FLORIDA - Lakeland - June 2012 - House Sitting

Good day to all.  Here I am again house sitting within my home state of Florida.  It’s a lot like my last house sitting gig it Tampa where I had no plane tickets, no international border crossings, and no worries about lost luggage.  My location of choice this month is the mid-size city of Lakeland which is about half-way between Tampa and Orlando Florida.  It’s about a 1 ½ hour drive from my home, but yet a place I have not been too in a very long time.
I arrived Friday afternoon (1 June) after being stuck in traffic from a major one car accident for about 30 minutes.  In addition to the accident, it was raining which made the trip a bit slower than normal.  In fact it added about an hour to my drive time.  I’m glad I left my home so Heather (home owner) would have plenty of time to get to the airport (which I passed on my way to her house).  We had plenty of time to go over the final details, and she provided a list of local contacts and explained some points of interest in the area as well as some particulars about the cats and house.

Heathers’ house is a nice three bedroom place with a large yard, in a nice neighborhood, with friendly neighbors.  She has two cats, Parsley and Rosie which are typical cats.  Parsley hides all day and only comes out of the bedroom to eat or use the liter box.  Now Rosie on the other hand is all over the house doing about whatever she wants.  Don’t leave a closet or cabinet door open without checking to make sure Rosie isn’t in it before you close it.  Hey, she’s a kitten and wants to explore the world and find out what mischief is permissible and what is not.

I didn’t do much over the weekend except ride around the area to get familiar with where things are.  I found the golf course, grocery store, Wal-Mart, and several lakes; hence the name of the local town (Lakeland).  Since I’ll be here for about a month, I’ll probably spend a couple of days per week at the golf course and about the same at one lake or another.  Who knows, I may even take a trip or two to Orlando, but I’m pretty sure I won’t be visiting Mickey’s house at Disney World.

DAY 4 - 13

As you can tell by the lack of updates nothing much has changed.  Well other than the weather, it rained most of the day for about 5 days, and now it rains most days sometime between mid-late afternoons.  This afternoon rain is typical for summer in Florida and the showers only last about 30 minute.  But man after those showers the humidity raises.  Combine the humidity with the heat and if the gates to hell aren’t open they sure are close.

When it wasn’t raining, I was playing golf.  I realized that after not golfing for over two years, I can only hope I’ve lost my bad habits (which equate to bad shots) for good.  I’ve shot the best golf in these last couple of weeks than I did when I played on a regular basis.  And my scores have been consistent.  I’m still not quite as good as Tiger (not even when he was a beginner) but at least I’m shooting in the mid 90’s.  The biggest challenge is still my tee-shot, especially with my 3 wood (I don’t use a driver) and I’ve put a few out of bounds, lost a few, and just plain flubbed, sliced, or hooked the others.  But hey, it kills time when I can get out of the house.

My friend and I went to Universal Studios in Orlando over the weekend.  When we went to pay for parking which is $20, I was surprised when the attendant asked if I was a Florida resident and after affirming I was, I paid nothing to park.  That was great as we were only going to the “City Walk” part of the park, making our entrance free.  I don’t go there very often, but when I do I make it a point to stop by Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville bar and store, eat at one of the many top quality restaurants, and of course try and walk off the meal.  We were there later than normal for me and I noticed the crowds started to grow around 9PM and the lines to enter the clubs grew as well.  I guess one day I’ll have to “dress appropriately” to go in.

Since I was cooped up with all the rain I started doing another on-line course.  This one is for freelance writing, which some of you may think I should have done long ago.  Anyway, it’s taking more time than I thought because there is a lot of reading involved.  The readings are accompanied by lessons and since I don’t have a printer, I’ve been making notes on the lessons which are in PDF format. 

Ok, that’s it for now.  Enjoy life, live it to its fullest, and be safe.

DAY 14 - 17

Happy Fathers day to all….
I continued my golf excursions, but for some reason I’ve gotten worse instead of better.  Actually it was only one bad day, but it’s been a few days of several bad golf shots.  I guess I’m reverting back to my old golf days when my goal was to get under 100.  Now that I’ve been doing it I’m trying to analyze my swing more, thus screwing up.  Starting tomorrow, back to the rhythm of fun golf, address the ball, smack it, chase it, and smack it again.   After a few shots following that procedure, you get to pick the ball out of a little hole and start the process over again.

The weather has been pretty nice for central Florida; just the way I like it, hot with some humidity mixed in just to keep things steamy.  Oh yea, it’s cooler with dew on the ground in the morning.

I went to a local park yesterday and wandered around the lake.  This area is full of lakes ranging from ponds to lakes big enough for fishing tournaments.  And several of the lakes have state and county parks while others are have homes and golf courses built around them.   Anyway, while I was walking around the lake I saw a sign that said the trail was an active gator crossing, telling hikers to stay on the path and hold the hand of your children.  By golly, I think the sign is right because you could hear a gator grunting in the swamp and on the other side of the path, in the lake, there was about an 8 foot gator swimming away.  I never did see the one in the swamp, but after growing up here in Florida you remember the sound a gator makes so you learn to stay the hell away.  As a youngster I didn’t always follow that rule, but not with the big ones.  A friend of mine brought a 3 footer to his house and put it in the bathtub until he could get it out to the lake.  That would have been fine, EXCEPT his mother went into the bathroom before he removed it.  As you can figure, the roof was raised along with some hell.

Well that’s it for now.  I hope all you fathers out there had a great Fathers Day as mine was.  My children made contact with me and wished me the best and that’s really all that matters.  So until next time, enjoy life and be safe

DAY 18 - 25

Good day to all!!!

Nothing much has been happening around here except playing golf, working on my website (www.TravelThruMyEyes.com), and studying.

Then the rain started and it has not stopped for about 5 days now.  You see, Lakeland is in the middle of the state of Florida and we have a tropical depression off our west coast that contains a lot of rain and has been moving slowly.  The depression grew into a tropical storm, thus in addition to the constant rain; we had winds up to about 40 MPH, tornado watches and warnings, and more rain.  It should fully clear out by this weekend, but hey who knows.

Some of you may have read my blogs when I traveled to Honduras and El Salvador.  Well, I took that trip and wrote an article about traveling during the “off season” and it was published in the “Escape From America Magazine” (http://www.escapefromamerica.com).  I’ve added a page on the Travel Thru My Eyes website which links to my published writings, check it out.

Well that’s about it from here in Florida.  The home owner comes home in a few days so unless something big happens, my next post will be after I’m back in my own home.  So until then enjoy life and be safe.

DAY 26 - 27

Well another great house sitting gig is about to come to an end.  Heather, the home owner will be home tomorrow and I will return her cats and keys.  It has been an enjoyable sit and even with a couple of weeks of rain, I had fun.

If you get a chance to visit Lakeland Florida, here are a couple of places I went too, and recommend.

Pesos Mexican Restaurant – This is a nice little restaurant that brags it has the best fajitas in town.  Now I didn’t try all the other Mexican restaurants, but they do have good fajitas.  I ate here several times, never eating the same entrée twice and all my food was good.  They have a bar for mixed drinks and local as well as imported beer.  The restaurant was always clean, staff was friendly, and the prices are good.  I want to say a special thanks to the Jamie; she was my server every time I went in and she did great.  All the other servers were also on-point and even though they didn’t hoverer around your table, you never had to look around for them if you needed something as they were there.

Bramble Ridge Golf Course – Bramble Ridge is a nicely kept public golf course with good rates.  The course itself is challenging, pretty open (so you don’t lose your balls), and has its share of wildlife in the area.  The driving range is, well, a driving range.  As you’ve read in previous posts, I was there a lot and not once could I not get right on the course, without having made a tee-time prior to arrival.

Lake Parker Park – Lake Parker is one of the many lakes in the area and while I didn’t find any place in the park to swim, it looked like a good place to fish.  BUT, keep in mind you probably don’t want to swim here or even fish from the banks because the lake has alligators.  Welcome to Florida where alligators are a part of life by the water.  Be careful.  There are plenty of paths to walk around the park on and you’ll see a lot of the native Florida wildlife so take your camera.  The paths have benches so you can take a break, and there are plenty of shelters and picnic tables.

So, that’s it from this enjoyable house sitting gig.  Keep traveling, enjoy life, have fun, and be safe.

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