Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Gathering of the Clan

Every summer for the past two or three decades our clan has gathered in May or June for the MOORE FAMILY VACATION. There are about 20 of us spanning three generations. Since we are now all officially independent adults, the gathering has taken on some of the organizational demands required of an invading army, though we are different from an invading army because we do not leave destruction in our wake on purpose.

Gathering place - June 2010


Facing the camera, more or less: Beverly, Somebody's legs, Loren, Cole, Betsy, Brett, Reilly; Facing away: Shy person

Families come from as far away as Denver (Bob and Bev Reilly) and Philadelphia (Bill and Gail Hale), but most of us still live in Florida so this is where we have been meeting lately. A key requirement of our gathering place is that it have at least one room large enough for the entire gang to get together for such things as Happy Hours and Game Playing. The Happy Hours come around 4 o’clock or so, depending on when everyone shows up and how quickly Billy can whip together his famous whiskey sours or red snappers.

The Game Playing involves rounds of Trivial Pursuit, Outburst and other sociable contests that allow for spirited competition and its attendant “chirping” (by the winners) and whining and excuse fabricating (by the non-winners). Bill taught us the term chirping which, among his golf buddies, refers to a clever sort of gloating designed to get under the skin of your opponent when he or she is on the ropes. It’s quite vicious, actually, so the Moore clan has taken to it with gusto. Tracy seems particularly adept. I recall her shoving a scorecard under Bill’s nose just as her team had made the final winning point against his, and asking sweetly as she dramatically recorded the point, “Is this what you mean by chirping?”

“Yeah,” Bill chuckled somewhat uncomfortably, “you got it.”

We stayed at a couple of resorts on Anna Maria Island this year. As I mentioned in the last post, our cousins, John and Norma, came to spend the first day of the vacation with us. Norma and Betsy spent a good bit of time on-line at tracking down the various horse thieves and ne’er-do-wells with which, I suspect, our family tree is festooned.


Betsy and Norma looking at

There are lots of nice places to eat on Anna Maria and some of us particularly liked the nearby Habana Cabana, a funky lunch and breakfast café that featured shelves full of used books along with a Cuban-inspired menu.

Habana Cabana

Anna Maria Island is situated between the Gulf of Mexico and the outer reaches of Tampa Bay, each of these bodies of water offering very different environments and perspectives.

Anna Maria - Bayside


Something new for me on this trip was a fabulous kayak voyage along the marshes and mangrove swamps bordering Tampa Bay. Bill, Gail and I made the voyage together and I was grateful for their company since they are kayak veterans while I had never handled one before.

Bill and Gail's Excellent Adventure

The trip was fun, the weather was beautiful and the wildlife interesting. My favorite part was the side trip through the mangrove tunnel which not only offered some unique views, but featured a number of critters including packs of little black crabs that scuttled along the mangrove roots looking for all the world like prowling gangs of spiders.

Mangrove tunnel


Black creatures from the lagoon (if you look closely)

At the turnaround point of the trip we came to a tall wooden tower that gave us a great view of Tampa Bay and the Sunshine Skyway that straddles it.

The tower and views from the tower.

Sunshine Skyway in the Distance

Something slithering along the bottom of Tampa Bay

Other high points were the fishing ventures on Bill’s boat where Cole, Brett and Barbara tried to catch something for the dinner table. Brett and Bill succeeded, but Barbara’s catch was “too big” and had to be thrown back. I never realized there was such a thing as fish being too big to keep.

Brad amazed us with his reliably delicious cuisine: this time the freshly caught fish with beurre blanc took the prize, or would have if prizes were offered, which they are not because we are too cheap.

For Generation 3, aka “the cousins,” every vacation includes various ritualistic undertakings only vaguely understood by those of us in Gen. 2, such as “the long walk on the beach,” the “late night hanging out” and the general “mocking of the elders.” Some of these events took place in Grace and Loren’s room this year, since theirs was farthest off the beaten path. It was also shabby and beaten up enough that any collateral damage would be barely noticeable, but I don’t think that was a consideration in choice of venue.

This year we had an opportunity to meet Justin’s significant friend, Vanessa, who, somewhat surprisingly, at the end of the week, did not say she refused to ever take part in a Moore gathering again.

Naturally, we had the annual family banquet in which all twenty of us descend on a local restaurant where Dad generously treats us and, while doing so, helps boost the local economy. This year the banquet was at Euphemia Haye, a fine old Longboat Key restaurant located in a majestic two-story house with lots of racy pictures in the restrooms.

Bev took our “traditional family photo” outside the Euphemia Haye under a picturesque banyan tree. We didn’t notice the picturesque tree as much as we might have since our ankles were being relentlessly attacked by a mob of terrorist sand fleas as we posed for the two obligatory shots. After the second shot, Brad bolted from the line-up with an air that signaled unmistakably, “I’m done,” which prevented any prospect of a third shot and more blood loss to the vermin.

Still Life with Bow Ties

After dinner there was the annual NTB Award, given to the family member whose behavior over the previous twelve months revealed the most indisputable evidence of bodacious imbecility. Brett was the easy winner this year with a story that began, “I had a truck reserved for 7 o’clock that morning but I didn’t wake up until 11:30. So, I decided to get some breakfast and then go to the rental office.” I’m not saying the competition wasn’t stiff, but Brett’s story, only the beginning of which I’m giving you here, was unbeatable. For more on the NTB Awards, see the January 26, 2010, post.


Bill hands on the NTB Award to a richly deserving Brett

Bill and Gail;
Betsy, Newmy & Loren

Saying good-bye

All in all the vacation provided us with some good times, as usual. Dad (now alone in Generation 1 since our Mom died last year) enjoyed himself and we were all glad to see that. Now that the cousins are getting more scattered as they pursue jobs in different states, it becomes harder for us to gather. Still, I’m betting we’ll be together again about this time next year.

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