We began our final motions for leaving Florida. It’s a miracle we fit everything into the truck. We’ve honed our skills for playing Tetris with our belongings. Only because of this fact, could we have ever made this journey possible. Someone who isn’t trained in the skill of ‘Tetris Packing’ wouldn’t ever be able to do it.
Our first leg of the trip was a quickie. We told some of our nautical buddies we’d see them in St. Augustine, Florida. We took a beautiful scenic detour (and much less infuriating) through the Ocala National Forest, instead of playing bumper cars on I-4 through Orlando Friday night traffic to 95.
St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States that’s been continuously occupied. It was first explored and claimed by Spaniard, Juan Ponce de León, in 1513 who claimed it in the name of Spain. Stories would have you believe that Ponce de León went to present day Florida in search of the Fountain of Youth, however more accredited claims state that he went to Bimini, Bahamas in search of it. Maybe this is the reason why so many geezers come to Florida, or as Dave likes to call it ‘God’s Waiting Room’. If we’ve accidentally come across the Fountain of Youth in either our trip to Bimini or while we were in St. Augustine, we’ll be sure to let everyone know how the anti-aging results turn out. Botox is probably more easy to acquire, provides less maintenance and is much cheaper than a sailboat.
While in St. Augustine we stopped by the Castillo de San Marcos fort ,which protected the St. Augustine harbor from the horrible English.
We also dropped by Flagler Liberal Arts College, which was originally the Ponce de León Hotel. Built by the millionaire and co-founder of Standard Oil in 1888, Henry Flagler designed it as an exclusive hotel for the elite and super rich.
Rich in history, St. Augustine offers a lot of aesthetic settings. Unfortunately, it’s been adequately pillaged by the tourist industry, commercial sector and money-making dreamers alike. Everything is for sale here. Whether you want ghost tours in a hearse, shark teeth beachcombing guides or Spanish themed miniature golf – St. Augustine has it all. As well as nightclubs, every type of pub known to man and more than its fair share of drunken tourists stumbling around the historic downtown streets. What a pity.
We stayed one quick night. We were already delayed in our trip, and were eager to get out of Florida. This has been a long time in the making, with me constantly singing myself a properly themed Modest Mouse song all throughout our time spent in this state:
“Even as I left Florida, far enough, far enough, wasn’t far enough. Couldn’t quite seem to escape myself, far enough, far enough, far from Florida. We were all drowsing in cruise control, far enough, far enough, wasn’t far enough.”
To celebrate our long awaited departure from Florida, Dave and I played this on the ride out of the state. We’ll miss the wonderful friends we’ve made here, we’ve met some of the most interesting and well traveled people during our time here – but Florida just isn’t in our blood.
We passed through Savannah, Georgia and drove through most of South Carolina. As we entered beautiful North Carolina, within minutes we were greeted with our first site of mountains. We haven’t seen mountains in two years. I can’t tell you how much we missed them.
There will always be a place in my heart for Asheville, North Carolina – so of course we stopped in. We grabbed dinner at a phenomenal little restaurant tucked into a quiet neighborhood. Nine Mile offers Jamaican, Caribbean, Vegan and Vegetarian cuisine – and some of the best food we’ve ever had. Smoked gouda chipotle nachos to grilled jerk Carolina trout. If you’re within a 300-mile radius from this place, I implore you to stop in for some food. It’s that good.
In a few days, we head into those beloved mountains. We’ll be backpacking into the wilderness for a bit. Climbing like crazy. Experiencing immense gratitude for being back in the wilderness.. Then off to New Jersey for a bit of culture shock, orange tans and hair spray.