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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

As part of our 2010 cyber-reorganization, we are moving and consolidating our cyberhomes.  You can get to our website at http://www.fancyfibers.com or just http://fancyfibers.com.

Our Farm Blog is now on that site instead of in a separate place! 

Please continue to follow the news from the farm by going to our newly designed website (on a different hosting service), click on the latest blog post, and SUBSCRIBE!  There is an RSS feed link down at the bottom.  When I figure out how to add other feed readers, I’ll do that, too!

We hope you’ll check it out and watch our new site grow!

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Sarasota, Wrap-up

Saturday morning it was time to go. First stop was the UPS Store in Bradenton. We had accumulated more stuff than we had luggage for (even though we had shipped our purchases from Artisans directly from the store!), so another shipment was in order. There was a short discussion about what to pack and what to ship. I considered shipping the dirty laundry home and putting the new stuff in our luggage, but ultimately we decided to do it the other way. That way if the TSA went through our bags (again), they would have the pleasure of rifling through our dirty clothes. My own small objection to the ridiculousness of airport security nowadays.

Tampa was drizzling rain when we got there and through airport security. Thankfully, the plane rose quickly above the rain into sunny skies. I hate to fly in the rain and it was too early for vodka. The flight home was uneventful. I have only great things to say about both American Airlines and flying first class. It’s the difference between eating at a nice restaurant and eating at the cafeteria. The seats are nice and wide which is good since so am I. The service is excellent. The flight attendants really want you to be comfortable and happy. You also get your own blanket. We may never fly coach again.

Ken is already talking about coming back for Spring Break next year which will supposedly be the Reds’ last year in Sarasota. He’s going to drive and stay for two weeks. It will be our only vacation next year. I’m going to fly in for some shorter period of time, and may even bring the Amanda’s girls to play on the Florida beaches. They’ll be fun to hang around with while Papa Ken is at the baseball game and, considering the shopping I did this time, probably cheaper!

A few notes about the hotel where we stayed, the Holiday Inn Lido Beach. Knowing what I know now, I would have stayed at the Lido Beach Resort instead.  A kitchenette with a king bed, frig, diswasher, stove, etc. would have been about the same price.

Back to my comments about the Holiday Inn Lido Beach.  The people at the hotel are very nice, well, everybody but that one guy at the desk who smiled when he told me that he could not give me a (measly) $25 cash on my credit card to pay the cabana guy. I hate people who smile when they give you bad news. It’s disingenuous.

The facilities at the hotel, however, are another story. This hotel could use some serious updating. It is surviving, perhaps even thriving, on the fact that it is directly across the street from the beach. I would never consider bringing a family here, although there were plenty there during our stay. Why, you say?

First, the rooms do not have refrigerators in them unless you ask for one, and even then, they may bring you an itty-bitty one. No microwave either. There are no closet or clothing armoire, although there was a hanging bar and a luggage rack. Maybe it’s just me; but I don’t like to look at my clothes, and you know what luggage looks likes after you’ve rummaged through it a time or two! The food in the restaurant was good and the view was spectacular, but it is expensive. Not family fare for sure!

Wait, there’s more! There was exactly 1 plug in our room; we travel with two computers, so we had to ask for a power strip. Who doesn’t travel with a bunch of electric things nowadays, whether it be cell phone chargers or game electronics? The shower head was not adjustable, and there was no fan in the bathroom which kinda turned out to be a big deal because the light fixture above the mirror gave off so much heat that I was sweating trying to paint my face on!

A number of things were broken. Our first room, the elf room, was not only incredibly small and had no frig, the curtain pulls were broken. I asked to be moved to a larger room, and by Tuesday, one had come available. This one had a dorm-size frig, but the door was broken on the cabinet it was in and it wouldn’t close. One of the bedside lamps was broken — not just the bulb — the actual lamp. Housekeeping came and took it away, and brought it back later, repaired, sort of. It looked like someone had covered the broken part in Mighty Putty and then spray painted it.

One of the elevators was broken one day. The soda machine on the 3rd floor was broken. The ATM was broken (which is why I asked for a cash advance against my card, which was refused). The nearest ATM machine was 1/2 mile away. At least I got the guy who drives the hotel van to take me and bring me back. I was in a hurry so I wouldn’t lose my cabana.

Long story short, I expect better from Holiday Inn, particularly a Holiday Inn that I paid so much money for. I guess i was paying for the beach!

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It was a beautiful day today, a beautiful day for baseball and for shopping! Technically, we were in Bradenton today, not in Sarasota. Bradenton is the next suburb over (north) from Sarasota. That’s where Ken’s baseball game was today and, as things turned out, where I spent the day as well!

After dropping Ken off at the baseball stadium, I headed for the 1st of 4 yarn shops on my list. Why go to the local yarn shop, you ask? First, St. Petersburg, Florida, is the home of Prism yarns, so I was hoping to find some at a reduced price here in Florida. Second, you just never know as you travel around the country what you will see that you haven’t seen before. Just as clothing stores stock different items in different states, so do yarn stores stock what is appropriate for their customers. Third, one can never have too much yarn, even if it means you have to ship it home, which I have done on more than one occasion!

I never made it to yarn stores 2, 3, or 4, because I hit pay dirt big time at my first stop. A Yarn Outlet is a new store to the Brandenton area, at only 4 months old, but it is the place to be if you want beautiful yarn at great prices! Owners Jimmy and Debbie Petti have turned a small house with enclosed porch into a heart-stopping yarn paradise. They carry all the latest and greatest yarns (yes, I found some Prism there, as well as Cherry Tree Hill, ArtYarns, and other hand painted delights), as well as tried-and-true classics (Encore, Cascade 220, etc.) Not only are all of their yarns priced at below normal retail price, but they have a clearance room containing both name-brand, nice yarns and patterns. No junky old stuff here!

Of course, tucked in around the yarns are all the usually notions and needles, as well as beautiful Lantern Moon goodies, hand-made scarf pins and more. I was there 3 hours trying to make up my mind; had I not had to pick up Ken after the baseball game, I would have sat on the sofa out on the porch and knitted until they kicked me out! Thank you, Jimmy, for making me feel at home! Don’t let the fact that Jimmy runs a fence business from this same lot fool you; if Debbie isn’t around, Jimmy can tell you all about the yarn!

Once I had collected Ken and we had a bite to dinner, it was back to the hotel where he picked up a book and I picked up my needle and new yarn. When the light is better, I’ll take some pictures!

Tomorrow, we go home. We’re both ready. This is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live here!

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Oh what a lazy day we had today! Ken did his usual get-up-before-dawn craziness, walked for a half hour in the darkness, came back, showered, changed, and had breakfast at the hotel buffet LONG before I was even thinking about being awake. The words “sleep in” have little meaning to him. His idea of a lazy day is to get up at 6 instead of 4:30! I will never understand it. Of course, when I’m typing at midnight, he has long since fallen asleep in front of the television and, at some point later, staggered off to bed.

There was no baseball today. We contemplated going to a night game, but the closest one was 1-1/2 hours away and we weren’t even sure we could get tickets. It was cloudy and cool, so ultimately we decided to explore the half of St. Armands Circle that I hadn’t already explored. A bookstore was calling Ken’s name and I found a clothing store, Oh My Gauze, that I specifically wanted to check out. I found some comfortable clothes on the sale rack, and Ken found some books. Success! It drizzled rain on us for a bit, but not long enough to drive us indoors.

While we were out we ate lunch at a great restaurant. I have no idea the name; must look as we drive by tomorrow and give credit. Ken had a very unusual appetizer of crepes filled with cheese and covered in a tomato based sauce. The unusual thing was that the crepes were made of very thinly sliced eggplant! I had a shrimp cobb salad that was very Pineapple wedges dipped in chocolategood: large boiled shrimp, black olives, blue cheese, bacon, lettuce, and a honey mustard dressing. For our treat at the end they brought us little wedges of pineapple the tips of which had been dipped in chocolate. It was absolutely delightful!

When we got back it was time for me to take a nap and Ken to read one of his new books. I got in some knitting on my alpaca lace shawl (I’ll post a picture soon), and before long it was the end of our lazy day.

I’ll close with one more observation about how different things are here.  Take a look at this picture (click for larger).  Screened in poolI know it’s not the greatest picture; I took it at quite a distance away.  See the screened enclosed area on the right?  That’s where the swimming pool is.  Every house here that has a pool has them screened in completely like this.  I don’t know if it is for shade? or to keep bugs out?  You wouldn’t think there would be a pest problem with the amount of breeze blowing around here all the time.  In any event, we find them interesting!

Back to baseball for Ken tomorrow, our last day.  What am I going to do?

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This is one strange place. We have driven long distances on several of the major streets here, and there is one thing you notice right away. There are no gas stations, and no fast food places except Subway, and we’ve seen lots of those. We have, quite literally, seen one Shell and one Exxon and there were right next to one another, one McDonalds and one Wendy’s. Only 2 Starbucks! There is one brand of supermarket here (Sweetbread? Sweetbay? Sweet- something- or- the-other) and we’ve only seen one of those. Oh yeah, we did find one Albertsons. Lots and lots of CVS Pharmacies. Very, very strange.Lion fish

Today was our day for sightseeing. We started out at the Mote Aquarium. This is a pretty cool place. They rescue a lot of animals, treat them in their hospital, and return them to the wild if the animals are able to make it on their own. The ones that can’t make it on their own, such as the turtle who is blind because he was speared by a fisherman, they keep at the aquarium. There a lot of pretty fish, and we learned a lot. I didn’t know manatees ate Romaine lettuce! There was also a pretty cool theatre where the audience gets to try out life as a shark.

High windsWe were supposed to go out into the bay on a boat where we can see dolphins and manatees and the like live in the ocean jumping around, but the wind kept the boats off the water today. Maybe tomorrow.

From the aquarium, we went to Selby Gardens. This is one beautiful place! Gorgeous orchids andBeautiful Flower bromeliads, very interesting trees and other plants, poisonous frogs, and some sort of sea bird (maybe a crane?) that followed us around for a while. If you like beautiful flowers, this is the place for you. I took a few pictures; there were so many more!

This took most of our day. I was feeling homesick, so we had dinner at Olive Garden for a bit of the familiar.

House on the waterOther things to see in Sarasota include the large, beautiful homes that back up to the water and each have their own boat dock. Impressive from the outside, I can only imagine how nice they must be on the inside!

My sunburned legs are still very unhappy with me. My husband says the picture just doesn’t do them justice. They are so red, but only on the front! I don’t understand it…. I was so careful!More ouch!

Tomorrow we have time for a little bit more sightseeing, and then it’s off on a road trip to Fort Myers for a night baseball game. I’m taking my knitting!

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Sarasota, Tuesday, Ouch!

On Tuesday, I did nothing. Well, that’s not exactly true. After donning my big floppy hat, I walked across the street to the beach, rented one of the half-shell cabanas, Beach cabanasstretched out in a lawn chair, and read. All day. I got out there about 10, and came in at 4. It was wonderful! Not wanting to get any sun, I positioned my lawn chair so that my entire body was in the shade of the cabana, listened to the surf, glanced up every now and then to people watch, and read.

Unfortunately, about 4 o’clock I realized that somehow my plan had gone awry. I KNOW that I was in the shade every minute I was out there because I monitored the position of the sun on my chair and moved both my chair and the cabana every time the sun even got anywhere near me. I guess some sneaky sideways sun rays managed to get in, however, because by the time the sun had shifted around to where it was in my face and I could not longer escape, I had managed to burn my lower legs! Burned somehow!Ouch! Time to go inside for sure!

By this time, Ken was back from the ball game. After applying copious amounts of aloe vera goop to my legs, we walked down to St. Armands Circle and Cha Cha Coconuts for an early dinner. I was glad we went early; the place was packed. No telling what it would have been like at a more normal dinner hour and/or after the live music starts. No seafood today, though; just burgers. Their sweet potato fries and fried onion stix were really good!

Wednesday is a no ballgame day, so Ken and I are actually going to spend the day together! What a concept!

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Sarasota, Sunday/Monday

We’re here!  Actually we’ve been here since Saturday late afternoon, but today was the first day that I’ve had a few quiet moments to blog about our trip.

Sunday, Ken spent the majority of the day at Ed Smith Stadium watching the Reds play.  He was ecstatic when he came back.  It was the most fun he had had in a long time.  He sat close to the field, and really got a good look at the players on this team he has followed for 40+ years.

I spent most of the day shopping and browsing (emphasis on browsing) in the shops on St. Armands Circle.  We’re staying on Lido Beach, and St. Armands Circle is, basically, a traffic circle with four quadrants of very chic stores.  This is where the beautiful and the rich come to shop, and us normal people come to look.  Every now and then there is a shop tucked in one of the strips that actually has affordable stuff in it.  I bought some very pretty jewelry, a beautiful pottery bowl (locally made), a beautiful sculpture (also locally made), and some metal work (yes, locally made) in a shop called Artisans.  I also bought some Crocs in a store called Foot Lites that also had some really cute fabric high heeled shoes that I could see some of my more fashionable friends, but not me, wearing.  I had lunch in a combination wine store/cafe, The Bottleshop, a wonderful salad of spring greens, two kinds of beets, pears, blue cheese, and sugared walnuts.  We went to Cosimos Brick Oven for dinner, and crashed.  Ken was so sunburned (!) from his day at the ball park that the wind was gone from his sales.  Just as well, as I had done quite a bit of walking.

 Monday, I kept the car.  Dropped Ken off at the ballpark (of course) to see the Reds play the Tigers, and drove to the mall to try to find some lighter weight pants.  All I had brought with me in the way of long pants was jeans, and I was dying from the mid-day heat.  Next to the mall, I stopped at the Body & Spirit day spa.  What a GORGEOUS place!  To anyone who is coming to Sarasota, or anyone who happens to find this blog entry when Goggle-ing, you MUST spend some time in this place.  On the outside it looks fairly nondescript — a two-story rectangular building.  But on the inside it is like being in a beautiful house.  There are comfortable sitting areas upstairs and downstairs, cozy nooks for manicures and pedicures, and warm, inviting rooms for other services.  The entire place is painted in a warm creamy brown, and decorated with tasteful art.  It is a fragrant, soothing, and quiet place.  I opted for the Skin Invigorating Facial , and eyebrow waxing with Libby who was trained in the UK and who has magic in her hands.  I’ve never had a better facial massage.  Then on to Sandra for a wonderful manicure and pedicure, including a sugar scrub and both hand and leg massages.  I thought I went to a nice spa in Dallas, but this place put my old spa to shame!

After a quick trip into a store for some light colored capri pants, it was time to pick Ken up.  We decided to drive over to Siesta Kay for dinner at Captain Curt’s.  Poor Ken; being a vegetarian has its drawbacks.  There’s never anything to eat for him in seafood restaurants other than cole slaw, bread, and green salad.  But he bore it like a trooper so I could have some crab cakes.

Back at the hotel, around sunset, we took a quick walk on the beach.  The sand is different on the Gulf Coast of Florida as compared to Texas.  It is salt and pepper, mostly white, sand with crushed shell in it.  There is virtually no seaweed.  The water is still pretty cold, but the breeze was cool and inviting.  I can see why people want to live here; it is very tranquil.

Enough typing.  Time to go to the beach.  Here are some pictures; there are more in my Flickr album.
PelicansThe white sand in FloridaSunset on Lido Beach

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