Happy Holidays 2009

These notes record the events of the period from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve. This year's Christmas card featured our seven beautiful grandkids sitting on our sofa during our family reunion in July. Our virtual insert was similar to the past few years. 


We were spending our fourth Thanksgiving in Key West and staying at the Wicker House on Duval Street for three nights. To read about how we got here, see "On the Road 2009." It rained really hard at 3:00 AM, bringing the total rain to 5 inches in Key West. I awoke at 6:00 AM and looked at the weather radar on my iPhone. It looked clear, so I got dressed in running clothes and headed out for a run to the sunrise. I walked to the bottom of Duval Street and then ran to the Hyatt, just past the airport. I saw the sun come up over the Atlantic and turned around. My total run was about 7 miles, with about a mile of walking. I stopped at the coffee shop on Duval to get a cappuccino, a mocha latte for Cathy, and 2 newspapers to bring back to the room. We went out to get some breakfast at 8:00 AM and carried that back to the room, too. We left at 9:20 AM for our circumambulation of Key West, passed the Southernmost Point, and ate lunch at the Schooner Wharf Bar. I bought a double album CD from Michael McCloud there. We went to Bad Ass Coffee and then headed to mile 0 of U.S. 1 and finally back to the room after 10.7 miles of walking. We drove to Sugarloaf Key at MM19 to attend a great Thanksgiving dinner at Cathy's cousin Ruth Ann and husband Harry's home. Harry's son and daughter-in-law, Harry and Jayne, were visiting from Rhode Island, so we had a good group with lots of stories to tell and good food to eat: lobster tails, stone crab claws, twice baked potatoes, and pecan pie along with other sides and fixings. We stayed until about 9:00 PM and then headed back to Key West in a brisk north wind.

Friday, November 27

We slept in a little bit and then I went out to the coffee shop for a cappuccino and a local paper. By the time I was back, it was time for breakfast, which we brought back to the room. I called the Greyhound V to see if the fishing boat was going out in spite of the heavy wind and found out that they were. We decided to go with them and walked to Garrison Bight and boarded the boat for the 11:00 AM departure. It was a small, heavily New Jersey crowd on the boat. We headed straight out of the harbor for the reef and fished 3 spots near Sand Key Light. I didn't get much action at the first 2 spots, but I started to pull in a bunch of grunts at the last stop. The woman next to me bailed yellow tail with her own spinning rod by casting and drifting her line off the stern in the chum cloud from the boat. Next time, I need to remember to bring my own pole. The woman used the same bait as the rest of us: squid. It was cool and very breezy out on the water, but the sun was very warming. When we returned, we walked back to Duval Street. I went back to the room to shower and Cathy went to Rexall Drugs to buy some wine. Later, I walked to Hogs Breath Tavern to pick up my race packet. The sidewalks were jammed with people coming back from sunset on Mallory Square. We went to dinner at Mangoes and had the usual great meals. We started with a Caprese Salad Roulade and Shrimp Bisque. Then we had Yellow Tail Snapper and Blackened Grouper. We finished up with a delicious piece of Key Lime Pie. We sat near an overhead heater since we were chilly. After dinner, we headed back to the room to get things organized for Saturday's race and departure.

Saturday, November 28

I got up at about 5:30 AM and started hydrating with Cytomax and eating a couple of bagels with jelly that I saved from Saturday's breakfast. After I dressed in my racing duds and Cathy dressed for the day, we packed our bags for our departure later. We walked down to the foot of Duval to view the sunrise, to get my official pre-race portrait for FaceBook, and then to the coffee shop to pick up coffees and a scone for Cathy. We walked back to the room, where Cathy quickly ate. Then, we walked up to Hog's Breath Saloon for the Hog Trot race. The air temperature felt chilly for just walking around, but great for running. There were around 300 participants in the race. I felt a little sluggish after eating high on the hog for several days, but ran very even splits and finished with a good kick:

We won a $25 gift certificate for the Rum Barrel, but I came in 4th in the 64-69 age group after placing 2nd with much slower times the last two times doing the event (pics: 1,2.3). I was happy with the run anyway, since I have no control over who else shows up to run. We walked back to our room, finished packing and loading the car, and departed from Key West about 10:30 AM. We drove around Stock Island before heading up the road to Chappy's Restaurant at the Marathon end of the Seven Mile Bridge. We had a good lunch with a great view. Then, we walked the 4 miles of the Old Seven Mile Bridge. It was still a bit chilly, but the sun felt good and it was a sparkling beautiful day for viewing the Keys. We continued on Route 1 and stopped at Starbucks in Key Largo and gassed up the XTerra. We stopped again at Soroa Orchids in Homestead to buy a couple of epidendrum radicans orchid plants for $20 each. We continued the long drive across the Everglades on the Tamiami Trail and stopped at Luigi's Pizza for a large pie to take to the RV. We arrived back at Rock Creek at 7:00 PM. The trip back to Naples is always longer than we imagine it should be. We watched college football and ate pizza. I took a shower and headed to bed fairly early.

Sunday, November 29

It was a bit chilly this morning. After breakfast, Cathy did the laundry. I caught up with our computer journal and then worked out the Times crossword puzzle. Later in the morning, we drove to Publix for major shopping. I cleaned the grill and watered the orchids. We ate lunch in the RV. Then, we packed up a couple of towels and left on a 7.4 mile walk to the beach. We stopped at Starbucks on the way. The temperature rose to 80 degrees and the wind was light, so it was delightful on the beach. At one point I opened my eyes and saw 4 Magnificent Frigate Birds flying high overhead. I scrambled to snap a photo on the iPhone. We left around 4:00 PM to walk back. I spotted a very interesting weed with star shaped flowers. I cooked quinoa with sweet onion, dates, and walnuts for dinner. I grilled chicken for Cathy. We viewed a rather preachy "The Day the Earth Stood Still" during and after dinner.

Monday, November 30

I awoke around 6:00 AM and hustled through breakfast in order to be ready for a medley workout. After breakfast, I did abdominal crunches and pushups outside and got my gear ready. I started my first 10K bike ride at 8:15 AM. The air was chilly for that leg and the 5K run that followed. By the time I had completed the second 10K bike ride, it was warm enough for me to shuck my shirt and put sunscreen on my upper torso. Cathy had returned from her morning exercise class and helped to put sunscreen on my back. The last two 10K bike rides and 5K run were done in the heat of the day. It was around 80 degrees with a burning sun. The stats for the workout were: (13.5 mph, 8:57 min/mi, 13.2 mph, 9:03 min/mi, 13.5 mph, 8:59 min/mi, 13.9 mph). I finished at around 12:05 PM. After lunch I worked on paying bills online. It was a struggle because our Internet access was very spotty. I only completed some of the job. I also emailed Naples Daily News that they had not restarted our vacation stop for the paper. We moved our Hillbilly Golf course over to the site for the wine and cheese party later in the day. I took an early shower and we carried our NASCAR chairs to the party. We also brought an expensive piece of manchego cheese and a bottle of wine and some crackers. We enjoyed the party and got back to the RV well after sunset. We enjoyed leftover quiche while we watched "Charlie Bartlett". Later, we watched an episode of "House".

Tuesday, December 1

I slept in until 6:30 AM. Out Naples Daily News was delivered finally. After breakfast, I organized my fishing gear and mixed Cytomax. We drove to Starbucks and Publix for a few items and then stopped by the bait shop on Shadowlawn Road for two dozen live shrimp. I headed out at 10:30 AM for a fishing paddle down to Dollar Bay on the ICW off of lower Naples Bay. I stopped at my usual little islet for a couple of Power Bars for lunch. I fished a bit and caught a flounder that I later learned was a keeper since it was over 12 inches in length. I paddled across the ICW and trolled up a ladyfish. Then I caught a beautiful spotted trout, which was a keeper, but out of season. Next, I caught a crevelle jack and tried live lining with it for a while. Finally, I caught a couple of catfish. I had 4 strong runoffs mixed in. I went through 4 jigs during the 6 and a half hour outing. After cleaning up my gear at the kayak rack and at our RV, I took a shower. We ate an early pasta dinner and went over to the clubhouse to help decorate for Christmas. We spent a busy couple of hours working on constructing and lighting an artificial tree. We were both tired after we returned to the RV.

Wednesday, December 2

I dreamed up a new workout for today. I got up at 6:00 AM and moved quickly through breakfast and getting my Cytomax mixed. I planned to do a modified medley workout consisting of a 10K bike ride, a 10K run, a 10K bike ride, and a 10K run. The 12.4 miles of running was an attempt to ramp up toward the Naples half marathon on January 17. Meanwhile, Cathy went to her exercise class and then a walk. I decided to take it very easy on this workout, striving for endurance rather than speed. I did the first 10K bike ride at 12.2 mph. It was warm and humid, so I got rid of my shirt for the rest of the workout. I ran the first 10K leg at 9:27 min/mi. I took off my GPS watch for the rest of the workout. I rode an easy second 10K bike leg and then did a 5K run with a short pit stop and then another 5K run. I was well hydrated and comfortably sweating during the last running leg. After lunch, we drove downtown, looking for the Fancy Nancy store supposedly on Third Street. We found that it is gone. We headed to Walmart, looking for Fancy Nancy books and to get a key made. We couldn't find any books and a computer glitch made it impossible to get a key made, so we drove to Sunshine Ace at Rattlesnake Hammock. I got the XTerra key made and picked up some fishing jigs. When we got back, I finished paying bills and we ordered some gifts online. We went to Happy Hour on the bridge. After a quick shower, we went to a surprisingly sparse Bonefish Grill for a great dinner at the bar. Upon return, we finished viewing "Roger Corman's Frankenstein Unbound", a quirky film with a good cast. Then we viewed an old favorite of mine: "Swordfish", an excellent film and fabulous vehicle for John Travolta. We put the air on in case it rained overnight.

Thursday, December 3

I took a rest day today due to unsettled weather. Cathy went to an exercise class. I worked on Christmas gifts on the Internet. Later in the morning, we went to Starbucks and Publix for some shopping. After lunch, Cathy played bridge with three other women. I did a few crossword puzzles on line and generally chilled out. We grilled burgers for an early dinner and then went to the clubhouse at 6:30 PM to finish decorating for Christmas. When we returned, we viewed a very good movie, "Max Payne." I also watched (again) the very tedious "Vertical Limit."

Friday, December 4

I got up at 6:00 AM and hurried through breakfast as I tried to get outside before the rain started. I had planned a tempo run and the only problem was to tame my mind and let my body perform. I walked for about a half mile and then started the 5K run. The intention was to start easy and pick up the speed for each mile of the run. I succeeded:

As I stretched after the run, the rain started. Cathy went to her exercise class. We drove to Home Depot to pick up caulk for the shower, bamboo stakes and saucers for our orchids, and a white bird-of-paradise plant. There was a cloudburst while we were in the garden shop, but we were able to stay dry under the roof. By the time we had checked out, the rain had let up. When we got back, I staked the orchids and caulked the shower. After lunch, we drove in a light rain to Oakes Farm, the public library, the Waterside Shops, and to Coldwater Creek in the Mercado to do some rainy day shopping. When we returned, the rain continued at varying degrees of intensity. I cooked my quinoa, sweet onion, dates, and walnuts meal and grilled chicken for Cathy. We re-viewed "Dazed and Confused' and then viewed the excellent western, "Appaloosa." By the time we got to bed, the rain started to be very intense and continued to pelt us for several hours. I had trouble sleeping through the noise.

Saturday, December 5

This was a chilly, windy day. Everything outside was flooded due to the overnight rain. I took the down time to finally clean out my huge, multi-year email inbox. Cathy did a weights workout. We took a walk before lunch. After lunch, Cathy went to Publix for some shopping. We watched the many football games during the afternoon. I had a gnocchi and broccoli rabe dinner while Cathy ate a nuked frozen lasagne.

Sunday, December 6

The day started windy and chilly. I decided to do a medley workout. I began wearing a fleece for the first 10K bike ride and added a winter hat for the first 5K run. I kept the fleece on for the second 10K bike ride, but stripped it off for the second 5K run and third 10K bike ride. On the third 5K run, I went shirtless and kept the shirt off for the last 10K bike ride. I felt really good for all of the running legs, and did some good times:

After lunch, we drove downtown and set up our NASCAR chairs in Cambier Park for the Naples Band Christmas concert. We stopped into Starbucks just before the concert started. When we got back to the RV, we worked on our Christmas card and ordered 100 postcards from Snapfish. We went back downtown for dinner at Sushi Thai Too. After dinner, we worked on our "insert" for the Christmas card.

Monday, December 7

This was a nice warm day with light wind. Cathy went to her exercise class. I worked on ordering gifts online. When Cathy got back, we walked for 3.5 miles along the airport. As Cathy prepared lunch, I got my fishing gear together. After lunch, we drove to Publix for some shopping and then to the bait store for a dozen shrimp. When returned, I launched my kayak at 2:00 PM for a rather short fishing paddle. I only went as far as the beginning of the ICW and only caught a couple of catfish. Cathy went to the bridge for Happy Hour; I landed my kayak at 5:30 PM, as the sun was setting. I cleaned up my gear at the kayak racks and at the RV. After a shower, I cooked my quinoa dinner and grilled chicken for Cathy. We viewed the mindlessly exciting "Death Race" during and after dinner.

Tuesday, December 8

I got off to a slow start for this beautiful day. Cathy went to her exercise class while I did some crossword puzzles, hydrated with a quart of Cytomax, and ingested a couple of Gu packs. I did situps and pushups and then did a 5 mile tempo run. I did a classic tempo workout:

I was very happy with my pace in the 5th mile and the fact that I felt good during the whole workout. I also walked for about 1.5 miles. Cathy went to a women's luncheon, so I ate alone in the RV. After Cathy returned, we packed up some gear and walked into town. We stopped at Starbucks and put in a dinner reservation at Altin's restaurant for 6:30 PM so we could watch the Christmas parade. We continued to the beach, where conditions were ideal. We both napped a bit and then I walked about a mile down to the fishing pier. I walked out on the pier and watched a bunch of fishermen catching nothing while fish splashed all around. I also saw some dolphins cavorting nearby. As I walked back up the beach, a bald eagle flew over, wheeled and dove down an scooped up a fish from the Gulf right in front of me. I was too much in awe to snap a photo. We watched the sunset, a dolphin swimming near us, and then headed back into town. We showed up at Altin's a bit early, but were shortly seated at a table with a good view of the long, long parade. The evening temperature was 77 with light wind, so the thousands of furry Santa hats seemed out of place. We enjoyed a good dinner with very friendly service. After dinner and before the parade was over, we walked back to the campground. We viewed a bit of TV and then I took a late shower and headed to bed. During the day and evening, I walked and ran for about 16 miles.

Wednesday, December 9

I wanted to get out fishing and paddling before some predicted bad weather later in the week. Cathy went to her exercise class while I readied my gear. I went to the bait store at about 9:30 AM and bought a dozen shrimp. I launched my kayak at 10:00 AM and headed down Rock Creek. I could feel the brisk south wind and had to fight my way down Naples Bay to the ICW. I crossed to the west side of Dollar Bay and found a good beach for a lunch stop and for fishing. I caught seven catfish from that beach before the fish bite turned off. I got back in the kayak and trolled for a while and then headed back across the ICW for some more trolling on the way home. I hooked up with four high leaping ladyfish, one of which chopped off my line. I put a new jig on and caught a spotted trout (out of season). I finally headed back up Naples Bay around 4:00 PM. I had the wind and current at my back and made a speedy return. I landed at about 5:00 PM after seven hours and 12.5 miles. Cathy went to the bridge for Happy Hour while I cleaned my gear and took a shower. We had tortellini for dinner and viewed "Julie and Julia", a very good film with two great actresses.

Thursday, December 10

I awoke at 6:00 AM and took my time getting going. I did a couple of crossword puzzles while Cathy went to her exercise class. Then, I did situps and pushups and went out for a 5K tapering run at 8:47 min/mile with negative splits. Cathy was out walking, so I joined her for the last half. We discussed the adventure that I wanted to accomplish with Son Bill, and I suggested the Atlanta Marathon that he had signed up for on March 21. When we got back to the RV, I registered for the race. By late morning, it was a hot and humid day, so I put up the awning and we ate lunch outside. After lunch, we drove to the Naples on the Run store to get my packet for Saturday's 5K. Then, after gassing up the car, we drove to North Naples Regional Park for H1N1 shots. There were a lot of people there for the free vaccinations, but the wait didn't seem too long. Next, we stopped at the Coastland Mall to get some ideas for Christmas gifts for various friends and relatives. I decided that we could do better online, so we headed back to the RV. We shopped on the Internet for a while after we got back and then got ready and went to Carrabbas for dinner. We sat at the counter and chatted with a friendly guy named Bob from Marco Island. When we returned, we viewed an old movie, "The Assignment", which was a good action film with a great cast. A strong wind made me put down the awning.

Friday, December 11

I slept in until 6:20 AM. After breakfast, Cathy went to her exercise class while I worked on online gifts and ordered several for friends. I aslked Cathy to take a "race" photo of me for a FaceBook posting for early Saturday morning. We took a 3.5 mile walk before lunch. After lunch, we stopped by a Walmart Supercenter to check on an item and then drove to Turner River Road to look at wildlife. The river was quite high, so there weren't a lot of mud banks for alligators to rest upon. We did see anhingas, wood storks (pics: 1, 2), and other assorted birds. We viewed from the small wooden boardwalk and also from spots up Turner River Road. I noticed that our heat gauge was up in the "H" range after some time of idling the engine. We will have to get that checked out. Once we got the car moving, the temperature returned to normal. I checked the fan belt and it was OK. We stopped at the Fakahatchee Strand to walk the boardwalk and view wildlife.We saw a small alligator, a bald eagle flying, and heard a barred owl with its "Who, who, who cooks for you?" call. We stopped at Starbucks on the way home. We grilled burgers for dinner and viewed a couple of "The Daily Show" recordings. Later, we went over some past "Happy Holidays" reports to answer some questions about where we were and what we were doing. I set my iPhone alarm for 5:00 AM.

Saturday, December 12

I awoke at 4:30 AM and climbed out of bed. I made breakfast and drank a quart of Cytomax to accompany the oatmeal and coffee. I left around 5:45 AM and drove up North Airport Pulling Road. After some fumbling around, I finally found out where to park for the Shark Shootout 5K. I got on the first shuttle and had a short walk to the registration area within the Tiburon Golf Club and Ritz Carlton grounds. Everything was so clean, it seemed a shame to walk on anything. I picked up my racing chip and fastened it to my left sneaker (the right sneaker is reserved for my car key). I did some warmup running and then found a beautiful lawn to do situps on while waiting for the start. Greg Norman started the race by saying "You have to run 5K, so go." Everyone was a bit caught off guard by the unusual way to start a footrace. I felt really good while running and finished with an average pace of 8:04 min/mile. When I had almost reached the finishing chute, I heard footsteps behind and decided to kick it in and hold off the other runner. I learned later that it was a 15 year old girl from Naples. I was first of seven in the 65-69 males age group and won a bottle of Greg Norman wine as my prize. Also, I finished 142nd out of 397 runners. I took one of the last shuttles back to the parking lot. Almost everyone on the bus was carrying a bottle of wine for placing. I had forgotten my iPhone, so I couldn't talk to Cathy until I drove back to the RV and found her doing laundry. We went for a 3.5 mile walk before lunch. After lunch, Cathy took a nap while I put the bike rack and bikes on the XTerra for tomorrow. We got dressed for partying and headed to Happy Hour on the bridge at 5:00 PM. Afterward, we went to the campground Christmas Party at the clubhouse. The tree that we had helped trim on two evenings looked good. Everyone was in a festive mood. I brought a banana, a cup of yogurt, some dates and walnuts, and seltzer water for my dinner. The rest of the participants ate meat, potatoes, and fixings from the buffet line. We enjoyed dancing and conversation.

Sunday, December 13

I got up at 6:00 AM and prepared breakfast. I worked out most of the Sunday Times crossword puzzle before I had to organize our gear and pack up for a day of adventure in Sanibel Island with my sister-in-law Shannon and her husband Charley. We left at 9:00 AM and had an easy drive to Sanibel. We were a bit early, so we stopped at Sanibel Coffee Bean to get a cappuccino. We met Shannon and Charlie at Tarpon Bay Explorers, where they rented a couple of bicycles. I removed our bikes from the rack and the four of us cycled through the Ding Darling Refuge. We saw a flock of white pelicans and a roseate spoonbill. We ate a delicious lunch, prepared by Shannon, at Bowman's Beach. We stopped in the Visitors Center before returning to Tarpon Bay Explorers at about 4:00 PM. We went to the Lazy Flamingo for a snack of chicken wings, conch fritter, and peel and eat shrimp. We parted company and left just before sunset. We drove directly to Publix for some shopping. We bought a small frozen pizza for dinner. I also ate some dates and walnuts. We found a Blockbuster Express vending machine in Publix where DVDs cost $1 per night. We rented "The Code" and watched it during and after dinner. We found it too complicated and mostly boring.

Monday, December 14

I had mixed 104 ounces of Cytomax on Sunday to get ready for a medley run today. I got out before 8:00 AM for situps and pushups and then headed out on my bike for the workout. It was warm and humid from the start and moved into hot and humid as I did legs of the workout. I rode the first leg with a shirt on and then did the rest sans shirt. I felt really good and was amazed at my time in the first 5K run @ 8:18 minutes/mile. I was just running relaxed and not pushing at all. The whole workout:

10K bike: 13.2 mph 5K run: 8:18 min/mi 10K bike: 13.5 mph 5K run: 8:26 min/mi 10K bike: 13.6 mph 5K run: 8:28 min/mi 10K bike: 13.6 mph

The temperature reached 86 degrees by the time I was finished. I put out the awning and then we ate lunch outside. After lunch, we drove to the post office to mail some items and pick up postcard stamps for our Christmas cards. Then we drove to the NCH Wellness Center to check out the facility. This very upscale gym is only 1.5 miles from our campground, easily reachable on foot or on bicycle. We loved the multitude of group exercise and yoga classes and the locker rooms. It also features a great swimming pool and whirlpool baths in each of the locker rooms. We purchased a $100, 14 visit card to try out the programs. We intend to join as monthly members after we get back from the holidays. We drove to Starbucks and Publix for a few items before returning to the RV. We attended Happy Hour at the bridge. I cooked my quinoa meal and we viewed "Liberty Stands Still" during and after dinner.

Tuesday, December 15

I awoke at the usual time and started getting my fishing stuff together. Cathy went to her exercise class. I Drove to Naples RV to pick up some #921 light bulbs and then to Walmart to buy four gallons of RV antifreeze and a pack of fishing bobbers. I stopped by the bait store for a dozen shrimp on the way back. Then I headed out at around 10:00 AM for a fishing paddle down to the ICW. It was a beautiful, hot day out on Naples Bay. I stopped for some fishing and lunch at a shell beach near Dollar Bay. As soon as I tossed a live shrimp in with the bobber, I caught a small gar. I only caught four catfish on the rest of the trip. I was out for 6 hours. By the time I returned to the RV, Cathy was at a step class at our new gym. Later, we went to Sushi Thai on 5th Avenue for dinner.

Wednesday, December 16

I was up at 6:00 AM and hurrying through the usual morning routine to get out on my 5 mile tempo run. Cathy went off to her exercise class. It was warm and humid when I ran a great tempo exercise:

I was particularly happy with the sub-8 minute 5th mile. Late in the morning, Cathy prepared a fruit bowl for our neighbors, Jerry and Lou, who accidentally had their electricity disconnected for over 24 hours. After our lunch, I drained the fresh water tank and loaded it with four gallons of RV antifreeze. Then, we did a session of present wrapping and loading the back of the XTerra for our trip north. We drove to the gym for Cathy to do a step class and for me to do a yoga class, my first in 7 years. I enjoyed the class, where I found most of the moves familiar. I took a long shower while Cathy did half of a Zumba class. We stopped at Starbucks on the way back to the RV. I had red beans and rice for dinner. We viewed "The Mist", which was a pretty good horror movie.

Thursday, December 17

I woke shortly after 6:00 AM and got to work on crossword puzzles. It was warm, humid, and threatening to storm at any minute as unstable air moved our way. We drove to the post office to mail a few items, to Walmart to buy a yoga mat for me, and to Starbucks and Publix for some shopping. After lunch we went for a 3.5 mile walk. Later, we packed up our gear and headed to the gym for Cathy's 4:30 PM step class. T-storms were close by as we entered the gym. I was planning to use the whirlpool in the men's locker room, but it was temporarily closed. I took two showers, one to shave, and dressed for the 5:30 PM Pilates class. I sat in the locker room and watched MSNBC for a while and then set up our two mats in Room 1. Cathy joined me in the Pilates class, which involved some exercises that Becky uses at North Beach Fitness Center back in North Cape May. We had a good core workout. I stayed for the following yoga class by the same teacher. Cathy went off for a shower. The yoga class involved a couple of positions new to me, but mostly covered familiar ground. I took a quick shower afterward. We drove to Alice's Sweetwater Grill for dinner. I had a Caesar salad with grouper; Cathy had lobster fritters. We both had clam and shrimp chowder. We started viewing "Matinee" when we returned. We closed up the RV before going to bed in case of overnight rain.

Friday, December 18

It started to rain in the early morning and poured for most of the morning. Several streets in Naples were flooded, we heard. For our part, with the hard rain, lightning, and tornado watch, we hunkered down and spent time on our computers. After an early lunch, we drove to the Regal 20 to see "Invictus", a great movie done by Clint Eastwood. I thought it was going to be a purely political movie, but was pleasantly surprised. After the movie, we went to AAA to get passport photos and applications for our 10 year renewal. Then we drove to Great Cuts for holiday trims. We had to wait a half hour, so I grabbed a cappuccino at the Starbucks next door and we shopped a bit in the Publix nearby. After the haircuts, we headed back to the RV. We had a pasta dinner.

Saturday, December 19

I got up at 5:00 AM and drank a quart of Cytomax with breakfast. At 6:20 AM, I drove to Marco Island for the 5 Mile Hill Run. It was a cool and windy morning, perfect for running as it turned out. I felt very comfortable in the race, even on the 17 small hills. My split times were good for me:

I placed third in the 65-69 age group out of 8 runners and won a glass and a ribbon. I stopped at Starbucks on the way back to the RV. After lunch, we went for a walk. Then we drove to the Walmart Supercenter on Collier Blvd to buy a few items. We went to Happy Hour on the bridge and met Bud and Marty's son Larry and his wife. We talked about plans for a kayak trip on Monday with Larry and his two children. I cooked my quinoa meal and grilled chicken for Cathy. We watched a weird, but fun, movie called "Mood Swingers."

Sunday, December 20

I got up at the usual time, ate breakfast, and started in on the Times crossword puzzle. It took me about 90 minutes, which is fast for me. I realized that my only pair of jeans was pretty raggedy, so we went to Beall's to buy a new pair of Wranglers. We went to Walmart to get me a new hairbrush to replace the one I left in our gym. On the way back, we stopped at Oakes Farm to buy the makings for a fruit basket which Cathy made for our neighbors Jerry and Lou. After lunch, we walked to the beach via Starbucks. The temperature stayed in the 60s and the north wind made it seem even chillier. When we got back, I put in a vacation stop for the newspaper. Also, I prepared some Cytomax for Monday's workout. I also did some packing before taking a shower and dumping the waste tanks. We went to dinner at Bonefish Grill and sat at the bar as usual. We enjoyed watching the Steelers comeback victory over the Packers among all of the Green Bay fans in the restaurant. When we returned, we watched the hilarious "The Hangover."

Monday, December 21

It was chilly and breezy when I awoke and into the morning hours. I planned a modified medley workout, involving 12.4 miles on the bike and on the run in four segments. Cathy went to her exercise class, while I did situps in the RV and put a long sleeve shirt over my short sleeve shirt. I was really looking forward with excitement to this workout, which I think will form the basis of my upcoming 10 miler, half marathons, and marathon. The workout went really well:

10K bike: 11.7 mph
10K   run: 9:11 min/mi
10K bike: 11.4 mph
10K   run: 8:57 min/mi

The 12th mile of running was completed in 8:44 minutes. I was very comfortable throughout and thoroughly enjoyed the training. While I was exercising, Bud and Marty's son Larry called Cathy and called off the scheduled kayaking because of the cold and the wind. After lunch, I packed the rest of my things and packed the XTerra. I also put my bike on the rack. We went to Happy Hour on the bridge to say goodbye until next year. We viewed the very good film, "Powder Blue."

Tuesday, December 22

It was in the 40s when we awoke at 5:30 AM. We got everything squared away in the RV and headed to Starbucks for breakfast. After a quick meal, we were back on the road by 6:40 AM. Traffic was good except for a stretch of I4 around Orlando which was slow. We stopped at a Cracker Barrel for lunch where we ate light meals. We arrived at our La Quinta motel outside of Savannah at 2:30 PM. We checked in, got organized, and headed into Savannah. We parked on River Road, next to the Savannah River where we saw a seaplane land. We walked along the river's edge and passed the "Waving Girl" statue. Then we went inside of the Hyatt Hotel and was an enormous gingerbread house, the largest edible object I've ever seen. We walked around the historic district, by the Mercer House, and into Forsythe Park where I spotted a live version of the emblem of South Carolina. We walked back to River Road and ate dinner at the Shrimp Factory. We were back in the motel by 8:00 PM and watched a bit of TV before an early bedtime.

Wednesday, December 23

We got up at 5:30 AM and showed up for our free breakfast at 6:00 AM. We were on the road by 6:40 AM once again. Traffic was amazingly light, so we made great time to Carrboro, arriving at 11:30 AM. Katie and Tom were out for a bike ride, so we carried our stuff inside and drove into Chapel Hill to eat lunch at Butternut Squash Restaurant. Then we headed over to Walmart to pick up the table and chairs for Rachel. When we arrived back at the house, Katie and Tom were there. I went for a chilly and hilly 5K run in the neighborhood. Then, Tom and I went out for a stop at Starbucks and a haircut for Tom. We continued on to pick up the kids at daycare. Back at the house, we all enjoyed an eclectic dinner. The Christmas decorations looked great. After the kids were in bed, we watched "The Hangover" on the new home theater. I got to bed around 11:30 PM.

Christmas Eve

We got up around 6:20 AM and went downstairs. Tom was already up. I made coffee and oatmeal. Rachel joined us and then Katie and Eric. After breakfast, Tom, Rachel, and I biked into Chapel Hill and stopped at Caribou Coffee. It was 29 degrees on the ride over, so we were mighty cold when we arrived. Rachel had hot chocolate, I had a cappuccino, and all of us had snacks. Rachel and I drew on a white board for a while as we waited for the morning to warm up. The ride on the way back was much more tolerable. Rachel looked very cute on her tag-along bike, attached to the back of Tom's mountain bike. One of my hand brakes was too frosty to function. When we arrived back at the house, Katie made a pumpkin roll. We ate lunch and then played with the kids until it was time to clean up and get ready for church. Cathy, Katie, Rachel, and I left at 4:15 PM for the 5:00 PM service at the Holy Family Episcopal Church in Chapel Hill. The program for the service showed a lot of Christmas Carols for the congregation to sing. I sent a photo of a funny typo on the program up to FaceBook. The children of the church put on a very creative slide show during the gospel. Rachel received communion in both forms: bread and wine. The service last for an hour and twenty minutes, but we left five minutes early to get back on the road. Tom was the chef for a wonderful Christmas Eve feast of Shrimp Etouffee, corn bread, and other goodies. Eric went to bed and the rest of us enjoyed the meal. After cleanup, Katie and Rachel hang the stockings at the fireplace and readied some snacks for Santa and his reindeer. The reading of A Visit from St. Nicholas topped out the evening for Rachel. Tom wasn't finished with his work as he worked to put together a table and chair set that Cathy and I bought for the kids. I helped to finish constructing the table. Soon, the living room was ready for Christmas and we all went to bed.

Christmas Day

I woke up at 6:00 AM and stealthily went downstairs. I made a pot of coffee and oatmeal and waited for others to awaken. Cathy came first, then Katie, Rachel, and Eric. Tom came down last. Finally, we all entered the living room and enjoyed the presents. Rachel and Eric enjoyed their table and chairs. After the presents, we had a sumptuous brunch, where I started the theme of making a glutton of myself for the day. Katie and I did a yoga class to a DVD in the exercise room. It rained all day and the creek behind the house became a stream and then a river. I did a bit of help with the turkey dinner, but Tom was the chef. We had a great meal and I ate a prodigious amount of acorn squash with risotto and zucchini bread. I topped it all off with a couple of slices of pumpkin bread and a couple of pieces of fudge cookies. Cathy went to bed early because she wasn't feeling well. I stayed up a while watching bowl games.

Saturday, December 26

I got up at my normal hour in spite of a nasty sore throat I had been developing. I had planned to do a bit of a medley workout, but ended up with a simple 5K hilly bike ride. I took an early shower and then we ate lunch. We left in two cars at about 1:30 PM to travel to Winston-Salem for a triple baptism of Cathy's sister Marianne and husband Bob's new grandchildren. The presiding priest was a rental, but did a great job. At one point, he had us all line up and bless all three babies with thumbs on their foreheads. We attended a reception afterward at Steph and Will Sturgil's neighborhood clubhouse. Cathy and I had Rachel in our car for both ways. The way back seemed like a long, dark ride to me. Katie and I made two lasagne casseroles in parallel before heading to bed.

Sunday, December 27

I felt worse when I awoke at 6:00 AM. After breakfast, Rachel and I drove to Harris Teeter for some shopping and a stop at the inside Starbucks. We accidentally left the store without paying for Rachel's toothpaste; Rachel was more upset than I was. When we got back, I went out for a 10K hilly walk. When I returned, Tom's parents, sister, and her boyfriend had arrived with a load of Christmas presents. Son Bill and Stacey and the kids arrived in time for lunch. After the Leitchs left, Tom, Katie, and Son Bill went out for a bike ride. I grabbed a shower on the third floor before the Stoops arrived late in the afternoon to complete the family gathering. We all had a lasagne dinner, using a girls table in addition to the main dining table. Tom set up the exercise room with three bikes on trainers. After dinner, we slowly got the kids to bed in stages and finally the adults joined in. Cathy and I set up on the couch in the basement level.

Monday, December 28

I got up at 6:00 AM with a full-fledged chest cold. I looked on the Runner's World website and found that they recommend no running with a chest cold. I kept popping extra strength Tylenol to help deal with the cold. I sometimes felt as if I had a fever. This was the day to celebrate Eric's first birthday. Cathy, Alex, and I did a big shopping trip to Lowe's Foods, where we picked up Eric's cake. Then I went with Tom to IP3 to pick up four pizzas for lunch. After we ate lunch, we got into giving Christmas gifts (videos: 1,2). Son Bill gave me a very serious Camelback pack. He had intended it for our "Cactus to Clouds" hike, which we cancelled, but it will prove useful in other contexts. Marianne, Bob, Erin, and her baby Rob arrived to help celebrate Eric's birthday. Eric had his cake ceremony and smeared icing all over his face. Later, he developed some temporary welts where the blue food coloring touched his face. After the Bialases and Erin had departed, Phil and Bill went out for a run. Tom and I headed over to the landfill with a hug load of trash and recyclables. Afterward, I drove to Harris Teeter for a cappuccino at Starbucks. Everyone else had tacos for dinner; I had red beans and rice. We slept in the basement again, retiring at about 10:00 PM.

Tuesday, December 29

I slept in until 7:00 AM after finally giving in to my chest cold. I resigned myself to no exercise workouts and no race on New Years Eve. We all decided to go to the North Carolina Life and Science Museum, a wonderful inside/outside facility in Durham. Katie and Tom bought a yearly membership as we went in. We explored the inside of the main building first. Then we walked over to the butterfly building, which was comfortably warm and humid and featured some very exotic tropical plants in addition to the butterflies. Then, we went outside to the Dinosaur Walk, where all of the kids (except Eric) climbed onto one of the dinosaurs. We had a surprisingly good lunch at the museum cafe and then everybody went to the playground except for Katie, Tom, Eric, and I, who walked on a wetlands boardwalk and viewed wolves and bears. Then all of us went back into the main building to let the kids run around the Soundscape room, view some more animals and the see the space exhibit. When we returned to Tom and Katie's house, Tom, Phil, and Son Bill joined Matt Lesesky for a 35 mile bike ride. Later, Bill and Stacey treated all of us to takeout Thai food from Twisted Noodle. I had a very good yellow curry with tofu. After dinner, I ordered some dry bags from an Amazon.com vendor.

Wednesday, December 30

I slept in again and still was stuffed up from the cold. Katie brought Eric to daycare. I was planning to take a walk, but it never got warm enough to make it worthwhile. I helped Son Bill and Stacey get packed up. We had an early lunch and then The Georgia McArthurs headed south. Everyone except Tom and I went to the aquatic center. I worked on bills, crossword puzzles, and my journal. I took a shower before the swimmers got back. After everyone cleaned up and dressed, we all went to Crook's Corner for some southern eating. The food is good, but it's a bit on the pricey side. Son Bill called during dinner to say that they had arrived back home.

New Year's Eve

I awoke a bit after 6:00 AM and felt a bit better. Katie drove Eric to daycare again. We and the Stoops drove in two cars to Southpoint Mall. We stopped at REI first to buy a can of MSR fuel for my camping stove. We all wandered around the mall for a while and then went outside and walked to the theater complex to buy movie tickets. We bought tickets in two groups: 12:50 PM Avatar 3D for Phil and I and 2:55 PM Chipmunks for the rest of the group. We went into Barnes and Noble to browse a bit. I got a cappuccino and the kids got cocoa. We moved to the inside mall and browsed a couple of stores. Then we ate various lunches at the food court. I had a hummus wrap. Phil and I left to go to our movie, which was an awesome spectacle of picture and sound. I also found the story to be rich enough. We all met after our movies and picked up desserts for dinner. It started to rain, so mmwe loaded our cars and headed for Tom and Katie's. I dropped Cathy and went to Harris Teeter for a couple of items, including a cappuccino. I also gassed the XTerra. I followed Katie and Eric back into the neighborhood. I showered, ate some appetizers, and partially packed the car, including loading the gbike on back. We had a wonderful Cincinnati chili dinner. I helped clear the table, ate fruit and yogurt for dessert, and worked on the journal. Later, we watched the Peach bowl with Virginia Tech handily beating Tennessee. I watched the ball drop on Times Square as I read Outliers on my iPhone. I slept the sleep of the innocent and just.

t was a great year. We enter the new decade of 2010 with high expectations.


William G. McArthur