We are BACK from our Anniversary Trip! I hope everyone had a great week and is all excited and ready for Christmas. It's nearly here!
As to our trip, well our destination this time around was St. Augustine Florida. St. Augustine is ALLLLLL the way over on the other coast so it was about a 4 1/2 hour trip. That's okay. We know how to do a road trip. We were prepared. Rental car (this time a silver caddy with lovely separate temperature control seats hot or cold - this will come into play sometime later) loaded with our stuff, Tim had our destination in the nav system and a fresh cup of coffee at hand. I had my tablet, my phone, a book annnnnnnnd a game! Do you remember playing Auto-Bingo as a kid on road trips? I do. And as my memory recalls, it was loads of fun too so when I happened across one at The Dollar Store (where else?) I snapped it up. It ended up keeping us engaged nearly the entire trip.
The first "Bingo" happened almost immediately. So we decided to go for Black-Out Bingo which never happened. There was one square that never got checked off. DANG! Care to guess which thing we never found? The best part is that I can wipe off the x's (dry erase marker) and we can play again another time on another trip. Awesome!
We arrived in St. Augustine by afternoon, checked in to our lovely hotel and immediately crossed the street to see what the East Coast beach looks like. It was surprisingly different. Not only would we be admiring sun rises instead of sunsets over the water, but we were surprised to see that first there was a lot of green followed by quite a number of sand dunes before ever getting to the beach. It was lovely, but definitely different.
Next on the agenda was food. By this time we were both really hungry! Knowing absolutely nothing about any restaurants in the area but abiding by the Humphreys family vacation restaurant rule "never eat at a familiar restaurant on vacation" we went for convenience. Directly across the street from our hotel was a place called, "Obi's Fillin' Station". What the heck, we were up for adventure. We checked it out. It. Was. Awesome. It was funky, it was fun, the service and the food were both excellent! Tim had a burger and fries, I had a piece of amazing peanut butter pie. I'm so sorry we don't have an Obi's here at home.
We spent the next three days wandering around St. Augustine, learning it's history, immersing ourselves in the past, and having a great time. St. Augustine, as it turns out, is the oldest continually populated city in the US. Seriously. Pedro Menendez settled St. Augustine in 1565. The Mayflower pilgrims stepped onto Plymouth Rock in 1620. So regardless of what we've all been led to believe by our school history books, Florida wins this round.
There actually were Spanish explorers here before Senior Menendez. The oldest known explorer was Ponce de Leon in 1513. He was unable to create a settlement despite his best intentions, due to the vociferous objections of the native residents. Other's tried to settle in the intervening years between 1513 and 1565 but unsuccessfully. Ponce de Leon of course, was seeking the Fountain of Youth. Didn't find it. It's good to have a goal though.
The residents of St. Augustine have done well preserving their history. The fort, "Castillo de San Marcos" for example was a lot of fun. We spent a great deal of time there, poking around, reading the signs, enjoying learning, and imagining life 450 years ago. We prowled the bastions, peeked into powder magazines, wandered the plaza and crossed the moat. Yes, I said and moat. An actual honest to goodness moat. Awesome.
Then of course we just wandered around the town admiring the old architecture, beautiful old cathedrals and schools and basically seeing what there was to see, which was a LOT!
There were museums aplenty too: The Spanish Hospital Museum, the Pirate & Treasure Museum, a Medieval Torture Museum (really!), and a Living History Museum. The one we chose to visit was the Lightner Museum.
Originally the Hotel Alcazar, which had the largest indoor swimming pool in the country when it was built, it was purchase in 1948 by Otto Lightner, a man who collected collections. Yes, that's what I said. He collected collections. And it didn't seem to matter what it was a collection of. We saw an entire room of Music boxes. Some small enough to hold in the palm of your hand. Other's big enough to dwarf a regular sized human. (that's a docent Margo in the red jacket standing by the Hurdy Gurdy music box in the photo below. She was so much fun). There were collections of salt and pepper shakers, collections of cut glass, collections of furniture and embroidery and so very much more! The statue is Pedro Menedez himself looking pretty proud of what he did. We spent a LONG time in the Lightner Musuem.
Let's see. We also toured both the St. Augustine Whiskey Distillery and the Whetstone Chocolate Factory. Both of them gave out very liberal samples. Tim and I are huge fans of factory tours. We will tour nearly any kind of factory. I'm not sure why we enjoy it so much, but we actively seek them out. The Chocolate Factory required that we wear hair nets and in Tim's case also a beard net. We looked smashing! Interesting fact, Whetstone Chocoaltiers used to make some of the chocolates for Hershey, M&M Mars and other "bigs". It was Excellent chocolate. I"m still kind of mentally drooling.
On our actual anniversary date, the 18th, Tim surprised me with a gift. We never do anniversary gifts. Cards yes. We always do cards. We always either eat out or I make an especially nice dinner in. We always do something to commemorate the specialness of the occasion. But this time, because it was our 25th anniversary, the Silver Anniversary, Tim did something extra special and surprising. He gave me a rose. Not just any rose but a silver one. It is stunning! It's an actual rose that through some magical (and lengthy process) the jeweler coats in silver. Tim is such a romantic soul :) We also went out to very nice dinner at a lovely and historic place in St. Augustine. O.C. White's. The building is circa 1790 and while maintained and lovingly cared for, still holds all of the old charm.
We capped that final night with a trolley ride around admiring all of the Christmas Lights. The gave us some 3-D glasses to wear that made all of the lights look like Reindeer faces. heeheehee. ALL lights, including car lights, traffic lights and moon light. Very Fun! We sat in the second row at the front of the trolley while the driver played Christmas music and we all (including the driver) sang along. It was a wonderful finish to a perfect day!
So that takes us all the way through Tuesday evening. Wednesday morning we jumped in the car and headed back on the road. But we didn't go home yet. Nope. The adventure continued. Which will have to wait for Monday's blog post.
Stay tuned for Part Two!
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.