Jackson's "Meet the Great Grandparents" Tour 2004
Welcome to Jackson's "Meet the Grandparents" Tour 2004 picture
diary. This is the second year Jackson has made this trip. This year's trip
was much like last year's except we made a few extra stops along the way and
went to a Gator football game in Gainesville. Jackson is 2 months shy of 2
years for this trip, making travelling a real pleasure, especially on the long
drives and cross-country flights. My vote for Nobel Peace Prize goes to the person
that invented the portable DVD player. We borrowed one from a friend for the trip
and it made a world of difference!! We could pop in a movie of Nemo or Lilo&Stitch
and Jackson would be set for the next 90 minutes. Give that man a cookie! Check out
the pics below as we take you for a quick recap of our trip. Maybe next year we'll
take pictures of other people besides just Jackson.
Stop #1: The plane ride from California to Kentucky
The trip started with a bang. Our connecting flight to Kentucky was
cancelled, so the airline put us up in a hotel in Chicago for the first night and
hooked us up with a new flight the next morning. I thought this would be the start
of everything falling apart, but it actually worked out real well, plus Jackson got to
visit Chicago...well, at least the airport. Here's a quick pic of Mom and Jackson taking
it easy after the flight..not so bad.
Stop #2: Louisville, Kentucky - Visiting Great Grandma Jean
Well, we finally made it to Louisville the next morning. Staying in Chicago actually made the cross-country trip much easier with the little guy.
First thing Jackson did was climb into Molly's dog cage, just like last year. We hung out in Louisville for two days visiting with Jackson's Great Grandmother.
Jackson and Molly got along great, although at times I'm sure Molly was wondering: "When is this kid leaving?". We went to Churchill Downs, the host of the
Kentucky Derby, to check out the horses and lap the race track. Ok, so we didn't do any laps, but we did step into the Winner's circle. Jackson found a new
toy in the garden hose, which came in quite handy in getting rid of all the bugs...many more bugs than in Los Angeles.
Stop #3: Churchhill Downs in Louisville
Louisville has started a new art theme throughout town. They have these horses all through town at various businesses and landmarks. Artists throughout, paint
and decorate the horses to some theme. These were the three horses at the race track. My favorite horse is the Superman Horse with Jackson starting to run.
Stop #4: Mammoth Caves and Big Mikes Rock Farm
Our next stop along our trip was to visit Jackson's Great Uncle in Nashville, but we made some command decisions along the trip to pull over and visit some of
sites along the way this year. So, after leaving Louisville, we saw this huge dinasour on the side of the road...and had to take a picture. We followed along
the road a little and came across the Kentucy Mammoth Caves. We were skeptical as to whether Jackson would like the caves, but decided to give it a try anyway.
Besides, if he was to cry and get scared, it would just add to everyones (the others in the tour group) discomfort and fear factor, thus making the caves a
little more realistic and not so safe. Well, that is the theory anyway...but, Jackson was great! He loved the caves and was pointing out rocks along the way.
At one point, about 1/4 mile in the mountain, the guide turned off all the lights for about 1-2 minutes....you couldn't see the nose on your face it was so
dark. Jackson didn't mind at all, just talking the whole time..it was almost humorous to everyone in the group. We even saw some wild turkey and deer. When
we were at the historic train cars, we experimented with how far Jackson would let us get away from him, since we was getting cranky and in a "No" mood anyway.
We probably made it 70 yards before he came running...had to take the picture to document it....Dominique thought the name of the cemetary was unique, so we
had to take that picture as well. And of course, for my brother, we visited the Big Mikes Rock Shop, with the giant aligator in the front yard.
Stop #5: Nashville, Tennessee - Visiting Great Uncle Philip's
Later that day, we made it to Nashville. Jackson got to team up with Montana again (golden retriever). Either Montana has calmed down a little from last year,
or he remembered Jackson and gave him a little more respect this year. Last year he would barrel right over Jackson, this year he gave a little more rooom and
a little delay before running him over. Jackson had a great time checking out him Great Uncle's new pad. Of course, he jumped in Montana's cage just like he
did Molly's in Louisville. Montana is a great dog, he even let Jackson check out his teeth (with supervision of course, for those of you about to write to the
"parents against kids touching dogs teeth" group. Jackson even found some quite time to watch Nemo on the portable DVD player.
Stop #6: Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchberg, Tennessee
So we could either visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, Country Music Museum, Opryland, or some other country themed Nashville tourist site. So, what did we
decide on visiting...and only because it was were Jackson wanted to go...the Jack Daniel's Distillery in Lynchberg, TN. It was a little less than an hour
outside of Nashville, but the odd things was that nobody in town seemed to know where it was when we stopped for directions. We had to buy a map at a gas
station to find Lynchberg...but we found it no problem. They gave a free (hour) tour of the distillery that turned out to be a lot of fun. I was a little
disappointed at the end, when all we got was a small glass of JD lemonade, but the tour was still worth it. Jackson even liked it as we walked from building
to building and checked out fermentors, Mr. Jack Daniels safe (which later contributed to his death..hmm trivia) in his old small office, and throughout the
other distillery buildings. Our tour guide was great, with the true Tennessee accent and look. Check out the wall of bottles below. You can get all those, if
you purchase a barrel of single malt JD whiskey. Now, that sounds like a party.
Stop #7: University of the South in Sawanee, Tennessee
After having a great time with Philip and Montana in Nashville, we continued to head South. Our next stop was Montgomery, Alabama to visit with Dominique's
family. Of course we had to stop along the way. The first stop was the University of the South, Sawanee. Why, you ask..it is where Philip went to college,
so we had to check it out. The campus was very small (compared to UF), but very picturesque. We, of course, had to stop by the Sigma Nu Fraternity house, as
not only was I curious to see it, but Philip was also a Sigma Nu at Sawanee. We even have proof we visited, as Jackson is wearing at Sawanee shirt.
Stop #8: Rock City in Chattanoga, Tennessee
We then had the option of shooting straight down to Montgomery or heading East to Chattanoga to check out some other sites. We chose the long route and headed East.
There must have been over 100 "Visit Rock City" signs and billboards along the way. Well, who says advertising doesn't work? Off to Rock City we went. We
drove two miles up the mountain to the entrance. The first half was pretty interesting of the trail/park/city was interesting as we walked through narrow rock
trails and over wooden bridges. When we reached the peak, you could see seven states from the overlook as well as the rock trail in the mountain. Jackson loved
running through the rock trails, up and down the stairs and over the rock bridges. The second half was (what I think) a little weird. As you walk back you are
guided through a set of caves with little alcoves carved out from side to side with elves and gnomes set in some fairy tail setting, such as "The Three Bears".
Jackson didn't quite know what to think of the gnomes everywhere, but had fun running through the caves.
Stop #9: Montgomery, Alabama - Visiting the Lopez Great Grandparents
Well, we finally made to Montgomery. Thanks again to the inventor of the portable DVD player!! We met up with Jackson's grandparents, great grandparents, uncle, aunt,
and cousin. I played in a golf tournament on Friday and our team placed in dead last (not so good), but it was still a lot of fun. After the tourney, we
headed out to the lake house for a weekend of drunkin' mayhem and partying. Ok, so there wasn't much of the mayhem, drinking, or partying, but still a great
time. Jackson got to go out on his pontoon boat ride around the lake. And he even got to beach his first boat on a sand bar, but we quickly jumped overboard and
pushed it back into the deeper waters. We had stopped at Costco/Sams and picked up a life vest for Jackson, but he wanted no part of it. It was a little big
for him, and he eventually won as far as not having to wear it after a little screaming and yelling. Jackson even got to play with two more golden retreivers
on the boat and on the house deck. He had a good time with Luke as well, his cousin from Rhode Island. After boating across the lake for lunch at a
restaurant on the water, both my and Jackson's uncle's wallets were accidentally tossed overboard and into the water when a shirt was picked up. My wallet
floated and was easily retrieved. But the other wallet was a little more difficult. Mac and I took turns diving about 18'-20' off the dock in non-clear water
to see if we could find it. After about 10 dives it was found....what a pain it would have been to not have that wallet. Saved the day....yeay swim classes.
Stop #10: Palatka, Florida - Where is that anyway?
Jackson had a good break of about 4-5 days in Alabama and now was ready to continue the trip South. This was a long day of driving and Jackson watched
two of his movies on the DVD player during the car ride. For lunch, we had to stop at the Crackle Barrel, as it is at almost every exit from Alabama to Florida.
Jackson even liked playing checkers on the front porch. We finally arrived in Palakta just after sunset, and found Jimmy and Jean-Marie's place, thanks to my
handheld GPS! Jackson had a great time playing with JC and Jamie-Lynn. Especially when it came time for bed. That is when they started jumping off on bed and onto
the floor. Good thing there was a spare mattress on the floor, because I'm sure that would've hurt.
Stop #11: Singer Island and Juno Beach, Florida - Visiting Great Grandma Sarah
Down to South Florida we went next. We stayed on Singer Island, which is by West Palm Beach for a couple of days while visiting Jackson's Great Grandmother Sarah.
The hurricanes definately ate up Florida pretty good. Check out the Cannonsport pier and the damage from the 4 hurricanes over 6 weeks. I must have counted at
least 30 boats from shore that were either sunken, beached, or captsized in the waterway...not good for those boat owners. Jackson went swimming twice a day in
in the pool. I don't know what he liked more, the water or the picture of the sailfish on the bottom of the pool. Jackson's great Uncle Nick was in town, for
a suprise treat. We tried going out to lunch, but all Jackson wanted to do was sleep in this backpack carrier...what a party animal! We had to take this
picture of Jackson at the marina, eating Pirates Booty (like kids cheetos), and watching his movie on the DVD player. It was hilarious how he was watching a
movie, chowing down on treats and had his legs crossed. We had a great time visiting and Jackson loved visiting again!
Stop #12: Indiatlantic, Florida (near Melbourne) - Friends
With only a few days left on the vacation, we headed back up North to visit with some of our college friends. Jackson got to meet two more friends while staying near
Melbourne. They ran around the house and jumped on a mini trampoline and caused complete havock. It was great. Jackson even forced his dad (that's me by the
way) into the pool for a quick swim....I though Florida water was warm, but not this pool...talk about chilly. Jackson even got to watch Nemo on Kim and Anthony's
tv and speaker system. Since their system is a little better than ours at home, he was a little scared with better quality surround sound...we thought it was
pretty funny though. Jackson also got to meet Lynn's girl, but we forgot to get a picture before they left...maybe next year.
Stop #13: Gainesville, Florida - The Swamp .. Gator'ville
Gaaiinnesssviiilllleeee......our last major stop on our trip. We headed across to G'ville Saturday morning for the UF vs LSU football game. I was even able
to get a ticket (thanks Jimmy) to the game..although that is all I'm going to talk about the game since we didn't seal the deal. While Dad (me) tailgated for
about seven hours, Mom and Jackson visited with Manda (college friend) and more of Dominique's extended family. The next morning, we showed Jackson the UF
campus. We visited Lake Alice (of course), so he could see a real live wild alligator..and we were in luck. There was a 5-6 footer floating just a few feet off the
bank checking us out. Then we headed to the various shops in town and bought up all the gator gear we could find (well, it seemed like that after looking at
the receipts). And of course, we had to check out the Swamp (the stadium). We broke into the stadium and ran onto the field. Ok, so we didn't break into the
statium, it was open, but it sounds better doesn't it. Jackson got to play with his new football on the field and even scored a touchdown. Jackson saw the
gator statue (yes, it is just a statue, not the real thing...man, you think we would do that to our kid...not everyone sticks their head in a wild animals
mouth you know) and thought it was pretty cool, so we did some posing and got some cool pics.
Stop #14: Los Angeles - Back home
We flew out of Orlando the next day and headed home. We were back in Manhattan Beach that night and although glad to be home and unpack, still missed the vacation.
We had a great time and thanks to everyone for letting us crash at your place. Jackson had a great time as well...after all, no daycare for two weeks, count