Down by the Sea

Vacation. It’s a lovely word, really. And what better vacation is there than a few days with amazing friends in an amazing resort relaxing under Florida’s ever-changing October sky? Our friends and foodie soul mates, Doug and Diane, having made a generous charitable contribution, were in turn given the keys to a small kingdom for a few days of paradise. And they invited us and another lovely set of friends, Mike and Heidi, along for the ride. How lucky are we?

View at Hammock Beach Resort

My, but it was a beautiful place, too, located on Hammock Beach—a three-bedroom mini-palace decorated in hushed earth tones with a striking marble entry, Viking appliances and opulent linens. We spent hours walking on the pristine beach, cooking fresh seafood and drinking wine. Paradise, indeed. Now, the resort is located just a few miles south of St. Augustine–which according to the locals–is the true unsung birthplace of European settlement in North America. Who knew?

St. Augustine, Florida

One evening, about a week before Halloween, we decided to make the trek up to St. Augustine for an evening of tourism-style ghost hunting. And so, anticipating the journey, the six of us piled into our friends’ rented Crown Victoria–a massive, formidable ghost-busting vehicle if ever there was one. Upon our arrival, we met our tour guide for the evening: affable Alice, outfitted in black boots, a flowing-fringed cape and possessing paranormal-activity-locating paraphernalia. And of course, we had our cameras ready, too.

Huguenot Cemetery in St. Augustine

For about two-and-a-half hours, Alice guided us through the city gates, down cobblestone streets and into tiny alleyways where the folklore of yesterday’s mischief and mayhem still live today. And we frequented several pubs along the way. Of course.

Alice encouraged us to take pictures and study them later for aberrational images. Hmm. See the one photo below I took in the upstairs of a 17th century pub where the then-owner, “Annie,” apparently plunged down the stairs to her death.

Aura above the left arm of the chair? You decide.

This photo shows an aura or something that looks like a pillow on the left arm of the chair, although there was nothing in the chair. Who knows? But we had a great time talking with Alice and each other and visiting the history of this lovely little sea-side city to which we hope to return someday.

St. Augustine Beach