A Travellerspoint blog

Day 1: Jim & Mark's Awesome Endless Summer Adventure Begins

Well, we've been told to make it sound good!

sunny 85 °F
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The Awesome Endless Summer Tour Begins

The Awesome Endless Summer Tour Begins

"Thus the adventure begins...", or at least that's the way we are expected to begin this blog according to one intrepid fan (read: Jim's mom when she replied to a simple email and admonished us that she expected more). Well no more of droll introductions. Wink, wink Nancy!

In fact, we had a great start to our adventure. Weather was perfect, and highways were relatively clear. We decided to make our landing in St. Augustine, FL via the beach, just like the Spanish Conquistadors. OK, maybe not just like them, since we had a sports car with 5 Internet connected devices on board. We commented several times today that "My, how times have changed", just like our great-grandmas may have, except instead of commenting on the changes in corsets and carriages, we commented on how interconnected we were. Truly amazing when you put things into historical perspective.

And historical perspective is exactly what you get when you arrive in St. Augustine, FL -- America's oldest city. Three words: charming, charming, charming. With a bit of tourista thrown in. Since we tend to rely on TripAdvisor, we did a little pre-arrival reconnaissance, and found an introductory tour most appropriate. "Gold Tours" we're hosted by a verbose English barrister on-board an extended golf cart, allowing for an interesting (albeit a bit too in depth) tour of the historical section of the city. But before climbing aboard that tour, we discovered a wonderful quaint little restaurant called, The Floridian. While the ambiance was "old Florida", and more lunch-like, the food was absolutely delicious in a low-country Southern Comfort kind of way -- cornbread; shrimp &grits; FGT (Fried Green Tomatoes) Hoagie; sweet, spicy & boozy (their words) BBQ pork sandwich; etc, etc. De-lish! We're actually thinking of re-routing our return trip just to get back to this place! I'm salivating just writing this! An interesting side note of this place is the separate dining area and bar. Since the restaurant is within 100 ft. of a church, they cannot serve alcohol, so you have to go to the back of the restaurant (about 20 ft.) to order your drinks. They are 2 separate businesses, but all within the same building. You gotta love the logic in that!

Flagler College - Originally Henry Flagler's first hotel in St. Augustine

Flagler College - Originally Henry Flagler's first hotel in St. Augustine

On to the golf cart tour. OK, it actually holds 8 people. This was rated as the top tour in St. Aug. But after taking it, we find it hard to concur. While the British gentleman is certainly friendly and extremely knowledgable, he is a bit opinionated and the tour is a bit disjointed and hard to follow. Nevertheless, it is informative (if a bit too much) -- thank god there isn't a test afterwards on who invaded when and how many times, and did we really need to see Amerrica's largest indoor pool, which is now a rather derelict antique row? But considering we only have one day, it was a good overview of the old city. Along with a few recommendations for drinks and dinner, it was a good tour. A solid B+.

St. Augustine City Hall

St. Augustine City Hall

On a quaint street in St. Augustine

On a quaint street in St. Augustine

That left us with a walking tour of the old town, stopping by for a gourmet popsicle at The Hippo (#1 rated restaurant in St. Aug. - go figure), and enjoying the old architecture. We found an interesting place for dinner. And that is next on the agenda. Cheers!

Well, turns out dinner at Cellar 6 was just OK. Great atmosphere, but we were a little late for the live music. The food (Ahi Tuna over Calamari salad and Margherita Flatbread) was pretty good, but a little "over done" in terms of too many flavors at once. Sometimes simpler is better. A nice walk to our hotel, the Hilton Bayfront, ended our evening in St. Aug. Tomorrow is probably the longest drive of our trip, to Virginia Beach, VA, so time for some shut-eye.

Posted by jim-n-mark 07:25 Archived in USA Tagged st. augustine fl Comments (2)

Less than a week to go......

Doesn't seem real yet.

Can't wait to get on the road. We are in final stages of planning our trip. Pretty much a schedule to keep until we reach Boston. From there we just point the car North and start wandering. No schedule until we leave for Spain. We hit the best spots in New England jump to Canada and the Thousand Islands and start heading south from Niagara Falls. We hope to have a week or more back in Florida before heading to Europe. The Mediterranean in August should be interesting - probably crowded as that is peak "holiday" for Europeans. Looking forward to seeing what the boating scene is there. There will be lots of culture no doubt but the highlight for me will be the Lamborghini and Ferrari tours. When September rolls around I imagine I will slip into deep depression. Stay tuned.

Jim

Posted by jim-n-mark 06:39 Comments (0)

An Intro To Our Adventure

How we got to the beginning.

overcast 80 °F
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Sometimes you have to start before the beginning. In our case it started with Jim throwing caution to the wind and having the cojones to proclaim to his boss that he wanted a break. Some have said that took guts. Some say Jim is crazy. Almost all are sympathetic and even envious that he was able to raise his hand and say he needed a change. At least we know it's not forever. But with a span of a 10 week sabbatical, what were we going to do to have an epic and unforgettable adventure?

We started with the idea that we would take an amazing road trip around the country -- from Florida to New England, across to Chicago, Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone and Seattle; from Vancouver down Pacific Hwy 1 to Napa, San Fran & Hollywood; from Death Valley to the Grand Canyon and the Utah Canyonlands, on to the Colorado Rockies; then yee-haw to San Antonio & Austin, Texas; a swing down Bourbon Street in New Orleans, and a peaceful walk along the beach in the Florida Panhandle before heading back home to good ole' St. Pete. About 13,000 miles total. In a 2 door sports car. In 60 days. What were we thinking?!?!?

At first we said, let's just wing it, not make any plans and just go. But me being me makes that absolutely impossible, so I figured let me map it out and see if it is even possible. Turns out, it is absolutely possible in that time frame. If you want to be on the road 2 out of every three days. Instead of being a relaxing vacation to get away from stress, it was turning into an adventure challenge a la The Amazing Race. Can we do it? Can we make it? Quick, stop, get out of the car and take a picture, we gotta MOVE!!! NOT what we wanted after all.

So, back to the drawing board. We knew we had a commitment for a wedding in The Hamptons in July, so a trip to the East Coast was a must. So we decided, let's just head up there, do the wedding thing, meet up with some family in New England, and see how far we get until we are sick and tired of folding and unfolding ourselves in and out of the car.

After a bit of thought though, we decided that's not EPIC enough. We need to do something MORE. Earlier in the year (before Jim stepped away from his position), we had considered a trip to Europe, but with airfares starting around $1500 pp, it was just too much for a 10-day or so trip, which is probably the most he would have been able to take. But now we had time! And a quick check of airfares showed that prices were coming down -- less than a $1000 pp. For a three week trip, Europe is starting to look really good again.

So that is how we got to our plan. Here is quick run-down of planned stops:

First leg: Road Trip in the Eastern USA: July 2 - July 27
St. Petersburg, FL
St. Augustine, FL
Virginia Beach, VA
Rehoboth Beach, DE
Westhampton, NY
Montauk, NY
Newport, RI
Martha's Vineyard, MA
Boston, MA
Camden, ME - Bar Harbor, ME
Mt. Washington, NH
Queechee, VT
Burlington, VT
Montreal, Quebec
Thousand Islands, NY
Niagara Falls, NY
Shenandoah Valley, VA
Asheville, NC (or Charleston, SC)
St. Petersburg, FL

Second leg: European Med by Eurail: August 6 - August 28
St. Petersburg, FL
Barcelona, Spain
Marseilles, France
Cote d'Azur - Cannes, FR; Nice, FR; Monte Carlo, Monaco; Ventimiglia, Italy
Venice, Italy
Modena, Italy (Ferrari & Lamborghini !!!)
Florence, Italy
Rome, Italy
Pisa, Italy
Le Cinque Terre, Italy
Barcelona, Spain
Sitges, Spain
St. Petersburg, FL

Home-again-Home-again-jiggity-jog!

So we are very pleased that you are interested in joining us, even if it is virtually, on our excellent summer adventure. Stay tuned as we START IT UP!!!

Posted by jim-n-mark 08:38 Archived in USA Tagged usa america road trip europe mediterranean med Comments (0)

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