Weekend Trip to Jacksonville

flower

Eric and I haven’t been here in a while, especially together.  I went at the beginning of the boys spring break this year, but haven’t returned since then.  😦  It was time for a road trip.  Driving up after work on Saturday, we arrived in time for dinner together.  Pizza from a nearby restaurant was picked up and devoured by the group.

Before it got too dark, Rich suggested a quick trip to the beach and Connor & I jumped into their vehicle for the ride.  Wow – there were lots of people.  Of course, what else would you expect at the beach in the summer………..but the last time I visited their beach, it was on Christmas day – a cool, chilly Christmas day.

beach

We were able to get a photo with the moon just starting to rise.  Their beach was hit hard with Hurricane Matthew and the city is adding back sand to keep the tourism going and the locals coming back to their beach.  It’s nice, but it feels and looks different.  Right now there aren’t many shells mixed in with the sand as seen in years past.

Typical first evening is the guys are outside talking and sipping bourbon, while Karen and I are inside sitting on their couches catching up on the latest events.  Not tonight.  The guys said they were getting eaten up bugs so they joined us inside.   Hhhhhhhhmmmmmmm.  It just wasn’t the same.

Plans on Sunday were for the guys to go shooting and we were going to work on jewelry.  Since we’re only there for the weekend, I didn’t have any clear plans for making jewelry unlike on some of my other trips.   I snagged a necklace from home I made several years ago that needed to be re-imagined.  I tried to wear it recently and the strands were all tangled up.  By the way………putting it in a baggie for the trip didn’t help the tangles.  Karen was insistent that she could get it straightened out.  After 45+ minutes, she finally agreed – at my urging, not because she gave up – to cut some of the strands.  I didn’t have a vision of what changes I wanted, but going to Michaels was always on the horizon.  It was a given (on my part at least) that we would go out for lunch during our Michaels run.

I wanted to go back to the biscuit restaurant she took us to during my last visit.  Pulling into the parking area, it was pretty obvious that we were the only ones at the place – it wasn’t open on Sunday.  After driving through the adjoining area looking for somewhere else to eat, I saw a fast-food place called PDQ.  The only thing I knew was that it specialized in chicken tenders.  While this was a definite step down from our original goal, it was close in proximity to our location.  I enjoyed my meal, Karen was ambivalent.  I loved the options for dipping sauces, ordering 3 out of the 11 (made from scratch everyday!) choices:  chipotle BBQ, sweet sriracha and ranch.

chicken

The French fries were the weakest part of the meal, just ho-hum.  One point in the restaurant’s favor was the free-style Coke machines where you can customize your soft drink to your own liking.  After a semi-productive stop at Michaels and drive-thru  McDonalds run for Hunter, we were back at their place.

Meanwhile, the guys had gone to shoot clays.  After that they shot one round of trap where they all did comparable.  They also shot a round of sporting clays in the nearby woods where Rich dominated.  Like his brother, Connor is also an excellent shot and did well today.  Driving the golf cart at the range was a definite bonus for Connor.

shooting

Before coming home they had lunch at the ‘Schnitzel House’.  Connor ordered chicken schnitzel and spatzle.  Rich ordered veal schnitzel while Eric ordered pork schnitzel – both of theirs covered with hunter gravy.  The gravy only being mentioned because of the next sentence.  Connor declared that the veal schnitzel was the best after eating his meal and portions of theirs. Gravy isn’t something that I would normally associate when thinking of Connor’s eating habits.

Eric and Rich met up with another friend of theirs after dropping Connor off at home and passed what remained of the afternoon drinking a few brews.

beer

The guys did the cooking for that night’s meal, even involving Connor.  🙂  He was in charge of the cubic fries.  Eric gave him direction for cutting the potatoes and also imparted some ‘scientific’ info concerning potatoes and their starch content and how it affects the finished product.  So okay, understanding about the starch in potatoes is not really important but I could over hear them from the living room and being a food snob (Eric and possibly me)  this technical issue does affect the finished product.

connor

The result was a much-anticipated part of the meal.

potatoes

Rich was the fry-master and had the oil and fish outside on their back porch.

Which is the same place that Eric cooked the blackened redfish.

redfish

The cooking team stopped for a photo when everything was done.

both

It was a delicious meal and the group let me get a selfie before digging in.

family

We ended the night watching a movie that Eric had been talking about for a while, ‘The Big Lebowski’.  Do not, I repeat do not go out and buy the movie.  It has a following, mostly male and is definitely under-appreciated by the female population.  If you must, look it up on the internet, but don’t invest any $$$ with a purchase.

movie

I saw it while I was in Shanghai, for a friend’s birthday and she was also unimpressed by the movie.  Just saying!

Breakfast on Monday was an individual affair and after eating some sausage balls that Karen cooked for Connor (his favorite) we went back upstairs with the goal of finishing the necklace that morning.  The finished product was different from the version envisioned, even changing several times Monday morning.  By noon, it was done and now wearable.  Most importantly, I love it now and how it turned out.  This will definitely get worn, probably this week.

necklace

Eric had taken the boys out for lunch to give us uninterrupted time for finishing up the necklace.  We left shortly after 2pm and made it home by 5pm.  I can’t believe we got Eric to stay that long.  He’s built a reputation for packing everything up immediately after his morning shower and pushing me along to leave by mid-morning.

Driving through the Ocala National Forest on the way home takes longer, but is a nice drive and we avoid the vast majority of rush-hour traffic.  We made it home in time to see Beverly before she went out to play cards.  While it was a pretty quick weekend trip, it was nice seeing all of them and getting away from Clermont.

 

 

 

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