Thursday, October 20, 2016

Girls' Weekend, Thursday, October 20, 2016

Jacksonville airport. Picking up the rental car
Thursday, October 20, 2016
God blesses Girls' Weekend, and we get confirmation of this every year as we plan to meet for our annual sojourn.  Lori arrived at the Jacksonville airport first this year, and by the time I landed, deplaned, and made my way to baggage claim she had already picked up the rental car keys and was waiting for me. Oh, Lordy, that first long satisfying airport baggage claim area hug is the most amazing culmination of months of anticipation! It took us a bit of time to find my bag, as we could not locate my flight on any baggage claim monitors, nor was it assigned to one on the main screens, NOR was there anyone from my flight waiting around for bags. As it turned out, almost no one on my little commuter flight had checked a bag, and those who had, picked them up planeside. We finally found my bag sitting all alone on the claim belt reserved for American, looking a bit abandoned.
We found the car, and shortly after noon we set off.  It was an easy 45-50 minute drive southeast from the airport to the Bluegreen resort in St. Augustine where we are staying, as Lori and I talked the whole way (how surprising!) and our cute little Toyota Yaris just ate up the miles. Our condo wasn't ready when we arrived because it was still at least 2 hours before check-in time. A very nice young man at the front desk – who was named Berkan and is from Turkey, although he had almost no discernable accent - switched us to another room that was ready. This was great, because we were able to settle in and relax…and continue talking.  
Shortly after we were married, Eric and I began investing in timeshare with Bluegreen Vacations, and we love it. The properties have great amenities and the customer service is fantastic. We’ve recently acquired more points, and now I am delighted to have the ability to host Girls' Weekend in MY timeshare, as Lori has so generously done through her Worldmark membership for so many of our trips over the years. The two companies are very similar with comparable standards of resorts and services, to such an extent that Lori felt immediately at home when we settled in.  This unit is a one bedroom, with a big open living and dining area, full kitchen, a bathroom with a standing shower and another sink and full jet tub in the bedroom. The property is on two golf courses, and we have a screened-in balcony that looks out over the pretty rolling hills and greens. 
Lori had taken the redeye from Portland Oregon (poor Lori always has to take the redeye if she wants to get to these eastern destinations at a decent time of day), and by now was in great need of a nap.  While she was sleeping I took a quick walk around the property and then settled in a chair by the pool and enjoyed a nice phone chat with Ridley.  At 5:00 pm I headed back to the condo to wake Lori up, and we soon left to go grocery shopping. Both of us were starving by this time and ate almost half a jar of pickles while walking through the store.  By the time we were finished grocery shopping we were ravenous, but we still found the energy to stop at the Starbucks on the way back to the resort.
We didn’t know it when we first saw it, but the screen on our balcony was mandatory for this place at this time, or else no one in their right mind would ever go out there.  Hurricane Matthew roared through almost two weeks ago and devastated the northern shores of Florida. St. Augustine was pretty much shut down for a week as water rose and flowed unchecked down the streets of the city.  Now, businesses and neighborhoods are opening up again, but the deposits of standing water have led to the hatching of billions of giant killer zombie mosquitoes.  We were besieged by them as we tried to get from the car upstairs to our door. I had gotten a couple of bites out by the pool earlier, but this nighttime mob of voracious flesh eaters added several more, and I had to coat myself with Cortisone to save me from scratching my skin off.
Back in the condo, we were way to hungry to wait and abandoned all hope of cooking anything substantial.  Lori nuked a sweet potato and I settled for cottage cheese and tomato with some asparagus, and an apple for dessert.   
After we ate, it was time to begin the ritual tossing of the States.  We learned our lesson from a few years ago when we left our precious US states puzzle pieces in a hotel room, never to be seen again. When we replaced them, we bought a second puzzle so that both Lori and I had puzzle pieces. This was smart, because..well, because Lori and I are very smart, but also because Lori hadn’t been able to find hers while packing, but I had mine so we were good.  After separating out everywhere we had already been (that Iist now totals 26!!), removing Indiana and Oregon, as well as Hawaii and Alaska for differing personal reasons, we were left with 21 contenders for next year’s GW destination. Placing all of these puzzle pieces in a bowl, I hurled them into air and we watched them land. The face-up ones were put back in the baggie to wait another year, while the remaining states lived to see another day. These nine survivors are Texas, South Dakota, Maine, Rhode Island, Delaware, West Virginia, North Dakota, Maryland, and Connecticut.
Good night from St Augustine
After quite a bit more catch-up conversation (we are SO GOOD at that!), Lori’s sleepless night and my early morning flight caught up with both of us and we went to bed. God is good, and so is Girls’ Weekend!

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