Vacation

Here I am, about a week or two removed from our annual pilgrimage to the Sunshine State to visit my parents and other family and I’m just now sitting down to write about it. I’ve been incredibly lazy about keeping up with my blogs, my website, reading…you name it and I’ve been pretty much neglecting it.  I even wrote weeks ago about my new plan to fit all this stuff into my seemingly, but not really, busy life.  Shortly after that post I closed my computer and with it my new plan.  I think if I had a tablet that would help out some, but then again probably not.  But, hey it may be worth a try, right?

Anyway, its’ always an interesting experience visiting my family in Florida, you just never know what you’re in for.  For instance, this year we had no plans outside of a camouflage wedding which I’ll get to later, but ended up in places such as Bike Week in Daytona, the sandy paths of Juniper Springs, the Jellyfish free shores of Ormond Beach and the deep, dark recesses of Ocala National Forest.  Nothing spectacular and that’s okay because sometimes it’s good to not have a plan and just let the day guide you.

Here are the players in our 17 hour drive…

(Our son was oddly camera shy this time around for some reason, so there is a person missing most of the time)… back to the story.  There is no better feeling than this sight after 17 hours in a Ford Freestar van…

The Florida Welcome Center has become a tradition of ours.  Stop, stretch our legs, take a picture and get our free sample of fresh squeezed Florida orange juice from a carton!  That was just a little sarcasm.  What is alluding our thoughts during this stretch is the fact that we still have two maybe three more hours of drive time.  A stark reminder soon sets in though, our tired butts.

Those three hours are the longest of the trip and only because anticipation starts weaving her bony fingers through our minds.  We start thinking about the end of the drive and seeing everyone, the ocean, the pool…anything except the inside of the van.  So, with anticipation poking at us and after listening to the same Adele song 7 more times on the radio, we finally arrive and remember it’s these wonderful faces that make the trip all worth while…

I said earlier that I spent some time in the deep, dark recesses of Ocala National Forest this is why.  They live in the heart of it and this is their back yard…

DAY 1: Lake Eaton

Everyday the sky was blue, the sun was out and thermometers hit 80.  Usually this is a lot more fun because I can really brag it up to my friends back in Ohio about how nice it is, but this year the days were better there than in Florida!  Frigging global warming.  Anyway day 1 was spent at Lake Eaton, just a nice relaxing, lazy day…

Somewhere down this path, leads us to the lake…

Not much was happening that day, a couple fisherman, a couple crabby wives and a little wildlife.  My big concern was an alligator was going to launch itself from the lake and take me under in a well executed death roll, luckily that wasn’t the case.

DAY 2: Juniper Springs

Juniper Springs was nice and one of the few places we paid to get into.  We didn’t camp, thank goodness, but there is a charge to enter regardless.  My wife and kids did some swimming, I’m not posting any images of that because my wife would be pissed but I’ll include one of our daughter.  After their cold swim we did some exploring…

made some friends…

Again, no gators even though there were reports of one sunning himself or herself down by the river on the other side of the spring.

DAY 3: Bike Week; Daytona

Day 3 turned out being at Bike Week in Daytona.  This concerned me on a number of levels beginning with I don’t own a bike, I don’t own leather and I don’t look like a biker.  Not to mention I wasn’t looking forward to the hour drive there and my dad was overly concerned about travelling I-95, all 5 miles of it, the most deadly road in the world according to him.  In case you’re wondering…we survived.

That guy in the background in the orange shirt…turns out that was Bobby from Lizard Lick Towing! We had no idea until later in the day.

After looking at hundreds of Harley Davidson motorcycles, we found one we may be able to afford.

There’s Bobby!!  After passing him several times that day we saw someone taking their picture with him.  My wife said he must be famous and wanted her picture taken with him too.  As we were waiting our turn the person behind us was on their phone telling their friend that “Bobby is standing right in front of me!!”  Oh, well, maybe we should watch more tv.

This turned out to be a very cool day.  Got to see Daytona International Speedway, Bobby, a zillion bikes and I didn’t get my ass kicked.

DAY 4: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Home

This day was a bit of a breather.  We visited Pulitzer Prize winning author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’  which we do each spring.  It’s not spectacular, just inspiring.  She wrote The Yearling, which she won the Pulitzer for, Cross Creek and some other books my mom has read but I’ve never heard of.  I have great admiration for authors and I like to think I can catch a writing vibe by visiting.  We also visit Malabar Farm near my home town in Ohio, the home of Louis Bromfield, so it’s nice to see both.

DAY 5: The Camouflage Wedding

It wasn’t actually a wedding but a renewal of vowels for a family member’s 10th anniversary.   Normally we go a little later in the spring but to attend this event we pushed our visit up a couple of weeks.  My wife spent months coming up with the perfect camo clothing combination for such an event and good thing too. Because 2 hours before showtime it became a little more interesting as my wife was asked to perform the ceremony.  Pretty cool since she’s never performed one before.  At least she was given a couple  hours to read over the vowels…

The Groom…I know, a little blurry and the Bride.

The Event…

Accessories…

The Bouquet…

DAY 6 – The Final Day – Ormond Beach

What better way to end a vacation than on the beach?  We choose to go to Ormond Beach each Spring, which is slightly north of Daytona, for a couple of reasons.  Less traffic and easy access.  We jump on the highway and an hour later we’re deposited on the beach.  You can’t get much easier than that.  The other interesting development with these images is that I was able to capture some of my son without his knowing.  I guess the jig is up now…

He won’t say he was having fun…

And of course more friends…

With that, sadly, our vacation came to an end.  We drove back, said our goodbyes, packed up our room and was on the road home by 5am Sunday.  All in all it was another great week.  I’m looking forward to next year’s excursion!

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2 thoughts on “Vacation

  1. That camera was such a good investment. GORGEOUS pictures, and your writing made me laugh out loud; I especially liked the part about finding a bike that you could afford. Awesome!

    • Thank you! I hope the camera works out. I’m seriously thinking about blogging my learning experiences with it on a daily basis lol. That bike was great, but truth be told that thing probably cost more than our van.

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