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Column: Vacation relaxing despite gray, cool days

11:08 AM, Apr. 15, 2013  |  Comments
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Vacation time involves planning and packing, no matter if it's for a summer trip or spring break. Good weather is a bonus.

For the past 20-plus years, my wife and I have made the three-day Wisconsin boys state basketball tournament a mini vacation. Some years, like this year, we extended it out an additional two weeks with a trip to Florida to visit friends and relatives.

This year, we decided to drive as we planned to hop-scotch around. Our first stop was an overnight stay with good friends Ted and Jeannie Urban who live near Cincinnati. We welcomed Ted's mother, Kathleen, as a passenger on that leg of the trip.

The full day's drive in steady rainfall from Cincinnati to Atlanta was a tiring challenge. An early wake-up call enabled us to drive through Atlanta with ease at 4 o'clock in the morning.

On the third day, we reached Naples, Fla., for a four-day stay with relatives. While my wife spent time at the pool soaking up sunshine, I went sightseeing and taking in other events. An exhibition baseball game between the Twins and Red Sox in Fort Myers lured me to the ballpark. The cool overcast day only contained me for five innings before I left.

Another day, I attended the opening day of the Collier County Fair. Getting there before the fair actually opened was a stroke of good luck. I indicated to fair board personnel that I was visiting in hopes of making a comparison between their fair and our Central Wisconsin State Fair.

The fair board president lined me up with the Naples retired fire chief, who also has been a member of the fair board and the fair operations. He was very knowledgeable and cordial and proceeded to give me a 1 1/2 hour four-wheeler guided tour of the fair layout. I found their fairgrounds to be neatly laid out with distinct areas for 4-H and youth exhibits, exposition building, wrestling ring for competitive action, wild animal section for trainers, a huge carnival area, another designated area for many food stands, numerous other attractions, but only one beer tent. The fair was scheduled to run for 10 days, basically from early to late evening. No racetrack, grandstand nor farm machinery.

After leaving Naples, we headed to Orlando to spend an evening with our Peruvian friends and arrived in Palm Coast, near St. Augustine, for a one week stay with my wife's sister and her husband. Her sister jokingly greeted us by saying, "You can stay a week or 'til you've used up a roll of toilet paper."

We found the clean beaches non-existent of sun bathers due to the cool and cloudy weather during the week. My wife, Sherry, braved the unseasonable cool weather nearly every day to lay on the beach. I visited the beach only a few times for extended periods of walking to search for seashells. I spent a good share of the time reading and relaxing, which was part of our plan.

Another interesting experience was participating in a horse-shoe pitching league, which involved partnering with retirees from other walks of life. Among the participants I was teamed up with was a "ringer" from New Hampshire. The experience was gratifying in that it was a sport high on generating new friendships among a bunch of old duffers from all parts of the country. The community facility and use of its equipment was free. The only fee was $2, which was set aside for a pizza party at the end of the month.

Overall, the high points included the gracious hospitality shown by relatives and friends, the sights of other states and communities, and the lure of good foods, especially seafood.

As far as record keeping, which I enjoy doing on trips, we traveled 3,970 miles, averaged 27.8 miles per gallon and paid an average of $3.59 per gallon with the high being in Illinois at $3.84 and the low of $3.35 in Georgia.

An unexpected expense was the replacement of a noisy wheel bearing once we got home.

We have decided that we will leave spring break season to the college and high school vacationers rather than spend the Easter season in northern Florida.

My wife will have a followup opportunity to gain that suntan in late June when she returns to Florida for her reunion with four sisters, minus their husbands.

That's OK with me. I will trade that for a sunny day at Miller Park when the Brewers are playing the Cubs or Cardinals.

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

Retrieving results.
Watching practice is fine.(Your vote)
15%
573 votes
I'd rather watch a scrimmage.(Your vote)
23%
856 votes
I don't want to pay to watch practice.(Your vote)
27%
1013 votes
It doesn't matter to me.(Your vote)
34%
1271 votes

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports