Now that I am safely back in Ohio and my frozen fingers are cracking again, last weekend in Florida is just a warm (pun intended) memory with a few images worth sharing.
After the Atlanta show, we tore down the booth and I climbed into the truck just a minute or two before the Super Bowl kicked off. With the Atlanta and Clearwater shows only a week apart now, it has been easier and cheaper the past few years to leave the truck in a secure location in Atlanta and fly home Sunday night, then fly back on Thursday to pick up the truck and head for Florida. So I headed back to our hotel to clean up a few loose ends and change clothes, then left the truck and took a shuttle to the airport, went through security, took the train to Terminal C, got some food, and finally sat down to enjoy some of the game before my flight left – just seconds before the lights went off in the Louisiana Superdome. So I got to watch 35 minutes of nothing, followed by about 10 minutes of actual football before my flight was called. Thankfully, I DVRed the game – but I still haven’t had time to watch most of it.
So after three days in chilly and snowy Ohio, I headed back to Atlanta on Thursday and drove through pouring rain all the way to Clearwater. But it didn’t bother me too much, because as I drove south the temperature readout kept rising – from 42 when I left Atlanta to 71 when I arrived in Clearwater.
And I awoke on Friday morning to this. You folks who live in the South and West probably take deep blue skies for granted, but where I’m from even a sunny day in the winter is gray. I notice the difference every year – I take the same picture every year as I start to unload the truck. And I’ll notice it again in three weeks when my brother and I head to Tucson to see our parents.
Once setup was complete, I rushed to Clearwater Beach for about 45 minutes walking along the gulf shore before dusk. By then the clouds had rolled in and I needed a sweatshirt, but white sand and sounds of surf are hard to beat in February.
If it’s warm, this beach is often crowded with teens and twentysomethings splashing in the surf – when it’s cold, it’s fiftysomethings and above. And the seagulls welcome them all . . .
Saw these in the distance as I headed back to my starting point – some of the simplest kites I have encountered. I have always liked kites but have never done very well at getting/keeping them aloft. These seemed so simple that even I could have flown them.
Oh yeah – there was a show, too. This was the view in our booth about five minutes after the show opened, and Anna was already showing the new Envelope Punch Board to a customer. We took more than 80 advance orders at the show, bringing the total sold so far to more than 300. And I realized on the way home that the next step is to come up with paper packs in various sizes so you can make your own envelopes easily when yours arrives.
Obligatory shot of the masses hypnotized by Sue Rothamel’s demos. The five ladies in black each wore a patch with a bumblebee and the word “Sisters” – but from my vantage point at the cash register I couldn’t make out the bumblebee (and I told them later that my first warped thought was “Black Widows”). Couldn’t resist the shot of Sue teething on the cover for her scissors . . .
On the way home, I played chauffeur for Karen, who rode to Atlanta with me before the Lawrenceville show and spent ten days with her son Scott and his family. Since Karen’s grandchildren are what rock her world, I know how hard it was for her that Samantha is now 13 months old and Karen hadn’t seen her since two weeks after she was born. We all had lunch together, but Karen disappeared quickly for a few minutes alone with her while the rest of us finished.
I took this picture just before we pried Karen away from Scott and Samantha and headed home. That’s a good place to leave the story for today – tomorrow, I will share another life-changing event in my family that occurred while I was 1,000 miles from home . . .