Monday, April 23, 2012

Florida - March 2012

For Anne and me, 2011 was the year from hell.  I suffered from uncontrolled colitis flares.  Had one drug that made me sick as a dog, another drug gave me a burning blistering rash all over my arms and legs, and another gave me drug induced hepatitis.  But I recovered from it all by the summer and had a pretty good year.  It was going pretty good until Anne got diagnosed with uterine cancer and had to have surgery.  We had made plans to go to Florida for the winter but had to cancel everything at the last minute.  She came thru the surgery fine and was pronounced cancer free with no other treatments needed.  She recuperated during January and by the end or February was feeling well enough to travel.  With all that we had been thru, we were anxious to get away and just clear our heads.  With about a weeks week notice, we decided get the heck out of winter, jumped in the car, and headed south to Florida for the month of March.

I was fortunate to find a condo rental at St. Augustine Beach, which is an area we really like and have stayed before.  We took three days to drive down doing about 450 miles per day.  I didn't want to push my luck with the colitis and wanted to take it easy on Anne.


View from our balcony
Our unit at St. Augustine was right on the water.  We had a nice ocean view from the balcony and were near all the restaurants and attractions.  The beach was just a short 1 minute walk from our door. We like this area because of what seems like endless miles of beach.  and no high rise development.  There's about 12 miles of beach that stretches from where we were down to the Matazas Inlet.  Most of it wide and flat enough so you can drive on it.

St. Augustine Beach
We spent a lot of our days on the beach, usually taking a 1-2 mile walk each day.  Anne spent a lot of time beach combing for shells and sea glass.   My other daily activity was biking.  I hadn't done any biking since getting diagnosed with colitis in 2010.  I had biked extensively in this area in prior years, so it felt really good to get on the bike and log some flat miles on Rt A1A and into and around the city of St. Augustine.
But hanging out at the beach and people watching was our main activity.  This time of year the beach was pretty busy with lots of young people on spring break.  There we also lots of surfers.  It was very relaxing and refreshing to spend so much time near the water and to be in such warm weather.  Our temps were pretty close to 80 each day.  Daily attire was shorts, tee shirts, and sandals.
The other key activity entailed lots of eating.  There was barbecue lunches at Smokin Dee's, the worlds best key lime pie for desert at the Sunset Grille, Italian Gelato and Custard at Rita's, Smoothies at Stir it Up, Hush Pups at Bubba Gump Shrimp, and seafood at the Lion's Seafood Festival.  With all the eating, my weight held pretty steady.  All the walking and biking was a good offset.

Live Oak @ Washington Oaks SP
We visited Washington Oaks State Park, one of may favorites for all its flowers and flora.   We drove down A1A thru Crescent Beach, Bulter Beach, Marineland, Flager Beach, and Ormond Beach on our way to Daytona.

Crescent Beach

I brought Anne down to experience Bike Week, which was going on down in Daytona while we were there.  We saw thousands of bikes and bikers.  Anne even got to sit on her "dream trike", which she has alluded to wanting from time to time.  We had a fun time and but some of the few not wearing denim and leather.

Anne wanted to do a bonding experience while we were here.  One of her ideas was a Segway tour on the beach, which sounded pretty lame.  Swimming with the dolphins at Marine Land was good but pricey.  I suggested the zip line over the alligator pit at the Alligator Farm (Anne thought it was too scary).  We settled on kayaking in the estuary off Anastasia Island.  It was a good choice.  We had fun and the weather was perfect. 
We bought an RV while down thee, but that's a whole other story.  We spent St Paddy's walking around St. Augustine, taking in the sights and visiting the Irish bar Anne O'Malley's.

We finished up our visit with a concert at the St Augustine Amphitheater.  We saw Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt perform an acoustic set together.  We had seats right down front, which made it very intimate.  Here's a sample of what they sang.  The video is a little jumpy at the start but it settles down.  This video was shot the day before at their show in Savannah, but the set up and music was the same.  Had always wanted to see John Hiatt perform.  He is such a great song writer..



Overall, it was a great trip.  So glad we went and everything felt so good after the year we had been thru.






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