Going Places

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It’s was still a little chilly out and the forecast was calling for scattered showers, but that didn’t stop the boys and I from taking to the water for the afternoon.

Heading into Jax

As we approached the Acosta Bridge, we noticed the railroad bridge (officially the FEC Strauss Trunnion Bascule Bridge) was down due to a train crossing, so we entered the city via the small boat span, which is always fun. There’s plenty of room, but it always looks like it’s going to be a tight fit…

Under the small bridge span.

Anyway, our destination today was the Exchange Club Park Island under the Matthews Bridge. There’s a little dock there, some picnic areas, and some trails to explore.

This was our first time visiting the island, so it was pretty exciting walking across the gangway…

Gangway to Exchange Club Island Park

And once there, we enjoyed some of the snacks we brought, then started exploring. There was a lagoon in the middle of the island and even some wildlife. In the middle, there was a marker that was pretty beat-up, but we could still make out the words.

The trails were marked with little arrows (so you won’t get lost, I guess), and in the middle, there was a marker that was pretty beat-up, but we could still make out the words.

Soon, the air started to get a little misty, so we decided to head home. If it started raining too badly, we could always tie-up under a bridge on the way.

Thanks for visiting

And Alex took us home…

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It’s Christmas Eve Day and Pop is taking the boys (and Charlie) out for a hike in the woods. He’s looking for dying or fallen trees to cut-up for firewood and showing the boys what to look for.

Hiking in the Woods Hiking in the Woods

There’s a lot of room out here.

Hiking in the Woods

Charlie is having a good time and has twice stolen Adam’s “walking stick”. He’s a character and everyone gets a kick out of watching him run, jump, and roll-around in the leaves.

Hiking in the Woods Hiking in the Woods

These are priceless moments.

Hiking in the Woods

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It’s been quite a year with a lot of changes and it’s good to go home. Funny. I haven’t lived here since I was 10-years-old, but after all these years, I still call it “home”. Mom and Dad are from this area, and moved back up here about 30-years ago. Over the years, we’ve spent time visiting in the Spring and Summer or around the Holidays. As we approach the house, John Denver’s song, “Country Roads,” comes to mind.

Home for the Holidays

Mom and Dad built this house on top of a hill on 10-acres of land.

Home for the Holidays

The trees are so thick you can’t see it from the road, even when all the leaves have fallen.

Home for the Holidays Home for the Holidays
Home for the Holidays Home for the Holidays

The boys are happy to be here and Charlie is ecstacic!

Home for the Holidays Home for the Holidays

Early this morning, Dad and I road into town so he could check his mail. This old Post Office hasn’t changed much. I remember the painting on the wall from when I was a kid.

Home for the Holidays

Right across the street from the Post Office is the Courthouse and standing out front is a statue of the town’s namesake, Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart.

Home for the Holidays

“Quaint” doesn’t begin to describe the little town of Stuart, Virginia.

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Today we went to The Main Event to do some bowling. The hardest part about bowling, of course, is selecting the right color bowling ball…

bowling

What was really interesting to watch was how much of their personality is displayed in their technique. Alex had a cautious and thoughtful style…

bowling

While Adam was direct and forceful, almost slinging the ball down the lane…

bowling

Dad? Well, it was hard to tell with all the gutter balls he was throwing. 🙂

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Halloween. What other time would you see Paul Bunyan pulling gummy worms out of a pudding cup? The boys’ were invited to dress-up as a folktale character for school today. Alex, naturally, was all about it. Adam, on the other hands, well, if there’s no candy in it, then what’s the point.

Paul Bunyan

Halloween. A time for ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties to roam free along neighborhood streets in search of sweeties. This year we have an eclectic combination in a giant inflatable T-Rex and the Stay Puft Marshmellow Man!

The boys’ costumes were pretty cool, actually, with little fans built-in to inflate the suit. And although Alex couldn’t see too well out of his Stay Puft head, Adam had a bit of a challenge walking (or should I say waddling?) from door-to-door.

Halloween Halloween

Their costumes were a hit with the neighbors garnering lots of laughs and comments like, “how do you walk in that thing”? Oh, and candy…lots of candy. “Trick-or-Treat”!

Halloween Halloween

And Adam even ran into a cousin among the clowns, superheroes, ninjas, and princesses weaving in-and-out of each other up and down and around the block…

Halloween

Another fun evening! 🙂

Halloween

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Today we took our boat out of Beach Marine and headed up the Intracoastal. The boys were looking forward to a new adventure.

Underway

We headed west on the St Johns River toward Jacksonville and we’re soon approaching the Dames Point Bridge.

Approaching the Dames Point Bridge

We had crossed this bridge plenty of times in the car, but this was our first time traveling under it.

Dames Point Bridge

Along the way, there were a lot of little barrier islands to explore, so we tied the boat up to one and Cindy snapped some pictures while the boys did a little swimming.

Barrier Island

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So, I won’t lie, the best thing about this little car is cruising with my little buddies. This time, grandson Carter John comes with me to get some gas…

Cruising

and whatever else comes our way! The road is calling…

Cruising

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So, Jess and the grandkids are here for a week’s vacation! This afternoon, we needed to get out of the house, so we headed to up the road to Veteran’s Park!

But first, for some reason, we have to DAB (whatever that is)…

DAP DAB

With so many kids to carry, it’s a good thing Dad was there to help out with transportation!

MG at the Park

Anyway, there are plenty of things for the kids to do…

Like SPIN…

Spin

and SWING…

Jess and Carter Swing Alex and Carter Swing

and SWING some more…

Jess and Oliver swing

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Yesterday was the viewing and today is the funeral for Pa…

The sign

This isn’t the boys’ first experience with the death of a loved one. They lost their Nanny Vera (Cindy’s mom) a few years ago, but they were only 3-years-old and really too young to comprehend what was happening. This time around, they saw and spoke to Pa while he lay sick in his bed. Now they’ve seen him lying in his casket, and although they seem to sense the weightiness of the situation, they’re still protected by a childhood innocence. The most interesting thing was their compulsion to touch Pa…they laid their hands on his forehead. During our drive to Virginia, we talked about Pa and I explained that he was dying. Alex asked if he was going to Heaven to be with God. I said, “Yes he is.”

My cousin Mark, who is a Methodist pastor, performed the funeral. I was touched by his words. The sky had opened up about an hour before and the rain was pouring down. Mark reminded everyone that Pa was a farmer and would’ve appreciated the rain. This made me smile. After the ceremony, we moved to the gravesite. I was one of the pall-bearers and helped lift Pa’s casket into the Hearse and from the Hearse to the grave stand.

Casket

Mark said a prayer at the gravesite and we left Pa to the funeral workers to lay him next to Granny to whom he has now been reunited…

Gravestone

WELCOME HOME!

Granny and Pa

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So, we’re in Virginia and visiting family. I wish our trip was under better circumstances, as my 99-year-old grandfather (“Pa”) is very ill and not expected to make it through the weekend. Right now he’s home and being attended to by family and Hospice. We drove up yesterday and headed straight to his house. Most of the family were there, so it was pretty crowded. Everyone who came to the house came in to say “hello” to Pa and sit with him for a bit while he lay in his bed; there was singing and a lot of laughter. Although he couldn’t speak very well and he was very weak, I believe he enjoyed the visits.

Today, we spent most of the day with Pa. It was a little rough on the boys, but fortunately, their cousin Mike was there to treat them to rides on his four-wheeler…

Four-Wheeling Four-Wheeling

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