Chapter 3-7 (2005-2013) Ohio and Florida

RETIREMENT!!!  That magic time in life, no worries, no responsibilities – just lie on the beach and soak up the sunshine!  Sure…!  I soon found out that time can never be a void.  Human nature demands that we find ways to fill the time.  It now became time to become more involved in the children’s school activities, Kiwanis, Welsh activities, politics, church, and family history. In fact, since retirement, I have been so busy that I often wonder how I ever had time to work! 

I began substitute teaching, both in Ohio and Florida and continue to do so today. I have substituted in Ohio at West Jefferson, Elementary, Middle and High Schools, at Jonathan-Alder High School and am on the list for other schools in Madison and Champaign counties. In Florida, I substituted for both Sarasota and Charlotte County schools. Most of the time, I substitute at Lemon Bay High School in Englewood, the home of the Manta Rays. I have substituted for almost every class imaginable, Art, English, History, Middle School Math, Career Preparation, Band, Vocal Music, Drama, Navy ROTC, Biology and Marine Science! If I wanted to, I would be able to work every day in both Ohio and Florida as a substitute teacher.  

Several years before the death of my parents, they discussed the provisions of their will. Since the owned several properties, they were concerned on how to dispose of them when they were gone.  My sister Ruth Ellen and I and our spouses Mary Ann and Gene discussed this with our parents.  My retirement income was adequate, but my sister and her husband would only have Social Security.  We recommended to my parents that the family business of rental properties in Richwood should go to my sister to provide income.  The home in Florida would go to me.  They amended their will accordingly.  After my Father died, my Mom was now living with either my sister or me.  Because she had developed severe dementia and medical problems, she could no longer live alone.  She didn’t want the expense of the insurance and taxes on the Florida home and asked if I wanted to take possession early.  We contacted our family attorney and he recommended that we purchase it for a pittance instead.  This would avoid probate costs.  So we purchased it for ten dollars.  Rather than have the house sit vacant for long periods of time, Mary and I took early retirement and moved to Florida, becoming Florida residents.  We have been residing in Florida since 2005, coming back to Ohio for the Summer.  

Becoming a Florida Resident was very easy.  We went down the Charlotte County offices in Englewood, transferred the auto title and registered it in Florida, and also registered to vote. We affirmed that we had ownership of the house we were living in, and filed for a homestead exemption.  We became instant Florida residents.  There was no waiting period.  They also issued Florida drivers licenses to Mary and I.  


 1494 Janet Place, Englewood, Florida



Florida has a great selection of restaurants.  You can find any cuisine you desire within easy driving distance.  Close to our house was Howard’s, with a Greek flair and a fabulous salad bar. Farlow’s wass about a mile away with an Island fusion menu.  They had the best mango salsa and Coconut Shrimp in town.  Mama’s was a traditional Italian Restaurant.  Although we had a good Mexican restaurant in Englewood, we prefered Mi Pueblo in Venice or Tijuana Flats which was a college style Mexican food hangout. We even had a five-star Mexican restaurant with a New York decor – the Agave Azule that we visited when we went to the Temple in Orlando.   For Thai food, we loved the Sand Trap in Venice.  Of course we had all of the usual chains too. Bob Evans, Cracker Barrel, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Outback, Golden Corral, Denny’s, I-Hop and all of the usual fast food chains were available locally.  

But, we had something you just couldn’t find everywhere, fantastic fresh seafood – Jumbo Gulf Shrimp, Mahi-Mahi, Grouper, Pompano, all freshly caught the day we ate it.  Seafood in Ohio tastes like seafood from Ohio.  Many of our seafood restaurants were on the water.  When we wemt to Rum Bay Restaurant on Don Pedro Island, we would go by boat.  We usually went with our neighbor, but the restaurant ran a boat shuttle to the Island.  We could go to the Captain’s Lounge in Punta Gorda at Fisherman’s Pier or to the Fishery on Placida.  

Florida has almost as much water as land, both fresh and salt water.  Thus fishing and boating are the greatest form of recreation.  We also have bear, panthers, deer and wild boar.  The panthers and bear are protected, but the deer and wild boar are hunted.  Many people trap the wild boars which are descendants of domestic hogs, put them in a pen, feed them out and then have them butchered.  If I wished to fish, all I had to do is go in the back yard, sit on our park benches we had along the seawall, and throw in a line.  We were on a salt water estuary off of Lemon Bay on the Gulf of Mexico which is called Gottfried Creek but is actually part of the bay.  At our house it was over a quarter mile to the other side and the water was dotted with mangrove islands.  If I wanted to fish, I could always catch sheepshead (a different fish than the freshwater variety. It is called a sheepshead because its teeth looks like a sheep’s teeth. We often caught mangrove snapper and jackfish too.  Occasionally, we would see sharks.  We also had blue crabs and seahorses along the seawall.

In the warmer months manatees bred and gave birth in the canal beside the house. They can weigh up to 1300 pounds and eat the vegetation in the canal.  They can even propel themselves a foot or two up a bank to eat.  We have had as many as eleven in the canal at once.  It was fun to watch them play follow-the-leader, and roll and slap the water with their hind flipper.  When the young are born, they are about 3 feet long and weigh about 66 pounds. The calves stay close to the cow to nurse.  

Manatees sleep on the bottom and like water from 3 to 6 feet deep..  However, since they are mammals, they breathe air.  They can stay underwater for about 20 minutes.  If asleep, they rise to the surface, get air and sink again – without waking up!  When they come up for air, only their nostrils are above the water.  They swim just under the surface, and are in constant danger of being hit by boat propellers.  Many of the manatees have scars on the backs from boats.  

Alligators are just about everywhere in Florida.  If there is a pond, you will most likely have an alligator.  They travel, especially in mating system.  We seldom see them at our house, because they prefer fresh water and ours is salt water.  However, one day, I did see three come swimming up Gottfried Creek.  

I went out to get in my boat one day and I thought there was a gator in the boat.  It startled me when it dove overboard.  I realized that it was an iquana, not a gator. Iguanas are an invasive species and a problem in Florida.  They can kill a small dog and they will dig under houses and undermine the foundation.  They climb trees and can get in attics, causing tremendous damage.  Iguana are hunted occasionally to reduce the population.  This is done by professional hunters who contract the jobs, usually to neighborhoods who want them removed. 

We had blacksnakes and cornsnakes on our property.  We seldom saw them.  However, a cornsnake hatched eggs under the bathroom sink and I stepped out of the shower and stepped on one of the newly hatched young snakes.  I panicked and killed it.  If I had realized what it was, I would have turned it loose outside.  Soon after, Mary found one lying across the doorway between the bedroom and family room.  She screamed and ran and got our neighbor from across the street who came over picked it up and told Mary it was dead.  It most likely starved to death in the house.  

Of course, we didn’t have snow, but Christmas came to Florida too.  Decorating was so much easier.  We never had to put up lights in the cold or snow and it was nice and warm when we took them back down.  People really decorate in Florida because it is so much easier.  Driving around seeing the lights is quite a treat.  We even had Christmas boat parades in the bay, where people decorated their boats.  They were beautiful on the water.  Many gated communities had a parade of decorated golf carts.  We saw one that even had a Christmas Tree with an electric train on top of the canopy.  We decorated both inside and outside.  We had four Christmas trees – A large one in the front window, a small one in a corner of the dining room and fiber optic trees on the lanai and in the garage window.

Although many people own boats, we never made that investment.  We had a paddle boat which was in bad shape.  We scrapped it.  Our neighbor gave us a rowboat.  I bought paddles and we occasionally took it out in Goffried Creek.   We also had a electric trolling motor which would move us along at a stately 3 mph.  

The seawall had cracks which were necessary for draining away ground water.  Without the cracks, pressure would build up behind the wall and it would fall forward into the canal.  If these are installed correctly, french drains are placed behind the wall.  These drains have a special screen against the wall which will let moisture out, but not soil.  Then stone is placed for good drainage.  Our seawall was laid without drains.  This meant that sand could leak through the drain and a hole will open behind the wall.  I dug the hole larger, placed a filter cloth against the wall and filled the hole with stone.  This took almost two yards of gravel per year.  The problem started about 2009.  My Dad used an alternative method in which he filled the larger cracks with waterproof cement.  Our property was just sand and shell, the typical coastal soil of Florida.  

We gradually updated our Florida home.  I installed a Ceiling Fan in the kitchen.  The family room was a problem.  There were recessed ceiling lights, but fans had been installed next to the light and if the light and fan were on simultaneously, a strobe effect was created.  

We decided to redecorate.  I removed the fans, bought new fans that had attached lights, removed the recessed light fixtures and hung the new fans over the opening, using the existing wiring.  I had these professionally installed.  With the help of our friend Robin Shepherd and her daughter Sage, we painted the room a shade of pineapple and purchased very expensive new blinds.  The four blinds cost about $2,200.  

We only experienced one hurricane since we moved to Florida. hurricane Wilma struck in 2005.  It was the most intense storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Basin. Wilma started out  as a Category 5, but hit Florida at Category 3.  Wilma made several landfalls, with the most destruction in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, Cuba and Florida.  Damage to Florida was $24.5 billion.  As a result Wilma is ranked among the top five most costly hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic and the fourth costliest storm in U.S. history.  The greatest damage was to the south of our location.  Our wind was not severe enough to do more than blow down a few trees.  The wind pushed water up Lemon Bay and came within three inches of breaching our seawall.  The property across the canal was flooded.  After the hurricane was over, we organized a relief crew from the Church and headed to Naples to help.  Naples and Marco Island were in bad shape.  Trees and power lines were down everywhere.  Roofs had been blown off of many homes.  We nailed blue tarps on houses, cleared downed trees away from power lines and from around homes.  Naples wanted to maintain a certain visual look, so power poles and lines were behind houses, never along the streets.  Groundwater levels in Florida make buried lines impractical in some areas.  This made the job much harder since the power company could not put up poles and restore power until the debris was cleared.  

A fence was down behind one home.  I was lifting it up to move it and there was a rattlesnake under the fence.  I jumped back and tore my rotator cuffs in my shoulders.  This resulted in several months of physical therapy and several years of healing.  I still have occasional problems, but not too severe.   

We had a lot of tropical storms with wind, lightning and tornadoes, but we were very lucky that only one major hurricane directly hit Englewood in the last 50 years.  Hurricane Charlie hit in 2004 and really tore up the region.  We came to Florida shortly afterwards, and Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda looked like a war zone.  

We love to entertain.  In the LDS church, Monday night is reserved as family night.  Families are expected to get together, have a lesson, sing and participate in activities.  Refreshments are often a part of Family Home Evening.  However, many of us in Florida are empty-nesters.  The children are grown and have their own families; so once a month, usually the first Monday, we would get together for an Empty-Nesters’ Family Home Evening.  We rotated hosting this event.  The host couple prepared a lesson and refreshments. Different forms of entertainment may be planned.  In our house it was usually a sing-along with the guitar.  

I don’t know where Mary’s love of entertaining came from.  Perhaps it originated in our Christmas Eve parties combined with Cindy’s Pampered Chef parties.  But Mary became a very accomplished gourmet cook.  She was not afraid to experiment and my waistline was a tribute to her delicious and inviting cuisine.  She could cook foods from many, many countries and was known for some of her dishes, especially her brie and her stack  cakes.  She made a mean trifle and great fried rice and teriyaki stir fry.   

We hosted a cabaret night frequently.  We moved all of the furniture out of our family room, then replaced it with card tables.  Mary decorated with pretty tablecloths, with snacks on each table.  We invited friends from both Church and the neighborhood.  Usually about 20 people attended and we had an evening of song.  There were others in the Ward that played guitar and we had a great jam session.  We had people waiting to get an invitation. 

Since we lived right on salt-water, only certain kinds of grass flourish and in-ground gardens do not do well.  We container gardened in our lanai.  Mary always had herbs growing and we had other plants including wild orchids.  We ded tried to maintain a lawn.  To do so takes a lot of water and fertilizer.  Since we are on the water, the state recommended that we let our land go natural.  That meant a lawn made up of native weeds and grasses including a number of plants whose seeds are hitchhikers.  If I worked in the lawn, I have to take time to remove these hitchhikers from from socks and pants legs.  We could grow any vegetable in pots and planters anytime of the year.  We kept forgetting to water daily so we were not good gardeners.  

In Florida, the flower beds already had some plants.  The plants included jasmine, oyster plant, cactus, jacaranda, allamanda, bird of paradise, draceana, downy jasmine, powderpuff, ligustrum, aloe, and croton.  We also had eight sable palms and one pony-tail palm.  We also had a Persian lime tree, a lemon tree, and a Minneola tangelo tree.  We had a bad winter and all of the citrus trees died.  We planted a tangerine tree, but it didn’t thrive and I had to remove it. We added bougainvillea, money tree and several varieties of succulent plants.

In our Ohio Home, we planted a wildflower bed of Ohio wildflowers.  The packet was given out to attendees of the Ohio State Fair.  Poison ivy also grows along the fence and picking raspberries is a tricky business.  We also have to remove poison hemlock each year.

New Roof and Air Conditioner.  The roofs in both of our homes, Ohio and Florida began to deteriorate.  We got a leak in the Ohio roof over the master bedroom and the roof in Florida developed leaks over the lanaii and garage and were developing mold.  Mold is a huge problem in Florida and we constantly check floors, walls, showers, closets and under cabinets to make sure we have no mold, and if we see mold starting, we immediately remove it.  Anti-mold sprays are readily available in Florida.  In Ohio, Ray, Tony, and Tim Martin did our roof.  In Florida, we hired a local roofing company.  It took a week to prep our Florida roof.  The old roof had to be scraped off.  The roof in Florida is a rolled roof, not shingle.  The old roof is scraped to the bare wood.  The wood is inspected and sections are replaced if necessary.  Then a layer of felt is applied, then a roll of material (think of shingles as a roll)  is unrolled from the roof ridge to the eve.  These rolls are three feet wide.  They are overlapped.  When the roll step is completed, hot tar is applied on the seam which seals the roof.  These roofs are very durable.  This is the same process used on any commercial flat-roofed building.  We had to use this method, because the roof over our family room and lanaii is flat.  The roofs were done in 2005. 

In Ohio, our heat pump failed.  In Florida, our air conditioner/furnace combo failed.  We replaced both of these.  These were replaced in 2009. Heat Pumps don’t do well in Florida and combination of a powerful air conditioner and an electric furnace were installed The replacement of two roofs and two air conditioning systems within four years was quite an expense.  

One of the nice things about living in Florida is that appliances can also fit in the garage.  Thus the furnace, water heater, washer and dryer were in our garage.

Living in Florida has the advantage of warm weather, but since it is in a semi-tropical zone along the sea, hurricanes and tropical storms are a threat.  Because of this insurance needs are different in Florida.  Besides the normal home coverage for fire, theft, and liability, the home must be insured for the wind damage from hurricanes and tornadoes.  In addition, the homeowner needs to carry separate national flood insurance to protect against storm surge.  The winds can push waves several miles ashore.  This is very expensive, so we only carried contents insurance.

Since our home in Florida was on the water, there were many birds.  Almost every day, we could see ospreys, eagles, cormorants, anhingas, pelicans, great blue herons, egrets, snowy egrets, little blue herons, white ibis, buzzards, and seagulls.  We would feed herons or egrets, but never the seagulls.  Seagulls are like pigeons, feed one and they contact all their friends and relatives, and they become a very messy nuisance.  The sea birds I mentioned do not feed on vegetation.  They eat meat only.  They prefer fish and shrimp, but love chicken too.  We would purchase chicken gizzards and cut them up.  It was fun to feed the herons and egrets  They would come within a couple of feet.  You didn’t want to try to touch one.  Their beaks are sharp and designed to spear fish.  The ibis were in flocks of ten to twenty birds.  They walk through the neighborhood, eating insects from the lawns.  Their curved beaks can go into the soil and find an insect underground.  They can actually hear the sound of insect moving underground.

Florida has many state and local parks, within a couple of miles of our home were three parks.  We could hike along the bay, visit lighthouses, and see wildlife.  We also had a number of great beaches nearby.  We were a mile away from Englewood Beach on Manasota Key   Our favorite beach was at Blind Pass also known as Middle Beach on Manasota Key.  It was about 6 miles north of Englewood Beach.  It also had a nice park with picnic pavilions, dressing rooms and was not as heavily used as Englewood Beach.  Parking was free, whereas Englewood Beach charged for parking.  The Gulf Coast of Florida has hundreds of great white-sand beaches.  Hunting for shells and sharks teeth are very popular past times.  Venice Beach is the world’s best beach for finding petrified sharks’ teeth.  Occasionally someone finds a prehistoric tooth that is worth many thousands of dollars.  Most of the shark’s teeth are about the size of a fingernail, but the valuable ones can be at big as six inches across!

When we first moved to Florida, Englewood was still a little backwater town.  Fifty-years ago, the roads into town had not yet been paved and supplies often came in via boat.  Just in the few years we lived there, we saw a Super-Walmart, Home Depot, and Sav-A-Lot come to town.  MacDonalds, Burger King and Denny’s, and Arby’s were already here when we arrived. However, Arby’s went out of business.  Englewood also increased in traffic during our eight-year stay.  We still liked the small-town flavor of Englewood.  Probably the most exciting thing that happened was the building of the new High School.

In Ohio, we banked at 5th Third Bank.  The nearest 5th Third was in Venice and we banked there at first.  Two years after we arrived in Englewood, 5th Third opened a branch.  We also banked at Englewood Bank.  

We certainly had our share of medical problems.  In 2010, Mary was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  This involved surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.  For many months our daily routine became concentrated on trips to the oncology center in Venice for chemotherapy and consultation. We traveled for P.E.T. Scans and constant lab work. radiation in Englewood,  visits to oncologists, physical therapists, endricronologists, gastrologists, etc.  It was a trying and emotional time.  However, Mary came through and is still cancer free as of 2013!  Of course, the cure itself is so traumatic that the aftermath changes you lifestyle.  Specialized clothing, changes in physical balance and abilities are all part of the effects.  Mary can no longer run a vacuum cleaner.  She has trouble reaching things above her head.  Of course, I also have side effects of my prostate cancer surgery. 

Mary and I have also had problems that require daily doses of Nexium, medication for type II diabetes and blood pressure medication.  In addition I have added a statin and thyroid hormone.  Aging is said to bring golden years, but we often feel that we got rusty years instead.  Each of our various physical conditions, including arthritis run in both our family lines and we are not immune.  Of course if we were more active and ate healthier, it would help.  It is one of those situations which beset so many of us. We know what we should do, but lack the will power and resolve to do it.  

We were members of the Gulf Coast Welsh Society, and met for annual picnics, special luncheons, tours, and the annual St David’s Day banquet.  It was very much like WSCO in Ohio, but the difference was that alcohol was served at everything.  In Ohio, WSCO never served alcohol.

Mary and I have been involved in family history (genealogy) research since we were married.  We have held National Archives Research permits and have researched in the Welsh National Library in Aberystwyth, Wales. We have searched records in state, county, and local archives and libraries.  We tried to time moves and vacations to also visit ancestral areas and collect more history.  We went to Maryville, Tennessee and to a university library in Knoxville to research Mary’s Family.  We have visited county records repositories in many places.  

Mary and I joined the Englewood Genealogy Society.  I was elected as a member of the Board of Directors.  We had monthly meetings with guest speakers.  We also had a series of Special Interest Groups (SIGS) that concentrated on areas of interest such as Irish research, New England, Central U.S., Southern States, British Research, etc.  This was a very active society.  We met in the Elsie Quirk Library in Englewood and had our own society library in the building. 

We had a lot of friends in Englewood, both neighbors and church members.  One special mother and daughter were very close friends, Robin and Sage Shepherd.  One day at church, a little 9-year old girl came up to us and told us she didn’t have any grandparents in Florida and asked if Mary and I would be her Florida grandparents.  We were delighted.  She and her mother soon became part of the family.  We were known as Grandma and Grandpa Penry.  Sage struggled in school.  She had been moved from a traditional school to a Montessori school and had trouble with the change in educational philosophy.  Mary and I tutored her.  Robin worked in the evening at Cracker Barrel in Venice, so Sage came to our house after school and did her homework and watched TV or played on the computer until her mother got home from work about 10:00 each night.  After she went back to a traditional school, her grades improved.  When Sage was 13, she and her mother moved to North Carolina.  It was nice to have a surrogate granddaughter.  We always missed our grandkids.  

About every three months, our ward would have an assignment at the Bishops’ Storehouse in Plant City, Florida.  The storehouse was about an one and one-half hours away.  I always volunteered for the assignment.  I have always liked to work in the storehouse and may volunteer for a special mission at the storehouse in Columbus.  

in 2010, the LDS Church discontinued one of the callings – Activities Committee.  It was decided that activities would be divided between organizations.  Bishop Shipley called me in and asked if I would head up a project and find a partner for community service.  The Church felt that cleaning highways, parks, etc., was fine, but service to people would be better.  I talked to ministers of various churches and several organization directors to discuss partnerships.  The Salvation Army was thrilled to have a partner to help the community.  They were getting ready to have a spring carnival with an Easter egg hunt and needed help.  We furnished assistance in parking and ran several of the activites such as the bounce house. The missionary elders cooked hamburgers and hotdogs.  The sister missionaries ran the snow cone and cotton candy machines.  We furnished site security and monitored several games.  Sister Robin Shepherd was a professional face painter and donated her services.  Mary ran a game booth and I coordinated the work. (Well, somebody has to be the foreman!) Afterwards the Salvation Army commander said that without our help, it might not have been successful.  We did this in 2011, 2012, and 2013.  We also held a food drive each January to replenish the Salvation Army Food Pantry.  We would go around to our neighbors and get donations.  Each year we donated about 130 sacks of food in addition to a ton of boxed food from the Bishop’s Storehouse.  Then in December, we spent a week ringing the bells for the Salvation Army Kettle and a local Publix supermarket.  

Our 50th wedding anniversary was July 1, 2012.  In June, our children gave us a 50th anniversary party at the Madison Lake Chapel.  It was fantastic.  Old friends and family came.  Mary’s brother Bill and sister Lora along with their families, Dick, Phyllis, Drema, Amber and Logan came from Virginia and Georgia.  My remaining uncles and aunts on the Penry side came, Doris, Jack and Betty. Also some of the Stidham clan and lots of people from various wards and branches we had attended in the church.  Of course all of our children with their families were there.  

In 2010, our daughter Cindy was working temporary jobs in accounting through an agency.  She wasn’t able to find full time employment in her field of forensic accounting.  She was asked by her sister Karen if she would consider living with them and being a nanny for Karen’s children.  Karen was working as a virtual teacher and needed to be on line with her students.   Baeddan was three years old and Karen couldn’t manage him and work at the same time.  Cindy agreed and we bought an 8 foot cargo trailer and moved her personal possessions to Idaho.  She stayed for two years.  At this time, Baeddan was now old enough to be entering school in the fall and Bronwen and Daniel were now in school.  Cindy was no longer needed and we headed back in the summer of 2012 to pick up  her possessions.  While there I helped Craig and Karen cut and load firewood for their home, and helped Craig lay laminate flooring in their house.  

Karen’s house sits on the 45th parallel, midway between the North Pole and the Equator.

We stayed at a real neat cabin outside of New Meadows.  This cabin had belonged to a sheriff’s deputy who had been killed in an automobile accident.  He had left his property to a nephew who was still and infant and his parents were maintaining the property, loaning it out to friends.  Craig worked with the father and arranged for us to stay for a week.  The family just wanted money for utilities.  It was a beautiful place.  

In August 2012, we had just returned to Ohio from our trip west.  Mary was coming down our stairs and hit a step wrong and fell again.  This time she slid down on her back and when she hit the bottom broke two toes.  Off to the emergency room where they x-rayed and taped her toes and put on a walking boot.  This made it clear that two story homes were not for us and we would have to go house-hunting in Ohio when we left Florida.

In 2013, In Idaho, our grandchildren were approaching two very important Church milestones.  Daniel would turn twelve in February and would be ordained a deacon in the Aaronic Priesthood.  Bronwen had turned eight in October, 2012 and needed to be baptized.  Karen and Craig decided to delay Bronwen’s baptism until February, so we could attend both events.  We discussed whether to fly or drive.  However, since we also wanted to spend some time with David and Sherise in Provo Utah, we decided to drive.  Since it was February, we drove the southern route, taking I-75 north to I-10 and heading west across Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Lousiana and Texas.  

We were concerned about weather, but most of the trip was beautiful.  Coming back to Florida- well, I’ll get to that later!

Most of the trip heading west was uneventful.  However, there was an accident on the bridge over Mobile Bay which delayed us by two hours.  Sitting on a bridge, moving one car length at a time for two hours is pretty miserable.  We stayed for the night in Louisiana.

In Texas, we decided to visit San Angelo where I had been stationed in the Air Force.  The town had changed so much it was hardly recognizable.  We did find our our old house and visited the base.  The building I worked in had been torn down and the base was now very modern.  Unfortunately, we didn’t know that a major rodeo was starting in San Angelo and every hotel room was filled.  We were desperate.  We were checking one more hotel and then driving west in the night.  The clerk said, “I just got a call from another motel and they have a cancellation.”  We headed out immediately and grabbed the last room in town at the Inn of the Conchos!  What a relief that was!  We had looked forward to having Mexican food, but couldn’t find a restaurant and ended up eating a hamburger!  

We found that San Angelo now had two wards and we attended the one that served the base.  There was one sister who remembered us.  She had been baptized as a young lady while we were there.  Many of the people we knew had either moved away or were deceased.  

After Sacrament meeting, we headed northwest into New Mexico, driving through Rosswell.  We were hoping to see aliens, but couldn’t find any.  Everything in town, including the museum was closed.  We stopped and asked directions to a restaurant, but I took a wrong turn and ended up in the country.  We stopped at a very interesting shop that sold goods from local Indian reservations.  Much of the merchandise was beautiful – but expensive.  So we continued northwest toward Albuquerque.  We had lunch at a fast food place along the way and spent the night in Gallup.  During the night it snowed and the roads were very slick as we headed north towards Utah.  However, the weather cleared and that was the end of the bad weather until the return trip.  

For lunch, we finally found a great looking Mexican Restaurant in Moab, Utah – but it was closed for remodeling, so we ate a diner across the road.   The food was a type of Mexican-Indian mix.  I liked it and Mary did not.  We left Moab, continuing North to Provo where we stayed with David and Sherise for three nights and headed to Idaho arriving on the 14th.  We stayed at a motel in New Meadows.  I think that a saloon in the old west in the 1860’s would have been better.  The room was tiny, had no dresser, no place to hang clothing other than a hook of the door.  There was a TV that had at least three channels.  Heating was a strange looking electric heater on the wall.  It wasn’t a place you wanted to hang out in.  

The baptism and ordination were at the McCall Ward in McCall Idaho.  It was great to be there and see our grandchildren growing in the church.  David and Sherise came from Provo, but unfortunately Craig’s parents were too ill to come.  Craig’s father has been in a care facility with dementia, and his brothers and sisters live far away, in Texas and Tennessee.

Karen and Craig have a nice home on a mountainside in New Meadows in a golf resort. This time we got to see it in the winter.

We had a good time in Idaho.  We watched Karen’s family skiing.  Bronwen is fearless and appears to have the potential to be a great skier.  Karen called us in April to report that she (Karen) had fallen skiing and was pretty bruised and sore, and Sherise had fallen when getting off the ski lift.  Bronwen was now coming down the high slopes at Brundage alone.  

Now for the return trip.  We knew that a major storm was brewing over Washington State and heading towards the great plains.  We headed out from Idaho, staying ahead of the storm.  We headed south below the storm which headed across Wyoming and then turned southeast.  Every east-west interstate above I-10 was closed from the storm – I-80, I-70, and I-40.  We stayed in Provo with David and Sherise overnight and headed out the next day going south.  We were fine until we hit Farmington, New Mexico and the storm hit.  It stayed with us with driving snow until we were south of Albuquerque.  It then cleared up and was replaced by high winds.  We headed to El Paso and when we hit town, the winds were 70 mph.  We stayed in El Paso and found a great Mexican restaurant.  The next morning we headed out and were stopped by the border patrol.  They were stopping a checking all vehicles.  They just asked if we were American Citizens.  I was wearing a Retired Air Force, Vietnam Veteran cap.  My license plate said Air Force Retired.  I was tempted to tell them, “No, I am a Chinese Communist”, but thought better of it and we went on our way across Texas.  From El Paso to the east Texas border is just slightly less than a trip to the moon. We stayed the next night in Houston.  The storm then caught up with us, but now it was rain.  We had rain all the way home.  We stayed the next night in the Florida panhandle, and then headed back to Englewood.  I told Mary, that if I ever suggested driving to Idaho in the winter again, to please shoot me!

For many years, Mary’s family gathers in North Carolina for Thanksgiving.  Mary’s sister, Wilma, owns a motel on the beach in Nagshead.  This is a fun time for the family.  Sometimes, our children and grandchildren come and my sister Ruthellen and her husband Gene have come down too.  The ladies in the family usually get together and discuss the events of the past year and go to dinner.  The men go to a local oyster bar.  Football on TV is mandatory and there are lots of food preparation.  I always bake pumpkin pies.  Our niece Amber believes that it isn’t Thanksgiving without my pumpkin pie.  Usually, we have Thanksgiving dinner in Wilma’s Dining Room, but we have gone out a group to a restaurant on at least one occasion.  The office building is quite large and Wilma has a three-bedroom home on the second floor, with a living room and a combination dining room and kitchen.  The motel has a great indoor swimming pool.  When the children were young, this pool was seldom empty, but as time has gone by, we swim less frequently.  We do like to walk on the beach and look at shells and other things that have washed ashore, especially after a storm.  The outer banks are subject to erosion during tropical storms and hurricanes and sometimes the state rebuilds the beaches.  

Mary’s brother Bill lives in Midville, Georgia, a little town less than 500 people.  We try to visit there once a year.  The have a nice home with a pool in the piney woods south of Augusta  It is a very rural area and Bill has a business in a nearby city.  He is an architect/draftsman.  His wife Phyllis is a retired bank employee.  His family lives nearby.  When we visit them, we often go out to dinner at Coleman’s Lake which is fed by the Savannah River.  The restaurant is at a resort in the Georgia swamps.  You can eat dinner and watch the alligators.  

But, time goes on and we began to realize that our age began to effect our ability to work as hard as in years past.  Arthritis and other physical problems began to limit our mobility.  We realized that our large home was getting harder to manage.  I could not work as long in the outside on the lawn and flower beds and what used to be a pleasure, began to be a burden.   In 2012, Mary and I started discussing whether or not to remain in Florida full-time.  One of the things our children resented was that their grandparents (Bud and Doris) lived in Florida and missed out on spending time with them.  We realized we were doing the same thing with our grandchildren and decided to move back to Ohio.  So, we put our home on the market and it sold in April 2013.  We decided to use a POD for the move, and have it professionally loaded.  We would use our cargo trailer for taking our food storage, electronics, guitar, clothing and medicines to Ohio.  The POD was loaded on April 25 for pickup and storage on April 29.  We planned to leave early in the morning of April 30.  It is amazing how much can fit into a POD, 8x8x16 feet (1024 cubic feet).  In was packed ceiling to floor front to back.  It is also amazing how much stuff is in a house – furniture, equipment, food, kitchen ware and appliances, office supplies, bathroom supplies, tools, fishing equipment, lawn care tools, shelving.  We did not take any appliances other than a toaster oven.  We left two refrigerators, stove, microwave, dishwasher, washer and dryer.  

Starting in April, we contacted several realtors, one in Grove City, one in London, and one in Fairborn and began spending a lot of time on-line looking at properties.  We found several we liked, but as soon as we would see one we liked, it would get an offer.  Homes were turning over rapidly in Ohio.  We also contacted a builder and began to plan our return to Ohio.


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