Safety Harbor Weekend Away

Last year around this time, Carl and I were invited to St. Petersburg, FL for the weekend for the Ted Williams Museum and (Baseball) Hitters Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. This year, we were again invited, although the event was moved to Safety Harbor, FL and the organization put us up in the historic Safety Harbor Resort and Spa.

ESPIRITU SANTO SPRINGS
Where Healing Waters Flow
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On May 18, 1539, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto reached the shores of what is now Tampa Bay, landing near these mineral springs used by the native population for nearly 10,000 years.  Believing he had found the legendary Fountain of Youth somehow missed by Ponce de Leon, de Soto established a camp here, naming its crystal-clear waters Espiritu Santo Springs–“Springs of the Holy Spirit.”  Each of the five springs on this site was identified and said to cure certain ailments, a claim drawing thousands of visitors yearly to the “Health Giving City” of Safety Harbor.  In the twentieth century, Espiritu Santo water was bottled and sold commercially, and later a health spa and hotel were built over the springs. The Safety Harbor Sanitorium opened its doors here in 1926, offering porcelain bath tubs and a large swimming pool for “taking the waters.” The Safety Harbor Resort and Spa, as it is now known, continues to be a prominent visitor attraction in Pinellas County.

I couldn’t help but wonder as we wandered the halls of this historic hotel noted for it’s healing powers and health retreats if my grandma Donna had been a visitor here. It seems like just the type of place she might have come to.

We decided to make a whole weekend of it (as opposed to just one night like last year) and went down on Friday.

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On Friday, we took a long walk around the cute harbor city with small shops, plentiful restaurants and quaint houses.

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The town boasts this massive 300-500 year old Live Oak tree.

It was fun to walk to dinner just a few blocks from the hotel and enjoy the beautiful night.

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We laughed a lot at this sign. Why is this even necessary??

On Saturday, we enjoyed an even longer walk, going a full 5-1/2 miles down the waterfront and around the city. After going back to the Spa and hanging out at the pool for a while, we refreshed ourselves with a well-deserved nap. Then it was time to get ourselves ready and head to Spectrum Field (the Phillies training facility in Clearwater) for the big event.

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The main attraction is the autograph signing session where fans wait in really long lines to spend about 30-seconds with many baseball greats. Carl and I were just there for the food, sampling all the items at the different food stations.

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Then the main program took place, with several baseball legends, including Richie “Dick” Allen and Tony Perez being inducted into the Hitters Hall of Fame.

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Tony Perez, Dick Allen, Ron Guidry, JR Richard

The evening ended with a fireworks display over the field.

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It couldn’t have been a more perfect night, weather-wise. Not too hot and not too cool….it was just right!

On Sunday, we met up with my cousin, Kim, and her daughter, Kassie, at her church since it was on the way home. We thought it was interesting how after the worship portion, the stage went dark and then the lights came back on and there was a large screen. As the pastor started talking, it took us a few seconds to realize that he was not actually there but it was an almost 3-D like video of him speaking! Freaky!

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Afterwards, we took Kim and Kassie for brunch to visit and catch up before heading home.

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It was great to spend some time with them and we are grateful it worked out it everyone’s schedule. It was a nice weekend away and when it’s mostly free, it’s even better! I love these fun opportunities that Carl and I have to spend time together.

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Santa Rosa Beach with Friends

After five nights, our friends, John and Michelle left yesterday. But not before creating fun memories and having lots of laughs together. On Monday, we spent the day at the beach, soaking in the sun.

By the way, Carl and I celebrated our 35th anniversary of meeting this week.

Four years of college, 31 years of marriage, 3 children, 3 dogs, 6 interstate moves and we still like each other! God has certainly blessed us. I’m so grateful for these past 35 years!

On Tuesday, the husbands played golf and fished.

Meanwhile, Michelle and I enjoyed a spa day with massages, manicures and pedicures while enjoying cheese and wine. Such a fun day, thanks to a Groupon deal.

Since the ladies were in no mood for cooking after our day of pampering, we went out to eat, thanks to John and Michelle’s treat.

The next day, we started with a nice 4 mile walk. Since a donut and coffee break was included in the middle, I had to tag along that time.

Afterwards, we shared the cost of a Stand-up Paddleboard rental for our second beach day.

Since it was a little choppy and I apparently have really bad balance skills, I opted to have Carl paddle me around.

The next morning we returned to the beach and since it was smooth as glass, I was able to ride around on my own, which was so fun. Carl even got within 15 feet of dolphins! Very exciting!

We also enjoyed sunsets, cocktails, games and meals together.

I am so happy to have friends to share a special time away together.

And I’m grateful I’ve got this guy by my side for the past 35 years. Happy anniversary of meeting, Carl! What a great vacation together with friends.

Santa Rosa Beach 2017

I’m so grateful for my Tuesday boss and the great working relationship that we have. And I’m especially grateful that he has a lovely beach vacation home that he shares with family and favored employees for free. This year, Carl and I invited our good friends, John and Michelle to join us for a week of fun and sun at the beach. We drove over one day prior to our friends to get settled in, get some groceries and enjoy our first walk on the beach at sunset.

The next afternoon, John and Michelle joined us.

While waiting for the sunset, Carl and John played bocce ball at the beach.

Our first full day together began with Carl, John and Michelle taking a long walk. Yes, I was the only lazy one. What of it? I’m on vacation. When they got back, Michelle made us her amazing quinoa power breakfast.

Yum! Carl and John watched the Jaguar game on the IPad since it wasn’t playing on local tv while Michelle and I went out for more groceries.

After the game was over, with a Jaguar victory, we drove down Highway 30a to explore some of the cute coastal cities. Our first stop was Seaside.

After wandering around the residential area, we came upon a field with a badminton court so we had to stop and play.

John and Michelle won, which did not make me happy. Plus I broke out in a sweat. Again, not happy. Oh well. At least we had fun! We finally made our way to the town square where they had a series of cute Airstream trailer food trucks so we stopped for some delicious BBQ pork for lunch.

And then to top it off, we all split a giant Sea Salt Chocolate 100 layer cronut (fried croissant) stuffed with chocolate filling.

What an incredible way to blow our carb count for the day! We then made our way further down Hwy 30a, ending at Rosemary Beach.

After taking a coffee/tea break, and sending the above photo to our pastor, who vacations there each year with his family, we walked around this area too for a while.

We finally made our way back home where John and Michelle prepared our awesome dinner of rib eye steaks, veggies and cucumber/tomato salad.

Then it was time for some games. Our first choice was Sequence.

By the end of the night, the women beat the men three games to two.

Losers.

It was a super fun day spent with friends. We are so happy to be spending our vacation with them. More fun to come!

Hurricane IRMA

On Sunday, with the weather worsening and the rain beginning to fall, we were finally stuck inside which led me to open our game cabinet and introduce the kids to Trouble, Sorry and Whoonu. I don’t know how many games of each we played, but it was A LOT! After the two little girls went to bed Sunday night, we even played a round of Say Anything with Logan, who came up with classic answers, such as “Beer” for “Favorite toy that adults might like” and actually won the game.

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Just as we were headed for bed, the rain and winds picked up and the electricity started to flicker. Carl and I preemptively prepared the fridge, by moving all the refrigerated items to the freezer compartments and loading it up with frozen water bottles and ice to keep everything cool in the event of the inevitable loss of power. Sure enough, around 1 am, the power went out for good. Between the wind and pounding rain and IPhone weather alert blaring at 2:30am warning of flash flooding in Jacksonville (not actually near us), it was a restless night of sleep. But we awoke in the morning with the majority of the storm past us and just light rain and some lingering wind gusts.

With no electricity (and even more annoying, extremely spotty cell service which made giving updates to family difficult) throughout the day, Zack emerged from his room and resorted to playing games with the kids.

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It eventually cleared enough for us all to head outside for a walk to assess the damage.

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The main road out of area looked like this:

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And closer to our house, that same little creek that flooded in the above picture, was flooding our street as well.

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This shows you a perspective of how far the flooding was from actually reaching our house as I stand in front of our house and look down the street at the flooding.

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So we’d have to have a massive amount of additional rain for it to reach up to our driveway and then even more for it to even reach the actual house. That is why we don’t ever feel in actual danger from flooding, although that creek puts us in Evacuation Zone A (the first for Mandatory Evacuations).

This is what our pool looked like after the storm:

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The plastic chairs are actually thrown into the pool on purpose to prevent them from blowing around the backyard and into a window.

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Gradually the weather continued to improve, the sun came out and the water began to drain from the streets, clearing the roads to travel. After successfully sending Zack out to find an open gas station, our Miami guests decided to head back home since they heard that their neighborhood was fine and they actually had electricity.

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The other two children and dog were already secured in the car when we took these photos.

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We are grateful that we were spared from flooding or other damage from this powerful storm. Others that we know were not so lucky. Our friends that live directly on the St. John’s river lost their pier and boat house (luckily they had moved their boat to land). Even more devastating, our next-door neighbors and good friends, Bill and Susan, got  3-4 feet of water in their recently renovated beach home. All the drywall, trim, doors, flooring, cabinets and furniture will have to be replaced. We are so sad for them but grateful that they have flood insurance to help cover the costs. There are other families in our church that still are without electricity during these 80-90 degree days. (Our electricity actually came back on Monday night, shortly after our guests left).

With each hurricane, we learn more and more about how to better prepare. Hopefully it will be a great long while before we have to use the lessons learned!

The Refugees

We survived our second major hurricane in Jacksonville….Hurricane Irma. With the relentless news forecasts warning of the impending catastrophic hurricane coming to wipe out the entire state of Florida, we were a little nervous but knew that we wouldn’t know for sure the impact on Jacksonville until the storm moved closer. What seemed for sure is that southern Florida, and especially Miami, was going to get nailed. So about a week prior Irma hitting our state, I received a phone call from our dear, former neighbors from Minnesota’s son, Steve, who lives in the Miami area with his wife, Alysia, three children under the age of 5 and Husky dog, Diego.

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As soon as I saw his name on my cell phone, I knew that he was looking for a place to escape so I invited them to come up to JAX to wait for the arrival of IRMA.

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In a desire to not get caught up in the evacuations of millions of people in southern Florida trying to escape and to avoid and sitting on stalled highways for hours with a carload of young children, they drove up on Wednesday, well ahead of the storm expected to hit on Sunday and Monday. We were blessed with warm, sunny days leading up so that the kids could spend their days swimming in the pool (and boy did they spend hours and hours swimming!). At night, we cuddled on the couches for movie nights.

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We played Old Maid and Crazy Eights with the kids.

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We did Tequila shots with the adults because we are cool that way :).

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We shared meals together.

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From Wednesday through Sunday afternoon, it was almost like a mini-vacation together! Lots of fun, laughs and food and cocktails together with little responsibilities from work and/or school.

We are grateful that we had this special time together with a fun and energetic young family. It was definitely a taste of grand-parenthood and I really enjoyed it! We are glad that we could be a blessing to this young family and await the massive hurricane together. More tomorrow….

 

 

Final Mom and Sis post…for this time!

A visit to Jacksonville wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the beach.

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On Wednesday, we spent several hours at the beach relaxing.

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Some of us live in Florida and have plenty of time ahead to soak in the sun so I opted to sit in the shade and read instead.

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A visit to the Miklas family also wouldn’t be complete without plenty of game nights.

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We taught Sis Camp cards and played Rummikub, Sequence and Dominoes as well.

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We went to “Tuscan Tuesday” with some neighbors (at a local pizza/Italian restaurant). We enjoyed home-cooked dinners together the other nights, sharing some of our favorite low-carb meals with mom and Sis. Sis was such a sweet and thoughtful guest, always trying to help out where needed and she was a pleasure to spend time with all week. Mom is a good guest in other ways…always quick to open her wallet and provide lots of fun experiences and lunch/cocktails out. Thank you mom and Sis for a great visit. I had a great time and you are both welcome back any time.

Bunco

At the beginning of March, I posted the following on Instagram…

Bunco

My mother commented that she wanted to play Bunco when she came to visit. Since we had such fun the first time, I decided to celebrate mom and Sis’ last night in JAX by inviting our neighbors and some friends over for another Bunco night.

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Seeing as we were without air conditioning all week* during mom and Sis’ visit, I kept my eye on the rising temperatures. Of course, it reached 92 on the day of the Bunco party.

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We did our best to keep our guests hydrated and it actually was not unbearable at the outside two tables.

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The inside head table was a little toasty so people would be rooting to lose so they could move to one of the tables outside…ha!

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After we completed 4 rounds and awarded prizes, with Carl winning $5 for getting the first Bunco and me winning $10 for the most wins, half the guests left but our favorite neighbors stuck around for a few more hours.IMG_6493

It was a fantastic evening of fun, laughs and a cocktail or two (or twelve in some instances)! I’m so grateful for great neighbors who make life in JAX so fun. And I’m glad that they enjoy spending time with my relatives as well. Good times!

*Some friends from church recently replaced our aging a/c unit, giving us a fantastic deal. However, right before mom and Sis arrived, they discovered an issue that needed to be addressed but couldn’t get to it until later in the month so we were without a/c for a few weeks. It really was not bad temperature-wise until of course, we had a houseful of company one night. We all managed to get through it and they will now have something to harass us about for years to come!