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.