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Parrottrek Journal 2011

Check out our map page to see where we've been

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A family bike ride

Playing in the park

Cody slides down the fireman pole

At Victoria's soccer game

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October 15th - Cousin Time - Arizona -
We are officially on the road again! Hooray!! Our first stop was Chandler, Arizona where we camped with friends for the week at our old stomping grounds, the race track. It was great to visit all the people we used to work with and be able to sleep in on race day and not report for duty. We enjoyed playing the role of hospitality guest, instead of the hospitality crew. This also gave us lots of free time to visit family in the surrounding area, including Frank's grandparents, aunt and uncle and cousin Kelly and family. One day we took a bike ride with all the girls over to a neighborhood park and another day we cheered on a club soccer game. I sure have missed traveling!

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Enjoying the Lucas Oil Finish Line hospitality

Victoria helps score a goal

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Sean driving the motorhome... Yikes!

Driving over the swamp

Camped for the night

Pat's from the outside

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We posed inside of Pat's mock up swamp boat

Yep, we ordered off the From the Swamp section of the menu

And boy was it delicious, even if it was fried

Two satisfied swamp customers, with a swamp in the background

October 20th - An Evening of Good Southern Cooking - Atchafalaya, Louisiana -
I had the craziest dream last night. I dreamt that we were back to our old traveling days. Visiting all our old familiar places, watching the different scenes and terrains go by us outside the windows. Planing new destinations and spontaneously stopping at others. Wait, your right, it wasn't a dream, we really were in Atchafalaya, Louisiana. We really are headed across the country, and we have a passenger. This week Frank's cousin Sean flew from California to Arizona to catch a ride with us and see first hand just how it feels to sit back, relax and watch the sights go by from the front seat of our fun little house on wheels. Since most of the places that we wanted to show him were east of Texas, we spent the first couple days driving, with just a couple touristy stops on the way, including Pat's Fisherman's Wharf, where you'll find some of the best seafood in the south. We started our meal off with some seafood gumbo and crawfish bisque followed by a platter of delights, caught fresh from the waters that surrounded us. To also give Sean the full effect of traveling in an RV, we spent one night in a picnic area, which are long, very scenic stretches of land just off the highways of America, and last night in a welcome center, which slightly resembles a picnic area, but is about 10 times the size and comes with free morning coffee, newspapers and a tourist center that will tell you all about the state you are entering.

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Above - We started lunch off with a Hurricane. Below - Sean thinking to himself, how much rum is in this drink?

Above - Listening to a street band play great music
Below - Dancing in the street

Sitting in the piano bar at Pat O'Brien's and watching the dueling pianos

Above - Watching the New Orleans tobacco rollers do their thing
Below - Posing outside Margaritaville

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October 21st - Bourbon Street, New Orleans -
There's nothing quite like having a Hurricane at noon. Have no fear though, we are conveniently within walking distance to home, just a few blocks outside the French Quarter of New Orleans. After lunch, we walked up and down Bourbon Street, enjoyed a fabulous street band, did a little swing dancing and headed to the piano bar of Pat O'Brien's

There, they had dueling pianos with some of the most talented musicians we have seen. Once we had had enough piano music we walked up the square to Margaritaville for a quick photo op with a few partying sharks and to buy a replacement glass, since all of our Margaritaville glasses have seemed to have gone missing and each Margaritaville location has personalized glasses to their city. We walked through the New Orleans's Cigar Shop, where they roll their own cigars in front of you and then headed home for a few laps in the pool and a soak in the jacuzzi. Bourbon Street is a mighty fun place, but we've heard walking out of the French Quarter after dark isn't a good idea, so made sure we were back home before the sun went down.

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A walk down the beach

The boys build a dam

Our usual self portrait, and Sean's picture of us taking a self portrait

October 22nd - Just Like Heaven - Gulfport, Mississippi -
Happiness for me is sitting in front of a map of the United States and deciding where we'll stop next. For tonight's lodging and adventure we decided to stay on the white sandy beaches of Gulfport and are paying the whopping price of nada a night. The three of us took a long walk along the beach, and since it's so shallow here, one can walk out quite far into the Gulf of Mexico and still be in ankle deep warm water. The guys built a dam in one of the culverts and quickly watched their masterpiece wash away. Tomorrow's mission is to introduce Sean to Waffle House, one of the best places to get breakfast served just how you want it, here in the south, and there just happens to be one right across the street from us. Mission #2 will be, making our way into Florida and show off some more beautiful beaches. But as for dinner tonight, we bar-b-qued up some delish steaks and chicken and had dinner alfresco as we watched the sun go down, I'm in heaven.

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Steaks and chicken grillin' on the BBQ

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October 23rd - Hello Florida - Panama City Beach -
As Sean's cross country adventure comes to an end, our days in Florida have just begun. After breakfast at Waffle House, we made our way to Panama City Beach. We stopped off at a state park and walked down to the water to dip our toes in the clear water. Our original plan was to finish off Sean's RVing journey with an overnight stay in a Wal-Mart parking lot, but due to a city ordinance we decided against risking a policeman knocking on our door at midnight and telling us we had to leave. Not wanting to have to find another location in the dark, we settled in at a nice RV resort, fired up the grill for jalapeƱo hamburgers and took a very nice dip in the spa. Since Sean's plane leaves bright and early tomorrow morning, and the airport is about 30 minutes away, we decided to make it a early night and watch a movie inside. 4:00am will come awfully soon for Frank and Sean. I figured I'd give them have a little extra cousin time by staying in bed tomorrow morning and forgoing the early morning drive, aren't I nice?

Breakfast at Waffle House, with a view of the ocean

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This way to white sand

A bit of nature on the walk

The warm clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico

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A semi full of pumpkins

Lots of hands to help unload

The pumpkin crew is done!

Our house looks so festive in the patch

Pumpkin Patch Building - Punte Gorda, Florida -
One of the best parts of full-time Rving is that no matter what part of the country you are driving through, the chances of finding other traveling friends nearby are huge. We are currently on the west coast of Florida and found that Rick and Laverne are here as well. They are currently working/babysitting a pumpkin patch at a local church for the Halloween season and invited us to camp right along with them. At about 6:00 this morning a semi full of pumpkins pulled into the church parking lot needing to be unloaded, and since the unloading crew was very very small, we jumped in to help in order to make the huge chore of unloading over 1000 pumpkins a little easier.

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Cody does a bird show for the kids

I'm ready to carve a pumpkin!

Once the semi trailer was empty, except for the rotten ones we left behind, the four of us headed into town for a walk along Fisherman's Village, which is a wharf full of shops and restaurants, where we stopped of at the Captain's Table to enjoy a cold beverage, some time to catch up on each other's adventures over the year and watch the sunset.

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A walk through Fisherman's Village

Quite and appropriate photo op

LaVerne, Suzy and Capt. Morgan

Rick tries his hand at being captain

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Driving over the bridge to the Island

Collecting shells

Cooling off in the water

A Day Trip to Sanibel Island -
Since telling people about our plans to travel to Florida and spend a few months here, one of the recurring recommendations was "You have to go to Sanibel Island, it is gorgeous there." As it turns out, Sanibel is only an hour or so away from Punte Gorda, so we thought what better time to see how great it is? We took the top down on the Jeep, packed a picnic lunch along with all our beach gear and headed over the bridge onto Sanibel Island. We were a little surprised to find that the white beaches were mostly shells and the water wasn't near as warm or clear as it is at the beach just moments from our place on the east coast, but it was a fun little tourist town to visit and at the last beach we swam at, just under the bridge, a pod of dolphins came within 10 feet of us. We are quite glad we visited and even more reassured that there's no place like our place on the Atlantic side of Florida.

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A historic lighthouse

Swimming under the bridge with dolphins, WOW!

Can you see the dolphin fins?

White sandy pathways to the beach

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Watching the sunrise from our dock

Our own private tiki hut on the dock

The birds loved being outside all day

Floating in the Keys

Island Living - The Florida Keys -
I could sure get used to this. Sleeping by the ocean, watching the sunrise each morning from my living room couch or our own private dock, depending on the outside temperature. Reading or working on the computer under the shade of a tiki hut when the sun was out and I don't feel like lathering up with spf 30. Being able to jump in the warm Atlantic at any given moment whether its to cool off, or just float. Having all three babies around us on their own perches, far enough away from each other so I don't have to break up any fights and close enough that they all feel secure that Frank and I are within sight. So far this week I've only had to pull one of them out of the water, it only took about a decade off my life. Walking to the pool if the wind off shore gets to be too much and we still want some sunshine and observing all the exotic creatures that roam around us. We are camping on Blue Water Key and we plan on staying here for many many days.

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Enjoying nature, from itty bitty lizards

To great big ones

Wilma was here

Kicking back

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90 miles to Cuba, start swimming

A family of chickens wander the streets

Live music during lunch at Sloppy Joe's

One of the many sleeping cats outside Hemingway's house

Day Four in the Keys - Key West -
Well, at least I think it's day four. The best part of an extended vacation is that you loose track of days, time and how long you've been here. Today we decided to leave our house on the water and see what all Key West has to offer. Of course we had to stop at the infamous Southernmost Point sign for a photo op and then we headed to Duval street for lunch and a little shopping. Everywhere we went, we noticed that there were little families of chickens walking up and down the street. Each time we asked someone what the significance of the chickens and roosters were, the only response we got was, "Its just a Key West thing" As we explored the city further, we also discovered lots and lots of cats surrounding the childhood home of Ernest Hemingway. Apparently he was a bit of a cat person, and the city is keeping up with the tradition of letting all the wild cats in the city live and feed at Ernest's place. After lunch, we enjoyed a frozen Key West delicacy - Dark chocolate dipped key-lime pie, on a stick. It was so delish, and just the perfect afternoon snack to give us a bit of a sugar rush to explore more beaches, shops and piers.

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Dark chocolate dipped key-lime pie on a stick, Yum!

Wading in the southern most beach of the USA

Watching sailboats go by

Shopping on Duval Street

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Heading out to our snorkeling site

We have arrived at our clear water destination

Some things you could see without your snorkel mask

Brave Frank pets a jellyfish

Day Six - Snorkeling in the Barrier Reef -
Since the weather has been all over the map while we've been here, one day we're dressed in flip flops, shorts and t-shirts and the next we're donned in long pants and a sweatshirt, we took a gamble on today and booked an excursion. We weren't sure what to do. Should we go sailing or snorkeling? We looked at all the brochures in the Welcome Center, Googled a few things to do and finally came upon a boat that did both, so we booked with them. We took an hour sail out to the barrier reef and then suited up with our oh so sexy goggles, flippers and inflatable life-vests and explored the sea life all around us. When we first jumped in, there were dozens and dozens of jellyfish all around us. I was far too chicken to pet them, since there was a chance of being stung, but brave Frank, after lots of coaxing from the crew on the boat, reached out and pet one. We couldn't have chosen a better day. it was a beautiful day with temperatures around 80, a light breeze so the sails were full of air but not enough wind to be annoying. One our sail back to the island, we all enjoyed an adult beverage with the crew and finished off our day with dinner at Jimmy Buffet's original Margaritaville, here in the Keys.

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6 friends come to visit

Cart rides through the nature trail

Finding lots of wildlife

Dinner at Dixie Crossroads

December 2011 - So Many Friends, So Much Time!
Friends, friends, everywhere. Since we arrived here in Florida, we have had a mob of friends visit us, and we love it. The great thing about The Great Outdoors is that there is so much to do that entertaining friends is busy, but easy. Whether you want to workout every morning, lounge at the pool in the afternoon, play games in the evening or have a bar-b-que overlooking the lake in the Whitmore's back yard, drive to the beach, take a 12 mile bike ride or cruise through nature in the your own personal golf cart, play a little cards or pool, we have it all. Tasty restaurants are all around and you can't beat the weather, it's supposed to be 80 degrees Christmas morning, bring on the beach!

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Here comes Santa Clause

Cody's ready to watch the Christmas parade

The carts all decorated for the holiday

The "floats" keep coming

Christmas Parade -
One of the many wacky traditions we have around here is the annual Christmas golf cart parade. About 200 of our neighbors dress up there golf carts in all their Christmas grandeur and drive around with armloads of candy while the other 10,000 of us watch. Since this is the first time we've been here for the holiday season, and had only heard rumors of how much fun it is, we weren't sure it would live up to it's reputation, but with all the music, camaraderie and festivity, we were delightfully surprised that it was as much fun as expected, and since there were people around to sneak Cody a couple cookies, he had an even better time than we did.

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Christmas morning at the beach

Pretty jelly fish all along the shore

Florida style penguins

Eight of us gather for dinner

December 25th - Merry Christmas From The Sunshine State -
The weather man didn't lie today! It was a beautiful 79 degrees on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean and the water felt great. We started our day out with a long walk down the beach, looking at various sea creatures and birds and then headed home to meet up with a group of friends for Christmas dinner. Our party of 8 quickly turned to a party of 12, the feast was hug, with each of bringing a different favorite dish. After dinner, we took a long golf cart ride around to see all the holiday decorations and enjoy a glass of wine and the sunset.

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The evening was complete after a tour of Christmas lights

See, Santa does live in Florida

A stop on the bridge to watch the sunset

A bird hunts below the bridge

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