Friday, January 30, 2009

Here Comes the Sun...

Well I'm not sure we found the fountain of youth in St. Augustine but we did find the sun!!!! Oh yes, we also found a very charming, historic Spanish town that we had a ball exploring.

Sun Pig (Tammy) here - which is why the sun was noted first up above! Hey, cut me some slack - we haven't been able to wear shorts and flip flops in months (I know I'm not getting much sympathy am I?)

As we headed under the majestic Bridge of Lions (which is undergoing a massive repair) and docked at the Anchorage Inn, Marina and Fish Camp (you just can't make this stuff up!), we were completely thrilled to have to shed clothes!! The four knot current and 15 knot winds didn't phase us at all - you know you kind of know what you are doing when after a perfect dock the dockhands start telling you stories of all the boneheads that come in without lines or fenders ready and you just smile - if you're out here for long, you've seen them slamming into the dock and occasionally taking out a pumpout station or one of the dockhands!

To take advantage of the sun, as soon as we secured the boat we headed to the "best happy hour on the island" (at least according to one of the little flyers we got upon checking in!) at the Conch House! With a name like that how could we go wrong?? We almost missed finding it because the Conch House Lounge (not to be confused with the restaurant) was a little wooden shack sitting out on stilts over the water - just our kind of place. The free popcorn and wings only made us love it more! The crowd was eclectic ranging from bluehairs to Pat Benatar look-alikes to working dudes, so we fit right in in our Buffett attire. The common thread was the fun everyone was having and the easy, laid-back atmosphere.

The next day after a morning of work on the boat, we set out to explore St. Augustine, the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the US, founded in 1565 as a Spanish military outpost. So it seemed only fitting that we first walked to Castillo de San Marcos, which was built in 1672 to protect the harbor.
En route we were so excited to be in shorts again with the sun shining warm and bright, we used the delay feature on John's camera to catch all four Gypsies along the waterfront.
Next it was on to the city gates
and the Spanish Quarter - what a treasure we found! Traces of the city's Spanish heritage are everywhere in the architecture, 'architecture-2.jpg'
the gardens, 'garden.jpg'
the fountains 'fountain.jpg'
and even the layout of the streets and parks. 'park.jpg'
We of course were interested in the local Spanish watering holes and partook of several - the Milltop Tavern in the Spanish Quarter being the first stop for sustenance (and several coldies).
We got to sit outside atop an old oak tree and listen to live music as we soaked up the sun along with a few pitchers.

On St. George Street, the hub of the Spanish Quarter, we passed the oldest wooden schoolhouse in the US as well as numerous funky shops of all colors and styles!
For local flavor we were entertained by a street musician who really should have found a different occupation, but we were on to Scarlett O'Hara's so we didn't care! How do you go to St. Augustine and not go there??? We walked the length of the Spanish Quarter and then found ourselves wandering in the Colonial District - by some miracle we wound up at OC White's Tiki Bar
which was not open due to the hour, so we settled for happy hour inside at the bar where Colleen got to meet a real pirate! Our trip to St. Augustine was much too short and while we didn't find Ponce de Leon's fountain of youth (or maybe we did sipping coldies at the top of the Milltop tavern - who knows?), we did see Ponce as he sits looking over the harbor and that was enough for us!
On the way back to the boat, we had to stop for the Bridge of Lions to lift so a sailboat could get by but with the sun setting behind the bridge, it was a sight to behold - we didn't mind the wait at all!

Before we knew it, we were off the next day to Daytona Beach - no, none of us are gearheads, it was just a convenient place to stop for the night. The trip down was unbelievable - on numerous occasions we had families (including babies) and pods of dolphins playing in our wake.
It was as if each was trying to outdo the others with their backflips and jumps out of the water;
some we even caught swimming upside down and sideways!
These creatures are so wonderful and fun - they constantly look like they are smiling
- I hope I never take them for granted!!

As we headed south the wind and the water picked up and the weather report took a turn for the worse, so instead of anchoring as we had planned, we headed into a marina for the night. Nothing for us to do but explore Daytona Beach a little - so off to RedTail's we went for happy hour. John has become our unofficial scout - whatever new location we hit, he is in charge of finding maps and scoping out places of interest (ie watering holes with good music and happy hours and occasionally other "have to see" sights...). He doesn't know it but I just made his title official!!

I woke up the next morning to a really horrible weather report so we decided to hold over in Daytona rather than risk the squalls, thunderstorms and gale winds predicted for that day - you know you should sit tight when NOAA says the ICW is going to be "rough". After a morning of work, we headed out in the pouring rain (we're boaters, we have foulies!!) for lunch and found a great Irish pub called McK's - lots of corned beef and several coldies later, we headed back to the boat and a relatively early night as we had a 6:00 am wake-up call for today's steam.

When we headed out at daybreak this morning, it was overcast and dark so the weather could have gone either way. Luckily for us the sun decided to break through and even though it was too windy and cold (again!!) for us to drive from the flybridge, the sun was a welcome relief after the torrential rains of the day before. From what we hear, we're just glad we weren't back up in New England with the ice storm - hope everyone's OK!!

I don't think I've ever seen so many dolphins in my life, let alone in one day as we did today - we had them playing in our wake, jumping across our bow and even doing pirouettes for us as we came in to anchor this afternoon - very kewl!!
But despite being in manatee zones most of the day, 'manatee-zone.jpg'
we never did spot one - I guess that's something to look forward to tomorrow or the next day....

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