Hi, Everyone…..We’re posting again!!

I’m so sorry for the big “gap” once again in my postings! No excuses – I just gave myself a break! But we have had some awesome times since I last posted.

I’ll start with Christmas 2022. It was such a blessing to have my kids and grands all here to celebrate the holidays! We had such a good time celebrating Christ’s birth among good food and fun times playing games, going to the beach and relaxing around the pool. There is NOTHING like family!

To celebrate Howie’s 75th birthday back in October, I gave him a cruise to the Caribbean which we enjoyed in January. Our ports included the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos and Half Moon Cay.

As some of you may recall, every year my four sisters and I enjoy what we refer to as “Sister’s Week”. Usually, we spend a week together here in Naples, but this time, we all went on a cruise! This time, we saw Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. We enjoyed exploring private beaches, island tours, and good and interesting food. But our favorite was renting a private boat with our own skipper, Omar, who took us to Starfish Beach and to Stingray City. Oh, did I mention that we did a little shopping as well !!??

To say we had a great time, is a huge understatement! “What a hoot”, sums it up pretty well. Making more memories!!

OK, so after we had so much fun, then it was back to real life again as Howie underwent a big back surgery. After inserting rods and a mesh cage in his vertebrae, he was supposed to come home after spending 1-2 nights in the hospital post-op. But unfortunately, he developed some complications, including pneumonia and a bowel that refused to “wake up”, and he ended staying 9 nights.

I am happy to announce that following months of recovery, he now reports that he is pain free and declares the surgery a huge success! Praise God!

Another fun event is my Island Walk friends, Carol, Marge and Tami, and I decided to gather routinely for “craft day”. So, I, being the sewer of the group conducted sewing lessons at my house. We had fun making rope baskets and fabric storage boxes.

Over the months this winter, we enjoyed catching up with several guests. First were Pam and Scott Henker, friends from our time living in Minocqua, WI. Next, I got to reconnect with high school friends, Karen (Moritz) Shelby and Kathy (Kirby) Martin. Karen, I see on occasion as she is the sister of my brother-in-law but I hadn’t seen Kathy for probably 45 years! Both have homes down here, so we met for lunch and did a BIG “catch up”!

Our cousins Cheri and Fred Janssen, spent a few months in the Naples so we got to spend time with them as well. And over her spring break, my daughter, Amanda came for a not long enough visit. As I said before, FAMILY…..so precious!

Now for some really great news……my baby sister and her husband, Lori and Vic Zimmerman, bought a home right here in Island Walk where we and my sister and brother-in-law, Marj and Larry, have our homes! We’re all so excited to have them as “neighbors” as their new home is less than a minute from ours. Welcome to Florida, you two!!

April brought a wedding to our family!! Grandson, Ryan Neese married “his Katy” in April. They make a perfect and cute couple and will be residing in Bradley IL. We’re so happy for them and wish them a long and beautiful marriage!!

Our grand daughter, Kailey went to prom in Yorkville, IL, this spring. I just have to share a few photos of my beautiful girl!

And our grandson, Garrett, shows off another 1st place medal that he earned in a tournament. He’s quite the wrestler!!

So, you can see a LOT has happened since we returned from our travels in November!! Howie and I have stayed happily healthy and enjoy our time at home relaxing in the pool, going to the beach, or just chilling.

Amanda and the kids, Kailey and Garrett, are planning to be here for 1 1/2 weeks in June and will be leaving for home the day before we hit the road again in Junebug!

We have a really BIG trip ahead of us. It will include a visit with Howie’s 95 year old Mama and another family wedding, both in Illinois, before we head west this year. Our itinerary includes, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, the Banff region in Canada, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, NM, Hot Springs, AR, the Florida panhandle, and Siesta Key. Of course we hope you’ll be journeying along with us to see what adventures we can find along the way!!

As always, our wish for you all is to enjoy whatever “Happy Trails” come your way as we all journey through this life that we have all been blessed to enjoy!!!

ILLINOIS = FRIENDS AND FAMILY

Before you read this post, let me just say that this draft was somehow lost among the chaos. Even though it’s extremely late, it still needed to be posted as it serves as an important part of our lives and history……so please, read on!

One of the best things along a journey such as the one we’ve been on is seeing friends and family along the way. As you’ve seen in previous posts, we try to connect with those we know and love along our journeys. But if we get to Illinois, we jump at the opportunity to see our family and friends whenever possible!

We spent some time with my daughter and grandkids in Yorkville, Amanda, Kailey and Garrett. We were also fortunate to enjoy dinner out with them and my son and his wife, Casey and Natalie.

Kailey, #10, played with her Jr Varsity volleyball team in a tournament, before rushing home for homecoming. The tourney lasted longer than expected so we tag teamed her in getting ready!

A quick time out for a relaxing three generation pedicure……

Lunch with long time friend, Barbie Koth in Naperville…..

Dinner with my Northwestern nursing friend, Cindy and her husband, Tom…….

Lunch with another Northwestern nursing friend, Joanna. Unfortunately, I did not get her picture but she is the captain of a sailboat…..here is a picture of the Chicago skyline that she took later that evening. Beautiful!

Then on to Kankakee to spend some fun time with some of Howie’s kids and grands as well as his brother and fiancĂ©……Happy #75, Howie!!!!

HAPPY TRAILS, EVERYONE!!!

JUST LETTING YOU ALL KNOW ……WE’RE HOME!!

Yep, we made it safely home after four wonderful months on the road. It was an uneventful trip to Naples from Ocala and we are grateful for our safe arrival.

Once more, we had a great time, met some new friends, reconnected with some family members and gained an even deeper understanding on getting along well with your spouse when living in a tin can – tee hee!

Our home was in great shape when we got here. Hurricane Ian had no affect on our home or property for which we are so thankful! All was in its place. Once the motorhome was unpacked and all was put away, we have been able to relax and put our feet up.

The last few days on the road, I found something that just cracked me up and it just makes me happy………

This little statue had to have been made just for Howie and me…….we have taken countless “selfies” along our “Happy Trails” – always with cheesy smiles on our faces! What a HOOT – I just had to share this! It has a permanent home in Junebug!

We feel so blessed to be able to take a motorhome journey every summer. Should you be toying with the idea to do the same, or if you have the opportunity, please just do it! There is so much diverse beauty in our country and we count ourselves lucky to be able to see so much of it. Next year, our hope is to tour through the last four of the contiguous United States; Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada as well as Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper, Canada.

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Genesis 1:31

REMEMBER TO TAKE THE TIME TO ENJOY THIS BEAUTIFUL WORLD AROUND US! AND AS ALWAYS…………..HAPPY TRAILS!

SILVER SPRINGS, FLORIDA SILVER SPRINGS STATE PARK AND CAMPGROUND

Well now…..this is yet another really nice Florida State Park campground. It’s not as fancy as Topsail, nor does it offer the many amenities, but over all, very nice.

The sites are LARGE and spaced well apart. Even though there’s a lot of vegetation, privacy is sketchy. The sites are all level, full hook up, but the foundation is fine gravel, not paved. We were here just one night, so we didn’t have opportunity to check out the bath houses so I can’t report on that. But there are several large covered pavilions and at least one nice playground. There is no WiFi or cable but the over the air TV is great! There is no swimming pool, nor is there swimming anywhere within the park – however, there are some AWESOME hot springs nearby (I think it was Juniper Springs) which we went to a couple of years back. Back then we spent the day relaxing in the super clear water and really enjoyed ourselves!

With the limited time we had, we went on one of the glass bottom boat tours. This ride lasted about 45 mi and cost $12/senior, and $13 for adults. This was a great price for the amount of enjoyment we had. We saw quite a bit of wild life including birds, turtles, lots of fish and even manatee. The springs vary in depth with a maximum of 48 feet.

Here are a few pictures of the campground. Once again, as Florida residents, we only paid $12 per night plus a $7 charge each night for utilities. You just can’t beat these prices!!!

We give Silver Springs State Park Campground a 7/10.

From here, we are driving about 4 hours south to our home in Naples! Once again, it’s been a wonderful 4 months on the trails but it’s always good to get back home!!! HAPPY TRAILS, EVERYONE!!

TOPSAIL PRESERVE STATE PARK, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

If you’re able to secure a campsite in this awesome Florida state park, count yourself lucky!!! This is another state park that is very popular for many reasons! Not only is the location ideal as it sits right along the coast, but it offers so many amenities that campers place at the top of their list!

The sites are spacious with good space in between along with a lot of vegetation that allows for a significant amount of privacy. All sites are level, many are paved with the balance having a fine gravel – all have a concrete patio and all are full hook up with 50 amp service. If you are not a camper, you can rent a really nice cabin bungalow if you so choose. Cable TV is provided with good over the air channels as well. There is no campground WiFi service but there is a hotspot right outside the store which you can use.

There is a swimming pool and several small lakes for fishing – but there are alligator signs posted. They have shuffleboard, a playground, a camp and gift store, a laundry and a good size bath house. There is a clubhouse and a coffee shop with a barista and the BEST maple bacon or Nutella croissants EVER. There are a lot of hiking and biking trails – if you didn’t bring a bike or canoe, you can rent one at the store. One of the best amenities is the free tram that will take you right to the beach. It leaves every hour and is actually kind of fun! They also recycle here!

The greatest attraction is the beautiful beach. It’s ideal with shallow, clear aqua water, soft white sand that extends into the water so you walk on nothing but softness under your feet. The dunes on the path to the beach are beautiful and interesting.

The first day here, we saw a LOT of large brown jellyfish in the water. Over the next three days, I saw ONE!! The one pictured was probably about 14″ across. HOWEVER, my last day at the beach I was treated to a shark!!!! It was not too far off shore – the water depth would probably have been about chest high on me. I’m going to guess that it might have been about 5 feet long. My pictures are a bit blurry as I had to enlarge them quite a lot for you to see it. I have one shot of its dorsal fin out of the water and the other shot shows it silhouetted in the wave.

As a Florida resident we paid $12/night, half of the usual $24. In addition there is a $7 utility fee per night. All in all, a GREAT DEAL!

We agree that Top Sail easily deserves a 9/10. The only reason it’s not a 10 is the absence of WiFi!.

HAPPY TRAILS!!!!

YOU NEVER KNOW WHO YOU MIGHT MEET ALONG YOUR PATH!

It just so happened that my son, Casey and his wife Natalie, arrived in the Destin area for vacation the night before our departure. It was simply awesome to meet them for dinner at Cantina Laredo, a very good Mexican restaurant.

I’m going to take this moment to talk about the amazing man that I get to call my son! Casey has done some really awesome things in his life……many things that most of us will NEVER experience.

Much to my chagrin, Casey LOVES scuba diving. One of the first great expeditions that he went on was to go hours off of the west coast of Mexico to a very small deserted island where he spent a week of diving with the great whites!

Another expedition took him to the Cooper River in South Carolina where his diving resulted in finding megalodon teeth. His most recent diving takes him into underwater caves. Is that bad enough??? No, he particularly loves diving at NIGHT!! I’ve earned every one of these grey hairs!!!

Casey has been planting the scuba diving seed in his nephew (my grandson), Garrett, age 10 who, with Casey as his mentor, is currently working to obtain his scuba certification. Garrett has completed all his classroom training and most of his diving but still has one more dive ahead before reaching his goal. He has to dive down 40 feet and complete a bunch of tasks, like breathing from another O2 mask in the event his would malfunction or run out of O2. Now have two to worry about!!!

Casey has just recently completed 25 years with ABC Chicago News where he started as a videographer but is currently working as a managing editor. Along with his usual responsibilities to get the news delivered, Casey has become a licensed drone pilot for the station. Many of those awesome aerial shots you see have most likely been shot by Case.

Casey’s work at ABC has been recognized as exceptional on many occasions as he has won several Emmys for his stories showing his talents in filming and editing!!!

Casey has spent many enjoyable hours volunteering at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago as a diver in the Caribbean Reef tank feeding the sea life.

This amazing guy has surprised me and Howie on a trip to Disney by coming with Garrett so we could experience Garrett’s first time at Disney together. One of the best surprises, EVER! ABC is owned by Disney so an employee perk is free entry into the park – the employee has to be present so we got to enjoy this perk as well – thanks, Case!!

Of all these tremendous accomplishments, none are as great as one……….marrying his wife, Natalie, ranks as his number one, “BEST EVER”! She’s his perfect “other half” and she keeps this crazy kid grounded!!

I think we’ve done a pretty good job raising this awesome guy. I’m a very proud mama!!

HAPPY TRAILS TO YOU AND TO ALL THOSE YOU LOVE!!!

GERONIMO RV RESORT, Miramar, Florida

This campground is only two blocks from the Gulf. It is one of the smallest RV Resorts that we have ever stayed at – only 38 sites. The sites are shaded, level and paved. There is minimal space between sites offering no privacy.

The WiFi is high speed but limits are placed on your use. Cable is provided and is good, as is over the air TV. We are a bit puzzled as to why this campground is considered a “resort” as there are no amenities……not even a pool. There are bathrooms, a laundry and a small gift shop. It is maintained and manicured well.

The only real benefit to staying here is the close proximity to the beach. It is quiet here – there are only 38 sites and it is away from busy roads. But the cost is ridiculously expensive at $114/night!!

We rate this campground a 7/10

WE’RE BACK IN THE SUNSHINE STATE!!

We are coming to the end of yet another RV-ing season with mixed feelings. We SO enjoy the vagabond lifestyle but we’re always happy to arrive back home. So we welcomed the Florida sign as we entered back into our home state.

A usual stop for us is at Joe Patti’s Seafood store. This is one amazing place and it’s always fun to browse and see all the activity.

This is seafood at it’s freshest. This time we came away with shrimp and grouper filets…….DELICIOUS!!!!

We are staying at two different campgrounds while in the Destin/Miramar area – Geronimo RV Resort and Topsail State Park Campground. Watch for our campground reviews.

Again, the main attraction here for us is definitely the beaches. In my opinion, this area claims top ratings for the beautiful, fine white sand beaches and crystal clear aqua waters. Finding a shell here is surprisingly difficult but then you walk only on soft sand as you enter and enjoy the water. My favorite, is when the temperatures are around 75, there’s a soft breeze, the sun’s bright and the waves are gentle! We even saw a manatee slowly swimming past.

Do you know what kind of animal made these sand tracks?

Now do you know?!

Some days are better for just sunning in the beach instead of playing in the water. One day, the water was filled with jellyfish, the next day I only saw one!

My kind of perfect day…..”Life is Good!”

HAPPY TRAILS, EVERYONE!!!

GULF STATE PARK CAMPGROUND Gulf Shores, Alabama

We really like this state park campground – it’s one of Alabama’s shiniest gems! This campground has 500 RV sites and a handful of primitive sites. All the sites are full hook up, 45 feet paved and level! WiFi and over the air TV are both very good. That’s a LOT to boast about.

The sites are very spacious with some privacy. While you can see your neighbors, the excessive space in between allows for that sense of privacy. There are numerous bath houses throughout and they are maintained very well. There is a clean and large laundry room, a large camp store, tennis courts and an oversized olympic swimming pool. Just across the highway is the Gulf of Mexico. The beaches and sand are beautiful – such a great way to unwind and relax!

There are miles (literally) of hiking and bike paths/boardwalks that you can take to various places within the park, including the beach and in to town. You may even see an alligator or armadillo along the way!

In spite of its size, it’s very quiet here, especially at night. If you didn’t know better, you’d think you were the only camper.

500 campsites along Middle Lake

2022 rates – they do offer Senior Rates as well.

This campground is very popular largely because of the wonderful amenities and reasonable pricing – make your reservations as soon as you can as it fills up quickly!

We rate this campground a 10/10. We really can not think of anything they can do to improve this wonderful facility.

HAPPY TRAILS!

GULF SHORES, ALABAMA

Every year, I write about Gulf Shores, Alabama. That is largely because we ALWAYS stop here. We simply love the Gulf State Park Campground. To find out why, read my upcoming post on the campground.

Just one state away from home after almost 4 months on the road

Other than the campground, we like the area because it is right on the gulf and even though it’s a bit “touristy” it’s not super congested or over populated. We don’t do much here which may add to our enjoyment of the area because we just kind of go to the beach daily and just chill. Listening to the waves roll in along with the call of the sea gulls is very relaxing and therapeutic. That is until you spill a container of chips and the squawking birds are forming a cloud of flapping wings above your head!! Anyway, I really enjoy trying to capture their antics and quest for food scraps.

We were here for 8 days but I don’t feel that I have anything really interesting to post – we spent four days on the beach, ate at a few good restaurants, did a little shopping and antiquing (didn’t find any REAL treasures) and Howie even worked one day.

The best thing we did do, was to meet up with my cousin, Rhonda Meister and her husband, Spark. They have a condo on the beach and somehow we’re usually lucky enough to be here at the same time! So we met for breakfast at the Sunshine Diner, a 50’s themed restaurant and we had a great time catching up once again. There’s just nothing like family!! It warms the heart and brings back so many wonderful memories about growing up!

We also met for dinner with a couple we met while at Shipshewana. Becki and Randy are full rime RV’ers from California. It was fun to compare campground notes – but I regret to say that I didn’t think to snap a picture to include in my post. Wishing them safe journeys and Happy Trails!

I am NOT an adventuresome eater…..not at all! So it was a BIG stretch for me to try an alligator bite! (Fried alligator tail) Hmmmmm……it really DOES taste like chicken!!

Another restaurant that’s rather fun is Lambert’s – Home of the Throwed Rolls! The gimmick here is the waiter pushing a cart of huge, hot rolls which they throw across the room to the hands waiting to catch them. While the food is plentiful, it’s good but not great……but those hot rolls are certainly very good!

One thing we DID do that we just really can’t recommend – one day we drove to the western tip of the Gulf Shores peninsula, Fort Morgan, and we took the ferry to Dalphin Island where Fort Gaines sits. Historically, these two forts protected Mobile bay. I had read that the beaches on this island are Alabama’s hidden gems, boasting caribbean blue, clear waters and great shelling. We drove to three different beaches, none with exceptionally wonderful water or shells, so we got back on the ferry and went back to Gulf Shores where we feel the water and beaches are much better. Maybe we just hit a bad day – but I did finally get to check it out.

From here, we’re continuing east – our next destination, Destin, Florida where we’ll be for a week before arriving back in Naples. Traveling in the motorhome is a great adventure – an opportunity that we feel very blessed to have……but Dorothy was right, “there’s no place like home!” It will be good to see the ole’ homestead and our friends there again as well as Marj and Larry who we didn’t travel with this year. Our trails took us in different directions this year, so it will be good to see them again too.

HAPPY TRAILS, everyone!