Search This Blog

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Our First Taste of Columbian Food

Aloha Everyone,

This evening, J.J. and I had dinner at El Balcon De Las Americas, a Columbian restaurant in Boca Raton, Florida. 

The restaurant was selected by Norman (on the right) who felt that this was one of the best South American restaurants in the area. Norman is establishing a market for overseas retirement in Latin American countries.  J.J and I wanted to hear more about his project as well as to get to know Norman personally. Norman is a Honduran native, but grew up and was educated in the United States.  As a result Norman is fluent in English and Spanish.

Mario, (left) is Norman's good friend who was visiting from Littleton, Colorado. Single, tall (6'2") and handsome and also well-mannered, Mario shared with us stories related to his love of outdoors and extreme sports.

The main conversation, of course, centered around food, I had sampling platter while J.J. enjoyed a seafood casserole.

Norman is explaining to us about Arepa which is maize meal (tortilla). The Columbian version is much thicker and taste neutral.

Living in an RV home, I practice yoga wherever and whenever I can. This morning, we did five loads of laundry. While waiting for washer and dryer cycles, I had a lots of time to practice my yoga and meditation.

We drove on I-1, an old road that runs along the coastline. We observed noticeable changes in economic diversity of the communities we passed from Fort St Lucie to Jensen Beach, Jupiter then through North Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Boca Raton to our destination, Fort Lauderdale.

While some blocks are beautiful and comparable to any luxury beach resort developments around the world, just a few blocks away on the same highway were lined with shabby looking homes, old cars and boarded up business establishments.

Bike lane and pedestrian lanes along I-1.

"Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry but by demonstrating that all people cry, laugh, eat, worry and die it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.
--Maya Angelou

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, May 30, 2014

Meeting Family in Orlando Before Leaving for Port St Lucie

Aloha Everyone,

We love seeing family and friends on our adventure across the country. This morning, J.J.'s niece, Marlyn and her family from Vancouver were visiting Florida and we had a chance to get together at a Panera Bread shop near the Disney World.

They came on board to see the Honu in the restaurant's parking lot.

Panera Bread is a franchised operation that is known for serving products that are suitable for health conscious consumers. I recall that this company was also one of the first to voluntarily post calorie counts of the items they serve. Another reason why I like this restaurant chain is that their owners and franchisees are big on community involvement.

The interior of the restaurant is well designed and functional and the minute customer opens the door, employees cheerfully call out "Good morning! Welcome to Panera Bread!" It's a great way to start your day. Here J.J. is ordering our breakfast.

The Sun Pass is a prepaid toll program in Florida. It is suppose to save the consumer time and money. Since we are discovering that there are many toll roads and bridges in Florida, we decided to purchase the Sun Pass transponder Mini which is adhered to inside of our windshield.

The concept was that this would simplify our driving as each time you come to a toll gate, since you don't have to look for the right amount of cash payment. The salesclerk was smiling as she sold us the package, but we couldn't understand a word she said. We did not want to appear rude, so we left with our Sun Pass thinking, "How difficult could it be to set up?"  The sales clerk mentioned something about going on the internet to activate it. Well, it took us 45 minutes and 2 phone calls to finally activate our EasyPay account.

Chagrined and bit humbled from the experience, we resumed our driving only to experience one of the worst tropical thunderstorm. It lasted 11 minutes and 26 seconds. Many motorists with smaller cars parked on the shoulders to wait out the storm but, the Honu bravely drove on.

There are RV parks and then there are RV RESORTS and tonight we are staying at one of the cleanest and most welcoming places. No, I'm not going to rate all of the RV parks that we have been to. Many of the more "rustic" parks still had very clean facilities and gave us wonderful, personal receptions. Still, at tonight's resort, we were greeted by two of the most enthusiastic life-loving people, Kitty and Rich. So eager am I to return, I am asking J.J. if we could use this as our base of operation in Florida.

Rich showed us the route to the closest Walmart which is about 5 minutes away.  Our reliable Honu is hard to miss as he is usually the tallest vehicle where passenger cars are permitted to park.

Our assigned pad is just across from the office, swimming pool, club house, laundry and shower facilities.

Tomorrow I am looking forward to seeing the Atlantic Ocean.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, May 29, 2014

From Ocala to Kissimmee Via Orlando Driving on the Turnpike

Aloha Everyone,

This morning we slept in until 7:30 A.M. This is highly unusual for us, as we normally go to bed quite early and wake up early. Of course the fact that the sun shining brightly until 8:00 P.M. probably has something to do with this. We were greeted by birds chirping and squirrels playing tag just outside of our RV home.

The Florida Turnpike, also known as the Ronald Reagan Turnpike, was originally known as the Sunshine State Parkway. It is a North-South toll road that runs approximately 313 miles through several counties. We unintentionally found ourselves driving on the turnpike to Orlando on I-5. There were two separate toll sections and we paid a total of $5.75 for today. On the map, they are indicated in green:

Approach to a toll booth.

We saw a number of these billboards along the toll road.

The weather was beautiful and, in our air conditioned RV home, the drive was very pleasant.

I met Milo, Kara and Jaqueline when I entered a tourist information center to ask about nearby RV parks. They work for an entity called "", which offers assistance to tourists. We really appreciated them going out of their way to be helpful, and as a thank you, we shared some of our fresh peaches from Georgia.

Today's lunch stop was at the Olive Garden in Kissimmee.

J.J. and I enjoyed their salad, soup and bread sticks special.

I had minestrone soup and JJ chose spicy sausage.creamy soup called "Toscana". It's supposed to be "all you can eat " but we couldn't even finish our first servings. The total cost for our lunch inclusive of taxes and tip was $18.

The first time I saw the name Kissimmee on a freeway information sign, I was intrigued. So when we discovered that there were actually 3 RV parks in this city, our decision to spend a night was swift. Located in Osceola county, the eye catching name came from Cacena, a Native American name which means "Long Water."

Our Honu is settled under matured trees with Spanish Moss "Pele's Hair" hanging from branches.

We also have our own private picnic table.

And yes, residents must follow the traffic rules.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sweet Peaches of Georgia to Big Welcome in Florida

Aloha Everyone,

Our first stop today was Tifton, Georgia. To be completely honest, it was just going to be another quick exit off the interstate to get fuel, but while J.J. was filling up the gas tank, I saw the dusty home-made sign advertising peaches. Yes! Fresh Georgia peaches!

Farmer Dean greeted us warmly. He smacked his lips and said that he, "picked 'em dis morn. Can have 'em for four." In another words, they peaches were freshly picked from his farm this morning and that they were available for $4 per basket.

Farmer Dean was a and was willing to pose for me when I asked him to hold up a basket and "smile".

The gas station located across the highway.

They are called "June Peaches". Very sweet and delicious. Our basket contained 9 pieces of fresh fruits.

Our entry to Florida began at Florida Welcome Center on I-75.

Florida is the top travel destination in the world and according to the data released by the state of Florida in 2011, 87.3 million visitors contributed $67 billion to the tourism industry.

What waited for us behind this smiling dolphin sculpture were Information Specialists, Pat and Esau. Pat and Esau were friendly, outgoing hospitable and helpful. Esau also provided us with state and private RV parks' information. In my opinion, they are great asset to promoting Florida's tourism industry.

Our Honu got drenched three times in sudden tropical thunderstorms.

There are approximately 14 RV parks in this vicinity.

We chose one to stay in Ocala about 70 miles from Miami.

My Mother has expressed her concerns if J.J. and I are eating right. So this one is for you. We had lamb steak with stirred fried snap peas and steamed white rice. Tomorrow, we'll go back to frozen foods... Just kidding!

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

From Paducah, Kentucky to Adairsville, Georgia

Aloha Everyone,

Today we drove about 300 miles crossing Kentucky and Tennessee before we arrived in the state of Georgia.

Beverly and her husband own and manage the Victory RV Park and Campground. Last night she knocked on the door of our RV with a big smile and invitation to the crawfish boil gathering. Today, as we were getting ready to leave, she offered to take us to the historic downtown Paducah.

Here is something interesting that I learned: Paducah was captured by General Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War in 1861.

There are many magnificent murals by Robert Dafford and his team of artists from Lafayette, LA that provided the visual history of Paducah. I will write more about Beverly and her natural insect repellent and "thieves oil" used to ward off common illnesses and virus in my yoga and meditation blog after I've had a chance to consult Beverly on the accuracy of my information. Thanks Beverly for the tour!

One cannot help but fall in love with this small town of Paducah with many amazing  attractions including The National Quilt Museum featuring over 150 quilts and textile arts.

Here is one section of charming downtown with restaurants, hotels, shops and businesses.  Surrounding areas are basically farming community so it was a big surprise to see sophisticated "European" looking streets in downtown, Paducah.

I truly enjoy seeing the major rivers that played vital roles in the early development of our country.

We crossed into Tennessee driving on I-24E.

On the way we passed half of a house being transported by a truck. That's something that you don't see in Hawaii!

Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores are located in 42 states and as of their April news release, there were a total of 626 restaurants. In this part of the country, it's as familiar as Zippy's in Hawaii. For our lunch, we were seated in the Cracker Barrel in Manchester, Kentucky.

My lunch selection included 2 pieces of grilled rainbow trouts, side order of salad, corn and wild rice plus 2 pieces of corn bread.

J.J. had fried shrimp with side dishes of mashed potatoes, corn and stewed pinto beans.  Our total bill was $24.60 including 10% taxes plus tip.

Outside of each Cracker Barrel restaurant are rocking chair for sale.  Of course you are welcome to try them out and relax for a while.

Driving on I-75, we noticed signs referring to the Appalachian mountains.

We had very comfortable driving conditions with 3 lanes highways on both direction. Unexpected waterfalls right off the highway broke the monotony.

The beautiful views of mountains can be deceiving as JJ and I discussed harsh living conditions of those who call Appalachia their home.

Aloha -- Cathi