Memories of Florida

While its been well over a week since returning from one of the funnest weekends on record in Florida with my best friend, I thought now that I have finally dug myself out from all the things that demanded attention upon my return I would actually write about it.


Thursday evening I arrived in Tampa where my friend’s husband picked me up.  Due to thunderstorms, which I am grateful happened after I had landed, we had to wait an hour to retrieve my luggage.  It gave me a chance to catch up with my friend’s husband.  I had not seen him or her since their wedding in Tampa almost 4 years ago. 


My best friend and I drove out to the St. Augustine area early on Friday morning and as we reached our destination a torrential rain started.  It was the type of rain that comes down so furiously that windshield wipers are proven futile.  After about a 3 hour drive and wonderful conversation we arrived at my Aunt’s townhouse on the beach.  It was still downpouring at that point so we quickly grabbed our luggage and went inside. 

We still needed groceries but decided to wait on them until the rain had slowed a bit.  It gave us a wonderful opportunity to just sit and chat with the blinds open while taking in a perfect view of the ocean.  I made two cups of spiced tea that seem to be most fitting for the afternoon.  Now let me tell you, there is something so comforting about sharing a cup of tea and conversation with your oldest girlfriend while in view of a rainy beach.  She and I met in the second grade and although we live on opposite sides of the country, have always been a part of each other’s lives.   There’s a lot of history there.

Finally the rain let up and we headed out to the grocery store where we picked up cheese, cold cuts, coffee and the most wonderful strawberry chardonnay.  We headed into the old area of St. Augustine later on in the afternoon and ordered sangria and appetizers that we enjoyed while people watching from the restaurant balcony overlooking old St. George St.  On the way back to the car, it started raining again.  I had forgotten to bring a jacket with me and luckily my friend had lent me her hooded sweatshirt which came in handy.  When you live in an area that sees very little rain you start to forget how much rain other areas get. 

My cellphone, which was sitting at the edge of my purse did not do so well with the rain.  Saturday morning we needed to find another store because my old phone would not even turn on.  It was a purchase I wasn’t planning on making on vacation but what can you do? 

Saturday afternoon we spent the day down at the beach just lounging around in the sand and chatting.  We watched the sand pipers running back and forth with the waves, stopping only to syphon out a meal hidden in the sand.  They are such amusing little creatures and we spent a great deal of time just watching them.  The ocean was like bathtub water and my only regret is that we didn’t get down there again to place a chair in the water. 

Saturday evening we decided to do the local Pub Crawl/Ghost Tour in St. Augustine.  First we had a wonderful dinner at an Italian restaurant called Amici’s.  Then we met our tour guide at a small bar where we were given our free beer before beginning.  I suppose they wanted to get us nice and juiced first so that we would really think we were seeing things on the tour.  😉 

The tour route consisted of 3 pubs we were to walk to.  We headed out with our tour guide Maria, and about 30 other folks also partaking.  We descended on the first bar that was actually a home that was built in the 1700s out of coquina, which is a shell and rock mixture.  It is reported that the woman who owned the house way back when still haunts the premises.  We didn’t see any ghosts although I caught on orb with my digital camera which I suspect was only a spec of dust.

My friend introduced me to a beer called Shocktop that I now absolutely crave.  While she was getting us a few drinks, another tour goer asked if she and her sister could sit with us.  They were both also on vacation; one being from Alabama and the other from Georgia.  That is one thing I like about visiting other places; you get to meet so many interesting people.  One of the sisters then excused herself because her husband, who is stationed in Iraq was calling her.  After thirty minutes we were rounded up by the tour guide and headed out to the next pub which at one time had also been someone’s home.  This time the ghost that supposedly inhabits this dwelling was a Cuban woman named Catalina.  Her old bedroom is now the lady’s room and that is supposed to be the most active room in the house.  While the restroom had a creepy vibe to it, there was nothing unexplained going on in there.  Before we left we decided for the heck of it we would take some pictures to see if anything came out.  Two biker ladies, also on the tour were in there taking pictures.  One swore that she couldn’t get the sink to shut off when she was in earlier.  As it turns out, the handles were the type that if you pushed them too far back or too far forward, they would stay on.  I watched the other lady demonstrate this although she still insisted that there was something paranormal going on.  My friend and I just glanced at each other and smirked.  Not wanting to burst their bubble we left without saying a word.

Our final stop was at a pub that although wasn’t reported to be haunted, was located next to what was supposed to be the most haunted house in St. Augustine.  While that was somewhat anticlimactic, the bar was outdoors so we stayed there long after the tour ended.  Both the visiting sisters we had met earlier in the night joined us for a while.  We ended eating yet again.  This time we split a cheeseburger and fries.  And then we dug into the pieces of key lime cheesecake we had back at the townhouse upon our return.  After that I swore I’d be done eating for life.  But oh!  Everything just tasted so good.

On Sunday we headed over to the St. Augustine Lighthouse for a tour.  It is a gorgeous structure and was also featured on Ghost Hunters a few years back.  Didn’t see any ghosts there either.  😉  My friend made it up to the top but my fear of heights kept me securely at the bottom.

 After this we headed over to the San Sebastian winery for their free tour and tasting.  If you are ever in the area I highly recommend this.  The wines are very unique tasting and if it weren’t for the airline restrictions I may have purchased a few bottles for home.  They also had wonderful samples of sherry and brandy.

We returned back to the townhouse and then decided to go for a long walk on the beach to burn off the gazillion calories consumed the night before.  It had started to rain but a rainy day at the beach is still better than a 110 degree day in the desert.  For our final night there we went back into St. Augustine for dinner at a Cajun restaurant that featured a beautiful tree-lined patio covered in little white Christmas lights.  We found a big tree to sit under to avoid the rain and a very talented man with a guitar belted out tunes while we ate. 

Monday morning it was time to go.  We packed and cleaned up.  I took one final picture of the beach as of course the ocean is many miles from Phoenix.

We drove back to Tampa on Monday and then I caught a flight back to Phoenix on Tuesday.  As these things go, the weekend went by very fast.  Luckily my friend is coming out to Phoenix next month for a trade show and will have a few extra days to explore.  Another girlfriend of ours from the Boston area is also coming out during the same timeframe so we will make a whole weekend of it.  Somehow knowing that I will be with friends again in a few weeks made it easier to leave.  In other words, no tearful goodbyes. 

I arrived back in Phoenix at noon due to the time change.  I had left my car in the garage and lo and behold I could not remember for the life of me where I had parked it the week before.  Luckily there is a call button (perhaps I should call it the idiot button?) for such events.  A lady from airport security carted me around for 20 minutes until I finally located it.  Funny enough nothing at all about where I parked it looked familiar.  Maybe that is what happens when you arrive in the dark at 5:30 am.   Okay, maybe that’s what happens when you are me.  Despite that, I still made it out of there and got myself into work that afternoon.  How’s that for dedication?

That night while the ceiling fan whirred overhead, I could have sworn I heard the ocean all the way into the desert.  It made me smile.

12 thoughts on “Memories of Florida

  1. Welcome back, Monsoon!
    I have really enjoyed reading your post. It sounds like you had a very fun and lovely vacation- love your pictures! Being able to spend time with old friends is a gift, isn’t it? 😉

  2. Nice photos and aren’t stories of haunted places fun? (Even if it’s a sink, LOL). I love the image of chatting with a friend while listening to the rain. Lovely.

    Strawberry chardonnay…..yum!

    • Thanks Emmy. I love hearing of haunted places. I have a few of my own stories which I will post at some point where it is October and all. Isn’t that funny about the sink? I have a desk at home that is over 100 years old. It had belonged to a great aunt of mine that would probably be 130 years old if she were still here. When I lived in Boston I had a roomate that was convinced it was haunted because of all the clicks and knocks it would make on its own accord. As it turns out it was really the wood expanding because of the humidity. Out here in the desert it no longer ‘talks’. Too funny.

      That rainy afternoon drinking tea with my bestfriend will go down in history as one of the best afternoons ever.

      I was pleasantly surprised by the wine. Usually I drink reds but this one was so wonderfully delicate without being overly sweet that I think I might have to try to see if I can find it here.

  3. I love the image of you laying there listening to your ceiling fan and hearing the ocean – when I came home from my cruises and lay in my bed, I SWORE I could still feel the ship rocking. I’m going to have to look for Shocktop! This sounded like such a wonderful, relaxing vacation! You whet my appetite for my girls weekend in Rehobeth coming up on the 21st (rescheduled from the hurricane weekend)!

    • Yes, I remember just the feeling you are talking about when getting off the boat. Shocktop was really good. It is similar to a Blue Moon but has more of an orange flavor. It was an absolutely wonderful weekend that of course flew by. The best ones always do I find. I hope you and your girlfriends have a wonderful weekend away. I remember that you had to cancel due to the hurricane. Post lots of pics of your trip!

  4. It sounds as though you had a fabulous time in spite of the rain. The pubs sound great and I love lighthouses. LOL @ not remembering where your car was. Whenever we rent a car I have that problem – mostly because I forget what sort (and sometimes colour) of car I’m even looking for! 🙂

    • Hi Emjay, I really did have a fabulous time. I didn’t mind the rain too much being a desert dweller and all. The pubs were fantastic and our guide was very knowledgeable about the history of the buildings we were in.

      Yes, it was pretty funny about forgetting where my car was when I thought about it later.
      😉 I’ve been driving the same car for over a decade now so I have no excuse. Regardless, glad to know I’m not alone in the losing a car in the lot department!

  5. Re: Shocktop. I liked it too, until I found out it’s owned by one of the giant breweries, Anheuser-Busch, I think. Knowing how popular microbrews are becoming, the big brewers are trying to brand beers to look like small labels. Do you like the wheat beers? I love my hefeweizen, myself. I’ve learned to ask for locally-brewed wheats. It helps living in SD, which has become one of the world’s centers for microbreweries. Who knew?

    Gorgeous lighthouse.

    LOL – I’ve had those meals where I swear I’m never going to eat again…

    Great post! It’s so nice to see old friends.

    • That’s right. I did hear that. That is really great that you have so many microbreweries nearby. We have a few of the chain ones which after awhile I think all the beers start to taste alike. Wish we had more of the mom and pop variety here. I did get to go to a beer fest a few years back that features microbrews from different parts of AZ. I sampled a white chocolate ale that was absolutely devine! Have you heard of Magic Hat Brewery in Vermont? They have some great beers and ales.

      That lighthouse was so beautiful. I wish I could have made it to the top. So much history there.

      I’m glad I’m not the only that knows what I mean by those huge meals! LOL! I felt like such a glutton but everything was so darn good.

  6. Gorgeous photos! I never did go on the Ghost tour! I wish we could have met up, but I will admit, I am not very good company these days!!!

    • Hi MG, no worries. Some day we will I’m sure. Be easy on yourself. I know you have had some set backs with your hip and its just going to take some more time to heal and feel better. Hugs to you my friend. 🙂

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