Before the boys were born, Bill and I lived in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. The third oldest and probably the largest historic district in the country (per Alexandria’s website anyway). Since our first date was on a history tour in a graveyard, I think it’s safe to say that we are history lovers, and we savored every moment of walking down cobblestone streets, living in an 8 foot wide house (you heard me right, eight feet wide), and telling people George Washington may have/most likely had his wig powdered in my living room. But that’s a story for another day. The meaty bit here is that when we were living in Old Town, we often talked about what life must be like in those even OLDER towns. Someday, we swore, we’d make a pilgrimage to the mecca for history nerds like us, Saint Augustine.
Having newly moved to Miami and thinking up ways to celebrate Bill’s 40th birthday, all those “somedays” came haunting and the boys and I immediately made plans to check out Historic Saint Augustine, just about five hours north along the Atlantic coast. We made it a surprise for Bill, who after the fifth hour in the car just figured we were going to another of our favorites, Savannah, GA. Much to the boys’ delight, Grandpa Stu and Sassy dog, who were picking up a boat a few hours away, ended up joining us for the adventure.
Suffice, it was love at first sight. The narrow old streets, the eclectic blends of Spanish and British colonial buildings, and the ancient fort that greatest us made instantly overjoyed. And the boys were particularly excited about our accomadations at the Pirate Haus Inn, with its pirate toys and pirate pancakes like icing on the cake. They even wore their jolly roger shorts for the occasion.
We spent the first day exploring and enjoying the town. We were told that it the town would be uncharacteristically packed as that Saturday was the lighting of the holiday lights around the historic district, so forget about moving the car. And if was packed indeed. Fortunately, Quinlan did his habitual ridiculous early rising, so he and I ventured out in the wee hours to do some tourist-less exploring. The town was abandoned and enchanted at that early hour, and it we had a fun time pretending it really was the 1700s. Well I did anyway; I think Quinlan just enjoyed being able to run down St George St nonstop without being yelled at or corralled.
Apart from getting absolutely drenched by rain for a few hours, the most salient highlights of the trip was twofold: the gorgeous garden of the Crucial Coffee Cafe (oh my goodness I LOVE this spot and want to recreate every inch of it in my backyard!) and Flagler College. Flagler College was a gamechanger for Bill and I as parents, because up until seeing that place, we always figured we were pretty accepting parents who would let our children make their own decisions. But no longer. They are both now REQUIRED to go to Flagler College. End of discussion. For history nerds like us, that has got to be one of the coolest colleges in the country. They WILL eat their cafeteria food amidst millions of dollars of Tiffany glass if it’s the last thing we do as parents.
As soon as we got home, the first thing Bill and I did was search out and immediately start Freebasing every bit of history we could find about Flagler and Saint Augustine. And while I still will always love Old Town Alexandria best, the boys and all agreed that it was pretty impressive to spend some time in our nation’s oldest city. And to sleep with the pirates, no less!