Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas With Long Lost Family

In the early 1800s three Chisholm brothers emigrated from the Highlands of Scotland to the Highlands of Nova Scotia. Two decided to settle in Antigonish, Nova Scotia and the other travelled on to New York. Never again to be in contact with his brothers (as far as we know). Arch's cousin, Robert is a keen family genealogist and about four years ago he found the descendants of this US Chisholm living in California and Florida and contacted them. They were as excited to learn about us as we were to learn about them. And a year later Jim Chisholm and his wife Judy travelled to Nova Scotia to meet all of us. We were unable to attend the Antigonish reunion arranged to meet Jim and Judy so they travelled to Halifax to meet us and we had a fun two days visiting with them. And we have been in touch via Facebook ever since. As an aside - I love Facebook, it is such a great way to stay in touch with far flung family and friends.

So one of the highlights of our stay here in Florida was to visit Jim and Judy. Which we did for Christmas. We travelled to their home, about two hours from where we are parked and stayed with them Dec 24 and 25 returning to Avon Park on the 26th. And what a grand time we had. In addition to a wonderful family gathering for Christmas dinner, we went to a darling little restaurant for a delicious Christmas Eve supper, attended  "Early Midnight" service at 8:30 pm - perfect for those of us who think midnight should mean 10 pm, Jim took Arch out for a fishing trip Christmas morning, and we ended the visit with lunch at a fun restaurant on the water.

Warning: lots of family pictures ahead - If you are not a Chisholm family member you may want to move on, if you are, enjoy.

Jim, Judy and Arch
Jim and Arch's great grandfathers were brothers. I think that makes them first cousins, twice removed.

Jim and Judy's home backs on this canal.

Christmas morning fishing trip
Where Jim docks his boats - one for fishing and one for pleasure trips. Needless to say, Jim loves boating.

The canal goes out to the ocean and very rich fishing grounds.

So they actually returned with fish:

Judy was very organized and had most of the food for Christmas dinner pre-prepared but spent some time adding last minute touches.

About 3 pm the family started to gather and we met a few of the next two generations of Chisholms:

Arch and Anne with the "Florida Chisholms"
From left: Colette with her dog, Molly and her parents Jennifer and Jeff Chisholm (Jeff is Jim's son), Judy and Jim, Morgan and Christian (in front) Don and Lisa Chisholm's children. Don, between Arch and me, is Jim's nephew and his wife Lisa took this picture.

Missing from the last photo but included here: Don's wife Lisa and Jennifer's dad, Charlie.

We loved Charlie

Charlie is a retired newspaper man from New York City and had lots of stories to tell. He is a widower and, through the Chisholm family met Lisa's mom, a widow and they are now an "item". How great is that.

Judy finished up last minute dinner preparations:

She was so organized the only help required was with the cleanup:

And dinner was served:


From left: Scalloped potatoes (made by Jim) green beans - stir fried and tossed with seasoning and cherry potatoes, grilled veggies, butternut squash (in the crock pot) and baked ham. All delicious and very nutritious. The kids ate at the counter and the adults at the table you see beyond the counter. Jim insisted on adding the kilted Santa to Judy's table decor :).

All in all a fun filled Christmas day and it was so great to meet even more Chisholms.

The plan for the next day was to put Tara (our dog, who was with us) in a doggie daycare and take a boat tour of the area, stopping to have lunch at a dockside restaurant. Unfortunately Tara had an attack of pancreaticis and we decided daycare would be too much so we simply drove over to the restaurant and enjoyed a farewell lunch together:

The Shrimper Grill and Raw Bar

Thanks Jim, Judy and family - what a fabulous Florida Christmas.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The World Golf Hall of Fame

We were zipping along (as much as you can `zip along` in a 38`motorhome towing a car) I95 on our way to our campground in St Augustine when I saw this building to my right:

The sign said `World Golf Hall of Fame`
Nothing would do that we visit while in St Augustine. So the next day off we went.

The complex consists of a museum, two championship golf courses:

The Slammer & Squire named for Hall of Fame members Sam (The Slammer) Snead and Gene (The Squire) Sarazen who served as consultants to course architect Bobby Weed.


The King & Bear named for its co-designers, World Golf Hall of Fame members Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. It is the first-and-only course design collaboration between two of golf's most respected and well-known ambassadors.

A PGA Tour Golf Academy, the World Golf Village - homes on both golf courses - and an Imax Theatre that appears to be included to entertain family members who are not interested in the golf. It was showing The Hobbit when we were there.

The World Junior Golf Championship was happening when we arrived so we were not able to tour the club house but did spend a couple of hours in the museum. As we entered we were greeted by a gentleman who explained what we were about to see and experience. He then offered to take our picture holding two very large drivers:

Very clever. Behind us are the logos of all the companies who sponsored the Hall of Fame. Imagine how many Facebook pages similar photos have appeared on.

The entire first floor was devoted to ``Golf`s Greatest Ambassador ``:  Bob Hope.

Then the Hall of Fame honouring golf`s greatest players was on the second floor. As we entered we were greeted by another guide who introduced us to the displays and took our picture on a replica if the famous Swilcan Bridge that connects the 1st and 18th holes on the Old Course at St Andrews in Scotland. Another photo opportunity:

Then an opportunity to putt out on the 18th hole:

Then we toured the museum which featured lots of exhibits recording the history of golf, many videos and  many, many displays of memorabilia from all of golf`s greats and a one point an opportunity to putt out in front of an audience:

Near the end of the tour was a golf simulator where Arch tested his skills on some of the world`s grea golf courses:

Next was a Wall of Fame displaying a bronze bust of each member and then an area with lockers for each member displaying items relevant to each person`s career. Finally we headed to the top of the tower you see in the first picture above. Here all of golf`s greatest trophies are displayed. This is a photo of the surroundings from the tower:

This is a great spot for any golfer to visit and well worth the admission price. If you go plan to spend at least 3 hours here. We could have stayed for the day.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

from Stuart, Florida

It is a different kind of Christmas here
Sunny and 75L (24C?) 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

BerryStacks Hydroponic U-Pick Farm

When we stopped for two days in St. Augustine, we stayed at the St John's Marketplace which included a giant flea market (never before have I seen so much stuff for sale in one place), a RV park and a hydroponic u-pick farm.

We are Passport America members and stay for 1/2 price at participating parks. The RV park, which was recommended by Linda, a friend we made at the Jekyll Island Campground, is a participating park and this, combined with Linda's recommendation, is the reason why we stopped there. We would go back again just so we could get our vegetables from the hydroponic u-pick farm.

At the entrance to the farm there was a market selling a small selection of vegetables from another farm, as well as prepared sauces, jams and pickles.

The farm occupied 5 acres of property and produced an amazing amount of food.

Everything is grown in a stacks of pots on a centre post that turns for ease of picking:

Everything is grown in a non-soil mixture and fed and watered from above:

When you arrive you are asked to use hand sanitizer (we liked that part) and are given a basket and a pair of scissors and then (if you are a first-timer) a tour of the farm and a demonstration of how to pick (ie cut) the berries and veggies. 

The main feature this time of year was the strawberries, which were plentiful and delicious.

While the farm had lots to offer we headed straight to the strawberries. What a treat this was.

When that basket was fill we moved on to other treats:

Broccoli (not quite ready)





Sugar snap and snow peas


Swiss Chard
We picked a little of everything to stock up the refrigerator, washed the berries to eat in the car, and headed out to enjoy the day. As the season progresses the farm will ave much more, including tomatoes, for sale. There is a video explaining how the veggies are grown on the St John's Marketplace website.

There were zucchini, potatoes, tomatoes, onion and garlic for sale at the little market as we entered so we purchased these to round out our veggie shopping

For supper I made a delicious fresh tomato sauce for pasta.

Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce


fresh tomatoes
fresh garlic
olive oil
fresh basil
Parmigiano Reggiano (you can use any parmesan cheese, we prefer Reggiano)


Depending on size I use 1 tomato and 1/2 head of garlic per person.

Peal the garlic cloves, place on foil, sprinkle with olive oil to moisten, wrap and cook on the grill (barbecue) until soft and lightly browned.

Chop the tomatoes (you could get "chefy" about it and peel and seed the tomatoes, but I don't)
Place on a separate piece of foil, add about 1 tablespoon olive oil per tomato, Wrap and heat on the grill. about 10 minutes, until heated through.

Cook pasta - your choice, I usually use liguini. Toss with the hot tomatoes, roasted garlic, fresh, chopped basil and parmesan cheese and serve.

We had this for supper with grilled chicken and a salad made from lettuce, fresh herbs and snow peas.

One thing we love - everywhere we go in Florida we are able to purchase fresh tomatoes WITHOUT THAT AWEFUL CENTRE CORE. What a treat that is!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Leaving Jekyll Island

One week ago today was pretty sad as we left our little home at Jekyll Island Campground to move further south. We loved our stay there.

We had a lovely, large site:
There was even room, and trees, to hang our hammock.
You can learn more about this campground at the Wheeling It blog where Nina wrote an excellent review which was our inspiration to visit Jekyll. Thanks Nina.

It was great fun discovering the special features of Jekyll:
The Driftwood Beach
This beach is created as the ocean slowly claims the sand from this area of the island and moves it to the other end.

The Secret Pond
Which serves as a rookery for the local birds who come here to spend the night.

Bird Viewing Station
To see the most birds it is best to come here just before sunset, which we did. Behind the trees you can see the club house for the golf courses. This pond is behind the driving range and should be accessed from Riverview Drive.

And then there were Jekyll Island's more well known features - you can learn all about them on the Jekyll Island website.

Our favourite was, of course, the golf courses.

Four of them. And no crowds and therefore no wait for tee off times. Our favourite was the Great Dunes Golf Course - a 9 hole course that was VERY tricky. I found this description on line:

In 1926 "Old Man" Walter Travis, the leading golf course architect of the time (and winner of the 1919 US Open), was summoned by Mr. Rockefeller and the wealthy members of the Jekyll Island Club to create the, "Best course money could purchase" His vision did not disappoint and had the club members golfing along Coastal Georgia's beach, swept with oats, natural sand barrier of the coastal dune system and the unique coastal terrain. Still in its original condition and designed BEFORE cars or carts were invented, the Great Dunes golf course highlights the alternating simplicity and difficulty that only the "Old Man" could accomplish - a direct descendent of all modern American Ocean Links courses. Don't be surprised by the smallness of the greens, for that is a remnant of the old style of golf, and gives real meaning to having a good "up and down" game. Bring your persimmon woods and hickory shafts and see how you match up to the "Old Man."

And the Christmas Tree Lighting Festival was pretty special:

And the social activities were amazing. Some organized by our fellow campers: potluck suppers, a Christmas party, ladies lunches, games nights, a meet and greet to welcome newcomers, men's coffee, etc. and some more casual - like stitch and chat - I went to chat and ended up learning to knit a pair of clog slippers from a certified knitting instructor. Thanks Consuelo!

Incidently, Consuelo is teaching a course "Lets Knit Socks" for the Jekyll Island Arts Association if you are there in the new year and want to learn from a very patient teacher.

And thanks to Linda Strid for having the patience to teach a few of us how to play Mah Jongg. Hope the lessons are going well. This is a very tricky game and a lot of fun. I am now looking for a used Mah Jongg game on line so I can continue to learn to play.

But the very best part of this campsite was the people. From Ronny, the campground manager, the campground hosts, the women in the office to our fellow campers, they were the best ever. Friendly and welcoming from the minute we arrived. Thank you all.