Tag Archives: best vacations

Southern Hospitality is Alive and Well in 2011

This past week my husband and I went on a brief vacation/work trip to Florida. It was our first trip to Florida. My goal for our trip was not to come home weighing more than when I left Minnesota and his was not to get sunburned the first day we arrived and spoil the rest of his trip.  Mission accomplished on both fronts.

Before we left for Florida I let a few of my blogging friends know that we would be in their area last week.  As quick as I let the cat out of the bag I had three emails from bloggers suggesting times and places we could get together if it worked in our schedule.  I thought how fun it would be to meet some of the people I had blogged with over the past year.

Last Monday we spent a delightful day with blogger Nancy &  BFF from When we arrived at their home she had a cooler packed with homemade sweet tea and some snacks for our outing. We spent the an hour checking out the local sites and seeing things I’ve never seen before like the Gumbo Limbo tree.  If I could plant one of them in my Minnesota backyard with hopes of it surviving our cold winters it would be on the top of my list.    

Then we headed off to Anna Maria Island where we feasted on lunch al fresco at Rotten Ralph’s restaurant. It was wonderful eating outdoors with the breezes blowing. The waitress warned us that the winds might blow our chips off our plates.  That never happened. We ate with the sun shining and the conversations flowing. After lunch we headed to the other end of the island and out on one of the piers and watched the pelicans taking off and landing. Entertained by live music on the deck, we watched and listened to our surroundings. It felt wonderful to absorb the warm sunshine.

How many times did I just mention sunshine? I think I have a theme going on…

After visiting the island we headed back to Nancy’s for more conversation on their deck overlooking a waterway that surrounds their home. We observed the local birds coming and going, Spoonbills, Pelicans and many others that I have since forgotten the names.  The one thing I will never forget is the hospitality shown to complete strangers from Minnesota by our new Florida friends and how they made time in their schedules to show us the paradise that surrounds them.

Monday afternoon after we arrived back at our hotel my husband received a call from another car dealer who has a home in Inverness who heard that we were in Florida and he and his wife invited us to their home in Inverness and out to lunch the next day. When we are home in Minnesota there is very little time outside of work for socializing with other car dealers so this was the first time we had been out to eat with this couple. We work within an hour of each other back in Minnesota. The guys had a great time discussing the changes in the used car business and I had fun getting to know his wife and more about their family.

Before we left Minnesota we had dinner plans for Wednesday evening made with two other couples that I have blogged with over the past year.  Joe of and Tyler of made arrangements for us to meet for dinner in Sanford, FL.  Joe’s wife and Tyler’s husband joined us for dinner. Joe and Tyler picked out Two Blondes and a Shrimp restaurant in Historic Sanford, FL as the place we would meet for dinner. We met around the dinner table and the conversation flowed for hours but ended way too soon. We talked of writing, flying, social networks, taxes, history, friends and family. The food was excellent and the conversation even better.  As I sat listening to each tell their stories in person it was if I had known each of them for a longer time.

As I reflect on the busyness of the past few years, I realize the one thing that we’ve missed in our lives is the time that we used to spend visiting with friends,neighbors and family. We have been in the habit of leaving for work in the morning and then retreating into our homes at the end of the day without much interaction with others except at work. We need to work on the art of hospitality and welcome others into our home. We are missing one of the most important riches in this life if we exclude it and miss the friendships that develop over time in face to face conversations.

We’re back home now in cold Minnesota with 15 inches of new snow in the ground but the inside of our home is warm and welcomes visitors who maypass our way. We’d love to share some of our northern hospitality with those daring enough to venture north.


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Gee, Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore or Minnesota for sure

Just a mere 24 hours ago I was just getting home from work thinking about all the things I needed to get done before we left for the airport on Sunday morning. I was upstairs getting my grandson down for a long overdue afternoon nap when my sister-in-law called and said they were in town and would be heading back to the Twin Cities last evening. She asked if we would like to ride home with them last evening and they would take us to the airport for our 11:10am flight. Our original plan was to have our son drive us down in the morning. This plan would save him a trip. 

I hadn’t packed anything yet so my husband and I started to gather our things in the suitcase. His sister wanted to leave by 6pm. After packing we headed down to the shop to gather the necessary papers we needed for our trip and then went over to my mother and father-in-law’s home where we were meeting my husband’s sister. We loaded up our stuff and started on our two-hour trip to the Twin Cities.

After we arrived at their home we sat down to a meal of homemade vegetable soup and fresh fruit. We visited and watched a couple of things on TV and then turned to the news for the latest weather forecast. They were forecasting 8-15 inches of snow for the Twin Cities on Sunday. About 10:30 last evening I decided to check my email before going to bed.  There was an email alert from Travelocity to contact them regarding our trip. When I called they informed me that our 11:10am flight to Milwaukee had been cancelled due to weather concerns and they were putting us on the 6am flight instead. 

The second leg of our trip from Milwaukee to Tampa was suppposed to depart at 2:03pm arriving at Tampa at 5:42 pm. I noticed that there was a flight leaving Milwaukee at 9:05 am and asked if it was possible to take the earlier flight to Tampa instead of the long layover. We got the last two seats on the earlier flight.  We arrived in Tampa by 12:44 instead of 5:45pm, a full five hours earlier than planned. We picked up our rental and began enjoying our trip.

For lunch today we visited a local restaurant Skidder’s and were treated to a wonderful meal. We ordered an appetizer and  one entrée to share and a couple of beers.  The food was wonderful and I loved that we could eat outside in the fresh air.  It will be months before we can do that back home.


There was more than enough food for two to share.  After we ate we walked back to our hotel and our room wasn’t ready yet so we headed down to the beach for a walk. We are definitely not in Minnesota anymore!

No, that's not me but maybe this week!


Posted by on February 20, 2011 in Vacations



Toes Up In My Recliner

I love Saturday mornings. The thought of not having to rush out the door to work and sitting toes up in my recliner with my cup of coffee.  The pace of Saturdays are different around here. It’s okay to just relax.

This morning I need to head into work to finish up some projects and write-up some car deals before I leave town but that’s okay the countdown to some vacation is in sight. I won’t have everything done before I leave but the important things will be accomplished.

I woke up early this morning and enjoyed it. There wasn’t a sense of dread with doing the same old thing day after day. I tackled the pile of mail that has accumulated all week-long on my kitchen table. I started on the laundry that needs to be done before we leave.  It doesn’t seem like a chore today. Last evening doing dishes even seemed pleasant. 

Attitude and anticipation combined can be a powerful motivator. Whether my husband and I are planning a home improvement project or vacation our attitudes are at their best.  We’re positive and we are motivated to get things done. There were things that we did this past week that needed to be done for a while and it’s nice to have a sense of completion and accomplishment before we leave. 

The anticipation of completed projects and vacations is exciting.  Thinking and dreaming of what the completed project will look like or the things you will do on vacation takes my mind to places it doesn’t normally go.  I dare to imagine.

It’s difficult to not set yourself up for disappointment by imagining beyond what you can afford or obtain in the time given. It’s important to place your expectations high enough to imagine the possibilities to set some goals that will stretch you a little bit like learning something new for a project or doing something you’ve never done before on vacation.

This week is an opportunity to fine tune my attitude. To capture the same attitude and anticipation upon my return for my work and family life that I have before leaving would be a welcome improvement. 

I’m not going to wait for the storms to pass but will dance in the rain daily appreciating every day and person for the gift that they are in my life.


Posted by on February 19, 2011 in New Challenges, Reflections, Vacations


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A Good Tired

As I sit in my recliner writing this post, I am exhausted but its a good tired.  This morning I woke up with an anticipation for a day off from work and day filled with flying.  All week long I’ve been looking forward to a day of flying up north with my husband to see some fall colors.  I was not disappointed.

We arrived at the airport at 9:30 this morning and I pre-flighted the airplane, got my weather briefing, filed my flight plan and we were off. 

The original plan had been to fly from St. Cloud (STC) to Duluth (DLH) and then east to Madeline Island (4R5).  Last evening we looked over my plan and decided to change our route to St. Cloud to Superior, Wisconsin (SUW) and then east to Madeline Island and then back to St. Cloud.  The change in our route meant less time over the open water of Lake Superior and more over land but still along the lake for the view.

We arrived in Superior just in time for lunch and ate at the airport at the Upper Deck Restaurant.  While we were eating we watched other pilots landing and taxiing to the ramp just outside our restaurant window.  Very cool.  The food was very good and reasonable in price. 

The more we watched, the more we noticed the clouds moving in from the northwest.  The sky was starting to fill up with clouds.  According to the forecast they weren’t supposed to move in until much later in the day.  Decision time.  Do we proceed with our plans to go to Madeline Island or start heading back home?  I am a VFR pilot.  That means I have to be able to see the ground at all times when I am flying.  I don’t have an instrument rating which would allow me to fly in the clouds. 

I had my heart set on going to the island because we had gone there on our honeymoon and this was our first big flying trip but I wanted to be safe.  We have a lot of responsibilities and flying in bad conditions put others at risk they may have to search for you if something happens and you are unable to complete your flight as planned. 

We sat a little longer and discussed our options of  other places to visit and decided to work our way back home and enjoy the scenery along the way.  We would have to visit Madeline Island on another flight.  It was a wise choice as it turned out.  When we departed from Superior southwest to St. Cloud we were unable to climb to our desired altitude because the clouds were too low.  Not only were the clouds too low but we encountered a very bumpy ride.  We were buffeted by strong winds from the northwest. 

Here are some of the pictures I took along the way.  I still haven’t quite figured out how to take good pictures while flying but here goes.

I believe that it’s the Rum River cutting through the fall colored trees.

This was one of many gravel pits that we flew over on our trip to Superior Wisconsin.  It only makes sense with the amount of road construction you see in Minnesota and Wisconsin in the summer.  It looks like a big boy’s sandbox.

The picture to the left was taken as we departed south out of Superior, Wisconsin.  You can see the shadows of the clouds on the ground as we were flying and how low the cloud were.

I liked the mix of the rows of pine trees and fall colors in this picture.

It looks like this farmer had some artistic flair when he started harvesting his corn.

Milaca Airport

 Can you find the airport on this picture.  It is a favorite around here.  It is the Milaca Airport (18Y).  Its a grass strip.  Your only clue is that it is near the top of this photo.  It was one of the hardest airports for me to find the first time I visited there.


Posted by on September 30, 2010 in Flying Adventures, Nature, Vacations


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There’s a Disruption in the Force and We Feel It

Whenever my husband and I try to take a day off of work at some point in the future things start happening.  It’s like someone put a billboard up for everyone to see that we are trying to take a day off.  A few years ago we decided to take a Tuesday off to get some things ready around home for our oldest daughter’s graduation party.

At  8:30 am a truck drove in our yard and a man came to the front door and asked if my husband was home.  I went in the livingroom and got him from his recliner.  He had decided to enjoy his cup of coffee in his pajamas before getting busy on our projects.  I was still in my pj’s as well.  My husband talked to the gentleman about the kind of truck he would like to purchase and sent him on his way.

Back to the recliner and coffee for him and I headed to the shower.  Next our next door neighbor saw our car still in the driveway and came over to ask my husband some automotive repair questions as long as he was home.  He didn’t want to bother him at work.  They sat at the kitchen table drinking coffee and talking cars.  Soon he had his answers and left.

Back to recliner once again and then the phone rang and asked for my husband.  It was one of the guys from the shop and asked if we couldn’t take our air tank over to our other neighbors and air up her flat tire so she could drive it the four miles into town and have it repaired.  It made sense to them that we were closer to her and it would be easier for us to do it.  So I headed over to the neighbors with the tank and sent her on her way after airing up her tire and my husband headed to the shower. 

We managed to get the things accomplished we had intended to after our not so great start.  It got to the point it was getting comical for the amount of interruptions before 9:30 in the morning.

This past week we have been trying to get ready to be gone for a few days next week so we each have our list of things we need and want to have done before we leave.  It has been a never-ending series of phone calls and chuckles from my husband as he announces “You’ll never guess who just called and wants an appointment for this week.”  You would think that somewhere out there they think that if we leave town for a few days we might like it better somewhere else and may decide not to return so they better get their stuff taken care of now.

On the same note however I am amazed at the list I have come up with of things I feel I need to have done before we leave.  There is the closet that has been a mess for the past year really should be cleaned out, the refrigerator needs to be cleaned .  The bathrooms all need to be cleaned just in case someone stops by to use them while we are gone.  Of course, I should get all the windows washed and all the laundry done.    I’ve been driving myself crazy and the rest of the family as I try to tackle my ever-increasing list. 

I would love to leave home with a picture perfect clean home but who am I trying to kid.  It didn’t take a week to get in the condition it is in and it certainly will take more than a week to get everything clean especially with working full-time.  I found myself washing winter coats today that were in that closet mentioned above.  Why??  I don’t know.  They have been just fine in the closet and would have been until this fall when it would be time to dig them out again.  I guess I will be a little ahead of the usual game by having them clean this early but at what price.  At the pace I have been keeping this past week, it will take my entire time off to wind down to relax and then it will be back to work.

I’m looking forward to a few days off.  At least this year when we leave we finally have our will in place just in case something would happen to us on vacation.  It was one of those things on my ever-increasing list to do before vacations.  Up til now we never got our wills done because we couldn’t decide who to put in charge of our four kids if something happened to us.  They are all grown now and can fend for themselves.  It’s nice to have at least one thing off that list.


Posted by on July 26, 2010 in Humor, Vacations


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Flying High

Flying over Hartford, CT

Last Wednesday morning I was flying high with my daughter. We were on our way to Springfield, MA for the NCAA Division 2 basketball tournaments. We had planned on leaving Tuesday evening on a flight after her night class was finished. It would take us 3 flights to get to Springfield., MA The first leg was from Mpls. to Denver, the second leg was from Denver to Charlotte, and the third leg was from Charlotte to Hartford, CT. Once we arrived in Hartford we would take a taxi to Southern Auto Auction to pick up a Chevy Impala we would be driving home after the tournament.

On Tuesday evening as my husband was driving us to the airport to catch our flight I received a phone call from Delta Airlines to say that our flight was canceled to Denver due to a snowstorm. They said not to worry that we had been booked on a non-stop flight departing at 7:15 am Wednesday to Hartford, CT. We decided to stay the night at the airport instead of driving the two hours home and then back again in the morning. We checked in with Delta for our new flight and were told it was in first class. I’m fifty years old and have never flown first class until this point in time. Our new flight didn’t give us much time to get to the car auction and the 20 mile drive to MassMutual but we parked the car and just as we were purchasing our tickets for the game we heard the tip off for the game. SCSU won their game against MSU. It was a great game and time spent with my daughter, just the two of us. Thursday evening we watched the next game between SCSU and Indiana University of Pennsylvania. SCSU lost the game and so it was time for the long drive home to Minnesota, only 1500 miles.

Today I did a different kind of flying high. I had a couple of hours up in a Cessna 152 trying to prepare for my checkride. It has been almost two weeks since I’ve flown and it felt good to be up again. The winds aloft were strong and it was difficult to practice manuevers especially the ground reference manuevers. It had been awhile since I practiced crosswind landings and takeoffs so I spent some time on them and they went pretty well. I kept telling myself centerline, centerline, centerline…don’t get slow…the words from my CFI’s kept running through my head today. There is so much to remember to do it right. I’m looking forward to next week when I fly with my CFI and trying to finish up for my checkride.

Soon I hope to be flying higher still after passing my checkride.


Posted by on March 31, 2010 in Flight training


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Snowy Mountain Morning



This is a picture that I took on a recent trip to the Snowy Mountains near Laramie, Wyoming.   It was a snowy morning as we set off on our rented snowmobiles and gear.  My husband was anxious to show me all the scenery where he had gone snowmobiling with friends for several years.  We drove our snowmobiles on trails for over a hundred miles around Albany Lodge.  The first trail we went on the groomer hadn’t been through yet so we were the first to ride through 2 feet of fresh powder for 25 miles.  It was tree-lined for miles on end.  At we reached close to the end of the trail at higher altitudes we came out of the protection of the trees into white out conditions.  We drove for a little longer and decided it wasn’t wise to continue past a point where we could no longer see our trail ahead and there was about a 200 foot drop on our left.  We turned around and headed back down our trail, still the only ones to have traveled our trail. 

After lunch at Albany Lodge we headed out once again only on trails that kept in the protection of trees.  We followed a trail that took us along Fox Creek most of the afternoon.  As we were riding along the creek I was trying to imagine how that scene would be in the spring with the snow melting and the creek opening up and flowing.   There is something magical about water running through snow-covered hills and signs of spring poking through.  As we passed small cabins in the woods I imagined myself sitting inside next to a warm fire in the fireplace and a good book in hand and how relaxing it would be in the quiet of the woods. 

When you  get away from the business of life you begin to appreciate how quiet life was in past times.  There wasn’t the constant sound of keyboards clicking, TV’s blaring 24/7,  the ringtones of cell phones and ping sounds of text messages.  In cars, people used to talk as they traveled because there wasn’t always good radio reception where they traveled.  There certainly weren’t 8 track tapes, cassette tapes, CDs, MP3s and IPODs.  It seems that people are afraid of quiet and where their thoughts and conversations may lead them if they take the time to be quiet. 

My husband and I were talking about the sounds in the home that we remember growing up that our kids haven’t heard.  My Dad used to stand in the bathroom every morning with his shaving gear, a cup with a special soap in the bottom and a brush that he would swirl and click against the side to make lather, and razor (not electric) and shave.  I can remember my brothers standing on the toilet and Dad would put the lather on their chins so they could pretend they were shaving as well.  The clicking of the wooden handle of the brush against the porcelain cup remains.  The sound of the Minnesota Twins on the radio as my uncles sat and visited in the backyard at my Grandma and  Grandpa’s  backyard on a sunny afternoon.  The sounds of the horseshoe game in the background.  The sound of the grandfather clock chiming or the sound of potatoes being mashed in the kitchen for Sunday dinner.  What will be the sounds remembered of this time and place?    Many, I am sure.

Keystone,Wyoming in Snowy Mountains

Breaking Trail on Q


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