People may have thought (and with good reason) that I was likely the latest resident of Royal Palm Beach to loose their driver’s license (or their home 😉 ), but thank God that was not the cause of my peddling more than nine miles around the town yesterday. “No, I am not a homeless person loitering in the lot,” I said to myself, and really, to others when they drove through the industrial park, looking at me a little funny as I packed up my bike for the day. “No, I am not a bum looking for a handout,” I silently said to people parking in the lot at Costco, “for if I were, would I have a Costco card? Doubt it,” I said to myself as I walked into the store, and then wondered if anyone watching me was wondering what I was going to get at Costco on my bicycle.
I didn’t think much more about it, rolling down Royal Palm Beach Boulevard, heading toward the DMV. My mind was more preoccupied with patting myself on the back for what a big a girl I have become. You see, my truck’s steering-something-or-other was loose, and although I allowed fear to get the first foothold, I turned it around and showed it the door and decided to be a big girl and see what I could do about it. As I determined where I would take it and what to do while waiting, fear came storming back in, and this time brought a friend – the head of the pity party committee.
While the two sources of major discontent tried their best to talk me into being the party’s guest of honor, I declined. After arguing with them incessantly, I remembered that the only way to win with these two is by doing, not saying. “Faith without works is dead,” as Jesus said, whereas works is synonymous with action. As in, what are you doing to combat these two trouble makers? So I went to Walmart and bought new tires for my bike.
I also splurged on a side mirror that wraps around the handle bars, which I found to be real handy. The first time a fellow biker scared the heck out of my while whizzing by on my right, I was like, “Duh, Susie, what did you get that mirror for?” I was prepared each time after that. And I got passed a lot, for I was not on a mission, I was simply enjoying the journey. I had all day, or so I thought, to mosey on down to the DMV and get my tags renewed.
On my way, I stopped at Commons Park, had a picnic and took pictures.
I then got an hour’s worth of work done while waiting at the DMV. On the way back to retrieve my truck, I decided that it would be good mental health maintenance to do this once a week – to get out and ride my bike with no time restraints tugging at my mind. As I thought of my usual mental state, I decided that loosing this much time once a week would frazzle me too much. So I changed the frequency to once a month. By the time I reached my truck, I had talked myself into once a quarter being totally sufficient.
The absolute best part of the whole entire day – are you ready for this? My truck – it was a loose bolt. Now how many mechanics are going to hand you your keys and say, “It was a loose bolt. Have a nice day!” I was dumbfounded. Really? Well I can’t believe the difference in the way it drives. He could have gotten a hundred bucks out of me, easily, and I would have been happy. But he is a good guy, George – the owner, and just one of the reasons why I will continue to take my vehicles to Value Tire in Royal Palm Beach. Much more than tires, they do, they do bushings and calipers and the knuckle-like things, they do brakes and of course, tires and alignments. So the next time your auto needs some help to get it rolling down the road safely, give them a call! When I need them, I say, “OK Google, what’s the number for Value Tire in Royal Palm Beach?” And then my phone even offers to call it. While I hope I don’t have to rely on them too much, it is nice knowing that I can when I need to, and having my truck for about 220,000 miles now, I sure am glad I found Value Tire in Royal Palm Beach!
In Part 1 of Amanda’s Visit at Christmas 2016, I left-off on Christmas day in Ft. Myers, and in case you missed it, this has become my favorite part of Christmas – when we sing Happy Birthday to Jesus at Dave’s cousin’s house. She goes all-out, birthday cake and all. I love it, even though I believe that this time of year was when Jesus was conceived, not born. Still, it is one of the best things I have ever seen.
Afterwards, we stopped by to see some friends of ours and by the time we got back to the condo, everyone was beyond ready for bed. The next morning, I drove Dave to the boat docked at the beach and the kids and I packed up my truck and headed home. Dave enjoyed a day by himself on the boat fishing. The three of us made plans for the following day to go out to dinner and then head downtown to see Sandi the Christmas tree, sculpted entirely out of sand.
Choreographed to music, the lights danced around, blinked, and changed color quickly. It was pretty neat. Not missing a chance to capitalize, West Palm Beach made Sandi a star – she had trailer just like the movie stars and “Sandi Swag” was offered for sale.
Here, Amanda and I sit in Sandi’s dressing area – a good spot for a photo-opp.
The following day, Amanda said goodbye to her dad, and she and I headed north. Because we needed to be at the Orlando airport at 6:00 in the morning, we decided to drive up and spend the night. We had planned on taking the long way and stopping in Sebring to see Jonathon, which we did, although we wound up taking the long, long… long, long way.
In hindsight, I somewhat enjoyed it. I am glad to know where River Ranch is, and am happy I can say that I have driven through it. Even more so, I am glad to know that right down the road from it are fishing and boating communities. The best part though, and yes, I know this is just weird, but to be a little scared, driving in the pitch dark between Reedy Lake and Lake Arbuckle on a two-lane tiny road with no shoulder, well, I would have rather been with no one but Amanda, and since it was indeed her sitting next to me, well, in hindsight I can say it was a bit thrilling. My “drama-fix” for the year, perhaps.
I thought I knew where I was going and it was not until I saw signs for Ft. Drum that I realized something was wrong. “Ft. Drum!” I exclaimed, “we are going to pass Debbie’s house,” I told Amanda, “that’s not right!” After chatting for a few about our friend while I tried to decide what to do or where to pull over, Amanda pulled up the map on her phone. She showed me what it said. We determined that turning around was not the answer. So we took five hours to get to Sebring. They were also some of the best hours of conversation.
After having dinner with Jonathon, we continued north to Monroe’s on the Lake in Sanford, Florida. Unfortunately, I could not avoid I-4, although I would not have known that I wanted to until it was too late anyway. I-4 was under construction, bumpy with uneven pavement like I have never seen. The six lanes of highway twisted and turned and were as narrow as could be, and with semi’s barreling through the 60 mph zone going 80 while tourists slowed down to 40, trying to figure out where to go, it made for the worst experience on the road I have ever had. Amanda even groaned when she looked at the map and saw we had 20 more miles of it to go. Finally, we made it to our hotel a little before 11, and the first thing Amanda said was, “I see why dad choose this hotel!”
Situated on Lake Monroe in Sanford, Florida, this affordable hotel had a friendly staff and nice rooms. The room we were in on the second floor overlooking the pool was nice anyway, with a mini-fridge and wood (laminate) floor. The bed was comfy and had the type of pillow-top comforter that I love. Perhaps Dave figured, with a bass fish for an emblem, how can you go wrong? I am glad he wasn’t wrong.
In the morning I took Amanda to the airport and waited around, hoping to get a picture of her plane departing. Realizing it would be another 20 minutes or so, I decided to go back to the hotel, only 10 minutes away, and take them from there. Before leaving, I took a picture of the airport, where it appears that Allegiance Air has the place all to itself. The place that reminds me so much of middle-school pickup.Back at the hotel, I saw a plane take off at 7:20. I took a video and pretended that I knew it was Amanda’s plane. Then I set out to take photos of the scenery that surrounded me. This would be a nice place to meet up with others, whatever the occasion. I believe they also have a banquet room, and this beautiful gazebo is in a nice yard area in between the hotel and lake. I also spotted a huge grill/smoker but do not know if this is available for guests or what the story is on that. Worth checking out though if you are looking for something like this and enjoy doing that sort of thing (like us).
I took this video on Christmas day in Ft. Myers. Not a rare sight for those whose yard we were in; however, I was amazed. It was really something to be standing in the middle of! And I couldn’t help but think of my grandmother. Ha ha ha!!
Heading west, Dave made an impromptu move, and changing lanes said, “Let’s go over to Sanibel and watch the sunset.”
“I don’t care,” I said, with no enthusiasm.
“Okay good,” he responded, as if I had said, “Yeah, wonderful idea!”
I sat there amused at first, that he chose to take my “I don’t care” statement as – I don’t care that we’re not doing what I thought we were (going back to the house to nothing) – instead of – I don’t care if we go see the sunset – which, clearly, is what I meant.
Of course I care that we are not doing what my mind was set on doing. Deviate from our plans of doing nothing? No way! My mind has very little room for change sometimes. If I think it’s going to be one way, then by golly darn it, it better be that way, or else. Even if your way is better. I was totally aware of this and wanted to be able to “go with the flow,” yet some part of me refused to give-in and go with it.
My amusement quickly downgraded to annoyance and grasping for excuses, I added, “As long as we don’t go over the bridge. I don’t want to pay the toll.”
“Me either,” he replied.
We soon found ourselves in a ‘no turn around’ predicament and before we knew it, we were being asked for six dollars. I was shocked. Six dollars just to get on to Sanibel? Damn it, we didn’t even want to go to Sanibel. Or so I thought.
I felt myself getting mad and then remembered that if I was mad, it was because I was choosing to be mad. I asked myself, “Do I really want to feel anger? Is this the feeling I really want right now?” I decided that it was not the feeling I desired for myself, and therefore, I would not be mad. Instead, I chose to focus on happy I am that Dave is nowhere near angry whenever my actions don’t line up with his expectations. Instantly, I felt my load lighten.
After fumbling for money and handing it to the attendant, Dave looked at me apologetically and before he could say a word, I joked, “What a topic – the six dollar sunset!” He smiled. I rolled down my window and started taking pictures.
What is it about trains that fascinate children so? My nephew, Christopher, loved trains more than anyone I’ve ever known. Anytime he heard a train, whether on television, the radio or real life, his face brightened as he bellowed out, “CHOO-CHOO!” And if he saw one in person? Oh forget it – the excitement this kid experienced would make anyone smile. Just the thought of him bouncing up and down in his car seat while stopped at a crossing and hollering “CHOO-CHOO!” still makes me smile.
So I was thinking of my nephew last week when we went to the train station, wondering if I should have asked if he wanted to go. But at age 16 now, I highly doubt he would have wanted to go for the same reason he did at age 6. Then I wondered, did this love of trains stem from the popularity of name-brand talking toy trains, or have children always had a thing for the locomotive?
My guess is that trains are just neat.
I think it’s interesting how the weather at my house has changed since the power plant went in, and I’m amazed at how many people have no idea there’s a power plant in Loxahatchee.
A few years ago, I noticed that a good number of storms rolling through the area would go around our house, and I equated it with the new power plant that went up a half a mile from us. When I mentioned it to my husband though, he looked at me funny like he wasn’t so sure about this. But I kept watching storms on the radar break apart once they reached the power plant, and as they continued north, they remained separated over our house.
This is a picture of the radar taken with my iPhone. The pink box is where the power plant is and the circle is where our house is. Time after time, storms coming from the south either break apart, storming to our east and west, or the whole thing just goes around us, to the east or to the west. Don’t get me wrong – this doesn’t happen every single time – but it happens enough to where it is certainly noticeable.
Eventually, Dave agreed that the power plant does affect our weather, and when a storm approaches and people are over, he delights in telling them to watch how the storm will break apart and go around us. And most of the time, it does. We’ve gotten pretty good at being able to tell which storms are likely to go around and which ones might bless/curse us (depending on the season) with some rain.
So for those of you who exclaimed, “There’s a power plant in Loxahatchee? Where?” Here’s a link to a FPL site that will tell you more about it.
Here’s a picture of the smoke it was emitting yesterday on my way home. My house is at the end of this road, which is only in total a half-mile long, and the power plant, by way the bird flies, is a shorter distance than this.
Being way out here also used to mean unreliable electricity. It went out all the time for no apparent reason and stayed out for hours. But ever since this power plant went in, we’ve hardly had a fluctuation. This alone makes me a big fan. HOWEVER, in hindsight, I can probably thank a lot of those power outages for more time spent with the kids. Playing board games, coloring, drawing, making up games, and playing in the pool (because it didn’t have to be storming for the power to go out!) happened more often, I’m sure, due to our power issues. But, as in most cases, timing is everything. The kids are now grown, with lives of their own, and today I’m thankful that after 15 years of spotty electricity, we’re finally on the grid for lasting power.
Our solar system includes the Sun, eight planets, their moons, and all other celestial bodies that orbit the Sun. There are 146 known moons in orbit around the planets and another 26 awaiting final approval before being added to the list (according to NASA’s website in July 2013). And that’s only within our small solar system. The thought of these planets and moons spinning about in such remarkable order and efficiency without a higher power being in control, I find unbelievable.
Then there are galaxies. Our solar system is located in the Milky Way galaxy, which is so big that even at the speed of light, it would take 100,000 years to travel across it. And it is not the only galaxy. There are billions of others (yes, billions with a “b”), and they are so far away, that light from them arriving to earth today was set out from the galaxies billions of years ago. So we see them not as they are today, but as they were before life on earth even existed. These billions of galaxies make up our universe. I mean really, are you comprehending this?
So now we get into universes. Well no one actually knows yet if ours is the only one, or how big our universe even is, again all this according to NASA’s website, nasa.gov. Scientists say that other parts of the universe very far away may be quite different than the universe closer to home. They just don’t know.
I could get lost for days on NASA’s website, and not just because of my slow satellite connection to the internet, but because space fascinates me and the site is very well put together with what seems like endless information. And one thing I absolutely love is that they extend general permission for others to use most of the media found on their site, even for personal web pages such as this. If you are interested, their guidelines about this can be found at http://www.nasa.gov/audience/formedia/features/MP_Photo_Guidelines.html#.Ueq6UKzYFCc.
That being said, check out this image of our galaxy from NASA, and then consider the following:
There are countless solar systems in our galaxy, and so far we know almost 400 of them have planets in their orbits. Scientists don’t even use the word countless for galaxies, they know it is in the billions. Not so with solar systems though, they remain countless. So, this is one galaxy, and it would take 100,000 years to travel across it at the speed of light, and there’s billions of others? I suppose there could be skeptics who say that scientists are wrong and that none of this is true, the way people do about theologians and Christianity, but what would be the point? You might be wondering what my point is, and it’s something along these lines: Is grasping the nature of space much different than grasping a higher power creating it all?
Considering our galaxy is spinning at 490,000 miles an hour and needs 200 million years to make one rotation, and that there’s a billion other galaxies out there, it is downright scary to me to think that all that is going on “by chance” without a higher power in charge. No, scary isn’t the right word… more like inconceivable, or unimaginable. Really, just totally unbelievable.
So what is it about God that people have a hard time believing? Does it really make more sense to believe that all the activity in the universe as we know it (which is a tiny, tiny fraction), just happened to occur, and with the exact precision needed for the earth to form the way it did? Not to me it doesn’t, I don’t have that much faith. It is just downright scary to think all that activity has nothing keeping it in check. How depressing to think there is not something bigger, a power greater than me, God, or whatever you want to call it, maintaining order of it all. I suppose it makes sense then, that antidepressants are on the rise!