Jaxty's Place

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

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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Belated Birthday Weekend Celebration

Although my husband was initially annoyed back in October that I purchased tickets to see Wicked in Orlando this past weekend (he didn’t love it like I did when we first saw it in 2010), he ended up being glad that I made celebrating my birthday so easy for him after I declared them to be my birthday present.

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We went down a day early to spend the day at Universal to use our annual passes again. This time we took the suggestion of a friend and used motion sickness patches and took a dose of Dramamine that morning.

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After the first ride, we looked at each other and asked “did you feel anything?” When we both agreed that no, it did not make us nauseous, we cheered and high-fived each other!

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We rode several roller coasters and most of the virtual reality rides with little effect, until late in the day. It was awesome! I enjoyed our day much better than the last time, when I spent the day fighting nausea the whole time.

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It was a fun day at Universal, with beautiful, warm weather. We stayed at a new Airbnb this time and were not disappointed. It was in a much nicer, residential neighborhood and although we did not have our own bathroom this time (it was shared with two other guests), the hostess was very friendly and accommodating and we had everything we needed for our stay.

The next morning, after brunch, we had time to kill before the performance in the afternoon so we decided to drive down to Disney Springs since we had never seen it during our 4 visits to Disneyworld in the past.

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If you like shopping or eating, it’s the place to go. If you don’t like shopping or eating, it’s just an interesting place to walk around for a short time.

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We even shared a Gharardelli Caramel Square they passed out in the Ghirardelli Store…9 whole carbs between us (although Carl says I had 6 carbs and he had 3)!

It was neat to see the different architecture and Disney statues but I can’t say that I’d go back.

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It was fun to pass the time though on another beautiful, sunny morning.

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We eventually headed off to downtown Orlando for the theater for the main attraction…WICKED!

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It was a fantastic performance and I thoroughly enjoyed it (again)! Although I have had the soundtrack since the first time we saw the musical 7 years ago, it was nice to have a refresher of the storyline. Carl even enjoyed it much more than he thought he would.

It was a great weekend in Orlando with my husband. I’m glad for a fun way to celebrate my  birthday belatedly! Happy 50-something birthday to me…I think I’m just going to stay 50 until I turn 60!

 

 

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Christmas Lights

Last night, Carl, Kelly, Anthony and I decided to drive to see some Christmas Lights (Zack was hanging out with friends). First, we drove to the Morocco Shrine Auditorium property to see JAX Illuminations.

  • Drive Thru Holiday Light Display

    Jax Illuminations has created a wonderful opportunity for families to create a new holiday tradition. Enjoy the magic of driving through a mile of holiday lights that are perfectly synchronized to holiday music. Come see over half a MILLION brilliant LED lights that dance, twinkle and sparkle to some of your favorite holiday songs.

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The $20 donation was a little steep and the drive was actually a little less than a mile but it was a festive start to our evening.

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Next, we headed off to JAX Beach to see the Deck the Chairs display.

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This is an annual event where various groups decorate life guard chairs into a holiday theme. My favorite was a group that turned the chair into Santa’s sleigh.

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It was a beautiful, slightly cool evening to be near the beach.

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The kids even did some surfing :).

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Finally, we drove through some neighborhoods near our house with mega holiday lights and stopped at this local business that has the front yard covered in every blow up holiday creature made.

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It was a fun evening out with the kids and we are grateful to have them home for Christmas!

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St. Augustine Alligator Farm

All of our children are home!

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Anthony arrived last Wednesday evening and Kelly arrived this past Tuesday. We are so very happy to have them with us to celebrate Christmas.

On Thursday, Kelly and I decided to be tourists and visit the St. Augustine Alligator Farm (Carl was working and the boys declined to come…they missed out!).

This park features all known species of the world’s living crocodilians. The St. Augustine Alligator Farm is now the only facility in the world exhibiting living specimens of all 24 currently recognized species of crocodilian.

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There was a funny crosswalk sign outside the Alligator Farm that made us laugh.

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It was way more interesting than we thought it would be. We arrived just in time to see the Alligator feeding. There were about 35 gators crowded around the feeding stand, just waiting for a tasty morsel.

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We saw baby alligators that were oh, so cute!

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We saw the Albino Alligator.

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We saw Albino babies (which do not come from Albino adults actually but are just an anomaly of nature).

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We saw the wooden alligator carved from one piece of tree.

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We saw birds, snakes, lemurs, turtles and other animals as well.

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I think the baby alligators were our favorite, especially these babies sleeping on their mama.

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The $24 admission ($22 with our AAA discount) is a little steep but it was interesting to see. It takes just over an hour to walk the whole park. There are some educational programs throughout the day as well but we didn’t watch any of them.gatorfarm-12Thanks for going with me Kelly. I enjoyed it!

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Saturday in the Burg

My friend, Dee, was disappointed that she couldn’t make the October craft night, where we made the wooden pumpkin set. I told her that I would give her a private class if she had us over and had her husband prep the wood pieces for us. So on Saturday, Carl and I drove out to the boonies (about 40 minutes from our house) to Middleburg, Florida (aka, “The Burg”).

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Dee did a fabulous job and her pumpkins turned out so cute. This is definitely my favorite craft night project to date.

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Since I had started preparations for a November craft night that didn’t quite pan out, I had the makings for 20 Thanksgiving cards which I brought with me as well. Dee had fun making a bunch of cards for her family. I’m not going to show a photo though since my relatives can expect to see the card very soon.

Since we were out in the boonies, Dee and Eddy decided it was only appropriate to take us shooting so we drove to their son’s property with their guns and Eddy set up a target for us.

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After giving us some basic safety instructions, Eddy let us both try shooting their pistols.

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It was scary but exhilarating at the same time! It is amazing the amount of power in that little pistol and I can’t imagine being hit by the force of that bullet. I actually did not do too bad for my first time shooting ever…all my bullets hit the target (shown by the circled bullet holes).

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I know just what to get Carl for Christmas now.

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This was my best Charlie’s Angels pose…I look like a maniacal dork!

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After our shooting adventure, we returned to Dee and Eddy’s house for a fabulous dinner of lamb chops, asparagus and salad.

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Since Dee and Eddy are starting a low-carb diet, we spent a lot of time coaching them on what to eat and sharing the tips that we’ve learned along the way. We wish them much success on their low-carb journey!

Finally, we ended the night with a few rounds of Dominoes (for which I failed to get a photo). It was a super fun day and evening with our good friends and we are so happy to have them in our lives. We look forward to doing it again soon!

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Thanks Dee and Eddy for a great day!

 

 

 

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Universal Studios

Ever since we moved to Jacksonville, I have wanted to go to Universal Studios in Orlando to see the Harry Potter Wizarding Worlds. Yes, I admit that I am a big Harry Potter fan. I’ve read all the books and watched all the movies. So when it didn’t work out for my 50th birthday (we took a weekend cruise which was also high on my wish list), I started to work on Carl for our 30th anniversary this past summer. He agreed with the condition that we would wait until the fall. Done!

When it came down to making plans, we originally wanted two day passes (one day for each park). However, it turned out that annual passes would only be $40 more per person. With single day passes of around $100, we figured we for sure would go back at least once so we got the annual passes. Yay!

For our lodging, I found a highly-rated, Airbnb just 5 minutes from the park for the rate of $40 per night. We decided, why not! We had second doubts when we pulled up in front.


It’s hard to see from this photo but if you look to the right, you see the pile of trash on the right, including the discarded mattress. And you can’t see the pitiful state of the front yard, but the overgrown, weedy brown mess was a major turn-off. But we went inside to find our hostess very polite and sweet and the room was clean and spacious, with our own private bath so we decided to stay. 

After parking our car, we called and Uber for a ride to the park. For $6 each way, we saved $8 from the parking fee and got door to door service with minimal waits. 


We spent the first day at Universal Islands of Adventure.


We spent the second day at Universal Studios.


We rode pretty much all the rides and saw a few shows (there were very few sit-down shows). And I learned that my stomach is not as strong as it used to be. I fought naseau pretty much the whole time, coming very close to puking after a few rides. Not fun!


The crowds were not outrageous and most of the lines were reasonable from just minutes to maybe 15-20 minutes. The only exception was the new King Kong ride, which we waited for an hour. In the process, we were stuck in this dark room listening to an animated witch doctor chant for over 30 minutes. 


The highlight was definitely the Harry Potter areas.


The Eascape from Grigotts ride was my favorite.


It was fun just to walk around and see the attention to details. You could imagine actually being there! We didn’t do it, but if you bought a special wand for $40-48, there were specially marked spots throughout the area where you waved your wand and made something happen in a window display (for example, an object would move). It was pretty clever.


We had a delicious butter beer, which was very refreshing on our first day. It was a combination of cream soda and root beer with a layer of whip cream. Yum!


They even have a Hogwarts Express train between parks, which was neat. Instead of seeing out “real windows,” there were moving scenes from the movie.


It was a fun time away and I am grateful to have finally gone. I look forward to returning again over the next year. Thanks for a nice anniversary getaway, Carl. You’ve made the last 30 years fun and exciting! I love you.

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Grass

When I unveiled the improvements in the backyard this spring, we were almost complete, with the exception of laying the sod and building the fire pit.

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It has *finally* cooled off enough (i.e., below 80 degrees during the day) for us to lay sod in the backyard. So on Friday, Carl had 5 square yards of topsoil delivered to the driveway.

Since Zack was working, I had the pleasure of helping him load the wheelbarrow at least 25 times so he could bring it into the backyard. I pushed the wheelbarrow twice and decided that was enough for me. I need to work on some upper body strength, I think!

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On Saturday, since Zack was NOT working, he had the pleasure of helping Carl lay the sod.

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Considering the fact that my job with Carl took about 3 hours and Zack’s only took about an hour AND he didn’t get any blisters like I did, I’d say my job was way harder.

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But we finally have grass again!

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I’m so glad that the vacant dirt island is gone. Nice work, Team Miklas!

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Coming up next, it’s time to build the fire pit! And it’s actually cooling off enough in the evenings to be able to use it.

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The Aftermath

On Saturday, Carl and I finally made it down to Mickler’s Beach in Ponte Vedra to check out the aftermath from Hurricane Matthew.

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Apparently, about 20 feet of sand dunes were destroyed, churning up the plants and bamboo reeds planted in the dunes and depositing the mangled remains along the beach.

There were many interesting trees uprooted and laying on the beach.

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We didn’t see any damage to the multi-million dollar homes in this area but there were many collapsed/destroyed walkways/decks.

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We found a cool piece of driftwood that we then carried for at least a mile so that we could take it home. When Carl got tired of carrying on his shoulder like this, we each grabbed an end and carried it between us.

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We are going to hang it somewhere on the fence near the pool because it’s so cool!

I heard that further down the coastline, there are numerous houses marked with large orange X’s that have been condemned and washed out roadways. But for the most part, Jacksonville was spared from extensive damage. Praising God for His mercy!

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Block Party

On Sunday, Carl and I hosted a block party for our end of the street. I made invitations on the computer and then last week we walked from house to house to try to personally invite all of the neighbors. If we couldn’t get them after two tries, we just left the flyer on their door.

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Of the 13 houses invited, 9 showed up (at least for a little while) which we think was a good turn-out.

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We put up three tents on the driveway for shade since it is still in the low 80s around here.

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I set up some tables with some Fall decorations to hold all the food. People were asked to bring their own meat and drinks and a side dish to share. We provided all of the paper goods.

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It was a really great time building a sense of community with those around us. Everyone stayed for over 4 hours so they must have been having fun. Plus, they all asked if we could do it again on regular basis (like once a quarter or every 6 months).

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I’m so grateful for the chance to make all of our neighbors our friends. Good times!

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