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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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March 04, 2011

Still in Florida and Way Behind on Journaling!

Tuesday I woke up to the sounds of a real downpour which was a shocker after the two days of bright sun and heat.  It stopped by around 8:30 or so we were good and did some of our spring cleaning in the morning and then went to explore what turned out to be a great antique store.  It's absolutely huge - we were there probably at least a couple of hours and still didn't finish one section!  Then Peggy wanted to get to Target and buy a cannister vacuum cleaner and that turned out to be quite an adventure.  We drove all over creation and DID finally end up at a Target but who knows where.  We found out that there is one right at the edge of The Villages but too late.  We had dinner out that night at a place called TooJay's which is a big chain in Florida.  It was good but too much food.  I will say, they're very generous with the wine!  That was in the Spanish Springs village and we decided we would go back during the day to explore the shops there.

Wednesday was a real nice day.  Woke up to a beautiful, cool morning - cool enough to start out with a light jacket.  We gave ourselves a day off and drove over to Bradenton (in the Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg area) to go to the baseball game at the Pittsburg Pirates training camp.  I have to say their playing was fairly dismal but it was such fun to be there.  The only other pro baseball games I've ever been to are a few Cincinnati Reds games and they're fun too but with this smaller field, we were so much closer to the diamond.  Made me realize in the bigger stadium it's more like just watching it on TV.  And, of course, probably about the greatest thing about going to a game is eating!  And I have got to learn to quit having my first purchase be an Italian sausage sub.  I used to make those at home when I was young and not having to worry about calories and I loved, so I always think "oooh, that's what I'll get" and am then so disappointed cause they're not very great.  So, I did it again and ended up throwing most of it out.  Then went and got a corn dog and it was just like it should be only huge but I managed to get rid of most of it, along with a bag of chips and a drink.  Then later in the game, it was time for something else - not because we were hungry, just because it was time for something else.  So I bought a bag of peanuts in the shell and a small beer and, mmm, that was good too.  You'd think somewhere in there I squeezed in something sweet, but I don't think I did.  Here are a couple of so-so pictures but maybe better than none.

Our seats were just a few away from the man in the hat so you can see how close we were.  And then at some point we went down into the rows of seats there in front so we were four rows away from the field!

While we were eating our "main meal" (corn dog for me, french fries for Peggy), we sat at a table with a guy who had a t-shirt on that said some about an Anna Maria Pier centennial.  It was a nice picture on the shirt so I asked him what that was all about and he said it was a pier right nearby and told us how to get there.  So after the game went in search of it and actually found it thanks to 2 guys who got us out of the ballpark area and almost to our destination.  We only had to stop once to ask for more help and then it turned out we were about two blocks away from the pier.  And it also turned out, when I finally got to look at a map, that we were on Anna Maria Key which I didn't even know existed.  I knew about Longboat and Lido Key cause way back before children, my first husband and I had stayed for a week on Longboat Key in August!!  So there I was on a key again and it looked like a nice place for exploring sometime.  Lots of shops and cafes with neat names and lots and lots of vacation rental houses, small apartment buildings and such.

After going out to the end of the pier and looking way across to where you could barely see the long, long bridge going across to St. Petersburg (it's like our beautiful bridge in Huntington, only there are two spans instead of our one), we wandered up the bit of beach that's there - it's not a sunning beach but it was wonderful being so near the water and seeing all the different water birds.

 Oh, and all these pictures - baseball and birds were taken with my phone because after having my camera and leaving the memory card out one day, I got home, put the memory card in right away, and then left the next day on this outing without the camera!  HELP!!!

And then it was the long trek back home.  Got home after dark but in time to watch In the Middle and Modern Family which we both like.  Nice day...

Thursday was our spring cleaning in the morning and then lunch at Subway at the Sumter Lake village, a stop at a couple of shops there where Peggy was looking for a certain kind of shirt and then over to Spanish Springs village (these are the two villages in The Villages" just to make sure you're staying confused) to visit all the various shops there and also following a decent interval after lunch, stopping for ice cream which was some of the best I've ever had.

By then it was getting on towards 6:00 so we decided to sit in the village square and listen to the music and watch the dancing.  Every night apparently, both these villages have live music in their squares along with happy hour and they really get good sized crowds.  It's fun watching them - some of the couples last night were quite good and one especially you knew watching them that they must have really cut a rug in their younger days.

 This is one corner of the square where we sat.  This little guy flew in for a landing right over our heads and swam around looking quite pleased with himself.

And this is from the square looking at one of the Spanish style buildings surrounding it.

On the way home, we stopped at a grocery store and I bought some Brie cheese and good crusty rolls and strawberries.  And that's what we ate when we got back home.

So another nice day and now it's already Friday, I've finished my window cleaning and we'll be setting out again for some more wandering.  We noticed an Indian restaurant last night and might try that for lunch or dinner although I worry Peggy might not enjoy it - she's only had Indian food once...


Christopher said...

The day at the baseball game looks especially nice. Sounds like quite a great place to be in Florida, with lots of stuff to do and see not too far off. Don't forget sunblock! :)

jamie said...

You never, ever go without your camera!!! But - your phone is taking good pics. The shops sound amazing and the restaurants. Have fun and tell Peggy I said "hey".

January said...

What a great trip so far! How nice to have a pal to take you somewhere new for such a pleasant adventure. I love that picture of the ... pool? fountain? ... with the lone bird swimming around. Keep having fun!

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