The last few months we have traveled a lot fewer miles than usual, but experienced so many memories - it will be hard to capture them all. Our “Friends & Family Tour”, that we have been on since February of 2017, has taken us across these beautifully incredible United States in hopes of seeing as many of our natural wonders, but more importantly, as many as of our loved ones, as possible. While we have missed connecting with a few special friends, because of weather, or bad timing, we feel fortunate to have spent many a day filled with love and laughter. So, while the title may be accurate that you will find a thousand or so words here, there will be many more pictures involved…guaranteed!
This is where I warn you…before you settle into reading this…..have a cup of tea, a glass of wine or another adult beverage on the table beside you. In the case of our friends from Melbourne, pour yourself a healthy dose of Jack….there is a lot to cover from the last few months.
As we leave the coast of Florida and head west, it is time to once again fill our senses with the beautiful red mountains of Arizona that we have come to love, and perhaps we may fall in love with other lands left unexplored.
Family Reunion / Henderson Style November 8-14, 2018
We aren’t a very large family, at least if you don’t count all of the Florida cousins that Sara has found through her research the last few years. Turns out our family , on my Mom’s side, were some of the first settlers in Florida, back in the 1700,’s.
We tried to get most of the Henderson side together back in November while we were parked with the motorhome at Lisa & Brads’.
Ralph, the youngest sibling, came up from his home in the South Miami area and Sara and the boys were able to fly out from California. Unfortunately, Travis got called up for his last deployment and wasn’t able to make the trip east. As I mentioned, we aren’t a very large family and with Greer and Ian here, we were only missing a few of our loved ones, especially Travis and Ralph’s beautiful wife Carol. And miss them we did, but hopefully we will have everyone together for the next one.
We also had Jim & Rita, the absolute best friends that Lisa and Brad could have, with us for the weekend. Turns out there were many a concert we attended together in the heyday of Miami back in the 70’s so the memories were flying around the fire…”Did you see Jethro Tull at the Sportatorium”, “Hell yeah, how about the Doors??????” “Ahem”…..the first time I was tear gassed ..and on and on it went. When it was $5.00 to to get in to an amazing concert….
Having us all in one spot also made it the perfect time to shower Greer and Jarrett with some “Baby Finn” love. (I have also included a photo from our weekend trip down to see Ralph and Carol in South Miami. We couldn’t leave the state without a hug and visit with her and our nephews Dylan and Rueben )
Christmas at Bok Tower December 25, 2018
I am fortunate to be able to say that there are actually quite a few places on this earth that make me feel completely centered, and one of them is Bok Tower. Christmas Day, we made the hour journey from our campsite in Wauchula, in the middle of the state of Florida, to spend the day surrounded by its beauty.
Ormond Beach-By the Sea December 3, 2018- January 20, 2019
We may have found our “landing”. Over the last couple years part of our journey has been to find an area of the country that we would want to spend the rest of our days. We had come to the conclusion that we would need two homes, one in the north, and one in the south, just to chase the nice weather. After spending almost two months on the beaches in the Ormond area of Florida though - we feel it may be the spot for us. It has an extremely laid-back feel, and the entire width of the northern peninsula is only 1/2 mile. One way finds you on the beach of the Atlantic, a quick walk the other places you on the Halifax River (Intercoastal Waterway). Gentle giant oaks fill the area and the wildlife - while not quite as wild as we had out west - still brings some photographic challenges to me. Only time will tell, as we venture back west this spring and summer and see if the golden red rocks of Sedona, the massive mountains of Montana, the rugged coast of the Oregon, the wildlife of Wyoming and the glorious tall trees of Washington still have their pull. I am afraid they may.
Baby Finnegan arrives!!! December 28, 2018
How do you describe when you sister first holds her baby grandchild? You can’t. You just remember the feeling when your first one came along. All the love that overflowed to your child, and through her, your grandchild. The feelings of remembrance of wanting to make everything perfect for them…forever. Life happens, and we know now with a couple of grandsons under our belt that no matter what you do, or what you try, they are going to be themselves. Their perfect selves.
The Wedding January 12, 2019
My niece Lauren, my brother David’s youngest, was married in a beautiful ceremony a few weeks ago to her long-time love, Andrew. While it happened towards the end of our three months in the south, it was absolutely one of the highlights of our trip. It was the main reason we planned this extensive period of time in the south to begin with. Once again we gathered as a family, but this time it was the “Manville/Plair” side. Add to that the fact that some of our closest friends - that were in BOBS’ AND MY WEDDING in 1974 - were also able to attend and it made for an exciting memorable weekend.
We got to have two enjoyable visits with Kylie and Sterling and their beautiful little girls, Addie - 3 1/2 , and Henley - who just turned two. Their home is located in Tifton, GA so it was on the way from Lisa’s in South Carolina to Florida for both of the trips we made. Our first visit was when Kylie was 9 months ready, and when we returned they had a beautiful new baby girl, Sutton, in their arms. What a loving and hard working family they are. Kylie first came to work for us at The Flower Tree when she was in high school. Having the privilege of watching her, and now Sterling, grow and mature has been a joy. Added bonus, Barry - our dear friend from Alaska, was working in the area and came down and camped out with us for a night.
Hannah State Park with Bo & Kim January 17-20
We were fortunate to spend a few days with a couple of our favorite people before we left Florida. Bo and Kim were Sara & Travis’s next door neighbors when they lived in Jacksonville. But what started as neighbors turned into best friends and we too got close with them on our many visits over the years. It was fun for Bob and I to camp in the same campground where the kids had been many times. We camped right on the ocean and spent our days bike riding and shark tooth hunting. Turns out being good at Easter Egg Hunts, which I was as a kid, does not help with shark teeth. I didn’t find a one, but Kim sure did. A wonderful weekend filled with laughter and good food!
Those that follow this blog know that I love to photograph wildlife. Following a massive bull moose as it makes its way across a wide stream hoping to catch that glint in its eye as he turns to look at me is such a thrill!! Bear, antelope, deer, bison, elk and all the other smaller critters we have had the privilege to get close enough to photograph this last couple years will be forever imprinted in my memory. When we got to the Southeast, I must say that I was going into a little withdrawal as far as my camera time was concerned. The landscapes didn’t fill me with awe like the Grand Tetons do, and there were no critters to capture through my lens. Then I started looking for birds and the challenge began. Birds don’t sit still very much -obviously. They flitter and fly at the most minute sound and turns out they are sometimes harder to catch then a 1500 lb. elk that is moving at you at a pretty good clip. I am enjoying learning this new skillset of not only photographing, but identifying them as well.
Well I am pretty sure I am WAY over my 1000 words, and if you are still with me to the end, I THANK YOU! Writing this blog has allowed me to hopefully give our grandboys a sense of our history. After my parents passed I tried my hardest to piece together their history. I wanted to know where their “Happy Place” was.
When my Grandboys are older, my hope is that they will look back at some of the pictures and words here and see that we took chances - and we followed our dreams. We ventured to new destinations and made time for what’s important to us, Friends and Family. Trust me, it has been the tour of a lifetime.