This will be a Valentine’s Day we will forever remember. Today we’re gathering clothes, and other odds and ends and making final preparations for Barb’s kidney surgery tomorrow.
Today we’ll move to a Choice Hotel in Tampa since we have to be at Moffitt Cancer Center tomorrow by 5 am. We thought it would be best to be only 15 minutes from the hospital rather than an hour. Hence, to Tampa we go today.
Several months back a mass was discovered in Barb’s left kidney. Though they will not say until it is out whether it is cancer or not, all indications are that it is. Thankfully, it is small and appears to be completely contained in the one area of the kidney.
Her surgery tomorrow is scheduled for 7am and is expected to take between 3 and 4 hours. We’re both nervous but very confident that the outcome will be positive. There is no better team to deal with something like this than the team at Moffitt.
If you are reading this we ask for your prayers especially during the next couple of days. Our faith is strong and we are confident that God will carry us through.
The hungry in America are all around us. We may not see them nor are they usually easy to find. However, open a food pantry and offer quality food items to those suffering from food insecurity and you’ll see them by the hundreds.
Barb and I discovered back in late 2022 that our lives lacked purpose. There was no driving reason to get up in the morning. We were retired. Off the road. Just taking up space. We were literally beginning to rust in place. Perhaps some of you know what I mean. To grow old and rust away is to becoming increasingly inactive. You start sleeping later in the morning. You wander aimlessly through the day. You have no mission that moves and motivates you. We knew we needed to do something. We just didn’t know what that something would be.
My first instinct was to find a museum where I could volunteer. To that end I made several phone calls and one told me very enthusiastically do we ever need new volunteers. I was encouraged to fill out an application and was assured you’ll hear from us by next week. Weeks went by, I made follow up phone calls and here we are five months later and I’ve never heard from them. Oh well.
About the same time Ms. Barbara said, more to herself, do you think we can find a food panty that we could volunteer at? She made several phone calls but only one seemed interested. That one was The Auburndale Food Pantry which we paid a visit to that very day, and here we are four months later serving there two, sometimes three or four days a week.
There are several sections inside where all the work is done. This is known as The Packing Plant. In this room we make up bags of staples for distribution. Depending on what has been donated by the various supermarkets in the area the bag will sometimes contain the following: a bag of rice, a bag of walnuts, a can of beans, a can of fruit, a can of soup and maybe a couple of bags of chips.
The bags then go into boxes – five bags to a box – and they are then taken out to the
distribution room where they will be handed out to our clients. This is the room on a typical day prior to distribution. On average we need to make up 400 to 500 bags or more per week. Our doors are open on Tuesday and Thursday for distribution.
Along with the staples we also distribute
packages of meat. This is The Meat Locker just after we received a donation from several of the local supermarkets. This was a really good day but unfortunately not all days are like this. We then unbox all of this meat and make up bags of 2 to 3 pounds for distribution with the staple bags.
We also distribute
baked goods. This is the Bakery Room. When I took this picture our shelves were a bit bare. As with the staples and the meat so with the bakery we never know week to week what we are going to have.
For instance this past week we received 2,300 pounds of canned fruit from the USDA. We also received 7,526 pounds of staples and meat from the USDA. In the past we received about 3,000 pounds of fish. Another week we received cartons and cartons of eggs. We’re grateful for everything we receive.
Now, as to how much we distribute – this past Thursday we were able to provide for 863 people. Which is about 4,200 pounds of staples and meat and bakery out the door. And, yes, this is a typical day of distribution. Our food pantry is the third largest in Polk County.
So that people is where we are overcoming the rust in our lives. We donate our time to unload trucks, make up bags of staples and meat, move boxes from room to room and do whatever else needs to be done. It is truly a most gratifying way to spend one’s time.
In closing let me end with this, a brief poem that I’ve come to embrace as my goal in life:
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”
Temperature 82 Degrees, Overcast with Rain Showers
We Moved – Temporarily
Yup, we are back on the road again. A whole lot sooner than expected but that’s OK.
We’re still in Florida but a bit south and east from the house in South Bay. We’re at a really nice county park called South Bay Campground which is just about 4 hours from the house.
This is our new home until Saturday of next week. A nice spacious, level, paved site with FHU for under $30’s a night. Move closer to the coast and you find the price goes through the roof – like the starting rate for a site is usually around $95 per night!
To our amazement we practically have the whole place to ourselves. A good 50% of the sites are vacant. Granted, the campground is in the middle of nowhere but it is a jewel in all respects.
OK, we’re not completely alone. The canal behind us has been known to harbor some much unwanted visitors.
So, that is where we are but I guess everyone might be wondering Why?
Here’s the deal. My son called and asked if we could do him and his significant other a big favor. It seems that they were going to take two short vacation cruises that were going to cost them next to nothing. However, they needed some help with ground transportation.
They planned to fly into West Palm Beach and had a hotel room reserved and transportation already arranged for this leg. However, that was the end of their prearranged ground transportation. That’s were we come in.
Our first Uber assignment was to pick them at
the hotel they were staying at and take them to
Margaritaville by Sea. The cruise line has a Heroes Sail Free program that allows all active and veteran military, first responders, law enforcement officers and educators to sail free on a 3-day, 2-night cruise to Grand Bahama Island. Since my son is in law enforcement this was a win-win for him.
Our second Uber assignment would be to pick them up when they returned and then bring them back to stay with us for a night. Easy enough and we have the room, so to speak, in Elvira.
Our third Uber assignment would be to transport them from our place to
Port Everglades for a Royal Caribbean Cruise for 4 nights on Liberty of the Seas. What can I say, perhaps both of them should have enlisted in the Coast Guard since they seem to enjoy being on the water so much.
Wait, we’re not done.
Our fourth Uber assignment would be to fetch them when they return from the cruse and transport them to the airport at West Palm Beach for their return flight home.
Got all that?
Now, if we decided to stay at the house and pick them up when and where needed would have meant a minimum of a four hour trip – one way – each time. But, from here at the park it is no more than one hour for each trip. A big difference I believe you will agree. So, that is why we are where we are for this week.
That then is what we are doing for the next week. Sure is nice to be retired and available. Till the next time, take time to enjoy each and every minute that God gives you.
Guess what? No automobiles in this blog! Now how about that.
When we were at Sauder we took a ride one day to Toledo, Ohio and the
We had no idea what we would discover at this museum but were we ever amazed. What a well laid out and informative museum this turned out to be. We both agreed that we learned oh so much during our time here and our trip there was definitely well worth it.
There was so much here that I could never do this museum justice in just one blog, or two, or three for that matter. So let me, instead, just give you a snapshot of this remarkable museum.
Before you even get into the museum proper there is this little tidbit of information about Toledo that I found rather amusing. Toledo was so desirable a location that Ohio and Michigan almost fought a war – the Toledo War – for control of it. President Andrew Jackson had to intervene personally, giving the city to Ohio. Michigan got the Upper Peninsula.
This is the entrance to the museum. The large white board is actually a movie screen on which you are treated to an exceptionally well done film giving an overview of the Great Lakes.
Discover America’s Third Coast and it’s many different roles in our history.
We did, indeed, discover all of this during our time at the museum.
The five lakes displayed just below the movie screen. Of the five lakes we’ve been to each and every one within the last four years.
Did you catch that? Together they are Earth’s largest group of freshwater lakes, holding 21 percent of the world’s fresh water and 84 percent of North America’s.
Regarding each of the lakes.
Anyone recognize the picture above? That is Miner’s Castle which is part of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. We have many amazing memories of our cruise along this stunning shoreline.
This lake is the deadliest of the Great Lakes. We discovered when we were at Lakeside RV Park that in and around the Mackinaw Bridge there are at least 35 known shipwrecks. This area is now off limits to divers in general because in the past uncontrolled looting of the shipwrecks was taking place.
The first to be discovered. And today much of it is exactly like it was 10,000 years ago.
The last lake to be discovered. But not to be forgotten it (is) strategically important to controlling access to the rest of the Great Lakes.
Thanks to the construction of the Welland Canal and the Saint Lawrence Seaway System this lake is now the region’s gateway to the world.
The museum is divided into a number of different exhibit areas. Each area was well laid out and offered a wealth of information about different aspects of Great Lakes history. Following is a snapshot of some of those areas.
Great Lakes travel can be treacherous, and sailors battle unpredictable weather, shoals, rocks and the limits of their own technology. This area highlights both what has been done in terms of lifesaving equipment as well as the many different technologies used to safely navigate the lakes.
Moving on to yet another section.
Here in this area we learn how the boats on the lakes have evolved from crafts driven by manpower, then by wind, steam and finally diesel.
For thousands of years, native American canoes were the only vessels on the Lakes.
Because of the lightness, speed, and cargo capacity of canoes early fur traders adopted and then adapted them to what became a voyageur canoe. The problem with a canoe, though, was that it was limited by the strength and stamina of the men at the paddles. Therefore, in time sails were added to the canoe’s but this too presented a problem, they could only go down wind.
The 17th century saw the first true boats operating on the Lakes. The Le Griffon is believed to be the first true sailing ship of the upper Great Lakes. She and others like her are considered the ancestors of every boat that has worked on the Great Lakes.
But as ships grew ever larger there was a need to find a more robust form of propulsion. The logical choice would have been the use of steam. But,
Still the need for an even more reliable and robust form of propulsion was needed. This resulted in a transition finally to diesel powered boats.
Along with the change in propulsion came the change in the material used to construct boats that worked the Great Lakes.
So, the above is just a very small portion of what is here in this incredible museum. If you like the Great Lakes, or like history in general I would strongly suggest putting this on your list of must places to visit.
Thanks again for spending some time with us. It’s always great to be able to share our story with family and friends. Comments? Feel free to share them with me. And always remember, cherish every moment of every day that God gives you and live those moments to the fullest.
Our continuing mission remains the same: to explore as many new states as possible, to seek out new acquaintances and make new friends, to boldly go where we have not been before.