Grand Oaks again

Grand Oaks had another Dressage event today so I showed up with my camera - these horse are just too beautiful to miss! Later Pete and Donna drove out, to bring us our extra car keys when we got locked out. They stayed with Randy to watch the horses go through their paceswhile I wandered around taking pictures. There were not as many horses here today at the last time I saw this event, so I didn't get as many photos. But every horse was amazing!
It was a really hot day, and after their time in the show ring these beauties were pretty warm. 
Me too! But after a shower I was ready to go out for dinner with Randy and a group of friends from our current and previous Life Group. Gary and Erin, Rich, and Jack and Michelle met us at Mom and Dad's for Italian food. It was good but not as good as I remember it when we went there with Aaron. We plan on getting together every month, so next month we'll get to try a new place.


Me and the bee

One of the houses up the street from us has a couple of huge cacti in the yard. They tower over the house; the owner was worried about them during the last hurricane but they survived
Right now, for a few weeks, they are in bloom and are blooming like crazy. During the couple of hours in the morning when the flowers open, a zillion bees show up. So many bees are here that you can hear the buzzing from a few feet away. The bees don't bother people - they are too busy. Every bee I saw had big bags of pollen on it's legs and was trying to pack in more.
They seemed to like to burrow in the center of the flower and practically roll around. Some were so covered with pollen that they look like they'd been rolling in sugar.


Disney Springs

Not having access to Disney World for the summer has been hard. To fill the gap, we went to Disney Springs with Pete and Donna. Disney Springs is a big Disney shopping and eating area, and typically Disney, it's spotlessly clean and welcoming. Even without buying anything, it was nice. But they work hard to convince us to buy something. The treats look like something we should try.
 The stores are packed with Disney cute
including one that I may have to get someday. I would have gotten him today but it was hot and I didn't want to carry a bag. 
My favorite thing was, easily, the big Lego dragon. Now that the mechanical parade dragon is out of commission, this is the next best thing. He's big, bad, and made from 1,266,112 Legos. Who counted?
Somehow these folks can make gracefully curved greenery and thorny vines from little square blocks.
Close by is an area where kids (or anyone) can build little Lego race cars and race each other. Tiny little Legos cars don't run straight but it doesn't really matter.
Disney seems to love dragons; they have a Lego one in the lake. I kind of love this goofy thing! 
On another part of the lake were some really interesting Aqua-cars. Beside going on water or land, they are beautifully retro.
Continuing the awesome transportation theme was an amazing-looking balloon. Next time, we'll go on this!
Before leaving we looked around for a restaurant. The T-Rex could have been an interesting choice, except they had really ordinary food, and a big Brontosaurus skeleton over the door instead of a T-Rex. 
So instead we went to the Polite Pig. Good food.


Stomp them grapes

Lakeridge Winery has several events to bring customers in. Their two-for-one sale is one of our favorites, but this weekend they had another good one: the 24th annual Harvest Grape Stomp!  We headed out there with Gary and Erin. Lakeridge doesn't use the stomped grapes for their wine, of course; they don't even use their own grapes for the stomping. Instead they opened a few plastic clamshells of grapes, probably purchased at Public, and dumped the grapes into half-barrels with a few holes drilled into their bottom edge. Then their guests took off their shoes, climbed in, and stomped.
It was a contest, and whoever squished the most juice out won a festival T-shirt. When it was our turn we did our best but didn't win. It didn't matter - we had a lot of fun doing something we've never done before.
Lake ridge has the bugs worked out of this process - nearby were clean benches to sit on and water facets to hose off our feet. 

The large grassy field was filled with lawn chairs, which we didn't have, but there were a few tables off to the side so we found a place at one of them. Gary treated us to some white wine while we listened to a group called Bobby Brown and the B52s.
We snacked on french fries, too, before wandering over to the Cornhole games. The guys did better than Erin and I did, so they won. I didn't care, I was just amazed that I actually got one in!

And the rest of the visit

Monday morning Randy made waffles with homemade blueberry topping for breakfast before our guests headed out for another day at Disney. Our Disney tickets aren't good today so we didn't join them. But they had another wonderful day at the Magic Kingdom!

Tuesday morning Randy made cinnamon rolls - always a good way to start the day.
Unfortunately Jordan and Kassie had to leave on Tuesday, so we drove them to the airport late in the morning. On the way back from the airport we stopped at Kelley Park Rock Springs. We intend to play in the springs like we did at Alexander Springs, but when we pulled up to the park entrance there were signs saying the park was closed for the day. However, the officer at the entrance gave us a voucher to get in at 2 pm. Since it was only 1 pm, he suggested we have lunch at a nearby Italian restaurant before renting inner tubes to go tubing in the springs. He mentioned he had an Italian brother-in-law, so we wondered if this was a sly way of drumming up some business for his relatives. No matter, it was time for lunch anyway. We went to Pastavino Italian Restaurant and had a good lunch, followed by something they call Ghost Cake, which is cheesecake layered with slices of cake-cake. 
After lunch we drove back, got inner tubes ($7 per tube and they make you leave your driver license as collateral), paid $5 to get into the park, parked the car and changed clothes in the restrooms. Then we carried the big tubes along the wooden walkway to a place to put in and got started. The water was cool - I read it was 68 degrees, although at first it seemed a bit warmer than Alexander Springs. But it was crystal clear and in most places it was shallow enough to stand. The bottom was white sand with large rocks and water weeds on both sides, leaving a clear channel for the water to slip through. The section set aside for tubing was probably a half mile long and the tubes floated smoothly along. It was great, and the walk back to the top of the springs was so easy that we went three times! We also played in the central pool area awhile. We will definitely be back!

At the end of the day we were tired enough that we just stopped at Public for some of their good fried chicken. 

Wednesday we woke up to a rainy day. We had ideas of places to go and things to do, but the Manatee park and Glass Bottom Boat rides are strictly outside activities. So we breakfasted on cinnamon rolls and eggs, watched Ice Age, and waited for the rain to stop. It slowed down but not enough for the activities to commence, so we just went out for a bit of shopping, which included enough sampling at Sam's club to count as a light lunch. Back home we did naps, video games, and watched the Wizard of Oz. Randy cooked steak and scallops for dinner, with large puff pastry full of strawberries and chocolate for dessert. Izzy found some Lego shows on Youtube so we watched a couple of those until bedtime, which came early for Randy and I.

Thursday we had to let the last of our guests, Aaron and Izzy, go home. We got up at 4 am to make sure they made their early morning flight. I get to nap, but Randy will be at the dive shop all day. I'll take a second nap for him.

Boatin' and Eatin'

Randy, Aaron and I went to church this morning, letting Jordan, Kassie and Izzy sleep in.

After church we wanted to take the boat out today, but had to wait a couple of hours for the overcast skies to clear up. It never really cleared but when the threat of lightening passed, we went ahead. We took the boat through our canal, across Lake Griffin, and up Haines Creek.
On the way back the oil light came on, so Randy had to pull over to the side of the canal and add oil to the engine. And we cruised on without any problems.
At home our resident alligator did not show up, but we did see a small alligator at our neighbor's place. We're still hoping the bigger one shows up soon.
Kassie loves seafood, so for dinner we went to Eaton's Beach. I ordered my favorite, 3 Mac and Cheese. It's on our "Best Food on the Road" list. After dinner Kassie, Izzy and I walked on Eaton's beach, waded in the water, and looked for shells while the guys relaxed on the porch. What a nice way to relax after dinner!  
On the way home Randy went to Mystic Ice Cream. It's an interesting place, decorated with a lot of old album covers, lava lights, and movie stuff, with trivia cards and puzzles on the tables.  
Their claim to fame is their ice cream, some of which is flavored with alcohol. I opted for the non-alcoholic Frankenstein: chocolate ice cream with chocolate pieces and chocolate topping. I have no idea why they stick a pretzel stick in there - it doesn't need it.

Crazy Datona Beach

Randy made biscuits and gravy with scrambled eggs for breakfast this morning - one of my favorite ways to start the day! Then we stuffed some big towels into the Jeep and headed for Daytona Beach. There was construction and an accident in our way, but eventually we made it. And it was wonderful! The water was a comfortable temperature and it was so sunny. I put lotion on but found out later I missed some spots. No matter. We all played in the water and sat in the sun for over 3 hours. The only weird thing was the constant line of traffic on the beach. The sand is packed hard and between the apartment buildings and the beach umbrellas, a line of vehicles were slowly cruising the beach. 90% of them were jacked-up trucks, with super-sized wheels and flashy lights. Some of these modifications cost thousands.
It turned out this weekend was the 2018 Daytona Truck Meet! The official location was at the International Speedway infield, but they all took time out to slowly drive along the beach, showing off their trucks. That wasn't too bad, but most of them had their windows rolled down and their (bad) music turned up. It was an odd backdrop to the beautiful, relaxing surf, but we didn't let it bother us too much. 
When it was time for dinner Randy suggested we go to Aunt Catfish's. That was an awesome suggestion! Their dinners come with the salad bar and we all agreed it was the best salad bar ever. It was so good that, even though I don't eat a lot of salad, I went back for seconds. Unfortunately that meant we were pretty full before dinner arrived. Nevertheless, we ate everything! Randy had blackened Mahi Mahi and shrimp, while I feasted on crab legs. I also had a Frozen Rock Lobster drink, which was great! And to top it off, every dinner comes with a glazed cinnamon roll; this is one of our favorite places now. I was stuffed and tipsy and glad Randy was the one who had to drive over an hour to get us all home!