Finally, sunshine in the sunshine state, Florida

An obvious perk of being able to take your home with you is the ability to move away from any place that is icy, snowy or just plain cold.  During the past few months we’ve been hanging around the beaches of the Carolinas and Georgia as we headed south.  And just like the Canadian geese, we’ve migrated toward warmer weather and lots of sunshine.

Canadian Geese

Hey down there – follow us!

And where could that be?

Welcome sign, Florida State

We’ve arrived at our winter destination – the sunshine state of Florida – where we’ll be wandering around for the next four months. This will be the first time we’ll stay in an RV park for a whole month.  Our plan is to slow down and move around this big state, beginning in eastern Florida near Orlando for December.  We’ll spend January with friends in Bonita Springs on the gulf coast.  In February we’ll stop for a week each in the Miami Everglades, Key West and Ft. Lauderdale.  Finally, in March we’ll head back west and cruise up along the panhandle.   At least that’s the plan at the moment, no telling if or how it might change along the way.

We spent Thanksgiving weekend at St. Augustine, which of course can be a crazy time to be anywhere.  With a cold snap lingering and the weather being crappy, we thought folks might just stay home to watch tv or something.  Wrong!  The shopping crowd was out in full force when we arrived at the historic downtown.  The cold and wind didn’t stop these crazy shoppers from enjoying the holiday spirit.  Oh wait, we were there – does that make us crazy too?

Downtown St Augustine

St. George Street , old St. Augustine

We joined the crowd, doing a little shopping and wandering around the old streets.  But only after filling our tummies for the first time with a delicious and authentic Cuban lunch and a glass of sangria.  Yum!

Since we were in an urban setting, I had to settle for people watching instead of bird watching, as we enjoyed our sangria.

St George St. Old St Augustine

Next we took our own walking tour of the “oldest city”.  The city of St. Augustine is the nation’s oldest permanently occupied European settlement, having been founded by the Spanish in 1565.  We didn’t delve too much into the city’s history, instead we chose to simply enjoy the feel of the history by strolling the narrow old-world streets.

Old City Gate, St Augustine

These gates were once the only entrance into St. Augustine.  They were built in 1808 as a line of defense, in conjunction with a wall that surrounded the city.

Alcazar Hotel ça 1888, Lightner Museum

Lightner Museum, formerly the Alcazar Hotel (ca 1888)

Even if history was not our center of interest this time, we couldn’t help but appreciate the rich heritage that makes St. Augustine a unique city.  Strolling along the narrow streets, we noticed that the street patterns and architectural ambiance reflected Spanish origins.

Aviles St, St Augustine

The oldest street in St. Augustine, Aviles Street

Historic Flagler College

Historic Flagler College, formerly the Hotel Ponce De Leon

Fuente de los Canos de San Francisco

A reproduction of Fuente de los Canos de San Francisco, created in City of Aviles, Spain

The following evening we headed back to the city, as St. Augustine was said to glow at night with holiday magic – from the ground to the rooftops.  The town boasted being selected by National Geographic in 2011 & 2012 as one of the ten best holiday lighting displays in the world.  The Nights of Lights features millions of tiny white and colored lights that create a magical atmosphere in the old city.

Night of Lights

Steve shows off his cool Holospex shades

Donning the Holospex glasses provided by Holly Jolly Tours, we saw the city sparkle to life as all of those lights were transformed by the glasses into snowflake shapes.  We have to say this was a pretty cool tour and a good way to get into the holiday spirit, as the trolley cruised around town blaring classic Christmas tunes for everyone on the streets to hear.

Night of Lights, St Augustine, FL

Regular lights sparkle and glitter like snowflakes when viewed through the Holospex glasses

We joined in the revelry, yelling Christmas greetings to passersby and singing Christmas carols as we toured around town – and we were sober!  We were glad the forecasted rain did not materialize to dampen our holiday spirit.  Hopping off the trolley tour, we were greeted by folks who served us hot apple cider and cookies – yum, again.  We continued walking on our own, admiring the millions of lights that transformed downtown St. Augustine into a holiday wonderland.

Night of Lights, Plaza de la Constitucion

Night at the Plaza de la Constitucion

We enjoyed a fun holiday stop at St. Augustine.  Now, back to our hideaway to live a quieter life with wildlife as our main entertainment.

Next up:  Lake Monroe, FL and a vacation from our vacation!

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