Galley Wench Tales

Exploring the world through the people we meet
and the food they eat.

My favorite “historical marker” outside a Lincolnshire home in St. Augustine Florida, USA’s oldest city, founded in 1565.
St. Augustine is a quaint town rife with history and proud of its well-preserved architecture. Seems everywhere you go, there’s a historical marker.  Some architecture. like the Castillo de San Marcos, dates back to St. Augustine’s early days, when Spain held sway and was compelled to build a fort after getting ransacked by English pirates.
St. Augustine’s ample historical markers make it easy to brush up on the local history.

 St. Augustine was a great place to get in my morning walkies while Wayne and our hosts were not quite ready to be up, out and about. I did however have to covertly crash a local restaurant and no public restrooms are open in St. Augustine until 8:30 a.m.

This neighborhood cat seemed rat”er unperturbed about the “Beware of dog” sign.
There were several other cats equally undisturbed in the same yard.

1800s Florida developer mogul Henry Flagler made his mark on St. Augustine, where his buildings heralded a renaissance of sorts. Today those building still feature prominently in St. Augustine architecture. 

Flagler College was once one of Henry Flagler’s St. Augustine opulent hotels

The Alcazar Pool and Cafe were once part of another Flagler hotel.

 There was a wide variety of picturesque private residences in St. Augustine, accented with lush subtropical growth.

 This was plainer than most  private homes in St. Augustine, but I loved its front garden full of edibles.
Much as we wanted to dwaddle and explore St. Augustine more, we needed to hit the road. 

We stopped periodically to stretch our legs. The Santa Fe River was a nice spot for that. The water was clear, likely due to the 72 springs that fed into it. We wondered in particular about how the name came about for one of them — Naked Springs. 
One of several pretty spots at our brief rest stop along the Santa Fe River.
Note the cypress knees rising up like stalagmites. I hope to someday
wander a cypress swamp in the mist.
A bit further we crossed the Suwannee River, which we hope to travel by boat someday.
Suwannee River, viewed from the Frank R. Norris Bridge.

We were amused at the name of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town of Sopchoppy. Wayne theorized it had to do with Chinese food. I disagreed but didn’t have a better sense of its origin, which you can learn about here. Upon reading wiki, I do wish we could’ve hung around to see the town’s Worm Grunting Festival. Seriously – they do have one!

Carrabelle, where the intracoastal waterway disappears for a while, provided another pleasant spot to stretch our legs for a few minutes.

This brown pelican at Carrabelle seemed quite happy to pose for the camera.
We drove past Mexico Beach and Panama City to see how it was faring after being struck October 10, 2018 by Michael a CAT4 hurricane. While it’s been over six months, time for significan clean-up, the area is still awash in blue-tarped roofs. Tyvek, boarded buildings and chain link fences marking devastated areas off temporarily or forever. 
“I feel like we’re walking on someone else’s graves.” Wayne said. There were few fatalities but seeing what happened
to family homes like these was still unsettling.
This Mexico Beach home, with the picket fence partially erected,  appeared well on its way to returning to inhabitability.

As the day was drawing to a close, we realized given how few hotels and motels remained, and how many temporary workers were there for reconstruction, that we might have trouble finding a room.  What rooms were available in online checking, started at $170 for two star motels. We usually try to spend $100 or less on our rooms. On a longshot, thanks to Wayne’s retired Air Force status, we pulled into Tyndall Air Force base to see if there were any rooms available. As we expected, they did not, but we got a hot tip from someone in their office at the time. “Check out Days Inn in Panama City,” he suggested. “It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but they’re alright. Pre-tax; they’re $99 a night.”

We didn’t see much else along the way. Indeed. Days Inn didn’t look like much. But they did have a vacancy and after tax the room was still only $110, with a king sized bed, desk, tv, microwave. fridge/freezer and granite countertops in the bathroom. The street and noise from the other rooms left something to be desired, but given the option of horrendous prices, a long drive to find something else or both, we felt quite grateful for Days Inn.

Our Panama City motel, the Days Inn was not easily recognizable  as a place to stay.
The rooms were much better than the motel’s outside appearance.

The sun was setting, we were in a new time zone, and ready to call it a day.