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November 20th, 2007:

Girls’ Week – Day 2

Day 1

On Day 2 of our trip, we all drove to St. Augustine, our nation’s oldest city. We bought tickets to ride the tour train around the city. We decided to take the 90 minute train ride, see everything from there, and then get off and decide what we really wanted to see. We got to see the beautiful Flager College . . . which used to be a hotel. The hotel was only open 3 months out of the year, and guests had to pay for the entire season in advance no matter how long they stayed.

Flagler College 

That whole train thing seemed like a good plan to start with, but the “train stops at every stop every 20 minutes” didn’t work out so well! They had told us that if we got off, anywhere, another train would show up within 20 minutes and we could get back on . . . I don’t know what happened, but we spent more time waiting for that friggin’ train! Anyway . . . our first stop was lunch, of course :-) It was YUMMY – cajun mahi mahi – mmmmmmmm! After lunch, we divided into two groups, because quite frankly, getting 9 people to decide one place to go wasn’t going to happen. A couple people said where they wanted to go and others got in to groups with them – worked out quite well if you ask me . . . just like in kindergarten. While 4 of the women went shopping, the other 5 of us had grand plans of Seeing Ripley’s Believe It Or Not with our free coupon and then heading over to the winery for a tour and tasting session. Sooooo, we start off down the street to one of the train stops to catch our faithful train. BUT, on the way we see Charlotte street – so we of course HAVE to stop and get a picture of Grandma with her street sign since her name is Charlotte. Isn’t my Grandma the cutest thing on the planet? I think she looks like Mrs. Clause.

Grandma and Her Street Sign 

After the street sign stop, we stood in the exact middle of a block on the sidewalk deciding if we should go left or right to get to a cross walk to get to the train stop that was RIGHT across the street. We couldn’t jaywalk because Gma would have had a hard time jogging across 4 lanes of traffic. So, we made the fateful decision to go right .  . . and we missed the walk sign . . . and we saw the train pull up to the stop . . . and we saw the train pull away . . . and we saw the walk sign turn green. Now had we gone the OTHER way to the train stop, we would have gotten across the street and been able to flag the train down before it left the parking lot. So we hung out at the train stop, figuring another 20 minutes and one would show up. We were at the old fort on the bay, so we wandered around a bit – a train never came. Never came. Still never came. So we decided to start walking to Ripley’s Museum – it was only a couple blocks and Grandma said she was up for it. So off we went, slowly, enjoying the old cemeteries as we passed, enjoying the view of the bay, and cursing that lovely train. We finally arrived at Ripley’s, and as we walked across the parking lot, had to wait for the train to drive by :-) Outside, there is a “log home” – a 1900 year old log that was carved inside to be a 3 room house – complete with kitchen, living room with fireplace, and bedroom with closet. Here’s me and Gma by the sign:

Jodie and Gma by Ripleys Log 

On we marched inside, coupons in hand, only to be turned away. Turns out, even though the coupon SAYS Ripley’s Museum . . . it doesn’t mean THAT Ripley’s Museum – it means the other historical museum that is already free! Grrrrrr . . . we all decided to save our $15 and catch the train to the winery. So we walked outside and hung out at the train stop, and waited, and waited, and waited. No train. We finally realized that the stop where we get on the van to take us to the winery was just a couple blocks away – so we decided to hoof it . . . and got there at the same time as the train. But hey, we were going to taste wine – it’s all good! Then we waited 15 minutes for the van to leave. During the wait, I walked down to see the City Gate, which I find amazing. This was the only entrance in to the walled city way back when the Spanish first came here.

Jodie City Gate 

We DID make it to the winery and we DID get to taste yummy wine – but we did not take the tour. You see, we got there about 15 minutes after the tour started, so we just jumped in at the end and did the tasting. And during the tasting, my Aunt realized her camera was missing! We couldn’t find it anywhere in the winery. So we went out and waited for the van – for 10 minutes – our shortest wait yet! Luckily, the camera was still in the van. We met the others at the van drop off and we all decided to go see the beautiful Memorial Presbyterian Church together. So we waited for the train – again. But we made it there and it sure was worth it! The beautiful stained glass, the antique furniture, the dark wood pews, and the massive altar were amazing! These antique table and chairs and the beautiful stained glass were awesome!

MPC

This Bible was HUGE and the detail was amazing. It was retired afte 116 years in service, and is far older than 116 years.

Bible

This antique organ also caught my eye – I’m just amazed at the detail and craftsmanship of these items!

Organ

After the Church, we waited for the train, again, and ended up getting off on a beautiful stone street with stamped brick sidewalks. We walked a couple blocks to a watering hole we’d seen and ordered some drinks to hang out and relax. My Aunt Diane and I started walking back to get the cars while the others finished their drinks. It only looked like about 8 blocks on the map, but as with everything else that day, it turned out to be about 2 miles! So, we stopped at Ripley’s Museum AGAIN to catch the train. And waited, and waited, and waited. We FINALLY got on the train, which was the last of the day, to head back to the car. It took a little longer than we’d expected because . . . we had to finish the tour! We were just giggling because we got to see the rest of the tour . . . the Fountain of Youth entrance, wood cannons, a beautiful street with amazing trees acting as a canopy, and this wall made out of seashells:

Shell Wall

We FINALLY got the cars, picked up the rest of them at the watering hole, and headed back to Jacksonville. You would think that we’d had enough, but alas, we hadn’t. We decided to go out for dinner, somewhere close to our hotel. The first place we stopped didn’t serve drinks – a definite necessity at this point. The next place had only tall bar stools – not very accommodating for an 86 year old grandmother. The next place wasn’t open yet – brand new restaurant opening in 3 days. I called the hotel and they gave me directions to a “main” area. We found a great restaurant, except the cheapest plate was $55! Um, no. So we headed across the street to old faithful – TGI Fridays. It really had taken us about an hour to find a restaurant, and with 2 cars trying to follow each other around an area nobody knew, it was very interesting. But, at TGI Fridays we had a great waitress, great service, and great food. We all went home happy as could be.

Whew! After all that, I totally want to go back to St. Augustine some time to view a few more things in detail and enjoy the history a bit more. We had a great time and made many memories that I will never forget . . . even if most of them DO involve waiting for that friggin’ red train 😉

Check back on Monday for Day 3!