Pat and Bill's Excellent Adventure to St. Augustine, Florida

Updated: Mar 14, 2019

May 3, 2018


I've not blogged since December due to a painful and annoying bout of carpal tunnel syndrome that resulted in surgery and an uncomfortable recovery period. I'm still not 100% but at least I'm now able to type and hold a golf club, sort of.

The Hubster and I have always wanted to visit St. Augustine, Florida, so we finally did last week. America's first city is both a history lesson and an amusement park, complete with a bay, wide river, an ocean, hundreds of golf courses, and lots of white sand beaches.

We rented a condo on Anastasia Island, just across the drawbridge from St. Augustine's Old Town, and I'd recommend that idea to anyone. Our home base was a lovely 3/2 on the second floor of Seaside at Anastasia. Our condo was #F203, if you'd like to check it out.

Anastasia = Port Aransas

Being away from the bustle of touristy St. Auggie was a good decision. Anastasia Island reminded us of Port Aransas, Texas, and we felt right at home. There is beach access up and down A-1A Beach Blvd., but, silly us, we didn't even go to the beach! We were here to explore a potential relocation, so on our first day, we played golf at Marsh Creek Country Club and discovered why we don't want to play golf there again. We lost a dozen golf balls into the murky water and dense marsh. By number 14 hole, we had to quit.

The next day, we drove north to Ponte Vedra Island and saw the Sawgrass and The Players courses, both magnificent settings. Ponte Vedra is a wide, long island, a play land for residents of Jacksonville. It was VERY crowded on the weekend...just our luck, as that was the time we chose to explore it.

We couldn't get into the trendy restaurants with views on the Mantanzas River, so we settled for a funky Italian dive in Vilano Beach called Casa Benedettos. "Settled" is the wrong word for our experience, as the food turned out to be amazing. REAL Italian, complete with friendly owners from Sicily and their three-month old puppy dog.

How Many Golf Courses Can There Be?

The astounding array of golf courses in St. John's County led us to explore the World Golf Hall of Fame, about 12 miles northwest of St. Auggie. This museum has fascinating displays of the history and mementos related to, you guessed it, the game of golf.

My favorite sections were old TV clips showing thrilling battles between golfing greats. These reminded me of my Dad, who sat glued to the TV every Sunday during the "Wonderful World of Golf." Another favorite exhibit was the locker room of inductees, where each locker held personal mementos contributed by the players.

A museum docent told us there is a moratorium on building golf courses in St. John's County, a good idea. I've never seen so many golf communities and wondered how in the world so many people could be playing golf at the same time.

What Else Did We Do?

We took a trolley tour through Old Town and learned the history of the area. We sailed Schooner Freedom on the Mantanzas River and found out what it was like to have cannons firing at you from the old fort that still guards the city.

The Mantanzas is almost like a bay, but it's a north/south river with an inlet from the Atlantic Ocean. After our sail, we had a pint and a GT at a British pub that poured amazing tonic water called "Strong Tonic." Must get! On another day, we drove west to see the St. John's River, the largest in Florida, much wider than the Mantanzas, but shallow and weirdly red.

After each excursion, we downed the usual assortment of beach food and drinks, or we cooked in our condo and stared at a little duck pond, where a silly cormorant we named "Cody" would sit for hours under the spray of a central fountain. There's a photo of Cody on my Facebook page if you'd like to "friend" me.

Other than that, we drove around, looked at houses for sale and tried to figure out if moving to Florida was a good idea for us. Not.

Stone Crab Season!

One regret was that we missed having dinner at the Columbia Restaurant in St. Augustine. We've been to the Mother Ship Columbia in Ybor City and another branch in Sarasota, but time and circumstance kept us from having a grand finale at the Columbia in Old Town. Hopefully another time, as the Columbia's stone crab claws are the most amazing food on this planet.

From this, I guess you can tell, this writer is back in the saddle. Again, many thanks for following me, and especially for reading and rating my work!

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© 2017 by Pat Dunlap Evans