I moved from Gamble Rogers to Alafia State Park in Lithia Florida on Monday December 18th but this post is not about that. Alafia will be the next post.
This post begins with my flight to chilly Maryland from warm Florida on Friday December 22nd. The things we do to see our loved ones. <smile>
Everything went as smoothly as possible in terms of getting from Lithia to the Tampa Airport, getting the car parked with my prepaid $78 parking spot, taking the tram to the terminal and finding the gate. I was at the gate before anyone else. Tampa is well organized. Not so lucky on the return.
I wore an N95 mask for fear of covid and airports and airplanes. Also not so lucky on the return but that’s later.
I flew Frontier Airlines which I would NOT recommend. The only thing they have going for them are the cute animals on their tail fin.
At first, Frontier appear to have the most reasonably priced seats until you discover that the price of the ticket is just the start. There is a separate charge of $69 to carry a bag on, EACH WAY. So add $138 to the “reasonable”. If you want to select your seat, that’s another $35 EACH WAY. Or you can take the luck of the draw, which is what I did, and you will find yourself in one of the last 3 rows.
We left Tampa and 2.5 hours later arrived in Baltimore. Despite refusing to pay, I had a window seat though it was in the very very back of the plane, row 26. You know what being in the very back means – close to the bathroom, last one off, likely death if the plane crashes.
The interstate looked like it was all lit up for the holidays. Looks much more attractive from the air than from the ground.
Carrie and Celia picked me up at the airport. It was wonderful to see them. I was tired and it was late so other than hugs and bed time reading, the fun started the next day. Colin looks quite worried about catching this Gingerbread Man.
The next morning, Carrie and I hit the bakeries for Christmas morning pastries.
First we went to Simon’s Bakery and even though it was only 9am, we found the shelves somewhat sparse especially as concerns my favorite sticky buns. But we made do. LOL!!
Simon’s dates back to an 1886 storefront in South Baltimore. Its owner George Simon died in 2022 at age 90. He had taken over the bakery from his father and his daughter and son took it over from him in 2020. The work was such long hours and so hard that they decided to close the bakery at the end of this year if it did not find a buyer. But luckily it did so we could get our pastries from them again. Not many locally owned and run bakeries left any more and for anyone who has tried grocery store pastries, they aren’t even in the ballpark.
This is an actual mixer used in the early days of the bakery. Can you imagine?
And a wall lined with molds
Then to bakery #2, Bethany’s, for cinnamon rolls “as big as a plate” only to find out that a man in a sweater, shorts and flip flops had bought the last ones. Upon query from Carrie we learned he had graying hair and two children were with him. Too funny!
On that morning out we did some stocking shopping and had breakfast at Ashland Cafe. Sadly I apparently took no pictures at Ashland.
Back home it was time for games. Here we are with Duck Duck Goose. We also played numerous rounds of Sorry, Connect 4., Slap Jack, Old Maid, and Bingo over the days I was here. As I discovered too many times in putting this post together, I did not take pictures of any of those. Amazing given the amount of time we spent playing.
We took several walks/rides down their cul-de-sac. The weather was often in the balmy 50’s so I was the only one freezing.
I was very surprised to receive a package at Carrie’s from my friend Pam in Charlottesville. She sent me a box of my favorite chocolates and this WARM jacket which I ended up wearing almost every day. Thank you Pam!!
My favorite of the games is this one person sound memory game SIMON.
Celia looks a bit disconcerted with it here.
I admire Matthew in his comfy attire. Gotta love it! He and Carrie were watching the birds at feeders outside their window during a few minutes of rare down time. He doesn’t like to have his picture taken so my phone camera distracted them.
But later they got all dressed up for an equally rare date night and dinner out. Nana plays babysitter.
There were trips to two parks. One was a very nice relatively new set of metal play/climbing structures and slides.
The other was a more rustic nature oriented play space allowing for a lot of creativity. It also had a nature center, a story book story board path and trails.
She’ll have to settle for Canada Goose since she’s not quite Turkey Vulture.
This wall of various kitchen pots and pans with numerous utensils and drum sticks was so clever and noisy though not obnoxiously. All 4 of us the variety of sounds using different utensils on different pots and pans very interesting. With effort you might even be able to play a tune.
And then it’s Christmas Eve and the kids get to open a few presents that came through the mail from close friends and the annual matching Christmas PJs from Nana.
I’m still trying to get them to figure out a way to hang the stockings “by the chimney with care”. The weighted ones don’t work. I think large cup hooks screwed in under the mantle and removed after Christmas is possible. I don’t think the holes would be visible.
Celia is reading the tags looking for presents to pass out.
Like her mother, Carrie loves books and I think she got at least 4 this morning. One from me and three from Matthew and Santa. I got a book, the Margaret Renkl I was hoping for – Thank you Carrie. And the kids also got books of course from Nana.
Celia’s major delight turned out to be the doll and sets of clothing that I got for her. She changed the doll’s name several times over my visit but it ended up being Emily Rose Sophia Iwanowski. Now that’s a mouthful.
Colin has opened books and legos.
Emily Rose Sophia’s clothes must be changed multiple times before breakfast.
Carrie reading one of the books I got Colin, The Day I Became a Pirate which is a great story.
After the family Christmas with the five of us, Matthew’s extended family arrived and the cooking and assembly of a HUGE amount of food began.
Presents for 30+ people takes quite a long time. The kids go first given their patience levels.
It’s quite a loud, noisy, joyful gathering.
After the food, things seem to slow down and the scratch off begins. Matthew’s brother Mark gives everyone two lottery tickets each year and brings the cash to pay out if you win. These scratchers are serious and someone won $200 this year but I can’t remember who it was. It wasn’t any of the 5 of us. Unfortunately this year none of us won anything but we did last year.
As the day winds down Matthew and UJ (Uncle John) seclude themselves in a small front parlor for a quiet game of cards.
At the end of the day is a selection of delicious desserts. UJ’s daughter is a pastry chef so they are amazing. You can see the cheese cake but there were many more and UJ brings several flavors of home made ice cream. These people know how to put on a Christmas dinner.
But at this point, as you can see, we were all pretty stuffed and over done.
The day after Christmas we made an effort to hike it off with a walk to the stream that borders their property.
Did I mention that I wore my new jacket everywhere?
Of course there was the clean up efforts mostly done by the adults but with some help from Colin. Hope he’s still wanting to do this in about another 7 or 8 years.
The next morning it was over and I had to say goodbye. That’s always the hardest part so I never take any pictures.
I left on Thursday the 28th. Carrie took me to the airport in the morning and was leaving a couple of hours later for a New Year’s family gathering in West Virginia. A subset of the Christmas crowd will be there.
She obviously has more energy than I. I’m lucky to have had enough to deal with the return trip which was not so terrific.
This was largely due to Frontier Airlines but one difficulty was my own fault. My part was that somehow I had misplaced my two N95 masks and had to use my unfiltered Winnie the Pooh. Hope he provides good protection. I’m amazed at the number of people I know who have gotten covid and RSV in the last 10 days.
When I got to BWI my flight was not on the flight lists. No one I asked seemed to know why there was only one Frontier flight listed on the large board. My boarding pass had no gate listed. I finally found someone who knew which concourse Frontier flew from and said the flight board there would have mine listed. The problem everyone talks about, the TSA check, was no problem either way.
Through TSA, at concourse D, the flight was not on that flight board either. I asked numerous people there. No one knew anything. So I headed to the gate for the only Frontier Flight listed which was going to San Juan. Hmmm would I rather go to San Juan?
When I got there, that flight was delayed. There was a huge line and back up of people and no way to ask the Frontier workers why my flight wasn’t listed. So I sat down and waited. This is why you have to arrive 2 hours early.
Eventually, the woman next to me asked if I was going to Tampa as she was too. We commiserated until the almost unintelligible announcement was made by the Frontier personnel at this gate 4 that Tampa would be boarding at Gate 5 which was not directly next door as one would expect but at the other end of the concourse and around the corner.
Once on the plane, a miracle in itself, I was told by the friendly flight attendants whose pictures I took to use when I do my reviews and complaints, that as I had not purchased “personal assistance” service, they could not help put my bag in the overhead bin which was at least a foot above my head.
Good thing I have gray hair and wrinkles at least today. A nice passenger did it for me. I was a bit sorry he did as I would love to have seen what would have happened if he had not. They can’t fly the plane with a bag in the isle nor can anyone get past me.
AND interestingly after I took his picture, he was able to get my bag down for me when we arrived.
Who is responsible for all this trouble? BWI boards or Frontier? I suspect the boards only carry what the airline gives them so I’m absolving BWI for all my problems and irritations.
I managed to leave Carrie’s at 10:45 and arrived back home at 6pm to find Winnona just as I left her. I’d achieved my goal, I’d gone to Carrie’s without any serious mishaps and arrived back before dark. Looking forward to several quiet days of doing nothing!!
My nothing and other days at Alafia River State Park will be the subject of my next post. Hope you had happy successful holidays and met all your goals!!!