Storms, Sunshine and Smiles

I recently returned from a trip to Tampa, Florida.  This trip was the annual retreat for a dental study club I belong to.

For the second year in a row that my travels to Tampa were impacted by the weather.

Last year a snow storm caused a six hour delay in leaving Minnesota.  To make the most of my time, I walked around the airport.  Fun fact – if you walk to every gate of each concourse of Terminal One at MSP airport, it’s 11,266 steps and 4.6 miles.

This year, the weather in Minnesota was not a problem.  Unfortunately the weather in Florida was not so nice.  Due to strong storms and a tornado, our flight was diverted from Tampa to Melbourne, Florida (on the Atlantic side of the state) landing after 11pm.  The airport was closed, the crew was over their allowed flying time, and there was no other crew available.  After several hours, the airline eventually announced that we would be bused to Tampa but they were unable to tell us when that would happen.  So, at 1 am, with no rental cars available, we took a Lyft ride across the state.  Three and a half hours later, we finally arrived in Clearwater Beach!

Once there, we had a delightful weekend discussing all things dental, enjoying good food and walks on the beach.

On Saturday, we took a glass blowing class.  Great fun!

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George, the owner of Glass Crafters, taught us how to blow bulbs.  Using propane torches, glass frits and stringer and some “hot air”, we each had an opportunity to blow ten items. These could then be used as watering bulbs, ornaments, or just decorations. Some of our group had more hot air than I did.  Exploding bulbs make for some beautiful art!

Being very fragile, I was glad my bulbs survived the flight back to Minnesota intact.

To show them off, I cut the stems off, added bulb hangers, fused some white glass to make a mobile support, strung them with fishline and hung them in my sewing room.

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We had a great weekend, made many memories and a few crafts!

Vail – A Winter Wonderland

Okay, so I really prefer warm weather vacations.  However, having just returned from a week in Vail, Colorado, I will have to admit that the area was breathtakingly beautiful.  I hope to someday return in the summer to see what the mountain landscape looks like without all the snow.

Vail Village is a charming place, with cobblestone roads and picturesque ski lodges. Throughout the town are dozens of sculptures, wall murals and lighted decorations. My first day I spent about two hours walking around Vail Village, Lionshead Village, Cascade Village and Golden Peak.

This was our first week-long vacation in almost ten years where we were not staying someplace with a kitchen.  This meant no grocery shopping, no cooking and no dishes to wash! With restaurants abounding, each evening we selected a different place to eat.

  • Lancelot Restaurant – great weinerschnitzel
  • Almresi – here we had Austrian Hutessen – beef cooked on a flat-iron at the table, kind of a cross between grilling and sauteing
  • Up the Creek – awesome Arugula salad and Tortilla soup
  • Fall Line – the tastiest filet I have ever had!
  • Alpenrose – great German restaurant (forgot to take photos of the food here).Alpenrose

Not being a skier, I took my snowshoes along and went on several long walks.

My first trek was a guided walk through the Ford Botanical Gardens.  This walk was only about 2 miles total but was very educational. The naturalist gave some insights into the trees and plants that grow in the area.  Even though the average annual snowfall in Vail is 169 inches, the area is considered a high desert.  Due to the dry air, the snow sublimates rather than melts.  So, the amount of water available to plants is limited.  Even so, there are many lovely evergreens making the winter scenery prettier than in Minnesota with our deciduous trees.  110

On my subsequent snowshoeing walks, I headed each direction out of Vail Village.  The Gore Creek runs through Vail, so I followed the creek west one day and east the next day.  Each day, I walked for just under two miles and then headed back to the village.

For my final walk (without snowshoes), I rode Gondola One up the hill and then followed Gitalong Road and Vail Village Catwalk back down.  This path, with a few treks to get closer to some wildlife, was just under six miles in length.  Luckily it was downhill.  Unexpectedly, the downward movement made some of my muscles rather sore.

On my excursions I saw lots of wildlife as well.

We stayed at the Gasthof Gramshammer, which featured classic European ski lodge architecture.  Between a 2am fire alarm going off, the room thermostat stuck on high (we slept with the patio door open), and a constant humming noise, it was an interesting place to stay.