Before we could check into the house we rented on Ft. George Island for Family Weekend, we launched the boat and set out to find a restaurant on the water. Since the house was located just across the river from Mayport, we knew there were several restaurants located along the docks where the fishing boats returned with their daily catches. What we didn’t know was that there was a seafood market that also served the fresh fish to diners overlooking the docks.
According to Yelp, Safe Harbor Seafood Market was the place to go for good seafood, so with the help of Google Maps we located Safe Harbor and indeed, it was a true seafood market. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of pounds of fish, crabs, shrimp and even squid filled the icy display cases.
We ordered at the counter, took our number to the table and in a matter of minutes, the server delivered some of the most delicious seafood I’ve ever tasted. Shrimp, grouper, fries, slaw, and amazing hush puppies…what a great way to start the weekend.
Family Weekend is an event that’s added to our list of “to do’s” each year. In the past we’ve always met at the lake for this event, but since that is now home, it seemed like a good idea to take Family Weekend on the road.
This year our designated first weekend in August also coincided with Sarah’s graduation from the University of North Florida where she received her Masters in Health Administration, so it was only natural to look for a location near Jacksonville for this year’s get-together.
We spent the weekend in a five bedroom house on the St. John’s River less than 30 minutes from the UNF campus. A place where we could swim
go to the beach
relax and enjoy one another.
It was also a great location to observe the blue moon and watch the ships moving in and out of the port in Jacksonville.
I think we’ve forever modified our plans for Family Weekend. This will be a good excuse to find new places to visit for our yearly reunion.
The first weekend in August has been designated as “Family Weekend” or as John calls it, “Mandatory Family Fun”.
This is the fifth year of gathering for a weekend of time together and the first year we’ll be meeting at a location other than the lake. Since Sarah graduates this weekend from UNF earning an MHA (Master of Health Administration), our reunion was moved to Jacksonville.
Shopping completed. Boat and fishing gear readied. Bags packed. Bicycles loaded. And the most important job: food prepared. We’re hoping to reduce the amount of time spent cooking by doing some advance preparation.
Ham baked. Lasagna. Mac and cheese. Three types of salsa ready for evenings on the patio overlooking the river.
We’re all looking forward to plenty of good food and drink as well as time in the pool, playing games, watching movies, soaking in the sun, fishing, walking, bike riding, and relaxing. But best of all…spending time together for some family fun.
Of course, we were adults and ordered and ate dinner first, but let’s be honest, we were really there for the banana pudding.
Pulled pork quesadillas, beef brisket, and delicious homemade sides of macaroni and cheese, black eyed peas, collard greens, smoked yellow corn. It’s hard to decide which to order. Just another excuse for a return trip.
When I was in sixth grade in 1970, we celebrated the first Earth Day. I remember numerous news stories on TV and in the newspapers about pollution problems in the Jacksonville area. There were pictures of who knows what being discharged from factories in to the St. John’s River. Of course, the paper factories were a major industry in Jacksonville and the odor emanating from them was a constant reminder of the air pollution problem in the city. At that time plans were being formulated to protect the bald eagle since there was a real danger that our national symbol could become extinct. Looking back, it’s pretty amazing that so much focus was placed on the environment by the government and the media. What a successful campaign!
Schools were encouraged to spend time studying the issue of protecting the environment. That’s why I remember the news reports. We were to watch the news and cut out articles from the newspaper to share. My teacher, Mrs. Boyle, assigned research papers (an excellent way to get 12 year olds interested in the environment) and my project was on water pollution. But the important thing about that first Earth Day is that it started a conversation about the very real problems people were causing and how we might make changes to reverse the damage.
Many improvements have been made as a result of our nation’s focus on environmental protection. You no longer see the haze surrounding large cities. In the 1960s and 70s smog and other air pollution caused a visible haze especially noticeable when approaching a city. The air no longer has an odor associated with pollution except of course when fires are burning due to drought (or when you’re in Palatka where you can still smell the paper mills). Many rivers and lakes in the U.S. are in much better condition than 40 years ago, but I fear that some of that progress may be lost due to relaxing of some of the protections enacted during the past three or four decades. That’s why it’s more important than ever that each of us do our part to make a difference.
I remember your Dad complaining about the crazy woman who would bring all of her mesh bags to Publix because she objected to cutting down trees to make paper bags. And at the same time my Uncle Bill was encouraging everyone he knew to ask the bag boys to double bag their groceries to help the paper industry. We weren’t very environmentally friendly.
While our nation is backsliding on environmental issues, more citizens are taking an active role in the protection of resources and the environment. So 43 years after the first Earth Day I want to remind you to make every day Earth Day and do your part. The Reduce, Reuse, Recycle slogan of Earth Day campaigns is the best way to issue these reminders. Do your part: reduce consumption, reuse resources, and then recycle. You can make a difference.