Thursday, January 29, 2009

Naples, FL...again!

Hi Friends...we finally left Naples, FL after 4 weeks! Here's our top ten reasons for staying in so long:

1. The weather is awesome

Crystal Lake RV Resort is beautiful and the people are friendly

3. We had a tennis court in our front yard

4. There is a brand new Whole Foods Market right down the street

5. Naples is really a beautiful town

6. The weather is awesome

7. We didn't have to be anywhere until January 25th

8. We liked the 2 mile walk around the lake

9. We felt like kids there...we were the youngest by far :-)

10. Did I mention that the weather is awesome?

Over the past couple weeks, we visited the Naples Zoo, played tennis, took two classes at Whole Foods (Cooking with Kids and a Raw Food class), watched a sunset at the Naples Pier, and held a lemonade stand. It was a bit too chilly that morning for lemonade slushies...we should have been selling hot chocolate - but hey, live and learn, right?

I am also very excited to report that our wheatgrass experiment is underway. If you remember, we learned how to grow it from the smoothie guy in
Charleston, SC, but up until now, we did not have a wheatgrass juicer. We finally ordered the juicer and the sprouting has begun...I'll report on our progress next week.

What else have we been up to? We were so blessed to meet up with some dear friends from MN last week - Michelle Thompson, her two girls, and her mom, Mrs. Lee. What a treat to spend some time with familiar faces! We took a nice long walk down the Fort Meyers Beach, saw pelicans on the pier, enjoyed some hot chocolate, took the trolley back to their condo, and then Mrs. Lee treated us to a delicious meal of Lentil Soup. Michelle is the founder of Hand In Hand - the homeschool academy where Ashley and Jake attended for six years. We miss you guys!!

We ended our stay with a visit to the winter homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. It was inspiring to all of us to think about the way Edison thought outside of the box in order to come up with the many inventions he is credited with.

We are now on the next leg of our journey making our way out west. First stop? The Florida panhandle near Destin, FL. God continues to refine us individually and as a family as we journey through our days. He is definitely more interested in our character than anything else and we have been talking lately about our deep desire for the fruits of the Spirit to be evident in our lives - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Thank you, Lord, for the opportunities You are giving us to be transformed to be more like You. Be glorified in us, Jesus! We pray that for each of you too.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Key West, FL

We can now attest to the fact that it really is possible to drive far enough out into the ocean that you’re closer to Cuba than Miami! My mom flew into Ft. Meyers on January 1st and then we drove from Naples to Bluewater Key on the 2nd where we spent a week 14 miles from the southernmost point in the USA – Key West. It took us seven hours to drive there (bad traffic) and only five hours to get back.

It was an interesting drive on Highway 41 through the Everglades. We saw hundreds of alligators along the way – or at least the kids did. They were better at spotting them than I was. These gators were a much darker shade of green (almost black) than what is portrayed in most pictures.

After the Everglades we hit Highway 1 and drove 117 miles over 42 bridges and numerous small islands (keys). It was different than what I expected. I envisioned much bigger, longer bridges. In reality, it felt more like driving on land (which it was) with short bridges linking the islands. There was only one really long bridge which was seven miles long.

We made a couple of trips in to Key West during the week. We took the
Conch Train Tour of the island and learned a lot about the history of Key West. It was originally reached by an overseas railway complete in 1912 that ran from the mainland to Key West. A hurricane destroyed much of it in 1935 and then the U.S. Government rebuilt it as a road in 1938 calling it the overseas highway. We also took a tour of the Curry Mansion – the home of Key West’s first millionaire which is now a bed and breakfast.

We ate at a very unique restaurant called
Blue Heaven. This place was really fun sitting outside on a wood mulch floor with chickens and cats roaming around the premises. This would never pass health inspection back in MN!

Overall, we had a very laid back week hanging out at
Bluewater Key RV Resort. The people were very friendly and we ended up playing Wii bowling with our neighbors from Chicago the first night we were there. We spent a lot of time reading, playing games, and enjoying the time with my mom. And we found out that Macie can swim! We took her down to the boat dock, put her in the water and she paddled her way to shore (though I don't think she liked it much). One day she saw a huge green iguana crawling up a palm tree right outside her window – she was ready to jump through the windshield to get it!

While we enjoyed the Keys and we’re glad we made the trip (Grandma included), we all agreed that it wasn’t our favorite spot. There was something about this place that did not sit right with us. We can’t put a finger on it at the moment, but we were unsettled there. That said, we are happy to back in Naples for a couple more weeks.

It's been nearly three months since we set sail on this journey. I'm posting more thoughts about this on my personal
blog today. In the future, if you want to get an email when I update that blog, click here.