stories, lessons, and a lot of nonsense

We just returned from Jacksonville, FL, a place we have not visiting since moving away two years ago.  We lived there for four years, and I think I was too busy to realize how great it is there.  We saw a lot of friends we’ve missed, experienced some firsts for Jakob, melted a little bit in the heat, and visited our old church.   All in all, we had a great time.  I will merely give you the highlights, because the trip was a long one, full of great stuff, and I hardly remember it all.  It was a blur.

Exciting Stuff

We made the 18 hour drive down to Florida in 21 hours, with only 4 minutes of fussing from Jakob.  Not too shabby for an 11-month old baby on his first long car ride.

It was great living with Chadwick and Sarah (or as Jakob shall call them, “Uncle Chadcakes and Aunt Sarah”) for the week.  It’s been just over a year since we saw them last.  They put us up in the World Golf Village and stayed there, as well.

We spent our anniversary with many from our old youth group.  That was awesome and weird at the same time.  The senior high is entering college and the junior high have grown up so much.  Most that were shorter than me when I left have surpassed me.  One remains shorter than me.  They were locked in time in my brain, not having grown up at all, but reality hit me when we saw them.

When we lived in Florida, I had a shadow.  His name is Jackson.  He was in our youth group, a student at the school attached to the church, and at everything we ever organized.  That means I saw him more than I saw Sarah.  It seems we went everywhere together, always with me driving.  He just got a truck, though, so he gave me a ride to Wal-Mart, just like the good old days, just with the roles reversed.

Sarah and I got to have lunch with Shane and Karen.  I spent much of my work week with them while I was there, so it was awesome for me.  Shane came and visited us for his birthday last year, when we lived in Ohio.

Sarah bought me a new pair of Vans from the Vans outlet store.  I don’t skate, but I select my shoes based on two criteria: I like the way they look, and they are wide enough for my wide feet.

We went to Gator’s for all you can eat wings with the Lockleys and the Hotts, except the service was so slow that all I could eat was down from 30 to only 15.

Our last night there, we went to Moon River Pizza with the Lockleys, our good friends the Maynards, Daniel Spell (perhaps the most fun person ever to hassle), Bora and Lynn.  They have the best pizza I’ve ever had (sorry, Chris!).

Jakob’s firsts

It was Jakob’s first long car trip and first time in Florida.

He tried Chik-Fil-A and southern barbecue for the first time.  He’s a big fan.

He had a song composed and performed (many times) for him by his Aunt Sarah.  I think it’s called, “Best Friends.”

Jakob’s been saying,” hi,” and waving for about a month now.  He had not waved goodbye or said it before Friday morning.  Uncle Chadwick waved to him and said, “goodbye,” and Jakob waved back.  As we were driving away to start our trek home, he was still waving and saying, “ba-ba.  ba-ba.”

Scary Moments

I had two scary moments, both while driving, and both while Sarah was sleeping.  One happened on the way down, and one on the way up.  First, the scary moment on the way down.

I was on 77-S, in South Carolina, about 15 minutes from merging onto 26-E.  I was coming up on a semi, but I noticed him swerving a lot, so I stayed back some.  He was consistently drifting right, hitting the rumble strip, and then coming back.  Sometimes he would ride the rumble strip for several seconds at a time.  His driving was quite erratic, and I suspect he was drifting in and out of sleep.  I can’t say for sure, but I kept my distance to be safe.  He got so close to the guard rail so many times, and I was worried about his losing control.  Being 2 AM, my theory seemed conceivable.  This wasn’t as scary as the moment that happened on the way home, though.

We were headed back a different way that we came.  At about 4:30 PM, we were on 75-N, driving through Forsyth, GA.  The speed limit was 65.  I was in no hurry to get to Atlanta during rush hour, so I wasn’t going much more than that.  Obviously, I stayed out of the left lane, because smart people do not drive in the left lane at slower speeds (5 over is a slower speed, in case you were wondering).  The lady in the Kia Sorento behind me didn’t like that fact, so she tailgated me for a few miles.  She finally decided she should pass me, but she didn’t check her blind spot.  As she was getting over to the right, a BMW was coming up her side.  He swerved to the next lane – the far right lane – to avoid contact with her.  Unfortunately, there was a semi there, and he didn’t have time to stop.  He ended up going off the road into the grass, and then he disappeared.  He went down a grass hill and was gone.  I couldn’t get over there, but others did and stopped to help.  I was watching him and the Kia driver the whole time.  She seemed to be aware of what she had done, based on the look on her face and her breaking when the guy went off the highway.  She had indecision on her face.  She didn’t know what to do.  Then she decided to floor it.  Having a strong sense of justice, I called 911 and took off after her.  I got on her tail to get her tag.  She went to the next exit and got off, so I followed her.  I didn’t want her slipping away.  She got on a road that ran parallel to 75 and had a 60 MPH speed limit.  She’s very tricksy, but I was determined.  I stayed on her tail while talking to 911 operators.  After a 20-minute excursion, they found where we were and pulled her over.  You know what the worst part was?  A county cop pulled her over, but he’s not from the county she committed her infraction in.  He couldn’t do anything, but he did tell me he’d give her a talking to.  The other county will be coming for her, though.  I don’t doubt that.  I guess his not doing anything saved me hours of talking at the time, so we could get home.  That whole experience shook me up.  I don’t think the guy died or even got hurt too severely, based on the conversations I heard in the background while I was on the phone with 911.  He could have, though, and that had me pretty freaked out for a bit.

Food tour

We had a list of places we needed to eat at while we were there.  Here’s the list (and we hit them all):

  • Chik-Fil-A
  • Sonny’s
  • Whataburger
  • Chik-Fil-A
  • Gator’s Dockside
  • Moon River Pizza
  • Publix (it’s a grocery story, but they have the best subs in their deli and Sarah’s favorite bakery)
  • Chik-Fil-A

All in all, it was the best trip we’ve taken.  It’s the first vacation we’ve taken since 2003.  We had used all of our vacation time coming home, seeing everyone we’re related to and some we are not over the last several years.  We were always more tired when we got back.  It’s nice seeing family, but I much prefer seeing them all the time and vacationing somewhere else when we get the chance.  Sarah took a ton of pictures.  If you’re her friend on facebook, you can see them, since she’s uploaded them already.


Comments on: "to Florida and back: a hobbit-ish guy’s tale" (2)

  1. You are so cool Captain Justice! I would have gone after her too. And don’t bad drivers mortify you in a whole new way now that you’re a parent and travel with Jakob? A lady blew a stop sign last summer and almost t-boned me–on my daughter’s side of the car. Even though I was able to avoid the accident (and not flip my SUV as I swerved) I was still just livid that she almost hurt my daughter. When she pulled over to cry (and likely change her pants–snort!) I got out and had a chat with her.

    Stay safe!

    • Ha! Thanks. I should start going by that from now on.

      It did shake me up, because it made me feel vulnerable and helpless in protecting Jakob. I could do everything right, but the idiots were still out there and very dangerous.

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