Random bits of my so-called life.

Breathe, KW…

April 27th, 2017 by kayak woman

Okay. So I am a systems analyst. I do design work on a huuuuuuuge web application, I define requirements for new and/or changes to our application’s user interface and various pieces of functionality and I write functional specifications that give our development team a blueprint for building out changes to our behemoth product. Making even the teensiest tinesiest tweak to our product can require hours of careful research, modeling out how the new functionality will work and how it will affect other parts of our labyrinthine application, INCLUDING ALL OF THE POSSIBLE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES.

I do not work alone. My main man is FZ, who has been with the company MANY more years than I have (and I have forbidden him to retire in the near future) and is just over the wall from me. But there are many others I use as resources. We are all subject matter experts and we are all boots on the ground, common sense based people who are committed to providing our customers with uninterrupted service. In support of that goal, we believe in thorough research before committing changes to the app that our customers use..

If we did not operate that way, like say, I wrote up a spec that said something vague like, “Do it like Yahoo does it”, our developers wouldn’t know what to do and would either ask me ten thousand billion questions or “go rogue” and make their own design. That would likely result in our CUSTOMERS (i.e., the people who PAY OUR COMPANY) being left high and dry without service. My company would probably lose its contract and I would definitely lose my job.

Instead, I take my time to write up comprehensive solutions to even the smallest of tweaks, thinking through all of the parts of the product that might be touched. If I do not do that due diligence, I know that dev and QA folks will be bugging the heck out of me. YOU ALL are happy about that. Trust me.

Yes, I am comparing the stuff I do for my lowly job to a certain presidential document that was released sometime today or yesterday. I do not get it. I would hope that anyone involved (in any way) in the tax industry doesn’t get it either. Where are the details? What are the consequences (intended and/or unintended) to our country’s citizens? Meaning you and me…

In other news, the GG spent a good portion of the day dealing with a sewer backup in the Landfill Dungeon. He was sound asleep on the couch in the back room when I got home from work. He had texted me about the backup and how it hadn’t done much damage to the oooogly yellow shag carpet, etc. I texted back that I was discouraged that the oooogly yellow shag carpet and all of the junk down there were not damaged… I greatly appreciate all of his work on cleaning this up but I would like to re-do the damn dungeon somehow. But we’ll see…

Love y’all whatever your polly-ticks, KW (but please please please think about what the Trump administration is doing for you (or not)…)

In which the GG shares his birthday with…

April 26th, 2017 by kayak woman

His twin brother (of course), The Botanist, and [drum roll] Melania Trump! I guess I have no commentary about any of that. I spent my day talking to developers (software, not real estate, there is a BIG difference!) and QA specialists and I can’t even talk about some of it because since I don’t really understand it all, you would not understand it either.

Happy birthday to all (even Melania, who I do not totally understand) and below are a bunch of photooos. Of MY Twinz, that is. And yes, we did actually take a 3-week-old baby to the moldy old Houghton Lake cabin with us. She was fine and I sang rock-a-bye baby and other golden oldies all that weekend.

End of the 640 era

April 25th, 2017 by kayak woman

Four years ago and some, I became the owner of a small storage unit. You know the kind, like the one where Clarice Starling found the body of a flute player of all things in Silence of the Lambs. Of course, when we rented our unit, the GG had to ask about bodies. Our storage unit guy did once find a dead cat in one. Unfortunately, he could smell it. I have always hoped it was an accident, like the cat was in the car when they were loading or unloading stuff and got into the storage unit and couldn’t get out. Alas, if *I* had a cat (or any living being), I would notice that it was missing and would go back for it or call the storage place or whatever. So I dunno. I do know that human beings seem to be capable of doing all kinds of horrible things to their pets (not to mention other human beings).

To answer some of the stuff in the original blahg entry, I never once walked to the storage unit, even though it is, in fact, maybe 500 steps beyond the Plum Market and I walk over to the Plum Market all the time (1100 steps). In fact, I have not even driven over there, at least not by myself.

I am not sorry we rented the storage unit. It helped us during a difficult period in our flinging phase (which we are still in) when we took on a whole bunch of stuff from The Commander’s house. It also provided extra space when The Prince of Denmark needed to store some stuff for a month or so last summer during her encampment here until her next living situation became available.

I came home today to see this old dorm loft out by the street. I can’t even exactly remember which of our children used this loft in their freshman living situation but it came home and it hung around somewhere and then when we rented 640, it got repurposed as a storage unit structure to hold boxes and things. I would betcha dollars that most colleges do not let parents build lofts for their children any more.

I was so excited when we rented 640. For years, every time somebody asked me what I wanted for my birthday or xmas, I would say, “A dumpster in the driveway”. I never got that but I did get storage unit 640 four years ago. Today, the GG emptied the few things that were left in it. We are at the point where we do not need external storage to deal with stuff. Although we still have stuff to deal with…

Butt in seat on mouseday

April 24th, 2017 by kayak woman

I was ready for work today. I can’t say I wasn’t a bit nervous about it. I felt like I left a bit of chaos behind two whole weeks ago and then there was the whole Ringling Museum courtyard talk-thru with my mouse to make sure people had the latest version of two of my functional specifications. On the other hand, work has been a bit chaotic lately anyway. I didn’t know what to expect exactly but as it turned out, things were just about how they were when I left. And that has been typical throughout my “adult” career in the online banking biz.

The hardest part of today was my commute, because when I got to the Ellsworth/State roundabout, I could. not. make. a. right. turn. Sigh. It’s the orange barrel season here in the Great Lake State and South State was closed from Ellsworth until Avis. I will be going “all tvarhe the way down to the bottom” (say it in a British accent please) to get to and from work for a while.

You do not want to know about work. It wasn’t bad at all and I was given plenty of space to do what I needed to do.

The other thing that happens today is that my second child, last child, aka the “baby”, reaches one of those zero birthdays. I wish her my best (of course!) but this is *probably* the last time I will post a bunch of embarrassing photos of her as a small child. But here are some, lightly captioned.

I am *not* a tiger, I am a *mouse*. Also, I do not wear hats.

Okay, this costume is muuuuch better.

Birthday number 2. A hat grandma Fran made, high heels, and an outfit that my brother’s family brought in a gift bag and my mouse took off whatever clothing she had on (right out in front of everyone) and donned the new outfit. I miss those days… … …

Various costume parts and pieces repurposed.

Rabbit head? I won’t even try to describe this one.

Home, where things are starting to get green

April 23rd, 2017 by kayak woman

As you can see, we are in the beginning of the spring season here on the Planet Ann Arbor, so there is a variety of foliage.

I love Florida very much but every time I have traveled there, I have been happy to return to the Great White North. I don’t really know why I feel that way or how to describe why I do. Probably that the Great White North is my home. There are people who migrate to Fla from around here. I don’t totally get it.

So, I ended up reading two Florida books on our trip. I wrote about Carl Hiaasen’s Tourist Season a while back. It was not my usual genre (crime novel) but I loved it and I think the GG did also. At one point, I heard him say something like, “These guys are crazy!” Yes.

I found “Continental Drift” randomly. I loved the writing. I could get tuned in to the characters. But how depressing can you get? I liked the main character or at least I wanted to like him but he just kept shooting himself in the foot over and over and over. Why did he move to Florida again? I dunno. I think he moved down there to try to make more money for his family. Alas. That can work out for a few people but for most folks it’s best if you already *have* some money when you move to Fla (or anywhere). We won’t even talk about the secondary character who made a long arduous journey to Florida from Haiti and was enslaved and raped, etc., over and over and over before she reached the shores of Florida. I can’t even… … … Why do human beings do these kinds of things to other human beings? I do not know. Sorry to get heavy here but…

I finished “Continental Drift” literally just outside The Planet Ann Arbor, just after we made the ugly turn from US23 to I94 west to our Jackson Road exit.

The GG did a whole heckuva lotta yard work today. Yer fav-o-rite blahgger hung out doing little chores like dishes and picking away at small unpacking stuff. And cooking chores. And reading. I am now reading “Idaho” and am totally engrossed in it. BFF has a hard copy of the book (her book club read it) but I am doing it on my phone, which is where I prefer to read books.

Work tomorrow. Hi… Ho…

Bumpity-clunk freeways and passing on the right? Where are we? We are home in the Great Lake State of course!

April 22nd, 2017 by kayak woman

Driving from Lexington to The Planet Ann Arbor is just about as many miles as driving from The Planet Ann Arbor to the moomincabin. I didn’t like the rain we started out with but it eventually dried up, fortunately south of Cincinnati. I don’t really like driving through Cincinnati but it was (sorta) okay today. No real slowdowns for us on the entire Florida Odyssey this time around. We sure saw some awful ones on the other side of the freeway(s) from us.

So we got home a little after 1:00 PM and what did we do? We went to the farmers market, of course! From Twitter somewhere in Ohaaao, I knew that they had asparagus today. I also knew (from experience) that by the time we got there, all of the asparagus would be gone. It was but I got lettuce and some fingerling potatoes and some gorgeous mushrooms and a whole chicken from Sparrow Meats, which is what we were really after. It’s okay, Farmer John will be bringing asparagus in to work from his garden or farm or whatever it is soon and I’ll be able to buy it at work.

And then we drove over to the other side of town to help celebrate a great-niece’s one-year-old birthday. Problem? We got there after the party was over and the baby was asleep. (There was some text message confusion that I cannot explain.) The grandparents were still there though and since they are the GG’s “ugly brother” the UU and his wife The Beautiful Gay, us old folks decided to head over to a bar in the area and so we did and TBG and I wanted to stay there all afternoon to yak and cackle away but we were good and scattered to the winds after a single whine. In a way it was a blessing in disguise that we missed the party because I wasn’t really into hanging around making small talk with people I don’t know this particular afternoon. Instead I got to hang out with my husband, his twin brother and wife. A good welcome back to The Planet Ann Arbor.

And then there were trout lilies in the woods behind our house. Home.

Dollar General

April 21st, 2017 by kayak woman

Well, first of all, when I got up this morning, I wanted to just replay yesterday. Hanging around with my BFF and her SO the Guru and Droney and I’m not sure what they call their fancy new Prius, if anything. Maybe they told me and I fergot? I dunno. They have an absolutely loverly house in a beautiful neighborhood a short walk away from all kinds of fun restaurants and shoppies and things. After we were done galumphing around the Atlanta Mechanical Botanical Gardens, we just huuuuuuunnnnng around, reading, surfing the internet, doing slide shows of our phone photos on the boob tube. Oh, and streaming various videos including a facebook stream (or something) of my niece defending her phd dissertation in Hawaii yesterday. We also saw glimpses of Cap’n Pete piloting the Soo Locks tour boat on a Pure Michigan video. And once, The Guru, who was the main VJ, was about to cruise past a Go-Pro-type video of someone on a snowmobile climbing a big hill and I yelled, “Go back! That’s my old ski hill!” It was indeed Mission Hill and the snowmobile went up the hill in the cleared area where the old ski lift used to be. Memories.

Alas, we had to take our leave this morning and we have come to a Temporary Hard Stop near the I75 Snowbird Geezerway somewhere in central Kentucky, poised for the last leg of our Epic Journey. We did not take I75 all the way up. We got off somewhere in Tennessee and took back roads up, skirting Knoxville to the west of it, eventually hooking up with US27, which we also often drive in the Great Lake State. We enjoyed all of the twisty-turny-ness of the road as it wound through the hills that are so common in the eastern Tennessee and Kentucky geography. It was way fun to drive those roads and sometimes (for me) a bit scary. At one point the GG said something like, “This road would be really fun in the Ninja.” Yes, yes, it would be. It was okay in the Frog Hopper but the Ninja would’ve hugged those curves and downshifting its 6-speed manual tranny would’ve been much better than having to hit the brakes all the time.

Dollar General? I forget where I started noticing Dollar General stores. It was somewhere on our journey down to Fla. After about the fifth or sixth one, I started noticing ALL of them. And I started saying “Dol-lar Gen-rul” every time we encountered one and eventually the GG also took up the chorus. They seem to line the secondary highways of the southeastern United Snakes of America, the Woldemort of our small rural towns. We spent quite a lot of time on secondary highways this trip and every little town had one. The Dollar General in the pic was in Cross City, Fla. We were on our way from Steinhatchee (Stein pronounced Steen) to Long Boat Key and we were looking for the Taste of Dixie Diner in Cross City and we couldn’t remember the name right off the bat but I knew it was in an email (from my Atlantian BFF) in my laptop, so we were looking for a place to pull over and dredge my laptop out and there was a Dollar General right there on the right (US98) so that’s where we pulled over. I have yet to set foot inside a Dollar General and I doubt I will on this trip. I have nothing against Dollar General. I just don’t need anything from Dollar General (or just about any other bricks and mortar store).

As coincidences go, I happened to read on *this* trip, that Dollar General is thinking about opening up a store in Brimley, Michigan, the small town a few miles west of the moomincabin that I have known my entire life. If Dollar General opens a store in Brimley, I will eventually go inside one.

P.S. If you noticed a “fatal error” when trying to access my boring bunch of blather blahg in the last 24 hours, I can tell you that the Guru is also my blahgmaster and it was kinda fun (except that I reeeallly didn’t want to make him work) to show him the fatal error in person instead of having to send him a text message. He fixed it in a jiffy! Thanks for everything, friends!

0 miles today

April 20th, 2017 by kayak woman

At least not in the Frog Hopper. We did put in a couple miles in a fancy new Prius.

I began my day with coffee, which I poured into my fave Atlantian Bay News 9 mug and drank while keeping an eye on a software update that ended up taking something like 30 minutes. It was okay. We did not find ourselves in any kind of a hurry to mobilize this morning.

When we did eventually mobilize, our host was somewhat apologetic that our destination was the same place she took us the last time we visited, the Atlanta Mechanical Botanical Gardens. This plan was A-OK with us though. The gardens are always a treat and at this point in our trip, I’m not sure I could’ve taken in one more new and wondrous thing. And of course, the gardens, being gardens, are by definition different every time you visit. I love it there and we had a nice little lunch (with whine) in the new (I think) cafe on the grounds.

Pics below. I’m too lazy (I think) to caption anything.

Droney in Atlanta

April 19th, 2017 by kayak woman

The Great White North is pulling on me big-time but we are stopping in Atlanta to visit Droney and his people for a couple days before we head back there. So here is Droney.

And here is a baggy old bag interacting with Droney. Note that she is NOT controlling him (we *think* Droney is male but don’t really know). She is just watching him with her iPhone in her hand. Her friend Sam (archaeologist, not dog) took this pic.

When we got to Atlanta today, it was late-lunch time and we were all hemming and hawing about where to have lunch. There are any number of restaurants within an easy walk but I heard something like “basement” and “dark” and “sorta like Knights” and that’s where we went. I had whine for lunch but when I found out that they serve Manhattans with a “sidecar”, I knew we had to go back. And so we did. Sam and I (girls only) walked back over there 6-ish for one ‘hattan’ and this is how they serve them. And this is Sam’s pic, which she took on my phone because she forgot hers.

Silver Springs and Gainesville. Short drive today. Whew!

April 18th, 2017 by kayak woman

The last time we visited Silver Springs it was not a Florida state park. It was an *extremely* mini-version of Mouselandia with exotic aminals and a petting zoo and some not-very-fancy amusement park stuff and monkeys and LOTS of alligators. Sometime in the last 30 years, the state of Florida adopted Silver Springs and it became a state park. No more giraffes. I spied a moldering roller-coaster and water slide and I dunno what else in the corner of my eye as we turned the corner toward the entrance into the park.

Nowadays you can rent a kayak there. The GG asked if I wanted to do that. Well. I wasn’t dressed for kayaking today at all and what I really wanted to do was go on the Silver Springs glass-bottom boats. I’m not sure what we paid to go on that boat but it was well worth it. Cap’n Jean piloted our tour and she talked about the history of the springs and river and pointed out wildlife whenever she saw it. No alligators or monkeys (although those are both around). They don’t feed wild creatures any more and that’s a good thing. As much fun as it was to see all those creatures years ago, I much preferred the park in the natural state it was today.

So here is a spring from a very deep cave, 81 feet if I remember accurately, but I can’t remember if the diver managed to find the bottom, at least not on that expotition. I know that he has gone on to map Fla caves and underground waters and I will have to google him.

This is just a cool view from a new boardwalk in the park. I loved the greeeeeeen!

This was a backroad kind of day. We didn’t travel on an interstate or a toll road or a turnpike or anything. We stopped to walk a short boardwalk off US 441 south of Gainesville to see if there were any gators and of course there was one. One of these days, we will take the time to explore more of this park.

So, Gainesville is nowadays an actual STOP on our Fla trips because our niece Pengie and her accomplice Corey live here. They brew their own beer and are also connoisseurs of food and beverages and it is always fun to see them because they take us all kinds of fun places. Today we started out at First Magnitude Brewery, where we sat outside in the garden area. We headed up to Crane Ramen for dinner but there was a wait so we went into Bull for a drink.

I could’ve probably spent the whole night at the Bull but we NEEDED to EAT and the Crane Ramen was wonderful and then we walked over to the Whiskey House, where the bartender actually remembered us from when we visited it approximately two years ago.

And then when we got back to our hotel, we parked next to a truck with the name “Gay” on it. Of course we HAD to take a pic of it because our beloved s-i-l is named Gay.

Fortunately, this time, the iPhone that took the pic did not fall down into the street and shatter. Because then we would have to make an appointment at the Atlanta Apple Store to get it fixed. We do not want to do that, oh no we do not. We will be in Atlanta tomorrow and we do not want to spend our time at the Apple Store. Not this time.

Not Mar-a Lago (and that’s a GOOD THING!)

April 17th, 2017 by kayak woman

I have posted pics of our Long Boat Key, Fla vacation rental and its surroundings but now that I am no longer there (alas!), I guess I can disclose the actual location, which is the Sea Club 1, 4141 Gulf of Mexico Drive. Be forewarned that I am going to shamelessly RAVE about this place! Brother Jim C and The Beautiful Becky discovered it and, as I have written previously, the Sea Club managers also have a place at our own Houghton Lake and know some of our neighbors there! The sign is below. I am at one end of the parking lot facing north. The “entering Sarasota County” sign is at the other end of the parking lot.

Our room is on the bottom floor, second from the left end of the building, right by the umbrella on the left. This was perfect for me. The second floor would probably have provided a better view of the beach and gulf but being on the first floor meant I could go in and out as often as I wanted.

This is the main area of our room, bed and living area. The bathroom is to the left right, out of sight. We had a studio apartment. One and two bedroom units are also available if you have a larger crew. Ours was perfect for us. Spotlessly clean!

I texted the beach urchins the next pic and they said something like, “He’s doing what he does everywhere.” As you can see, Turnstile, Softy Beanbag, and Froooooggggy came along for the ride.

Aaaannndd… Kitchen! We cooked breakfast here most mornings and some of the fixings for a filet mignon dinner one night. The stove is actually smaller than the stove at the moomincabin. It was perfect for our needs.

We cooked the steaks and some corn on the grill. Note the Lake Superior t-shirt. He also made it a point to ask for Bell’s Two-Hearted beer *every* blasted time we went out to eat! I think we have encountered exactly one restaurant that had it. Publix did but it has everything.

There are plenty of beach-type chairs that you can drag down to the beach. Of course there is a rule that you have to haul them back up to the bank when you are finished with them. I know all about that rule, having grown up on The Big Lake They Call Gitchee Gumee. Neglecting it during a period of low water came back to bite me a few summers ago when we had a huge storm and our beach chairs (and a few kayaks, etc.) scattered to the winds.

Ssshhhh… Don’t tell anyone but here’s a rule that “we” did break. There is no glass allowed in the pool area. For good reason. But the GG is an interesting character and he found a way to disguise his beer bottle.

This is the last photo I took at the Sea Club, this morning before we left.

I don’t know exactly how many miles our journey was today but it was epic and I was pretty dern punchy by the end of it. We cruised across central south Florida (past Lake Okeechobee, although we didn’t go and take a look) down to what turned out to be the Southern Trumpisphere. Our lunch destination was the Sailfish Marina in West Palm Beach or something. Why? So that our lovely niece Suley Hay could serve us lunch! It was fun seeing her, the youngest of the Gumper’s 19 grandchildren and lunch was great, and I wasn’t connected with the fact that we were somewhere near Southern Trumplandia until she told us that whenever the Orange Oligarch comes to town, they close some of the roads she uses to get to work.

From there, we cruised up I95 and over toward Mouselandia and have now stopped for the night (at long last) somewhere north of Mouselandia. There is NO WAY we will be visiting Mouselandia but I will campaign for Mickey for prez the next time around 🐽


April 16th, 2017 by kayak woman

So, how many times have you eaten somebody like Crabby for dinner? He is pretty much dinner sized I believe, although I was sitting up on the bank when the GG took this pic. A fisherman was casting out into the sea and Crabby grabbed some of his bait and so rode up on shore. He dropped the bait (he was not hooked) and apparently he was angry enough to try to intimidate the fisherman. Eventually he backed down into the Gulf of Mexico.

I got to the default number of steps I have my fitbit set at (10,000) today but I didn’t get much farther than that. I was LAZY today. It was okay. I swam wallowed in the pool today. A bit. It is a saltwater pool. I am okay with that. I didn’t swallow any water at all. But it was weird to me when I did taste salt and I took a shower before we went out to eat this afternoon. I also got a bit sunburned. Not much. I made sure I was sitting under an umbrella when I was not in the pool but some body parts got a wee bit exposed. It’s okay. By the time I get back to the Planet Ann Arbor, I will have tan arms.

I also finished the detective (or whatever) novel Tourist Season by Carl Hiaasen today. It is not my usual genre but it is set in Florida and it was a really fun read and I think I will be checking out more of his books. The GG ran out of books about the 1917 Russian Revolution so I suggested this book to him and I think he is also enjoying it.

Our vacay is not finished yet but beginning tomorrow, we will take a swing to the south and east and then the blasted Great White North will be pulling on us like it always does. This afternoon, we met up with our Beautiful Suz and Cap’n Ed for dinner over in Cortez. Suz is the GG’s beautiful younger sister and Ed (her husband) is a native Floridian with many stories to tell. We love them both so much. I wish I could teleport down here to hang out with them an hour or two at a time at will.

Florida Man (and Michigan Man)

April 15th, 2017 by kayak woman

Our first trip today was to take the boardwalk trails out to Quick Point, which is at the end of Longboat key. We had a difficult time leaving though because right around the time we were about to leave, April the giraffe was *finally* dropping her calf. She gave birth while we were walking out to Quick Point and we stopped amongst the mangroves to watch her calf slide out.

We went to the Sarasota Jungle Gardens today. I wanted to see some alligators and I did see a few but they were mostly small ones.

Here is my own personal [temporary] Florida Man hanging out at the Sarasota Jungle Gardens with his own personal giraffe.

And finally, we met up with the GG’s brother Jack for dinner. Here are the brothers at Cody’s Roadhouse.

Ladies, it’s three o’clock, it’s time to get dressed

April 14th, 2017 by kayak woman

I love Florida and I love the place we are staying. I sat out by the pool today and I listened to some “older” women talk about their experiences owning condos or whatever. I couldn’t figger all of that out. I didn’t get into the pool. I don’t really like pools although I may well get into this one before we are done. I am not much of an ocean swimmer either.

Apparently, a Florida condo-type woman had a habit of inviting her buddies to come on over in their bathrobes. So people started coming over in bathrobes and I guess (?) they must have hung around until 3:00 PM. Day-drinking? Yeah, probably. But I don’t quite get it. I take a shower and get dressed early. By three o’clock I am about ready for a Sinking Spell. Washing my face and maybe my feet. Bathrobe? What?

As I watched and listened to these swimming pool babes, I felt the first flicker of Great White North stir in me for a while now. I love it here but the Yooperland and the Planet Ann Arbor always pull me back. I don’t think I could be long-term friends with the women in the pool. But who knows.

Loons in Fla?

April 13th, 2017 by kayak woman

I checked my email before I got out of bed this morning and I read a wonderful story about how a southeast Michigan birder rescued a loon from a small pond in the US23 median south of The Planet Ann Arbor. Loons cannot walk on land. Their feet are waaaaay at the back of their bodies. The rescue was a long story involving a cat cage and university art class sinks and a successful release at Barton Pond.

Anyway, I read that story and then I dragged myself outta bed and took a shower and headed down to the beach to walk because I walk in the morning (if I can) and if there is a beach, more the better (or whatever). I didn’t get very far along the beach until I encountered a big black bird sitting there. It looked like a loon. Hello? Do loons hang out in Florida? I approached it very slowly (thinking about the scary beak that the folks who rescued the Michigan loon were talking about). Was this loon healthy or did it need rescue? I did not know.

As I slowly approached its area and wondered how to get around it, the loon dragged itself down into the water and dived. As you may be able to see in the pic!

The rest of the day? Hmmm. Boardwalk trails through mangrove swamps/terrain in two areas. Those were wonderful but they took more guzzinta outta me than I expected. Back at the Sea Ranch for a while, then I got bizness done by driving a couple miles down to Publix to pick up a few grokkeries and some beer. I got Two-hearted there. Yay for Publix for stocking that stuff. But I wasn’t surprised that they had it.

Chart House for dinner. Loverly (very good food and service) albeit not our usual kind of place. But we saw dolphins. Oh and I had fun in the ladies powder room on the way out. They were out of terlet paper everywhere except the handicapped stall. I was first in line and said, “I’ll be quick. I grew up with an outhouse.” All of the women in line tittered. Tee hee. I was out quick and they all tee-heed about that.

Truth be told, I have peed many times in places without toilet paper or a place to wash hands and I am still alive and kicking big time.

Love y’all,

Here I come to save the day! Mighty Mouse is on his her way!

April 12th, 2017 by kayak woman

Lemme see… Today… Began with a bird photobomber. If you look closely (or click to embiggen), you might see that the fool moon is setting in the pic. As I was pushing the photo button, this seagull came out of nowhere and bombed my photo. So cool!

We cooked a small brek here at the beach ranch and then we headed up to the Coquina Beach Farmers Market, which is mostly an artisan’s market although we did snag some Florida corn and tomatoes. And I made the impulse purchase in the photoooo below. I know. More interesting art. The GG was intrigued enough that I couldn’t resist. He’s talking about making it into a “real” hat by attaching it to a helmet he found somewhere and I have the artist’s card so I can send her a pic if/when he gets around to doing that yada yada…

Our main adventure for the day was to meet up with sister Suz and her husband Cap’n Ed and spend the afternoon at the Ringling Art Museum in Sarasota. We spent four hours there and my brain was dead by the end of it. A few pics from that, beginning with this statue in the courtyard between the two wings of the art museum. I am not sure what this statue is because at the time, I was decompressing from a stressful half-hour of dealing with work (yes, really, read to the end) and didn’t think to check.

Here is the GG in a somewhat more modern, temporary exhibit than most of the works in the museum.

We also walked outside through the rose garden. Cap’n Ed and Suz grow all kinds of plants in their yard including exotic fruits and they are greatly interested in horticulture. I enjoyed the roses greatly but I also loved the statues.

And there were banyan trees. Everywhere. Even a wee (like 50 foot) hiking trail through one.

We had an early dinner (for us) with Ed and Suz at a wonderful Italian place in the area of the museum and then we high-tailed it back to Long Boat Key in time to watch the sun go down.

And there was Mighty Mouse. Of all things, I got a text message from my boss this afternoon. I had forgotten to publish a couple of documents before I left. Oops. My bad! My team really needed these docs so I panicked for a split second or two or three. But then… As we were driving to Ringling, Mouse had been texting me FROM MY HOUSE about various things. Was she still there??? Maybe! YES! She was! Could I actually talk another person (any person?) through faaaarrring up my work laptop, locating a couple of files and emailing them to my boss? If I could manage to do that with anyone, it would be my Mouse. And that is exactly what we did. Mouse is a “millennial” and therefore has been using computers her whole life. But still, I am going to guess that there are any number of “millennials” who could not have done the very specific things that my “mighty” mouse did today, especially in the very short order of time we did it. I am always loathe to brag about my children. In the end, the best compliment I can pay them is that they are hard-working, conscientious citizens of the world and they absolutely ROCK! I love my Mouse unconditionally but she provided immense help to me and my entire work team today and I am very proud of her for being so smart and capable.

Hard Stop at 1483!

April 11th, 2017 by kayak woman

The first time I traversed the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, it was the old bridge. There were originally two spans, one northbound and the other south. A horrific accident involving a ship caused one of the spans to collapse in 1980. 35 deaths including people riding a Greyhound bus. Click here to read about it.

The day we crossed it was in 1986 and I didn’t connect it to the accident until we were on it. At that time, they were using the remaining span for both north and southbound traffic. It was slow and we could see the remains of the collapsed span next to us and I, who have traversed the Mackinac Bridge for most of my life, was TERRIFIED! A few years later, we crossed the NEW Sunshine Skyway *suspension* bridge (the old ones were cantilever bridges) and it was a whole new world. Causeways from the old bridge(s) are now used as fishing piers. So here we are, swinging down into Manatee County across the Sunshine Skyway!

Later on, after we got to our Hard Stop, I read on the internet that my *usual* large suspension bridge was coated with ice today. 🐽

We stopped at our Beautiful Suzie’s house for a hug on the way through Bradenton to our Hard Stop and she had packed a big bag of beach stuff for us. Sun screen and towels and a kite and all kinds of stuff. We were so appreciative. I could not find any sun screen at The Landfill and figured I’d just buy some. I suspect anything I had at home was 20 years old and disappeared during a flinging session.

Without disclosing our exact location, we are on Longboat Key, which is a long, skinny island on the Florida gulf coast. You’ve heard of the Florida Keys, think Hemingway? We are not down there. Key is just another name for island around these parts and we are west of the Bradenton-Sarasota area. We are on Gulf of Mexico Drive, which is the main north-south drag (and often the only drag through the skinnier parts of the island) up and down Long Boat Key. If you get to a drawbridge when a big sailboat wants to go through, you have to wait.

The Beautiful Becky discovered the place we’re staying at and I fell in love with it from the pictures. White and teal/turquoise? My Landfill Chitchen colors. It’s a old-school Florida place but clean and up-to-date and there is a connection of some sort to some Houghton Lake neighbors. Our room is second from the left end on the ground floor.

After our Hard Stop, I hiked down the beach a way. I hiked to the Second Group of Gulls. The first group is in the photoooo below. I like the way this photo turned out but don’t think that I set this thing up in any kind of careful way. Photographing wildlife with an iPhone is dicey and I don’t have the patience to sit around getting pummeled by waves or eaten up by moe-skee-toes (or ticks, yick) to get a good photo. I held down the button on my phone so it took a “burst” of something like 90 photos as I slowly approached these gulls. They were pretty much oblivious to me until I was literally feet away from them and then they slowly flew off. I deleted 95% of the photos in the burst.

We have a small but fully equipped kitchen in this place so we hit the Publix 2.5 miles down the road for coffee and some brek stuff, then we had dinner (and a Salty Dog) at the Old Salty Dog. We used to drink salty dogs at the moominbeach and maybe we’ll have to resurrect that tradition although I don’t think we will totally abandon ‘hattans. I have been to the Old Salty Dog before, many years ago. I don’t think it has changed a lot although I am sure they did not have edamame salad before. I chose that to go with my shrimp basket today and it was really good.

I remember when we were here all of those years ago, there were drive-thrus where you could get a salty dog to go in a big cup with lots of ice and a straw and everything. Yes, I mean you could buy a to-go alcohol drink IN YOUR CAR. I bet that’s not legal any more.

Trumping along off the beaten path

April 10th, 2017 by kayak woman

We took the slow route today, hugging the panhandle coastline on US98 and then south until we turned off toward Steinhatchee (I think you pronounce “stein” as “steen” and “hatchee” means river if I have it right).

It was a longer trip than I think either of us expected it would be but it was a very interesting drive. So much of Florida is chock-a-block with buildings and cars and whatever. Today we drove through miles and miles of nothing but trees and swamps and wilderness on either side of the road. And probably gators, I would guess. And not a lot of traffic except for some trucks that came out of various mining operations or whatever, we couldn’t quite figure that out. Once when we tried to follow a little road to a boat launch, I dern near ran over a SNAKE! I wasn’t going very fast (it was a dirt/gravel road) but it was too fast to do much more than pray (in my own godless way) that I wouldn’t hit it. I didn’t but what a close call. We didn’t get to the boat launch. We were going to eat Road Food (PBJ on thin bread) there but it seemed like the road might go on forever, so we turned around and ate our Road Food back on the highway.

We are spending the night in Steinhatchee in an old-school motel. It is clean and I am gonna guess that most of the people who are also staying here (not very many on this off-season Monday night) will likely be in bed by 10 PM. In fact, we are still sitting outside at 9PM and I am worried that our quiet conversation and the GG’s occasional computer video will bother others. On the other hand, a fellow guest just walked down our way for help (or commiseration) about trouble-shooting his internet connection. The GG was uncharacteristically quiet about offering help but our fellow guest somehow managed it anyway.

We had a recommendation from friends both for Steinhatchee and the motel. I love the area and the motel seems fine and I am hoping that it will satisfy the GG’s hankering for stopping off at any old mom and pop type place alongside the road. Sometimes okay, sometimes a little dicey. The water tastes funny to me here. I’m sure it is okay and it’s just that I am spoiled by our fancy Planet A2 water but what the heck, we have bottled water in the Frog Hopper.

And then there was this thing that was in the lobby of the restaurant we ate at tonight. As I said on Facebook, I am *not* a Trump fan but I still love the friends and family who are (I just don’t understand). This photo op was just too funny to pass up. I do know enough to keep my mouth shut when I am in “Trump country”, which I think I am… So, we sat at the bar tonight and a friendly local chatted us up. I could not tell if he was Trumpian or not but I watched my words just in case. We did enjoy talking to him and he seemed just as interested in my life as he did the GG’s. That is a rare thing. It is always a bit difficult to decide how much to tell someone you meet when you are on vacation…

On the way out of the restaurant, I visited the Ladies Powder Room and, while I was in there, apparently a woman entered the lobby, saw Donald Trump there and said something like, “That Trump has got to go!” I guess not everyone around here agrees with the restaurant owner.

Today’s odometer reading 1255, so 222 miles. Fitbit? 13757 steps.

379 miles, 14,451 steps and inverse Bob Miles

April 9th, 2017 by kayak woman

I think I had somewhere around 2,000 steps to my name when we finally hit Panama City Beach this afternoon. We had a beautiful drive down through Alabama. I don’t think we saw a cloud all day and the roads were clear even through the big cities (Birmingham and Montgomery). After Montgomery, we split off onto a non-interstate US highway (231). We drove that road all the way down to Panama City, Florida and I LOVED that road. It was the long version of my Zen Drive to Cubelandia every day. That’s about the only way I can describe it (I drove most of it). We’ll talk about the S-town podcast we listened to for most of the trip some other day. The road would’ve been cool with or without the podcast but probably not with tornado warnings but we didn’t have those…

So, we crossed into Flo-ri-duh in the panhandle this time. Of COURSE we stopped at the welcome center to get our free little cup of orange juice. We are honoring The Gumper (my late father-in-law) when we do this but I think we would do it *anyway*. Apparently there is a secondary part to this stop, which is to get a Florida road map. The map is not on my radar screen but the GG did snag one. We ate road sandwiches (PBJ) there and then got on down the road.

After about an hour of difficult gyrations in the Panama City area, we snagged a room a few blocks from the gulf in Panama City Beach. I was ready for some walking but not until I had a wee bit of a HARD STOP! 379 miles is not 653.7 miles but it takes a toll. The GG found a cool-looking beach-type bar/restaurant and I was game for that but he was also trying to say that it would be a 3-mile walk there, meaning it would be a 6-mile walk total. Oh man, I wasn’t up for a 6-mile beach hike after a 379 mile drive. But then I looked into it on Google maps and it was more like a three or four-mile hike total, there and back. Okay we can do that. So we walked the 4-5 blocks to the beach and…

You may be able to see a few blue lights in this photoooo. What you can’t see is the helicopter that was circling above or the other billion cop vee-hickles, or all of the police tape that prevented people from getting to the beach or the TV news folks getting their cameras and stuff out of their car trunks. It was one of those folks who said there had been some kind of shooting in the nearby “shoppes”. Seeing the “shoppes” on the map was one of the reasons I thought this particular area of Panama City / Beach would be a nice safe place for some baggy old Michiganders to start their Florida vacay. Things seemed under control and we did find a way down to the beach… Where no one seemed to have a clue about any police action.

This is a beautiful “sugar sand” beach, the kind that you can walk barefoot. My family’s Lake Superior beach has similar sand but I have been on many Fla beaches where I have needed to wear footwear of some sort. We walked barefoot down to Pineapple Willy’s beach bar and encountered this sand castle along the way.

Wouldn’t you know that Pineapple Willy’s actually had Bell’s Two-hearted beer.

We shared a shrimp dinner and salad and then we walked back down the beach as the sun set. Along the way, some folks asked if we would mind taking their family’s picture and of course we obliged… And then the GG got to talking… and they were from Wisconsin… and… the YOUNG looking woman turned out to be the daughter of a WWII dad and that’s too long a story for this blahg but her dad went to the same college (Marquette University) as our beloved Grampa Garth and Grandma Sally, possibly around the same time… The sun went down and the nearly full moon came up as we navigated this conversation. We will probably never see these people again but it was such a fun encounter.

Sweet Home Alabama

April 8th, 2017 by kayak woman

One of the [many] states I have never been to before. 653.7 miles today! Or is it 657.3? Does it matter? I’m not sure what time it was but it was around mile 500-something that we saw a sign for a Jack Daniels distillery tour. Did I want to go on a bourbon tour? Oh. My. Gosh. Not at this hour (or whatever). We would have to get off the freeway, drive who knows how many miles, figure out how to get on a tour, take the tour. No. It was time to start thinking *seriously* about where we were going to s-t-o-p for the night. We won’t even talk (this time) about the fact that I “own” one square inch of land somewhere around there. Via Squire Finlayson, aka my old coot.

We started out on the I75 Snowbird Geezerway this morning but we split off a bit south of Cincinnati (ugh to that section of freeway) onto I71 and went over to I65 and down through Louisville (KY) and Nashville (TN). I have never traveled on either I71 or I65 before. I have never been to Louisville or Nashville before. And I can’t really say I have been to those places now. We did drive-bys. In the case of Nashville, since I was driving and had NO CLUE where the heck I was or where I needed to go, it was a an exercise in self-control. Trying to remain CALM as the GG navigated me through about a billion interchanges. In most cases, I simply needed to GO STRAIGHT but it was still stressful. I do not know what the heck we did before GPS and Google maps… And no, I did not get a photo of the Batman Building. The only reason it was on my radar screen at all was because some random person tweeted about it the other day. They said it was in Nashville. “Our” “plans” for this trip have been kind of all over the map but at that time, I wasn’t even sure we were going *through* Nashville. But we did and I kept my eyes open and I saw it but there was no way I could stop and get a pic. Oh, and I ALMOST missed the Butter Jeebus (Monroe, OH). I was driving then too and I drove past it without seeing it but then I realized we were passing Monroe and there it was in my rear view mirror. It’s okay. It isn’t anything like the original Butter Jeebus (it’s a YouTube and you can quit after the faaaaar starts unless you want to listen to the whole song). Alas, I never saw the original Butter Jeebus in person and it was destroyed by lightning a while back (see video). The new one doesn’t even begin to replace it but I still like to note its location.

So we have finally made a hard stop here in northern Alabama and we are about to go out and figger out where to eat. The choices are a bit limited, mainly chains, but it turns out it isn’t a Dry County. We were a bit worried about that but I think they just don’t advertise liqwire on signs everywhere. All that said, we are a wee bit spoiled, given that every small town in the northern Great Lake State seems to have a decent brewpub or two or three not to mention fancy coffee joints and The Planet Ann Arbor has just about everything you could ever want.