Monday, January 31, 2011

Plans for this year

West coast.  Alaska.  West coast.  Alaska.  It's a very hard decision.  We have several good friends who want us to travel to Alaska with them for the summer.  We have a west coast trip planned, much like the one we had to cancel last year, but it's tempting to take the plunge and head north.  Really far north that is.  It's been Val's dream to spend time in Alaska, but we thought we would wait a couple of years so that we had some RV experience under our belts.  This past year had its major set-backs, so we still feel a little unsettled about a trip that big.
There are so many things to consider.  Rig preparation is a big one.  We don't have a solar setup or large battery bank yet, so we would have to run the Honda generator if we wanted to boondock for any period of time. And I think we would want to boondock a fair amount in Alaska.  Another concern is family worries with aging parents, etc.  And of course there is the money aspect.  Another 6000 miles of travel above Seattle Washington adds just a tad to the fuel bill, especially with diesel prices going ever higher.  But then on the other side is the chance to travel to ALASKA!  With friends.  Right away.  Arghhh!  What to do....

King's Point

Another Saturday.  Another Pickleball Tournament.
This one was at King's Point and was a 15 minute timed round robin style.  It's been interesting to see the different tournament types since I'm used to a standard tournament with  brackets getting smaller until the winner is decided.  Either way, it was a fun but long day that started at 6:30 AM and ended after 8:00 PM.  Of course that included a dinner at Paul's, a local restaurant known for it's good and very bountiful food.  We had eaten breakfast there before (their $1.99 two egg, meat, hash browns, and biscuit deal) but never had dinner.  After playing all day without eating lunch, I got the jumbo top sirloin steak with 21 fried shrimp, soup, salad, baked potato, peas, rice .and bread.  All for $14.95.  Amazing.  The steak was huge and I brought 3/4 of it home. Val got the same sides with fried grouper.  What a great local place to eat when you're too tired to cook.

And in case you think we don't put a lot of effort into hitting the ball, check out our feet...

And getting back to the tournament, my partner Dean and I were undefeated but took second place because another undefeated team had won a few more points than us.  This left us a little frustrated since a quick match would have determined who was the best team (us!).  Oh well.

In women's doubles, Val's partner was sick so they substituted an 11 year old boy who really held up to the competition.  Matches were tough, but he and Val took third place.  Not bad at all.

In mixed doubles,Val  and I played together (fairly unusual for married couples, I wonder why...) and we won the first two out of three matches.  In our second match, we faced some friends that we know from Thousand Trails (and excellent players), but Val played the best pickleball of her life and we won handily.  It was great to see Val really relax and play to her potential.  Unfortunately, we came out a little flat after another hour wait and lost the last match which took us out of contention. But that was fine.  We were tired and hungry and ready to get on the road.  All in all a fun day.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tournament at Peace River

Tuesday brought the threat of thunderstorms all day, but the the tournament to benefit HART (Homeless Animal Rescue Team) went on as planned.  Men's and women's doubles were started first at about 8:45 AM, and after two straight wins, my partner (Rene) and I were beaten in a close match by our friends John and Dean.  That put us in the lower bracket since this was a double elimination tournament.  We won our way through the bracket and faced the number one team of Rich and Austin who had also lost to John and Dean.  We won that match and once again met John and Dean in the finals.  Rene and I prevailed in two straight games, but because the other team had never lost a match before that, we had one last game to 15 points to determine the champion.  It was good match but a letdown for us as we lost 15-8 and came in as the runners-up.  At least it was fun for the crowd watching.

Val played in the women's doubles, but she and her partner Gena were slightly out-matched by some very competitive teams from Kings Point in Sun City.  Val didn't sign up for the mixed doubles but ended up playing with two different men whose partners were injured or had to leave early.  She played very well and won a match before rain moved in to end the tournament before the mixed doubles champion could be determined.

My partner, Donna, and I were also doing well, but we'll never know who the champs would have been.  Guess it would have been us  ; )

The best news was that we raised nearly $500 for HART along with boxes of food and toys for the animals AND a couple of pets were adopted by folks at the tournament.  That made it all worthwhile.

There was also a raffle with great prizes.  The main prize was $70 in restaurant gift certificates for two winners followed by a dozen Pickleball balls with a 25 dollar gift certificate to Ace Hardware.  It was a very lucky day as we won one of the restaurant certificate packages and also the balls and Ace Hardware stuff.  Must be the clean living.....

And thanks to Donna and Rich for putting on a great tournament.  Well done.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Saturday at Sun City Center

It was about an hour bike ride to the Sun City Center Community Association on Saturday for a day of competitive Pickleball between Thousand Trails players and Sun City.  Unlike the rest of the week, Saturday was cloudy in the 50's with 15-25 mph winds which made things more than interesting. There were about 40 of us who braved the weather on the  five beautiful courts.

What a great facility and a friendly host group.  When lunchtime came, hamburgers and hot-dogs were grilled to go along with lots of side dishes and desserts.  Val and I brought two plates of brownies with peanut butter chips which went fast.

We die-hards hung around until about 5:30, and then Val and I headed a few miles away to the Comfort Inn where we had a room reserved.

 Then it was off to Wayne and Georgie's house two miles away for dinner.  

(Wayne, Kathleen, Georgie, Rene, Dean, Margie, Val and Mira)

Good food and beer and wine helped to loosen up the tired muscles from the 20 plus games we played and then it was back to the motel.

The morning brought more playing time followed by one more meal at Wayne and Georgie's (had to eat up some of those burgers!).  And finally we headed back to Wauchula in time to see most of the playoff games.  Thanks to Wayne, Georgie, Margie and Dean for setting up the weekend.  It really was a blast.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Back in the sun

Christmas has come and gone since our last post and we managed to get escape Virginia without any difficulty unlike the 5 week delay last winter.  We took a leisurely pace down the coast and arrived in Clermont, Florida at the Thousand Trails park on Jan. 7th.  Many of our friends from last year and our autumn Texas trip were waiting for us.  Most of them wanted to get me back on the pickleball court to see how I was doing.  Luckily my skills are up to par and Val has surprised everyone with her skill on the court.  We took a night and went with Dean and Margie to Miller's Ale House for some ribs (I couldn't believe I ate a whole rack!) and then went to Downtown Disney to see the sights.  It was neat to see things like the giant Tinkertoys and the huge Lego sculptures including a sea serpent that came out of the water about 25 feet tall.  Unfortunately it was so foggy that we couldn't see the fireworks.  Maybe another night.

We are now in Wauchula, FL and will be here another couple of weeks.  We have three tournaments over the next eight days so I'll be anxious to see how the knee holds up.  That's a lot of playing, but I'm looking forward to it.  And Val is playing too, once as my partner, so she's excited.
Last night we went to dinner at Giovanni's in Wauchula with two other couples.  It was some of the best pizza we have ever eaten.  It was brick oven cooked with a thin soft crust.  Ours was tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and eggplant slices.  It's making me hungry just thinking about it.  Man it was good.

It's Friday and we've had some heavy rain this morning which is probably a good thing.  It's allowing us to rest our weary bones and catch up on things like this blog.

And as a side note on the kids (can I still call them that??), Emily is training to be a real estate rental agent in Queens and is doing quite well.  And Matt left for Trinidad today to start the National Geographic travel book on the Caribbean islands. He's worked really hard to prepare for the 10 week trip that includes something like 19 flights and I don't know how many boat trips.  But still... hard life huh...

And on one last note, Val's sister Joanie is making good progress!  Val talked to her this morning and she is walking for 5 minutes at a time on the treadmill and is going places without a wheelchair.  Awesome news!!!