A Fun Week With My Family in Florida!
by Rachelle Siegrist
We arrived at my parents home in Okeechobee, FL last Sunday night, just in time for “hellos and hugs” and to watch Downton Abbey, which was very important to us all! While we were in Dunedin for the MASF show last weekend, our British miniaturist friends got quite a chuckle out of our love for this popular TV series, and dear friend Bill Mundy kept jokingly acting like he was going to tell me what happens and ruin the surprises, since in England they’ve already seen the final series! Of course I kept covering my ears while saying “La La La” and while he laughed, he never told! Nonetheless we started off our week long stay with my family in a most delightful way!
The kids came over the next morning hungry and ready to enjoy uncle Wes’ special miniature pancakes which he always makes for them, with them both eating over a dozen each! After that it was time to head outside, where we spent the day playing in the sunshine, while taking boat rides, playing matchbox cars in the dirt and swinging! A couple of hours was spent while the kids and I adorned the boat with great camouflaging, then paddling out to the middle of the pond, we laid on our backs and watched the clouds form and pass over, each one sharing what awesome creature or flavor of cotton candy they were seeing in the billowy white clouds! All had worked up a healthy appetite by that evening and we were joined by the rest of the family for supper.
The next day my parents, Wes and I went out for lunch then took a ride down to the lake to walk on the pier which is always a treat! Although we almost always see alligators, unfortunately this time there were none. However, it was still beautiful and I especially enjoyed the abundant glorious sunshine and watching the airboats go by! The remainder of the afternoon was spent with the kids outside while making more delightful memories!
Thursday afternoon, Tyler and I were dropped off where we met my brother Marshall at the trailhead for the Grassy Island Bike trail. Abundant, recent rainfall had flooded much of the pasture, so we had to drive my brother’s truck to a location, where it was a little drier, thus making it a bit easier to ride our bikes. The first half hour of the ride was mostly through mud, making sure we were all getting a really good workout! Soon we had reached the higher, sandier section of the trail where we enjoyed riding for a couple of hours. Of course kids will be kids, so we all loved riding through the flooded creeks! I was quite pleased with myself to have ridden a 60 foot section of 9 inch wide single track, which was also floating in some sections. I rode it 3 times and only fell off once! We got back in time for supper that evening and unbelievable we weren’t covered in mud, although the truck was, but that made it even more fun!
The next day I made two birthday cakes, one for Wes’ big upcoming 50th and my brother’s upcoming 41st! I also made one for Haydyn’s upcoming 6th birthday and family friend Diane’s “29th” birthday, so needless to say, it was an evening of celebration with a big party! Tyler and Marshall decided to take advantage of Tyler’s young lungs and let him blow the candles out for them! Later that evening we enjoyed a fun game of Apples to Apples, and guess who won . . . yours truly!
Saturday was spent working and playing outside and ended with a pizza party at my brother’s house, followed by me helping Tyler build and attach a glow in the dark solar system to his ceiling and coloring with Haydyn.
We decided to take advantage of the glorious weather Sunday, and spent the afternoon at one of my favorite places, Highlands Hammock State Park! Walking the trails was sheer delight with clear blue skies above, while sunshine streamed through the dense hammock canopy, lighting sections of the soft trail below. We walked several of our favorite trails and of course had to take time to climb some of our favorite trees!
The lush green hammock is filled with big, beautiful old trees in all shapes and sizes, adding continual interest as you walk along! I absolutely loved the trunk of the large tree pictured below, which looked as if it were one of those weird looking creatures from the dark, depths of the sea and as if it could eat something!
Of course no trip to Highlands Hammock is ever complete without walking on the Cypress Hammock and Fern Garden Trails, both consisting mostly of wooden boardwalks not far above the glassy, dark water’s surface. I must admit we were all quite disappointed to not see any alligators, but certainly enjoyed seeing all of the water in the swamp areas!
I enjoyed riding part of the remainder of the loop road with Tyler before we met up with the rest of the family at the picnic area. There the kids had a ball swinging and playing on the playground, while a few of us grownups stoked a fire, deciding it actually felt really good, as it was still quite cool, especially in the shade! The delightfully fun and memorable day ended with us all enjoying supper together at Sonny’s BBQ that evening. Early this morning Wes and I said our goodbyes and headed to the airport. Thankfully it was almost as warm here in the Smokies as it was in Florida much of this past week! Many thanks again for remembering my Dad in your prayers, as he recently finished his last chemo treatment, cancer free, and continues to improve a little each day!
Until next time . . .