The blog insists on uploading these photos in random order and there are way too many for me to move one by one...so I got the first one up top and the last one at the bottom but the rest are in no particular order. Last week on the spur of the moment we decided to go to St. Augustine. Within about 24 hours the planets aligned and we threw some stuff in some bags and took off.
We knew nothing about the area and basically stumbled across every cool thing we found - like this sea turtle swimming at the base of Castillo de San Marcos. We saw several bobbing up and down in the water while we walked on the walls of the fort.
It was too hot to dig and sculpt a lot in the sand. Blue wanted me to bury him and I couldn't resist making him into a mermaid.
Violet took this fish away from a seagull.
This is the St. Augustine lighthouse. We saw it driving in and wanted to climb it.
We arrived and found that Violet was tall enough this year to climb with us.
219 steps later she was at the top with us.
The view up from the bottom inside.
The view up from the bottom outside. This was when we learned about Florida weather. It was sunny and hot when we climbed back down. Five minutes later it was pouring rain and we had to duck into the Lighthouse Museum. Ten minutes later it was sunny and hot again.
Castillo de San Marcos from the Matanzas River.
The Mission Nombre De Dios cross is 208 feet tall and made of stainless steel. It marks the area where the first Christian cross was planted in the New World in 1565. The "fountain of youth" is nearby but was ridiculously expensive so we passed on it.
These water views came from the scenic boat tour that took us across the waterfront and up the Matanzas River.
The fake pirate ship was also ridiculously expensive but their tours were at the same time so we got to see some of it and listen in on their pirate songs.
Blue and Violet with one of the lions at The Bridge of Lions.
We saw Ponce De Leon, the first "lion" to be in the area.
The family on the boat.
The only sand thing we made. Much sweat.
Blue enjoyed burying Violet.
The ocean was very calm for the first two days. When it finally delivered some good waves, the kids were all about being in it. It's easy to forget about shark talk when the waves are good.
We found a cool ocean front park on one of our daily explorations.
That's G watching us climb on the rocks.
The kids love them some miniature golf. Their first mission when we hit the city limits was to find the one they wanted to play. We picked a cooler, sunny late afternoon to play.
Five minutes later we were drenched by a steady rain. All the other groups ran for covered areas and waited a while before finally giving up and going home. The McAbees are not wimps though. We stuck it out and played through the rain. We literally had to float our last couple of shots into the holes. More fun and more memorable than a dry game of putt putt.
We noticed that no one was building any sandcastles. There would be a tiny little lump where a kid played but that was it. I'm not sure if this is a Florida thing or if we just shared a week with uncreative people - or maybe everyone knew it was just too hot, but we decided they needed to see some basic sand castles. Drip castles are easy to make and you get to be in the water while you work.
With no waterfalls in the area, we looked for other free adventures. Fort Matanzas is a cool, small fort at the inlet of the Matanzas River, the backdoor to St. Augustine. The park offers a free ferry ride across the river to Rattlesnake Island and lets you tour the fort for free as well.
We climbed all the way up to the top to see where the Spanish soldiers would keep watch.
The cool park ranger even let us take down the Spanish military flag while we were up there since we were the last tour of the day.
I took about 14 of the same photo. In each one someone has their eyes closed, is looking away or has hair blown across their face. It's not Olan Mills, but this is my cool, beachy family.
I'm convinced my ancestors lived on the coast and were seafaring people. This is actually pretty historically accurate on both sides of my family. There's some magnet that draws us to the coast and when we arrive we feel at home. Every beach vacation causes the kids to talk about moving to the beach. Everyone loved St. Augustine so much they added it to their dream home list.
The mark of a great city is, of course, a sculpture park. St. Augustine has one. They desperately need a McAbee sculpture there. Someone should tell them.
Our nightly walks were beautiful.
Even the sand was showing off.
Really showing off.
The long boardwalk to the beach had a sign marking it as a "snake habitat". That's a good way to keep people off the dunes. One night G spotted this rather large tortoise with a good pace walking under the boardwalk. Maybe a Gopher Tortoise?
A spectacular sunrise on our last morning in town.
A panoramic shot of the sunrise.
The white sand was soft and powdery.
And the beaches were very wide and spacious. There's even a driving lane for motorized traffic. It was a little weird seeing cars and trucks out on the beach each day.
The St. Augustine fishing pier sat in the distance from our place. The first morning I decided to run to it for a better view. It was a lot farther than I expected. I had to run a little extra every day to make up for skipping PiYo and I ended up getting in a little over 26 miles in the 6 mornings we were there.
One afternoon we accidentally walked to the large fort, Castillo de San Marcos.
We took a self guided tour of the exterior and walked around the moat and the outer wall.
During our stay we learned (or were reminded) that St. Augustine is the oldest permanent city in America. This summer they'll celebrate their 450th birthday.
The kids standing guard on the old city wall lined with palmetto logs.
We had to take the kids in the Pirate and Treasure Museum. They are seafaring pirate kids after all.
Pirate Blue got locked up in the dungeon.
I suppose the oldest city should have the oldest school. Blue loves school so much he wanted to go in. Not true. I forced him to stand here.
As wonderful as everything was about this trip, the highlight for the adults was the food. We had great food all week. Including the best barbecue we've ever had anywhere. Yes, I said the best barbecue we've ever had anywhere. Mojo BBQ was the best. We are looking forward to going again next time we are in town.
How could we not go to Georgie's Diner for breakfast? It had a cool name and really good food.
And it looked really cool. It was an old style shiny silver diner.
This place was less than a mile from where we stayed. It opened at 5pm and the line started getting long around 4:30pm. Everything we ate was very good and we even got to try fried alligator tail. Everyone tried it and everyone but Blue liked it. As much as we searched every puddle of water on this trip, we never saw a live, wild alligator. This ended up being our only alligator encounter.
One of my former students, Keira lives nearby and she gave us some great food recommendations. She sent us to Hazel's Hot Dogs on National Hot Dog Day and she told us about Metro Diner. There were tons of good things on the menu but I couldn't say no to The Vortex Burger. 1/2 pound of angus beef nestled between two grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches. It barely fit in my mouth and barely fit in my belly.
We found Hurricane Patty's on our first night. It was right on the water and we got to watch a great thunderstorm outside the window while we were there. Also great food.
Almost as good as the shrimp and grits was the Wednesday night Karaoke show. Several elderly men sang old tunes and at one point a white haired senior man got up and did a little pole dancing while his friend sang. Very, very strange and very, very funny.
After the sunrise run on the last day we packed up and headed to the pier to walk through the farmer's market before heading north to home. That night the scales informed me that despite the extra running miles I managed to bring home an extra 4 pounds worth of souvenirs around my waist. The good news is we have to eat Ramen noodles until school starts back...so that should help!