Monday, March 29, 2010

Florida and Friends

As some of you know, my best friend Connie lives in Texas. You may recall her from the disastrous baby shower weekend of 2007. In fact, I haven't seen her since that very weekend, which obviously means I also had never met her daughter who was born the following September. Until last weekend!

Connie and her family (husband, his 3 children, and their 1 together) had finally managed to work out a Disney trip for this March. We did try to get it coordinated to meet them down there, but with work and all, I couldn't manage it. She also planned to stop by our friend Cyndi's house in Jacksonville on the way to and from Orlando. Now, Jacksonville I can manage! So much closer than Texas, LOL. So I took off work Friday and met up with Connie and Cyndi. Cyndi and her husband had spent 18 months or so living in Denmark, so it had been nearly 2 years since I had seen them (May/June 2008). Quite the reunion we had going on! As much as I wanted to bring my boys, I just could not justify putting Luke in the car for that many hours for yet another straight weekend, knowing that we would also be in the car and out of town the following weekend, so of the Gastons, it was just me who went (otherwise there would have been 2 *more* people involved).

I arrived in Jacksonville a little after 9 AM. Most of Connie's family was still asleep, but Connie, Cyndi, and Connie's daughter Sofia were all up, so we had some nice girl bonding time. We really just relaxed and talked all day. Cyndi made homemade pizza for lunch (YUM! must get her dough recipe, which she swears is nearly foolproof), we played Taboo with two of the older kids (for like 2 hours, but it was so much fun!), we wandered down the street to a local seafood place, and we talked well into the night as Connie and her family finished washing clothes and packing. They had to go on and hit the road Friday night to make it back to Texas in time for Jaime to work on Sunday. As I mentioned, I had never met Sofia, I hadn't seen Connie in nearly 3 years, and it had been longer than that since I had seen Jaime and his kids (July 2004 maybe, at Connie and Jaime's wedding). But it was so good to see everyone, even if it was only for a day. We were generally having too much fun for me to think to take many photos, but I did insist on a group shot before they left!

Cyndi and Matt kindly let me stay the night Friday night. I had spent the previous night at my parents house, about an hour north of Jacksonville, and I had plans in Jax with my parents for Saturday afternoon, so that worked out great. I had breakfast with Cyndi and Matt, then headed for St. Johns Town Center mall for lunch at Maggiano's with my parents. After that, we shopped around a little, then headed for the afternoon entertainment.

The Women's SEC Gymnastics Championships were being held in Jacksonville that same weekend. My father had been tipped off by an email newsletter that tickets were on sale for only $14 each, so he went on and bought 4 of them, figuring they would either find another couple to attend with, or just have some extra room to themselves. I think with fees and charges and whatnot, the total cost came to about $70. He'd had the tickets for months when it ended up that this was the same weekend I would be in town (well, nearby), so they asked if I wanted to attend. I knew Connie would likely have had to leave by Saturday afternoon, so it worked out great. I've never seen competitive gymnastics in person before, other than the local club when I was a kid and doing gymnastics myself.

Let me tell you, we got our $70-worth, and then some! It was SO much fun!! Always something going on, and there was no way to watch everything.


We had great seats, in the middle of one of the long sides of the floor, high enough up that you could really see everything.

Floor, Part 1:

We weren't going to see any team in particular (other than "SEC teams," we didn't really even know who would be there), it was just for the experience of it, so we got to cheer for whoever did well, which was fun. For the record, the teams were: Florida, Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Auburn, Arkansas, and Kentucky.

Floor, Part 2:

And these girls were good! We didn't find out until after that 5 of the 7 teams are ranked in the top 10 in the nation, and all 7 were in the top 20. And as much as I love the Olympics, it was nice to see *women* out there doing gymnastics (college age, so 18-22 or so), not little girls (15-17 is pretty standard at the Olympics).

Vault (we were farthest from this one):

Dad wasn't allowed to bring the DSLR into the arena (no detachable lens cameras), so we did what we could with our little point and shoot ones. His has a more powerful sensor than mine, so his shots turned out better (i.e. none of mine made the cut!). I know they're noisy and a little blurry, but it's the best we could do. And the last shot of the uneven bars below is the shot of the day, as far as I'm concerned. Go Dad!


It lasted about 3 hours, but it absolutely did not feel like it. They just flew by! We hadn't intended to stay until the end, but we couldn't tear ourselves away. By the time we got back to the mall to pick up my car, it was 7:30, so we decided to try and eat somewhere. We settled on Mimi's Cafe, which had a 25 minute wait, but considering it was 7:30 on a Saturday night, I thought that was quite reasonable. After dinner, we picked up my car and headed back to my parents' house, and I left the following morning to return to Atlanta. Just a really fun and excellent weekend all the way around.

And before you go feeling bad for Luke and DH, they were having a fun time of their own. Turner Field was open to the public for free on Saturday. They toured the stadium, they ran the bases, they got to play the games under the stands. They climbed all sorts of stairs and did all sorts of walking, and they were completely tuckered out by the time it was all over! But all photo and video evidence points to a great time being had by all. See for yourself:

Currently feeling: happy we all had fun!

No comments:

Post a Comment

My apologies for not allowing comments from Anonymous users. I was getting way too much spam. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment!