Groupon and the Mud Monster Swamp Buggy Ride

We found something called "Florida's Adventures in Paradise Mud Monster Swamp Buggy Ride" on Groupon and decided to give it a try. It's on Merritt Island on Florida's east coast, about a 2 1/2 hour drive from us. We were surprised to find that it's located at the edge of a residential area. The place offers several things, like tractor rides and a small zoo. There were a few animals on display around the office area, including a lizard, lemurs and a mid-sized pig. 

After a few minutes our ride showed up, and we were ready for a swamp adventure. The vehicle looked like it could roll through swamps without any trouble.
We fastened our seat belts and were off! But soon we realized this wasn't a swamp adventure at all. All it was, was a fast drive over the terrible, pot-holed roads that surround the office. We almost never got out of sight of the office building - no swamps, no gators, nothing. The roads were so bad that we got tossed around really hard. Now we understood why some of the seatbelts were broken - Pete's broke partway through the ride. This was not what we were expecting!
We survived  and went looking for or seafood for lunch. Fortunately we found Molly's Seafood Shack. We haven't had oysters since February, and it was high time we had some more! These oyster were maybe just a shade less sweet than the May River oysters of South Carolina, but they were delicious anyway. Then Randy and I split a blackened Mahi Mahi sandwich and fries, which was enough to fill us up nicely. 

Since we were so close to the ocean, we went to Cocoa Beach again. The water was quite a bit colder than the last time we were here, but still as beautiful and entrancing. Wish we could live on a beach!

Christmas Lights

Even though the weather is warm, Florida residents still pride themselves on Christmas light displays. Since this is our first Christmas in the house, we were short on decorations - there wasn't much room in the RV to store things used once a year! We did still have some sentimental ornaments, but we still had to buy a lot of new ones. So this year we got a modest tree.
But our neighbors put up a lot in their yards, and the mobile home park has an annual golf cart parade. Golf carts are the thing in Florida. I was on my way to church when the parade passed by, but I got to see most of it. 
One night Pete drove us all out to see the big light displays around town. In some neighborhoods in the Villages, everyone on a street have decorated their houses with lights in sequence to the same music, which was beautiful. And Venetian Gardens, where we went for the 4th of July, did a big display, too, near the lake.
Another night we all went to Cottom Farms in Lady Lake. Every year they put on a huge display that covers several acres.
Up on a small hill is a lovely house, with each room decorated differently. The living room is a Christmas wonderland,  
but my heart belongs to the white and pink bedroom. I want this!


Across the canal from us are a few docks. One guy was cleaning fish he'd caught off his dock, and a large Blue Heron stood on the dock roof. As the guy cleaned fish, he'd toss the guts up on the roof. The heron gobbled them up, then waited patiently for more. They looked like old friends, enjoying a regular routine.

A Christmas dinner to remember

After spending an early Christmas with Mom and family in Illinois, I got to enjoy Christmas at home with Randy and friends. We went to church services last night and this morning, then Randy got into the kitchen to finish dinner. Pete and Donna joined us, which was a good thing because there was so much food! Randy started dinner with shrimp cocktails. 
Next came lightly-browned Duchess potatoes,
and Brussel sprouts sautéd with bacon, red onion and parmesan cheese. 
The star of the meal was prime rib with horseradish sauce. I am not a big beef-eater, but I will knock people over for this when Randy makes it. 
We sat around the table for a while before trying to fit in dessert - chocolate creme brûlée, topped with caramelized turbinado sugar. 
Then food coma set in; we never got to the pecan pie.

Joy of home ownership

Oh, the joys of home ownership, which includes crawling under the house to replace a shower drain. It's a difficult space to work in, and since it's not entirely enclosed, it's also home to spiders and other creepy things. Fun, fun, fun!


In mid-December the Village View Community Church hosted a Ladies Tea, aka "Ladies' Refresh".  Each table for eight was either decorated by the staff or by the table hostess. In our case, it was a bit of both; Donna and I volunteered to help set tables, so we included our table, using the church's settings. 
The wait staff were volunteers, too - men from the church. Our table had the very best waiter - Randy! They were short on volunteers so Randy had 4 tables instead of 2, and he kept busy. He took a fair amount of grief from our table, but still delivered good service. Unfortunately we shorted him on tips!
The tea consisted of fruit pudding, quiche, thin ham slices, scones with Devonshire cream and chocolate cake. Jaylee was so impressed with Devonshire cream that after everyone had what they wanted, she picked up a spoon and ate the rest like ice cream! Everything was good and I enjoyed it all, but no doubt, Randy does better

The Refresh was very well attended; there must have been over a hundred people there. The entertainment was 3 young ladies singing, then an excellent violinist who shared her music and her testimony. Nice event, glad we went!

Back from Washington

My trip to Washington was great - I got to spend so much time with Mom. At the start of my visit we had a beautiful snowfall. It looks so lovely on the trees, 
but not nearly as good on the car!
We visited Walmart, Ectera, Walmart, Goodwill, Walmart, another Goodwill, Walmart, another Goodwill, Walmart, estate sales, Walmart, and resale shops (there is a theme here). I took her to doctor visits and to the library, where she volunteers every week. We went to Menard's several times, because I dug up the grassy strip between the garage and the alley, and replaced it with rocks, edged with big pavers.  

 We went to an office that offers enhanced-hearing phones, and Mom was so impressed that the next day, when we drove to Hanna City to pick up her friend Kathleen, we went back to the office so Kathleen could check out the phones for herself. We squeezed that stop in between visits to Goodwill and lunch at DQ. 

The town of Washington seemed to be in a weird pricing zone. A dozen eggs for 38 cents, and a gallon of milk for 99 cents - sure wish we could find those prices in Florida!

Towards the end of the trip, the weather turned freezing cold, down in the mid-twenties. I haven't driven on ice in so long that I didn't want to try it, so I was glad that I got to visit Sharon a couple of times, plus her awesome daughter Vicky, before the weather turned bad.
The funniest thing on the trip was this billboard in Washington:

Off line for awhile

It's time for another visit to Mom. Somehow Randy found a direct flight for me from Orlando to Peoria - I didn't think that happened anymore!  

Since Mom doesn't have a computer, I will spend the next few days completely off-line. No Google. No Wikipeida. No Youtube. That's kind of hard for me, but worse is being away from Randy. The last time I did this, I said I'd never do it again. But I'm missing Mom, so off I go!