Monday, October 24, 2016

Girls' Weekend 2016: Friday October 21

This is another entry written by Kathi.
Friday, October 21, 2016
Kathi in St. Augustine 
We forgot to mention the random alarm noises we experienced during the day yesterday, after we had settled in to our condo.  A car alarm went off with no one around, and some type of smoke detector alarm started beeping and we had no idea where it was coming from.  In addition, there was some kind of motorized vehicle cruising around outside our window that we could never see or identify. This morning we were awakened by another strange sound at 6 AM.  It sounded like a cross between a fire alarm and a moose call. As soon as we were brought to consciousness it stopped, then started again and then stopped again.  We managed to sleep a little bit more after that but decided to get up and get the day rolling at about 8:45.
After we had both showered and breakfasted we forwent our normal morning nerd computer/journaling/research sessions and left the condo to explore the city of Saint Augustine. 
After a quick stop at Starbucks, we drove south and east for about 20 minutes and found one of the several St. Augustine welcome centers.  We went in and after listening to quite a bit of free advice and historical references from the guides, decided to purchase the tour package that included free on-and-off trolley rides for the length of our stay, admission to a couple of the lesser museums, a tour of the old jail, free parking and shuttle rides, and the grand prize…admission for the Ghost and Gravestones tour.  We also opted to pay in advance for a tour of Flagler College, and for an Eco Tour.  We will, of course, write more on those things later, after we have experienced them.
To get from the welcome center to the first trolley stop, we were driven in one of the shuttles. Our driver, whose name was Oz, dropped us off at the Old Jail which was a trolley stop, and we exited the shuttle and relocated to the waiting trolley.  The Old Trolley in St. Augustine is a 3-unit open air motorized train that runs a circuit of 23 stops.  Every trolley driver delivers a continuously running monologue about St. Augustine’s rich and deep history, bringing up points of interest as we pass.  There are always at least 7 trolleys running at any given time, so that if at any point you get off to look around, you never have to wait more than 10 minutes when you’re ready to get back on.  We took the trolley through the first five stops before getting off to stroll St. George Street, which is just one of several quaint, walkable streets in the Historic District of St. Augustine, but more than the others, this street is lined with wonderful boutique shops and restaurants. In the last several years Girls’ Weekend has included some great shopping outings; when we were in Seattle a few years ago I dang near replenished my entire winter wardrobe! St. George Street was wonderful, and we had no trouble finding some “souvenirs” for ourselves - cool stuff including purses, reading glasses, sunglasses, wind chimes, ear cuffs, shoes… in other words we did some serious damage in about 2 1/2 hours.    
St George Street 
We caught the trolley at about 4 o'clock to continue through the rest of the stops. This should have taken about an hour, but it actually took two hours because traffic was so awful due to the lifting of the draw bridge twice while we were trying to get through that area. This delay bothered us NOT AT ALL, because the tour was very interesting, we had a really nice female driver, the weather was absolutely beautiful, and in case you didn’t know, it’s GIRLS’ WEEKEND!! It was two weeks ago today that Saint Augustine was hit by hurricane Matthew, and on our long trolley ride the evidence was visible all around us.  In one area in particular we saw household appliances, furnishings, and other sundry items all piled up on the sidewalks and on the sides of the roads. Huge trees were uprooted and tin roofs were peeled back like tin can lids. Seeing all this made us conscious of two things, a) to have this much debris still in the streets, and to also know that the residents and officials had been cleaning diligently day and night since the hurricane, it was clear how ferocious this storm had been, and b) blessings arrive daily from God and we need to always remember to be grateful.  Back at the Old Jail plaza we were shuttled to our parking lot. We made a pitstop on the way back to the resort to purchase creamer, salt, and a Google Chromecast – more on that later. Lotsmore on that later.
As we arrived back at the condo at about 7 o'clock, we were targeted for another flesh-eating mosquito attack; despite the earlier purchase and application of Deep Woods repellent, I now have bites on my upper back, the backs of my thighs, my ankles, my hands, and one behind my ear that I may have to surgically remove or go mad.  Lori seems not to be suffering nearly as much as I.  In fact, she has made it through the swarming without a single bite. She SAYS they usually bite her. I think she told them to concentrate on me because I’m so much sweeter. She is very lucky I love her.
Lori made a delicious meal that was actually legal for the stupid diet that I'm having to suffer through while on girls weekend (more on that later as well).  After dinner, I settled in at the dining room table to get to work on the journal while Lori installed the Google Chromecast. At least, that's what was supposed to happen. We were determined to watch the most recent episode of Designated Survivor, which both of us had missed; this was the entire reason for the purchase of the Chromecast. However, it was not to be. The double level security of the resort combined with the particularities of the Chromecast meant that despite both of our best efforts along, with those of Eric by phone and a very patient and long-suffering maintenance man in person, we were unable to successfully pair the device with the television. As it turned out, the entire effort was moot, as Designated Survivor did not even air this week because of the political debate. This entire non-event took over two hours, and in the end, we were somewhat frustrated and journal-less. However… what’s our battle cry? It’s Girls’ Weekend, so who cares!  At about midnight we decided it was time to turn in, but at the last minute Lori remembered we had to toss the states. It was her turn tonight, and she managed with one deft flip of the bowl to reduce us to only four remaining options for next year: Texas, Maine, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. We decided that we are quite thrilled with any of these options!

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