Saturday, April 2, 2011

Northbound through Florida

Posted: April 23, 10:12 am | (permalink) | (0 comments)

Chilly weather still had Annapolis in its grip, according to an email from our dock-neighbor Ed, so we lingered in Florida, making our leisurely way up the coast. We met up with Conrad and Anita, my father’s lawyer and family friend and his wife for lunch in Palm Beach for a wonderful chat and the first familiar faces we’d see on our return to the U.S. They advised us that this retired life, we’d end up going out for lunches more than dinners – Connie, you were right about that as about so much else – thanx! We got REAL fresh orange juice at a farmer’s market in Vero Beach. We happened on the Halifax [River] Oyster Festival – not that we eat shellfish, but the people-watching was unbelievable and well worth the $5 entry fee (which supported habitat restoration and environmental education so we wouldn’t have begrudged it in any case). We stayed at a marina in Daytona that I selected solely because they advertised a hot tub. Rare treat for someone who hadn’t had nearly as many opportunities for snorkeling and scuba as she’d hoped in the Bahamas, and the tub was on a deck with a view of the city lights and the live music at the associated restaurant. I spent so much time in the hot tub that the ends of my hair turned green from the chlorine. Not just a tinge of green -- this was punk-rock, Crayola-crayon green. (Sorry, no photos; Dan tried but the camera just didn’t do it justice). We ate blackened fish sandwiches several days in a row at the same restaurant, and a kindly waiter named Jason couldn’t tell us what was in the spice blend … but brought us some to take home in a cup usually used for salad-dressing-on-the-side. We rented a car for a day and drove to visit my former boss Lloyd and his wife Connie. We shared stories on life-after-Federal-careers and our travels, and toured their lakeside home, which would have been considered dramatic by any standards, the more so for us who hadn’t been in a house in months! On the practical side, while we had the car we stopped on the way back to buy groceries. One of the things you don’t miss until it’s gone, we never realized the convenience of grocery shopping by car until we had to adapt to shopping with an eye to size and weight, because buying groceries also meant walking back from the store with grocery bags in hand or in backpacks, then transferring everything to the dinghy and rowing or motoring out to where the boat is anchored.

For the most part, this part of Florida was a practical stop, not particularly interesting in tourist terms…although to us, visiting US suburbia after 3 months in the Bahamas had hit the ‘reset’ button on our expectations, observing how people lived in suburbia was interesting. Our next stop though was St Augustine, and that was a week of nothing but tourism, where we got a chance to explore 3 musuems, the historic fort, and the lighthouse. We capped off the week with a pre-dawn shuttle launch gloriously viewed "twice" - once in the sky and once reflected in the Matanzas River. Then that same lighthouse was the marker as we headed out the harbor and offshore, northbound once more.

We took a guided trolley tour.


Cannon at Fort Matanzas. What can you learn about a culture that decorates their weapons?


The ornate opulence of the Gilded Era - the Ladies' Parlor at the former extremely exclusive Ponce DeLeon hotel


Part of the outside of the same hotel, now Flagler College


More architecture from the same period: the Lightner Museum


Physical Therapy pays off; thank you Fitness Forum! We climbed to the top of this lighthouse, 219 steps!


The view from the top.


My very favorite item at the Lightner Museum, a working model of a steam engine ... made entirely of hand-blown glass.

excelsior sm

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