Tuesday, February 23, 2010

12 Hour Mountain Bike Race in Santos, Florida

We had a great time last weekend when we attended a 12 hour mountain bike race in Santos, Florida. Santos is where Greenway Bicycles (the shop where Ward is working) is located. Ward worked on and off throughout the weekend while the owners, Dan and Jessica, raced on a 4 person team. The race started with a Lemond start (you had to run to your bikes). All their friends from Orlando came up for it and we all camped at the race site, Friday to Sunday. Their friends accepted us immediately and we had such a great time with them. It reminded us a lot of our friends back home. Michelle and Tommy did all the cooking for the group and, as you can see, it was pretty primitive camping.

Dan let us take some of his mountain bikes out on the trails. They have superb trails that are color coded and offer a fun experience not only to the experts but also to the beginners. The trails certainly wet Jacky's pallet and she is eager to get back into mountain biking. We thank Greenway Bicycles, Dan and Jessica, for this opportunity.

Its Feeling Like "Home Sweet Home"

Little things have become so special to us like...being able to say, "I'm going home." Or, stopping at a store or pub and they know your name. After 2 1/2 years it is a treat to have an oven and to cook a casserole or a roast. Jacky doesn't even mind cleaning (however, I'm sure that is short lived). Ward has found a part-time job at a bike shop 12 miles away and Jacky is working on updating her dietetic CEUs (that she has neglected for 3 years) so she will be ready to run once we hit ground in Iowa this July. Otherwise, we continue to help fix up the house that we are staying in.

We have been trying to integrate with the locals. We are biking with the local bike club and Ward has joined 2 Rotary Clubs. It was really fun to help with their annual chili cook-off. They have been very good to us and have provided numerous dinner invitations. We have been presenting at schools, Rotary Clubs, bike clubs and hospitals. We don't do it to toot our horn but to show our pictures, give our message, and to let people know just how great the world is.

We're loving our temporary home at this time but we are getting antsy to get back on the road. We plan on leaving Florida on March 22.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Daytona 500 - just when you think it doesn't get any better

On Friday, Feb. 12th we met up with 4 other friends from Iowa to go to the Daytona 500. Dan Splide(Rotocast) and Eric Clement (Featherlite) needed to be at the race to conduct business and Marc Folkedahl, Lee Hackman and ourselves were the recipients of the great hospitality that they provided. We stayed about 30 miles north of the track in a beautiful ocean side condo. Saturday morning we got up bright and early to get our passes so that we could get right down in the pits next to the drivers and cars. It was unbelievable to be so close to all this action. Once they started the practice runs you had to be very careful. Cars were zooming in and out of the garage area and you didn't want to be in their path.

The National race started at 1:15. Eric lined up a very special treat for us. We got to have a ride in the pace car prior to the start of the race. It was incredible. Going at 120mph on banks as steep as 33 degrees! I can't even imagine the 200mph speeds that the drivers go. We kept saying to each other, "does it get any better than this?" Yes, it does. We didn't have to watch the race from metal seats in the stands. We got to go up into one of the suites and watch it from there! You had a panoramic view of the whole track with complimentary food and drink. Again, totally unbelievable. We had a great time watching the race and enjoying festivities after wards. The following day was the grand daddy of the races, the Daytona 500. The rest of the group could only watch a portion of it since they had to catch flights. Because Ward and I had a flexible schedule, Eric arranged another day up in the suites for us. It was truly an unbelievable weekend. Thanks Dan and Eric for all your extra efforts in making it so.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Kennedy Space Center

Being stationed near Orlanda, Florida's family vacation spot, we have been able to meet up with various friends. On Feb. 2 we met up with Kelly Reagan and Craig Chyles along with their families. We spent a day at the Kennedy Space Center. All I can say is, "WOW". It is amazing to see the size of the space shuttles and rockets. One of the highlights was listening to Al Worden, an astronaut from Apollo 15, tell about his trip up into space (pictured with the Chyles). We tried to view the space shuttle launch on Feb. 7. Kelly Reagan actually drove to the Space Center and had a great parking spot 10 miles from the launch pad. He said it was amazing to see it all lit up. The 4:39 am scheduled launch was cancelled at 4:32 am. How disappointing. He was in bumper to bumper traffic and almost missed his 11:00 am flight back to Iowa.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Setting Up A Temporary Home Base

From Key West we headed back to the Orlando area. We set up a home base for 2 months as we wait for the weather to warm up along the east coast. (We thought Florida would be a warm place to hang out...not! But still warmer than anywhere else.) We are staying in our friend, Carol's, rental house and helping her remodel it. We met Carol in Thailand last year in a hostel. Its amazing how friendships can carry on.

Ward just landed a temporary job at a bike shop and Jacky is still looking. We have tried to integrate ourselves into this retirement community, called The Villages, by joining the local bike club, Rotary Club, and by giving talks to nearby schools. The people are very friendly and have extended many invitations to dinner and other events. We are actually enjoying having a home base and house and a sense of community. We find having a shower, oven/stove, refrigerator and shower is heaven...no matter what condition it is in. Our friends from Madison, WI, Greg Franken and his wife, Judy, were in the area meeting other friends and we were able to meet and have dinner together. Its so fun to get a taste of home.

1st: The house that we are staying in for 2 months.
2nd: Ward, Carol and Dick (her husband)in their home.
3rd: Jacky sheet rocking and mudding.
4th: Ward making the cement cover for the sewer.
5th: Greg Franken and his friend having an after dinner drink in the kitchen of the house that we are staying in.

Tribute to Uncle Maury

On Jan. 23rd we observed the life of Maury Peters, Ward's uncle and godfather. He and his wife, Maria, were very special to us. We were lucky to have spent 5 days with them in San Diego (where they resided) last Oct. as we made our way down the coast of California. After serving 25 years in the Navy he was given a Military funeral. If you never been to one, they are incredibly moving as the flag is presented to the next family member followed by Taps played on the trumpet and a gun salute. It is so special it gives you the chills. Maury chose to be buried in Iowa and family members made the trek from California. So, we did just what Maury would want us to do...we celebrated his life.