Jaxty's Place

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

MSP Weekend

It’s that time of year…dance recital season! Carl flew to Minnesota this past weekend for the first of three studio’s recitals on Saturday (three shows total). He was blessed to stay the weekend with our old neighbors and friends, Neil and Lou. We appreciate their hospitality so much…thanks Lou (who is a blog subscriber).

When he wasn’t watching hours of girl’s dancing, he was able to visit with old friends, including my former BFF, Deb.

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He stopped by our former church on Sunday morning and saw many familiar faces, including Andrew and Emily, who visited us in JAX our first year.

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But most importantly, he visited with Kelly on Sunday, seeing her new apartment, which is in a converted historic mansion turned into 16 rental units.

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They hit the streets of Minneapolis to watch the annual May Day parade.

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Because it included this performer….

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Kelly’s boyfriend, Avram!

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He was also able to meet Avram’s parents, who both participated in the parade, and see Avram’s mother’s “art car.”

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He met several of Avram’s other relatives as well, including his brother and grandparents.

He saw Avram’s family’s float called Mr. Chompers…

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and even got to ride it in the parade for a bit.

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It was a beautiful Minnesota day to spend outside with our lovely daughter. I wish that I could have been there too.

Oh, and Carl loved his rental “car” this weekend….

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I’m glad that he had a great weekend in Minnesota. One set of recitals down, two more to go!

 

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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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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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A Return to Paradise

…for Anthony that is!

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If you recall, Anthony was blessed with an amazing opportunity to be a camp counselor at Camp Homelani on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii last summer. This week he was again offered a position with the camp for this coming summer. However, instead of being a camp counselor, Anthony will be the “Surfer Lead.” This position does not mean that he will be in charge of surfing but that he will be in charge of a cleaning/maintenance crew. It will give him more free time (that’s where the surfing will come into play) and a slightly larger stipend each week. Hooray for Anthony!

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He will be finishing up his sophomore year of college in about a month and then heading to a friend’s house in Seattle, Washington for a week. From there, he will leave for Hawaii for the summer for more visiting with friends before camp begins. At the end of the summer he will return to Jacksonville to visit us before Anthony and I get to bond during our 3-day road trip back to Phoenix with his pickup truck. Good times!

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We are very proud of Anthony and excited for his second summer in paradise.

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Congratulations, Anthony!

(Photos “borrowed” from Anthony’s Instagram account from last summer.)

 

 

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Kelly Visits Memphis

Since the in-laws weren’t able to come for Christmas, the kids really missed spending time with their grandparents. So I was very impressed and proud of Kelly and Avram for deciding to go to Memphis for a long-weekend to visit with the grandparents and Aunt Leslie.

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While in Memphis, they visited our first house together, the one were we lived when Kelly was born.

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They did some thrift-store shopping at some of Grandma Sue’s favorite places.

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They played games together.

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And of course, there was lots of yummy food and some “adult beverages” for those that wanted them.

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I’m so glad that my kids enjoy time with their grandparents and take time out of their busy schedules to visit and/or call them on occasion. I think we did something right to raise such thoughtful, caring children that value family-time together.

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I’m glad that you all had a great visit!

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Wordless Wednesday: Dolphins

I love how different cities have different decorated statues placed throughout the area.

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In St. Petersburg/Clearwater, it was dolphins.

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So cute!

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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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Carl to the Rescue!

Carl made a very quick trip to Memphis this past weekend to help out his dad, who is still recovering from his broken femur. The good news is that airfare was only $150 round-trip. The bad news is he had to drive to Orlando to get that super fare but it was worth it to help out at his parent’s house.

The main project was to install a second hand railing going up the stairs. My father-in-law hasn’t been upstairs in about two months, since before his accident occurred, which means that he’s been sleeping on a bed in the family room and taking sponge baths. Good times!

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Now he can finally get upstairs! Yippee!

Carl also installed a hand-held shower sprayer so that when my FIL finally does get in the shower, he can sit on the little shower chair they borrowed from a friend and get his business done.

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Carl also did a lot of cleaning up in the yard, including a ton of raking.

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Now granted, he’s not actually raking in that photo but I guess he’s entitled to the occasional coffee break.

Before you feel too sorry for him for working so hard, there was plenty of goofing off.

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And as expected, Sue made him fabulous meals every night.

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He also spent time hanging out with his sister.

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Carl is very grateful for the chance to go and help out where needed.

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We are grateful that Karl is making such good progress in his recovery and we look forward to having Sue and Karl visit in March.

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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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