Why were we traveling to Florida in March of 2012? Well, each year my mom's brothers and their families get together for a "family reunion" of sorts. Since my uncles all live in various states except Pennsylvania, they usually convene in Florida. The last time my parents joined the reunion was decades ago! My mom and dad never travel via airplane so I started pressuring them to go in March 2012. I thought that I would go this year too and perhaps they would feel inclined to join me. Then, I thought that it would be a good idea to bring Olivia along with me to meet my family since most of them haven't seen her since she was a baby. BIG MISTAKE ON MY PART.
My plan worked. Olivia and I bought tickets to fly to Jacksonville, FL on March 23, 2012. My parents also purchased tickets for that same date and time.
My parents picked me and Olivia up early that morning and we traveled to the airport to fly to Atlanta, GA for a brief lay-over. Once we were in Atlanta, we stopped and had lunch at a burger place in the airport. Olivia had a cheeseburger. I don't remember what I had for lunch that day.
We proceeded to our terminal and noticed that it was a bit empty, which was odd because our flight should be boarding by this time. We figured out that our flight to Jacksonville was leaving from a different terminal so we rushed to the new location. Olivia and I made it there quickly but my parents were dragging behind. Once Olivia and I got on the plane and into our seats, I started to worry that they weren't going to make it! I asked the flight attendant if I could check to see if they were coming but she told me that if I left the plane, I would not be allowed back on so I just waited. Sure enough, mom and dad came onto then plane and I swear they shut the doors to the plane right after that. We were on our way to Jacksonville, FL. Oh how I wish we would have missed our flight.
We arrived in Jacksonville around 4pm, rented our car, and drove to Palatka, FL where most of my mom's family was waiting. My Aunt Elise and Uncle Greg's friends let our family borrow their house for our family reunion weekend. It was a lovely home that sat on the St. John's River. On our trip in the car, Olivia and I listened to Justin Bieber on my phone. She loved his music. We danced in the back seat of the car. Erick called us to see if we landed. We were looking forward to our weekend getaway.
After about a 20 minute drive, we pulled into the gravel driveway, parked, retrieved our bags from the trunk of the car, and headed into the house to say our hellos. I introduced Olivia to my cousins, Erin and Meredith, and we got a quick tour of the home. The last time Olivia and I saw Erin and Meredith was Christmas 2004 when we flew to visit them in Stuart, FL.
We walked out onto the back porch, which looked out onto the St. John's River. It was a beautiful view. There was a porch swing that Olivia went to sit on but was quickly startled by a large spiderweb! She wasn't afraid of much but spiders were off limits! My Uncle Greg then asked, "Do you want to go on a boat ride?" The dreaded question. We accepted the offer on the condition that Olivia wore a life preserver. Off we went.......... Olivia would not return to the house.
To be continued.