On Tuesday, we decided to take a trip to
St. Augustine on the east coast of . It was about a 3 hour drive from where we were and we decided to take the scenic drive through a National Forest. It was, as they say here in the south, “real perdy”. Florida
We arrived and just as most historic lighthouses are these days, it was turned into a tourist trap filled with figurines and fudge. The great thing about this lighthouse is that you can still go up to the top. We climbed the innumerable steps of the spiral staircase and reached the top to see a spectacular 360˚ view of the
area. It was pretty fantastic. St. Augustine
After we soaked in the landscape, we climbed back down and took a little stroll around the property and went back to the gift shop. I let my sweet-tooth get the best of me and bought some butter pecan fudge. Matt bought a figurine for his mom (she collects sea-faring décor).
We left the lighthouse and headed toward town where we stumbled upon an old fortress which was pretty cool. It even had a moat and an oven specifically to heat up cannonballs to shoot at enemy ships! My imagination went wild with the possibilities – alligators swarming and snapping in the moat, fiery canon balls firing at invaders, dramatic love stories (hey, I might not be the girliest girl, but I still have a heart!). It was a really neat place. The archaeologist in me got a little hot-n-heavy, too.
It was getting dark, so we decided to head to the beach. By the time we arrived it was full-on night time, but that was ok. We parked the car on the beach (something I still am troubled by), and walked toward the water. The sand was fine and soft like baby powder. The stars were out, there was a boat out on the water, but the moon was no where to be found.
As we were standing there, we noticed a crimson red light on the horizon. We speculated what it might be: a boat with a disco light, a space ship, a Coast Guard with an emergency light? Matt jokingly said, “If that starts coming out of the water, I’m gonna run.” But then it did. It got larger and larger. We stared at it intently trying to figure out what could be bright red and growing. Then, I noticed a slight discoloration on it and excitedly started jumping up and down screaming, “It’s the moon!! Oh my God, it’s the moon!”
It was one of the most amazing and stunning things I’ve ever seen. We stood there, thinking this may be the only time in our lives that we’d witness such a thing. As it rose, its color faded slowly to white, but for that moment when it was rising above the horizon, it was blood red and beautiful.
We were beginning to get hungry, so we decided to head back to town, but stopped at this amazing little restaurant near the beach called Playa Chac-Mool. It was a small restaurant operated by a nice Mexican couple.
The food was amazing, authentic, the portions were humongous and the price was right. Twenty-one dollars for an appetizer, two entrees, and a dessert. We shared a delicious appetizer of melted refried beans and cheese on bread with pico de gallo, Matt had the sampler which included four small burrito-style wraps each with a different filling, I had the chimichanga, and we finished it off with a traditional Mexican dessert called sopapilla – it was French vanilla ice cream with deep fried triangles of what seemed like tortilla, all sprinkled with cinnamon.
I love being a foodie with a good metabolism, because I devoured every last bite.
The rest of the night was spent strolling the streets of downtown
. It’s a charming little university town with a ton of history. Cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and lots of Spanish influence makes you feel like you’ve travelled a lot farther than a few hundred miles. The streets were littered with shops, restaurants, bars, cafes, bakeries and chocolatiers. The people were really friendly and there were limited numbers of people who looked either homeless, crazy, or both. St. Augustine
After accidentally missing our turn-off on the way home, we finally arrived home again and once we had enough shut eye, we decided to head a u-pick orange grove a few miles away. They had a cute little outdoor farmer’s market area with lots of fruits, honey, gator meat, juice, salsas and other jarred and unjarred delights. We strolled around, didn’t pick a single piece of citrus, stood inside a giant wigwam (I don’t really know why this was on the property as the farm was clearly run by white people), bought some blueberry banana bread, pineapple salsa, and gator jerky, tried a piece of pomello, and left.
On the way back to the house we decided to stop at the Lakeridge Winery for a free tour and tasting. I’m so glad we did. We waited around for a while, then were lead upstairs by the most hilariously amazing tour guide: Doug. Doug was from the south, he said the word “red” like it had two syllables, and talked about himself in the third person, all the time.
Doug showed us a nice video about the winery, filled us in on everything you could possibly want to know about the
native muscadine grape, and took us through the steps of harvesting grapes and making wines. We tried 12 different wines in about 20 minutes, and considering I’ve hardly had a drink since I got to Florida on October 6th, I was feeling it. The wines were seriously delicious, even the red, which I don’t like. Maybe it was the fact that I was buzzed, but I ended up leaving the winery with four bottles of Lakeridge wine: Southern White, Southern Red, Chivas, and Sunblush. I’m really glad alcohol is so cheap in the Arkansas . US
Later that night we headed into
where we were persistently accosted by people trying to scalp tickets to the Magic game. By the 7th scalper, we started responding, “What game?” to which they'd shockingly respond, “The MAGIC game, c’mon man!” It was a slight triumph, but a triumph nonetheless. Orlando
We walked so many streets that my blood sugar was seriously tumbling and I was beginning to get agitated, so we settled on Church Street, which is a nice little historic district, at a Cajun restaurant that just opened a month before. We got an appetizer of deepfried gator, shrimp and these little deepfried veggies that were a little bigger than capers, but I can’t remember what they’re called. It was my first time trying gator and it was kinda weird: it had the taste of chicken, but the texture of seafood, and it was really greasy. For an entrée, I had half a rack of ribs, some sweet sweet corn cake (aka corn bread), coleslaw, and beans. It was pretty delicious.
For any city I’ve ever been to, LA included,
has the highest percentage of hoochie mama’s. I’ve never been so confused about women’s occupations. I couldn’t tell if they were out for a night on the town, or if they were looking to turn tricks. There was more lingerie being worn as outerwear than I’d ever seen on Halloween. It was almost troubling and in my denim, cardigan, t-shirt and scarf, I was most certainly out of place. Orlando
We had gone into
to check out a musician, Aloe Blacc who was performing at the Back Booth. We decided to check out the venue and knew we were in the right place by the time we got close enough to see the details of the crowd gathered outside. Thick framed glasses, fedoras, suspenders, men’s skinny jeans, plaid and stripes: the wardrobe of those who attend indie rock concerts. We were at home. Orlando
The opening band was Peter Baldwin, a local group with tons of soul and great energy. We only caught the last of their gig, but were really impressed by the crowd they drew and their talent. Next up was Maya Jupiter, who was recently picked up by Aloe Blacc’s label and whose debut album was produced in part by Aloe amongst others. Maya was a super-empowered half-Mexican, half-Turkish, Australian-born woman with a really meaningful message. Politically charged and clearly feminist, she dominated the stage for her too-short 20-minute set, tackling everything from reggae to dancehall to rap, she was a force to be reckoned with and though most of the audience clearly hadn’t heard much of her stuff before, she had everyone moving.
Aloe’s band backed up Maya which lead to a perfect transition between their sets. Aloe, of course, played his hit “I need a dollar” and proceeded to infect the crowd with his upbeat, soulful, R&B styles and inspiring, political messages. Maya even joined Aloe on stage for one song and added her own dancehall flare – she totally rocked it for being a newbie. If you get the chance to check out any of these artists, I would strongly recommend it.
Next up? My first American Thanksgiving, Downtown Disney, and the madness of Black Friday.