Florida added to the map

I figure I should take over on our experiences in Florida. For those that may not know I was born in Florida. I spent 25 of my first 30 years in Florida. To me, in many ways, it is always going to be home. My grandmother lives in St. Pete (where I was born) with my aunt and uncle, my parents live in Orlando, my brother and lovely sister-in-law with their beautiful daughter live in Sanford. For Bill his parents live down in Boynton Beach. Going to Florida was also the first time I got to see my niece.

Isn't she just the cutest thing ever!

My younger brother, John, had the brilliance to marry one of the most wonderful of ladies, Eunice. The two of them are made for each other. The two of them had the brilliance to have the prettiest little girl ever to grace the earth. Isabella.


Isabella is my little angel. We planned to arrive in Florida in mid-February since a girlfriend of mine and her family were going to visit Walt Disney World. As we made our way across the country it took everything in my power not to just book it so I could visit with my niece sooner but I knew we had things to see. We took our time until we hit New Orleans. Once we were that close the gravitational pull of the nieceling was far too great. We shot straight across Mississippi and Alabama into Florida and right to Sanford so I could get my hugs in arriving a couple weeks before we had planned. We spent the next few months meandering the state visiting all the rest of our families.

Disney's Flower and Garden Show

We spent some time at Walt Disney World of course and then watched one of the final shuttle launches. We stopped at the Strawberry Festival and spent a week in the oldest city in America (Saint Augustine).

We had key lime pie, fresh squeezed OJ, Cuban sandwiches, and ropa vieja, and more citrus than I have had since I moved to Seattle 7 years ago.  There is just something so sweet about an orange plucked from a tree that is still warm from the sun that you just cannot get anywhere else in the world.

Map Updates

In yesterday’s blog I talked about adding Pennsylvania to our map and admitted that we never did updates for the addition of the majority of the states on our map.

In the middle of November 2010 we moved into Nevada for a week-long stay in Pahrump. While we were in Pahrump we visited Las Vegas a couple of times. While in Vegas we walked up and down the Strip, visited Ethel M’s chocolate factory and Botanical Cactus Garden, and ate at one of our favorite places BLT Burgers and Tacos & Tequilas.  This added Nevada to our map.

In late November we moved to Lake Havasu City, Arizona where we saw the London Bridge. We also saw mini lighthouses and flew kites on the island that was created when the land under the bridge was dredged out.  We took a day trip from Lake Havasu City to Oatman and visited with some relatives and feed the burros. From there we moved to the Mesa area to enjoy Christmas and New Years with friends.  We also got to experience the Big Unit (22-inch long hot dog) at Alice Cooperstown.  In early January 2011 we moved to Benson, Arizona which we used as a base to explore Tombstone and Kartchner Caverns. With all that we were sure we experienced Arizona and added it to our map.

We then decided to head east and visit Texas, but we had to drive through New Mexico and even stayed for a night in a rest stop but really didn’t experience it.

Everyone says everything is larger in Texas (even the cinnamon rolls) and we learned that driving across the state on Interstate 10. I-10 is about 880 miles long in Texas. Around the middle of January we pulled into San Antonio. We spent a week in San Antonio visiting the Missions, taking a ghost tour, walking on the Riverwalk and taking a day trip to visit LBJ’s Ranch. Of course we started our tour of Texas BBQ also.  After San Antonio we moved to Houston to tour the Johnson Space Center where we saw the Mission Control room from the Gemini and Apollo missions.  With all that and the excellent BBQ we really experienced Texas and added it to the map.

In late January it was time to move again. We moved to Broussard, Louisiana where we visited the Tabasco factory and also discovered crawfish etouffee.   From there we moved to New Orleans where we toured the French Quarter along with the city in general. Watched the making of Mardi Gras floats and of course had Po Boys, Muffalettas, Beignets and other wonderful food.  This gave us the state of Louisiana on our map.

This brings us to the first of February and since Leslie really wanted to get to Florida to visit with her new niece we just drove across Alabama and Mississippi without stopping.

Movin on

We have lived in Pennsylvania for the last 33 days. We also spent a few days visiting some sites while we were living in New Jersey.  We stayed in three wonderful state parks and one, well, old campground. We visited Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Valley Forge, Gettysburg, and Eisenhower’s house. We watched violins, motorcycle parts, fine wood furniture, soap, and pretzels being made.  We watched old looms weave fabric and artisans etch glass. We went to the Kutztown Fair, rode the DUKW (duck), watched a baseball game and visited Falling Water (a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright). We ate Philly Cheesesteaks, roast Ox, and fresh pressed cider. We also were thrilled to be able to spend a week with good friends Char and Forest.

We are certain that we have experienced Pennsylvania and added it to our map.

Addition of Pennsylvania to the Map

You will notice a couple of things about the map. First there are some holes – we only put states on the map if we experience the state (see http://wheelsunderourfeet.com/?p=57 for information on our map). We drove thru New Mexico, Alabama and Mississippi without really experiencing them hence we have not added them. Second we have not done an update since we added California to the map. I will create a few blog entries that give some brief reviews of our experiences in the states.

Thirty-three days in one state is a long time so today we packed up and moved a couple hundred miles down the road to Sandusky, Ohio where we will experience the roller coasters of Cedar Point (sorry Lex).

Sandusky OH Waterfront

Sandusky OH Waterfront

Falling Water

No our RV did not spring another leak (knock on wood) – we went to visit the house that Frank Lloyd Wright designed for the Edger Kaufman Sr., owner of Kaufman’s Department Store in Pittsburgh. Falling Water was built as a vacation home for the Kaufman’s a few hours from Pittsburgh.

Wright designed the house in 1935 in the style organic architecture which is a philosophy which has the structure integrate with the soundings.  This style was coined by Frank Lloyd Wright and Falling Water is one of the best known examples. The Kaufman’s owned many acres in the area and yet Wright decided to place the house on top of the water fall so that the sound of the water envelops all areas of the home. The main living section cantilevers out and blends in with the natural rock outcroppings.  The integration of structure and nature is evident in little details like where glass meets the stone walls there is no metal frame, instead a recess was made in the stone and the glass is held in place with calking.

Falling Water - Organic architecture

Falling Water - An example of how the structure integrates with the site

The home and furnishing were donated to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy in 1963 and opened for tours the following year. Pictures are not permitted in the home (unless you purchase the ‘special’ tour). The home and setting are quite stunning and it was well worth the long trip to see one of the places listed  in Smithsonian’s Life 28 places to see before you die.

Falling Water

Falling Water