Our mission -- Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enter .. OOPS, sorry, I got carried away. Let me start again.

Our mission -- Warm Waters and Great Weather: The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Motor Vessel Traveling Soul. Its five-year mission: to explore strange warm waters, to seek out new forms of recreation and new civilizations, to boldly go where no Brown, Applegate or Higgins has gone before.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

St. Augustine and South

In this blog entry I am going to discuss Thanksgiving, Saint Augustine and Dave and Joan’s departure from Traveling Soul. But before I do I am going to sp end just a minute on the most important football game played this year: ARMY BEAT THE HELL OUT OF NAVY AT LINCOLN FINANCIAL FIELD, PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA. I know, I know. Some of you are telling me to calm down, it isn’t, after all, a life-death event. You are right – it is more important than life and death. It’s Army-Navy football!!!  Ok, Ok, let me move on a little more chronologically.

Our master chef at her Thanksgiving Meal Mmmmmm!

We arrived at the St. Augustine mooring field on Wednesday, 21 November, the day before Thanksgiving. Ok, let me just say it. St. Augustine Florida is probably our favorite city on the Waterway. It has glitz, it has glamour, it has history, it has excellent places to eat. And it has a mooring field where we can stay for $25 per night. There was only one problem this year. It was friggin’ cold. Ok, it wasn’t as cold as a witch’s heart, it wasn’t as cold as “death’s chilled hand”, and it probably wasn’t as cold as it was where many of my faithful readers live, but it was colder than I wanted it to be.  I actually (and I blush to admit this), I actually traded my shorts for jeans for three whole days.

At any rate, the first thing I did in St. Augustine was to get a haircut at Price’s Barbershop. Now Price’s ain’t just any barbershop, it’s special.  When I opened the door, the six chairs were full with barbers cutting and trimming hair, and there were about three of us waiting. I sat for about 20 minutes then spent about 15 minutes in the chair getting my hair cut and my neck shaved (ah, there is nothing like a nice, hot neck shave). Now, I swear, there was one guy who was in the chair when I arrived and was still getting his hair cut when I left!!! I don’t know why or what treatment he was getting. Maybe it was kind of like “Weekend at Bernie’s” and the guy was really dead. I dunno. Most barbershops nowadays would prefer to get you in and get you out as fast as they can, not here. Price’s in Saint Augustine. Remember the name.

After my haircut, just to enjoy the fact that I could walk again, I tooled around a little bit exploring the neighborhood and I made a major discovery. There was a $tarbuck$ between the marina and the barbershop!! As most of you know, Ann is – shall I say – a big fan of Starbucks. But Joan, the other female member of our crew, is an absolute maniac! For the rest of the time we were in town, the first stop we made each morning was the coffee shop.

A picture of St. Augustine's Bridge of Lions 
from our marina.

But I digress a little. The reason we had decided to come to St. Augustine on this special day is because they normally hold a “Cruiser’s Thanksgiving” at the City Marina. We went two years ago with our friends Russ and Lori aboard their catamaran Twin Sisters and had a really good time. The local cruiser’s net buys and cooks the turkey and the rest of us provide a side dish and/or a dessert. This year, however, the powers that be decided they would hold Thanksgiving at a different marina on the other side of town. For us to get there, we would have had to cook, dinghy to the dock, transport everything to a shuttle, take a shuttle to the other marina – and then reverse course when finished. That was just too much trouble and too many chances for something to go wrong. Besides, it was cold. We decided that we would have our own Thanksgiving on the boat. So, with some of our best friends ever, Dave, Joan, we all had turkey thighs, macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole, stuffing and gravy. MMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm It was scrumptious.


Since we don’t have a car, in St. Augustine we usually buy a two-day ticket on the Old Town Trolley. The Trolley is one of those hop-on/hop-off buses that takes us to 20+ stops and explains the history of each.  We like it because we can take the whole tour, choose where we want to go, then either come back later in the day or the following day. It worked especially well this time because it was wet and rainy the first day and nice and dry the second. Because Dave and Joan were with us, we re-visited a number of places so they could see the sights. The major places we stopped and spent some time were:
The courtyard at Castillo de San Marcos. 
Imagine 1500 people living here for nearly 60 days.

·       Castillo de San Marcos: A National Park, it is the oldest masonry fort built in the continental United States. Work began in 1672. Although there is a great deal about the fort that is interesting, one fact that intrigues me is that in 1702 Saint Augustine’s 1500 or so residents took refuge in the Castillo during a British siege. I don’t think the fort was much more than 100m on each of four sides, so it must have been pretty crowded. Oh … and the siege lasted for nearly 60 days. I guess you had to love your neighbor.

·       Saint Augustine Distillery. What can I say? A distillery tour is always good, but here the tour guide is exceptionally entertaining and you get free samples!

·       Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. A bit kitschy, but they have a few interesting exhibits. One uses a planetarium to explain seventeenth century navigation methods .

·       Historical Shopping District (several times). There is a Fresh Produce Store in the “Historical” District. Need I say more?

·       Starbucks (several times)

·       Meals

o   We wanted to go to the Prince of Wales Restaurant which has the BEST fish and chops I have ever had. In fact, I had told Dave and Joan about it for several days before we actually made the trip. We get there and … it was closed. Well, to hell with them being closed on the one day of the year I wanted them to be open. We know another excellent lunch place that we also like – the Floridian. But it was … closed. I gotta tell you, I was beginning to wonder. But then we found an Irish Pub that served Guinness and Fish and Chips. Although it wasn’t quite as good as the Prince of Wales, it was good enough. How dare both of them be closed on the ONE day of the year I wanted them to be open. Harrumph!

o   Aviles Restaurant. We usually go to Harry’s, but they were so crowded, we went to Aviles which is almost next door. It was maybe a B/B-. But they really had cool menus – they lit up.

o   Tini Martini Bar. Ok, I know it is not quite a meal, but I really like the place. We each had a drink and great conversation. We WILL be back.

The one place we missed again this time was the local chocolate factory, but we learned that the weekend after Thanksgiving is not necessarily the best time to go to places that even during the times we normally visit have long waiting lines and even reservations! I guess we’ll save that for next time.

From the beginning, Dave and Joan had planned to accompany us through Thanksgiving all the way down to Saint Augustine.  Of course we all thought it was going to be warm at least part of the way down, especially when we reached Florida, but it didn’t work out that way. In Saint Augustine we had one less-cold day (not to be confused with a warm one), but it was when we reached Marineland that the temperature really plunged. At night it was in the upper 30’s. And that is cold, or at least colder that I expected and wanted. Anyway, practically dressed in their winter clothes, Dave and Joan rented a car at St. Augustine and met us at Marineland, our next stop. There they could spend a few final days on the boat and get their stuff ready to head back to Virginia. Marineland used to be a nice, inexpensive little stop on the ICW after St. Augustine with a few local sights to make it interesting. Now that they have added about twenty slips and hired a mini-dictator as dockmaster, it may be a while before we return.

Anyway, using Dave and Joan’s car we hit a sight or two that we had not been made before, especially the Saint Augustine lighthouse and a couple of sights that were repeats for us, but new to Dave and Joan, like the dolphin exhibit at Marineland and Fort Matanzas, just  little north of the marina. They departed on 29 November. I think and hope they had a good time, even with the below normal temperatures.

A picture of Ann and I atop the St. Augustine lighthouse.
Ann and I continued wandering down the ICW on our way to Palm Beach. We stopped one night at Cocoa to check on the progress they had made since the hurricane that shut down their dinghy docks. Lo and behold, we anchored right behind Kathy and George aboard their boat, Katrajena. They live in Solomons, just a few buildings down from us. We visited for a just a few minutes and they told us that there were some dinghy docks, but they were reserved for the “Rally from the Sun.” We know quite a bit about the Rally and its intrepid leader Wally Moran. Let’s just say that we wouldn’t stay at any dinghy dock that would reserve space for Wally and/or the Rally. I hope they make a lot of money off them, because they may never make money off me again.

Since we didn’t stay at Cocoa, we went a little further south to an anchorage around Melbourne called Eau Gallie (pronounced Oh Golly – by accident or on purpose? I really don’t know). We walked around the community a little and went to the local dockside restaurant, Squidlips. C’mon now, we had to go to a restaurant with a name like Squidlips. And you know what? The food was pretty good. In fact, although we did not have it, they were serving a Sunday brunch to the locals and it looked pretty darn delicious! Other than Squidlips, a nice anchorage and a decent dinghy dock though, Oh Golly doesn’t have much to recommend it.

After Eau Gallie it was on to Ft. Pierce. The first day we arrived it was actually w … w … warm! It cooled down the second day with a cold front, but it looks like we have finally found downright great weather!!!!!! At Ft. Pierce we checked out the downtown, watched the Army-Navy game with our friends Debbie and Glenn from Calliope (See below. She is a Naval Academy Grad. Never let it be said that I am not tolerant.) On, did I mention that Army won that game, 17-10? Aft er the game, we also watched the Ft. Pierce “parade of Boats.” Actually the boats were so spread out that it was more a dribbling than a parade, but some people really put out decorating their boats.  Kudos to them.

Ann’s Notes:   I have a lot to cover so I will get going.

There is something Michael has not talked about and I have not said anything – mostly because I did not know if I could keep up my own challenge.  Since last year on the boat I have tried to exercise daily – it all started at the small gym at our condo. I am now hooked on walking or riding my biking at least five times a week. While traveling down the ICW we pass under lots of bridges and many marinas are close to or next to bridges. That being said, I set a goal to walk across as many bridges as I could.   So far I have walked bridges in NC, SC, GA and FL, some more than once, it has been a lot of fun.

Spot. Enjoying the sun (finally) at Ft. Pierce
Our Thanksgiving in St. Augustine was a busy one. The weather to start really did suck, it was cold, raining and hard…plus it was windy, a full moon and high tide, making the streets flood. It was very wet. Dinner was fun to make on the boat, I had my time management and power management skills tested and did get the complete meal on the table on time and hot. I agree with Michael that St Augustine is our favorite city. We were happy to share it with Dave and Joan.

Right now we are in the Fort Pierce City Marina, enjoying our time visiting our good friends Lori and Russ. Also seeing a cruising friend we made last year at Treasure Cay, she happens to be a Naval academy grad, class of 1981. They are anchored in the Fort Pierce inlet, I invited they to join us when we went to the Farmers Market next to the marina. They downloaded their dinghy and tied up to our stern. We had a great time looking at all the fresh vegetables, purchased a few items and chatting away. Later that day they joined us in the Captains Lounge to watch the Army –Navy Game. The lounge has a flat screen TV with Dish channels. Michael and I arrived early to make sure we had control of the remote and find the right channel … that took a little while. Debbie and Glenn watched most of the game with us but had to return to their boat before the game was over. It was plain to see that Army was going to win…17 to 10. It was an exciting game to watch with friends.

I am getting excited about going home for Christmas and seeing Friends and Family.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.

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Traveling Soul…OUT