting rooms, which weren't open until 11am, darn it, or I might have stopped off at a couple to warm up even quicker. Frank and the three other guys' ride went through the neighboring town of Lompoc, up a killer 8% grade hill, along highway 101 and then met up on the road I was on. The hosts of the ride had awesome fruit stops every 25 miles or so, which I took full advantage of. There's nothing like cold watermelon to quench your thirst on what turned to be a great summer day.

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Frank and Garth in action, a little over halfway through the race

A bunch of cows stopped to watch us crazy people

We appropriately passed a few windmills in the Windmill 100

Frank's odometer at the end of the ride! 103.27 miles - Hooray!

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Kevin and Renee all cozied up to watch the sun set as we sail

A candid shot of Frank and I

Torrie and Shelby explore below

Hayley snaps a self portrait of all 8 of us on the deck of the sail boat

July 22nd - Playing Like Kids Aboard The Sunset Kidd
Another outing on the Pacific. We can never get too much ocean time between here and Florida which is why we'll never have our home base more than 20 minutes from the sea. We spent this evening with lots of family and great friends aboard The Sunset Kidd. The evening was perfect. The clouds were sparse, but pretty, the wind was up, but not too cold so we able to turn off the engine and let the wind in the sails be our power. We had the boat pretty much to ourselves. There was another party of 6 or so in the back of the boat, but considering the vessel is a little over 41 feet we didn't even know they were there. Both our nieces were able to clear their busy teenage social calendars and hang with us old folks, so that made the evening even better.

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The lights of Santa Barbara in the background with the crazy clouds above.

My soul sister Rochelle brought some of the wine she and her husband create

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Swimming on a beautiful day with my dad

Frank relaxing and reading

Dinner out with friends and a great 80's band live on the porch

Fun In the Sun, California Style -
We have been here in California for two months. A wonderful, crazy, busy, relaxing, fabulous 2 months. This is the first visit to California in a really long time that we haven't had a family tragedy, so it's been priceless that everyone has stayed safe and sound. We've been able to see almost all of our family and friends here and I want you all to know just how lucky we are to have you all in our lives and how much fun we've had with you. There's nothing like picking up right where we left off with everyone since our last visit. Not only was I able to squeeze in a bunch of massage continuing education classes in order to become Board Certified in the near future, I also was able to spend a ton of time with my sweet dad and his dear friend Juliana, lunch with old co-workers, dinner with friends, live entertainment with the ladies, a day at the Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles, catching up with Frank's childhood friends at his 20th high school reunion and the list goes on and on. Neither of us can believe just how fast 2 months can fly by. It feels as though we've only been here for two weeks. Good thing we have another two months off, but that time will probably fly by just as quick since we are planning to travel through 14 states, which will bring our tally up to 24 for this trip, and visit a bunch of other friends on our way back to Florida. I can't wait to be back on the road and sight see again.

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Picking delicious organic peaches right from the tree

A fun day at the fair with funnel cake and all

Frank's 20th high school reunion

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The James Dean Diner, just a couple miles from his fatal crash

Getting some Go-Go Juice on our drive through northern California

Driving by Lake Shasta where we rented a houseboat years ago

Meeting up with old friends that we'll travel with for the next few weeks

July 28th - Our Cross Country Adventure Continues -
Ahhhh, back on the road again. And two months of traveling ahead of us. We had so much fun in California. We were able to spend a ton of time with friends and family, but we are traveling gypsies at heart and the open road began to call us. We are going to take the direct route back to Florida through Washington, Idaho, Montana, Minnesota... What, you mean driving from Cali to Florida through the Pacific Northwest isn't as direct as we think? Well, as stated before we are gypsies and love new scenery. Or at least scenery we haven't seen in a couple of years. Since we took the southern route across the U.S. to get to California from Florida we figured we would make our cross country travels a full circle around the U.S.A.

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A beautiful sunset in Seattle Washington at the base of Mount Rainier

Aaacccckk! Wildlife! No, it's just a display at Cabella's where we spent the evening

We met up with some of our good friends in Oregon who are still working on the NHRA circuit and will be traveling with them on and off for the next two months. Since Frank and I still have a few connections with the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) who we worked with for years before taking a hiatus, we planned out a schedule that will allow us to work the next four races which just happen to lead us back to Florida and take us by some friend's homes on the way. It's crazy how things work out so perfectly sometimes, isn't it? Our first race is Seattle, Washington and the weather looks great. Usually whenever the races set up in a city it would either be the record rainfall of the year the weekend we were there or a record high, so we are thrilled to see that the forecast has 70's and 80's in it. Let's just hope the weatherman isn't lying to us.
On our drive up through Northern California we saw some old familiar sights, historical places and great scenery.

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Frank built a rack in the basement to hold the bikes for days just like this

We started at the Washington/Idaho state line

Very handy mile markers ticked off the miles until we hit 31

We stopped off for a couple photo ops surrounded by nature

August 6th - A Bike Ride Through Two States -
Driving along Interstate 90 this afternoon forests of pine trees flashed by our windows, beautiful lakes and rivers snaked under the bridges below our wheels and a long windy newly blacktopped bike trail weaved in and out of the woods and hills along the highway beside us. Wait... What? A bike trail? Here in these beautiful mountains of the Pacific Northwest...that looks like it goes on forever? We have gotta look into that! As our curiosity grew and our stopping point of driving for the evening approached, we decided to see just how close to the trailhead we could get. As I scanned our Exit Now guide (the greatest book in the world that shows everything there is off every off ramp on every interstate in the U.S.A.) to see where we would stay for the night,

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Frank takes an action shot of me climbing a hill along the scenic river

I got lost in the views and let my mph get a bit low... oh well!

Frank spotted a brand new Cabella's off in the distance and we decided that would be the perfect place to park for the night. Over the years of full-time RVing we have become very particular in our free camping options and have put aside the old notion "beggars can't be choosy". We've discovered the best places to stay are those where there are parking spaces large enough for RV's, have restaurants attached and a dump station where we can empty our tanks and refill with water and Cabella's have all of these and this one had another perk! An entrance to the before seen walking/ biking trail was less than a mile away and the man at the customer service desk knew all about the 74 miles trail that went through both Washington, which we just left, and Idaho that we were currently in. We decided to take the trail South since Bob said it was a bit more scenic and would be about 32 miles round trip. We unloaded the bikes that are safely packed away in the basement and headed out on what would turn out to be a perfect ride with great views, a few rolling hills and ideal weather.

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Our morning view of the lake from land

A nice 20 mile bike ride through tree groves and historic mine sites

Beth and Robb's house from the water

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August 9th - Reliving Summer Camp - Brainerd, MN -
Remember Summer Camp when you were a kid? You had no curfew, no responsibilities, no homework, no chores. All you had to do was have fun and play with your friends. Well, Beth and I have known each other for almost 30 years, and every summer as kids we would go to Family Camp in the summer and Youth Camp in the winter. Now that we're all grown up Beth and her husband Robb have their very own version of Summer Camp in their backyard and we had as much fun this weekend as we did when were kids. We innertubed and swam, enjoyed BBQ's in the backyard and campfires at night with S'mores and all.

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A mama loon teaches her baby to dive

Anton and Frank start out tubing... ....

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A gorgeous sunset completes our week of fun

The boys attempt to change tubes at about 18 mph... ... and are successful!!!! YAY!

Beth and I catch up while the boys play

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Our coach fits in the driveway at Rob and Vicky's

Hanging out at a bar on the lake, with swings as seats. Fun, but be careful!

Since Vicky knew the owners we were able to come in before opening time

Back at Rob and Vicky's, enjoying the views of the lake from their back deck

August 19th - Hitting The Mall of America as We Travel Across America -
Somehow on all our travels we have never stopped off at the Mall of America. Perhaps because we aren't big shoppers, perhaps because we've always found other fun things to do across the Midwest, or perhaps we were saving it for this week and didn't realize it, who knows? As we left the race track in Brainard this morning, we realized that just a few miles up the highway was not only The Mall of America, but some of our Florida neighbors. It never ceases to amaze us how many friends we have in the various locations we travel to. Rob and Vicky live just outside the Twin Cities right on a lake and lucky for us, our house fit right in front of their house. We spent some time sitting out by the lake, exploring the surrounding town and hanging out at a restaurant right on the lake where the seats around the bar were swings. It was quite fun to be able to stretch your legs as you sat, but be careful... too many cocktails and you might end up falling out of your swing. The waiter claimed no one had done that yet, but I fing it hard to believe.
After last night' fun evening and a nice long morning walk today with Vicky and Rob's sweet lab, Chewy, Frank and I said goodbye and made our way across the Twin Cities and met up with Kurt and Phyllis at The Mall of America. Holy Cow!!! What a huge place. We took one look at the enormous four floor escalator and all the shops and amusement rides around us (yes, there is an amusement park inside the mall) we decided to check out a map to see what to do first and then set out an a voyage of shopping, well it was more like window shopping, since we wanted to see all we could and knew that unless we intended on sleeping in the bedding department of Macy's, we wouldn't be able to walk through each store. After four hours and walking by almost each store in the mall, we headed to Bubba Gump's for dinner and to rest our weary feet. It was all in all a fun day, but boy if I never see a four story 2000+ store mall again, it might just be too soon.

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One look at the enormous mall and the guys went running for a map... Smart men!

The signs you use to call your waiter or send them away at Bubba Gump's

Abbey checks out our fun souvenir glasses with the Mall of America logo.

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Frank is ready to race

I'm in the next pair right behind him

Ready to stage!

And they're off!! With Frank in the lead!!

August 27th - Highlights of our Summer of Fun-
When we signed on with MainGate, a company we've worked for on and off since we packed up this traveling circus back in 2005, to work a handful of races this summer as we made our way back to Florida for the fall and winter seasons, we knew we would have fun out here, but I'm pretty sure these last few weeks have surpassed both of our expectations. From drag racing the sponsor cars down the championship NHRA drag strip to watching fireworks that even put Disney to shame, we've included a few shots of all the fun we've had. Sometimes our work days at the races can be long, but the fun we have in our off hours more than make up for it.

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Our little mobile boutique that we work in at the races

All sorts of racing memorabilia to sell to the fans

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A BBQ with friends at the race track hosted by Schumaker Racing

Thought the helicopter was going to land on our roofs

A fireworks show at the end of qualifying

Racing golf-carts around the road course

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Tim and Cindy lead us to our site when we arrived

A long lazy day floating on the Lazy River

Catching some rays at the beach, steps from our campsite

A walk on a pet friendly beach

September 8th - A Week at Myrtle Beach, SC -
The fun just keeps on coming. As we were looking at what to do after our two weeks of working in Indianapolis, we knew we wanted somewhere relaxing, fun, scenic and close to the beach. Our friends Tim and Cindy found us just that. They had been camping here at Myrtle Beach the week prior, and told us we HAVE to come down and see this place for ourselves. Our next work location is in Charlotte, North Carolina, so we figured it wasn't too far out of our way to hit South Carolina first. Boy, were they right. We have been here 5 days so far and have had more fun than should be allowed within that time period. But that's what happens with Tim and Cindy.

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A self portrait with a giant starfish

Fun times at the Outlet Malls

The four of us have terrorized a few local restaurants, the waitstaff at Dick's Last Resort had no idea one table of four could possibly entertain them all so well at 2:30 in the afternoon. We have walked on the pet friendly beach with Cody and Tim and Cindy's dog Rocco most mornings and watched the sunrise, swam in the amazingly warm, clear Atlantic Ocean each afternoon till we were waterlogged and then relaxed in the shade of a beach umbrella. We've taken long bike rides and explored the surrounding towns, got thrown out of a snooty neighborhood and golf club that we apparently weren't supposed to be riding in (whatever), floated in the lazy river that circled the RV park with a good book, and done a bit of shopping and playing at the Outlet Mall just around the corner. Most of our meals have been at places right on the beach and with the weather so perfect, and the crowds non existent since it is after Labor Day, we have had most of them to ourselves. I still laugh out loud at some of the memories of the past 5 days, for example the reason we may have been spotted while entering the above mentioned snooty neighborhood might have been that after my partners in crime slyly snuck through an opening I accidentally crashed into the gate, which caused it to open and might just have been seen by the security guard, but I'm admitting nothing! And to think we still have two more in front of us. I wonder who we'll have to call for bail money if this much fun continues... ...

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Dinner on the beach with perfect weather

A nice long 15 mile bike ride through the town of Myrtle Beach

We stopped for breakfast alfresco and watched the waves

Cindy and I take a short cut back to the main road

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Gaslights line the streets of downtown Charleston

A beautiful row of trees along the water, starting to change colors

Driving down the cobblestone streets. Pretty, but quite bumpy

The row of bricks you see used to be the wall of the city

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September 17th - Charleston, SC and all its History -
It's amazing how much history is here in the south. Every block you walk down in Charleston, South Carolina you'll find at least one historical marker, or in some cases a dozen. Everywhere you look there are placards on the houses around you telling stories of happy and victorious moments in the war and some terrible tragedies. For instance, as we drove down one of the cobblestone roads, we noticed a straight line of bricks. Being the curious travelers we are, we stopped to read about why these bricks were located where they were. It turns out in 1690 the city attempted to protect itself from the threat of war and surrounded the entire city by a brick wall and drawbridge.

Old Civil War cannons still stand all around the city

The parks here are gorgeous and shady

As the town grew and grew they began to remove parts of the wall to expand the city, and as time went by and the tides changed, the city was built up so much that the top of the wall is now the height of the road close to the water. As we walked further into the city we strolled through parks so full of trees that the shade was immense, and must be quite refreshing in the warm summer months here. We read about all the different types of cannons and what the various town squares were used for in wartime and noticed that still to this day almost every streetlight is a gas lamp.

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Patriot Point. Where a destroyer, a submarine and an aircraft carrier are docked.

First stop... the submarine

This things has more gauges than our motorhome

Nothing quite like sleeping under a torpedo... Yikes!

Next Stop, World War II - Patriots Point -
Since we were already on a knowledge expedition today, we decided to jump ahead almost a century and check out the weapons and vessels of World War II. Just over the bridge from Charleston sits Patriots Point which houses a destroyer, an aircraft carrier, and a submarine whom all saw the action of WWII. The cannons on these ships are a bit larger than those that sit on the banks of Ashley River inside the city, and were able to go all over the world. As we walked through the different levels of the USS Yorktown, I overheard a man in front of us telling the woman he was with all about the ship. At first I just thought he was just a history buff and had studied up on all the various rooms inside the aircraft carrier, but when we walked into the pilot briefing room he stated "This is where we would get our assignments" It dawned on me that the reason he knew so much about the vessel is that he must have been on it back in WWII, or there abouts. I met eyes with him at one point and asked him when he was on the ship. He told us he was a fighter pilot in 1945 and then went on to tell us all about the assignments he had been on. I of course had to ask to take a picture with him, I mean there can't be too many fighter pilots from WWII around anymore... right? It was such a moving experience to listen to him talk. I can't imagine how gutsy you would have to be to board one of these planes knowing that you might not ever make it back again. Hats off to all our military heros.

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Next, we toured the aircraft carrier. It's amazing how many planes this deck held

That's a mighty big gun you have there, Frank

We met a man who was a fighter pilot on this very vessel in WWII, It was awesome to talk to him

Sitting in the cockpit, I realize these are very small planes

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A visit to the Striped Pig Distillery. Their name comes from a story during prohibition

The corn grinding room, where they start their vodka process

The corn is being cooked

The next still is making rum, Frank is quite intrigued with this process

Distillation 101 - The Striped Pig Distillery -
Frank's adult beverage of choice has always been rum and coke. While he was looking at the various options of things to do in Charleston today, one line of text jumped right off the computer page at him. "The Striped Pig Distillery, come see how rum is made." It seemed like a simple process as the partners of The Striped Pig gave us a private tour of the facility and showed us the steps of turning water, and few other ingredients, into pretty nice tasting rum. They also make vodka and whiskey, and offered us samples at the end of the tour. They currently are only able to sell it here at their Charleston location, but within a few months perhaps you too can order Striped Rum at your local bar.

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Frank tastes the fresh made rum before it goes through the still again

180 proof rum coming out of the still in a small trickle

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We found the beach!

We parked and walked down a long wooded trail

Their lighthouse looked more like a military base

It's 5 o'clock right here!

A Nice Ending to a Full, Rich Day - Sullivan's Island -
Not wanting to leave Charleston without finding a white sandy beach to stick our toes in, our adventure continued onto Sullivan's Island, a very small beach community between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic. We found a place to park and took a short walk to the beach. The tide was coming in and the surf was pretty crazy, so we didn't jump in the water, but we did stroll down the beach a bit until we noticed our stomachs were growling and realized in all our exploring, we hadn't had lunch and it was nearly 5 o'clock. Since there was water all around us we figured it couldn't be too hard to find a place on the water to enjoy dinner and the sunset, so off we went in search of food.

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A drive across the ICW over a really cool bridge

This looks like a great place to stop for dinner

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The restaurant was pretty much all outdoors

Frank's artsy shot of the menu and scenic deck

Enjoying another sunset, I will never tire of these

Camping under an old oak tree here in the South

As we pulled into a small harbor area we had a handful of restaurants to choose from, so we picked the one that had the most wide open deck with outdoor seating which happened to be a place called Red's 1947 Icehouse. Red's used to be a shrimp and fish packing plant in the 40's and 50's for all the boats that would come into the ICW from the Atlantic. The reason the restaurant is so open and close to the dock is so the boats could easily come in and unload their bounty of shrimp or fish on the concrete floor that Lewis "Red" Hughes would cover in ice with his big ice blowing machine that sat in back of the restaurant. This way the fishermen's seafood would stay fresh and they were able to pack it right here and sell it to all the local families and restaurants. In the laste 90's it was turned into a restaurant, but Red kept the open air concept in order to allow people to enjoy the scenery. Poor Red went to the big fish house in the sky in 2002, but his dream of having people enjoy this place for decades to come after he was gone, has come true.

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All lined up ready to start

We're ready to ride

Some of the great views on the Century

106 miles later! He survived!!

October 27th - Wheels Across the Water - The Intracoastal Waterway Century -
Words can't express how amazing the views are here on the East Coast. The waterways go on for miles and miles and the picturesque docks, bridges, and boathouse are enough to take your focus off your legs and lower your cadence more than once or twice. Since getting hooked on cycling while we spent the summer in California, we haven't wanted to quit our new found hobby, especially since we cleared out a space in the basement of the motorhome to haul the bikes around the country. While training for today's event we realize that there is a HUGE diference in cycling in California over the hills and mountains, and cycling in Florida where the biggest hill is the downward slope of our driveway. About half way through today's ride, I found myself missing the uphill climbs of California. Not because climbing a 6% grade for a mile makes my legs burn and is an intense workout, which yes, I do love, but the fact that what goes up must come down. Translation? You can finally take a break on the downward side of said mountains, stop pedaling, and rest your legs. Here in Florida, your legs are working the entire ride and you have no downward slopes to catch your breath, or stop pedaling. Translation? The finish line was a beautiful sight, especially for Frank who did the full Century. For me, the half Century is still the perfect number of miles to pedal these short little legs.

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The count down is on! (Yes, I watched the countdown clock for a bit to get this shot)

We have all our gear ready, now to stay awake long enough to start

A little pre race warm up. Good thing I'm brushed up on my Zumba moves

We "ran" into Minnie Mouse on our way to the start line.

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November 9th - Wine and Dine Half Marathon -
It never ceases to amaze us how much fun Disney running events are. This evening's run started at 10pm, covered three of the four Disney parks, passed by dozens of characters, and finished off in EPCOT. It just so happens that EPCOT is throwing their annual Food and Wine Festival and as a Hoorah! to all of us that did in fact cross the finish line, they kept the Festival open till 4am, just for us! Initially we thought, "There is no way we're going to run over 13 miles, finish around midnight, and stay up till 4am!" Boy, were we wrong. Once the race ended we made a lap around EPCOT, hit 12 countries, 6 food stops, and 2 rides. As we began to get in line for another ride, we noticed it was 4:15 and things were starting to shut down.

And we're off!! Just think how much better my time would have been if I didn't stop every other mile to shoot a photo.

The awesome Christmas lights all throughout the parks, with music to go along with them as well

Lucky for us we had our handy motorhome just a short boat ride away, so we headed home and hit the hay with great plans to sleep in and have a lazy day after. Nope, that back fired with both of us wide awake not too long after day break. Admittedly we did actually feel quite refreshed, and a wee bit accomplished. As we put another half marathon under our belts it hit me that each one of these seems to get easier so perhaps I will run another one soon, and then two minutes later I ask myself "Since I hit my goal time, why run another?" I've checked a full marathon off my bucket list and two dozen half marathons, which makes this gal half tempted to hang up her running shoes for a bit... ... especially since the cycling bug has bit both of us pretty darn hard. Hmmmm, maybe we should talk to Disney about having a Wine and Dine Century?

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Next lap, Hollywood Studios

What!?! We're almost done?

Minnie and Mickey cheer us on as we hit the finish line

Another Disney medal to add to our collection

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