First Time on Augustine Island

Last week I traveled back to Nashua, New Hampshire for work which is about an hour from where we used to live and the office was my home office.  First I walked off the plane into snow flurries.  Not unexpected unfortunately for late March in New Hampshire, but compared to the mid 70’s I left not so great.  The weather was better as the week went on, but there was still patches of snow on the ground and everything was so brown…lol.  Jacksonville is lush and green in March and New Hampshire definitely suffered by comparison.  I did get to see my oldest daughter Kyrston Monday night though for dinner, which was great.  She drove over an hour each way to come and see me and we had a great time talking and eating at Texas Roadhouse.  One cool thing about traveling is being on an expense report, so eating out is not only expected but largely necessary, and Kyrston paid her own way so great steak dinner with $0 budget impact 🙂

Kyrston is such a good daughter to humor me with this pic

Kyrston is such a good daughter to humor me with this pic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The week was very good work wise.  I had the opportunity to facilitate a Kaizen event (fancy name for a brainstorming session) with a terrific group of people.  I was a little rusty because I hadn’t done it in a while, but the group was great and we came up with about 20 practical  ideas to improve the project we are all working on.  I love these events when the group dynamic is good and then one was very productive.  I also drove to Boston and Hartford while I was there, which made for some long days but again got quite a bit accomplished.  So I was pretty tired when I drove to the airport, Friday noon to get on my returning flight.  Something really interesting happened at the airport.  When I went through security I pulled out my brand new Florida drivers license and a young TSA agent asked me if I was going home.  I had to stop and think for a second, is Florida my home, well not really but my fifth wheel is my home and I am going there flashed through my head pretty quickly, but since this is not really a conversation you want to have with a TSA agent I smiled and said, “Yes.”  Then she glanced at my driver’s license again, looked envious, and said “Lucky.”  That was the surreal moment.  I have traveled extensively over the last 15 years and no one ever looked at my New Hampshire drivers license and said “Lucky.”  Pretty cool moment actually but like I said….weird.

While I was gone last week, Lee was working on finalizing the name, insurance, signage etc for his Mobile Tech business (we will talk about that when it’s all done) and also decided to try to move us.  We were staying at St. John’s RV Park Campground in St. Augustine.  The price was terrific at $17 a night unlimited Passport America price for full hookups, but it isn’t the kind of place we would want to stay long-term.  I will say the people were incredibly nice and helpful, the grounds were well cared for, but unfortunately there are numerous permanent trailers that give the place a run down look.  We did feel completely safe there and the campground itself was very quiet.  It’s a shame really because if they could just get some of the permanent dwellings to clean themselves up it would be much nicer.  Anyways, our friend Deb mentioned St. Augustine State Park and when we went to visit it complete home run.  Water and electric, reasonably priced with ocean access inside the park and deep well wooded sites.  Unfortunately at our size there were only a few walk in sites we could fit into and all the reserve able sites were booked for weeks.   The campgrounds policy on the walk in sites is first come/first serve when they  vacate so whoever shows up at the office first got the site.  We went and looked and only Sites 72, 69, or 41 would actually work for us.  At that point, since I was traveling for two weeks, I kind of gave up on it, but Lee decided he wanted to stay there and became a man on a mission.

First he went to the best campsite for us and asked when the people were leaving.  When he explained the situation (the folks who were Canadian) were happy to give him the date of March 31st.  Then he hooked up the camper and drove to the campground at 8am.  HE knew what their car looked like so he watched cars for 4-1/2 hours until they left and then popped into the camp office and nabbed the site.  Now this sounds extreme ( and it is), but he said at least 10 people stopped by in those 4 hours so he doesn’t think it would have worked any other way.  So I was driving back to a strange campsite from the airport that I had only been in once with just the site number to guide me.  Luckily, the signage was good and even though it was very dark, I found our new site.  Wow what can I say…he had it all lit up with our tiki torches and it was deep and completely wooded and so beautiful and peaceful.  Plus a big fat raccoon sauntered out of the bushes and walked through our campsite as plain as you please.  Absolutely amazing and the type of site we always pictured when we thought about this lifestyle.  I was so happy to be home and especially happy to be here and incredibly impressed by my very special husband.

The woods go back very deep and although we can hear others cannot see anyone

The woods go back very deep and although we can hear others cannot see anyone

 

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Lee loves the twisty trees here

Lee loves the twisty trees here

 

I woke up really early Saturday morning because I was excited about possibly catching a bit of the lunar eclipse.  And since I was already up we decided to go down and watch the sunrise on the beach.  I did get to see some of the lunar eclipse before it clouded over (no pictures unfortunately) and we watched an absolutely beautiful sunrise.  Most sunrises I have seen don’t have much color but this one was like a sunset in reverse and absolutely gorgeous.

The moon starting it's lunar eclipse

The moon starting it’s lunar eclipse

Loved the colors

Loved the colors

Sunrise on Anastasia Island

Sunrise on Anastasia Island

Beautiful

Beautiful

 

After sunrise Lee made me breakfast (with my favorite Bob Evans sausage links) and we took Steve’s advice and went around the corner to the local farmers market.  I think this was the best farmers market I have ever been to with a mix of crafts, fresh grown produce, flowers, and food stands.  Lots of booths gave out free samples and we munched our way happily down the aisle.  I got some pineapple oranges, local radishes, homemade meat rub, and a turtle carved out of a coconut.  Yes I didn’t really need that but for $6 how could you go wrong and the guy that makes them was awesome.   I also wanted to mention here that when you get produce at farmer’s markets you should really look and see where the food is coming from.  Many markets are now selling wholesale fruits and veggies and passing them off as local grown. They’ve actually enacted some laws against this in California and a lot of what you see in farmer’s markets is really grocery store quality food repackaged.  I always look for signs stating what farm it is from and usually won’t buy if there is nothing listed unless the price beats a local grocery store and the quality is good.   There were several stands that fit this bill for me and I absolutely recommend a visit  if you ever get to stay here…it was phenomenal.

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The farmer’s market was a long two down

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Absolutely gorgeous orchids for sale so pretty

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See the sign on locally grown. If it’s local they will NOT have everything that’s in your grocery store, but what they do have will be bigger and better

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of this for under $20

All of this for under $20

 

Since it was still early and wasn’t super hot yet we decided to take a drive around St. Augustine a bit and see if there was anything we wanted to do.  Whenever we go to a new area I create a word document with possible things to see gleaned from Trip Advisor, Roadside Attractions, and the areas community website.  Have to say for St. Augustine nothing really jumped out at me.  Many of the places are pretty touristy and the prices are on the high side.  We did drive by the lighthouse and take a couple of pictures but didn’t want to pay the $9.95 each to walk up it.  I would have liked to see the Fountain of Youth area but that’s $15 each also and really didn’t look that great.  We talked about getting a trolley pass since people recommend it but $24.95 for a three-day pass (no single day passes offered).  Are you seeing a theme here 🙂

The best picture we could get outside of the gated area

The best picture we could get outside of the gated area

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Really the main town related thing I wanted to do was walk along and see a couple of the shops I found when researching. So we were on our way there when my sister Wendy texted me that a friend of hers was from St. Augustine and told me about this little hole in the wall shrimp place called O’Steens.  We were only a mile away so we stopped in and found at least 8 people waiting in line at 10:35 and the place didn’t even open until 11am.  I stopped and checked the menu ($12.95 for 9 shrimp basket) and we wandered back across the bridge.  May want to try it later.  We headed for St. George Street which is in the heart of old town St. Augustine and despite the crazy traffic had no trouble finding parking in a lot.  We walked around and saw the couple of shops I was interested in and took a picture of the main building in old downtown.  The two shops were really cool and I recommend them.  Sea Spirits Gallery and Gifts was all sea related art.  It was super pricey, but I just enjoyed walking through and looking at everything.  If you go in, go all the way through to the back and get to walk into this cool little courtyard between two buildings which was a bonus surprise.   But we spent all of an hour walking around before we decided to go back to the campground.  There was also a cool shop around the corner called Filthy Rich. It was run by this very nice couple and they specialize in jewelry made by local artists that matches the jewelry of celebrities.  I got lost in the Audrey Hepburn section and spent quite a bit of time looking at the Jackie Kennedy line (was thinking about you Mom).  Didn’t buy anything but it was really neat to look around and Lee though largely bored did like the Jack Kennedy style sunglasses they have. 

Saw this shop online and had to go

Saw this shop online and had to go

Beautiful wood sculpture of turtles was done from one piece (except for the flippers)

Beautiful wood sculpture of turtles was done from one piece (except for the flippers)

The building the shops were in is made from seashells

The building the shops were in is made from seashells

This courtyard was the neatest suprise, felt like I was in Morocco. The shop was in one of the oldest buildings in town

This courtyard was the neatest surprise, felt like I was in Morocco. The shop was in one of the oldest buildings in town

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My mom would have really liked this store

 

Lee loves Bogie and humored me with the photo

Lee loves Bogie and humored me with the photo

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Statue sent from Spain as a present to the city of the original Spanish Governor of St. Augustine.

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Lightner Museum

 

 

 

 

 

Truly the best part of the day were the things we just stumbled upon.  We took a couple wrong turns on side streets and saw some cool residential houses.  The side roads are very narrow because the town is so old and there were some neat houses tucked into them.  Also we stopped on our way back into the park (which costs $4 for one or $8 for two or more for a day pass btw) and took a walk along a path to see the remains of a quarry that the Spanish used to build houses on the island.  The pit itself was more a study of how nature will take anything back over but we kept walking and at the end there was a pond with about 20 wild turtles in it.  Someone must be feeding them because they all came up to the dock when we walked on it, and I have never seen that many turtles in the wild before. Then on the way back to the campsite Lee saw a big turtle on the side of the road and we stopped and looked at him for a while.  He was not impressed 🙂

Gingerbread house on a side road

Gingerbread house on a side road

Very cool dinosaur log bench

Very cool dinosaur log bench

The walk to the quarry

The walk to the quarry

Here's all that's left of the quarry

Here’s all that’s left of the quarry

The little guy on the right had so much algae on him he looked like a Chia pet

The little guy on the right had so much algae on him he looked like a Chia pet

Big Turtle walking on the side of the road in the park

Big Turtle walking on the side of the road in the park

 

Love these little flowers

Love these little flowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rest of the day we just chilled. I tried to catch up on some media stuff and really needed some down time.  One thing that happened while I was gone is we received a letter from the voting board about our address being a mailing address.  Someone on the forums mentioned we just need to send in proof of our domicile to fix this, but it is one more extra thing that you have to deal with when your trying to color outside the lines.  On the one hand I am not bothered so much because this life is so great and a little extra work is worth it.  On the other hand I can get extremely annoyed because it feels like I am pushing a boulder uphill with the paperwork to get state residency established.  Will let you know how it all works out.

Sunday we woke up and decided to go kayaking.  We were due for some rain but not until later in the day and Lee doesn’t do so well on the water in full sun anyways so we headed out around 9am.  It was a great day to go.  Empty because of Easter Sunday and although we had sun wasn’t extremely hot.  I have been wanting to try our Sea Eagle on the ocean and I will say that it is a lot more work to paddle with the stronger currents.  We had fun though paddling along the marsh inlets and even though we didn’t see any manatees got some good shots of the birds.  So it was a good weekend, but now I’m headed out for a week in Princeton, New Jersey at a change management training class. Lee’s going to finish getting our license plates (hopefully) and maybe visit the Pirate Museum and Spanish fort here.

Wood Stork hanging out where we put in ..looking fro some fish

Wood Stork hanging out where we put in ..looking for some fish

Easy to get into the water from the shore

Easy to get into the water from the shore

You can paddle pretty close to the sand dunes and hear the ocean behind them

You can paddle pretty close to the sand dunes and hear the ocean behind them

Nice view of the lighthouse

Nice view of the lighthouse

A vendor rents sailboats, kayaks etc right in the park

A vendor rents sailboats, kayaks etc right in the park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “First Time on Augustine Island

  1. Love the campground, guy and I stayed on the island as well last year, but I don’t remember the place we stayed but we loved it. I loved walking thru the old town but your right I got so tired of everything being so much money. We are going back in a couple of weeks but going to driveway camp!! We found a great place to have a drink and sat to people watch!!

  2. Sounds like you guys for a great site! We have stayed in a few parks that were “priced right” but were turned off by the number of permanent residents and the school bus picking up the kids in the park. Good for a night or two but no place I would like to stay for an extended period.

    I have been involved in a couple of Kaizen events, both good and bad. If you have a good group they can be fun and productive, with bad or argumentative groups you just want to bang your head on the wall!

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