Monday, July 24, 2006

Archie Days!

For many years I have wanted to attend a very special party at my Aunt Chris' Mountain Lake Park, Maryland home that she and her family call "Archie Days" and this year we did. It was everything I hoped it would be. Words can't do it justice, but maybe some photos will convey how much fun and food and great love was concentrated in one place at one time.

Archie Days is named after a hamburger stand in Ft. Pierce that is a special place to Chris and her family, so they memorialized it by way of an annual gathering. Below is a recreation of the Archie's sign that hangs on the front porch at Mountain Lake Park.

The centerpiece of Archie Days, of course, is the cheeseburger, but Beer on Ice and wonderful Live Music were also present in abundance.

But it wasn't all food and frivolity; serious sport was a big part of the day, the highlight being an extremely exciting and competitive croquet tourney, won for the Fourth Time by (tah-dah) Diana Haynes Runyon, and runner up Jody, who closely missed winning the previous year. Here is Diana inscribing Jody's name on the covetted (move over Masters Tournament) Archie Days Green Jacket.

Below is an action shot from the second round of play. That's Sarah Haynes Cowan in the lead; Donny, Christopher, Nicholas, Debby and T'or looking on.

I like this one a lot. From Left, clockwise, are Dee, Jody, Debby Haynes, Kyle Haynes, Diana (arbitrating a dicey call), and Christopher. You can see that this is a VERY SERIOUS game!

The porch is where everyone gravitates to eventually. Here, "the children" (as I annoyingly, I'm sure, referred to them incessantly) are playing a dice game as Bruce worked on an oil painting.

Below is a train going by in front of the house. Aunt Chris told us that the only trains that go by now are freight trains, which are unscheduled and come by at all times in the day and night. They are a big part of my memories of this house when Lisa and I were girls and we would stay here in the summers.

While I didn't get any photographs of the egg toss (because Debby H. and I were the first ones out due to my bad catch and I was busy washing egg off of me), here is Donny (who won the egg toss with Nicholas) playing bean bags and wearing his ceremonial Egg Hat. Sarah is looking on.

Below is Nicholas, also wearing his Egg Hat, which he was reluctant to relinquish because it was so fetching.

This was one of my favorite events -- the silent auction of t-shirts! Debby, Sarah, and Bruce are seen here setting minimum bids. We came away with a Simpsons shirt and a Guinness shirt, but I was ROBBED of the Monty Python shirt that I REALLY wanted. In the background you can see the tents of some of the guests who camped out on the lawn. Dignitaries stay in the house, while the Riff Raff either camp or stay at a nearby motel (that would be us). We love being Riff Raff, although I would have preferred to stay in a tent.
I didn't get any good photographs inside the house, which is a huge loss, because that's where much of the cooking and conversation took place. But I do have a pretty good one of the chefs at the hamburger grill, fueled by coals from logs that had been burning since dawn. Here are Sally, Bruce, Rick and Adam giving the Archie-teers salute!

So many people are missing from these photos -- Robert, David (and his new bride), Richard, and others -- but the person who is missing most is the center of it all, Chris Haynes. I did take a picture of her, and we both thought the flash had gone off, but when I went to look there was nothing to be seen. So I take this as a sign that like all Great Souls, her image can't be captured. I sure do have lots of wonderful memories, though. Thank you to everyone who made this weekend possible, but especially thank you to Aunt Chris.

Finally, there are the wildflowers (and a stray daylily from a neighboring lawn) that flourish along Allegheny Drive leading to Chris' house at Mountain Lake Park. I'm too tired to name them accurately tonight, but I will try to do that soon.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A Fourth of July Paddle

Mack Lake Landing (or Mack Landing, depending on your map) is about a 40 minute drive from the house. There were only two trucks/boat trailers in the parking lot and no one staying in the campground. The river was pretty low, which gave me pause since my plan was to go up the narrow creek, but it seemed possible. Because it was so low, it was running slow, so I worried more about having to turn back than fighting the current. Here's the start.

The going was fairly easy, with only two portages, and those not bad because they simply involved getting out of the boat and pulling it a short distance -- nothing tricky. The only bright flowers blooming in this heat were some honeysuckle up in the trees.

Here are a few of the thousands of tadpoles swarming in the shallow sandy places. It will be a noisy night when these guys finally grow legs.

I took pictures of, and logged on my gps, a number of likely camping spots, thinking these might be places that I could get to after work on a Friday for an overnight. This one is on the narrow creek (it is called Moriah Creek on the GPS, but I couldn't find a name for it anywhere else).

The ones below are both after I exited the creek and turned back south on the Ochlockonee. You can see that it's much wider, but it's still very isolated. I was expecting motor boats and jet skis!

The most surprising part of the day is that I only saw one other boat, with two fishermen, and they didn't even have their engine turned on! It was not a long paddle, but very peaceful and quiet, and close to home. It is remarkable to me that it's still possible to enjoy wild Florida in relative solitude -- especially on the Fourth of July.

This is not to say that it wasn't blazing hot nor that the yellow flies weren't ferocious, but that's what makes it fun, isn't it? A parting shot of a majestic cypress: