After a week of incredibly gray and depressing and at times very stormy weather totally inappropriate for Spring, the sun came out today. Spectacularly.
We were promised a gorgeous day, and it was truly fabulous. I suspected it would be very nice, so I persuaded my daughter that two years was too long between visits to St. Augustine.
Seriously. It had been NEARLY TWO YEARS. Today was going to be the last day of relatively pleasant (80 instead of over 90 degrees) weather we'll see for six months, and I didn't want to waste it, so I talked my daughter into it, and off we went.
It was a spectacularly gorgeous day. Charmed, really. A day trip with a two year old, even a really bright and charming one, is a bit like walking around with a live grenade. You handle with care and plan accordingly, but even so, there are sometimes unexpected explosions/disasters. Not today.
I knew we were off to a good start when we scored one of the last three parking spaces at one of the few secret free parking lots known only to the locals. No, I'm not going to reveal where it is on the innerwebs; it's hard enough to score a spot there. But we did, so we were off to a good start.
We started the day with an early lunch at O.C. White's. It's the same place we chose two years ago. I love their patio, especially when dining with children - there's an endless distraction of sights and sounds of the city to keep them occupied until food arrives. Though their website doesn't make it seem like a kid-friendly place, it really is quite appropriate for brunch or lunch with little ones. Delaney dined on a deliciously light and fluffy pancake shaped like Mickey Mouse (one large pancake joined to two smaller ones for ears). This put her in a great mood to go see The Fort!
The walk to the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument was insanely lovely - truly, not a cloud in the sky, sailboats on the water, just fabulous.
You do have to buy a ticket to tour the fort, and I remember thinking as I paid that I hoped we'd get more than 15 minutes out of the experience before Miss D decided she'd had enough of this boring history crap. To our surprise and delight, she LOVED it! She's a big fan of Jake and the Neverland Pirates, so she was thrilled by the fort, the cannons, the tower where they signaled. Miss D: "We would need a ladder to climb up!" then the stairs to the top of the fort, where she had to hold hands because holy crap those walls are low and the drop is deadly, but where there are so many kinds of cannons! To my great surprise we spent about an hour exploring, with Miss D excited and chattering.
Then the soldiers marched to the top of the fort to fire the cannon! This happens a couple of times a day, but in 30 years I'd never actually been there when it happened.
This takes longer and is less dramatic than it should be, because they do try to make it educational and explain how the muskets (yes, they also fired muskets) were loaded and how they fired, etc., so a 2.5 year old totally lost interest and wanted to leave. Let's go down the stairs, NOW. Here, her mother saved the day. My daughter had the brilliant idea of going around to the front of the fort, on the grass, to watch the cannon firing. I highly recommend this over standing up top, especially with small children who don't really give a damn about the mechanics of loading the guns.
The view was fabulous, the sight of the soldiers rolling the cannon into place was exciting, and the BOOOM!!! was enough to make even the grownups who knew it was coming jump! Delaney loved it all.
We walked through the Old City, they ate frozen custard (I passed on it), and eventually we made our way back to the secret parking lot. We didn't want the day to end, so we drove home the long way, down A1A, all the way from St. Augustine to Daytona Beach. We saw a lighthouse and pelicans, and of course, the ocean (and Grandma managed to not run over a few really slow-moving nitwits crossing the road like waterlogged zombies). It was a long, full day of mini-vacation, and OMG, I needed it.
As GAWD IS MAH WITNUSS, I'm gonna do something fun at least every other weekend from now until Labor Day. The beach, the springs, there are so many places to explore, for free or at least for cheap, right in our own backyards.