Monday, February 23, 2015

Frayer - Jonsson Culture Clash Bash

We had a bit of cold and windy weather but we arrived in NOLA in good shape for the weekend long Frayer - Jonsson Culture Clash Bash.  It was a celebration of the marriage of our Class of 07 mates Richard and Valerie Frayer's Louisiana born daughter Marissa and Swedish born Karl.  They met when Marissa went to school and worked in Sweden.  Since there wedding day had to be within 90 days of Karl getting his immigration papers, they got married last summer.  They chose to have the bash the weekend after Mardi Gras so those traveling the 5,000 miles from Sweden could experience that bit of culture also.  More than 30 family and friends made the trip so we sure can't whine about the weather and driving 600 miles from Florida.
The party started Friday afternoon with a meet and greet open house at their very neat NOLA shotgun house.  It's amazing how many people you can get in three rooms.
The bash then moved to nearby City Park for four year old Grayson's birthday party.  Here is the birthday boy with mom Margot and dad Joel.
After cake the Americans were introduced to Kubb, an ancient Swedish game that dates back to the Vikings.  Basic rules, the two teams toss wood rods to "kill" the opponents wood block knights before going after the king.  I think it could be a neat RVers game.
Saturday evening the main event was at the Venusian Gardens and Art Gallery.  It was an old church that now serves as an artist studio and banquet hall. 
Of course the decor had to have an international theme with globe center pieces and passports containing important culture lessons.  The Swedes learned the meaning of Who dat, Where y'at? and other phrases one needs to get by in NOLA.   We Americans learned to say Jag heter, (My name is....), Skal!, (Cheers), Tack, (Thanks) and of course Nu ar det fest, (Let's party).  I must say we needed the guide more than the Swedes did as most spoke very good English.
We all had time to mingle and practice our newly learned words over drinks.  It was interesting talking to the Swedes about their trip, especially hearing what the thought of Mardi Gras,  They said there is nothing like it in Sweden and we assured them there is nothing like it in most of the United States.  
Karl and Marissa Jonsson.  One of the neatest things was the slide show that the parents, Anders and Betty and Richard and Valerie, put together.  There were many pictures of Marissa and Karl doing the same things like riding a pony, swimming, going to the prom and playing on the floor with their dads as they grew up in two different cultures.
Wow, different cultures can get along even if they don't speak the same language.  Four year old Lucas, who speaks Swedish and German and four year old Grayson who speaks English played together the whole weekend. 
Why is Nanc so happy?  Check out the dinner menu: citrus segment salad, sweet potato hummus, pierogies, coconut curry, rice noodle salad, veggie lasagna and grilled farmers tofu, an all vegetarian meal.  I must say I also loved it and, for anyone who did not, the invitation came with a warning about the meal.
After dinner is was out to the courtyard to do the wobble and learn more about the new couple from info sheets posted around the wall.
Back inside for another Swedish tradition to show how well the couple is matched.  As friends asked questions, the newlyweds held up the shoe of whom they thought the question fit most.  Questions included, Who is most likely to clean up?, Who is the best vegan?, Who is more likely to win an argument? and Who has the best sense of humor?  It was fun!!! 
Karl, Marissa, Richard, Valerie, Ryan, Megan, Margot and Joel, the Frayer ladies and their husbands, each had a few words for their sister and new brother-in-law. 
Then Betty and Anders did their tributes.  He did his in English while she did hers in Swedish with the translation on the screen.  It sure was a great mixing of cultures and a wonderful welcoming of each into their family.
Karl's brothers and sisters (left) and friends of Marissa's then did vocals for the new couple.  I either did not get or forgot all the names.
The Frayer ladies, Valerie, bride Marissa, Margot and Megan celebrating the evening.
And they danced away the night under the jellyfish.  It is a great venue for any event.
The happy couple.  We wish them the very best and thank them for inviting us to take part in the Culture Clash Bash.  It was truly a wonderful event.  On Sunday we gathered one last time at the Riverwalk on the Mississippi for our good-byes.  

We are now heading to Livingston, Texas where we will leave Opus while we take a vacation to Cancun.  Yes, Life is Good! 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Tarpon Springs and Friends

We moved from Mt. Dora to Port Richey with the plan to stay a week and then head slowly to New Orleans. When we realized that we would be traveling over President's Day weekend and into much colder weather we extended our stay through the weekend and will then sprint to NOLA for the wedding reception.  We did take advantage of our stay to give Opus a much needed bath so, of course, it will rain on our way west.  Mostly we have just been chillin and have been very happy that we are not in WashPA this winter.  We have had a couple of cool days, but nothing like the weather they have been having up north.  Two couples we met at the Elks in the Keys were staying nearby in Tarpon Springs so we got together with them to share travel tales.  
We did a day trip to Tarpon Springs, a town known for its sponge industry and its great Greek restaurants.
Everything in town is about sponges, even this old bike.
This is one of the few areas in the world suitable for a commercial sponge industry. At one time the sponges were collected with hooks on long poles.  Early in the last century they began diving for the sponge which revolutionized the industry. 
We met Paul and Trudi at the Keys Elks two years ago and were happy to see them there again this year.  They left Tavernier before us and we had planned to get together here on our way north.
Joe and Kathy, whom we also met at the Keys Elks, have been traveling with Paul and Trudi on a cross country adventure for the last eight months, so we had a lot of fun getting caught up with stories about their trip. 
Another day we had a happy hour sunset gathering at the park in Tarpon Springs where they are staying.  It is a very nice park that we will have to put on our future stops list.
The park is on the Anclote River and has great sunsets.  There are not many places in the area that have reasonable monthly rates that are on the water.

We have finalized our spring travel plans.  Tomorrow we are starting our three day sprint to New Orleans for the Frayer - Jonsson Culture Clash Bash, a wedding reception for Marissa and her Swede husband Karl.  We are then taking a couple of days to travel to the Escapees park in Livingston.  While there we are flying out of Houston for a one week vacation in Cancun, Mexico.  After we return we will be heading back to Betty's for six weeks.  For most of the summer we intend to explore the Southeastern states before going back to WashPA in August for our annual visit.  Some of those plans are firm while others are open to change depending on what we encounter along the way.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Out of the Keys

We spent a couple of days just hanging out in Moore Haven and one in Winter Garden on our way north.  We had a service appointment to have a couple issues taken care of and, as happens so many times, we had one that we decided to put off because of the cost.  The bearings in the dash fan are going bad but to replace it requires taking out the whole dash.  Labor would have been four times the cost of the part.  We can run the generator and house air or heat for a long time before we spend what the repair would cost.  Oh well, life on the road.  After our service was done we traveled less that 25 miles to be near Nanc's sister Judy and her husband Bill.  When heading south we stayed at Kelly Park, an Orange County park near them.  This time we stayed in another county campground, Trimble Park.
Something I had not seen in a long time, sunrise.  Very nice, but I don't want to make a habit of being up that early.
Our spot at Trimble Park among the moss covered trees, very neat.  There are only 15 sites with water and electric and half of them are on the lake.
Ibis hanging out on the park's boat dock.
A fisherman on the lake.  It was a place where we wished we had kayaks.  It would have been great to get out on the water.
The roads into Trimble Park have many trees, but at 12'6" we had no problem.  There are also a couple of local roads with weight restrictions near the park but it is a very nice stop that is well worth the short distance you need to drive on local roads.
We had a great time getting caught up with Bill and Judy.  They are a house divided with Bill sporting his Ohio State Championship hat and Judy showing us her new WVU tattoo.  Sorry, I failed to get a picture.
No, this is not in South Florida.  This is from a blog entry about Nanc feeding the fish at the Linesville Spillway at Pymatuning Lake in 2010.  A couple weeks ago I got a blog comment asking if they could use the picture for an article in the Adirondack Almanack.  Here is a link to the article with the same picture.  We never really know who is reading our blog.  Pretty cool!! 

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Sun Sets on Our Key's Stay

We wrapped up our month in the Keys with another week of beautiful sunsets and kicking back on island time. This is the fourth time we have been here in January and, while it is more expensive than other winter destinations, it is beyond a doubt our favorite.  We had a few cooler (60 degrees) mornings but only one day when the high was not at least 70.  Most of the month was warmer enabling me to once again go the entire month in shorts even though I did wear long sleeves a couple times.  I rate that as a very good standard.  Since we had already planned to stay in the East again next winter, we paid our deposit to return here after spending the holidays again with Mary Lou in Jupiter.  Not our usual way of doing things, making plans that far ahead, but the Elks only has 12 sites and they fill up quickly if those who are here don't commit to returning. 
Last Sunday clouds moved in as the sun was setting, turning it into the greatest sunset ever according to the locals at the Elks.
It just kept getting better and better.  The camera could not capture the whole scene.
Might be time to go back to this shot on the blog header.
The thing that makes these sunsets so great is how it reflects on the water, especially when the winds are calm.
It really all came together that evening.  The sky was on fire for almost an hour.  
Another day another sunset.  Not as spectacular, but the rays were neat.
Looking at the Elks Campground with the sun at our backs.  Just a small bit of paradise.
Another reason to return is the people we met here.  We had several happy hour sunset gatherings.  Right are Jean and Gary who also came in the same day we did for a month long stay.  Left with Nanc are Laurie, Linda, George and Ray whom we met here two years ago and who will be here next winter.  Again, making friends on the road is the best.
Another day another neat sunset.
And yet another day with another great sunset.  Even the props are the same.  I think that same pelican flies by at the same time every evening.
It was not as great as the others on our last evening, but who can complain after the fantastic month we had enjoying life on island time.

We are now going to Winter Garden for a service appointment before heading to New Orleans for a wedding reception on the 21st.  Depending on the weather, we will either hang out in Central Florida and sprint to NOLA in a couple of long driving days or, if it is warm enough, we will take a couple of weeks along the gulf coast.   Life is Good!!!!