Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Trip South Part 2: Niceville is, well Niceville is Nice, Really Nice!

Our final stop was up in the western panhandle of Florida in Niceville, Florida. Will was transferred from Las Vegas, Nevada to Niceville, Florida so Brandy and Mikayla tagged along.  This was our first trip to see them.

Now first- location, location, location!  Niceville is just north across the Choctawhatchee Bay from Destin, Florida- and of course the Gulf of Mexico and it sits on the southern edge of  Eglin Air Force Base.   And well- Niceville is just really, really nice.  It's filled with great schools, charming neighborhoods, and plenty of OLD TREES!  That said- it is NOT south where it is WARM in the winter.  So though it certainly isn't COLD like Cincinnati, it is not that BEACH experience one might imagine for Florida in February.  Why it gets down in the 30s at night!  And I consider that pretty close to COLD.

But we didn't go to Niceville for the weather- or a walk on the beach- though I'm sure we'll have opportunities for those beach strolls on later visits.  But this visit was all about Brandy, Will and MIKAYLA!  That said this blog is going to be mostly pictures of MIKAYLA- though occasionally she is accompanied by her mother- or her father- or her grandmother.  WE HAD SO MUCH FUN! 

Now we spent much time playing with the kitchen set that was stowed in the back of the "traveling minivan" with the bicycles.  Things were just a wee bit cramped! At least we only hauled the hugh kitchen set box about 2000 miles before extracting it and assembling the new kitchen.  But Mikayla loved the kitchen set and I got served amazing meals- and of course tea- multiple times every day!

And then there was the trip to the library!  And let me tell you- this was not her first trip!  She did know her way around and quickly found plenty of books to read with and without me!

And as is obvious below, she knew some of these books by heart including all of the actions that go with them.

Including even the yawnnnnn

And of course there was a trip to the park.  Might I mention that Mikayla LOVES the slide!  And her Mommy even took a trip down once!

And if you're with Mikayla you always have to pause for a snack!

And then one evening we all went out to eat across the Bay to a restaurant right on the BEACH!
And a highlight for me is one long afternoon (2 and 1/2 hours) when Mikayla took her nap while I rocked her!  Now that is one beautiful way to spend an afternoon!

But most of the time we just "hung out" and enjoyed this beautiful granddaughter and her wonderful Mommy and Daddy!

A Trip South Part 1B: Mary and Bob's Secret Garden

We were amazed at the beautiful garden that Mary and Bob created around their home.  Bob is GARDENER EXTRAORDINAIRE and Mary is an extremely talented sculptress who has created a number of beautiful "heads" of animals and also primitive natives that once lived on Sanibel! We just couldn't get enough!  It without a doubt rivals any professional garden we have ever seen  in beauty and design (and we have seen A LOT of gardens).  So of course we had Don busy with his camera so we might make this SECRET GARDEN just a little bit more public! So wander through the garden as we did and experience the beauty of their art.

Another note about Bob's garden before you get into the pictures.  Their back yard backs up to some of Sanibel's nature preserve lands, so where his "garden" ends, nature takes over, although Bob has made the transition a bit fuzzy with his plantings.  Also their yard used to have a bit of open space with grass much like the rest of the homes on the island.  But Hurricane Charlie blew through Sanibel in 2004 and left it and Captiva Island in ruins.  Bob and Mary road out the storm and were lucky in that they live a little way from the Gulf, but they lost a number of large trees, some of which blocked their stairs that lead up to their front door.  Even worse, they were without electricity for almost 2 weeks in the heat and humidity of the Gulf Coast.  After the storm debris was cleared away Bob started planting his garden with the intent that the yard would be low maintenance, private, and beautiful.  Shortly after, Mary started taking sculpturing lessons which has resulted in a large number of busts and the two have now been melded together as you can see below.

These next two are looking away from their screen porch into their back yard.

These next three are looking towards the back porch.

Keep in mind that we were there in Feburary.  In the spring and summer many of these plants are in full bloom.

But Mary has added interest with her sculptures that Bob has placed all through this garden.

And here are a few close ups so you can see the quality of Mary's work.

 I think the one above is my favorite.

Just as an added note about Mary's art.  She sculpts these from clay, hollows them out so that the clay is less than an inch thick, let's them dry for weeks and then fires them in an electric kiln. Once all of that is done, she paints them.  I also have to give Bob a lot of credit.  His job is to lower these very heavy but also fragile objects into the kiln so they can be fired, and he is also responsible for "bringing them all in" when a hurricane approaches.  Did I mention Bob will be 80 years old on his next birthday??