Reel Big Fish at the Fair

I think it is funny, how I had never heard of Reel Big Fish before exactly one month ago. On that day, December 26, 2016, we – me, Amanda and David – were driving the three hours from Ft. Myers to West Palm  when David asked if we wanted to listen to a CD he had. We said, “Sure,” and when it was over, agreed that we all liked it.

Three weeks ago when I was packing up stuff to send to Amanda, I saw the CD in the stack of stuff she had asked me to mail. I grabbed it and played it for Dave later that night. Although the genre is not his first choice (or even second or third), he enjoyed it well enough. They have some funny lyrics, and while reading them on the jacket cover, I noticed that the CD was from 1998. We were surprised we hadn’t heard of them since this was the type of music most of us mostly listened to back then.

Last week, we went to the fair, and not because I wanted to see the fair, but because I wanted to buy baby chickens there, as we had done a dozen years ago. We found out that baby chicks are no longer sold at the fair, which was sad to hear, and that the following week, Reel Big Fish would be playing. For some reason, this excited me. And since Dave’s been saying I need to get out more, I made the decision that we would be going back to see the band. We told David of the date and asked if he wanted to meet us there, which he did, and we all concurred that it was a good time.

The guys in the band are super funny. One of them was like, “Okay, we are going to sing the song that made us famous in the 90’s,” and upon hearing Hey now, you’re an all-star, get your game on, go play… the crowd went wild, singing along and jumping up and down and I was like, “Oh, I didn’t know they sang this!” They would go on playing for a few minutes before whining to a halt and then say, “No, no, no… just kidding, that’s not our song,” then say whoever it was and then, “Now, this is the song that made us famous in the 90’s.” They went on like this with four or five songs. It was really funny. Every time, I looked at David for confirmation – is this really their song? And only on the last one did he nod his head yes, which they played all the way through, proving it was indeed their song. I knew it from back in the day and concluded they must have been a “one hit wonder” band I didn’t remember. I also found this odd, since they were so freaking funny.


Amanda’s Visit at Christmas 2016

Three hours north and then a half hour west in the middle of nowhere, was about all I knew of the road trip I was taking to go get Amanda from the Sanford Airport. Although not in the middle of nowhere, much of the two-lane road ran right through the St. John’s River.


And right through a fish camp.


Arriving at the small airport just north of the Orlando International reminded me of middle-school pickup back in the day. Almost immediately, traffic came to a complete stop, where, for about ten minutes, I waited.


Traffic started moving slowly and I inched my way closer and closer to the terminal. Then Amanda called, she had retrieved her luggage and was on the curb waiting. It was just like middle-school pickup.

The next day, back in our neck of the woods, I spotted a new sign I thought might interest someone:


One day, Amanda and I went downtown to take Dave to lunch and to see the tree he had been telling us about.

Our tree at home is a bit less traditional. Dave did all the decorating and I love it. “Dreaming of a black-light Christmas” is our song this year!

Presenting the Raffey Family Christmas Tree of 2016:
The “pilot” Blacklight Christmas

For Christmas, we went to Ft. Myers, where, Dave and John carried on Gus’ tradition of hosting a Prime Rib dinner on Christmas Eve, followed by opening presents. Fourteen people got their fill and there were leftovers. Costco came through once again.

Dave said Gus’ traditional grace, to which Jeff and I traditionally tacked-on, “Rub-a-dub dub, let’s eat this grub!”


Then we opened presents. Here, Dave is reading the tag – To David From Santa. At some point, he looked at me, confused. “You sure this is for me?” “Yes, finish reading the tag,” I told him. Because you will always be David first here, he read. And our gift tags confirmed this.


Santa got him cookies – Butter Pecan Meltaways – to be exact. In a round tin with the cookie maker’s name written across the top it and, “a bite above the rest,” I had to try one. The name of “David’s” was a plus.


Man, am I glad that Dave does not enjoy them nearly as much as I do. We would have to fight over them. But as luck would have it, or his big, kind heart, he allowed me to eat almost the entire tin of cookies.

On Christmas Day, we did the traditional get-together at Dave’s cousin’s house. After lunch we played games and then sang Happy Birthday to Jesus.


The following day we came home and planned out Amanda’s last few days here.

To be continued…

Disney Virgin

What a delight it was, to see Amanda and Tony for the second time in six months! And to have Jonathon join us!

Dave and I don’t know which was more exciting – doing Disney again with the kids or seeing Tony experience it for the very first time. It can be overwhelming and even stressful for a first-timer to try to do Disney in one day (providing the goal is to go on as many rides as possible) and good thing, Tony, that you were with seasoned pro’s (assuming you wanted to go on as many rides as possible).


Happy Birthday Dad!

For your birthday dad, you get to drive two and a half hours to come get us from the airport! (Thank you, by the way!) Happy Birthday!!!

Happy Birthday Dad!
Happy Birthday Dad!

The only reason Dave and I did not miss our flight that morning is because we were the only ones on it. We got lost trying to find the long-term parking lot at the Fort Lauderdale airport and wound up paying more for parking than we did our airline tickets combined. At any rate, I couldn’t imagine my dad driving to DFW for nothing. I suppose it could have been a good reminder that their cell phone doesn’t belong in the kitchen drawer, but thankfully, we made it. And like I said, we had the plane all to ourselves.

Dave knew exactly where we were as we were flying over this west coast spot. Not that I doubted him, but I thought it was pretty cool when I compared the photo with the map to check his accuracy. And right on, he was! The GPS on the photo verifies it as well. So honey, here you go, the award for knowing where you are!

We got to Hastings and my dad gave us a tour of his Okra project – a drought-resistant variety he had been working on. We were looking forward to some fried okra with dinner.

He informed us that they had planned to take us to a barbecue they had been invited to for dinner and they weren’t planning on cooking. I tried to hide my disappointment, knowing that my dad would go out of his way to make some if he knew, which he did. He made some fried okra and served it up as an appetizer before we left for the barbecue. That was my dad.

We then went to the strangest barbecue I have ever been to. All due to my expectations, of course.

FPL was hosting this “barbecue” for Cotton Electric customers in Jefferson County, Oklahoma, which I thought was pretty funny!

The following day, we drove two hours north to the buffalo ranch. That would be the Wichita Buffalo Company at Sandy Springs Farm, owned and operated by my dad’s cousin. It is truly a sight to see.

Dave says hi to the buffalo at Sandy Springs Farm

Later, we got a personal introduction to Stormy.

The following day started with a beautiful sunrise.

It was also the day of the Arnold and Hobbs family reunions. And as usual, you could find my dad at the dominoes table, along with his brothers.

I hung out some more with Stormy.

A great time was had by all.

On the way back to Hastings, we drove by a bunch of windmills.

The following day, we took Dave to the airport. I stayed for another two weeks.

We went to the Hastings Senior Citizens Center for lunch.