Jaxty's Place

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

The Rest of our Chicago Trip

Some other highlights from our week in Chicago….

Kelly and Avram went clubbing downtown Chicago with Bryanna and friends. It’s nice to see cousins bonding over dancing and drinking.


Game nights!

Bryanna and her boyfriend even came for dinner and a game on our last evening. So nice of them to make time for Aunt Kristy.

Visiting with friends – Scott and family. We even ate REAL Chicago pizza and didn’t even feel guilty. Now the cookie cake for dessert is a different story.

Watched a few movies.


Relaxed around the pool at mom’s complex.


And Carl even got regular work-outs in!


It was a great week in Chicago and we are so grateful for the time spent with family and friends. I am so grateful Carl had the whole week off and we made the trip up north. Thanks for all the hospitality, mom!

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Architectural Boat Tour

On Wednesday, Carl and I took the Metra train downtown to take an architectural boat tour. After I did that last fall with my aunt Sandra, I thought Carl might enjoy it so we used the anniversary gift of money from my mom to buy ourselves tickets.


After getting off the train, we were going to walk a few blocks and then take an Uber to Navy Pier. However, it was a beautiful day and we had time to kill so we ended up walking the whole three miles to Navy Pier. Since this tour originated from Navy Pier, it included a speed boat ride up and down the coast, showing the skyline.


After cruising the coast, we went through the locks to enter the Chicago River. Then we learned about the many of the high-rises along the river. Since this tour included the speed boat ride, we didn’t go as far down the river as the tour with my Aunt Sandy, but it was still very interesting. It was a great anniversary present. Thanks mom!

After the boat tour, we walked down Michigan avenue and around the city.


We had really hoped to win tickets to see Hamilton on that day but it was not to be. Super sad face.


I discovered the soundtrack to Hamilton on Amazon Prime a few months ago and have been obsessively listening to it at least once a week (sometimes more) since then. I was so excited to find out that it was playing in Chicago. Until I found out tickets were running from around $300 on up each. Since we could go on a weekend cruise for $500, we just couldn’t pay that much for tickets. However, I found out that they have a lottery for 44 tickets for $10 each every show. So Carl and I had 7 opportunities while we were in town. But with an average of 10,000 people entering every lottery, we didn’t win. Darn it. The show is coming to Orlando in 2018 though so we WILL be going. In the meantime, I’ll listen to the soundtrack another 150 times.

It was a fun day exploring a beautiful city on an equally beautiful day.

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Independence Day

Carl and I started our Independence Day holiday by attending a local parade that we heard from friends was the largest in the area.


Carl and I were very sad that my sister-in-law, Lisa, and my two nephews (neither of which Carl has met, the youngest I haven’t met) were out of town with her family while we were visiting. But that didn’t stop my brother Rob from hosting a BBQ on the 4th of July.


Rob’s daughter, Bryanna, and her boyfriend, Jimmy, joined us.


Rob did an amazing job, grilling hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken wings, butterfly shrimp and vegetables. Nicely done, Rob!


It was nice to spend time at Rob’s lovely home. Nothing like good food and good company!


On the way home, we decided to take a small detour to visit the house we lived in with Kelly when she was ages 1 to 6.


The house looked exactly the same, with the same paint job from 20 years ago! We think it might be the same owners living there. I guess they must really like the house just the way Carl and I left it :).

Since it was so close, we also found the townhouse we lived in during my high school years.


After mom took us to a different unit and claimed it was where we lived and we repeatedly questioned the people in the clubhouse over the location of the clubhouse moving since it wasn’t where we remembered it to be, we walked over the hill back to our car and realized our former unit was right in front of us. Mom and I have the worst memories ever!

Then, since it was vacation after all, we decided to be naughty and get Dairy Queen.


If you are going to eat carbs, that’s a great way to go!

Instead of watching fireworks, since it was Kelly and Avram’s last night with us, we just stayed home and played some games. It was so good to spend time with them both and we are very grateful they came to Chicago. God Bless America!

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Chicago Trip

At long last…a new blog post. In fact, I have a whole bunch coming all week. Last week, Carl had the whole week off of work. So we decided to take advantage of the days off to fly to Chicago to visit family and friends. And even better, was the fact that Kelly and her boyfriend drove over from MSP as well to be with us through the 4th of July holiday.

On Sunday, my Aunt Gale hosted a BBQ for my dad’s side of the family. 

My dad and his new roommate, Tony, came. It was nice to meet Tony and I’m glad my dad has someone that seems to actually enjoy living with him!


Two out of three of Gale’s sons were there.

Jeff, the oldest, and his girlfriend, Jill

Justin, the middle son; Jessica, his wife; their boys


It was great seeing everyone.


We are grateful to Gale for hosting and to Carl for manning the Grill. Family time is the best time!

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MSP Weekend #2

Carl spent the past weekend in Minneapolis again for our largest dance recital. Six shows, 15 hours of dancing and 250 routines!! That’s a lot of dancing to watch…poor guy.

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When he wasn’t doing that, he was able to visit with some friends again. He had dinner with Kent and Julie and even got a ride on their boat.

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He saw his friend, Paul. He attended our former church.  He visited with Kelly and Avram.

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He also was able to stop by both rental properties to meet the current tenants at both places (who we haven’t met in person) and do some minor maintenance issues at the Bloomington house that came up in the inspection at the “sale” prior to executing our Contract for Deed.

Our former neighbors, Neil and Lou, were again gracious enough to allow him to crash at their house but again HE DID NOT GET A PHOTO! (Hi Lou!) Carl was actually in the neighborhood at the exact moment that the new owners of our former house were having a hot tub lifted over the top of the house and placed on the back deck by a huge crane. Very exciting!


And while he was doing that, I was laying on the couch watching hours upon hours of “Gilmore Girls.” I am obsessed! It was a good weekend all around :).

 

 

 

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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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