The Benedict Family, sans son-in-law, who is taking the photo, and me, who is back at the cottage. And no, you are not going to see any photos of me in a swimsuit, because there aren't any!
This summer our whole family - husband, daughters, son-in-law, and grandkids - took a long weekend and went to Ginnie Springs in Northern Florida. Now, I had never heard of it, but apparently lots of people from this area go there. It is an area where people go tubing, and no, I am not in the photo above because I did not actually go tubing, preferring to stay at the cottage and read. My family loved it, though!
We stayed at the Ichetucknee Hideaway Cottages, which were just delightful. Their website does not do them justice. There are about seven cottages in a semi-circle in a densely wooded area. It has a delightful white fence across the front of the property, is out in the country, and is amidst rolling hills. I adored it! Actually, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it. When my daughter, Kristin, suggested our family go on this little adventure, I told her I would go, but secretly planned on NOT going at the last minute. My daughters know me too well. A few days before we left, they said, "Mom, you ARE going to actually go with us, aren't you?" They knew tubing was not my idea of fun, but wanted us to spend some quality time together, so of course, for the sake of family togetherness, I went.
For those of you unfamiliar, this area is about 30 minutes west of the interstate about half way between Gainesville and Lake City, though it does have a Lake City address. After we got off the interstate, we had to drive through a couple of small towns, including High Springs, which was charming in a slightly rundown kind of way. Lots of antique shops and vintage houses.
The Benedict Grandchildren - Brodie, Marina, and Madeline
We were up there Friday, Saturday, and Sunday the weekend of Tropical Storm Debby. It rained on and off, but we didn't get into any serious rain until the drive home. The fun started as soon as we left home. Kristin and her family drove up separately the day before and our other daughter, Holleigh and granddaughter, Madeline, rode up with us and our dog, Bailey and their dog, Rudy. It was a fun ride. We hadn't even gotten to Clark Rd. on 75 when Bailey, who was sitting on my lap, decided to throw up in my hand. Oh yes, fun times right from the start!
The best part was that we had our cottages next door to each other with Kristin's family in one and Holleigh and Mads with us. The kids constantly ran back and forth and we ate every meal together. I didn't leave the property all weekend. Each cottage had an adorable screened-in front porch with a ceiling fan. Since it was a cloudy, rainy weekend, it was delightful to sit out there and read while everyone was off tubing.
I really have not ever spent time in that part of the state. I have only driven on 75 through there en route to other places. It felt so differently there. Almost a northern vibe with the different trees and topography.
The most memorable part of the weekend was a little incident that happened during lunch on Saturday. There was a brief respite in the rain and the group had just returned from a morning of tubing. My husband had insisted on taking my camera, the one I use for my blog, to take photos of them floating down the river. I did not feel good about this. My husband, myself, my grandson, and son-in-law Mike, were sitting at the picnic table eating when I asked my husband if he had taken any pictures. He just said yes and kept eating. Then my eight-year-old grandson piped up from across the table and said, "Nana, your camera didn't get wet. It's just fine." He spoke in a voice that you just knew he was trying to cover for his Papa, even though we had not even mentioned the getting wet thing. I slowly turned my head to look at my husband, knowing he had something to tell me and it was just like in a TV show. I looked at him with raised eyebrows and he burst out laughing with a guilty look on his face and food went flying everywhere, just like in a classic spit-take.
Well, thank goodness for Brodie, because we all started laughing even though my camera was ruined. I couldn't get mad because it was such a priceless moment. Jan had put my camera in a plastic bag with his wallet and was sure it would not get wet, but when he dropped it in the water, it did indeed get wet and was ruined. Oh, well. We still talk about it and laugh.
Floating down the river just before the infamous camera incident
It was such a fun family weekend of being together and sharing good times. The ride home was quite scary because the storm was in full force. We drove through two different areas that were having tornado warnings and I was so nervous I literally felt like I couldn't breathe. Like the recent 50 car pile-up on 75, we had many cars passing us driving like manics in the pouring rain. What is wrong with people?! Luckily we didn't pass any accidents, though the drive that took us three and a half hours to get there, took us five hours to return home. At least we arrived home safe and sound.
These are definitely the most precious of times. The grandkids are old enough to be self-sufficient, yet still young enough to want to spend time with us. Our daughters are close to each other and close to us. Who could ask for anything more?