Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ancestral History!

On Valentine's Day my parents and I drove into St. Augustine proper and visited the St. Augustine Historical Society's research library, which just happens to be the childhood home of my great great grandfather. Boo yeah, history! On the right is the man in question, on the left the Dr. Alexander Darnes, the second African American doctor in the state of Florida and also the son of a slave/servant in the Kirby-Smith household. There has been speculation that they were actually brothers. But, as I've established in the last few posts, I don't really know the history of either of their lives enough to comment. This statue, commemorating their friendship (?) was made by another cousin of mine (one who I don't think I've ever met, actually...her parents, and their corgi dog, on the other hand, certainly figure into my childhood memories of Sewanee).

There were oranges in the garden, for god's sake. Oranges!
The obligatory photo by the sculpture. Pretty sure the photographs that my mother took with her camera, of my father and me being properly odd, would be a bit more entertainment.
The library itself seems to be quite the good resource for St. Augustine fanatics. My father, for example, spent two days (before my arrival) reading through archived letters on microfiche.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Is That An Alligator In Your Farm, Or Am I Just Crazy?

After lunch we drove towards St. Augustine and stopped at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park. This is the only place either in the U.S. or the world (it's like the fort information all over again) that has all 24 crocidilian species. And boy howdy do they ever...especially your standard alligator, they are everywhere. If you go to the concession stand for a snack, it's an alligator that will take your order and an alligator that will make your order. Everywhere I tell you.

We came in time for a feeding of the gators but they seemed, on the whole, pretty well stuffed. This gator just floated right in front of the woman speaking. She told us that it had lockjaw.

Okay, am I the only one that thinks this is hilarious..."Siamese crocodiles can be difficult to identify, looking exactly as you would expect a crocodile to appear".
In addition to gators and crocs there were birds and turtles and a smattering of monkeys and other reptiles.

So many alligators.

Migratory birds.
Spoonbill was pink, but not a flamingo!

For my mother this was a childhood dream come true. Having never made it to Florida as a child, she only had a vague notion of what the state was like as told to her by friends/cousins and one especially vivid Florida association was gator farms. While she has been to Florida before, this was my mother's first gator farm. I love writing gator farm.

Lunch c/o Oasis

Later on, after my beach walk, my parents and I went to the Oasis for lunch. I had a sweet tea that easily beat Chick-Fil-A's and was definitely some sweet tea goodness.
They had oysters from Apalachicola, but they did not have a very good shucker. Many of the lovelies were rather mangled.
I ordered their "world famous" fish filet sandwich. I chose to order it blackened. While it certainly was more interesting than a fast food fish sandwich and had some flavor to it, I don't really think the world needs to know about it. We shared the conch fritters and I came to terms with the fact that I do not like conch fritters.
The fries had a nice dusting of old bay seasoning that I appreciated.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Walk Two

My next day in Florida, a Friday I think, I took another walk along the beach. I came across this seagull and its finding of a fish. I took about nine million photographs of this but I figure you only need to see a bird and a dead fish once to get the basic idea. What was funny was this: every time I took a step forward, the bird would abandon the fish entirely and fly about thirty feet away, but if I stayed still it would go back to the fish. Maybe that's not that funny.
This is a pretty mussel shell with a nicely centered hole. I took it with me. I plan to (but probably never will) thoroughly clean it, shellac it and wear it as a necklace.

Spaghetti Sauce and Pasta

Dinner that first full day in Florida was my father's spaghetti sauce accompanying spaghetti. It was quite good.

A Litte Fort History Never Hurt Anybody

After lunch we went on over to take a look at Fort Matanzas. This meant a short boat ride across Matanzas River.

One man drove the boat, another tied the boat and the third, this guy, accompanied us to the Fort and made the appropriately lame but wholesome jokes one expects of a Park Ranger (how many of you have seen these canons go off? (no one raises their hand) how many of you would like to see these canons go off? (a smattering of hands are raised) well, come back next month at night and you'll get to see it, ha. ha. ha.) I was actually impressed by the youth of this here ranger, I also wondered what his salary was, whether he had health benefits, and what other responsibilities he might have other than making a 10 minute presentation on a lesser-known fort every hour on the hour from 9 til 3 (none at noon, actually). I did not ask him about any of this.

The fort had two floors and a roof. The first floor was for the enlisted men (five of them) while the second floor was for the two officers....or flip that, I can't quite recall. The purpose of the Fort was sort of an initial alarm system for St. Augustine. No canons were ever fired, or if they were they were done so for fun. Or something. Man, can you tell I am not an overly good history buff? Give me a novel and I'll get into it, give me a Park Ranger and I'll be wondering where he lives.

After our time at the fort, we took the 'nature walk' in the park. I hoped to see a gopher turtle, in fact I feel like I was promised a gopher turtle (there was a flier that said that they were all over the place...but it lied) but all I saw was a lizard or two...which was almost good enough.
I think this is a chameleon lizard.
Some animals didn't seem to get the whole 'no foot traffic' sign.

Warmth equals purple flower!
This I will call 'wood lizard' because it was in a hollowed out part of a tree and its skin kind of looked like bark...I think that's what they call camouflage.

Danger Danger

I have started to play this dangerous new game during my spare time. It's called: pick a pretty area you like and find houses you would want to live in.

For example: this house, or this house. Maybe something with a river theme? This one has a possibly promising porch. I don't know, though. I think I need to broaden my search to warmer locations.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Lunch c/o South Beach Grill

For lunch my first day in Florida (we were staying in Crescent Beach, near St. Augustine) we went to the South Beach Grill and sat outside. I had a budweiser, because that's what I do when I'm sitting outside at the beach.
I ordered the Minorcan conch chowder after my mother dissuaded me from trying the roasted corn and blue crab chowder. I did not like this very much, the pieces of conch were small and not overly flavorful, while the rest of the soup was too reminscent of a watery tomato sauce one might find accompanying mozzarella sticks (don't get me wrong, I love me some mozzarella sticks but still).
We shared a pound of shrimp that was quite good. Though the fake drawn butter was less than ideal.
We also ordered "clusters" of steamed oysters. Though the area is at a crossroads between fresh water and ocean water, the oysters that live nearby are less than trustworthy/large enough to be eaten raw (I was a little unclear if it was safety or size issue). But, for whatever reason, it's entirely fine to eat them once cooked. And that we did. It was fun, and tasty....minus the fake butter but plus the really, really fresh and tangy horseradish.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Thoughts And Creeps

So, I've been thinking about touching up my hair's color for the last few weeks, but I haven't actually gotten around to doing so. This delay is, in part, due to my wondering if I shouldn't got dark...leave the red behind and either go back to my moderate brown or....
Something a little darker (clearly my photoshop skills are not very good...please disregard the brown/black smudges on my eyes and lips) perhaps? Maybe not this dark? Thoughts? My thought is this: I would be a really good zombie, scared of the zombies around her.