February 6 – 20
Our first choice was a German restaurant with inconsistent, but generally positive reviews not far from us. We drove there and located it after parking, but it appeared closed, not unanticipated given the reviews it had received. So, we decided to head next door to Tap 79 Gastropub, but it too was closed.
I’d recalled seeing a Latin American themed place, La Completa Latina, a block or so back and made our way there for what would be a very good and inexpensive meal. Much of the menu is served cafeteria style and Joanna jumped on one of the Monday specials, the Enchilado de Pescado while I ordered up a Cuban panini.
The Enchilado was a fish stew in creole sauce accompanied by a black bean and rice combo and plantains. The meat moist but firm with just a hint of the sea in each bite, went down easy. The Cuban was good, but not great, not quite grilled enough for the meat inside to stay warm throughout the meal and we kept one half to eat the next day for breakfast before leaving town.
We dawdled in the morning as I had a conference call to make around noon, which once completed left us with the five-hour drive to St. Augustine. Traffic was light and we made good time arriving at our destination for the night, the Best Western St. Augustine I95 just off the freeway a little after 6pm. We were pretty hungry by this time and quickly located a nearby tap house, Ancient City Brewing where we would head to after checking in.
As the brewery had no food service and no food truck scheduled for that night, we stopped in at the Taco Bell adjacent to the Best Western, picked up our standard order (I’m dreaming of the Bell’s Crunchwrap) and made our way to the brewery. It’s a cozy place and like most brewing operations, located in an industrial park (zoning restrictions often place brewing operations in this type of environment). Once inside it could have been any tap room in any city.
We enjoyed three of their beers, an Augustine’s Orange Amber, Castillo Coconut Porter and a Honey IPA, all drinkable and a nice way to end the day. I thought about buying some merchandise, but the display area was close to a table where a young woman was anchored with her laptop, finishing the days business.
I didn’t want to disturb her and found it interesting that the idea of the portable office, so often witnessed at coffee houses, Panera Bread, and other places with some form of Wi-Fi can now be found at the local brewery. Not a working path I’d necessarily pursue, but upon reflection many pages of this blog have been produced while sitting at a bar with a pint of a local craft beer at hand.
We arose the next morning and made the familiar run north, straight up the I-95 to the I-77, a route that has now become almost as familiar to us as the I-5 in California. In doing so we brought to a close a trip that started out with great expectations and ended in some disappointment. In all our years of travel, this would be the first time we’d had to cut a journey short due to illness or some other misfortune.
We’ve certainly had our share of ailments, (to be honest, it was mostly me), including but not limited to infected roots of teeth, food poisoning, swollen legs, and Joanna’s Mom suffering a heart attack in 2014 when we were in Italy. That one caused us to check out one-way air fares for Joanna from Rome and contemplate me returning with the car by myself out of Antwerp, but it worked out we didn’t need to rush to California. So, every trip brings with it a degree of risk. We prepare for this by, in many instances, purchasing trip insurance.
For us this usually isn’t too expensive as we tend not to take big expensive pre-paid tours or excursions and so the trip cancellation element of the coverage isn’t that critical. What we look for primarily is extended medical coverage, particularly overseas, and emergency evacuation, as we’d prefer to have highly technical medicinal procedures done close to home in the States.
So, Florida in February. Not exactly what we’d hoped it would be and yet, now that the spasms in my back are long gone, I have only good memories of the trip. In fact, the parts that got cut short, particularly Key West now loom large in my heart, demanding a return so that I can enjoy all of the things I think I missed.
We’re still dedicated tent campers but being flooded out a couple of times in less than a year begins to diminish our enthusiasm for that mode of travel. I can foresee a time in the future when we, like my parents in 1984 (they bought a 32-foot fifth wheel trailer and traveled full time for five years), convert to motor home or trailer venturing.
And when that day comes, I foresee a three-month winter journey to these parts with say, a month in the Sarasota/Fort Meyers area, then a month in Key West and finally a month up in Kissimmee, the gateway to all things Orlando. It won’t be cheap though, Boyd’s charges around $100 a day for an RV site but honestly, to get to live that Key West lifestyle it would be worth it for a month. I’m going to start saving aluminum cans right now.
La Completa Latina: https://la-completa-latina.business.site/
Best Western St. Augustine I95: https://www.bestwestern.com/en_US/book/hotels-in-saint-augustine/best-western-plus-st-augustine-i-95/propertyCode.10411.html
Ancient City Brewing: https://www.ancientcitybrewing.com/home