A couple friends from last season, Patty and Penny, moved out of the park, but stayed local in Punta Gorda, so we met up with them for dinner and a sunset at the Tiki Hut. It's a really nice spot by the ocean where they often go for their daily walks.
Cathy and I went up to Tallahassee to visit with her family for Christmas, but before we left we organized a good-sized group to go for a nice dinner and Christmas boat ride out of Fisherman's Village. The boat meanders thru the canals that the homes back up to...some people really go all out in decorating! (We were clearly the majority group on the boat...check out the bald guy in the 2nd pic trying to duck out of the pic--haha).
About 7 miles from our subdivision is a farm that hosts the yearly raising of baby eagles. There is an eagle camera you can view online 24/7, but we rode our bikes out there with Gayle and Yvette...I momentarily forgot that the ride home would be a bit more taxing than the ride out there...haha You can see one of the adult eagles in the 3rd pic.
I'm pretty sure I did this video last year, too...my 3 Musketeers!
Kathy's 60th birthday party at Kay's and Renee's. Take note of how many times in these pics we are eating...is it any wonder that I have gained weight?!
Off to a little coastal town called Matlacha, which truly has no reason for being other than for tourists to come and eat/shop and occasionally go kayaking. I hoped the exercise would help ward off future weight gain, but then we went for lunch later...enough said! haha There are a slew of Osprey in this area, always fishing and, more often than not, usually with some success. This one got such a big catfish he was having a hard time holding on to it as it tried to wiggle free. (Although had he succeeded he would have met the same fate with the fall from that light pole.)
Nancy held a Personal Defense Class for us, with the primary instruction being your first option is to try to get away (haha), but failing that, she gave us a few moves to quickly disable your attacker so you can then get away.
In the 1st video Nancy demonstrates the 'hammer fist' move with Cathy as the attacker, Then she has us practicing a move where I am laughing, saying that when I strike my opponent with my left (weaker) hand, my fear is that I would just be pissing them off. haha
I'm not so sure any one of us would scare off the threatening attacker! haha
Cathy was taking the 'choke the victim' scenario a little too seriously, so I had to throw her off! My confidence in protecting myself was buoyed by my capacity to do so! haha
At the Super Bowl watch party at the club...what a game, huh?!
A brunch get-together of all of us on our street!
And back out to Punta Gorda to visit again with Patty and Penny. Nancy, Lola, Gayle and Yvette (Canadians all) joined us!
Got another large group together to go biking at Boca Grande, a very small, but really nice island not far from here. You can ride the length of the island, about 7 miles, and at the end is a really pretty beach.
For some reason Gail and Sandie really seemed to expect the pelicans to wave back at them. lol
They had a little history hut at the beach, too...a couple cool looking fish.
And what would a get-together be without another big meal...haha
Right outside the restaurant I got these strangers to pose for my picture. lol
They had 2 nights of dances for Valentine's Day...we went to both!
After the Winter Games, we had what is called a "Crazy Pickleball" tournament....just a whole bunch of people of varying degrees of ability who get together and are randomly chosen to play with, and against, each other. Lots of fun!
Why wasn't I here 20 years ago!? lol I think I could have been a contender!!! lol
Everyone had a great time!
Well, almost....Kathy had a couple low points! haha
At the downtown Sky Bar...beautiful background, but hot as heck on top of that roof. lol
This was a "Top 10" trip we organized...Out to watch the dolphins on the Sanibel Thriller. This boat flies, and the dolphins chase it...probably not 6 feet away from us on the back of the boat!!!
The boat co-pilot made me think I might need the self-defense moves Nancy taught us earlier in the season...I was thinking it may be a potential terrorist situation...lol
But it didn't scare the dolphins off. We were told that they chase the boats not to have fun, but to use the wake to scrape scales off their bodies...sounds good to me! Notice in the last pic there is a baby along side the adult.
Another fun day!!!
And of course we had to go eat afterwards!
Near the end of February a group got together to go out to see these Lipizzaner Stallions. They put on shows, but it's not like a circus show...I think for some of it you must have to have been raised around horses to appreciate how well they are trained...sort of like golf, in that you think this has to be the most boring sport EVER....until you try to hit that ball! Only then can you appreciate the abilities of the pro golfers! lol
All of these horses are born black or brown, but most turn white somewhere between 7-10 years old.
I don't know jack about horses, but this had to be the most beautiful one I have ever seen...look at the mane!!! Looks like it should be in a Brell shampoo commercial.
Back when wars were fought on horses, the generals trained their horses to rear up and hold the pose for 7 seconds...so the general could see out over the battlefield.
Look how this horse has all 4 hooves in the air! And in the 2nd pick, they are demonstrating how the horses were trained to kick the enemy during battle.
Here we have a kick and a bow.
Look how high he stands and jumps!
And again, I am no judge of horse flesh, but this is one of the few that didn't turn white in adulthood...you can tell by the way she prances that she knows she is special!
Every 2 years an ensemble puts on the Bourbon Street Follies. They do an incredibly good job putting this show together...it was a great time!
Our in-house drag queens! Not sure they could find a job in this field though! lol
Mary and Sandy with some vaudeville.
And probably the funniest, and definitely the most surprising skit of the night. I'm not sure I can word-picture this, but I'll try. The premise of this skit was that Anne (in the white coat) was a mad Pence-figure, trying to perfect a machine that would "fix" gay people back to straight. So there were a series of people put in one side of the machine who would emerge out the other side. Nancy is her cop-on-the-beat assistant.
Not having perfected the machine yet, Cheryl went in as a fairly butch person but emerged as a swan! Hmm, back to the drawing board!
I don't remember what Flo was supposed to be to start with, but emerged as an aging macarena dancer or something. lol
The hardest to get in the inversion machine was Kay, the ultimate tomboy...and out emerged Renee!!! Needless to say, the crowd absolutely cracked up...we never saw it coming!!!
I only have the latter part, unfortunately, on video.
And this was the 'funnest' act! Here Toni reprises her role as Tina Turner, which she 1st did 10 years ago, backed up by Nancy, Kymberly and Bonnie. This was a scream!!!
The closing number, and one of my all-time favorite songs!!!
On to the March 4th Madi Gras Parade...this is the kickoff featuring an opening song and Berta flipping her baton!
Yoli's and Mary Gay's golf cart is always 'dressed to the nines'!
In the 3rd pic, Chris is the honorary 'pooper scooper' that all parades must have.
Pauli and Ellen passing out arm bands to the crowds, so we could try to get prizes later at the party at the clubhouse.
Ellen and Sherri watching as the parade wraps up...I noticed that the band members had to stop to play their instruments...not a lot of multi-tasking at our age!! haha
We organized a trip to these airboat rides last year and it was great. So we booked another big group, and from what I'm told most people had a great ride with their boat captains. On the other hand, my crew seemed to get Mr Rogers...he actually said "My job is to get you all back safely"!, and he drove that way. haha Now I didn't want to go 'swimming with the fishes', but Come On!!!
From the airboats a bunch of us went out to eat (of course) and then on to an animal sanctuary.
Feeding time for some of the alligators.
And here are some smaller ones, what seems like toddlers maybe (haha)...must have been several dozen in there crawling and trying to get comfortable.
Only a few miles from here is a place called Babcock Webb where we decided to go biking. Nice bike ride on flat land...and pretty surroundings. We walked down by the water and saw this small alligator sticking his head out. In the 2nd row of pics, I caught this Great Blue Heron catching his lunch! And the last row features a Sandhill Crane...fairly well camouflaged when low in the brush.
A big, big moment for me this year was at the 'big girl' Poker Tournament!!! haha About a month or so before the tournament a couple friends, Kay and Anne, got a bunch of us together to teach us how to play Texas Hold'em, and they taught us well. We had a "Beginner's Tournament" at the end of the lessons, and I was fortunate enough to win that!!! Now let me tell you, this game is both nerve-wracking and thrilling at the same time...and I am now addicted!!!
Anne and Kay told us all about the "big girl' tournament and explained that it would be a 3 day event, with 40 entrants, who over the 1st 2 days would be whittled down to the Final Table of 10 people!!! So, believe it or not, 3 of us beginners, Denise, Kathy and I all made the final table which convened at Sandy's house for the finale...have you ever watched the World Series of Poker on TV?...it was like that! haha
So feeling like a total impostor, and just hoping we wouldn't embarrass ourselves and get bumped out 1, 2, 3...we joined the other more seasoned people at the table...acting all cool while barely being able to breathe!!! haha
Here there are 6 of us left and if you look at Kathy at the far left, you can tell she is concerned. haha
Here there are 3 of us, me sandwiched by Berta and Josie...both former poker dealers!!! I can now not only barely breathe, but my chip hand is visibly shaking and I am unable to either control it or conceal it!! lol (And I am not pulling your leg...I was as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs! haha)
And then, just when you thought you had seen it all, I managed somehow to get it down to just me and Berta, and actually pull out the WIN!!! I had the time of my life!!!
Next came the spelling bee, a not-so-successful event for Linda and me. This is our 2nd year doing it, and we are no threat to win this event (ever), but we had a lot of laughs trying to blame each other for our foibles. (I should say it's always Linda trying to blame me, but I won't!)
Gathering for the beautiful sunset in Punta Gorda.
A little beach dancing.
Going to see the manatees, golfing and eating of course.
3rd annual USA vs Canada Pickleball contest...I am claiming injury as the reason they took the Miraball Trophy back (Yvette was injured, too, but that doesn't count...haha)...We'll do our best to 'represent' better next year and take that Trophy back!!!
Gayle with her pup Soda in the basket!
And here we have 'going away' get togethers, parties, and eating...again!
Cinco de Mayo and Cathy's birthday at Kay's and Renee's.
And the next day, with the 're-purposed' cake left over from Cathy's the previous day....for Denise's birthday! haha Karen scraped all the icing off and re-did it...lettering and all...great job, Karen!
And now another season has come to an end. It seems like it just flies by, and we enjoy every minute of it!!! Have a great summer everyone!!!