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A Movie of Our Florida Family Vacation 2017

A Movie of Our Florida Family Vacation 2017

I made this video a couple weeks ago and already forgot to post it here! We had a great time visiting my parents in Bonita Springs, (Halfway between Fort Myers and Naples on the Gulf Coast).  It is so beautiful there and we had nice weather for the five days we were there.

I shot all of these clips on my iPhone while we were out adventuring.  We took a harbor cruise down in Naples and saw dolphins and multi-million dollar homes, we went to the beach two different days, took the kids to the splash park, swam in the neighborhood pool and ate a lot of good food! Here is a video that highlights our trip.

Twins Spring Training

Twins Spring Training

Our MN Twinkies were just beginning theirs spring training when we were in Fort Myers back in February.  Hammond Stadium is about a 15 min drive from where my parents stay so my Dad took E and I there one morning to see spring training in action…
Twins Spring Training 2
Twins Spring Training 4
Twins Spring Training 6
Twins Spring Training 5
Dad at Hammond Stadium
Inside Hammond Stadium 2
Inside Hammond Stadium

Dolphin Cruise ~ Fort Myers Princess

Dolphin Cruise ~ Fort Myers Princess

One of the things we had decided to do while we were in Fort Myers Beach was take a harbor cruise to look for dolphins.
It was a beautiful day…. no sign of a cloud anywhere although it was slightly cool at sea. We got to see the area between Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island, many different boats, and we were even lucky enough to see several dolphins  including a mama with a newborn calf.  So cool!! Hopefully my videos captured some of it.
overexposed sailboat in fort myers
Bretton and Mommy on dolphin cruise
erick and bretton hats in florida 2014
mom dad dolphin cruise
Here is the bridge to Sanibel and Captiva
Bridge to Sanibel Island
This is Sanibel Island with its historic lighthouse
Lighthouse on Sanibel Island
Green Sailboat Florida 2014
Sailboat near Fort Myers Beach
This pirate ship is docked near the Fort Myers Princess. Looks pretty authentic!
Pirate ship in Fort Myers
A fleet of Shrimp Boats. Of course I instantly thought of Forrest Gump, Bubba, and Cap’n Dan.
shrimp boat fleet
Shrimp Boats in Fort Myers

It was so nice to get out on the water and enjoy the afternoon and our surroundings.  So cool to see wild dolphins!!  After our cruise we went back to the beach and spent the rest of the afternoon there.

Fort Myers Beach

Fort Myers Beach

On Sunday, Feb 16, we drove over to Fort Myers Beach which is about 10-15 minutes from my parent’s place. We parked and bought out tickets for the Dolphin Cruise, then shopped our way down to the beach where we had pizza for lunch before setting sail.
palm tree lined street- fort myers beach
Street scene Fort Myers Beach
Street scene Fort Myers Beach 2
Mom is a babe
Fort Myers street performer
Fort Myers Beach Feb 2014
Fort Myers Beach Scene

Check out this panorama…. I stitched 8 photos together to create it. If you click the photo it will take you to  Flickr where you can view the  big size
Fort Myers Beach Panorama

Another view of the beach…
Beach Scene ~ Fort Myers, FL
Beach Ft Myers
We walked down to the fishing pier.
People on Pier
The birds were waiting for a free meal! lol
Pier at Fort Myers Beach

It was a little cool late in the day after the dolphin cruise but we still spent some time at the beach.  We took Bretton into the ocean for the first time
erick and bretton on beach
Bretton happy beach baby
Bretton on beach blanket
I tried writing our names in the sand but I think I would’ve had better luck using shells. Oh well.
names in florida sand 2014

I wish we had more time to spend at the beach.  So much to see, so little time. Hopefully we can spend more time at the beach again next year!

Lakes Park ~ Fort Myers, FL

Lakes Park ~ Fort Myers, FL

Rather than writing one ginormous post with 8 million photos, I am going to break it down by event/day.  On our first full day in Fort Myers, we went to Lakes Park and had a barbeque, walked around the lake, and enjoyed the nice weather and the company of my parents.  We saw a variety of wildlife but unfortunately we didn’t cross paths with any gators! lol

I took more video than photos but it might be awhile before I can finish the movie of our trip.

Florida lake swamp
Lake at lakes park 2
Lake at Lakes Park
This was just before Bretton threw his new sunglasses in the lake….
kristi erick bretton on bike
Palms over the swamp
White egret in florida

Like father like son!
Erick and Bretton Florida sunglasses

It will be fun to go back to this park when Bretton is a little older.  They have a small water park and other things for kids to do, as well as many trails throughout the reserve.  Fun place to have a picnic or barbeque.  They even have big cooking areas with big barbeque pits… enough to roast a pig if ya wanted!

Scenic Saint Croix River Boat Tour {Fall Edition}

Scenic Saint Croix River Boat Tour {Fall Edition}

Yep, I’m blogging about events from over a month ago again 😉

Back in September, on the same weekend as PJ & Allisa’s Wedding and Jeff & Amanda’s Reception, we took advantage of the beautiful, sunny autumn Sunday and headed to Taylor’s Falls for a scenic boat tour aboard the Taylor’s Falls Princess.
Taylors Falls Princess

Taylors Falls Princess

The trees were not yet at peak, but it was still beautiful.

This is the bridge from MN to WI. There are State Parks on both sides.

My cousin Daniel (born and raised in Tucson, AZ) was in town and had been staying with us all week and this was one of the last things we did together after a long week.  You have to visit Taylor’s Falls if you’re ever in Minnesota.  It is beautiful!

Dan was fascinated with the paddle wheels and how a boat this big can navigate in waters less than 6 inches deep in some parts. I couldn’t do it!  The river was actually so low on this particular day that they had to cut the boat tour short because they couldn’t get as far down the river as usual

It was a very nice little tour, just short of an hour long.  After our river excursion we drove home through Osceola, WI and it was a very pretty drive. Later that night we had dinner at Khan’s Mongolian, one of my favorites! Then Adios to Dan.  Not a bad send-off, right?

A Summer Drive to St Croix Falls

A Summer Drive to St Croix Falls

I preface the title of this post with “Summer” because I am till playing blog catch-up!  These photos were taken back in August 😉

I pretty much worked all summer… teaching summer school, attending paid science workshops and writing math assessments for my school district.  I had a total of maybe 11 days off this summer and four of them weren’t until  the week before I had to officially go back to my regular teaching job.  My guy  and I wanted to do something fun on our last day of summer (August 23rd) and we had a little celebrating to do. We decided to drive up to Taylor’s Falls with the intention of catching a river cruise aboard the Taylor’s Falls Princess.  We packed a small cooler of drinks and got up to Taylor’s Falls in time to make the departure time we desired…. only to get there and discover that they had stopped running all but the 1:30 cruise on weekdays.  Super lame!!! We certainly weren’t going to let this obstacle spoil our time so we drove over to St Croix Falls instead and hiked around by the river.

We saw our first fall leaves of the season…

A little stream in the woods…

I can’t remember what park this was but it had a cute little bridge…

This same day was also the day the Minnesota State Fair started (August 23rd) and we decided on the way back home that we were going to go to the Fair that night.  It was a long and adventurous day!!

We eventually DID make it back to Taylor’s Falls a month later and took a cruise on the Taylor’s Falls Princess. I’ll probably be blogging about that sometime in December at the rate I’ve been going! haha

Summer Excursion to Red Wing

Summer Excursion to Red Wing

I’m going to try to make an effort to catch up on my blogging over the next few weeks.  Bare with me, I might be blogging about things that happened months ago.  I always say better late than never 😉

Another adventure that Mr L and I took this past summer was a day trip to Red Wing, MN.  We were there once before on Memorial Day 2012 but this time we had an entire day to explore.  We happened upon the Red Wing Trolley and were fortunate to be the only customers on that particular shuttle so we got our very own private tour! It was a great way to see the city and hear some history. We also scoped out places we want to visit in the future…

We saw many cool buildings and houses around town….

One of the things we did that way was drive to the top of Soldiers Memorial Park where we had excellent views of the Mississippi River below….

We took a walk through these woods at the top of the bluffs…

Of course I took a series of shots to create this panorama of the city below….

A few other miscellaneous pics…

It was a fun day and I look forward to going back to visit again next year!

Muir Woods & Muir Beach {Big Trees!}

Muir Woods & Muir Beach {Big Trees!}

This is the last post about California… I promise! I wasn’t there long but I sure packed a lot into what I did.  On my last day, my parents and I visited Muir Woods and Muir Beach (which is about 30 min drive into the mountain kind of near Golden Gate Bridge)

It was gorgeous! Here is a shot to give you some idea of how big these redwoods were in relation to us.

Kristi and Dad at Muir
Dad Redwood
These trees were hundreds of feet tall! These photos just couldn’t capture the hugeness….
Giant Redwood perspective copy
Redwoods 3
After we visited the trees, we traveled down to Muir Beach. So peaceful!
This was my first visit to the Pacific Ocean since 1999
Muir Beach Caliufornia
I was really there!
Kristi Pacific

Okay, all done blogging about  California now! lol

On this date I have blogged about:

The Golden Gate Bridge……

The Golden Gate Bridge……

Yep, I’m still blogging about the trip I took to California over two months ago! I guess since I haven’t blogged about anything else all summer, it is important to me that I get these posts out now before they end up like last year’s trip to Chicago, which never got blogged about at all.

The California Recap:

Okay, now on to the Golden Gate Bridge!!!

My parents and I visited the GGB on our way back into San Francisco from Sonoma Co. on the very last day of my trip (the rest of the family stayed in CA while I had to go back to work. Boo!).  It was a beautiful, sunny day and I got some pretty sweet photos 😉

Like usual, I took a series of photos and then stitched them together in Photoshop to create a high-res panorama.  This image is huge if you want to view it bigger at Flickr

These next two shots were both stitched into my panorama above.  Would you ever guess just by looking at them that the rocks are facing the Golden Gate Bridge?! Nope, looks like unchartered territory to me 😉

We stopped at two different overlooks to catch the view and take photos….

It was cool to see the bridge in person and drive over it. Glad we had good weather too!

Its funny because I have seen the GGB in like 100 different movies since I got back 😉


On this date I have blogged about:

Wedding Dinner in the Wine Cave at Kunde Family Estates

Wedding Dinner in the Wine Cave at Kunde Family Estates

After Jefanda had their beautiful mountain-top wedding ceremony, all of us guests enjoyed a mountain-top cocktail hour with vino con queso.  (There is a beautiful built-in bar area up there).

Awhile later the limo brought us all back down to the base of the mountain where we were able to enter the Wine Caves.
Amanda Jeff 001
(Photo above by Sherman Chu Photographer)
Entrance to Wine Caves at Kunde Family Estate ~ Kenwood, CA

The kids were as adorable as ever as they waited just outside the wine cave…
Bianca Annika kissing Bennett at Jefanda's wedding
Inside row after row looks like this…
Inside the Wine Cave at Kunde Family Estate ~ Sonoma, CA
We made our way back to a special little area
Amanda Jeff 266

(Photo above by Sherman Chu Photographer)

The room was lit (and heated) by candle-light
Do you see this gorgeous centerpiece? This lovely creation was an idea Amanda had seen somewhere. The morning of the wedding, several of us women (Amanda, Me, my mom, LaShara, Cristina, and Mandy) helped Amanda put it together with flowers she ordered online. It looked gorgeous!
Amanda Jeff 278
(Photo above by Sherman Chu Photographer)
Centerpiece at Jefanda's Wedding

The five-course dinner was lovely….

Summer Melon Gazpacho
Summer Melon Gazpacho ~ Sonoma, CA
Layered Heirloom Tomato Salad
Layered Heirloom Tomato Salad ~ Sonoma, CA
Roasted Red Pepper Ravioli (to die for!)
Fresh Red Pepper Ravioli ~ Sonoma, CA
Roasted Karobata Pork Chop with Smoked Apples
Roasted Karobata Pork Chop with Smoked Apples ~ Sonoma, CA
Ice cream sandwiches
Ice Cream Sandwiches at Jefanda's wedding
We heard a couple of great speeches and thoroughly enjoyed the evening.
Amanda Jeff 341
Amanda Jeff 351
Amanda Jeff 282

It was a wonderful day and I feel blessed to have been able to join them.
The celebration of Jefanda’s union continues….. I look forward to their big reception this September at Metropolitan Club at Target Field!

If you’d like to read about the rest of my trip to California, here ya go!


On this date I have blogged about:

Rehearsal Dinner at Greystone Estate

Rehearsal Dinner at Greystone Estate

Yep, I’m still blogging about my trip to California in June……  In case you missed my previous posts about the trip:

Now I am going to show you a few photos of Greystone Estate, the gorgeous place that Amanda’s parents rented for most of the guests to stay at while in wine country. (Jefanda had their own house, as did my parents and I. Brian, Michelle and the kids stayed at the Hilton in Santa Rosa.  Everyone else stayed at Greystone).

I only took a few photos of Greystone, so this post is not giving you the Big Picture of how awesome this place really was.

Greystone Estate ~ Kenwood, CA
Behind these gardens are the vineyards
Grounds at Greystone Estate
Fountain at Greystone Estate
There was also a gorgeous pool that the kids swam in while the rest of us were on the Wine Tour.  Hot tub and tennis courts too!

So after we spent the day touring wine country, the limo dropped us off at Greystone where we went through a quick rehearsal of the ceremony…..
Jefanda rehearsing at Greystone
Jefanda Rehearsing


Here is a group shot of us girls… (this group includes very little variety as far as names go…. two Amandas, Shelli & Michelle, Kristi & Cristina and then LaShara 😉
Jefanda's  Girls

Amanda and LaShara

lashara amanda

After the rehearsal we ate and drank more wine.  My parents had the dinner catered by a local caterer, it was great! There was so much food we could have fed twice as many people as we had. lol
Roasted Game Hens
Chicken in Sauce
Salmon in Lemon Dill Sauce
Roasted Veggies
Roasted Potatoes
Dutch Crunch and Sourdough Rolls copy

After dinner we drank more wine and hung out by the hot tub.

Michelle LaShara and Kristi at Hot Tub
We pretty much called it a night after the long day of drinking wine so we could all get a good night sleep before Jefanda’s BIG DAY!

Touring Wine Country

Touring Wine Country

With their closest family and friends traveling all the way to California for their special day, Jeff & Amanda ‘Jefanda’ wanted to arrange something fun for the group to do while in wine country.  Touring wineries was the obvious choice!

So all of us met at Greystone Estate in the morning where our Limo-Bus was awaiting.
Wine Country Group Tour via Limo
Wine Country Limo Tour
We first went to Artesa in Napa for their Vino con Queso tasting. This was AMAZING!!!
The view from the top of Artesa was beautiful, as were the grounds.
Artesa Stairs ~ Napa Valley, CA

I took this panorama, click on it to view big at
Panorama View of Artesa ~ Napa, CA
Kristi Jeff and Michelle at Artesa
Mom and Dad at Artesa
Pool Fountains at Artesa ~ Napa, CA
Inside Artesa….

I want to buy every one of these cheeses to have on hand at all times.  Delish!
Vino con Queso at Artesa Winery ~ Napa, CA

After Artesa we drove over to Domaine Carneros to sample the Sparkling Wine.  On the drive over we enjoyed delicious bag-lunches lovingly created by Amanda’s bestie-maid-of-honor, LaShara.

Okay, on to Domaine Carneros.  Here is another panorama I stitched together of the vineyards
Panorama View from Domaine Carneros ~ Napa, CA
Kristi at Domaine Carneros
Kristi LaShara at Domain Careras
Michelle in Wine Heaven
Jeff had a great HD video cam that can record in slow-mo. Here he and Tom are trying to perfect the slow-mo wine pour.
Filming in slow motion

Jefanda group at Domain Careras
Next, we drove back toward Sonoma to a great vineyard called Wellington.  This was very relaxed and probably the most fun of all the stops.  In all, we bought cases and cases of wine here!
The happy couple…
Jefanda at Wellington
Aamanda’s mom and SIL Cristina
Vicky Cristina rehearsal
Later, the limo brought us back to Greystone Estate after a very fun day and we then had Jefanda’s wedding rehearsal and dinner. More on that next!

Wine Tour CRew 2


On this date I have blogged about:

Kenwood Cottage

Kenwood Cottage

When I was out in California a few weeks back I stayed with my parents at the beautiful little house (Kenwood Cottage) that they rented in Sonoma.

Being the documentarian that I am, I usually try to take photos of the properties I stay at when traveling, preferably before they’re used.  Here is Kenwood Cottage….

San Francisco Cable Cars & Chinatown

San Francisco Cable Cars & Chinatown

Since this was my first time in San Francisco, there were a few things that I needed to see/do as a tourist.

I had already visited Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, so why not hop on one of the world-renowned Cable Cars and visit Chinatown?  The streets of San Fran  are truly as up-and-down as they appear in the movies.  We took the Powell-Mason line which crossed over the famous Lombard Street.

Once we got off the cable car we walked around Chinatown for a bit and it was very much like being in a foreign country; I loved all the sidewalk markets everywhere…

We stopped for lunch at a small place called Yuet Lee Chinese Seafood Restaurant where we had three different dishes.  I will be reviewing it in the next few weeks and will add the link here when I have it completed.

After we visited Chinatown we walked a couple of miles around town (mostly downhill, thank goodness!) to where our rental car was parked, then we headed out of town towards Sonoma for the next leg of our vacay 😉

In Case you Missed my other posts about California:


On this date I have blogged about:


Fisherman’s Wharf & Pier 39 ~ San Francisco, CA

Fisherman’s Wharf & Pier 39 ~ San Francisco, CA

A few weeks back I went out to California for my brother Jeff’s wedding and in true Sauer fashion, I took hundreds of photos.  I have yet to go through half of them but that doesn’t mean I can’t start sharing what I do have, right?!

I won’t tell you about the flight delay on the way out and the fact that i only got about 4 hours of sleep that first night or that I had a major crick in my neck from the airplane.  I’m just going to tell you that San Francisco is beautiful and that I had fun exploring the city with my parents.

I plan to make a video of my entire trip to post at some point (don’t hold your breath, I never even finished the one from Chicago last year) but I am also going to break the trip down into posts based on various sites we saw and special events of the trip.  We spent some time at Fisherman’s Wharf and walking down Pier 39. We stopped to share a couple of items to eat at Boudin Sourdough Bakery, Guardino’s and The Crab Station.

Here are a few photos….

We didn’t spend much time on the pier but walked all the ay to the end where we saw sea lions sunbathing. That was kind of cool!


Jeff’s Travels: Past & Future

Jeff’s Travels: Past & Future

Hey ya’ll,  it has been a very busy week at work (what else is new, right?!) and I haven’t had a chance to blog as much as I have wanted.

In my absence I would like to direct you to my little brother Jeff’s Blog, where he has recently posted about his trip to Prague at Christmas and about his upcoming honeymoon to Mauritius.  Make sure to read it if you’re interested in learning how you can book a series of flights for two  normally priced at $$8,698 per ticket for just $500.

By the Bullets

By the Bullets

I am blog slacker lately!! Would you guess that I have been on vacation for the past two weeks?

I just read a shout-out to bloggers by one of my oldest blogging buddies, Nicole, stating that she misses our old blogging community.  I agree! I know most of you are still out there and I am not as good about commenting now as I used to be either.  Maybe Facebook is to blame for it all! lol.  Anyway, Nicole’s post reminded me that I do indeed have this blog and that I should be posting three times a week.  Gonna try to make it happen.

So what is new?

  • I am heading to Chicago for 5 days where I will spend time with family, tour the city, eat, eat, eat, and then I am going to see Sade in concert at the United Center. Can. Not. Wait.  I will be there in less than 24 hrs from now.
  • I have been reading like crazy.  Just finished Shadow of the Wind.  Excellent book!
  • My stargazer lilies are gorgeous and so fragrant! Hoping to post photos of them before October 😉
  • Thinking of trading in my car again.  Had a flat tire and another headlight go out this week.  Just more signs that I should get rid of it.  One of these days I promise I will blog about how I sued my car dealer in conciliation court and won a case against him and how it took me damn near a year to get the money he owed me.  I’ve been meaning to blog about that.  The car just serves as bad memories
  • August is here, can you believe it? I am back to work on Monday already.  Glad I got a two week summer vacation!
  • Last year I was in Austin, Texas during the first week of August.
  • Two Years ago I was in Colorado during the first week of August.
  • This year I will be in Chicago the first week of August.
  • I guess I like to travel in August 😉
  • I have several other events to blog about so I will try to schedule some posts while I am on vacation