Labor Day is that spot on the calendar that tells American’s that summer has ended, school is back in secession and we start looking forward to fall. Autumn is by far my favorite season of them all. Living in Central Florida, we get to enjoy fall much longer than those that live in the Northern Climates. Right now, we’re still enjoying high 80 degree temps, but those night time temperatures are starting to slowly cool down. It’ll be another month before we truly break out the sweatshirts and probably 2 before the first jacket is worn.
Cindy and I flew up to Michigan for my little brothers wedding on Labor Day weekend and got an early start on fall. With day time temps in the 70’s and night time temps dropping down into the low-60’s, it was the perfect treat to get us ready for autumn and perfect weather for a wedding.
It was so awesome to see the family all come together and have time to see Donielle, Jazper and Brad again. I don’t think I can see enough of Jazper at this age, and each time we get to visit with him, it’s harder and harder to imagine life without him. I guess all those goofy things Grandparents say about their Grandchildren are true. You cant spoil them enough and you can’t get enough time with them. The little things that bother their parents don’t even seem to raise our eyebrows and most of the time, Cindy and I get scolded for laughing or shrugging off something that Donielle is trying to get him to stop doing.
Joe & Nicole’s wedding was amazing and Joe is a lucky guy. Nicole looked stunning and I couldn’t be happier for the two of them. Cindy and I have known Nicole for years as she worked with us back when we lived in Michigan. This is how Joe and her met, so it’s one of those relationships that seemed so natural. She’s been to family parties and hung in through some of our most trying of times, that it only seemed natural for her to become family officially.
While living in Michigan years ago, Cindy and I photographed Nicole’s sisters wedding back when she got married. So we know most of her family pretty good and it was great being able to see them all back together again as both sides of the families became one big family unit.
While staying at my parents house, it was so fun to see Jazper play in their big yard. Donielle and Brad live in an apartment just outside New Orleans. When Jazper goes to his dad’s house, he also lives in an Apartment which means he doesn’t have a big yard to play in. The grass in Louisiana is much like the grass here in Florida. It’s hard and scratchy and not all that fun to walk in barefoot. The grass in Michigan is beautiful, soft and usually cold on your feet which is refreshing on a hot summer day. Walking in it barefoot is not only enjoyable, its something you actually want to do as much as you can. When we first took Jazper out into the back yard, he was barefoot and didn’t want to step onto the grass.
He kept pointing at his feet and saying “Chews” which means ‘Shoes’ to a 2 year old. I told him he was fine without his shoes on but he just stood on the concrete looking at the grass. I finally picked him up, walked about 10′ into the yard and put him down. At first he was standing there not wanting to move. The ground was somewhat cold and the grass was so soft and fine.
I could see his toes moving around in it as his sensory feelings were absorbing something new for the first time. His face went from concern to a smile that spread from ear to ear. He looked up and Oma “Grandma in German, which is what he calls Cindy” and I and let out a big “Ohhhhhhhhhh” in a high pitched squeal. He kept moving his feet around the way someone would while feeling plush, new carpeting for the first time.
When he finally realized it was nice and soft, he took off running and never looked back.
Each morning we’d wake up with Jazper and play in the yard as much as possible. My parents have a beautiful yard that resembles a big park. For all Jazper knows, he had the largest park he’s ever been in, and he had more toys and play structures to climb around on that he knew what to do with. One day I think we played for the majority of the day outside just running around, riding cars up and down the hills, climbing into and out of the play houses, catching frogs in the pond and riding motorcycles around for hours. Jazper was so exhausted that he looked at Cindy at one point and asked if he could go take a nap! How many 2 year olds ask if they can go take a nap?
He slept soundly for hours and when he finally woke up, we took him back outside and did it all over again. This was much the same way that my youth was spent and exactly the way Donielle’s was too. We never had the television on unless the weather was bad and since we didn’t have Cable TV or a Satellite back then, there was never anything good to watch anyways. Your time was spent outdoors and enjoying everything the yard, and Mother Nature had to offer.
I thought it was really cool that many of the toys Jazper was playing with were the same ones that I played with as a child, the same ones that my brothers and sisters and my nieces and nephews have played with over the last few decades not to mention the countless children that have passed through my parents house. There is rarely a time when we’re visiting that someone hasn’t dropped by to say ‘Hello’, or stop by to show off a new addition to the family.
Times like these are trying on the emotions. Numerous times would Cindy look at me and without me saying a word, she’d let out a “Don’t even think we’re moving back to Michigan!” Each night as we’d lay down to go to bed, she’d have to give me a talk saying “Pat, I know how you get when you get around family. The only thing you want to do is move home to be closer to them, but you have to remember that we have a very successful business and employee’s that depend on us down in Cedar Key!”
It’s true, I do LOVE being around my family, especially when Donielle and Jazper are there to share in the company. It was a great visit, even if too short.
When we had left Cedar Key to head into Gainesville Airport, our plane flight was leaving at 6am. Since you have to be there an hour early, and that’s an hours drive from our town, we decided to just get a hotel room and spend the night in Gainesville so we could sleep in a bit longer. This wasnt really how it happened, but you’ll have to get the real story out of Cindy the next time you see her.
The truck has needed to have some work done on it for some time now, but it’s too much of a hassle with the distance we are from a dealer to drop it off, and have someone else follow us there and drive us back a day or two later once the work is finished. So our plan worked out perfect. We dropped the truck off at Parks Ford of Gainesville. They had one of their Shuttle Cars drive us to our hotel where we’d have a cab pick us up early in the morning. The shuttle driver learning what we were doing even offered to come pick us up in the morning and take us to the airport so we wouldn’t have to waste the money on a cab, but when we told him we’d be leaving around 4:30am, he laughed and said that was a little too early for him to start work. But what an offer and so over and above what you’d expect from a Dealership.
When our plane landed back in Gainesville, Cindy called the dealership and asked to be picked up, and they told us the shuttle driver would be there within 20 minutes of us landing. I was blown away at the service from Parks Ford.
When we got back to the dealership, our Service Consultant Bill Stoufer, let us know the truck would take another hour or so before it was finished. This was understandable since we had dropped the truck off on Thursday before the Labor Day Holiday. On Friday they had spent the day diagnosing our issues we were having, but the service department was closed on Saturday, Sunday and Monday for the holiday. We had just landed on Wednesday morning, so they had basically had a day and a half to pretty much replace the entire front end of the truck.
When Bill had called us up in Michigan after his technicians had diagnosed our problems, his first question was “Where in the heck do you drive this thing? Have you driven it through salt water or do you do that continuously?”
I laughed and told him that the truck had spent a few winters up in Michigan and they like to use more salt on the slippery roads than should be legal. He gasped and said “I cant wait to tell the technician, he’s never seen a truck with this much rust on it’s suspension components and undercarriage.” This shock and awe is something we get every time a mechanic outside of the State of Michigan looks under our truck. Funny part is when we bring it to a Ford Dealership in Michigan, then never even mention the rust because that’s the norm up there. If you’re ever buying a used vehicle, NEVER look for one that has come from Michigan or any Mid-Western State that uses salt on their roads.
So while we had a few hours to wait at Parks Ford, Bill offered us a loaner car if we wanted to go grab a bite to eat or just go do something in Gainesville. Instead, we chose to sit in their waiting room which is more like a big Man Cave. Its decorated with a giant flat screen TV, overstuffed leather couches, has high speed internet, charging stations for your electronics and a big glass window so you can watch the mechanics working on your vehicle. Since we had been gone for a week without internet, I had yet to work on any photos or answer any emails while we were away.
The waiting room also offered fresh coffee and drinks that were free! We waited for an hour and a half, which gave me just enough time to allow my 900 emails to download, clean my Compact Flash Cards from the cameras and put together a gallery from the wedding. Perfect timing and made the wait fly by! I cant recommend Parks Ford enough. Top Notch service which is rare in this day in age.
After that, we were headed home and ready to go back to work. Sometimes you need a little bit of time away from work to make you realize how much you enjoy it.