Christmas, 2004

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This was a Florida Christmas, with our time divided between Tallahassee, St. Augustine, DisneyWorld, and Merritt Island. Despite Mike's presence, temperatures struggled for a semblance of the subtropics (after a very cold and rainy Christmas Day). After ringing in the New Year, we returned to find that Old Man Winter had finally found the Northwest, though he has been very creative in avoiding actual snowfall so far.

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In Tallahassee, we visited with some of Kathi's family and gorged ourselves on favorite foods.

Mike helps Kathi's mother prepare the traditional Christmas breakfast quiche (he must have thought his assistance was required for the grits--ha ha!)

Sierra shows off her new Abercrombie & Fitch gifts (her fondest dream is to personally keep that retailer in business)

Kathi's sister Sandy opens gifts with her mother Faye

Kathi's dad and a few of his grandkids

Sandy and kids, including the newest member of the family, Gypsy

Sunny skies beckon the bravest outside for a walk--and Mike and Robbie to the golf course (unfortunately, there are no photographic records of what we hear were some interesting shots)

we enjoy one of Sandy's favorite Tallahassee pasttimes--visiting in the Whataburger parking lot (or maybe she likes visiting during the Whataburger meal, but the photography staff was slacking off then)

Robbie and Mike relive their golf heroics, discuss the relative merits of Whataburgers vs. Gulf seafood, and undoubtedly marvel at their good fortune to be a part of a family with such high standards in haute cuisine

Aunt Gladys celebrated her 90th birthday in 2004. She and Uncle Lewie still enjoy sitting in their sunroom and watching the birds, geese, and other wildlife that frequents their back yard on Lake Jackson

Cousin Tiffany and her family drop by for a quick visit

We inspect the new Bobby Bowden statue at Doak Campbell stadium, in preparation for cheering the Seminoles to a Gator Bowl victory

St. Augustine

St. Augustine was founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers and is the oldest permanent settlement in the United States. On a previous visit, we toured the Castillo de San Marcos fort and took a quick walking tour of the historic district. This time, we wanted a little more time to explore the area and check out the beaches.

We enjoyed a leisurely stroll at Anastasia State Park while Mike checked out his new GPS' tracking features

Mike gets acquainted with the local fishermen

Ponce de Leon, founder of Florida, points the way to the Bridge of Lions

Obnoxious tourists pose at the entrance to the Bridge of Lions

A pair of lions guard the landmark bridge

The Bridge of Lions spans the intracoastal waterway separating historic St. Augustine from the beaches

DisneyWorld and Merrit Island

Our Christmas vacation isn't complete without visiting the relatives in central Florida, where we enjoy fresh citrus, our favorite shrimp restaurant in the whole world, and (sometimes) warm weather on the beaches. With two days left on our Disney multi-park passes, we also decided to spend one day there focusing on the virtues of patience. While Mike fished with the male cousins, Kathi and Sierra hung out with the female cousins and the kids at the beaches and at Ron Jon's, a local institution of unexplicable reknown and, as far as we know, the gaudiest surf shop in existence. We all enjoyed meeting the newest addition to the family, 1-year-old Josh, and visually inspecting various programming on both Tom's and Andy's large-screen HDTVs so that Mike could be sure he really wants one. Guess what he decided...he does!

After a 1-hour drive, a 45-minute crawl to the parking lot, and 20 minutes in search of a restroom, we are finally ready to stand in line for 90 minutes waiting for the Mission to Space. In a stroke of extreme luck, someone gave us a Fast Pass for 3, thus streamlining our trip to Mars and enabling us to hurry on to the MGM theme park

Eeyore waits in line...impatiently and interminably...for the Tower of Terror

Kathi assures her companions that a 2-minute, 13-story drop is well worth a 90-minute wait...and that we might have had all the fun we can stand for a few decades at Disney and want to consider other destinations for our next Christmas vacation in Florida

Cousin Josh meets the cousins and eventually even lets us hold him!

Cousins Tommy and Steven continue to perfect the construction projects that we enjoyed watching two years ago

Though not quite warm enough to entice Sierra into a bathing suit, she succeeds in practicing for her future role as Florida beach beauty

Proud parents Jessica and Andy pose with Josh

Okay, who switched the momma??? You can't fool me

Mike loaned a helping hand in building a "tree-less" house for Tommy and Steven. We will post photos when it is complete. Last we heard, it was even going to have an air-conditiner??? Hey guys, is that for real? What about a television? Can we stay there next time we visit?

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