Thursday, May 31, 2012

#901 The Uninformed Tour Guide.

Today was full of adventure. And touring. And I'll tell you more about that in a minute. For now, here's the day in pictures because I am too tired to say much tonight:
Breakfast at Denoel's French pastry shop around the corner from our motel then lots of sightseeing.

We toured Flagler College, the former Ponce de Leon hotel, which was my would've been alma mater. I got wait listed when I applied as a high school junior, and I'm still not over it.

Can you spot the intentional mistake in the floor mosaic of Flagler's grand rotunda? Flagler believed that only God could be perfect and he removed one tiny tile and replaced it with a black one to forever symbolize that humanity is flawed. I've been fascinated by this tile since I was 11 years old.

Then lunch at Flavors Eatery, a favorite of mine and Ben's since 2005 when Ben's friends Jason and Laura opened it. They've since sold the restaurant but the creamy house garlic sauce recipe is the same and is still to die for. The food is Greek/Mexican I guess? It's hard to pinpoint.

And then... We hopped on the Old Town Trolley sightseeing tour. Our driver was Bear, the drunk and uninformed tour guide. He slurred and mumbled his way through the first 20 minutes of our tour before a new driver took over (thankfully). Ole Bear was describing the nation's oldest house to us as we passed by, "Thisis the oldest house. Built in eighteen for—no, I mean 1710. It was hit with cannons. No, I think it burned. I'm not sure. Anyway. Over there is the Cordova, I mean the Casa Monica Hotel. Oh hey! Looks like it's raining. Come up front and get a poncho everbody, come on! Ponchos!"
We were SO cracked up we couldn't get over it. Ben spent the rest of the day playing "The Drunken Uninformed Tour Guide" for Jim and I. "And over here is the house where Flagson's hotel guests' horses would be stabled and slaughtered. Did you know St. Augustine was originally in Michigan, but they moved it because the French, I mean Spanish, wanted a more direct line to the Carolinas? I believe the hotel was actually built by Ponce duPont."

Then we went back to the motel for a swim before dinner at the Santa Maria, a restaurant that sits on pilings over the water where you can feed the fish while you eat. 

The view of our motel from the restaurant:

Examining the tongueless lions at the Bridge of Lion made from solid marble. Looks like Baker to me.

Then we explored downtown in search of dessert:

Ray Charles was playing from one of the stores. Which equals fun.

And at bedtime we ended up at an old fisherman's watering hole called O.C. White's that's been there since 1790 because there was a man playing guitar and singing who sounded JUST like James Taylor. He was awesome. He played only songs we loved.

Ben making fun of the hipsters his youth so wish he would be, but I think he's a cutie even then.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

#900 Wakulla to St. Augustine.

Just as it did 2 years ago, we started the morning with a big pancake breakfast (my favorite breakfast in all the world is here at Wakulla) and a boat tour of the springs on which we saw many many gators and manatees. Until today I'd never seen a manatee before!

We loaded the car and checked out of the lodge, then said goodbye until next year.
A keychain of mammaw's photograph spot! 

And then we took a long, slow car ride along gorgeously eerie 2-lane highways, where Ben pulled over and harvested a little Spanish moss that he intends to transplant to our backyard oak trees:

We arrived in St. Augustine, the oldest city in the country, around 8 pm and had a late dinner at the delicious and exotic Columbia Restaurant:

And for the rest of the week we'll be staying in a king size suite of the Bayfront Inn's Rodriguez house, a coquina building that was constructed by order of the king of Spain in the 1700s. We have a beautiful view of Mantanzas Bay and the Bridge of Lions, and the floors creak when you walk across them. Fortunately, the whole thing was renovated just a couple years ago, so we're not roughing it on vacation while we get the historical experience.

See you tomorrow, sweet readers!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

#899 The Florida Trip with Jim.

We planned a while back to bring Jim and Mallorie on our favorite summer trip through old Florida, and at the last minute Mallorie had to back out because of work commitments. I was so sad when I found out, but Jim insisted he wanted to go regardless—they had a room reserved and he'd never been to Wakulla or seen St. Augustine's historic district. So, off we went today, east bound and down.

The moment we arrived at Wakulla, I began searching out the exact location of mammaw's photo op in the 1940s. The hotel first opened in 1937, so it was brand new when she, my grandfather and her parents and sisters visited. Inspired by Dear Photograph, I wanted to hold this photo and stand in the very spot my little grandmother stood when she snapped it of Aunt Eleanor and Aunt Bert:

At some point they had to build a fire escape which changed the exterior a little, but that's definitely the spot.

After the photo shoot was finished, Ben and Jim, because they are still little boys, put on swim trunks and ran to the springs. Ben ran straight into the frigid spring-fed water.

And quickly decided he would have to finally jump from the top of the diving platform this year since he's never been able to get the nerve. He's horrified of heights.

So he went to the top and watched others jump. Many others. For a long time.

It wasn't long before Jim got the courage to give it a shot.

While Ben kept thinking about it. And pumping himself up. While being heckled by Chris, a ginger 11 year old with a major attitude. He said, "You're man enough to grow that beard but you can't jump? I'll do it. Watch!" Kasploosh.

So he thought about it some more. And probably prayed some too. Cause let me say this again—the man is HORRIFIED of heights.

And at the moment we all decided he'd given up (1 hour in), he just jumped.

And then he climbed right back up to do it at the same time with Jim.

And that was the day Ben jumped from the high dive at Wakulla Springs.

Monday, May 28, 2012

#898 Josh Came Over.

I was totally surprised this afternoon when Ben came in the front door and yelled, "Guess who's here! Josh came to see us!"

I had no idea he and Emily would be home from Pennsylvania this week, and so tonight he came over to hang out, talk business (he's a genius there), and watch Mad Men. We even suckered him into an episode of Duck Dynasty, and I think the hokey sweetness of it impressed him.

I wish they'd just move back home already.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

#897 Ikea Box.

This morning I got a very happy surprise in the mail. My friend (and fellow blogger) Sam was sweet enough to make a trip to Ikea for me since I'm deprived and she lives near the Dallas store. It was just like Christmas morning opening pillows and covers and tea towels and blankets. I'm so very thankful for friends in high places today!
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