Winter in Florida – Month 4 (March 2022)

On Tuesday, March 1st, we left our RV behind and traveled to St. Augustine for two days.  Upon our arrival, we went to Aunt Kate’s Restaurant at the River and enjoyed the lovely weather while dining on the patio overlooking the Tolomato River.  After lunch, we checked out Castle Ottis, a majestic stone castle built in 1984 as an expression of artistic and spiritual devotion. 

After checking into our hotel, we headed out to explore the St. Augustine Historic Preservation District.  We first visited the Castillo de San Marcos.  This fort, built in 1672 to guard the harbor entrance to St. Augustine, is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States.  Unfortunately, we arrived at closing time so we could only explore the outside.  We then strolled along St. George Street, a pedestrian-only street lined with restaurants, shops, attractions and lots of historic buildings.  We stopped for a drink and listened to live music at the Mill Top Tavern.

On Wednesday, we returned to the historic district.  We visited the Old Jail and Fountain of Youth but opted not to pay for admission.  We ate breakfast at Nero’s Waterfront Café and enjoyed our outside table.  We then went for a long walk that took us past numerous historic buildings and residences, including Florida’s oldest house and the oldest wooden schoolhouse in the U.S. 

We walked through the Cathedral of St. Augustine and the campus of Flagler College.  The largest building on the Flagler College campus was formerly the very ornate Ponce de Leon Hotel, built by Henry Flagler in 1885 as the flagship of the Flagler hotel system.  We then did a tour and wine tasting at the San Sebastian Winery.  Our walk back to the parking garage took us through St. George Street again.

On Saturday, we spent the afternoon at the Petersons’ site.  In addition to Dave and Jo, we were joined by the Rykals, Ehlenfeldts, Laurie Tamas, and two friends of the Rykals, Ken and Val.  We had lots of delicious food. Jan brought strawberry shortcake, using some of the strawberries we had purchased at the Strawberry Festival.

On Thursday, March 10th, we rode with the Petersons to Eaton Beach in Weirsdale, FL.  It started to rain as we drove there and, by the time we arrived, it had become a thunderstorm with torrential rainfall.  Although this kept us from sitting outdoors, we were able to get a table on the patio with a view of Weir Lake.  Fortunately, the rain had stopped by the time we were ready to leave.

On Saturday afternoon, we returned to Weirsdale and attended a Lee Greenwood concert at the Orange Blossom Opry.  This 500-seat venue was sold out for both our show and the evening show.  The house band, who were very talented, performed the first set.  Then, Lee Greenwood took the stage and performed many of his songs from his 40-year career.  We weren’t familiar with much of his earlier work but, as expected, we joined the entire audience on our feet when he ended the show with his mega-hit, “God Bless the USA.”

On Sunday, we got back from grocery shopping in time to catch the second set by Bill Forness, who performs a tribute to Johnny Cash.  The clubhouse was packed for the show, but we managed to find seats with the Petersons and their neighbors.

On Monday, while Jan got her hair cut in The Villages, Phil attended “Todd Bogue’s Ridiculous Comedy & Magic Show” in the clubhouse.  Todd Bogue is a very talented magician and amusing comedian.  He used many participants from the audience in his show, but Phil was fortunate to avoid being selected.

On Tuesday, Donna Ditges, a friend from Jan’s hometown, and her husband, John, arrived from their home in Orlando for three nights at Oak Alley RV Resort.  We spent several hours on Tuesday chatting with Donna and John.  Then, on Wednesday, they returned to play a couple of games of Farkle.

On Tuesday, March 22nd, Jan drove Roxi, Beth and Laurie to Mt. Dora, FL.  They spent several hours exploring the shops and having lunch.

We had ordered tickets to a Beatles Live concert at Whispering Oaks Winery for Thursday, March 24th.  Unfortunately, the concert was postponed due to heavy storms.  Since we weren’t going to be around for the rescheduled date, Jan negotiated for us to get three bottles of wine in exchange for the nonrefundable tickets.

On Saturday, Jan left for a four-night get-together with her cousin, Lori Davis.  She drove to the Jacksonville airport to meet Lori, then continued on to Hilton Head Island, SC.  On Sunday, Jan and Lori drove back to Savannah and met Lori’s daughter, Emily, who was spending a few days there with a friend.  After spending the day in Savannah, Jan and Lori returned to Hilton Head Island and Emily joined them for the night.  The three ladies spent Monday on the beach and, on Tuesday, Jan and Lori visited a local spa for massages and facials.  On Wednesday, Jan drove Lori to the Savannah – Hilton Head airport and then continued home to Oak Alley RV Resort.

The day after Jan left town, Phil discovered that our truck wouldn’t start.  On Monday, he called a towing and truck repair service located a mile from the campground.  It took several hours for the tow truck to arrive.  Fortunately, the operator was able to get the truck started using a battery pack.  That wasn’t too surprising, given that the two batteries were original equipment and, thus, seven years old.  Rather than have the operator load our one-ton RAM onto his flatbed, Phil mounted his bike on the back of the RAM and followed the tow truck back to the garage.  He then rode his bike back to the campground and arrived in time for the last 8 of 12 games of Bingo (unfortunately, no winners!).  The truck was ready on Tuesday morning so he rode his bike back to the garage to get it.

A big “End of Season” party was held on Thursday, March 31st.  The poolside party was scheduled from noon until 4 pm, although some partying continued well beyond 4 pm.  The campground owner splurged for free food and drinks (a beer truck and sodas).  Tim Haggis, who had performed earlier in the season, provided the musical entertainment.  There were raffles for quite a few items but, unfortunately, we didn’t win anything.  Phil participated in a short pickleball tournament, consisting of three games.  He was one of three winners, having won all three of his games.