When we drove to Mount Dora to meet our friends and tour the Dora Canal, we passed through the small town of Yalaha. In Yalaha there is a rather large, German bakery that is known for their breads and desserts. We read in the newspaper that Yalaha Bakery had outdoor entertainment every Saturday. Being big fans of breads and desserts, we hopped in the car and headed out there.
Outside, they had bratwurst and sauerkraut to eat and a bluegrass band for entertainment. This little bakery out in the middle of nowhere was packed! We have found that music is a big drawing card for snowbirds in Florida. In the photo below, you can see part of the crowd gathered to listen to bluegrass.
Inside the bakery, the delicious-looking baked goods were also a big draw since customers were lined up 4 deep. It was hard to get a good photo between all the people, but here is a small part of the selection.
We had a difficult time deciding what we wanted, but we ended up with a loaf of kalamati olive bread, a piece of Black Forest cake for Margery, and a piece of Sacher Torte (chocolate torte with apricot filling) for Paul for dessert. The desserts were as good as they looked. As you can see, there is already a bite missing form each piece because once we got them out of the box, we couldn't even wait until after the photo to try them!
After the surgery on Margery's left knee at the end of January, she had a lot of difficulty getting comfortable in the recliner in the motor home. The seat just hit her wrong in the back of the thigh and knee. Although it was a nice Flexsteel recliner, we lamented almost from the beginning that we didn't get Ultraleather instead of cloth for easier cleaning. Now that she was finding it uncomfortable, we started searching online to see what else might be available. We noticed most of the newer motor homes are using a Euro recliner with an ottoman instead of the larger, all-in-one recliner like we had. A lot of people that replace recliners in RVs go to Lazy Boy, but we couldn't find one near us. We did, however, find a company about an hour away near Tampa that did RV makeovers and that carried replacement RV furniture so we took a drive down. Well, they only had one REALLY comfortable recliner they called a "stressless" recliner from a company by the name of Villa. The only problem was that it was REALLY expensive.
That prompted more online searching, and we found another company from Norway called Ekornes that also made a recliner they called stressless. There was a store in the Villages that carried Ekornes so we drove there to take a look. They had a really good selection and we initially looked at the entry-level model with the basic leather upholstery. To make a long story short, they had a floor model recliner that was a couple of levels up from the entry-level model and that had a better grade of upholstery. They offered it to us at a very good price wanting to make room for new merchandise. Although it was still more than we originally intended to spend, it was too good a deal on a VERY comfortable chair so we couldn't pass it up. There goes the tax rebate we don't even have yet. As a bonus, Paul used our bathroom scale to weigh the old recliner, which we ended up selling to our neighbor here at the campground (who just happens to a snowbird from Leechburg, PA), and it weighed 112 lbs. The new chair and ottoman together weigh 53 lbs., which is a weight savings of over 50%! The photo below shows Paul enjoying our new chair.
On February 26, we headed down to Largo Medical Center at about 5:00 am (yikes!) for the surgery on Margery's right knee. Her left knee was well on its way to complete recovery after surgery 4 weeks prior and it was able to handle the task of now being the "strong" knee after the surgery on her second knee. The right knee got partial resurfacing as planned. The photo below shows Margery in her hospital room shortly before we checked out.
Again, the first week was the hardest; but the experience with the first knee has helped us know what to expect, how to better manage pain, and how to better reduce bruising and swelling. As with the first knee, Margery ditched the walker after about 3 days. We put the walker out front of the motor home with a "Free" sign on it and it was gone within the hour. Paul is so proud of how well Margery has done through all of this. She has been a real trooper and has been very diligent with exercises and is committed to rapid recovery. And from Margery's point of view, Paul has been so supportive. He's been a great caregiver and coach.
While taking time for Margery's recuperation, Paul cleaned out and organized a couple of the outside storage bays, replaced a leaking support strut on one of the storage bay doors, modified a pair of replacement windshield wiper blades to fit the motor home, climbed up on the roof to remove and clean the roof vent covers, and inspected the roof joint caulking while he was up there. Margery continued her daily exercises and gradually increased the length of her daily walks.
At the beginning of March, some of the snowbirds began leaving the campground. For the most part, however, their spaces were taken by others who were just arriving so the campground remained pretty full. Although some of the new arrivals only stayed a day or two (they are probably on their way north from somewhere farther south in Florida), most had patio mats, chairs, and grills spread out and they stayed a week or two. Some of the new arrivals seemed a little younger and were probably not yet retired. There were even some younger kids, probably on spring break, visiting grandparents. During the winter, the campground is a 55+ park, but youngsters are allowed to visit. By the middle of March, there were a growing number of empty sites as many of the snowbirds began heading home in time for Easter.
We originally extended our stay in Florida from the beginning of March until just before Easter because of Margery's knee surgery. However, the week before Easter, Paul was hit with the respiratory version of the flu that was NOT covered by this year's flu shot so we extended our stay until after Easter. Paul tried his best to count his blessings...like he didn't have to push himself to go to work and we we weren't currently 'traveling'...but five days in bed and 9 days of feeling really crummy made it difficult. This was a stubborn flu that hit a fair number in the campground. We are so grateful that Margery did not get it, too. We used copious amounts of hand sanitizer and antiseptic wipes.
As Paul's flu subsided, we were finally in a position where we felt like making our spring travel plans, which included a leisurely drive north and a swing through Pittsburgh at the end of April for a short visit with Lora and J. Michael and a few doctor appointments we weren't able to fit in last August. However, shortly after we had made our doctor appointments, we received word that J. Michael's father, who had been recuperating from a bone marrow transplant in his second battle with acute leukemia, suffered an irreparable brain hemorrhage. An e-mail sent out by Lora stated: "The whole family and some friends were there the rest of the afternoon and through the evening. We sang, listened to the Word, told stories, and cried. It was a painful, but precious time. He slipped away with his loved ones gathered around him. We rejoice knowing that he is whole and with the Lord, but he will be greatly missed."
We spent a day evaluating our options in light of our original plans to arrive in Pittsburgh in late April. Do we leave the motor home in Florida, share the driving in the the Saturn to Pittsburgh for the funeral, stay with Lora and J. Michael a couple of days, then return to Florida and start a more leisurely journey north in the motor home? Or, do we hurriedly pack up the motor home and have Paul (who was still not feeling his best) do all of the 20-hour drive over two days, arriving a few weeks before spring. Economics, combined with our love for traveling with all the comforts of home at our fingertips, caused us to opt to check out of Blueberry Hill 12 hours later and leave for Pittsburgh with the motor home. We experienced God's grace in so many ways...the well-known, end-of-March spring break/snowbird exodus from Florida wasn't too bad traffic-wise, we made excellent travel time in pretty good weather, we found easily accessible campgrounds that were open, and Paul had the stamina to make the drive. We made a one-night stop just north of Charlotte, NC and made it to the KOA in Washington, PA, mid-afternoon the next day.
As we write this, we are so happy we made the effort to be here for the funeral. J. Michael's father was a simple man who loved people and loved the Lord. He lived a life of service and touched many lives, not only in the Life's Key Prison Ministry he founded with his wife, Mary Ann, but also as a teacher of God's Word. What a rich legacy he leaves. He was not only a servant of the Lord but a fun-loving, wise, devoted, and caring husband, father, and grandfather. He will be missed by all who knew him.
We plan to stay in Pittsburgh for the memorial service on Saturday. It will also give Paul a chance to continue his recuperation. We then have three weeks before we're due back in Pittsburgh for our previously scheduled doctor appointments when we'll park the motor home at Lora and J. Michael's. We are researching where we might go in those three weeks to re-capture spring and bring it back with us.