Vacation, by definition is a time to suspend all work, study, or other activity, usually for rest, recreation, or travel. Last week I went on a 2 day/1 night, mini vacation with my husband and my brother. I am not picky about vacations, no matter how small. I am just happy to be away and have some time apart from my normal activities, a time to rest a little, a time to shop a little, and a time to snack a little; all just a little because it was, after all, a mini-vacation. All the “littles” mentioned above were my thoughts and my plan, however, I forgot that I was outnumbered by men. Men do not have the same thoughts or plans as women. Men do not dilly-dally, as my Grandma Moon would say. Men move.
We went to St. Augustine, one of my favorite places in Florida. A beautiful, old historic town with lots of little shops, restaurants, a fort, and history. Our hotel, clean and quaint, had what I thought was the narrowest shower stall I’d ever been in. When upgrading the hotel, it seems they took out the tub and used that space for a shower stall. It must have been a very narrow tub. I found myself bumping the sides because, you know, hips. My husband didn’t think so, but then he is somewhat lacking in the hip department. Anyway, our hotel was picked for its centrality to the historic district and shopping area; only a mile and a half from downtown, because we like to walk. And walk we did.
They let us check in early so we dropped our stuff in our rooms and headed out. The weatherman said it might rain in the afternoon, but we, of course, disregarded that. We had umbrellas in the car, but we disregarded those, too. It was pleasant enough and not that far so off we went.
Now, my idea of visiting St. Augustine and it’s myriad of little shops is to visit those shops, possibly each and every one of them, just in case I find something I want…a unique piece of jewelry, a snack, a new outfit, a snack, cute shoes, a snack…you get the idea. But, again, I was with men, and these men do not shop, they hesitate for a brief moment outside of a store and move on. At first, I thought I might have an ally in my brother thinking that he would at least love the snacks part of my plan, but the men joined alliances and had a plan of their own. It was clear that I had only one job and that was to keep up.
In fairness, I should tell you that we did begin our visit to everywhere-in-St.-Augustine-that-you-could-possibly-look-at, by stopping at my favorite little coffee shop. I had the best chai tea I’ve ever tasted and my brother had a smoothie. My husband, well the man is pretty much a camel. He is not really a snacker, though he did taste my tea. We sat outside at a little round table and in those few moments of relaxation, I allowed myself to think that the rest of the day would be like this. I am a bit of a dreamer. Soon we were off.
We started out at the beginning of St. George Street, where all the shops are. We didn’t go into any of them. I followed my men until they attained their goal, which was, evidently, to reach the other end of the street. Once there we crossed a busy street and went on to the other side where there was a little shop that I boldly told them I wanted to go into. They came in briefly and then waited outside. It’s hard to shop when men are waiting outside, staring inside, and sending telepathic messages telling you, it’s time to move on. I’m so glad we did!
After leaving the little shop I wanted to go into, my husband pointed out a sign on the adjoining building. It seems the jewelry store there had once been a Woolworth’s. It was here, in the summer of 1963, that local black high school students had a sit-in and were arrested. They were called the St. Augustine Four. The door handles to the jewelry store still say “Woolworth’s”. The picture may be hard to read but it says that, “The sit-in received national publicity as an example of injustice and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jackie Robinson hailed the St. Augustine Four as heroes of the Civil Rights Movement.”
Next up, was Flagler College. It was absolutely beautiful. Somewhere between those Woolworth doors and this college, I was drawn in by the history that surrounded us. This may have been my husband’s plan to keep me from spending money. And, like most of his plans, it was a good one. The architecture of the college is amazing. Originally built as a hotel in 1888 by railroad magnate Henry Morrison Flagler, it is a beautiful example of Spanish architecture and was one of the most exclusive resorts of its day. We did all wonder how students handled the amount of tourists, but soon realized that tourists aren’t allowed into most of the grounds or buildings.
A nice lupper at Harry’s Seafood Restaurant and we were off to the Castillo de San Marcos, otherwise known as the fort. We’ve been here before and soon after we got there we realized that the weatherman was right. It started to rain. My thought was to wait it out, but my husband knew better and so we began our mile and a half walk home. It rained the whole way. After already putting in five miles, that last mile and a half seemed endless.
The next morning McDonalds was serving a two-fer. As we finished eating, I started to settle in and enjoy my coffee when I realized the men were cleaning up and leaving. We were, once again, on the move.
My husband had found a park for us to hike at on the way home, Washington Oaks Gardens State Park. The most fascinating part of this park was…you guessed it…the history. This picture is of the original Florida Route A1A. It was moved somewhere around the 1930’s to its location now. It once ran through the plantation belonging to Owen Young. You can still see the asphalt.
The rose gardens were just being planted for Spring while we were there, but their fragrance was already infusing the air around us. This place, like the rest of our trip, was not what I expected, but everything I could hope for. It made me realize that some plans are far better than others. Some plans that I had hoped for are really not that big a deal.