Jaxty's Place

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

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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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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