Monday, July 6, 2015

St. Augustine Highlights

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. - St. Augustine

St. Augustine is the nation's oldest city, founded by the Spanish in 1565, and named after the Catholic saint, St. Augustine. Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles named the area thusly since land was sighted on the day of the feast celebrating St. Augustine.

Our destination.
It had been many years since I had been to St. Augustine, and then we were merely passing through on our way to Daytona. I was pretty excited to get to spend time exploring the city and basking on the beach...well I don't actually bask anymore, but still it was great to hang out and watch the waves.

Our traveling companions, with my hubby in the back.

Everything in Twos - two couples, two cars, two kids (theirs) and two condos. Ashley and I had been looking forward to the day when we could all vacation together. This year it became a reality.

The gang
Where we stayed.
Pier Point South Condos at St. Augustine Beach on Anastasia Island. Our unit came with everything we needed, including beach towels and chairs. A big thank you to the thoughtful owners for such a well-provisioned condo.

Pier Point South Condos
What we did.
We struggled with high temperatures and high humidity so to see more of the city with less effort, we took the Old Town Trolley tour. You paid one price for three days of rides, getting on and off as much as you like. Our first stop was the St. Augustine Distillery. We all agreed that a tour, free tasting and A/C would be a welcome break from the heat.

After a brief tour of the distillery, we were taken to the tasting room. There we were treated to a Florida Mule made from their own vodka, and their version of a gin and tonic, again made from their gin. Everyone was offered a sample of both the gin and vodka neat. This was my first distillery tour and spirits tasting.

St. Augustine Distillery
On another day we toured the San Sebastian Winery. We arrived in time for the tasting that was just starting. We were given our choice of two wines on each round and we decided I would take one and hubby the other so we could both taste each wine. The first two were a dry white made from several of Florida's hybrid grapes and a dry red described as full-bodied, but I felt it was rather light. These were the driest of the wines offered. There were several made from their Native Muscadine grape, which were sweeter. Lastly we were served cream sherry and port styled wines.

San Sebastian Winery

We climbed the St. Augustine lighthouse which is 165 feet tall with 219 steps to reach the circular walkway around the tower just below the lens. This tower was constructed in 1874 and was automated in 1955.

St. Augustine Lighthouse

The view from the top was fantastic in all directions from the Atlantic to historical St. Augustine.

At the top - all 219 steps.

No trip involving water would be complete without a boat ride. We cruised the scenic waterways of St. Augustine aboard the Victory III. Visitors have been cruising these waters since the early 1900s seeing such sights as the Bridge of Lions and the St. Augustine Lighthouse.

The bridge of Lions

Scenic Cruise
Where we ate.
A unanimous favorite was the Conch House restaurant. Fish tacos, fish and grits, blackened Wahoo and fried shrimp were among some of the entrees we ordered. We also sampled conch fritters, gator bites and hot wings. We sat at large picnic tables beneath thatched huts overlooking the marina. As we enjoyed our lunch, we watched wading birds fishing for theirs.

In the hut at the Conch House

The Conch House - a view from above.

The Sunset Grille, about a block from our condo, served up tasty fare as well. We shared fish sandwiches and fish and chips outside on several evenings.

Sunset Grille
Other places we ate at along the beach were Antonio's for pizza, Rita's for Italian ice (the mango was delicious), The Salt Life, and Little Margie's. In town we had breakfast at The Bunnery, and lunch at the Ice Plant (next to the distillery).

Stay tuned for my manatee adventure!

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Let’s swear each with our pinky
We’ll be the best of friends
Until we are old and wrinkly!

Good friends and good times make memories for a lifetime.

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Friday, June 26, 2015

I've Been Away...

It's been several weeks since I've posted, and no I didn't fall off the planet, get abducted by aliens or even swallowed up by a whale. I just took some time off to recharge my batteries, and in doing so, gathered lots of pictures and videos for blog fodder. I hope you will check back to see what I've been up to.

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Monday, June 8, 2015

On Photography

The negative is the equivalent of the composer's score, and the print the performance. - Ansel Adams

While many of our pictures are in digital format today, there is still the relation between composer and the performer. Our cameras are the instrument, we are the composer and the images are the collaboration and the star of the show.

There are many different reasons for taking pictures. Some photographers spent thousands of dollars and as many hours looking for just the right shot, catching the light and trying to capture what their eyes behold.

I like to capture moments to relive them later. Memories of what we saw can fade with time, but when we see the pictures, they come alive again. It matters not whether it was the perfect shot or the highest quality, it triggers the senses.

Sometimes it is not what you are photographing as much as it is the feeling you get from looking at it. Something as simple as the way the light hits a tree, or plays with the shadows. I've been taking pictures since I was a kid, and this is only something I've learned in the last few years. 

There are many wonderful photographers who share their work online, and the one who has inspired me the most is the talented lady at The Smitten Image. I used to try and get as much into a picture as possible and now I know that sometimes less is more. Thanks Hilary!

These were all taken with my Canon Powershot SD1200.

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Friday, June 5, 2015


It was a sad day when we had our old maple systematically disassembled. The tree was still full of life, but losing the battle with substance. It had a hollow so large we could have rented it out. 

It was outside the bedroom window and if it fell, at worst we could be squashed, at the very least it would mean major repairs. We had avoided that decision far too long for comfort. Each ice storm or wind gust took us closer to calamity.

The team of tree removal specialists got the job done quickly and efficiently, and cleaned up after themselves. Watch the video to see one of their trickier maneuvers.

All that was left was the trunk, which was taken down in sections.  This was done about two years ago. The stump remains and the grass is beginning to grow back in where it had died out because of the dense shade. I miss that old tree, but a couple Mimosa trees have sprouted along the fence - I'll take them in trade.

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