Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Snow in Florida??

Monday November 21, 2017

So who says there is no snow in Florida??  It may be fake snow but it is considered snow just the same.

Third Ave South in Naples has a tree lighting every year on the Monday before Thanksgiving.  I have missed this event several years now and made it a point to go this year.

Boy was I surprised at what a big deal this event is for Naples.  I was told by the barista at Bad Ass Coffee to get there early because parking is at a premium.  My PFW FL riding buddy, Deb, went with me to enjoy the festivities.  We arrived at 4 PM and found a good parking spot right near 3rd St and Broad.  There were street vendors selling cookies and other types of food along 3rd St even at this early hour.  The streets were pretty quiet and so were the happy hour places recommended to me also by the barista, Jen, at Bad Ass Coffee.  We checked out the Ridgeway first, though, where the tree was being lit so that we knew exactly where we had to be at 6:20 PM for the tree lighting and snowfall.  How about that....predictable snow fall!

My friend Deb posing by the first Christmas tree.  This is not the one that was lit later in the evening.

A Christmas tree made from Bromelades ( remember those plants from the botanical gardens? )

Little girl handing out treats along the parade route

Mr. & Mrs. Santa Claus on the firetruck in the parade

 Street musician

A view of 3rd Ave South during the festivities
We looked at The Bevy for happy hour, which was too sterile for the both of us, and the people didn't look friendly at all.  We went back to The Sea Salt ( we had checked this place out when we went to find the tree) which was very lively by that time we came back at 4:30 PM.  We were not able to get a seat for a while but it was worth the wait.  The bar bites menu was all seafood and a great selection of choices.

We finished our drinks and food and quickly headed to the tree lighting area in front of the The Ridgeway to get as close up as possible.

So here comes the snow.

There were snow making machines on the tops of lamp posts.  The
snow didn't feel wet so I am not sure what they used to make the snow

As we continued to make our way back to the car we spotted some young musicians playing the harp.  They were fantastic and so young!

 Old Naples Building

We made one last stop at the live nativity that was at the beginning of the street.

We had a great time and were very happy that we made the effort to go to this awesome event.  Naples was truly alive on Third Ave South!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Naples Botanical Gardens

Saturday November 11th

 Liz, who is a member of the SoWe Flo cycling group, invited me and a friend, Mindy, to tour the Naples Botanical Gardens.   It was member appreciation weekend so Liz had a few free passes to visit so we accepted the gracious offer.

There was a special exhibition provided by the National Sculpture Society called " A Blessing of Animals" Exhibition.  These metal animal sculptures were scattered throughout the park so it was fun to try and find them while exploring the gardens. 

The gardens are tucked away on Bayshore Drive which is near downtown Naples.  It's one of the best kept secrets of Naples.  Here is a link to explain more about the gardens.


This park is funded totally by private donations.  It is amazing that such a large venue can be privately supported.  It took a big hit when the hurricane came through Naples but since I didn't have a reference point of before versus after the hurricane I couldn't believe the beauty (and serenity) of these gardens even after the storm severely damaged the gardens.

Although I don't know much about plants and gardening I was interesting in learning about native plants of SW Florida.  There was a butterfly garden , an orchid garden, and several other themed areas of plants which made for a very interesting time.  The gardens are quiet large so we only saw half the gardens but hope to go back to see the "nature" section of the gardens another time.

Here are some photos I took while exploring.

 The sign say Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.  That represents the three phases that this plant will go through in it's lifetime.  Green is Yesterday, purple is Today and the White is tomorrow

Lily pads

 Bromelade which is pronounced Bro-mir-a-lad
The colorful center is the plant growing more leaves

 Asian Gardens

 This garden was named after it's donor

Here are some of the animal sculptures we spotted during our visit.  These are just a small representation of the exhibition. We unfortunately missed many as they were hidden so well within the gardens.

The House of Lords which is some type of bird...maybe an egret or heron

Wild Instinct which is the Panther

Stella the Pig

It was a great day spent with friends and learning more about Florida.  I hope to go back to these gardens very soon.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Gettysburg Fall Foliage Weekend

November 2, 2017

Philly Bike Club hosts a fall foliage weekend each year in Gettysburg.  It's one of my favorite events so I decided to fly back north and attend this year's event after a four year hiatus.

On Friday we did a warm-up ride of 30 miles around the area.  Rich W was the ride leader and the ride was faster than I expected....even with the hills!    I was not able to keep up so I did the ride at my own pace to give me a preview of the area.   We stopped at DeJa Brew coffee shop for our break. 

A whoopie pie is chocolate cake with marshmellow creme in the center.  In this case the cake was made of pumpkin to celebrate the season.

For the rest of the weekend we decided to avoid all Gettysburg Battlefield rides offered because of the amount of tourists....and cars....that visit the area every weekend. So on Saturday Alan L and Dave G and I decided to ride with the local club, Hanover Cyclers, for a 25 mile coffee ride.  They were checking out all of the coffee shops in the area and rate them once they have visited each one That should take about three weeks.

We saw these along our route.  They came up towards the bikes to be friendly
Some of the riders on the coffee ride.  We were waiting to regroup at a stop sign and saw the cows in photo above.

We stopped at Merlin's Coffee Shop at mile 23.

The Hanover Cyclers--- Bryan the leader of the ride is seated
The riders on the coffee ride
 In the afternoon we did a second ride with the Hanover Cycling Club minus Bryan, the ride leader. Jim took us to Cordorus State Park.  It was voted as one of  most beautiful state parks.   I didn't see on the sign the organization that voted it the best.  This park is very large and had many scenic overlooks. This park is 3,500 acres so there is a lot of places to explore and one hill that is a tough climb.

It was a beautiful 25 mile ride with lots of rolling hills as well as that one major climb around the last part of the lake.

Here are some photos of the various viewing points of the lake.


Once we were back at the hotel there were some additional activities.  One of those activities was pedaling a stationary bike to make a smoothie.

The president of Philly Bike club pedaling her way to a smoothie!

 We had a nice dinner at Bay City Grill restaurant.  As always there is a Philly Bike Club cake for dessert!

The weather held out until Sunday morning .  It was not safe to ride so there were lectures on various topics presented by some of the "experts" in the field who happened to be cyclists.  We didn't stay and headed back home after a nice weekend of cycling.  

It was a great weekend and I hope to go back again for next year's event.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Amish Country Classic Ride

Saturday September 9, 2017

Al L, Rich B and I decided a while back to skip the Lancaster Covered Bridge Ride and attend the Amish County Classic.  The ride is still in Lancaster but in a different area of the county.


It was a very early morning as we decided to drive up to the event the day of.  There was no mass start so it made that decision a lot easier although we were one of the last to start the ride.  We decided to do the metric and started at 8:45 AM.

It was a chilly start.....53 degrees!  For a Floridian like me that's really cold!  However the scenery and the ride were definitely worth the trip.  It made me wish for a simpler life and wishing I could actually do it but I know myself and know at this point in my life it's not possible.

 Look next to the second car...it's a horse and buggy 

A better photo of the buggy w Rich B in the forefront in his cycling gear.  What a contrast!

The first part of the ride was rolling hills and lots of farmland.  It has a different look that the farmlands in the Millstone area or Hunterdon County.   We were lucky enough to see one covered bridge.

The Conestoga Covered Bridge

We knew that there was one tough climb ( Welsh Mountain) at mile 20 but we really had no clue how hard that climb would be.  It was a one mile 444 ft climb and very tough with grades of 10-14%. 
 The rest stop at the top of Welsh Mountain

What is this food item?? Laura OLPH should know this one
It's a Whoopie Pie!  Chocolate cake with marshmallow creme in the center.

Rich B loves these things and I happily gave him any that were suppose to be mine.  I think at last count at the end of the ride he had six!!!  I was very happy to pass on these although I ate one small piece to keep Rich happy and experience part of the Lancaster culture.

From the left...Rich B, Al L and me.  We made it!!!

This was at the top of the climb and I was glad it was over.  I wish I would have been able to take a photo on the decent.  It was one of the most beautiful views of the countryside I have ever seen.  I was at 36 + mph and didn't want to hit the brakes on that decent for a photo.

 The rest of the ride was rolling hills.  Here is one of the small churches I saw along the way.

If you zoom in on the photo you will see that this is an Amish Mennonite Church

Unfortunately at mile 30 Al L went down after going over some potholes.  He was hurt but decided to try and finish the ride.  At mile 46 at the last rest stop he abandoned because of his knee was locking up.  I decided ( happily I might add because the headwinds were strong) to go back with him in the SAG to the EMT's.  Al decided he was well enough to not go to the emergency room and go home with us.  He is still very very sore today....Sunday...so drop him a note and wish him a speedy recovery.
Rich B finished the ride and met us back at the end of the ride.  He saw two more covered bridges on the last 18 miles.  Oh well.....maybe next time.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Surprise Historic Ride

Thursday 8/17/17

Joe M and I decided to take an easier ride from the house today since it was such a beautiful day.  We were going to do a 26-28 mile moderately hilly ride until we changed course near the end of the ride. We ended the day with 31 miles and lots of memories.

I had wanted to go back to Washington Crossing National Cemetery and ride inside the park to see it rather than view it from the road.   Here is a link to the park for some additional information.

Washington Crossing National Cemetery

It was interesting to see how the park is laid out and how all the headstones are upright and at a angle.  Here are some photos of the park.

Entrance to Park on Highland Road
Gravestones upright and at a perfect military angle

The visitor center

There is even a bike lane that surrounds the visitor center

It is certainly a site worth visiting.

I had asked Joe M how far the Garden of Reflection was from this location so we decided to visit that 911 memorial site once we left here.  It was 1.6 miles from the cemetery on Woodside Avenue.  Here is a link with more information.

Garden of Reflection

Here are some photos from our visit.

A piece of the World Trade Center tower

Visitors have put rosaries and other items to remember their loved ones

A mailbox ...not sure why this is here?

A guide to the memorial gardens

The memorial fountain

The fountain where the glass name plates identif  the victims both Bucks County as well as all of the victims

The first of the glass plates that surround the fountain.  They are in alphabetical order.

A memorial bench located on the path surrounding the fountain

There was an additional stone plate that said that there were 17 victims from Bucks County, PA where the memorial garden is located.  See below and look closely or enlarge the photo to see the writing on the stone.

A play area for children
The play area
It was a sad reminder of what is now history.

With the events of this past week including Charlottesville, VA and today's Barcelona, Spain terrorism attack.....I have to wonder what has happened to the people of this country and all countries to want to bring such death and destruction.  It is a sad time for sure.