Sunday, June 29, 2008

Speaking of flying . . .

. . . we hated to see our good friends, Blake and Taylor, go back to their home in Indiana.

We can hardly believe that we are coming up on our tenth anniversary together. That's ten for Blake and almost nine for Taylor. Wow, how they've grown. That's a fact that really hits home when you see them walking down the jetway without a parent in tow. What great kids they have become - - it takes away some of the sadness that they're not our "babies" anymore. Then again there are some in the 30-plus category who are still our babies; you know who you are!

We had a really good visit, though, with a zoo day, a beach outing, seeing the new Indiana Jones movie (highly recommended by all of us). In between we had mostly pool time interspersed with the usual electronics times and some arts and crafts. This visit we didn't finish our projects, but we will eventually and they are so much more sophisticated than last year's polymer clay zoo. We are becoming more sophisticated in our use of methods and materials as well:

By the way, these friends have set the new standard for visitor attire -- it's either PJs or swimwear, take your pick! Yeah, now that's what I call a vacation!

Here are a couple quick videos of pool time - -

We'll miss them and can't wait until they come back!

A perfect beach day . . .

. . . at Honeymoon Island, Dunedin, Florida.

Stormy skies and the fact that it was a weekday provided us with a nearly deserted beach.
Here's a blurb from the state park website:

Welcome to Honeymoon Island State Park
The pioneers called it Hog Island, but it became Honeymoon Isle in 1939 when a New York developer built 50 palm - thatched bungalows for honeymooners. Today, visitors can drive across Dunedin Causeway to enjoy the sun - drenched Gulf beaches, mangrove swamps, and tidal flats. Nature lovers will find osprey nests, a wide variety of shorebirds, and one of the few remaining virgin slash pine forests in South Florida. The park boasts several nature trails and bird observation areas. Visitors can swim, fish, and snorkel in the warm waters of the Gulf or picnic while they enjoy the beautiful scenery. Shelling is particularly good here, as the Gulf currents deposit an incredible variety of seashells on the shore.

In 1948 a hurricane split the island. The southern half was renamed Caladesi Island and is one of the few natural barrier islands of Florida. It is reachable only by boat and to this day remains undeveloped. We had never been to this area before and decided to take our visitors there, in particular to check out the only beach we've found so far where dogs are allowed.

The sky was mostly dark and there were periods of rain but, thankfully, no thunder or lightning to deter us from our outing. Blake and Taylor were awesome, playing together for the better part of seven hours; shelling, building sand structures and just hanging out enjoying their water adventures.

Perhaps the highlight of the day was the appearance of a pod of dolphins. At first glance Blake and Taylor thought they were sharks, as I did the first time I saw them, but it quickly becomes obvious that they are dolphins. They came back several times during the day but alas, our digital camera was just too slow to catch the diving act.

Peanut, a.k.a. "Digger," also enjoyed her day alternately excavating (for what?) and lounging.

We have so many nice photos from this trip, too many to post here. See them all at Although our friends are growing by leaps and bounds, we're hoping this day will be one of their many happy memories for years to come.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

And all the monkeys aren't in the zoo . . .

. . but we sure saw lots of them when we were there! Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo is one of my personal top three along with Brookfield Zoo in Illinois and the Milwaukee Zoo. Here's one way to keep cool:

Blake started right out getting a map and volunteering to lead the tour.

We think when you've seen zoo photos, you've seen zoo photos so we won't post the 50 or so we have, just a few of the highlights. We got to feed the giraffes!

I love the meerkats, they remind me of Peanut.

Which way should we go next? The navigators consult their maps.

Awesomely colored tree frogs weren't any bigger than a half dollar.

We felt especially lucky to see a baby manatee with its mom.

Got to feed shrimp and sardines to the rays . . .

The baby rays were about the size of an adult's hand. Adorable!

Hey! Isn't that the gray-tufted jimmy?

Beautiful white tigers with pretty blue eyes . . .

And the komodo dragon, always a favorite.

We saw LOTS of animals but we were all very happy to get home to cool off in the pool.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Teacher let the monkeys out . . .

. . . and they are at our house! Our best friends, Blake and Taylor, arrived in Tampa yesterday and wasted no time jumping in the pool and wrestling the alligator into submission.

There were several attempts at surfing that met with varying success.

Here's Blake's official welcome from Peanut -- luckily Taylor is a little more discerning.

Eeeeew! Dog slobber! Sorry Mom!

When the storm clouds rolled in we moved into the studio to work on art projects. Polymer clay won, as it always does. Blake's project required the use of some heavy equipment. Stay tuned to see the finished projects in a later post.

Today we are off to the vet after lunch for P's pedicure and we are planning a trip to the award-winning Lowry Park Zoo for tomorrow morning.