The title says it all – Wow! I have had so many Wow moments these past few weeks, I barely know where to start. This campground resort (pictured above) is a Wow, the remnants of destruction from Hurricane Michael are a Wow, and my trip back to MD was a Wow. So where do I start? Actually, the decision is an easy one. I have to start with the most wonderful Wow of them all – the expansion of my family.
My Family Grows
So I was asked by my daughter Sam to travel back to MD over the Easter holiday. She was vague with the details of why, but indicated it was very important, and that I should bring all my camera and video equipment. So, being the good and obedient father that I am, I booked a flight back to MD. A few days before the trip, I pressed her for a bit more detail, and learned that she was engaged and was to be married on Good Friday. Ah, ok – that is a good reason to come back. Alas I am thrilled beyond anything that she and Ryan were married. In addition to gaining a wonderful new son-in-law, I also gained a new grand daughter as Ryan came with a wonderful, precocious, adorable almost 2-year old daughter named Raelynn. It was a quaint, small ceremony at the local courthouse with only a handful of immediate family and friends in attendance, followed by a wonderful afternoon lunch and picture taking at a terrific restaurant on a lake.
If that wasn’t enough great news, it was also announced that I will be the grandfather of yet a third child in October of this year. Sam is expecting, and just the other day was told it would be a girl. So, this trip back was full of wonderful news and events, and I was thrilled beyond all to be a part of it. I put together a little movie from the pictures and video I shot from the event. Hope you enjoy it!
Other Family Hijinks
Besides the wedding, there were other events to participate in. This included a Saturday morning making Easter eggs with daughter Ashley and grandson AJ, and doing the obligatory egg hunt. Ashley came prepared with several different coloring kits, including the traditional coloring tabs you put in the vinegar/water mix, as well as some more entertaining kits to include volcano dying, and foam rolling. They were all lots of fun, and produced an amazing collection of really cool eggs.
In the afternoon on Saturday, we all took a trip to a baby store so that Sam and Ryan could check out all the cool new baby stuff. Sam was particularly like a kid in a candy store checking out everything from cribs and furniture, to fancy (aka expensive) stroller/car seat combo units. Both Sam and Ryan even had their turns testing out front baby carriers – complete with a 20 lbs dummy baby. Very Cool!
After over three hours in the baby store, we all headed out for a nice BBQ dinner at a place called Hideaway’s. It was very yummy, and the beer was nice and cold! Then on Easter Sunday, we all got together at Ashley’s house for a day of cards. We played Cards Against Humanity, Fluxx, Phase 10 Masters Edition, and UNO. Besides the usual salsa and guacamole munching, Ashley made some terrific salads along with some shrimp. It was a yet another wonderful day with family.
Besides all the family fun I had back in MD, I did get some touristy stuff done down in Florida. Before arriving in Panama City Beach, I spent a week in Lake City. Known as the “Gateway to Florida” due to its proximity to the intersection of Interstates 10 and 75, its’a small town with a population of around 12,000, but is rich in history. It was nearby that the largest American Civil War battle in Florida took place in 1864 known as the Battle of Olustee. To add some culture to the town, they recently began adding murals. The first one depicted here (right top), was painted by Keith Goodson and was completed in 2008. It is a celebration of Ichetucknee Springs located south of Lake City, and one of the many splendid natural fed springs located in in the state of Florida.
The other site I visited was the Stephen Foster Museum – located within the Stephen Foster Culture Center State Park in nearby White Springs, FL along the Suwannee River. You may not recognize the name Stephen Foster, but you will certainly recognize the many Americana folk songs he is credited with creating. These include “Oh Susanna”, “My Old Kentucky Home”, “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair”, “Camptown Races”, and of course “Way Down Upon the Suwannee River”. Stephen was not a native of Florida, but it was that last song that brought fame to the area so the locals decided to build a dedication for him. It even includes a Carillon housing the worlds largest tubular bells. Besides chiming on the quarter, half and full hour, the Carillon plays Stephen Foster songs several times a day. It was a pretty cool place!
I’ve not done too much touristy stuff in the Panama City Beach area just yet. But I do have to mention the Wow factor of this area – still recovering from Hurricane Michael that ravaged the area in Oct 2018. I see lots of trees snapped in half, and many roofs sporting blue tarps. I plan to take a trip down to Mexico Beach – known to be ground zero of this hurricane, to see first hand the devastation of that area, and perhaps to provide a bit if positive economic value to the area. I’ll also be visiting the Air Force Armament Museum located near Eglin AFB, and the Man in the Sea Museum which features all sorts of items related to diving history. Lastly, I’ve got to visit a pub nearby which reportedly has upwards of $1M worth of dollar bills stapled all over the venue. Should be fun! Till then, safe travels!