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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Easter Sunday

I hope that you all had a very blessed Resurrection Sunday and know the love and sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus. He died so that we may live. Rejoice in Him!

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After bringing Zack to church with us, we returned home to welcome our friends from church, Michelle and John.

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After enjoying some appetizers on the lanai, I put some sirloin steaks in the smoker.

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While they cooked, we played some Camp Cards.

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When the steaks were ready, we enjoyed a delicious low-carb feast with steak, mushrooms, cauliflower potatoes, brussel sprouts and salad.

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Then John took a nap in the hammock :).

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He eventually joined Carl for a dip in the pool.

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Actually, that was about as far as they got. Water’s still a little brisk!

We played a few more rounds of Camp Cards while the food settled and we made room for dessert. It was a very relaxing day spent with good friends, good food, conversation and cards.

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We are very blessed!

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Ports of Call

Our ship left out of Tampa on Saturday morning and arrived at our first Port of Call on Sunday morning….Key West, Florida, a place that I have never been before.

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We first walked to The Harry S Truman Little White House, which was the winter White House for President Harry S Truman for 175 days during 11 visits.

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After passing by Ernest Hemingway’s house (but not paying the $14 admission to enter), we headed for the Southernmost point of the continental United States.

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We then walked around the ultra-fancy Casa Marina, Waldorf-Astoria hotel, stopping to use the bathroom and drink some cold water in the lobby. We found this cool sand sculpture out back.

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While walking around Key West, we saw this interesting Barnacle Truck, which made me think of Kelly and her boyfriend, Avram, who are going to Houston to see the 30th Annual Art Car Parade in April.

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We also saw tons of chickens walking around, which I read were a local Key West icon.

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And we saw this guy lounging on a fence.

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Biggest lizard I’ve ever seen in the wild!

All told, we walked a whopping 8 miles around Key West.

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It was a fun day exploring this cool city. I’d like to return and visit some of the other Florida Keys as well.

After a day at sea, our second port of call on Tuesday was in Cozumel, Mexico. That day, we took a taxi to the Money Bar Beach Club.

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I had heard that it was the best place to go for snorkeling from the beach.

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There was no admission to the Club, so we were able to relax on lounge chairs all day as long as we ordered the occasional cocktail and eventually had some lunch.

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It was a relaxing day in Mexico.

After one more day at sea, we returned back to Tampa on Thursday. Another successful cruise under our belts…that makes number 6 for us. And I’m thrilled to say that we have number 7 booked already….a family Christmas cruise leaving December 23rd to celebrate Zack’s high school graduation with Grandma Sue and Grandpa Karl (God-willing). While they visited last week, we booked a 7-night cruise from Port Canaveral on the Carnival Magic, going to Cozumel (again), Belize, Mahogany Bay (Honduras) and Costa Maya, Mexico. I can’t wait!!

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Brilliance of the Seas

Thanks to the very generous Christmas bonus from my favorite client/boss (that I work for on a weekly basis), Carl and I just returned from a 5-night Royal Caribbean cruise on the Brilliance of the Seas.

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We did the usual things that we do on a cruise ship….we relaxed on lounge chairs and read books.

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We dressed up and had lovely, relaxing dinners every night in the main dining room. All but one night we sat at shared tables and made many new friends.

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We even ate carbs this week!

 

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Although for the most part, we were very good with healthy eating choices, we did enjoy ourselves with special treats this week.

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We were visited by towel animals in our stateroom.

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We explored the ship, watched great evening shows, took part in some trivia contests and listened to some really bad karaoke.

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It was a great mini-vacation and we were very blessed with this fun time away. Tomorrow I’ll share a little about our two ports-of-call.

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St. Petersburg/Clearwater Road Trip

The fundraisers at the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame host a silent auction at all home Jaguar games. So they invited Carl and I to join them at their annual induction dinner at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida and even offered to put us up in the historic, waterfront Vinoy Renaissance Hotel.

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Free weekend getaway, dinner-out and deluxe accommodations…we’re in!

Saturday morning, we made the 3-1/2 hour drive down to St. Petersburg. After checking into our hotel, we stretched our legs with an energetic 5-mile walk along the water front and through a historic neighborhood district.

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After resting for a bit, it was time to get dressed up to head off for the main event at Tropicana Field.

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The event was set up right on the field of the baseball stadium. We made new friends with our table-mates, Lisa and Kenny. Kenny is one of the maintenance workers/painters for the stadium and he told us countless stories of his years with the team.

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There were also four 20-somethings seated at our table but they barely took their faces out of their phones to introduce themselves or attempt to make conversation with the four of us. Really rude and a sad sign of the generation. I hope that my young adult children would all behave differently. Kids…listen to your mother and put the phones away and talk with the people seated at your table!

After dinner, there were all sorts of important baseball people introduced and given various awards. However, the only one that I’ve ever heard of was Pete Rose.

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Although the program ran about an hour late and we were tempted to leave, I’m glad we stayed because Pete, the last speaker of the evening, was an entertaining story-teller and did the best job of them all.

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Look how close we were to the stage….

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As soon as it was over, we hightailed it out of there and made our way back to the hotel. And who should be getting out of the vehicle in front of us but Mr. Pete Rose! I was very tempted to approach and ask for a photo with him but Carl wouldn’t let me. Blah.

On Sunday morning, we found an adequate church to attend in Clearwater. We went and checked out the water front views in downtown Clearwater.

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But then the real reason for our stop in Clearwater was to spy on the Scientologists. After recently reading Leah Remini’s book on Scientology (called Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology) and watching the first season of her expose on the cult (Scientology and the Aftermath), I’m a little fascinated by the whole thing. We stopped in the visitor’s center to use the bathrooms and had a nice conversation with the young girl inside.

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She attempted to get us to stay and watch a movie about Scientology and learn more but we rejected her offer. She then attempted to give us reading material but we also declined that.

We walked around the area and saw several of the buildings featured in the Scientology series, including Flag – short for Flagship (the headquarters)

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and the Fort Harrison (the retreat center).

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There were all sorts of Scientologists walking around in their uniforms and going in and out of buildings. It really made me sad. After taking some time to pray for the people to be delivered from the cult, we made our way back home.

It was a short and sweet weekend but I’m glad that we got to see another part of Florida and enjoy a beautiful weekend on the Gulf Coast.

 

 

 

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CBHS Reunion

Thanksgiving week, when we visited with Carl’s friend from high school, Bobby, the guys discussed how it had been way too long since the last reunion of their core group of friends from their high school soccer team. Back in 2001, we organized the first reunion of the guys at our house in Minnesota, complete with visiting the amusement park at the Mall of America, golfing, a tour of the MN Vikings facility and a preseason football game (although actually Bobby canceled at the last minute that year since it was shortly after 9/11). The following year, they all (including Bobby) met up in Memphis and toured all their old hangouts.

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Then life happened and the young families got busy and they didn’t meet again until now 🙂 . With two of the guys now living in the Atlanta area and Bobby traveling there frequently for work, Atlanta was the natural choice for the location.

Carl and I drove in on Friday afternoon and spent our first night at Jeff and Waverly’s beautiful, expansive house in the woods.

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We stayed in the guest suite, complete with our own entrance, bedroom, bathroom, sitting room and kitchen. Sweet…they are lucky that we didn’t decide to move in!

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That evening, Steve and Anne drove over from the other side of town for dinner. (Bobby and his wife were not due to arrive until Saturday late morning.)

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In the morning, the three guys and I went for a brisk, 38 degree hike up Kennesaw Mountain.

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It was cool to see the cannons left on the mountain from the Civil War.

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After our hike, we all showered and dressed and then met up with Bobby and his wife, Jessica, for lunch, where we were seated at a table next to Kirk Cameron from the 1980’s TV show, Growing Pains and star of a series of Christian movies in the past few years. Jessica and I were particularly smitten and tried to work up the nerve to ask for a photo but we didn’t (other than sneaking him into our photo below).

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After lunch, we went to a local escape place.

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These are all the rage across the country and if you haven’t heard of them, they place you in a locked room with a series of clues and puzzles that you have to solve to figure out how to get out of the room in a designated amount of time (an hour).

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Despite our best efforts and getting down to the last puzzle, we ran out of time to escape. Losers!!

We then headed over to Steve and Anne’s house for dinner and the guys spent time looking at old school yearbooks, photo albums and other memorabilia.

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We ended the night sharing our favorite group game with them, “Say Anything.” It was a lot of laughs.

 

I love the fact that these old friends of 35-years can get together and pick up just like it was last week. And we were all impressed that the guys all married so well and the wives could join in just like we’ve been friends for years too (although I’ve met them all at various times over the years, we really don’t know each other very well and some of the other wives have never met).

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Carl and I stayed at Steve and Anne’s stately house the second night.

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After a terrific breakfast in the morning, we headed back home.

It was a great weekend and we are so happy to have spent time with all of these old friends all weekend. It’s quite notable that this group of friends that all married young are now all still together for 25+ years (33 years for Jeff and Waverly, 31 years for Carl and I, 29 years for Bobby and Jessica and 27 years for Steve and Anne)! That’s quite an accomplishment. We are going to ensure that it is not another 15 years before we all gather together again!

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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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Weekend Project

This is a before shot from when we completed the backyard landscaping.

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Not exactly the same view, but here is the after:

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Not only does it hide the pool equipment, it gives us a place to hang pool towels.

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I found an assortment of cute hangers at Hobby Lobby that I hung after I painted the fence with some paint that I had from other projects.

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Or course, Carl installed the posts and created the fencing for me first.

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Teamwork! I love the cute and functional addition to the pool area. The pool just has to warm up about 20 degrees so we can start going in it again.

 

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More Free Food

In July, 2015, on my previous blog, I told you about my score with Secret Dining. At that time, in my first year as a secret diner, I had dined out 12 times for a total of $945 in free dining.

Since that time, between July, 2015 and the present, I have dined out 23 more times for an additional total of $1500 in free dining!

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There have been a few other people that have dined with me on occasion (Zack went to Sweet Frog with me, my neighbor Susan went with me to Painting with a Twist, I took Leslie to Famous Toastery during her visit and I took Anthony to lunch at Miller’s Ale House this week) but for the most part, Carl has been my dining companion.

We have had some amazing meals…Seasons 52, Capital Grill and J. Alexander are our favorites and not places that we would typically dine at if it weren’t for free. Miller’s Ale House is a great, casual place and with so many locations we can eat there often for free (since you have to wait 7 months between visits at each location). It’s still a lot of work to complete the dining report but it’s worth it to me to have these great FREE experiences.

I am grateful for this fun opportunity. Thanks A Closer Look!

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2017 Travel Plans

I don’t know what it is about the new year that makes me want to start making all my traveling plans. But I have spent that past few days dreaming of all the exciting things that we are going to do this year. Here’s a recap of what we have planned so far…

January

  • My birthday gift to myself was tickets to the Broadway play “Wicked,” which is coming to Orlando in two weeks. We are going to go down a day early to visit Universal Studios first. I booked a new Airbnb this time so hopefully it is better looking than the last one.
  • The following weekend we are driving to Atlanta for a high school reunion with Carl’s three good friends and their wives. Two of the guys already live in the Atlanta area and the other guy, Bobby, who we visited with in Memphis over Thanksgiving, is flying in on business. They four guys have had several previous reunion weekends (2001 in Minnesota and 2002 in Memphis) but it has been 15 years since the last one (mainly because Carl and I haven’t planned anything since then!).

February

  • Carl is going to take a weekend trip to visit his parents in Memphis due to his dad’s accident and recovery at home. Hopefully he will help them start to make preparations for a move to Jacksonville to be closer to us! 

March

  • A 5-night Royal Caribbean Cruise, thanks to the very generous Christmas bonus that I received from my favorite boss at PH&Companies. We will be leaving out of Tampa and stopping in Key West, FL and Cozumel, Mexico aboard the Brilliance of the Seas. Can’t wait!!

May

  • Carl will be flying to Minneapolis for a very quick weekend trip to videotape the first of our 3 dance recitals this year.

June

  • These plans are still in the works but we have our other Minneapolis dance recital and I am hoping to accompany Carl for a long weekend to visit Kelly and some of our friends and then we will fly over to Chicago for a few days as well to meet my new nephew being born this weekend and to meet Anthony’s birth-relatives.

August

  • We again plan to spend a week at my boss’s vacation rental in Santa Rosa Beach, FL.
  • Anthony and I will be driving his truck from Jacksonville to Arizona once again! After being without his truck all school year, he has decided that he wants it back next school year so that he can get a part-time job and resume his regular rock-climbing (which he has been sorely missing this year). Now that my Aunt Sandy is in Arizona year round, I will be able to stop and visit with her for a week once again! Do you hear that Aunt Sandy…I’m coming to see you later this year!

That’s what I know for this year so far but I am hoping that there will be some other weekend trips to various places throughout the year. It’s always fun to have things to look forward to and I’m most excited that we have another cruise scheduled for this year. Yippee!

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