[photo: This lion statue at the beginning of the historic "Bridge of Lions" is one of many things that symbolize St Augustine to me ... and it's visible from our slip]For all the good times, and challenging times, and plain old *work* that the trip south entailed, we were just a bit wistful that it would soon be over. Even though it was only early afternoon, we anchored at a pretty spot called Pine Island, about 2 hours short of St Augustine, to enjoy our last night “out.” There were practical reasons for this delay; we knew that there could be quite a bit of current at the marina and wanted to enter at slack tide, and they weren’t expecting us until the next day (would there even be a slip available?), but mostly, it was a gentle, warm, sunny day and we weren’t quite ready to see the trip end. We watched the egrets fishing in the shallows, toasted our last sunset away from civilization, and saw the zillion stars come out. Next morning, as scheduled and without incident, we traveled downriver, through the last opening bridge, and into our new winter slip.
Civilization! Life jackets and sea boots and nautical charts were stowed away, out came walking shoes and wallets and other implements of land life. Coins and keys that had drifted to the bottom of lockers, alien and purposeless at sea, came back to top center. We were going to spend the winter at the municipal marina, St Augustine’s equivalent to Annapolis’ City Dock, right in the heart of the extremely walkable downtown of the oldest continuously-inhabited city in the U.S. There were multicultural influences from the early Spanish explorers and soldiers to the lavish excess of the Gilded Era and, I’m sure, others I had yet to learn about; and art and restaurants and nautical history and beaches to walk on and holiday festivals and who knew what else? I wanted to experience all of it. Right now and all at once, if possible. First, though, we remembered from our last visit that there was a wonderfulbrewpub directly across the street from the marina. It was time for a celebratory lunch -- we had arrived!