Family Ties

I attended the Stalker / Callahan / Ackerman family reunion [my second “anchor event” of this trip] yesterday in Dunnellon, Florida. It was quite the event!

I rode the Honda instead of taking the truck / trailer / Honda ensemble (a) because I wanted to, and (b) because I didn’t know what the parking situation would be – somewhat like when I rode the Honda to my dinner with Bill and Bob in Arlington a week or so ago. The directions to Dunnellon from the motel in Ocala were simple enough – ride about 8 miles down FL 200; turn right; ride about 10 miles on FL 484; there you are. But the actual reunion site was a little harder to find. I had gotten MapQuest directions to the Rainbow Rivers Club in Dunnellon, but that was for the office and the motel-style rooms. They also have a property a little farther up-river with cabins, a pool, and other amenities, which is where the reunion was held. Not finding any directions from one to the other, I called Will, who put his cousin Pat on the phone, who talked me in to the right place. The only saving grace in that was the fact that *lots* of people called and basically said “Where am I and where are you? And how can I get from where I am to where you are?”

As I followed Pat’s directions, I scored another first on the Honda – riding on a soft-sand road. It was … interesting. As in, “May you live in interesting times.” Yeah, that kind of interesting. I didn’t fall, either on the way in or on the way out, but it was close a couple of times. Yeah. Interesting. Feet make good training wheels sometimes.

The reunion began at 11 and I arrived at 12, but I wasn’t the last one there. A photographer had been hired for group pictures at 2 but (as is typical of large gatherings) that was delayed. We finally got all the pictures taken by about 3, I think.

The food was delicious! Will’s daughter, Amy, and her husband, Chris, did most of the work and provided us with pulled pork, barbecued chicken, potato salad, tossed salad, macaroni salad, and brownies (LOTS of brownies) for dessert! Beverages were your own responsibility and I ended up drinking plain water to counteract some of the calories in the brownies. šŸ˜‰

The other big and sort-of-organized activity was primarily for the younger set, although some of the folks of my generation also participated. it was a float down the Rainbow River on air mattresses. About 12 people went on that, with Sue and Pat providing the pontoon boat to get everyone upriver so they could float back down to the reunion site. I played unofficial photographer and took lots of pictures. I uploaded them to Flickr; you can see them here:Ā [Note: If you have trouble accessing the album, please let me know either on Facebook or here and I’ll see if I can fix the problem.] I also posted the link to the Stalker / Callahan / Ackerman Reunion group on Facebook.

After the photos were taken and we had all stuffed ourselves, the gathering broke up into smaller groups. I could hear lots of conversations going on, so it sounded like everyone was catching up on the last [x] years since they had seen each other. The kids had tether ball to play; there was a pool for swimming; and there were ping-pong and pool tables in the main building – all of which were taken advantage of.

We had the usual Florida daily afternoon thunderstorm from about 3:15 to maybe 5. I decided to wait until the storm had moved farther east before riding back to the motel; I finally left about 6:30 (after taking a nice nap!).I would guesstimate around 40 to 50 people attended, with family relationships from the usual (parents and offspring of several generations) to extended – first cousins, second cousins, maybe even third cousins, and the assorted cross-generational relationships such as first cousins once removed and so on. There were a fair number of non-blood relations, too, like myself.

I was pleased and honored to have been invited. I wore my “Toni Memorial” t-shirt and it got some good comments, with a couple of people asking if they could get one.

I’m glad I went.

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