North Florida Family and Friends

Visited January 18 – February 13, 2017

On the way to Tallahassee we stopped in Earleton, outside Gainesville on Lake Santa Fe, to visit our friends Dave and Amanda.  They could be our kids and they treat us like family, in the best way.  We consider their little ones as our other “grandkids”, a girl and a boy, and they gave us the news that a little tiebreaker will arrive in July!  Their beautiful lakefront property is full of trees and shrubs so before we could get our big rig down their very long driveway, Tom and Dave had to do some thinning and trimming!

Hallie, the three-year-old, especially loved visiting our “bus” and now whenever she sees an RV on the road she asks if that’s Gramzie’s and Papa Tom’s bus. 🙂  We parked facing the lake so we had a perfect view of the morning sun, though we slept through the sunrise.  We had a great couple days hanging out, playing with the kiddos, enjoying their view and Dave’s cooking!  He’s a master on the grill and also behind the bar, always mixing some tropical delights or pouring his new favorite wine. 🙂

Our first week in Tallahassee was actually in Crawfordville, about 20 miles south.  Our friends Sandy and George live on 20 acres there.  They are also RVers and have a perfect hookup spot near their house.  They are both retired from the park service so as you might imagine, their property is as beautiful as a state park with a pond (sink), lots of trails, trees, birds, and even deer passing through!  We were treated to more delish home cooking, even hot breakfasts, and they also hosted a party while we were there for Tom’s former boss who had just retired as Director of the Park Service but will still manage Paynes Prairie State Park in Gainesville.  It was perfect timing that we got to visit with over 30 of our park friends in that one afternoon.  The rest of our week was spent enjoying their property and making trips to Tallahassee for appointments and more visiting!  Then we moved our rig up to Tallahassee for another week of surfing on other friends’ driveway.  Donald is Tom’s former boss and he and his wife Rosie have been our BFFs for over 30 years!  Over those years our families grew up together.  We’ve been park neighbors and camped and cruised together and are currently planning an adventure out west when we finally get out there. 🙂

We packed a lot in to that final Tallahassee week—visiting our former workplaces, friends, and our daughter.  We also went to the fantastic PRISM concert at FSU and got to worship at our home church two Sundays in a row.  And of course, we had more great meals, home cooked and out.  We recommend Merv’s Melts, Bread & Roses Kitchen, Brick Haus Pizza, Wahoo Seafood Grill, and the Red Barn!

Our last stop on the Florida tour was in Baker, northeast of Pensacola, where we surfed on our friends’ farm.  Months ago, Ross and Marci told us they had a cabin in the woods as a second home that would be a good spot for us to hook up and hang out.  What they didn’t mention was that the farm was 450 acres (!) and the “cabin” was really two grand three-bedroom cabin homes connected by a four-bedroom bunkhouse for guests!  It’s a family affair that they share with Marci’s sisters and they all gather there for as many weekends as they can.  The property backs up to the Blackwater River and has ponds, pine forests, a pecan orchard, cattle, horses, mules, goats, pigs, geese, ducks, chickens (fresh eggs all week!), and turkeys!  The resident farm managers, Brandon and Anna, take excellent care of ALL of it and they did the same for us!  We got a full farm tour including getting to bottle-feed two young bulls.

What a great week we had taking long walks and lots of pictures!  Tom had a blast on the four-wheelers and at their shooting range.  One night, we drove to Navarre to meet park friends, Dan and Rivers, at Ye Olde Brothers Brewery for delish pizza and craft beer. When Ross and Marci arrived for the weekend we had a wonderful time visiting.

Tom and Ross met as teenagers at Scout summer camp.  We’ve stayed in touch and visited over the decades, but it’s been awhile so there was a lot of catching up to do!  We cooked for them one night and they took us out on another for a local Thai dinner at Enjoy Thai, literally out in the country in the middle of nowhere, but fresh and fantastic.
On our last night, we followed them home to Pensacola where we got to tour their amazing 11,000 square foot home overlooking the Bay.  They have unique and awesome collections of art, dolls, Life magazines, bottles of single malt scotch, and record albums!  Ross pulled out Life magazines from the weeks we were born and also an old Chicago album so Tom & I could dance to our song, Color My World.  What a sweet memory we made. 🙂

We headed downtown to meet our niece and fiancé for dinner at famous McGuire’s Irish Pub.  We had a great evening together and the meal was absolutely outstanding.  The portions are so large we each took home enough for another meal!  The fun tradition at McGuire’s, besides eating and imbibing, is to sign a dollar bill and tack it to the ceiling or wall.  The menu says there are a million of them up, but our server said it’s closer to two million!  We were glad to add to the millions and signed ours with, naturally, and the next day we were headed west to do just that!

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