Thursday, August 16, 2018

First Week in Our New (Temporary) Town, Jacksonville

 After a very sound night's sleep, we started getting our bearings, meeting our dock-neighbors, investigating marina amenities, and finding out what was within walking distance. A short, pleasant stroll through residential neighborhoods brought us to a large strip mall with a Publix grocery store, several restaurants, and a West Marine. We were disproportionately excited by this, and added "recreational cooking" to our planned activities for the next few months. Carless in St Aug, groceries had taken about half a day, given the bus schedules. So we only went once per week, and the trip involved lists and substantial planning -- no spontaneity here! The idea of deciding what we felt like eating on the spur of the moment, and then going out to get the ingredients, was a new luxury we intended to take advantage of. Yes, it was part of the calculus of living downtown where parking was unbearable, and on the whole we were happy with the tradeoffs. But few regrets doesn't mean no regrets.

Our dock-neighbors were uniformly pleasant. We met a group for sundowners one evening, and asked for local knowledge. We learned that the best margaritas within walking distance were at the Japanese grill house (not what I'd expect, especially with a decent Mexican restaurant just 1 mile up the road). We learned that the marina is having a "dress like a pirate" party later this month. Yeah, we can do that. But the most delightful piece of advice, forcefully repeated, was that we simply must check out the local used book store.  I was happy not only to have a great independent bookstore nearby, but also that this seemed to be a priority for our new neighbors.

Fifty-plus loooong aisles of assorted books, floor to ceiling and almost too many to fit on the shelves. We found some obscure stuff, and some great bargains. While I was browsing math & science I overheard (but never saw) two young women in the next aisle over (literature). One was telling the other that she just didn't enjoy reading male authors, and the conversation made me sad. It seemed such a wild overgeneralization. I could have understood it if she said she liked a specific genre that tended to attract mostly women authors (cozy mysteries, maybe, or home organization how-tos). Or maybe if she was making a conscious effort to support female authors because they had been underrepresented in the past. But just in general to dismiss 50% of the population as having nothing important to say? Not cool.

During that first week, we made it to the bookstore (where I spent entirely too much money on some intriguing, and obscure, math & science titles). We figured out the bus system and went to a farmer's market nestled in shade of an overpass on the interstate, by the river. Way cool, by the way, the bus has an app that shows you the route on a map, and your location. There's even a tiny animated icon representing the position of the bus, that moves along the route in real time and tells you how many minutes until it arrives at the location you are standing at. Seniors ride free with an id card you can get at the main bus terminal downtown (which we promptly did). We soaked in the marina's pool and hot tub after dark and gazed at the sky looking for the Perseids meteor shower, but it was too cloudy. We drove around the downtown area just looking at the lovely old buildings, and stumbled upon some outrageous murals -- apparently the city is known for these. It's also known for having the youngest average population of all major Florida cities, so we are counting on having some fun while we're here. There's lots of museums and lots of microbreweries in the city; we will try to visit as many as possible during the next months. But probably not too many in August, just too darn hot.

Farmer's market, in the comfortable shade of the I-95 overpass.

I'm learning to love the city's street art!  (This is just one of my favorites, the link takes you to pictures of 20 of the murals downtown.)

And another favorite.  (Again, the link will take you to the other murals.)
We started our beer tour here, Hyperion Brewing in Springfield (a historic, sketchy but now gentrifying part of town). It was a slow night so we had some time to chat with one of the owner/investors - he's also from Michigan! We also met the young woman who is the visionary behind the place; she is profiled on the brewery's web page. Our conversations ranged from Greek mythology to  . Along the way we mentioned the bus route app, and she was absolutely amazed and delighted that people as old as us were hip enough to know how to use a smartphone. Really? Didn't seem so odd a juxtaposition as all that to me. (But then, my brain doesn't feel old, it's just my body that reminds me...) Then I remembered one evening on the Galeon, when one of our crewmates was startled that we'd want to go for a beer. He said he expected that old folks would want to just sit in a rocking chair with tea and the telly. Well, if nothing else, we can shake up some preconceived notions about aging! 


  1. Looks like a great place to be. Margaritas at a Japanese place is an intriguing idea. I would have loved that bookstore :-)

  2. Omigosh, Ellen, you would indeed. A great place to get lost in. I spent way more time, and money, than I'd planned. At a cockpit happy hour last night, one guy said he actually got lost in the maze!