Archive for January, 2010

Science Field Trip: Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center
January 27, 2010

It has been at least 6 years since we visited FOCC on Hutchinson Island’s south end. With it being just two miles from us, it was time for a science trip. FOCC has plenty to see and do at it’s 57 acre site including nature trails, a game and local fish lagoon, Rays on the Reef Ray Pavilion, where you can feed and touch sting rays, and the Frances Langford Visitor’s Center. They have many educational programs and are committed to research and preservation of this very diverse part of Florida.



We arrived just in time for lunch(for the sting rays!) The menu; fresh fish, calamari (squid), and shrimp. After we all had a chance to touch the sting rays (their barbs have been removed) as they swam by, Tyler decided that since Amber was the animal lover, she could do the feeding… she’s definitely not afraid of getting her hands dirty!


Later on, we spent a good amount of time inside the Francis Langford Visitor Center where there was plenty to see, touch, and observe.


For our young (or young at heart) followers, can you find the:

  • Sea Urchin (trying to camoflague itself)
  • Sea Anemone
  • Sea Turtle carapace (shell)
  • Sea Cucumber
  • Eel (which scared Amber when he shot out of his hiding place!)
  • Seahorse


DSC03383 DSC03388

DSC03390 DSC03389

DSC03393 DSC03402

We also saw an extensive collection of fish from this area and in the Carribean, that were caught and donated by Frances Langford.

Did you know that the Dolphin is a fish? Restaurants in this area often serve fresh Dolphin, but had to answer to those who were upset (and confused) by seeing it on the menu. Some of those same restaurants now have Mahi-mahi on the menu (the adopted Hawiian name for the fish) for those patrons who mistake it with the playful mammal that we envision jumping through hoops and kissing Sea World visitors.

Dolphin - center of photo - greenish in color with a flattened nose and long dorsal fin 


Blue Marlin



     The parts of the Blue Fin Tuna that the shark didn't getSailfish


Fishing With My Friends in Florida:
January 22, 2010

By Tyler

I didn’t fish much in Michigan, but down here I learned the best way from my friends, Garrett and Tanner. You will need three fishing poles, hose, dock, large bucket, large cast net, cutting table and knife.

fishing supplies

First, you throw the cast net. You don’t need to bring any bait so please, don’t. The cast net is for catching the bait. If you catch a big fish, skip to the big fish part. If you catch a small fish put it in the bucket with water right away or hook it on one pole. Don’t hook it in the stomach, hook it by the top fin and then cast the fishing pole fast because you don’t want it to die, you want it to swim. Then repeat two more times, so you have fish for the other poles. If you have three fish swimming around, then there is a better chance that one will get eaten.

casting the net


Got a Mullet!shark bait!

Big Fish Part

If you catch a bigger fish in the net or on the pole you can use if for shark bait or cut it and clean the guts out and eat it. The shark bait catching part is kind of gross, so I’m not going to type any more.


                                      The (cool yet gross) End

three boys

Tyler’s announcement; “I never want to leave!”
January 20, 2010

If you know us or have followed us for long you might have noticed that our Tyler (age 8 ) is a pretty deep thinker with the vocabulary of a college student. Every single day he surprises us with something new and sometimes, (true confession here, and yes, I do have a master’s in education) I have to leave the room to go look a word up.

After discovering that we not only had neighbors, but that two of them were boys (brothers) ages 8 and 10, Tyler couldn’t wait to meet them. The “boy radar” must have been out, because on Saturday morning into our driveway rode Tanner and Garrett on bikes. The boys rang the doorbell and Tyler opened the door and greeted them with, “Come on in guys. Let’s play!” The polite boys hesitated slightly and asked, “Shouldn’t we introduce ourselves first?”

…boys, neighbors, boys, real boys, not girls…

Our poor son. He has spent a great amount of time pouring himself into books, Legos and video games to escape a girl world. He has only sisters and more girl cousins in Charlevoix and girl friends (I separated that on purpose) than he can count on all his little fingers and toes. He has some boy friends too, but the poor child goes to school in Petoskey, so play-dates with boys are few and far between.

3 Boys Fishing

…you can fill in the rest from there.  Tyler is having a ball and learning to fish from two (young) master fisherman. Oh, and the “never want to leave” part, that would come right after he asked me at the dinner table Saturday night, “Mom, is there a chance that you might have a late pregnancy?”

“No, son. I’m sorry. But I think I know why you are asking. You want a brother, don’t you.”

“Yep. But if I can’t have a brother, then I never want to leave!”


Tyler’s fishing post coming soon…

Fresh Catch…
January 17, 2010

After moving into our winter home, the kids and I busied ourselves with a full week of school, and Scott, not having to drive us anywhere, spent longer days in his new home office. We did however, find time to enjoy some fresh air once in a while…and this weekend gave us a chance to relax, explore the area even more, and have some fun.


Morning walk…


Rush hour on the dock…



…and a fresh catch for lunch.

Our landlord, Mahmoud, came by to take care of some landscaping with his workers, Jonathan from Guatamala and Ramon from Cancun. “These two,” he explained, “know fishing.”  It didn’t take long to have a dock full of boys and men, ready with sling nets for bait, and a surprise catch (Sheephead) already in the pot.


Mahmoud, who truly lives in the moment asked, “May I clean and cook for you now?”

“Of course!”


Less than 20 minutes, from river, to pan, to taste buds. The freshest we have had yet, and delicious too!


Mahmoud is more than a landlord, but our new friend, landscaper, fisherman and chef!

Stay tuned for a story of more new friends coming soon…


Video: Tyler, Tides and Sea Nettle Jellies
January 13, 2010

Actually we are no longer on Nettles Island, but very close to it on the Saint Lucie River. He might be a little lost, but still cute and willing to make videos!

Not yet at Journey’s end…
January 12, 2010

…but slowing down for a while.

This part of our adventure finds us in the sunny (and currently record breaking cold) state of Florida. With the RV in storage, and our family moved into a house, we plan to stay put for a while. And while my children have not complained once about sleeping arrangements on this trip, I am happy to report that each of them now has a bed to sleep in. We still plan to have plenty of adventures, but will (for the most part) stay within this state for the next three months.


A new friend and fellow adventurer shared some quotes with me, and if you know me well, you know I am a quote-junkie. Ponder this;

 “The true worth of your travels lies not in where you come to be at journey’s end, but who you come to be along the way.”

Some of our most valueable memories along the way are of people, rather than places. This week, while we were staying in Nettles Island, we got to spend time with some dear friends, Jim and Lisa Favors. We met Jim and Lisa when they arrived home from their first “Great Loop” boat trip. After discovering they were doing something we had dreamed of, and following their travel blog for months, we felt like we knew them well before we got a chance to meet them face to face. They are currently on their second “Loop’ and whether it is dinner at the dock, burgers at anchor, a weekend get-away or a brief visit, we always enjoy their company. If boating is a passion of yours, you might find their books, magazine articles, and photos valuable resources.

You can follow their journey at


Lisa, our family, Jim, and my mom, Theresa at The Dolphin

And no day is complete without chocolate…right? Grandma and the girls baked chocolate chip cookies for our last night at Nettles. Grandma (or Mother Theresa as Scott has fondly nicknamed her) has proclaimed herself the “Home Economics” teacher for our extended stay in Florida, and has every intention of following through on that promise!



Smells Like Florida!
January 6, 2010

It is amazing how a smell can bring back memories. My kids will often say after a summer rain, “It smells like Florida!” And as Hilary and I got out of the car very late Saturday night (the RV and the rest of our crew was not too far behind) the first thing we did was inhale, look at each other, and smile. It not only smelled like Florida, it was Florida; Nettles Island, a place that holds great memories for all of us, and my mom’s winter home.


Nettles is a man-made,100 acre square island with 1578 homes. It is flanked by the intra-coastal waterway and the ocean. If your idea of retirement is someplace secluded, this is not the place for you. There are two pools, tennis courts, a hopping clubhouse, game room, bocce courts, shuffleboard, restaurants, post office, marina (Scott likes that), and during Spring Break, plenty of grandkids.


Weary from two very long days of driving, Scott found a spot to park the RV and we all crashed at our friend Betsy’s house. We will be temporarily housed here until our rental is available on the 9th, when we will move just 6 miles south, on the mainland.

Nettles RV

Of course, Scott would have preferred to pull into a slip, and tie up to the dock…

With the RV in storage nearby, a day to rest, and a couple of Grandma’s great meals, we are now back to school, and back to business…


Never Say Never…
January 2, 2010

OK friends, here it is! If you have been following us for a while you might remember a conversation Scott and I had one morning. After working on the blog for half of the night I was completely convinced that the time had come for my husband to learn how to update it.  He was, after all, being a little pushy…

“Have you updated the blog yet?”

“How long has it been?”

“Twenty four whole hours?”

So, silly me, I told him I really felt it was time that he learned to do it.

His response… “I’ll let you teach me to blog right after I teach you how to drive!”

OK. Case closed!

But after a number of requests, and realizing that our RV life is nearing the end…we caved. Here’s proof…


                                   And YES, we really are moving!


Hmmm…do you see that smile? An experienced blogger might smile after they have spent days, weeks, months learning the ropes and possibly have updated to the new Windows 7 with the Windows Live Writer software…BUT a new blogger does not look or sound happy…He’s probably on Google Earth again!

Be patient friends, this lesson could take a few days…


I-65 southbound, 27 degrees, and getting 7.1 mpg, all is well.

WAY Big Adventure Part II
January 1, 2010

In the early morning hours of New Year’s Day we departed for the second leg of our adventure. After a wonderful Christmas, a birthday for Scott (49), many hugs, much laughter and some tears, it was time to go. Packing this time seemed easier. I think we have gotten pretty good at it. We exchanged our ski helmets (which were never used on the first part of our trip) and snow-pants for pool toys, and sunblock. And as you can see, Pepper wanted to be sure he wasn’t going to be left behind…


We will still homeschool each day and plan to see as much of state of Florida as we can. Scott will work M-F from his remote office and plans to fly home a few times to check in.

As good as it felt to be at home, sleep in our own beds, and have lots of space, I must admit that the sight of the RV pulling into the drive garnered a few squeals of excitement. We have loaded it this time, keeping in mind that we will be unloading it when we get to our rental house in Stuart, Florida…I am so looking forward to staying in one place for a while.

So for now, in spite of the icicles hanging off the front…


“The wheels on this bus go round and round…”

Departure Delayed To Say Goodbye
January 1, 2010

Yesterday we said goodbye to an uncle, fellow adventurer, great encourager and dear friend. 


And now, just as he would advise, we will “Praise the Lord and carry on!”


May  the road rise to meet you,

May the wind be always at your back,

May the sun shine warm upon your face

the rains fall soft upon your fields and,

until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

                                                                            -An old Irish Blessing