While vacationing in Ft. Myers Beach, it was announced that Spring Training would indeed be held, and that a limited amount of fans could attend at the stadium. With that in mind, I looked forward to maybe attending my fifth Spring Training season, so I monitored the seat availability when the time came for sale of seats not picked up by season ticket holders. I had my eyes on the March 4th game vs. the Rays, and with luck I snagged a pair of tickets.
The weather was absolutely beautiful. Mo and I had seats next to the tunnel, with no one else in our row and an empty row between the fans seated in front of us and behind us. MOST people wore their masks when they were supposed to, particularly on the concourses; not as well in the seats, but not bad. Even so, we still felt safe enough throughout.
beautiful seats, beautiful weather
Having one quarter of the fans means that there was only one quarter of the cars in the parking lot to deal with, one quarter of the crowd at the concessions, etc, so there was that.
The game wasn’t all that cleanly played (it WAS Spring Training, after all), but there was plenty of action, and an Alex Kirilloff double off the right centerfield wall.
Kirilloff doesn’t get all of that one!
The Twins ended up losing 5-2, but with the beautiful weather and the opportunity to return to something like normal, we had a super day at the park.
After a couple years away, we returned to our favorite winter getaway, Ft. Myers, specifically Ft. Myers Beach. With Mo retiring after 20 years at her part-time job, we decided to celebrate with four weeks at the beach. Looking for a beachfront site where I could also work, we found a first floor location at Riviera Club, which was just a bit further south than where we’ve stayed before on Estero Island.
We had decided we could isolate just as well in FL as we could in MO, and it was quite easy to maintain our safety during the pandemic. We made most of our meals at home, and were able to pick up a nice meal periodically from local restaurants to eat at the condo. As a matter of fact, Truly Scrumptious and their ice cream was just a little too convenient.
We used our proximity to Lover’s Key to spend some time there, both to enjoy their guided trail walking tour, and to hang out on the beach. Our weather in Ft. Myers the entire time we were there was beautiful (but breezy) with only one overnight rain and ~15 minutes of rain one morning. We even managed to snag tickets to a Twins Spring Training game.
If there is one thing we had in plenty supply, it was beautiful sunsets over the Gulf.
worth the wait each day
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The next day after breakfast we drove to the Kauai Plantation, where we had scheduled a four hour tour which included riding on the plantation’s railroad, feeding some of the animals living there, lunch, and a hike where we tasted a multitude of different fruits (and picked some to take back to the condo). I struck up a conversation with Lou the engineer, and hearing that I worked in the industry, he invited me to ride with him in the 1948 GE locomotive for the return leg of the trip.
Kauai Plantation Railroad
The following day we instead directed ourselves to the north side of the island. Our first stop was to see the beautiful and photogenic Kilauea Lighthouse.
We continued on until we could drive no further — the highway was closed to all but locals due to landslides from last year’s heavy rainstorms. It happened to be right at Hanalei Beach Park on Hanalei Bay. It was very pleasant walking along the bay thanks to the nearby mountain cloud cover shading us from the direct sun.
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Upon our arrival to Kauai, we drove the short distance north to our Kapa’a condo, and soon learned the “Kapa’a Crawl” — named after the unfortunate traffic pattern in the area. The weather was a bit overcast and breezy, and we were happy to find groceries and eating establishments just across the street, so we did a little shopping and set up our home away from home.
The next morning we made our first outing on Kauai, driving the hour or so to the 18-mile scenic route along Waimea Canyon. Two words: Oh wow!
Waimea Canyon, with Waipo’o Falls
There were several places where one could pull off the road and view the huge vista stretching from the north to the south, with most featuring the Waipo’o Falls somewhere in view. We went to the very end to Kalalau Lookout, but the cloud cover just gave us ghostly glimpses of the tops of the landscape on either side.
At this point I should probably mention the ubiquitous fowl of Kauai: chickens! There are banty chickens anywhere you look on the island: at high elevations, at the beaches, along roads, in parking lots — you name it. You can read about the chickens and Hurricane Iniki here.
As our 30th anniversary approached, and as Southwest Airlines rumors spread of flights to Hawaii in the future, Mo began planning a reprise trip of our earlier visit the Hawaiian islands. In this case, we beat Southwest there.
While our trip five years ago was to the Big Island and Oahu, this time around we are returning to the Big Island and then visiting Kauai for the first time. After a rough flight out, we arrived in Kona, picked up our rental car, and checked in to our condo. We already knew the area a bit as it was only a couple blocks from the Royal Kona Resort where we had stayed previously.
the view from our Kona condo
We had a bit of déjà vu when again my tour of the summit of Mauna Kea and evening stargazing was thwarted by overcast/bad weather.
Continuing our visit to London, we left Windsor and went to Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew and walked the beautiful grounds.
After a break at the hotel, we took advantage of the beautiful weather and strolled Kensington Gardens & Hyde Park.
The next morning we had breakfast across from Embassy Row in Kensington Gardens, then took the Kensington Palace tour. Following this, we made our way to Westminster Pier to catch a river cruise on Thames, which wound its way past The Eye, Globe Theater, the Tower Bridge, and on to Greenwich.
With the great weather, Greenwich Park was full of people playing and relaxing in the grass. We made our way up the hill and took our turns straddling the Prime Meridian and then walking through the Flamsteed House. While there I make my second observatory visit on this trip (first being The Round Tower in Copenhagen), and see the Great Equatorial Telescope at the Royal Observatory Greenwich.
the business end of the 38″ Great Equatorial Telescope in Greenwich
The last stop on our visit to Europe was London. The flight from Copenhagen was fine, except for our checked bag which decided to take an extra ½ day to get there. We weren’t worried about it, but the umbrella inside it would have been nice to have on the one day of drizzle in our entire time in London!
Our hotel was across from Hyde Park, between Paddington Station and Notting Hill, not far from Kensington Gardens. It took us a bit to find our way to the Underground (“Mind the gap!”) from the Paddington Express from Heathrow, but we found the Underground very manageable, particularly with our reloadable Oyster Cards. After getting situated in our hotel room, we walked a bit and then had a quiet Italian meal at De Amicis.
On our rainy day, we made our way over to the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square, followed by the British Museum. We had a great lunch at the Museum Tavern (a “proper” pub), then wrapped up the day walking around Buckingham Palace grounds and St. James Park.
the Museum Tavern, our table at the end of the bar
Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace
I couldn’t help but reference the classic musical number that we used to sing in grade school; now we saw what all the fuss was about.
Our train left Sweden and crossed into Copenhagen before lunch. We exited the train station right across the street from Tivoli Park, and after picking up our Copenhagen Card, we made our way over to our hotel near the water on Sankt Annæ Plads.
We picked up some ready-to-go food from a shop and had a picnic on a bench in King’s Garden, then admired the wide array of paintings on display in the National Gallery of Denmark.
We took the round about route to our hotel, swinging by the Little Mermaid statue (of course), and also happening upon the Sakura Festival (Japanese cherry blossoms) right nearby, where all the Yoshino Cherry trees were in full bloom — not all that much later than the tree in front of our house back home.
the little mermaid
More than one of my family told me that I should contact Hartwig and Barbara before our trip and let them know we would be in Copenhagen (Hartwig is an older brother of an exchange student from Germany who stayed with my family about the time I left for my first job out of college). He and his wife replied that they would love to invite us over for dinner, so we caught our breath back at the hotel until the time he would pick us up and drive us to their nice home just to the north. They served a wonderful meal, and we spent hours visiting, until we pointed out that it was getting late and tomorrow was a work day — not for us! They were excellent ambassadors for their country, and we were glad we could meet them.