Florida – September 2008

Day 27 – Jax – Clark’s Fish Camp

Saturday 18th October

Jennifer tagged along with us for breakfast this morning. Sandi would have done so too had she been up and ready in time. Since I had a lunch appointment with some old colleagues later, we put the two child car seats into Jennifer’s car and the girls went off to the mall for some more shopping. Sandy needed to exchange those Ugg boots for a slightly different type.

With ‘women involved’ we were consequently later getting to the Waffle House and to make matters worse, there were no tables immediately available when we got there. By the time we’d been seated, ordered, ate and were back in the car, I had to leave for my lunch appointment already.

Lunch was at a place called Ted’s Buffalo at the St. John’s Town Centre mall. A couple of people didn’t show but there were a few familiar faces there – namely Scott (my ex-manager), Duane (a project manger from my department), Gary (one of my peers), Satya (a developer/architect from my department) & Gabor (a programmer that I had an interesting-to-watch love/hate relationship with). It was good to catch up with everyone. The main topics of conversation were the US economy, our plans to move to Australia and the US health-care system (which is one of the reasons we left Florida to begin with). I had a Bison-burger for my lunch. I figured I’d give it a try since I’ve never eaten Bison before. I can’t say it tasted very much different from beef. I did my best to get all the way through it despite having only just finished a cooked breakfast.

Upon leaving Ted’s and bidding farewell to my ex-colleagues, I popped into the nearby Apple store to check out the new laptops that had just been released. They are very nice indeed but we’ve decided to hold off on getting a new laptop for now – at least until I can find another contract when I get back to the UK.

I also spent a while driving around the mall complex looking for somewhere to top up my mobile phone. The mall does appear to get very busy and there were queues of cars driving in all directions looking for the prime parking spaces. I eventually found the AT&T store and adding another $15 to my account. I don’t foresee needing to add anything further since we’re only here for another few days now.

With my phone now functional again, I called Sandy & Jennifer to see where they were at. We still had to make a 16:00 meeting at Deerwood to see Becky and her kids so we needed to figure out the logistics with respect to the car seats. They were at the Avenues mall so I drove over there, via a quick stop at the Marble Slab for another tub of their delicious ice cream.

I got to the mall to find the girls having done their shopping and with Jennifer & Sandi sitting in the play area watching the kids run around. As Sandy was elsewhere at this point, nappy-changing duties for both kids fell to me. How lucky!

We changed the car seats over again and said good-bye to Jennifer and Sandi. I gave Jennifer some money to stop in at Cosco to pick up that three-inch, queen-size, memory-foam mattress top layer we saw when we were last there. She later called to let us know that she wouldn’t have time to collect it today but will do so tomorrow instead.

We made it to Deerwood in time but subsequently given the wrong directions by the woman at the gate and so spent the next thirty minutes driving around the huge gated community and gold course looking for something we were never going to find. We eventually stopped in at the country club to ask for directions. Had we turned right at the gate instead of left, it was right there. Still, it did give us a chance to peruse some of the very opulent properties that comprise the exclusive Deerwood sub-division. It also gave Jennifer a chance to nap so that was a bonus too.

Seeing Becky again was very nice. Seeing her three kids now so much bigger was another shock to the system. Becky had laid on some refreshments and a little surprise for the kids, which was nice. Kristy was there too with Nico and Alex. All the kids played in the playground and nearby field for the better part of an hour or more before we had to say good-bye in order to make our reservation time at Clark’s Fish Camp.

We took Kristy with us and Carlos and the two boys met us there shortly thereafter. There was a baby alligator swimming in the shallows and the kids really enjoyed seeing all the stuffed animals that decorate the interior of the very unassuming restaurant.

Clark’s is best known for it’s huge slab of beef that they call Jack’s cut, along with the only very slightly smaller Joan’s cut. Jack’s cut was off today but Sandy and I enjoyed trying to get through as much of a Joan’s cut each as we possibly could. Carlos did a stellar job of entertaining and feeding the kids and it was a very relaxing evening all around – with just one exception. Apparently, unbeknownst to me and Sandy, a woman on a nearby table had apparently taken issue with the kids being a bit noisy from time to time and actually said something to the effect of ‘keep those kids quiet’. Both Carlos & Kristy picked up on this and Carlos even went out front to argue with the woman that had went to complain to the manager. At the end of the meal, Carlos insisted that we wait a few minutes before leaving. I didn’t know it at the time but he was adamant not to leave, and thus put the arrogant woman out of her misery, until we were good and ready to. Had I picked up on this woman’s comments or been clued into what was going on, I would have had a much more direct approach to dealing with the issue. I think this is why both Carlos & Kristy deliberately kept the issue from us. We had a good laugh about the whole affair in the end. After all, as Carlos put it, the restaurant made more money from our group than they did from this woman and her partner and there’s no reason to think that a family restaurant is an inappropriate place to take the kids out for dinner.

We left Clark’s and made our way over to Baymeadows Road, where Carlos took some pride in showing us where he works. We agreed that we’d take the kids back there again tomorrow for a check-up. Because of the way the UK health-care system works, Joey has never seen a paediatrician other than when he was born.

We rounded out the evening at Carlos & Kristy’s house for some drinks and a chat. This inevitably led to yet another having to say good-bye to very good friends and this got to Sandy by the time we were in the car and on our way back to the condo. We completed the drive home in near silence as we were both reflecting on what a wonderful holiday this has been so far.