Jaxty's Place

My place to ramble about my family, my crafts, my travels and life.

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.

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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!

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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!

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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….

 

 

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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.

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Bunco

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

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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!

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Amelia Island and more

On Thursday, mom, Sis and I spent the day exploring parts of northern Florida together. Our main destination was Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island but I decided to make a few touristy stops along the way.

Our first stop was the Kingsley Plantation.

Kingsley Plantation (also known as the Zephaniah Kingsley Plantation Home and Buildings) is the site of a former estate in Jacksonville, Florida, that was named for an early owner, Zephaniah Kingsley, who spent 25 years there.  The longest span of ownership was under Kingsley and his family, a polygamous and multiracial household controlled by and resistant to the issues of race and slavery. Free blacks and several private owners lived at the plantation until it was transferred to the State of Florida in 1955.  The most prominent features of Kingsley Plantation are the owner’s house—a structure of architectural significance built probably between 1797 and 1798 that is cited as being the oldest surviving plantation house in the state

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and an attached kitchen house, barn, and remains of 25 anthropologically valuable slave cabins that endured beyond the U.S. Civil War (1861–1865).

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The foundations of the house, kitchen, barn and the slave quarters were constructed of cement tabby, making them notably durable.

It was a very interesting and informative visit that taught us a little about Florida history.

Our next stop was the beach at Big Talbot Island State Park. I had heard that this was a pretty place to stop and see driftwood. I had no idea what that meant exactly but it was way cooler than I thought.

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Words and photos do not adequately do it justice but it is an approximately mile-long beach covered in bleached skeletons of massive felled oak trees that gives a post-apocalyptic feel, like something right out of Planet of the Apes.

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It was well worth the stop and 15-20 minute walk from the parking lot down to the beach in 90-degree heat. And it was actually much cooler by the water.

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We then finally made our way up to Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island and stopped for a late lunch (complete with afternoon cocktails) on the inter-coastal waterway.

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We walked along the dock and visited some of the small shops.

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We couldn’t pass Florida’s Oldest Bar without stopping in for a drink, of course.

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After the 1 hour plus drive home, we had one last stop for the day, which was to show Sis Clark’s Fish Camp and it’s extensive collection of taxidermy.

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We stopped to say hi to the live alligator inside as well.

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And since we were there, we decided to have another cocktail…why not?!

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It was a very full and fun day exploring Florida with mom and Sis.

 

 

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St. Augustine with Mom and Sis

On Saturday, my mother and her cousin, Sis, arrived for a week’s visit.

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To take a break from hanging out at the pool and enjoying cocktails, we made the trek down to St. Augustine on Monday.

We did the usual St. Augustine must-sees, like Castillo San Marco

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and the San Sebastian Winery taste-testing.

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However, for the first time, we stopped and enjoyed an adult beverage at the Martini Bar, with view of the Mantanza River.

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Thanks to my “Local Flavor” half-price deals, we also enjoyed the Old Town Trolley tour around the city, with historic information about various aspects of St. Augustine life. It was very informative and I learned new information and discovered a few new “must-see spots” like the oldest Live Oak tree in St. Augustine, dating back to the 1500s.

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Notice how this massive tree has a palm tree growing in the middle of it, from a seed dropped by a passing bird.

At the Ripley’s Museum (the original, first Ripley’s location) lot, we also discovered a 14-foot in diameter Redwood tree stump that had been carved into a 4-room house.

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Ripley’s also had this hiding behind some bushes in the corner of their property.

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An exact replica of Michelangelo’s “David,” an 18-foot tall hand-carved marble statue weighing 20,000 pounds has made its way to Castle Warden, home of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! odditorium. It is one of only two in the world carved as the original was – from a solid piece of pure Carrara Marble quarried from Pietra Santa in Tuscany, Italy. It’s the same quarry where Michelangelo acquired the marble for his masterpiece.

After our exploring of St. Augustine, it was time for dinner at Aunt Kate’s.

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It was a great day showing Sis around St. Augustine and enjoying the really beautiful day (until dinner when the breeze was a little too cool and brisk to really enjoy sitting outside). Thanks for the fun girl’s day out, mom and Sis!

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Cumberland Island, GA

On Saturday, Carl and I made the 1-1/4 hour drive up to St. Mary’s, Georgia with our friends, Dee and Eddy. Twice a day, a ferry shuttles visitors to Cumberland Island, only accessible by boat.

Georgia’s largest and southernmost barrier island offers a rustic getaway with over 50 miles of trails and roads, as well as 18 miles of undeveloped beach. Cumberland Island is home to pristine maritime forests, undeveloped beaches and wide marshes. Cumberland Island is also home to about 140 feral horses that roam freely on the island.

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Since it was a 45-minute ferry ride each way, Carl was smart enough to suggest bringing a deck of cards so that we could pass the time playing our favorite Camp Cards.

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Once on the island, we took a leisure 4.5 mile walk around the southern end of the island.

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The first part was through the cool, tree-covered pathway.

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The second part was on the beach along the Atlantic ocean coastline.

At the southern end of the island, we explored the ruins of Dungeness, the Carnegie family mansion and extensive grounds. The 1880s property was destroyed by an arson fire in 1959.

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This is the mansion in all its glory prior to the fire.

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It was in that area I caught my first glimpse of some wild horses, grazing in the marsh in the distance.

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Here, let me get closer.

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There were lots of interesting buildings to see and we enjoyed listening to the self-guided phone tour on Eddy’s cell phone.

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While stopping for a snack break in an open field, we saw a few more horses much closer.

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After over 4 miles and four hours exploring the island, it was time to catch the ferry back to mainland. We played more Camp Cards and saw dolphins on the return trip!

It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day that was just perfect for exploring this beautiful place just a short drive from home. Thank you Dee and Eddy for a great day together!

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Spring Break

Anthony’s home for spring break!

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That means that he is doing lots of surfing.

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Since Sue and Karl weren’t able to come for their annual Christmas visit, they came for a week’s visit as well. With Karl’s recent broken leg, we convinced them to actually take an airplane instead of spending 12 hours driving in the car each way. Since they flew into Orlando, they only had to spend 2 hours in the car each way :).

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We spent lots of time soaking in the Florida sunshine in the backyard.

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We had a cold snap for two days and were able to enjoy a cozy fire one evening.

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We spent the evenings playing games together and watching a few movies.

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I did take Sue and Karl to the two 55+ Adult Communities (Dell Webb and Cascades at World Golf Village) in the hopes of convincing them to move to Florida. Although Sue and I found a house that we really liked at Cascades, it’s going to take some convincing to get Karl on board with a major move.  We’d love it if they were closer so that we could spend more time together and help them more as they need it, but it’s out of our hands. Time will tell what they decide!

We are grateful to have had Anthony, Sue and Karl with us for a while. Thanks for coming to JAX, family!

 

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