Monday, May 21, 2012
St. Augustine is the nations's oldest city - who'd a thunk? We parked in the visitor's center rv and bus parking lot, which ran us a pretty penny considering we were just boondocking, but the location was fabulous being about 1/2 mile from everything. We unhooked our bikes (the best way to see this city) and set out for an adventure. We had reservations at The Floridian which according to YELP! was the best place in town; very different menu and everything was "regionally-authentic, fresh from the source cuisine." At the back of the restaurant was a doorway that sported a sign reading "County Line" on top of it. They had beer and wine available, but to order you had to go through the door, crossing the county line, and pay for it; then they would bring whatever you ordered to your table. Guess there are a lot of different ordinances regarding liquor sales in this city, actually it seems all over Florida it's like that. We had a great dinner and cruised the city a bit on our bikes before heading "home". The next morning while grabbing breakfast we caught more people taking pics of our bikes - we always get a big kick out of this, one woman must have taken 50 pictures and Bill overheard her saying something about using it for her postcards.
We went to see the Lightner Museum which showcased relics of America's Gilded Age on three floors. "Costumes, furnishings, mechanical musical instruments and other artifacts give you a glimpse into 19th century daily life." The diversity of items in the museum was amazing. A lot of Indian history, a mummified child's tomb, a stuffed lion, a rattlesnake skin about 6 feet long, furniture, clothing, housewares and just about everything you could imagine. I forgot my hat and when I went back in to retrieve it I wandered into an area we hadn't seen and it was a huge ballroom with marble floors and pillars - I could just imagine a scene from one of the many books I had read from that period. We also went to see the Castillo de San Marcos. This fort took 23 years to build, from 1672-1695, and was impenetrable through 300 years of war and storms.
We stopped into see "The Monks Vineyard" and almost never left! Bill spotted a bottle of "Ovila" brewed with the monks at the Abbey of New Clairveaux in Vino, CA and Sierra Nevada Brewing in Chico, Ca, where we had originally drank this beer. It is my favorite beer and we promptly ordered it, pulled up two of the 3 stools at the bar where we were entertained with the life history of the owner and all his woes. We tasted a few other things, including a yummy port I just had to own and finally extricated ourselves without buying the place, phew!
While in Cedar Key we fell in love with the Datil pepper sauce at Kona Joes. They had it bottled in St. Augustine where they are famous for their "most beloved treasure," the datil pepper (pronounced like daddle). We bought a few bottles from Kona Joes, but were really looking forward to seeing what was available in St. Augustine. We ended up at The Pepper Palace where they had over 60 feet of pepper products to sample, from mild to wild - Bill was in heaven! We had fun sampling and then bought a bag full for us AND to share...who knows if you'll be the next one to receive a special bottle!
Bill had hoped to spend another night and hit the beach but we were kind of under the gun to keep moving north to make the Delfest Bluegrass Festival in Maryland over Memorial Day weekend...oh well, gotta have something to come back and see!