Coffee Chat - Vacation Is Fun!

Hello Hello Hello!  Won't you join me for a cup of coffee and a chat?  Just store bought cookies in the cookie jar this week.  I broke down last week and bought them so I wouldn't have to bake right away when we got home.  I took one package of sugar wafers with us...That was more for nostalgia's sake.  Granny almost always had the Nabisco Sugar Wafers on our pantry shelf.  I bought a less expensive brand but to me they taste just the same.  Then John spied chocolate chip cookies on sale at the grocery while we were out of town and we bought those.  I've got cookie overflow!  There are far far worse things to have an overflow of, don't you agree?

Our vacation really started a few weeks ago when we returned to the air museum to complete our tour there.  We'd gone several months ago and due to an unexpectedly long delay for a car service we barely saw one hangar of planes and displays.  So a couple of weekends ago we went back, walked through all the hangars and had a very nice picnic lunch.  I posted a picture of our picnic meal on the blog for a Thrifty Thursday/Frugal Friday post.  Here are a few other photos from that day:

The weather was iffy that day.  It was humid and breezy and thunder rumbled and then the sky would be blue.  About the time we headed out to the car to get our picnic bag, it began to rain.  There are had been a world of scouts visiting the museum that day and picnicking as well.  John had even suggested we'd have to go elsewhere.  Well not once the rain started!  Every scout was loaded up and carted away in under 3 minutes.  I thought the funniest thing was the leader who grabbed up the two boxes of fried chicken and ran to his car leaving the scouts to fend for themselves, lol.  Forget the kids, save the chicken!

There was one other couple about our age that shared the empty pavilion while we ate our food.  Isn't it funny?  When the kids were young we used to picnic a lot.  It was just so much easier and cheaper to pack food at home and take it with us.  We were so broke back then that John jokes now we couldn't afford to be poor, we were just po', lol.  He's not far wrong!  Anyway, I got so I liked picnics very well indeed and now I look for excuses to have one.  I'd rather have a picnic on the road than stop off to eat at a restaurant.  And you know how I love to picnic in the graveyards.  The very best picnic ever was the one in St. Augustine in a graveyard at Nombre De Dios church overlooking the Mantanzas Bay. 

Last Wednesday John started his regular week off with a few extra days vacation tacked on.  With ten days off we planned to have fun and I can say quite honestly on the 7th day that we have done just as we planned. 

We meant to make a trip to our most loved city and beach.  To that end I didn't plan any real grocery shopping into the week.  I bought extra bread and milk and eggs over the weekend before, thinking I'd need nothing else.  John was a little disappointed not to go shopping.  As it happened though we did have to go to the dollar store to restock our vitamins and he had an errand to do.  He took me out to breakfast at IHOP.  I had a coupon from way back in September that hadn't expired.  Our waitress suggested, as she handed us our bill, that we buy a $25 gift card, use it to pay for our meal that day and we'd get a $5 coupon back.  Between what was left on the card after paying, the cash John was given for the coupon and the $5 coupon we figure we have another meal coming to us free.  Pretty good isn't it?  We call that blessing at our house.

Thursday we packed up the car and took off to St. Augustine.  I confess that along about Monday of last week I'd figured out I had a virus and not just a migraine.  I was not feeling perky but I wasn't about to confess it and risk spoiling this trip! 

This whole trip had been such a blessing, truly it had been.  First of all, we won a gift card at an EMS dinner that was substantial.  I'd gotten an email from the place where we normally stay offering us a deal: book three nights and get a fourth night free.  I had managed some small savings since the first of the year simply by stashing away $1bills.  Well with all that, we had to come up with just $34 to pay for our stay.  I'm telling you, I thought that was just wonderful and I guess anyone would.  I saved grocery money to buy food for the stay once we arrived and packed a few of those necessities that are pricey (foil, olive oil, butter, steaks).
And you know we had a nice picnic lunch packed for the trip down.  We stopped at the Florida Welcome Center and had our lunch.
Weather was iffy that day, too.  However, it was sunny and clear when we stopped.  This rest stop/Welcome center was especially well kept.  It's right off I-75 and I watched as an employee went from table to table picking up any little bit of trash left behind, cleaning tables and seats.  I was impressed by that.

It took us quite a while on the road to finally reach our destination.  But we got there at last:
 Don't we look happy to have arrived?

I told you the weather was iffy...See the stormy sky over the beach?  We never did see any real rain the whole time we were there but the 'chances' per the weather men were quite high and not in our favor.  When John remarked upon this Wednesday night before we left I told him I reckoned I'd just take his approach to the weather. "How's that?" he asked.  "Well you're forever telling me if there's a 60% chance of rain there's a 40% chance it won't...So we'll just shoot for the odds."  He laughed but it all worked in our favor.  Sure wish I'd played the lottery too while we were at it, lol!

The next day John surprised me.  I thought we were going into town for coffee.  Nope.  He bypassed the parking lot we stop at when we're walking over to St. George Street for coffee...I was very surprised to find that we were going to do this:
I love the trolley ride through Old Town.  This particular line is Old Town Tours.  You buy passes that are good for three full days, from 9:30am until 4:30pm.  You can get on and off the train at various points or 'stations' and back again at any other station.  There's a trick to the trolley: trying to get on a different bus each time.  Well we got on a different bus each and every time but somehow we ended up with the same drive every single time!  That's not supposed to happen but our driver kept changing buses.  If you get different drivers you'll hear different historical points even though the route is the same.  Here are some of the sites along the way:
Castillo San Marcos...The fort that protected the city.  Once upon a time the grounds around this fort were turned into a gold course for the wealthy...

The original gates to the Old Town.  The city had a curfew back in the 1500's.  If  you weren't in town come nightfall and within the gates, you had to stay outside all night long.  Not too many missed that curfew.
Just one of the many beautiful old streets in Old Town.  This is Hypolita Street.
 Just a tiny portion of the Flagler Hotel, now Flagler College.  In it's heyday at the turn of the century guests paid $290,000 for 3 months stay here.  The dining room has Louis Comfort Tiffany windows.  The hotel had electricity installed by none other than Thomas Alva Edison himself. 
  A private residence across from Flagler is The Alhambra which was built with Middle Eastern influences inside and out.
 Government House dates back to the early days of the city when the English took control of Florida.
 Another of the original Colonial residences.
St. Francis Barracks houses the Florida National Guard now, was originally a monastery.
 This home was built as a winter residence for a wealthy family by the name of Warden.  They decided they must have a bedroom for each child and room for guests.  They had 13 daughters.  So they built their home to accommodate their family and guests and added in one bathroom because they didn't want to be seen as 'behind the times'. Often the home housed as many as 34. This home now houses Ripley's Believe It or Not, was at one time home to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.
 You may need to enlarge this picture to see the tall cross in the right hand background.  This is the mission Nombre De Dios (The Name of God).  The cross was given to St. Augustine by the Vatican in honor of the 200th anniversary of the founding. It is believed that this is the spot where Pedro Menendez first landed and set foot on what was destined to become the oldest city in North America.  To the left in this photo is the graveyard where we once picnicked.
This is called Magnolia Drive.  It is cited by National Geographic as one of the most beautiful streets in America.

All of this is just day one in St. Augustine.  I don't think I can share many more photos tonight without overwhelming you all.  We had a lovely lunch downtown in a garden off St. George street this day.  It was a lovely day, truly it was and I couldn't have asked for a nicer one.

Saturday we took another favorite drive down the coast from our hotel along old A1A.  Thank you to whoever decided to preserve the beaches as state parks down that way!  It is the most beautiful ride.  Along the way there are glimpses of 'old Florida' not as old as St. Augustine, but of the motor court days.
 See what I mean?  This is the sort of place I think "Where The Boys Are" would be filmed at...

 Isn't the beach just beautiful?  The whole area is wild and wonderful.

 John was just full of surprises this trip.  He took me to a restaurant for lunch that we discovered last year.  It's The Gypsy Cab Co.  It was featured in Southern Living last year.  They have the most awesome burgers, but they don't limit themselves to just burgers.  There are all sorts of things on the menu. 
 The outside is as colorful as the inside.  What's more they feature some beautiful pieces of local art/photos for sale at very reasonable prices. 
And that pretty much wraps up Day 2 in St. Augustine. 

Sunday we stayed at our condo and did nothing but gaze at the ocean, nap on the balcony, people watch and regret that we had to leave Monday.

It was a wonderful get away with lots of time to talk over things we've discovered in the past month, time to set the seal on a brand new set of dreams, and study.  I think we both came away refreshed.  Now I'm ready to start my savings campaign so we can return in the autumn!


Kathy said...

So glad that you had a good time! I love the pictures. Wouldn't it be fun to stay at that motor court?

Shirley in Washington said...

Wow, what a beautiful city! I have never been to St Augustine or even Florida but seeing your photos sure makes me want to see it all. Thanks for sharing your vacation. Glad you had such a wonderful time. Shirley in Washington

Dawn said...

It has been years since we have been to St. Augustine, but it is just as lovely as I remember. It looks like you had a wonderful time!

Anonymous said...

Terri, Thanks for taking me "along" on your vacation. It looks like you had a great time. I like the picture of you and John, looking as happy as honeymooners! I also like that you use the KFC recyclable containers. I applaud them for using them instead of all disposable stuff. Hopefully, you had some time to think and talk about some things that are going on in your life, what you want to do about things that may be piling up on you and John emotionally, and getting a clearer vision on what you direction is. It seems like you have had a lot lately, but it seems like life is like that sometimes, then the dust settles for a bit and then here we go again!! Grandma D.

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

So glad you guys had a wonderful time! We've never been to St. Augustine. I'll have to remember it for next year it really looks lovely. This year we're going to Myrtle Beach which we haven't been to in about 10 years so that should be interesting (although I hate long drives).

"Where the Boys Are" used to be a favorite movie of mine - still love that song!

Deanna said...

I would love to visit St. Augustine. Thanks for sharing your trip with us.

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