Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

First and foremost, Doug and I wish a very happy and safe holiday to all our friends and family - you're all with us in spirit on this day and we will raise a glass to toast to you all later today (after all it's a little early yet even for us!) We are lucky enough to be in St. Augustine with some of our cruising family - the September Song crew!! The sun is out but it sure doesn't feel like we're in Florida - it's downright cold. But we have much to be thankful for today so we're not going to complain about the cold - especially knowing that where many of you guys are right now is a whole lot colder than here (but come on - we're in FL we should be in shorts not jeans and sweatshirts!!!) We just had a fun catch up chat with Glen Moore who lives here in St. Augustine and we will be heading over to September Song later today for dinner and some football (wow - you know they are great friends when they say we can watch football on their TV!!!)

The past several days we've been having so much fun with Stephanie and Bob that I haven't had the time to blog (or quite frankly the capacity once we got back to the boat after hours of pub crawling!!) We left our anchorage in Cumberland Island the other day to head across the sound to Fernandina Beach, FL - not our longest day on the water to be sure as it is only about 6 miles but we had killer fog to make it more interesting. A very funky range marker/house marks the entrance to Fernandina and even in the fog, you couldn't miss that!!
We wound up anchoring out since they only had one mooring ball so Bob was kind enough to ferry us in and out in Half Note, September Song's dinghy which was already in the water from their time at Cumberland Island (that way we didn't have to drop our dink!!) Bob commenced two days of superb taxi service - we highly recommend him!!

Shortly after dropping the hook we set out for town with Cassie and Godiva, the SS boat dogs, who desperately wanted off the boat and onto green grass (you can imagine why!) They loved town - not only did Cassie get to chase some fish (OK it wasn't the same kind of challenge as when she had been in the Chesapeake or the Bahamas but it was still pretty cool),
Cassie Goes a-Hunting!
but they had some ice cream!!
Cassie and Godiva Get Ice Cream from Dad
A couple local cats saw them coming and high-tailed it up onto the roof - only kidding but they made quite a sight up there!
Cats Sunning Themselves on the Roof
Fernandina is a great little town with wonderful old oak trees covered in Spanish moss, a cute little downtown filled with funky bars, artists' galleries and shops, and great Spanish stye architecture on some of the old homes.
Steps Leading to One of the Art Galleries
At one point or another 8 different countries have claimed ownership over Fernandina so it has become known as the Isle of Eight Flags! A true highlight of our walk around town was the eclectic nature of a little store called Trailer Park Collectibles - the name truly says it all!!!
The September Song Crew Get Photographed at Trailer Park Collectibles

After walking around town for quite some time, we were parched and in need of sustenance - Bob took the canine SS crew back to the boat while we hit the Palace, the oldest bar in all of Florida (or at least that is the claim!)
Drinks at The Palace Saloon
The Palace is one of our favorite places in Fernandina - not only is it oozing with character but it always is brimming with local characters. It was there last year passing through that we met up with Ken, an ex special ops guy who kind of adopted us and wound up showing us around town and taking us to his private club - he made our stop in Fernandina truly memorable (especially when he showed us his several guns that he pulled out from beneath the seat and from the glove compartment of his truck on the way to his club!!!) We had been looking forward to re-connecting with Ken as we have thought of him often - a little Fernandina Beach sign that he had given us on our trip south sits on our helm station. Unfortunately when we asked for him, we found out that he has lung cancer and is in chemo - our best thoughts and prayers are with him! He is a special guy and hearing his news from all his friends at the Palace, many of whom we remembered from last year, was the one somber moment in an otherwise fun filled couple days.

From the Palace (which serves no food - not even an orange for our Shocktop - it is just a bar!!!), we wandered over to Pablo's, a little Mexican restaurant where we had a great meal the last time through (at least we remembered it as great, but then again it was after 2:00 am when we ate there and it was after hours and hours at the Palace and Ken's club!!!) Glad to see our taste buds are not at all impacted by our consumption of beer - lunch was great.
Lunch on the Back Deck at Pablo's
Not content to call it a day, we went off in search of the Green Turtle Tavern,

another funky bar we had scoped out on our first trip through - it was just as we remembered it - still sporting a multi-colored old van out front and many local characters inside!!

We love finding places like this!!! Every time I see the van and the Grateful Dead/Bob Marley memorabilia on the ceilings and walls I think of my nephew Drew who really should have been born in the 60's - he would LOVE this place!! Finally time to call it a day, Bob's taxi/ferry service brought us home to Gypsies for a quiet evening.

The next morning we went to breakfast at this great place Ken had told us about - it's an old Exxon station and while there is no sign, the joint is called T-Rays - if you didn't know about it, you wouldn't find it and even if you did, you certainly wouldn't go in as it truly looks like an old abandoned gas station (except that upon closer inspection, they have recently thrown some old tables and chairs outside next to the pumps to catch the overflow - it is a wildly popular locals hang-out with seriously good food!)
After a true truckdriver's breakfast
Breakfast at T-Ray's
we were in serious need of a walk (although we would have had to walk to Key West to walk off all those calories!!) Without really knowing where we were going, we headed off to find Fort Clinch which we had seen from the water on the way in - the best way to really get a sense for a town is to just walk around especially the residential areas (OK we have no other way to travel but it's still lots of fun!)

We got to see some of the local character - fences held together with hose clamps,
no wake signs decorating the driveway - after all Fernandina is a water town!!
We even got to try on some more hats at a few local stores - the Florida/Georgia college football rivalry down here is religious!!!
Bob Experiments with Winter Hats
Bob and Tammy Try on Gator and Bulldog Hats
Part way to Fort Clinch we were seriously questioning our sanity when Doug found it was several more miles past the entrance to the park where the Fort was located - we settled for taking a picture of the entrance
and proceeded to the beach which was much closer. After testing the water and making a few sand angels,
Tammy Makes Sand Angels
we spied a beach bar, Sandy Bottoms (cute!) After our ten mile hike (OK maybe not quite) that Shocktop was pretty tasty let me tell you.
Drinks at Sandy Bottoms
Of course then we had the walk back but at least we had the Palace in our sights as it was on our direct line home!! Still not wanting the day to end (and rationalizing that we had walked a really long way), we set off for the Green Turtle again - unfortunately we didn't have Cassie and Godiva this time as it seemed to be doggy day at the bar (one little furry guy even was sitting up in a bar stool - too funny!!)
We finally dragged our butts back to the dock only to be greeted by a gorgeous egret who couldn't quite understand why we were leaving!!

We were hitting the road again the next day, so it was back to the boats for us. What a great stop Fernandina is - the people always make us feel so welcome and the local funk is reason enough to stop here for several days at least!! As we set out again, we will keep Ken in our thoughts and hearts and hope he can beat the odds!!! After all, it is truly the people you meet (both other cruisers and locals) that make this cruising life so interesting and just darn fun!

Yesterday we set off in the fog, rain and cold for a 7 hour trip to St. Augustine - not the most fun we've ever had on the water to be sure - but also not the worst! We did see some pretty cool roseate spoonbills (which are pink and look a little like small flamingos) and some more white pelicans!!
Roseate Spoonbills
White Pelicans
It was really nice though to pull into the dock and get tied up - for some reason the winds always seem to pick up and the current is usually ripping when we come into St Augustine. We are docked for several days at the Municipal Marina which means we can walk off our boat and be right in the heart of the historic district of the city - very cool! About an hour later we were ready for the pub crawl....starting off at A1A Brewery for some wings and good beer, we could see all the Christmas lights of the city out the window. Now I'm a firm believer in you don't decorate for Xmas until Thanksgiving is at least over, but the downtown of St Augustine sure looked pretty. As we were walking to the next bar, however, the local trolley train went by blaring Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer - now that was not right!!!! We hit Scarlet O'Hara's where the Shocktop was 2 for 1 and then hit a local dive for pizza - yippee!! Knowing we had an all day festivity planned for the next day, we called it an early night and headed back to the boats - don't get used to us being that smart too often!! Walking down the docks this morning, the smells are simply wonderful - just because we live on boats, doesn't mean we don't do Thanksgiving!!! September Song has been busy cooking turkey, dressing and all the sides, while we are making pumpkin bread, carrot cake and trays of apps!!! It's almost time to head over there so I'm going to sign off for today - our best to you and yours. May you all have a wonderful, happy and healthy holiday!!

Click here to see our anchorage at Fernandina Beach.
Click here to see our location at St. Augustine Municipal Marina.
Click here to see a map of all the places we have stopped at on our way down the ICW this year.

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