Saturday January 12, 2013
* Be forewarned, this is going to be a long post with a lot of photos, but we did so much today, and none of it was worth leaving out.
We knew Brian and Stephanie were going to pick us up at the boat yard at 9:30 in the morning to go to the farmers market on Anastasia Island, so I had set the alarm for 8:30 an figured that would be enough time for a nice shower, breakfast, and a chance to wish a happy 30th birthday to my best friend Jackie, someone who, had we not shipwrecked the boat, would be with us right now in the Bahamas. I had been awake enough in the morning to know the sun had been up for what felt like too long, so when Georgie began stirring and rubbing against me I thought it was time to get up, even if I was a little early for the alarm. Jumping down out of the v-berth and stretching my legs I walked up to the phone which we always keep at the nav station (to force ourselves out of bed to turn it off) and found it was reading 9:20. Crap! My utter of shock did not escape Matt, who was already half roused out of his sleep, and within seconds he was out of bed as well, pulling any clothes that were laying around over his head. Within that ten minutes we were both able to get clothes on, feed Georgie, and rush out the companionway. Slipping on a brand new pair of Sperry’s I had just gotten (thanks mom!) I didn’t think anything about the fact that they hadn’t been broken in yet, but I figured we’d only be walking around the market and a tour of the college later and they wouldn’t be an issue.
Getting picked up by a family friend of Brian’s, someone we’d be spending the evening with at their house, we were dropped off at the market and free to wander around. There are surprisingly three weekly markets around St. Augustine, on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. We’ve heard this is the one to hit, and as soon as we walked up it did not look like it was going to disappoint. Matt and I had our sights set on finding the guy with the maple bacon doughnuts, but couldn’t go five feet without stopping at one booth or another to look or sample. A few of the things we stumbled upon were tables full of dips, handmade coconut creations, and a band with about seventeen members, almost all of them on some form of guitar or banjo.
While Matt and I will usually quick browse a booth, smile, and walk away, Stephanie loves to get to know people and will stop and talk to them for ages. The two of us just feel bad if we strike up a conversation with someone, admire all their goods, and then walk away without buying anything. Or maybe we just haven’t come up with enough excuses of why we don’t need a sea shell wind catcher or or a tie-dye sarong. There were a few times the three of us had drifted down five booths and found Stephanie behind us still chatting and exclaiming things like, “You made a plant holder carved from a coconut husk in the shape of a duck? That’s amazing!”. Come to think of it now, she’s the perfect distraction to use while walking away without buying anything because the owners will be so engaged with her they won’t even know we left. It ended up working out pretty well for us since the only thing we did buy were a batch of mini doughnuts since our guy from the Lincolnville Market wasn’t there. Not that there weren’t a million things I didn’t have my eye on though. I even found the perfect tote for a child that I was tempted to buy and save for if/when the day should ever happen we’d have one to give it to.
Next came the long walk back to town, something I wasn’t expecting. After the first mile the canvas started to wear and tear on my bare feet, but I continued to hobble along, keeping pace with Stephanie, although the boys had long gotten ahead of us. We did catch back up just before the bridge when a few out of town college kids, already drunk even before noon, stopped us to see ‘what was happening’ that night. “You guys go to Flagler, right?”, they asked as they stepped into pace with us. I don’t know if it was the large amounts of vodka in their water bottle talking, or all of us could pass for under 25, but we had to let them know that “Sorry, we don’t know what’s happening because we’re planning on having a quiet night at home with some friends”. They told us they’d probably end up in Orlando anyway, which if that is the case, I really hope they have a sober friend driving their asses there.
Now walking on tip toes (literally) by the time we crossed over the Bridge of Lions, I pleaded with Stephanie to take us to Rode Trip where I could be fixed up with some bandages. What I was actually hoping would happen is she would tell me there wasn’t time and I’d have to pop into the store attached to the marina where upon purchasing bandages I could sneak in a 20 oz Pepsi (or Lime-a-Rita), but she’s too darn helpful and soon we were walking down the dock towards their dinghy. As we climbed in it hit me that we hadn’t been for a dinghy ride in six weeks, but the motions were still fluid, such as me crawling in so I didn’t fall over the side. I’ve never been cool enough to just step in one unless it’s starting out on land. Moments later we were climbing on Rode Trip and I had to give her a big hug since it had been a long time since I’d seen her and there was actually a sense of loss.
While I was choosing which Disney Princess bandage to cover my wounds with, Brian popped off the cover on the floor of the cockpit to show Matt the engine and all the work that had been done to it. We saw the shiny new paint job, and got a thorough explanation of what had been done since the last time we had been aboard. Enjoying the sunshine and divinely warm weather hitting us over the weekend, we sat on deck with mugs of cider in our hands and thought “Why wasn’t any of our trip down the ICW like this?”. It was the cruiser’s dream and it took us four months to experience together. A bluebird sky with nary a could in it. Real warmth where it felt great to be in shorts and a t-shirt and have a slight breeze blowing over you. Just enough movement in the water to let you know you were on it, but not enough to make it uncomfortable. It was perfect. It reminded me what was in store for us and that all the hassles we’re having now with be worth it once we’re set free again. I could have enjoyed it all day, but still on the docket was a tour of Flagler College and none of us wanted to miss it since it was the 125th anniversary and they were offering free admission. (Thanks again for the tip, Chris!)
I’ve missed you Rode Trip!!
Disney Princesses make everything better.
Getting to the college, the long lines that had been wrapping around the block that morning were now gone. Stepping through the archway entrance we were handed pamphlets and told that a few areas that were normally closed to the public, even during regular tours, would be open today in celebration of the anniversary. A little history of the place is that it was originally opened as a hotel back in 1888 by Henry Flagler, co-founder of Standard Oil. Back when it opened the only way you could get a reservation was to book a room for 3 months, and you had to pay for it up front whether or not you used all that time. It has the largest collection of Tiffany stained glass coming in at 79 windows. Through extensive restoration, almost everything is original. From the paintings to the furniture to the Tiffany chandeliers that hang from the women’s wing. In 1968 the hotel was turned into a college where students get to keep this piece of history going by attending classes, living on campus in the old hotel rooms (female dorms only), and even eating in the great dining hall.
The first thing we did upon entering was walk down the hall housing the office of the College’s president, something that’s normally closed even for regular tours. We learned this used to be the men’s hall and and contained things such as a billiard’s room and a barber shop. Next we climbed the stairs to another area that’s also usually closed to tours, the Rotunda. Taking in the beauty that the student’s get to enjoy everyday we then made our way to the dining hall. It’s at this point that Stephanie blurted out, “This is like being at Hogwarts!”. And honestly, it kind of was. Just the history and the opulence of the place. They may not offer Defense Against The Dark Arts, but throw on a knit scarf over a robe and while wandering around in your free time you may not know otherwise.
We had one more stop before Rode Trip’s family friend was to come back and pick us up, the Memorial Presbyterian Church. But before we could get there I needed food in my stomach. Three mini doughnuts was not going to be enough to last this girl until dinner. We wandered aimlessly toward St. George St. hoping to find some kind of bakery or snack shop when Stephanie had the great idea to hit up French Fry Heaven. We drooled over it the last time they were here, why not stop in and see what all the fuss was about? As we searched through the menu of Angels vs Saints (steak fries vs sweet potato) Matt shook his head about ordering any kind of Saints. Not as much of a sweet potato lover as I am. We settled on a bacon/cheese/ranch combo and after they loaded up our cone we went outside to eat. They were delicious, but if I had known how much melted cheese was going to be on them I think I would have asked for one scoop instead of two. Everything was drenched in cheese and it was almost hard to taste the french fry. Brian was sweet enough to let me taste a few of their cinnamon sugar sweet potato fries though, and then going back to help Matt finish ours we were sufficently stuffed. At $9 for a large fry and soda though, the prices reflected that we were in the heart of a tourist hub.
Making the jog a few blocks over to the church we walked up the front steps and in through the door. Everything again was so ornate, another building commissioned by Henry Flagler, in memory of his daughter and granddaughter that died during childbirth. Right after their passing he began building and had it finished in just under 365 days, with the grand opening celebrating the anniversary of their death. The church was also full of beautiful stained glass windows, all of which had just been restored in the last ten years. Talking to one of the local college kids that was a volunteer there, he gave us all the facts and history on the church and pointed us to the mausoleum where Henry Flagler, his first wife, daughter and granddaughter have been laid to rest. Peeking through the bars we viewed the beautiful glass ceiling of the dome and then made our way outdoors to wait to be picked up. While waiting we were treated to the church bells ringing, something that normally only happens during services. This time it was to announce the closing of the tours at the college next door. What was even better, is the bell ringer was never told how many times to ring, so he kept going. Matt and Brian suggested he go all the way up to 125 to celebrate the anniversary. He did try to make his way there, but eventually had to give up somewhere around 110 when his arms gave out.
Different styles to order the heavenly fries.
Om nom nom nom.
Someone needs to clean up the bums on these streets.
For the final event of the night we were picked up and driven about 20 minutes north of St. Augustine to the home of Bob and Susan, Rode Trip’s family friends that they had been spending the past few days with. Two things dawned on me as we walked inside their home. 1. It was our five month cruising anniversary. Hooray, a reason to celebrate! 2. This is the first time in five months that we had been in any kind of house or home. Walking into the hallway and seeing the regular staples of a home, bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen…..it felt like a life I vaguely remember but was light-years away. We were led right to a three season’s porch where a yummy mango salsa was laid out with chips. Beers and wine were offered and the six of us sat around talking about boats, sailing, and the four of us travelers, about our travel so far.
A few hours later we moved to the formal dining room where we were treated to a delicious homemade meal that even rivaled Brian and Stephanie’s cooking. After the meal had been cleared away and I already felt like I couldn’t fit anything else in my stomach, dessert was placed in front of me and I couldn’t turn it down. Not only did it look way too tempting (it had ice cream, we never get ice cream!), the blueberries used to make it had been brought down from their hometown in Pennsylvania and saved for a special occasion. Which apparently we were. How can you turn down an offer like that? So we continued eating until even the freshly opened bottle of wine at the table became unappetizing and I could not have another bite to eat or drink. Then the strangest part of the whole day happened. The six of us situated ourselves back in the living room where an NFL game was playing on the tv. Somehow Matt and I went from just glancing at the game, to watching plays, and then even slightly understanding them and rooting for a team. What was happening to us?! (We are usually interested in zero sports). Five hours back in a house and we were already becoming domesticated. Before it could go any further we were taken back to the boat where we could pick up our vagabond life.