We left West Palm and drove across the peninsula to Lauren’s home in St Pete. We chilled with her brother Johnny, discussed world travels with her mom, visited the Dali museum, played board games in cafes, waited too long for raw vegan food, watched the sunset on the beach, wasted money on arcade games on the boardwalk, and generally had a great time. We spent one evening at the Blueberry Patch, a post hippie haven going strong since 7/7/77. Despite the trenchant advice to “never follow a hippie to a second location”, we all made it out alive and no one’s mind was permanently altered. I saved my membership card for future visits.
Then we packed up the car one last time, driving north to Covington, the airport, and home. It was a great trip, and we’ll have to work hard to top it next year.
PS: 1/5/09 I haven’t gotten the photos yet from Ruth, but will insert them soon. Until then, dear reader, you will have to use your imagination.
We left St Augustine for the Steele residence in West Palm Beach. They were excellent hosts, dragging us behind their boat for kneeboarding, taking us kayaking among alligators, let us drive their vintage Mustang around, keeping us well hydrated with beer, and letting us launch fireworks in their country club. We found a secluded sand trap and rang in the new year under the stars.
Our last day in Savannah, we tried to eat at the famous Paula Dean Lady and Sons restaurant, but the line was insurmountable; apparently you need to show up at 8am for a noon seating. Whatever, I’ll just eat dinner at her home on Sea Island next year. Get working on that, Hannah.
Before leaving town, we stopped by the Mikvah Israel Synagogue, which is the third oldest in the country, and the only gothic Jewish building I’ve ever seen. It being Sunday, the place was locked, but a fellow tourist had called the rabbi to come down and show us around. He with arrived with a “Shalom Y’all” and a Hawaiian shirt, kvetching that we had removed him from his hot tub. Still, he gave us a tour, and was quite proud of their history and collected artifacts, although it went on a little long for my shiksa.
We hoped to find cheap fireworks in South Carolina, and were not disappointed. There was an eponymous shack mere feet from the border, and we bought as many as our wallets and conscience would allow. Then back into the car towards Florida, stopping in Jacksonville for an iPhone. Ruth made me drive the rest of the way, while she played with her new toy.
At Janet and Lou’s beach condo, we began construction of a monument to our lasting glory. Ruth wanted an art deco skyscraper, but it’s hard to make vertical walls without internal support. We compromised on the best one can do with sand, a pyramid. We made a full a Gizan complex, complete with Sphinx and Queens’ tombs.
Had dinner at Hurricane Pattie’s, which like all hidden seafood gems is tucked away by a marina. Their happy hour specials, actually from 3 to 7, include cheap oysters, excellent cajun grouper, and tasty fried shrimp. Ruth was attacked by a giant crawfish, and I posed with my pirate alter ego.
After saying goodbye to family, we went back to the airport for a car rental. Ruth managed to get Avis to waive the under-25 fee because of her corporate affiliation, but I’m still angry that this ageism is still around. I own a car, have a (sort of) real job, but they want to charge me $25 a day over the regular cost to drive some compact car? Bullshit.
Got on the road after making our getaway, and then on to Savannah. Stopped in Vidalia for some onions, but they are out of season. Pork rinds and moon pies were a good substitute.
Savanah is beautiful, filled with tree lined squares, which apparently make it easier to subdue a colonial city. I love traveling with an urban planner. We walked along the river, where we had some mediocre oysters at one place, followed by an amazing experience at Bayou Cafe. The first floor was filled with a crowd listening to the blues stylings of Brett (apparently the least black name for a blues player, but that dude could play). Fried catfish, a pound of crawfish, several Sweetwater 420 and Jack and Cokes later, my pool game was still worse than Ruth’s. But she did let me win at darts and take her home.
The next day we took a scenic trolley ride around the city, getting a better lay of the land. Gorged ourselves at the Fiddler Crab, where we ate as many $6-dozen Appalachicola oysters and pounds of crawfish as we could handle. Drunk on seafood, we wandered back to our hotel for an afternoon nap. We found a Victorian ghost tour, complete with properly attired undertaker and foggy night.
I spent Christmas Eve in Atlanta, going for walks with Shush and Janet, and helping Ijah and Kendra decorate the tree. Then back to Covington for celebrations with the Millers. I had a beautiful Hannukah stocking, and instigated the first menorah lighting in Covington in years.
I was introduced to a whole host of new traditions, all of which involved eating something delcious. First pastries and Pretty Pretty Princess at the Laseter’s, where I was crowned the winner, beating both a ten year old girl and a former stripper. Then a fabulous brunch at Linda’s, where the quiche and eggnog flowed freely. Then back to Atlanta for Powell christmas and Ashton’s brined turkey, which was softer and than I could have imagined. We connected with Dwight over Facebook, and drove with him to the Loganville Waffle House, equidistant between Atlanta and Athens. I was goaded into ordering the all star, which I finished sans toast. A late drive around Atlanta didn’t reveal another bar open at 2am, so we retired with dreams of sugar plums dancing in our heads.