It’s a new day, and we were determined to make it a better one! We got off to an early start as it was going to take us a good while just to get back to Saint Augustine after our hotel-hunting-odyssey.
We met another nice American from Ohio as we gassed up – Rich McIntosh from Cleveland. We’ve met more people from Ohio than from anywhere else.
Saint Augustine is a very interesting place. Tremendous history and equally tremendous (aka overdone) tourist development. It’s a pretty place with a striking black-and-white striped lighthouse. We drove straight to the Fountain of Youth for a water fix. We enjoyed learning about the history of Ponce de Leon’s discovery of America, which he named “Florida.” Old Ponce was an accidental tourist, too, as he was trying to find Bimini and the alleged Fountain of Youth. Instead, he found what is now Saint Augustine and a spring. Bozzie loved seeing the peacocks.
In the parking lot, we met an especially nice couple from Missouri, “Rocco” and his wife, and we met Dolph, who works at the Fountain of Youth. They saw the signs on the car and asked all about the trip, and we enjoyed sharing a few stories and learning a little about them.
We then saw the other historical highlights in Saint Augustine – the Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest wooden schoolhouse in the USA, and the lighthouse.
We then drove Highway A1A through a variety of little towns down to Daytona Beach. In Daytona, we enjoyed watching the stereotypical diner waitresses at the Starlite Diner where we had a cheeseburger and “Freedom” Fries. We lived in Orlando for six years and have been to Daytona many times, so we didn’t spend as much time as we would have otherwise. I enjoyed seeing the Drive-In Christian Church – a real church built on the grounds of a drive-in movie theatre where you can listen to the sermon on the window speaker in your car. We made a few other stops. We met a nice lady, Pat, in a parking lot as she saw the sign on the car and told us how she wished she could go to all 50 states.
We passed through a lot of beach towns today, and we saw one little motel after another. It is amazing that all of these little, old places can stay in business, but it is so great to see that they have. Motels provide a real slice of Americana that it would be such a shame to lose. We also saw a good number of roadside fruit stands today as well as a big souvenir store called Wings.
We arrived in Jensen Beach just as the sun was setting. William, the desk clerk at the Marriott, DID have our reservation, so he became our newest hero. In the elevator up to our room, we met a cute 10-year-old named Brianna. William recommended Villa Parma for dinner, where we enjoyed very good Italian food and a delicious Chocolate Bomb Cake for dessert. Our waitress, Nicole, was excellent, and we met Michael, a very friendly and talkative bus boy. We also saw Brianna again and met her parents and her brother, Derrick. Brianna and Derrick are both Olympic-caliber competitive swimmers.
We missed connecting with old friend, Craig Linton. My Florida geography is bad as I thought he lived near Tampa, but he is apparently just down the road from where I sit in this hotel. Our apologies to Craig and his wife! We enjoyed many wonderful times with Craig when we lived in Orlando; we think of Craig and Guy Lombardo every New Years.
The main lesson we learned today is this: There are more nice people than not-nice people; all you have to do is say hello. We met delightful people today at a gas pump, in a parking lot, in restaurants, and in an elevator.
As we glanced at USA Today this morning, it warmed our hearts to read about Mohammad, the Iraqi man who made possible the rescue of PFC Jessica Lynch. We heard Sean Hannity on the radio suggest that perhaps now is the time to lose the hyphen-American. No more “African-American,” “Asian-America,” etc. That sounds like a great idea to us. Let’s just all be Americans. I’m certainly no political expert, but 9-11 saddened me and made me fear for our future. I don’t know what all our country should do to protect us, but I feel it might be good to slam our borders close to shut. While it is all of the people from so many countries who made America what it has been, I’m inclined to think that we should concentrate on protecting our homeland and our fellow Americans. Since so much of the rest of the world seems so anti-American, keep them out. We put locks on our doors and cars to safeguard our loved ones and our “stuff,” so let’s put a lock on America! And let’s take a lot of the money that we spend on countries inhabited by those who don’t like us and get more people working to perfect a “Patriot-like” missile that will protect our homeland from nuclear attacks.
A number of things that we have done to make the trip go well are working as hoped, while others are not. I can’t imagine how I will cope nearly as well during the stretches of the trip that Boz is back in Atlanta. Thank heavens for the sunscreen as I now have an outstanding “golfer’s tan” with only the balding spot on the top of my head sporting a sunburn. Our system of clothes is working really well; we have four bags – two bigger ones that hold a week’s worth of clothes that stay in the car, and then we each carry a day or two’s worth of clothes into our hotel each night in a smaller bag. The next morning, our dirty clothes go into yet another bag ready for the weekly washing. We brought the right amount of stuff. Our tape recorder malfunctioned the night before the trip, so we took notes the first three days until we bought a new recorder. It worked great today as we drove and flipped it on to record the towns we hit, mileage, thoughts, etc.
It is much harder than I thought, with the current schedule, to find the time at night to write as much as I would like and process the day’s photos. We are taking large format photos, but I barely have the time to put a few small format photos on the web site. Now if I could just figure out how to drive and type on the computer at the same time….
For those of you like Aunt Hazel who are following us every day, I apologize for not having more photos online yet. I hope to find the time during our two days in Miami. Thursday put a real crimp in my plans as I had no Internet time that day. I’ll note when additional photos have been added.