A brief FLORIDA trip...
I left there in 1993 to come home to Charleston after my last divorce.
23 years have passed without a Florida return trip.
Heather, my younger daughter, called and asked if I wanted to come for a visit.
The time frame would be during the week between holidays so I started thinking about Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Christmas/New Year air travel.
Duh, yes, the house is in Tallahassee so I stopped checking airfares to Tulsa and contacted Thrifty about renting a car for December 26 - 29.
I had moved to Tallahassee in the 80s when I had been offered a position with the Florida Division of Tourism.
It was a move to the Majors Leagues after having been Director of Tourism for the state of Missouri for four years.
It meant working WITH Disney instead of competing against that major magic tourism mecca.
And the state tourism budget was $50 million. Yikes!!
Now he is 5-years old. What a difference!
Well-spoken, smart as heck (home schooled) and quite a dynamic youngster.
He was shy at first - beards do that - but quickly was hugging his Pop-Pop.
It also had been three years since I had seen my daughter.
She was still recovering from the sudden death of her mother in the home she, her husband, and the boy had shared in Sand Springs, an affluent suburb of Tulsa.
As we drove around the campus, I wanted to see the FSU Bobby Bowden field at Doak Campbell Stadium.
I had been down on the field, taking photos of a football game there many, many years ago but the stadium did not look familiar at all.
"They tore that one down, Dad, and built this new one," Heather explained, as we got out to take pictures of several statues and monuments on the campus.
Did I mention the energy 5-year olds have? Whenever it was safe, he was told to run as fast as he could and burn
off some of that pent-up need to run.
The area around the stadium afforded ample opportunities
to turn him loose to run, his hair flying and his grin wide.
He was in his element, speeding in the walking areas, safely away from cars in the parking lots and roads.
They obviously had developed a routine.
At the statues and monuments, he was encouraged to run circles around them as I tried to capture his movement moments.
Eventually, he would "wind down" and snuggle hug his mom as he caught his breath.
Did I mention he was her "teacher's Pet?"
The plaque said the "no particular person was named, to represent the unconquerable spirit," but I recalled the name of the horse was Renegade."
THAT I happened to remember as I watched Bobby Bowden's teams over the years after my divorce.
The stadium looked brand new to me, with more bricks second only to the Great Wall of China.
Heather pointed out the area where her mom had worked for 10 years.
A very nice set of figures in football gear represented the spirit of "Sportsmanship."
A fallen player, still clutching the football but minus his helmet, is offered a hand up by the FSU tackler who also had picked up the opponent's helmet.
The drive down from Charleston was about 6.5 hours and I was entertained by several audio books I had picked up at the library.
The librarian had reminded me to not leave them behind in Florida and to make sure no disk was left in the car.
That's a funny remark because the first two full-size cars I checked had had low mileage, Bluetooth technology, and satellite radio ....but no CD player slot.
Finally, they found me a Jeep Patriot that could play the disks and I headed down US 17 south to connect near Yemassee with I-95.
I had made several trips recently to Savannah so knew that leg of the journey quite well.
Had not ventured on to Jacksonville for years but GPS on my phone smoothly guided me around JAX and then I-10 moved me across the panhandle to TLH.
He "lit up the place" at the start of the meal to ohs and ahs.
I had calculated the timing by watching other tables and grills so I was able to catch the brief flash of flames.
Later, as the meal progressed and noodles were added to the plates. I observed Aiden demonstrating the "proper way to slurp them."
As usual with such meals, we packed up enough for another serving the next day.
Quite a change from my usual leftover breakfast treat of cold pepperoni pizza slices.
Even on his encore, the noodles were properly dangled and slurped between Aiden's lips.
The host house was equipped with a newer version of the Keurig coffee maker and a small array of real and decaf coffees.
Our morning routine was very familiar and comfortable.
I'll close now and return later with pictures of some of our adventures as I spent quality time with my daughter and her adorable son.
(Click on the photos and links for more details).