Here we go with my second installment of our trip down south. This time it’s all about Ft. Pierce and St. Augustine, both located on the east coast of the Sunshine State.
We left Venice on March 1st and took the drive across the state to Ft. Pierce, where we stayed at a ‘new to us’ resort called Road Runner. Our friends who we met last year in Naples, pictured above, have stayed there many times for a couple of months at a clip so we thought it would be fun to check it out. Our stay was just for a week, but we made the most of it. The resort was quite nice, and it was the only one we’ve stayed in to-date that had an awesome restaurant on site. Everything was fabulous and probably contributed to my weight gain during our trip :(.
We never really considered Ft. Pierce as a serious contender to hang our hats, but we did take an informal look at a few places without a realtor while we were there. Prices are a bit lower, but the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ holds true here. Ft. Pierce has a nice little marina and beach area, but a good part of the town is a bit run down and could use some love. Although we didn’t see any hard evidence of it, we were told this area has a lot of gangs and drugs.
The beach near the downtown area was a great place to hang out on a nice day, and seeing fishermen clean their catch by the docks and watching the seagulls vying for their share is fun to watch.
Edited: oops…they’re pelicans!
One windy day we road our bikes a few miles north towards Vero Beach on A1A when I noticed it was difficult for me to pedal. I kept at it for a while, thinking it was the wind slowing me down. It wasn’t. I had a flat tire! Ugh! Fisherman went back to the car while I walked my bike for about a mile, found a bench and waited for his return.
Another day we drove to Vero Beach, which is a more upscale area than Ft. Pierce and quite nice. We were standing outside a realtors office looking at their listings when a realtor came out and started talking to us. We ended up going inside and he asked what we like and don’t like, and first on my list of dislikes are cookie cutter homes. He then showed us two homes that looked just like a million other homes in Florida, and proceeded to say ‘these are anything BUT cookie cutter’. I knew right then and there he probably doesn’t even know what cookie cutter means. You would think a realtor would, right?
One of the highlights of my week in Ft. Pierce was meeting one of my readers, Bev. We had a lovely time having lunch in a restaurant on the water, and she was full of great information about the area. She’s a snowbird, and in the summer she lives less than 2 hours from our place in Massachusetts in a one room school house she and her husband renovated.
We also took a drive to Jensen Beach, which is just south of Ft. Pierce. It has a very pretty downtown with lots of great restaurants and shops, and they’re always hosting street fairs where the artists display their wares and food and music is aplenty.
The week flew by, and before we knew it it was time to say goodbye to our friends and head to the oldest city in America, St. Augustine, for 10 days. We had been here for a couple of days two years ago for New Year’s Eve, but it was cold and rainy so other than some shopping and checking out the downtown area, we didn’t do much. This time was different. First up was a visit to the famous lighthouse, where we lucked upon a guide giving some history about the lighthouse, then we took the 219 steps to the top…
and we were rewarded with this view!
We also visited the Alligator Farm one day, and Anastasia State Park another, where we took a walk along the beautiful beach. Oh, and I have a story about that!
So…we decided to take a walk from the park to St. Andrews Pier, located about 1.5 miles away. We got there easily, had a nice lunch, and started walking back.
We were both thinking the same thing, but didn’t say it. Finally, Fisherman looked at me and said ‘this seems like we’re walking a lot longer than before’. He was right.
But we kept walking.
After all, we knew we couldn’t have missed the entrance back to the park, so eventually we’d get to it, right?
But we had missed it.
We ended up walking at least 2 hours and probably nearly 7 miles. We had no water, but thankfully it wasn’t very hot. Toward the end I really thought I was gonna drop dead! My ankle started to bother me, and it was just plain exhausting! What started out as a relaxing, beautiful day turned into the day from hell. But we lived to tell the tale, and here’s a photo of the culprit:
Now it’s time to talk about our house search, and our feelings overall about St. Augustine.
When we were driving down to Florida at the beginning of our trip, we met a couple who described St. Augustine as being, excuse my french, in the ‘shit squall’. They said its location is right smack in the middle of the fronts from the north and south, resulting in rainy, windy and cloudy weather. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but what I do know is there were some very chilly days while we were there and I would expect and hope that by March it would have been a little warmer.
Unlike Florida, St. Augustine doesn’t have a ton of gated communities, and the ones that we saw, while beautiful, were a bit remote.
The two main communities were World Gulf and Palencia . Both have tons of amenities and many pretty homes that don’t seem to be as cookie cutter as those you might find in Florida. Our realtor said they were 20 minutes from the beach, but that’s if there was absolutely no traffic and you’ve got the wind at your back ;). Not only that, they were at least 15 minutes from just about anything, not just the beach.
I didn’t take too many photos of the downtown area, but I found this site that has some lovely shots if you’d like to check it out.
We left St. Augustine with a neutral impression…hadn’t crossed it off our list just yet but we weren’t super enthusiastic about it either.
Here’s my list of Pros and Cons…
Historical city, with great restaurants and lots of cool shops
Located in St. John’s County, home of the highest rated schools in Florida
Good sense of community…after Hurricane Matthew, everyone pitched in and got the city back on track quickly
Many cottage style, charming homes reasonably priced
Fabulous Farmer’s Market every Saturday
Quick drive to Jacksonville or Daytona Beach
Felt somewhat ‘touristy’ to us
Gated communities were isolated
Weather not as nice as Venice, which has remained our fav so far
Although the homes were priced slightly lower than those in Venice, the differences are negligible
After thinking about it, we’ve crossed St. Augustine off our list!
Next up, last but not least, Hilton Head and Asheville!
I’ll leave you with a photo of the most adorable restaurant I’ve ever seen! Couldn’t you see yourself living there (and maybe the chef comes with)? Love the fence with the turquoise finials! Who knows, maybe I have one of those in my future ;).
In other news…
My favorite nursery is only opened 10 weeks out of the year, and I happened to stop by the first day they opened this week and shot some photos. I couldn’t buy anything because it’s a bit too soon for our area to have annuals outside, plus we’ll be away for a few days soon so I’ll wait until we return.
Drop dead gorgeous!
I’ve been doing some purging, room by room, and the upstairs is almost finished. I’ll start working on the downstairs this weekend.
I’m into full-blown domestic mode lately. I made a chocolate cake last weekend. It looks better than it tasted. The icing was way too sweet for my liking, but the cake itself was pretty good.
I’m considering making a beach bag (or two) with some leftover fabric I’ve had for ages, and I’ve got an ‘ice-bowl’ in the freezer right now. In case you don’t know, that’s a bowl within a bowl filled with ice and maybe flowers or citrus then frozen. Remove the inside bowl and voila! I’ll show you next time if it doesn’t explode in my face.
Every time I try to purge and I go through books or sewing supplies or whatever, I end up making stuff so I can make use of all my stuff and end up having more stuff.
Makes sense to me ;).