You know what’s great? Having a giggling, smiling, babbling six month old baby. You know what’s even better? Leaving that baby with your parents and going to Florida for a three-day weekend!
For the President’s Day holiday, we hopped a flight to Orlando and made our way up the East Coast two hours to St. Augustine Beach. Why St. Augustine, you ask? Well, 1) Orlando is the cheapest non-stop flight from KC; 2) St. Augustine is the oldest city in the continental U.S. (I guess some people care about that stuff); and 3) They have seafood and booze (I know some people care about that stuff).
We stopped in Daytona Beach, where we luckily missed the Daytona 500 by just one weekend! (luckily because I’m just not sure I could have taken that many jorts and mullets in one place at one time and my eyes might have rolled so far back in my head I couldn’t have retrieved them). We stopped for lunch at the Ocean Shack, a delicious restaurant right on the beach, where we watched beach volleyball and chowed down fish tacos, shrimp quesadillas and local brews. The warm salty air, the warm salty food and cold hoppy beer made for a delicious combination.
After lunch we drove to St. Augustine. The week before we left for vacation I had dreamed of hot, sandy beaches (hell, I’d even changed my screensaver to a picture of St. Augustine to get fully hyped!), me lying on a beach chair, a cold margarita in hand as I dug my toes into the white sand and fell asleep to the sound of the waves.
It turns out that February in Northern Florida isn’t exactly…beach weather. The temperatures were in the 60’s and a good portion of the day was cloudy and occasionally drizzling. The pool bar was boarded up and I was literally the only person by the pool, which was frrrreezing. I tried laying out, but gave up when I felt fat rain drops hit my back. Whatever, we were on vacation damn it, and babyless to boot, so we were going to make the most of it. We spent the next few days traversing downtown St. Augustine, learning about the local history, drinking Florida gin, eating as much seafood as we could get our grubby Midwestern paws on, and (most importantly) sleeping in!
If there’s one thing my man friend loves, it’s history. We bought tickets to the about-town trolley and settled in for a 90 minute overview of St. Augustine. It was a fine way to see the city before diving into any activities – kind of like walking up and down the buffet at Golden Wok before actually digging into the cashew chicken and spring rolls. What do I remember from the tour, you ask? Well…St. Augustine is really old, and there’s a castle that used be a jail (or a fort? maybe?). OH, and they have what National Geographic called “one of the most beautiful streets in the world.” See for yourself.
The winery was good, the shrimp and grits were great, the gin and tonic was something I will one day write a poem about. BUT. There was also a popcorn shop that had the most ridiculous flavors you have ever (not that you’d really imagine this type of thing) imagined! They give you a million samples before you decide (Cheeto? Chocolate Cheesecake? Cotton Candy? Captain Crunch? That’s only the ones that start with C!!!!), and samples are my FAVORITE THING IN THE WORLD. In the end I went with cheese and caramel corn like a friggin nerd. I’ll regret it for the rest of my life.
Our final day in St. Augustine was spent touring the distillery (caution: they will give you a ton of free tastings so you’re good and liquored up by the time you hit the gift shop and find yourself buying whiskey and $20 Bitter Milk to make Old Fashioneds like you’re Don Draper). We also had salmon poke tacos which were goooood at the Salt Shack and a dirty martini at Prohibition Kitchen, where you find yourself looking around for F. Scott Fitzgerald because that’s the type of place it was.
Our last meal of the trip was a pizza from Mellow Mushroom, which we ate on our hotel bed as we watched TV. Sometimes vacation is really glamorous and sometimes you find strings of cheese in your hair the next morning when you’re brushing your teeth.
We got up waaaay early the next day to drive back to Orlando and catch our flight. If I could build a time machine, I would probably go back and gently remind my younger self that drinking martinis hours before having to get up and fly on an airplane is cool and totally doable for 20-somethings, but maybe 30-somethings should take it easy. Smell ya next time, Florida!