|These guys don't get much sun, only in the morning, so they're way behind. But, I have hope. There are flowers, so maybe tiny pumpkins will soon follow.|
To quote her Majesty the Queen, there was a difference of sand on the beach this year. Last summer, once you made your way through the dunes, the fine silky sand gave way to hard, almost concrete like, compacted by the waves, beach. It was always a little damp from the high tides during the night, hard on your feet, impossible to dig into, and forget about laying on it to tan – a chair was a must. This time the beach was covered in soft mounds of white sand, rougher in texture than the dunes and varying in thickness. It was obvious that the sand was brought in, they do it in Miami Beach all the time. I missed the old sand.
St. Augustine Beach is public, and you can drive on it to find the spot you want. It is a one way road marked with orange cones, one way in, one way out. You drive off the paved road onto the sand, drive for a little while and then park in a makeshift parking area next to the dunes. The beach visitors that drive in live no near the beach so they pack their car full for a whole day visit. And, since it is beach driving not a single vehicle is a car, all either trucks or SUVs. Jeep Wranglers are the best, ones with huge tires. However, none of these vehicles are all-wheel drives as I found out. It’s the South, there is no need for an all-wheel drive when you get no snow.
Last year driving on the beach was like driving on a normal road, just a little more dusty. The sand was so compacted, the tires gripped perfectly. This year, the soft fluffy sand presented a new experience to all these drivers. And for some reason, in the area between the orange cones, it was a whole foot deeper than anywhere else. So, for the entire week, we watched every day as countless cars got stuck in the sand. The interesting part was they were all domestic makes, with large pick-ups (F-150 or similar) having the toughest time. The Japanese would just sail right by, smoothly and with ease. The Germans were not participating in the beach off-roading and parked in the paved lot by the pier.
A year ago, as we strolled around Old Town St. Augustine, I took a picture of a beautiful white stucco Spanish-style building with a lovely courtyard. The sign said "Columbia, Gem of Spanish Restaurants, since 1905." Little did I know at the time that we would fall head over heels in love with the treasure inside a year later.
This year, inspired by movie Chef, we were looking for a place that served Cubanos (a ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickle, and mustard sandwich on Cuban bread). We found Columbia, but in pictures the place looked fancy and we were not looking for fancy dining while on a beach vacation. Then, during a casual chat with our stylist while getting a haircut, Terry brought up that we were thinking of going to Columbia for lunch while in St. Augustine. Our stylist started screaming in excitement: "You HAVE to go there! And you can't just have Cubanos!" (turns out she spent a lot of time in Florida as a kid and ate at Columbia (they have more than one location) every chance she got). Now we were intrigued.
We recently got back from our Florida road trip. Besides the mandatory tailgating in Indiana, and the same exact Honda Civic being pulled over several times in Georgia, the driving was more or less uneventful. Expect for several gems – which I managed to promptly document with what ever camera I had handy at the time. I do admit, sometimes I pretended to text while taking a discreet picture.
|Country music makes any road trip easier.|
'Tis the season for a vacation. Finally. You've been counting down days for months, even downloaded a countdown app to visually display your progress. As you slowly approach single digits toward your departure date, you start pondering the nightmare of packing everyone up.