Heading to Palm Coast, FL. for 5 days.
Leaving Columbia, so far so good. Our trip started great. We left home a little later than we wanted, but everything worked out great on time. Sidetrip: It is always amazing to me the lack of E.Q. some people possess. We are on the shuttle from the parking lot to the terminal and two guys are talking loudly about this video of a plane crash. Meanwhile, the passengers on the shuttle (on their way to board a plane) are wide-eyed and nervous. I simply sat amazed. We got to the terminal, boarded and we were off to our next stop in New Orleans.
New Orleans in the rain with a broken plane. I love NOLA, but not when I am only supposed to be there for 30 minutes. I am not typically a person who gets upset when flights are delayed or re-scheduled due to technical issues. I am glad they find them while we are on the ground! So, we stay relentlessly positive and eat lunch in New Orleans (red beans and rice baby!) and waited for a flight to Nashville. We sat in Nashville for two hours for a flight to Jacksonville. We were originally supposed to be in Jacksonville at 3pm, now it is going to be almost 10pm. As I said, I am always glad the issues are found on the ground and not in flight.
Jacksonville in the evening. We land in Jacksonville and our bags arrive in record time on the belt. I was a little concerned about this since we were re-routed a few times, but our luggage made the jumps with us. Good job, Southwest, we love traveling with you! Picked up our car, a very nice, white Dodge Journey with only 7,000 miles on it. We left the rental car garage, jumped right on to I-95 South toward Palm Coast. Jacksonville is a pretty city in the evening as you drive right through the heart of it. There is a beautiful, blue bridge in the middle of town. We headed right down the edge of Florida on the interstate for about an hour or so to the Hammock Beach Resort, getting settled in around Midnight. Opening the french doors to the Ocean for the first time, made the day of traveling worth it.
Waking up by the ocean at Hammock. I never get tired of looking at the ocean. Something about the vastness of it truly amazes me. The bright, yeallow Sun coming up over the blue horizon of sea renews me in a whole new way.
St Augustine, oldest city in America. Founded by the Spanish in 1565. We traveled about thirty minutes back north on I-95 to check it out. There was no beach time because the rainstorm moved in, so time for some history and shopping. I had been fascinated by Henry Flagler, who was a partner with John D. Rockefeller in Standard Oil. Titan, the biography of Rockefeller is one of my favorite all time books to read. It is a very extensive account of the life of Rockefeller, but mentions Flagler sparingly. In this area of Florida, everything is named for Flagler. As a railroad tycoon, he used his railroads and wealth to open up the state of Florida. He built an amazing hotel in St. Augustine, which is now the Lightner museum and Flagler College is amazing to behold. There really was a huge amount of wealth in the Gilded Age. We ended the day in St. Augustine at the Old City Cafe. I struck up a quick friendship with Peggy, our bartender, who was originally from Kentucky, so we hit it off and had a great conversation about the upcoming weekend’s Kentucky Derby. (The pic of me and Peggy would be lost in the “lost shoe incident”)
The lost shoe incident. The rain continued the next day, so we were off in search of more adventures. We had a mid-afternoon lunch at the Oceanside Bar & Grill in Flagler Beach. Great place, right by the ocean surf, so even though it was raining, we had a table just feet from the crashing waves. When we left, Ann Marie decided the waves were too spectacular not to get on camera. I reluctantly agreed to let her go onto the small space of beach and do some filming with her iPhone camera. There is one drawback to being focused, everything else is tuned out, so one minute she was there and the next, she wasn’t. She was so focused on getting the the waves on camera, one snuck in on her and knocked her off her feet. She lost her left shoe. It could have been very dangerous and fortunately she was not swept out to sea. She popped right back up on her feet and retreated to the steps up the beach to where I sat awaiting in the rental car. Hey, it was raining! She believed her iPhone was saved, but it died later that night from water exposure. The film remains on Facebook and she has a new iPhone 5. If anyone on the Eastern Seaboard finds a black and tan platform sandal, contact us.
Dinner in the room, my wife gets bold and eats like a man. We went to the AT&T store in Palm Coast and replaced Ann Marie’s iPhone, upgrading her to a 5. Sean, our sales person was amazingly great. If you live in Palm Coast and need a phone, ask for Sean. We drove up to St. Augustine and went back to the Ole City House Inn, alas Peggy was not working, but the food and drinks were top notch once again. We walked through Flagler College (which has the largest collection of stained glass in North America) and drove around downtown and saw the fort. Arriving back at the lodge, we listened to the Kentucky Derby on the radio. I had picked Verrazano to win. Congrats to Orb. My Kentucky Derby streak continues, I don’t think I have picked a winner since Affirmed in 1978. Yes, I know, that is quite a losing streak for me, but I still get misty and teary eyed during the playing of “My Old Kentucky Home”. I believe every Kentuckian imagines the house they grew up in when they hear the song. We decided to stay in, so we ordered dinner from JT’s down the street. It’s a lot like Angelo’s back home. We had cheeseburgers and fries. My wife is awesome. 🙂
The trip home. We spent Cinco De Mayo in St. Augustine. Nothing like a spanish holiday in a spanish-type town!
We toured the fort in St. Augustine Bay, walked around town, snapped a lot of photos and enjoyed ourselves. Traveled about 40 minutes back north to Jacksonville, dropped off the Dodge Journey, got on our plane and flew to Baltimore. We then caught our connection to St. Louis. Both of the flights were fairly bumpy, but any flight that gets you there is a good flight.
The best Southwest Airlines flight attendant line was a song:
“You like us, we like you
Enjoy the flight and our hospitality
Marry one of us
And you’ll fly free!”
Overall, even with the rain, it was a nice little 5 day trip to Florida.
Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast was amazing and the service is exceptional. Highly recommended.