Darold and I took off for St. Augustine & Sawgrass this past Friday, and the 7 hour drive was just about the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I’d forgotten how good it feels to just sing along to my favorite iPod playlists and talk and laugh until I cry. I did my fair share of the driving (while he napped - punk!!), and it was nice to just watch the scenery zoom by. The conversation just flowed and flowed, somehow. We haven’t been like that together in ages. I didn’t even need to take out a book and occupy myself once. I’ve missed traveling, especially with a good, fun travel companion.
We had lots of silly fun taking my nephew's Flat Stanley project around historic St. Augustine for the day, which means we took tons of pictures. Flat Stanley visited the old drug store, the country's oldest wooden school house, Flagler College, and the coquina fort, which I always want to call the Castillo de San Rio (anyone else remember when the Hello Kitty stores were called Sanrio?) rather than San Marcos.
Flat Stanley and I enjoyed a bit of shopping on St. George street. I think this was right before I got distracted by something shiny in a jewelry store window, in fact. Saint Augustine has lots of cool silversmiths and local jewelers. I, unfortunately, bought nothing.
We also had lunch at the best little restaurant, Columbia. I tried to get Flat Stanley to pay the check, but no luck. Apparently 2nd graders aren't allowed to pay for lunches with copious amounts of sangria. Darold and I both had our fair share, as you can see... We got a little silly before lunch was over. Fortunately, St. Augustine - like Key West as a whole - is a little part of the world that beautifully and mysteriously seems to be in no hurry, and it seems to have no shortage of street musicians, so our leisurely lunch was accompanied by beautiful music from the absurdly tanned man across the street. We couldn't get a picture of him without being obvious, but trust me, his skin was bizarre. It was so tanned that it almost looked leathery and orange, but he had the softest, longest white-blond hair I've ever seen on a man. There was something almost oompa-loompa-ish about him.
After lunch, the next stop was a walking tour of Flagler College, which was just unbelievably beautiful. They have millions of dollars worth of Tiffany glass in their dining hall alone, a tiny fraction of which you can see behind me in the picture at right (Darold, for some reason, is loathe to take a picture without me in it, blocking the view of anything interesting). The story of Henry Flagler, his three wives, and his downright jerky, self interested business practices reminded me a bit of Daniel Plainview from There Will Be Blood. He was a man who apparently lost his soul and sense of ethics in pursuit of greatness and prosperity. Must have been a cultural theme around that time period. Not that we're immune from it now, by any means.
The rest of the day was spent meandering the pretty town in the gorgeous weather, riding the tour trolley with a woman who had to be the absolute worst tour guide ever born, and touring the fort, which is not advisable to do in heels. Forts are bumpy places.
I decided while on this trip that I must only hate central Florida, as I now have to reluctantly admit to loving both Saint Augustine and the Keys, and I'll confess that Sawgrass was relaxing, if uneventful. It was nice to see Darold's hilarious family, drink a lot of wine, and play my all time favorite card game, Nickel Nickel, which I would link you to, but there seem to be no rules available online.
Now that we're back, we've decided that we should try to go on a cool weekend trip like that every six months or so. It makes us obnoxiously happy, as evidenced by the goofiness of this (and all of these) picture(s). We're thinking the next stop should be Asheville, North Carolina, a town that I love but Darold's never visited. Plus, the last time I was there, I missed the yarn shop, so that's as good an excuse as any to go back, right?
Since getting home, I've embarked on two new learning experiences - making sushi and playing guitar, but more on that later. I've rambled enough for one visit. :)