St. Augustine Nights of Lights Christmas

Celebrating 450 years of awesome!
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My daughter and her family made Christmas plans to travel to different states. That gave Tom and me an opportunity to plan a last-minute trip to St. Augustine Florida.

This is one of my favorite places. I just love the historical downtown area and how quaint it is. I am thrilled by the myriad of trendy, cool bazar style stores and all of the wonderful art.  Goodness the eateries just drive me crazy.

Old Town St. Augustine is a small walkable community. Lucky for us our favorite Bed and Breakfast was able to accommodate our last-minute reservation. In fact we got a prime dual occupancy room and booked only two weeks ahead. That is absolutely never possible but as luck would have it, helped of course by my strong mental power of intention, someone cancelled! Yay!  The name of our guest house is The Southern Wind Inn.

It is located on Cordova Street just about 3 blocks from Hypolita Street. You turn left on Hypolita St. and a few blocks up on the corner of Hypolita and St. George Street is the Columbia Restaurant.

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St. George street is dotted with eye catching shops, ice cream parlors and chocolatiers, clothing boutiques and small art galleries.  Here are few cool finds I discovered at the Earthbound store:

The smells coming from the Columbia Restaurant and the chocolate shops are beyond wonderful. I just do not even try to resist them. I merely submit myself and indulge my appetite and senses. Add to this the aroma of coffee brewing from the coffee houses scattered about the streets. Oh my! The Nights of Lights festivities were delightful … everywhere the city was lit up!

This is not all that is great about St. Augustine. There is the Lightner Museum, Flagler College (which is undergoing a huge renovation and expansion) the Fort of San Marcos and the memorial Presbyterian church that Henry Flagler had built to memorialize his beloved daughter. It became the  family mausoleum.  We didn’t do these on this trip. We’re saving those for our next visit.

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Arrghhhh Captain Anderson

There is also all the outlandish touristy stuff like the “Pirate museum”, and “Ripley’s believe it or not” and the usual tour trolley and horse and carriage rides. For the religiosity there are several churches and at least one shrine to explore. For the non religious there are many naturalist shops selling oils and other items that appeal to pagan minded folks.

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I just dream of buying a second house, maybe a guest house, here in the historic district and having my grand daughters study art and filmmaking at Flagler College.

DSC_9869 Anastasia Island is across the bridge of lions. On each visit I make it my personal physical challenge to walk up the 219 steps to the top of the tower, take pictures, then, walk down the 219 steps back to the ground.

I can go on and on about this little town. It has a certain sweet charm  that appeals to me. I adore the vintage urban feel of the city.  Visitors come from everywhere and multiple languages can be heard from the abundance of conversations streaming on the streets, in restaurants and local shops.  Everywhere a feeling of excitement seems to fill the air as people engage in exploring and connecting with local merchants. Walkable communities seem to bring that out in people. Perhaps it is the act of walking that engages the mind  with possibility as well as the recognition that we are more alike than different.  Everyone was out enjoying the Nights of Lights.

Christmas Day ended with me reminding my grand daughters that it is good etiquette to call their old grand parents on special holidays to let them know they were thinking of them.  As usual, they texted me but did not call, although, Ella texted me to say she was calling me but my phone was not ringing. I guess it is the thought that counts.

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From my iPhone on the upstairs front porch of our guest house.

Anyway, Christmas Day ended nicely, presently I am typing this blog to the sound of fabulous music coming from one of the hot night spots across the parking lot. Occasionally the tour trolley drives past our guest house on the street below and all the celebrants yell out “Merry Christmas” and break out into caroling. I must say I love all the festivities! I feel alive!!  I love that I can enjoy celebrating the holiday without getting involved in the religious mythologies associated with it.

Just before turning in for the night, I was out on the upstairs porch, shooting the Long Nights Moon. It’s called that because it falls closest to the winter solstice which is the longest night of the year.

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That’s one of the names for this Christmas Day full moon, but it’s also known as the “Cold Moon” because it falls in December and other than places like Florida, it’s typically quite cold in December!

The Cold Moon
The Cold Moon

This is yet another opportune time to purge old negative habits, people and things, and prepare for new adventures in the coming new year. Full moons seem to bring out the most interesting characters and this full moon was no exception.

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Shot with my Nikon DF 24-300 mm lens with extender. From the upstairs porch the guest house I was staying at. Shot on Christmas Night Dec. 25, 2015

In Native American cultures which tracked the calendar by the Moons, December’s Full Moon was known as the Full Cold Moon. It is the month when the winter cold fastens its grip and the nights become long and dark. This full Moon is also called the Long Nights Moon by some Native American tribes because it’s near the winter solstice—the night with the least amount of daylight.

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Tomorrow we return home and say good-bye to St. Augustine until Spring. Tonight we’re off to celebrate another Night of Lights Festivities and hunt for dinner. From my iPhone:

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Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are images from Tom’s Camera. Quite Dramatc!

Finally we were ready to head home but not before we stopped for breakfast at the Maple Street restaurant, which is just up the street from our guest house.

Maple Street Breakfast!
Maple Street Breakfast!

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Yes! It was that good!

 

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