Holiday Time with the Family (December 2, 2017 to January 18, 2018)

Holiday Time with the Family (December 2, 2017 to January 18, 2018)

When you think of the holidays, what do you imagine? We think of Christmas trees and decorations, shopping, wrapping gifts, children singing, pageants, Santa, snow (well, maybe we don’t hope for snow, but it is pretty traditional), and New Years Eve, but especially, above all, family. Our holidays were all of these and so much more. This was a year of joy and happiness; it was wonderful to be able to spend time with those we love so much.

IMG_1736Jacksonville Landing, FLIMG_1739

We left Cumberland Island on December 1st and motored to Jacksonville. Our first night was spent at the Sports Complex there, and the following day we completed our journey up the St. John’s River, and then the Ortega River to Lambs Yacht Center. Lambs has been our marina of choice for the past three years, as, while we are out having fun with the family, they are busily performing AfterMath’s annual maintenance.

IMG_1744At the Nutcracker Ballet TeaIMG_1747IMG_1752That’s Madison in yellowIMG_1760Michaela with some dancers

First on the agenda was a Nutcracker Ballet Tea for Kelly, Michaela, Madison and me. Before the show began, tea sandwiches and pastries were served, along with hot chocolate with all of the fixings, and, of course, tea. After lunch we all enjoyed watching the dancers perform in their beautiful costumes, and the girls loved getting to meet and greet the cast when the show was over.

IMG_1775Rich and Kathy live next to this cemetery on Amelia Island that is for only descendants of slaves.  He had never been in it and it is locked so he and I climbed over the fence and went in to check it out.  Surprisingly, most of the graves were fairly recent as seen on the stone below.IMG_1776Soon it was time for AfterMath to be hauled, so John and I moved in to Kelly and Craig’s house for about a week and a half. We took a couple of nights during that time and went to visit Rich, John’s brother, and Kathy in their home on Amelia Island.IMG_1777Michaela was the most colorful elf in the show!IMG_1792Madison had the most important line in the show, “Mary had a baby boy.”IMG_1800Michaela loves to ride JazzIMG_1817I love to see Kelly ride.  It brings me back a lot of years to when she was a young girl taking lessons.IMG_1825And then there is Madison, who loves being on the back of that horse.IMG_1840Carter seemed to prefer the golf cart with his animal buddies nearby.IMG_1845Maddie just makes me smileIMG_1849The concert at Jacksonville LandingIMG_1859I love hearing children sing.IMG_1864When music plays, Madison dances.IMG_1869-EditIMG_1879That’s my Michaela in the back with glassesIMG_1882IMG_1885Now at the Jacksonville AirportIMG_1893IMG_1901Some of the many trees in Jacksonville Airport

After we returned to Jacksonville it was time to start watching those precious children’s Christmas shows. First came Michaela’s show at school, then Madison’s Pre-Kindergarten pageant, then two more for Michaela: one at Jacksonville Landing and one at the Jacksonville Airport. In between all of the Christmas shows there was time for a day of horseback riding lessons as well.

IMG_1904Maybe Santa comes in an Air Sleigh in FloridaIMG_1905IMG_1915IMG_1919IMG_1938IMG_1941IMG_1944Looks like Santa came.IMG_1950Christmas Day fun.IMG_1954IMG_1957Jason and Jace, all dressed up.

School let out for the holidays, so Kelly, the kids, and I made a trip to the always fun Jacksonville Zoo to help speed up the time left before Christmas Day. Finally, though, the big day came and everyone was thrilled with all of the new things Santa brought in his sleigh. Also on Christmas Day, Jason and Lisa arrived, bringing the adorable little Jace with them. Jace, who we FINALLY got to meet at 7 months old, is the son of Lisa’s daughter, Ashley, and he is now a new and wonderful part of our family.

IMG_1959Jace and Kirby after a very long day.IMG_1978Meet the precious new addition to our family, Jace.IMG_1982IMG_2033IMG_2063Santa may have left a reindeer for us to treasure.

After a long and perfect day at Kelly and Craig’s house, Jason, Lisa, and Jace followed us back to AfterMath to spend the night aboard. It was especially nice to have them around, as the day after Christmas is Jason’s birthday. We all relaxed over breakfast, watching Jace play happily. In fact, he is such a happy little baby and never seemed to cry about anything at all, except maybe when John took a dog bone away from him! Later, we had a great dinner, then took Jace to the park for a photo shoot before they had to head back to New Port Richey.

IMG_2222Scott an Noi with Kirby

The holidays were far from over for us though, as, on December 27th, we started out on a road trip to Annapolis to visit Jeff, Sarah, Walter, Rush and Ford. Before arriving at their house, though, we made a stop at our boating buddies, Scott and Noi’s, house in a neighborhood near to Jeff. Rather than board our canine crew, and rather than take him to Jeff and Sarah’s (Sarah and Walt are allergic to most dogs), we took Scott and Noi up on a year old offer to take care of Kirby whenever we went away. It may not have been the Caribbean anymore, but Kirby was just as excited to see them as ever. Hearing Noi yell, “Kirby”, in her Taiwanese accent was a joy to all of our ears. We were happy that they could join us for dinner on Friday night at Jeff and Sarah’s. I’m sure both couples felt as though they knew each other from hearing so much from us about the others.

IMG_2101Making a whirlpool at the Science Museum in BaltimoreIMG_2107And now, making energy.IMG_2121The obligatory gingerbread village.IMG_2128Beautiful Baby Ford playing in the baby room at the museum

It was Christmas all over again with Jeff’s family, and we took great joy in seeing all of them, of course. On the 28th we all loaded into their Land Cruiser and headed to the Science Museum in Baltimore for fun at the displays and a trip to the IMAX Theater. John and I had never been to that museum and I believe we had as much fun as the boys did checking out all of the different rooms and experiments.

IMG_2130Holding rocks that are 4 billon years old.IMG_2134Walt and the Discovery Space Shuttle.IMG_2143IMG_2150IMG_2153Rush seemed to like this little plane that really flies.IMG_2155IMG_2162The Concord.  I would have liked to have flown on that!IMG_2173Jeff, Rush, and Ford checking out the Coast Guard exhibit.IMG_2176For those of us who have known and loved John, this is a typical picture of him showing us something we are all interested in.  Here, Walt seems to be loving what his Bop has to say.IMG_2178Ford is just happy to be alive no matter where he is.IMG_2180The last view of the Discovery.  It’s really beautiful

It snowed a bit one night while we were in Annapolis, but not enough to stop our next museum trip to the Smithsonian Air and Space at Dulles Airport. John and I had asked Jeff if we could take Walt and the others to the Air and Space Museum while we were in DC, as Walt loves all things that fly, and Jeff suggested the Stephen H. Udvar-Hazy Museum, a second location of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum . It turned out to be absolutely amazing. Walt is fascinated by the space shuttle, and here, right in front of him, was the Discovery. He was so happy to see it and continuously asked for me to take pictures of the amazing space ship. The whole day was a complete success for everyone, and one we will long remember.

IMG_2193Baby Ford, such a wonderful little guyIMG_2211Jeff and Rush enjoy those cuddlesIMG_2215Walt, controlling a flying car.IMG_2225John and Walt using Walt’s new lathe and my dad’s chisels, which are stored in the box he made for them.IMG_2229OK, I admit it, I’m a sucker for those little handsIMG_2246Rush, you are never sure what he might say next.IMG_2249Sarah and Ford.  Love at its best.

We stayed in Annapolis until January 1st, with Jeff and me the only ones who made it through New Years without a nap. Sarah had to work all day on New Years Eve, so she was excused, and John had to drive all the way back to Jacksonville the next day, so he was excused too. Nevertheless, the New Year came, and it was wonderful to spend it with our family.

IMG_2253Carter and Michaela shared my gloves (which I happened to have along because we went to Canada).  Kids in Florida don’t have gloves!IMG_2255To those of us who grew up in New England, this snow is nothing.  To Florida kids it is the world!IMG_2256IMG_2258IMG_2260IMG_2265And off to Savannah the next day!IMG_2275IMG_2277You just can’t talk Florida kids out of flip flops.  That’s Michaela, by the way.

They really wanted to make snow angels.  They must have seen this somewhere!IMG_2323IMG_2327IMG_2334IMG_2336How could you not love this Savannah gentleman who offered to take our picture?IMG_2338IMG_2341IMG_2348Beautiful Savannah in the snowIMG_2350

The drive back to Jacksonville was easier than the drive north, but we returned to cold weather here, just as we found in Annapolis. We really need to go where it is warm, and we are constantly reminded of Jimmy Buffett singing the same thought! However, the excitement here was that it snowed in Florida and Kelly’s kids were thrilled over that idea. It did not snow in Jacksonville, but it snowed in Georgia, which isn’t too far away, so John asked if we could take the little ones in search of the white stuff. We picked them up on January 4th, and started out on a path west of Brunswick, GA, where there it was. SNOW. Michaela had been in snow when she was 9 months old, but, of course, did not remember it, and Carter and Madison had never experienced it at all. They kept yelling, “SNOW” every time they saw a white patch. They were thrilled if more was on their side of the car than on the other. Although the best snow we found that day to play in was under a tree in a cemetery (no graves where the tree was), it was enough to give the kids more pleasure than we could have imagined. In fact, it was so much fun, that they begged Kelly to take them again the next day to find more. Kelly, always the amazing mom, agreed, and she picked me up so I could join the fun on a trip to Savannah, GA, about two hours away. There was enough snow in Savannah, to make everyone happy, and I believe the children will remember both days for the rest of their lives.

So, our holidays were perfect in so many ways. We saw every family member, we laughed, we played, we reveled in the company of those we love. It was the perfect season; full of blessing for all for sure. The following couple of weeks have been good too. I’ve gotten to see the kids and Kelly, I’ve had two successful cataract surgeries, and AfterMath is provisioned and just about ready to go; just a polish job left before we take off.

We hope you all have had as wonderful a holiday season as we did, and we wish you all the Happiest of New Years. Just remember to take time to hug your family, kiss those babies, and live your dream.

Cumberland Island, Georgia (November 28th – December 1, 2017)

Cumberland Island, Georgia (November 28th – December 1, 2017)

Another goal achieved! Every time we have passed by Cumberland Island National Seashore on our way up and down the ICW, we have wanted to stop, but it just never worked out. This year’s visit had been planned for a long time, but then those crazy hurricanes appeared and, once again, our trip to the barrier island was no longer a sure thing. In early September, Hurricane Irma forced a complete evacuation of Cumberland’s campers and sparse residents, and the damage incurred during the storm kept it closed until November 11th. Luckily, we had spent enough time in the surrounding area that we were able to delay our arrival until after Thanksgiving, and we were so happy to finally be able to anchor and spend a few days at this beautiful park.

IMG_1640It is always fun for Kirby to be on the beach.  He loves those waves!IMG_1643IMG_1654The paths in the park are just beautiful.IMG_1658There is a 4.2 mile loop around the park.  It passes through forests, beaches, abandoned homes, the Dungeness mansion, a museum, and many historical sights.  At various stops, you can dial your phone for an audio explanation of the history of the spot where you are standing.  IMG_1662IMG_1673The remains of the Dungeness castle.IMG_1678IMG_1688A boardwalk through the marsh.IMG_1693IMG_1690

Cumberland Island is rich in history. The first inhabitants, Native Americans, lived on the island about 4000 years ago. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Spanish built missions there. By 1683, French pirates attacked Cumberland and looted and burned most of the buildings and villages. In 1733 the English arrived and built forts and a hunting lodge called Dungeness. After the Revolutionary War, the island became home for a huge mansion and cotton plantations. Later, it became home for the elite. Andrew Carnegie began a new 59-room castle named Dungeness after the first hunting lodge, but he died before its completion. His wife and children lived there until the Crash and the Great Depression when it was abandoned. Burned in 1959, the remains of the mansion are on view for today’s visitors. The park officially became a National Seashore in 1972. It is now only reached by boat or by a ferry from St. Mary’s, GA. The ferry transports day-trippers as well as campers, who must bring everything they need with them and take everything they brought out. There are not even any garbage cans in the park.

IMG_1655Our first view of one of the feral horses.IMG_1703We sat and ate lunch on a due right next to these two.  They were not the least bit affected by our presence.IMG_1709This guy seemed to really like John.IMG_1712They were so beautiful as they made their way to the ocean.IMG_1721IMG_1727

Of course, Cumberland’s most famous residents are its feral horses. These horses roam the island freely, and can be seen almost anywhere. We saw our first horse by the dinghy dock near the ranger station. We saw others in lawns, on the beach, and in the distance in a marsh. They are beautiful, but wild. While our walk along the beach brought us closer to them, we didn’t purposely approach them. One horse, however, seemed to take a liking to John and went right up to him. Still, we did not touch them. Later we saw them walk down to the water, where one decided to lie down and roll around in the waves. They are truly a beautiful sight.

Cumberland Island was all we hoped it would be. It is a spectacular destination that should not be missed by anyone, especially if traveling down the east coast of the U.S.

After a few days in Cumberland Island’s anchorage, it was time to prepare for our next destination, Jacksonville, where AfterMath would remain for the holidays and her annual maintenance. Updates on our holidays will be coming soon!