North Florida Newbies

We’re back! If you read our last post, Gearing Up For 2019, you should know that Stuart FL was our home for the holidays. However, we’ve recently said our goodbyes and are now back on the road, ready to start our trek northward, and eventually out West!

Our first stop on our way out of the state was the oldest city in the United States: St. Augustine! St. Augustine was a very interesting city to explore, and gave some unexpected twists in our visit. Our first journey into the city was at night. It was surprisingly very pretty; apparently they still had their Christmas decorations up. Flagler College was completely lit up! We walked around a little, got the lay of the land and found a Kilwin’s along the way. That may or may not have made the city much nicer. We walked down little alleys in between the cutest Spanish-looking houses that were scattered throughout fun little restaurants and shops. While walking around, Ann spotted a Hilton hotel still completely decked-out for Christmas! I would’ve stayed there just to see their gorgeous lights (around Christmas time of course)! The architecture reminded me so much of the Grand Floridian in Walt Disney World, in that old Florida kind of style. I loved what St. Augustine has to offer. We will mention this: while, yes, we saw pretty lights and took walks in between adorable houses, the nighttime atmosphere was drastically different than during the daytime. Why? Throughout the city, right there with the restaurants were a lot of bars and smoking joints. We expect those things in a city, especially a touristy city, but in closer proximity, it’s good for a traveling family to keep those things in mind. We all just liked exploring during sunlight hours much more….

Mom, Ann, Matthew and I came back the next day to explore Fort Castillo, right outside the city (Dad had to work and Benji wanted to stay with him). Once we found a parking spot-which didn’t take long-we went up to see the famous Spanish fort. Unfortunately, because the government has been shut down, all the national parks have shut down as well. That meant that the only thing we could do was walk around it, not inside it. It wasn’t too bad; they had some cool stuff to see outside, like all the holes from cannon balls made during battles. I still wish that we could have seen the inside of Fort Castillo, but it wasn’t a complete bust. After walking the outside of the fort, we had already seen the majority of the city so we went to check if nearby Fort Matanzas was closed too. Sadly, it too participated in the government shut down, but wasn’t even open for foot traffic!

Saturday afternoon we went (as a family this time) to finish exploring St. Augustine. We went through a few shops and found a magnet to put on our refrigerator. After about an hour of window shopping, our stomach’s started complaining (starting with Dad, so it wasn’t the kid’s fault this time), and we decided to stop and grab some Spanish grub at The Columbia. It was fairly busy, the wait time wasn’t too bad, and it looked pretty clean, so we figured we’d give it a go. In my opinion, I would rate it three stars, but then again I’m a little picky when it comes to food I’ve never tried. The rest of the gang liked it though, so it must’ve been good!

I liked how there were so many little places to eat and shop. It was definitely a nice break from all the major cities like New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia.

After a few days in St. Augustine, we hit the road and stopped in at Hanna Park Campground in Jacksonville FL. The Range Monster was a bit too tall, so it was more like threading a needle than driving through a campground! Deciding that our original site was impossibly small, we drove right back up to the front and got a brand new site, much easier to fit in. Our week did take an unexpected turn, however, and we were so surprised to see our good friends the Hart’s show up at our door! We didn’t even know how much we missed them until they surprised us in Jacksonville. Lately, over the Christmas break, we all found ourselves missing home and remembering our old life. There’s nothing wrong with that, but now is the time to make new memories, and we were so excited that we could make some with the Harts! This week has been full of beach fun and friends, and we’ll be sorry to see them go, but it’s been great seeing them one last time before we head out West!

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