St. Augustine: The Place Not The Person II

Sunshine in Florida with the threat of rain but not at the beaches means a day to see as much of St. Augustine as possible, which was the same plan as the first day when we saw a lot of stuff but now there was even more stuff. I like stuff.

We began the day across the street from our hotel at Mission Nombre de Dios and The Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche. Eddie showed off his mad Spanish skillz by asking more than once, Why is there a shrine about milk–because leche is milk, so why? I didn’t have the answer to that. All I knew was there was a very large cross that I wanted to see up close. I couldn’t get too close, but close wasn’t necessary to take in its gravity.  We also received some mixed messages through the signage, but we quickly got distracted by the lizards. There are a lot of them, and they are adorable.

We drove over the Bridge of Lions to Anastasia Island, known for its pretty beaches. We didn’t go to the beach. We went to the Alligator Farm, which should be called the Alligator and Bird Farm Where Birds Fly Near Your Head. Too long for a sign, I suppose. The farm is bigger than it seems; every time we thought we’d seen it all, we didn’t. Parts of it smelled real bad.

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Uncontrollable face when smelling bad animal smell

Parts of it had flying birds. The big question Eddie had here: Why don’t the birds fly away? I guessed because they got food here. Along some of the pathways, there were dispensers that looked like those machines that give you gum or plastic crap when you put a quarter in. Instead, they had food pellets. You could feed the birds or the alligators. I don’t know what the pellets were, but when we went to leave, we found a change machine, changed out a dollar, went back into the swamp, and fed the alligators. Eddie caused a frenzy among three of them who crowded around and snapped at the pellets. My main concern was not dropping a phone or camera into the water. My other main concern was not getting shit on by a bird.

Some random snippets: there was incense burning in one part of the park but not the really smelly part. Crocodiles usually have a lower fang tooth that sticks up, and that’s how you know it’s not an alligator.  Komodo dragons see you, bruh, and they aren’t impressed.

Having seen more than enough alligators and crocodiles and birds and reptiles, we went to the lighthouse. Since we were walking everywhere, climbing a lot of stairs seemed like the perfect complement. The lighthouse has a lot of history, yet this is what first caught Eddie’s eye.

After we got through the exciting parking lot, we headed towards the path to get to the lighthouse. We saw boats. We headed into the woodsy trail where we saw more lizards and Eddie got eaten by bugs and I did not. When we came to the end of the path, we found the lighthouse. It was hard to miss.

The bottom floor of the lighthouse has a lot more history, especially about the keeper who had to carry a 40 pound metal jug thingie up and down stairs. Then we climbed the spiral staircase, aware that there were wasps at the top to greet us when we arrived. We make good decisions.

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Fact: the wasps go up there to mate. After getting to the top, we had to get to the bottom. Down and around we went, and then out and up over to the keeper’s quarters, where there were more artifacts and things.  Eddie found a friend.

Once we got back to the front part of the grounds, I wasn’t feeling great. Somehow, I hadn’t been eating snacks or drinking anything. As fit as a person is, when she doesn’t snack and drink, she feels the effects of lighthouse climbing. I sat on a bench and ate almonds, and then we headed to town in the cool air conditioning of the car, which was the remedy for my ails. We drove forever looking for parking, and then gave up, drove to the hotel, and walked back down into town.  Apparently, I’m really into borders because as with the excitement of the gates on Day 1, I was equally excited to see the Bridge of Lions up close along with the Welcome To St. Augustine wall. The walk to the Bridge of Lions was a sunny sweaty mess, but the breeze from the water along the very high wall thingie we were walking on brought a bit of relief. Also bringing relief? Knowing where we were headed for lunch.

Another bit of a walk but we found it. The main reason I had come to St. Augustine: Cousteau’s Waffle and Milkshake Bar.St Aug Day 2 (189)It was like home. It was like heaven. It’s everything anyone needs to live a good life. Also, it’s a nice place to sit when you’ve spent the morning walking and climbing and sweating. He got a plain waffle with whipped cream. I got a waffle with Nutella and strawberries. Mmmmmmmmmm.

Then we got milkshakes. He got vanilla. I got key lime pie. Yes yes yes yes yes.

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Let’s all take a breath and a sigh in recognition of this very important moment in life.

Fueled up, we walked some more. Surprise! We found some cute little shops. We found this.

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Then on one last walk back to the hotel, we stopped by the Old Senator Tree. When I’m home, I’m trying to get rid of trees near my property. When I’m on vacation, I’m looking for them. Anyway, this tree is over 600 years old and very large. It’s in the parking lot of the Howard Johnson. Of course.

 

St. Augustine: The Place Not The Person, I

Everything in St. Augustine is either The Oldest something or The First something. A walkable town, doable in a long weekend, it proved to be the perfect destination.

And so, at 5:50 AM at JFK, with wall-to-wall people in long lines at security, we excitedly hauled our luggage and took off our shoes to head south for warm weather. Every time we fly, I say to Eddie as soon as we get through security, We should have brought bagels, because we go off through the terminal to find bagels and though we’re in New York, no one has bagels. However, we found bagels at a stand that flaunted a menu of very intricate bagel offerings from breakfast through dinner. They seemed to be the only bagel place because the line was long. Still, we had to wait to go on the plane anyway, so waiting here wasn’t a big deal. What was a big deal was asking for two toasted sesame bagels with butter. We caused chaos. When the lady in charge of the panini press got to ours, she put cream cheese on them. The line backed up when we said we wanted butter. Some guy on line yelled out, I’ll take those! Then the lady went to put plain bagels on the grill while simultaneously making a different bagel sandwich stick to the panini press. I called out, We ordered sesame please! She looked flabberagasted. The guy who’d called out that he’d take the cream cheese error grabbed  his daughter and left, saying they didn’t know what they were doing. No one ate the cream cheese bagels, but we finally got what we ordered. By the time we walked to our gate, which is always the farthest gate, we had soggy bagels.

On the bright side, this fiasco kept us occupied so we weren’t waiting around, bored, for our flight. Also, I found a wave sculpture in the airport after we went through security, right outside the bagel place. Off to a good start!

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These ladies liked watching me pose for this.

The flight was uneventful. Yeay! Landing in JAX, we saw clouds but also sunshine. We found our luggage quickly, rented our car quickly, careened around the parking lot looking for our car slowly, and then finally found it. It was a Yaris. Awww! Shout out to Yolanda, wherever she may roam.

Sun shone down on St. Augustine as we drove in. We checked in real quick and then found an elephant in our room.

Towel elephant on bed

Ready to explore and find lunch, we put on shorts! and walked downtown. We saw the large cross right across the street from our hotel. We passed by the bookstore I’d wanted to visit. We saw where the Visitor’s Center was as well as the Castillo de San Marco. We saw everything on my Fun List Of Things I Want To Do In St. Augustine. We also saw trolleys and trains zig zagging across the small streets. Who needs a trolley or a train when you can walk and see everything? Not us! Okay, Eddie may have liked to not walked as much, but that simply wasn’t an option because I was on a mission.

We wound up at a place called Burger Buckets. They serve food in shallow buckets. The food is mostly burgers. They also have a food challenge. You can order a super duper sized burger thingie for like 29.99 but you don’t have to pay if you finish it faster than the last person who did it. I got a veggie burger instead.

Then, I threw away the daily itinerary and decided I wanted to see everything right away. First up, the Castillo de San Marco. They shoot off a cannon! The walls are made of coquina, which contains a bunch of stuff including seashells. The main rule was don’t touch, lean, or sit on the walls. Easy enough. We headed to the top level to watch the men in costume make and take orders in Spanish and then covered our ears when several people yelled, Cover your ears! Then they shot the cannon. I don’t think there was a cannonball in it; otherwise, the ships in the water would’ve been in trouble.

The sky grew grayer. We scooted around the top level to see everything, and then the drizzle turned to actual rain, so we went downstairs. We ran through rain to see each of the inside rooms around the first level, which included climbing through a tiny tunnel to find the most inner room that had nothing but a light in it. When we went through, a guy from the other side called out, What’s in there? I was like, A lightbulb. He was like, Okay thanks, and didn’t climb through. We saw carvings on the walls and learned about the five flags of Florida. Also, Fact: Ponce de Leon’s first name is Juan. Fact: Before seeing the Castillo, I thought his first name was Ponce. I’m a teacher!

The rain let up, so we left the Castillo where I immediately found the City Gate. I don’t know why I was excited about finding them, but I was, and it was old and it was great!

Next up was the Visitors’ Center. They had lots of old things there along with a history exhibit but a lot of the stuff in that exhibit we’d already learned at the Castillo. Like how Juan is Ponce de Leon’s first name. Then Eddie got into a fight! Hehehe.

I picked up some coupons at the center, so we got into the Oldest Schoolhouse for a dollar less than regular admission. Score! The schoolhouse is tiny and has a giant chain that runs around and through it so that the wind doesn’t take it away during a storm. There are pretty gardens outside, and inside are scary animatronics,. The one wearing the dunce cap asks if he can graduate at the end of the presentation. There’s also a rudimentary time-out space that is more of a closet that they locked bad kids in. Also, the teacher’s rules include reading good books after teaching all day and bringing in coal every day. Male teachers can go a-courting. Female teachers will be dismissed if they marry. You know, regular old teacher stuff. Things aren’t much different.

Then I went on a mission to find the Love Tree. It was on a street somewhere. I know, that’s very helpful! We walked up and down streets, backtracking and going in circles. Finally, at the address we’d passed several times without seeing what I was looking for, Eddie was like, Oh, it’s that giant tree. Yes, yes it was a huge tree. We went inside to find out if we could get a copper heart to add onto it, but no one was really inside the store area, which was really a house. It was really weird. So we settled on simply climbing in among everyone else’s hearts.

Then we became pirates! Lookit how thrilled my husband is!

It was starting to get rainy, so I found another inside-thing to do. Wolf’s Museum of Oddities. It was odd and creepy and the scariest thing was thinking that things were going to jump out at me, so I kept making Eddie go first into the rooms.

The rain really started coming down, but this was the first Friday of the month, and the galleries all open up for an Art Walk that I really wanted to do. I had my umbrella and a map, so we went through the streets to find some galleries. We found several along one strip, so we started there. Eddie and I liked the art in the first one, and then it was okay in the others. Only one gallery was serving wine. I saw another one that had a musician. Then it was getting a little sad because the rain was really pounding down, ruining the night for the galleries. Eddie put on the poncho we had and I hugged my umbrella over me, though it had created a hole in itself with one of the metal pieces that broke off in it.

We walked back to the hotel through rivers of rain water. I was pretty sure I was picking up at least seven kinds of malaria. It wasn’t cold, though, so there was that. Plus, we’d been in the sun and wearing shorts and it had been hot. This was the face I couldn’t stop making as we trudged back.

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BUT we got to the room and both cheered because there was a cobra in our room!

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It’s the little things.