Florida – Old Friends – Family – And Our New Best Friend Rudy

Does Mickey live here?


We’re in Orlando, Florida. Davenport really, just outside Orlando staying with “old” friends Kirk and Deb McClellan. Kirk and Deb are ole’ sailing buddies from way back. They retired for the first time relatively early in life and took to the road, bumming their way around the US eventually settling in Florida and going to work for Mickey Mouse.


Staying with them was very relaxing as Mary demonstrates.





We meet one of their granddaughters, Victoria, who was a real joy. At first she played the shy role, but after she warmed to us it was a preview of what we have to look forward to from our own grandchildren.



Kirk and Deb are experienced retires and grandparents. so took us (grandparents and retires-in-training) under their wing for a whole week.

(when they weren’t working for you-know-who)




They took us to some of the other places to see around Orlando that tend to be overshadowed by you-know- who’s place. One of which is Bok Tower and Gardens:

“Edward William Bok (1863-1930), American editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, was born in Den Helder, Netherlands, on October 9, 1863. He came to the United States at the age of six. In 1886, he founded The Bok Syndicate Press, which led to the offer of the editorship of The Ladies’ Home Journal in 1889. Under his management, The Ladies’ Home Journal became one of the most successful and influential publications in America and the first magazine in the world to have one million subscribers. After 30 years as editor he retired in 1919. A year later he published The Americanization of Edward Bok, which won the Gold Medal of the Academy of Political and Social Science and the Joseph Pulitzer Prize for best autobiography.

On February 1, 1929, President Calvin Coolidge dedicated the Gardens in Lake Wales, Florida, that Bok had made as a gift for visitation by the American people in gratitude for the opportunity they had given him.In all the natural beauty of the Gardens, Bok believed something was missing. Remembering the glorious sound of carillons in his native Netherlands, he decided to build a beautiful Singing Tower as the focal point of the Gardens which would be crowned by a large carillon.

Edward William Bok died in Lake Wales within sight of his beloved Singing Tower on January 9, 1930, and is now buried at the base of the Tower.”

Bok Tower is a carillon (look it up I didn’t know either).

Well Ok here you go: “A carillon is a musical instrument consisting of at least two octaves of carillon bells arranged in chromatic series and played from a keyboard permitting control of expression through variation of touch.”  The largest bell was 8 tons and you can stand inside it. Bok Tower Carilon Player




And some more:

The Jaaag decided to throw us another curve by going into “engine failsafe mode” at a couple of stop lights. This shuts down the ability to accelerate and forced us to get off the road making “friends” along the way who offered encouragement by honking their horns and waving at us.

RudyWe called the Jaguar dealer to make an appointment with the service concierge. Nice young man named Corbert, who was able to get us an appointment with Rudy, our new best friend.  Unfortunately the Jaaag wouldn’t behave and it had to stay in the shop over night for observation. Rudy wasn’t able to find a cause for the “failsafe” thing but did replace the fuel filter which was almost plugged up and he check all the various sensor connections that were involved. So far we have driven about 150 miles without a recurrence. We spent several hours there and had fun looking at the pretty Jaguars and Aston-Martins. With signs on them saying: “Please DON’T TOUCH the CARS or their PAINT WORK as you non-1%er’s might leave cooties”. That last part wasn’t really on the sign. But it was fun to BREATHE on some $250,000 cars. It is not so fun driving and half expecting the car to shut down again, but we got to have a little faith.


So we get a text from Alan telling us the Frank and Michelle DeClair are in town to see you-know-who at you-know-where and go to NASA and a few other things around Orlando.


They arrived a little out of focus,





but were soon in the swing of things.






We did the dinner thing together. If you look close you can see an apparition materializing behind Frank.




Posed for the picture.  Michelle and Frank had to leave for the “cold” north next morning.




And then tried to solve the “mystery of the empty shoes”





But time March’s on and we need to head west to the Heckels. So it was…

M-I-C … See you real soon… K-E-Y… Why? Because we love you… M-O-U-S… you know the rest.

Thanks Kirk & Deb, it is always special to spend time with you.


Hello John and Linda Heckel. John is Mary’s cousin and he and Linda were foolish enough to let us stay with them for a few days.


OK, so here’s the deal on the pajamas and the “I just got out of bed” look.  No, I don’t think I’ll talk about it.





John And Linda have a real nice place in Land O Lakes.





That Mary found very relaxing.






Puppy And Deer were happy to be there, too.





Linda made wonderful meals for us.






We met Kermit.





And other critters.







Mary and Linda had a great time together. Here they are discussing Mary’s mother Rita’s recipes.







John showed us some neat stuff about the Heckel family tree.





Including a rather interesting photo of the Sundance Kid and a woman who looks remarkably like Mary’s grandmother, Wilma Armstrong Heckel.  Etta Place, the woman in the picture, hung out with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Her past is murky and so is what happened to her after Butch and Sundance jumped off the cliff in Bolivia (or whatever happened to them). Unfortunately I don’t have the picture of Mary’s grandmother to post, but the resemblance is uncanny.

Grandma Heckel 1



Stop the presses! I just got a picture of Mary’s grandmother:


Could it be Mary’s grammie was part of the Hole-in-the- Wall-Gang?






Much to our disappointment we were able to stay with John & Linda only a couple of days. Next time however…..


We left John & Linda’s and headed to Floridia’s Panhandle, the “Redneck Riviera”. We stayed in this “50’s style motel in Port St. Joe’s which is just up the road from Apalachicola.




We ate in this interesting restaurant in Port St. Joe’s (recommended by Karen the cleaning lady).





Not the cleaning lady.




Mary with the restaurant owner. He had given us pieces of lobster appetizers he was experimenting with to try.


Looking for “Jenny”


A few years ago Mary and I took dad on a southern trip and we had lunch in Apalachicola, Fl. We were intrigued by the little town and wanted to go back and check it out. At the time it seemed like the type of place you would see Forest Gump sitting on the bench at the corner.  So before we headed to Texas and Hal & Gay’s we spent a day in Apalachicola.

Just to get you in the mood.

Mary found a boat to buy.                     Would the real mermaid please swim forward.

This is for the boys.                                   Shrimp boat used to be named Jenny.

Police Dept is upstairs and to the left.



The other Apalachicola.



When Dad was with us we stopped to have lunch at the Seafood Grill on the corner downtown.


We had lunch there again and I happened to ask one of the wait staff how long she had been there and if she remembered having the staff’s picture taken with Dad. She said she sure did and that they had sung happy birthday to him, too, which I had forgotten about. I had Mary take my picture with two of them:


 Apalachicola also hosts many of members of the “artist” community, who come here to do their artist thing and encourage budding artists like Mary to get back at it. This is Robert Lindsley, who lives in Colorado when he isn’t here or there or somewhere else. He showed Mary some techiques with pastels and was over all a real nice fella.


So we say good bye to Florida and now on to another part of the Heckel clan in Texas.