Historic Texture is Everywhere in St Augustine: March 24 2022
Phew – the just arrived engine exhaust hose gasket was put into place and attached…which means the coolant can be put back into the engine and out of the two buckets in the guest shower (3/4). Chris was below in the engine room while I was above in the kitchen…ladling coolant into a funnel and through a hose and into the engine. All of this completed just in the nick of time to pick up my Dad from the JAX airport for a one week visit. Two buckets of coolant in the shower would have been tricky to shower around (tee, hee, hee). The flight from LA was smooth and we immediately started catching up on the drive to Kingfish Grill for dinner. Welcome to Florida!
The next few days were a fun bit of exploring with my Dad and a couple of small boat projects…like testing the engine work from yesterday now that the gasket sealant had hardened. The engine was sparked up and no coolant leaks appeared – yippee! Off we went to see Dad’s friends, Mike and Candace, who have moved to Daytona Beach after being a fun foursome for years in LA (3/6). Margaritaville is a beehive of activity with homes at various stages of completion, golf carts outnumbering cars as the mode of transport and gym/pottery studio/pools/woodshop/pickle ball…you name it…all right onsite. The new house sits beside a nature preserve and it seems that the nature is still around…based on the cute footprints on the cement foundation. It is super exciting! Congrats!
Have we been at Rivers Edge Marina too long?! Maybe so based on the hornets’ nest being built on the top deck. Shoo, shoo and into the water with you. It was a lazy afternoon hanging out on the top deck followed by dinner al fresco at Caps on the Water (3/8). Our timing was unknowingly perfect because just as we stepped back aboard Barefeet the sky opened up with sheets and sheets of rain.
No visit to St Augustine would be complete without breakfast(s) at Les Petits Pleasures or a trip to Marine Oil (3/9). Can you smell the butter from that croissant photo?! We have full bellies and two more ball fenders ready to deploy in the locks further along the Great Loop route. Okay, have you ever heard of Buc-ee’s? Well, neither had we but we will not pass by ignorantly again. It’s a Texas based roadside gas station/country store with loads of snacks and treats…including Beaver Bites. Holy cow – these things are amazing. Kinda sweet and kinda salty corn puff goodness that flew out of the bowl for dessert (thanks Mike and Candace). Two days of rain kept us mostly inside. However, we managed to fill up the propane tank, had sundowners on the top deck, assembled fish tacos for dinner and introduced Dad to CHIVE TV. CHIVETV is a background atmosphere thing with video clips of stunning landscapes, jaw dropping successes and a few epic fails all over the world (https://atmosphere.tv/channels/chive-tv). We have had a great visit but plane check-in reminders have arrived and it is time for Dad to return to LA (3/11). Thanks for continuing to be on our Barefeet frequent flyer program, Dad.
Dad’s departure did not change up Mother Nature’s mojo. Sadly, if anything, Mother Nature simply got even feistier with a tornado warning, grey skies filled with rain and even a 32F morning. We stayed inside for projects such as test running the get-home engine, replacing the EPIRB batteries, changing out the house water filter and doing laundry (3/12). But the inside of the boat was getting pretty boring so out we went to walk around the historic colonial quarter as soon as conditions lightened up…but it was still pretty windy. A particularly charming neighborhood is the two block Minorcan area called Little San Felipe within a stones throw of the Castillo San Marcos Fort. Its charming look of today has less charming, even grim, roots that trace back to 1768 when a Scottish speculator brought indentured laborers from the Mediterranean to work his indigo plantation in New Smyrna in the hopes of capitalizing on European fashion markets. Of the Mediterranean laborers the Minorcans (from the island of Minorca off the coast of Spain) were the largest contingent which also included Greeks and Italians. Working the plantation involved brutal hardships with cruel overseers and endless health issues such as scurvy, malaria and gangrene. Eventually, 300 workers fled to British St Augustine in 1777 where they were granted land to settle (a distance of roughly 65 miles traveled by foot). Since these harsh beginnings the Minorcan community has become a vibrant and integral part of St Augustine.
Our new walking route has provided a new breakfast option for us – Schmagel’s Bagels. It is take out only but has a large, shaded garden for eating. Nice! Back aboard the windlass got some love as it was cleaned with acetone and a new gasket templated and attached (3/13). That led to re-installing the hawsehole now that the surface below has dried so that it could be gooped up with epoxy. What?! It was not supposed to rain today but here it is. Thank goodness it did not become more than a few sprinkles. Alright – the windlass was wrapped up so it is time to celebrate my birthday (3/14). We headed to The Floridian for dinner. It's a laid back, funky, Polynesian vibe with food and cocktails loaded with many flavors along a southern bent. Oh - it was delicious! Biscuits and pork belly app (us), meatloaf sandwich with pimento cheese (me) and meat and potatoes (Chris). Clearly, we were in a carnivore sort of mood. Back aboard Barefeet we had an Elderflower Old Fashioned night cap. Fellow boaters Sheela and Jimmy introduced us to it in Brunswick – thanks guys (recipe below). It was a festive night – cheers!
The days of rain finally wound down after a crescendo last night that kept us cruisers awake resulting in a groggy morning on the docks. Celebrating the sunshine with a new recipe led to venturing out again on foot. P.J’s Asian Supermarket was a gem! It was neat as a pin, had everything labeled in English on sticky notes (in addition to original labels) and had the Kalbi Korean marinade I needed for the Korean Beef B’Siniyah (recipe below). I quickly assembled the beef patties for our Korean burger night while Chris attacked the rusted and corroded engine mounts (3/16). He moved wires and coolant tubes from beside the mounts in order to wire brush, acetone and in all ways de-grunge them before priming the mounts with two coats of epoxy ahead of painting. Kneepads, nitrile gloves and face respirator were a must as Chris twisted like a pretzel into each nook and cranny. It was a successful and delicious day.
The windlass was wired up before we strolled into town on St Patrick’s Day. There are fun, interesting, kind people everywhere. It was a hoot! Flagler College dominates the downtown with its centerpiece the former Ponce de Leon Hotel (built in 1888). Tours are given twice per day and both the building and the college are fascinating. The Spanish Renaissance styled Hotel had electricity four years before the White House (generators installed by none other than Thomas Edison himself), glittering crystal chandeliers and loads of Tiffany windows. Flagler College began in 1968 with tremendous backing by Flagler descendant Lawrence Lewis Jr. whose family still supports endowments and construction projects to this day. Back aboard Barefeet the anchor locker was emptied and completely cleaned as well as the final bolt tightening on the windlass on the deck (3/18). Erin folded and squirmed into the tiny locker space to get out all the mud and shells. Yippee – we are ready for our next set of adventures! The day wrapped up with sundowners on the top deck with neighbors Gus and Bruno…and a wild passing storm for some wind and lightening entertainment.
A string of sunny days had us outside washing the boat, at Georgie’s Diner for breakfast, walking our route that (mostly) avoids tourists and continuing with smaller boat projects. We can see our departure to move north in sight and will continue our bit-of-work and bit-of-fun pace. A walk home at dusk was especially pleasant after a Duke March Madness win (3/20). Go Blue Devils! With the engine mount paint dry Chris snugged back up the hoses and cables with wire ties. We sparked up the engine and she purrs like a kitten – check (3/21).
The previously described tragic New Smyrna plantation included Greeks who also fled to St Augustine for refuge. And like the Minorcans they also went on to become a vibrant part of St Augustine’s community. In memory of those pioneers and in honor of all immigrants seeking a better life for themselves and their children the Saint Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine was built. It is the first national shrine of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in America. As we visited the shrine we were humbled and inspired (3/22). There is no shortage of grit and passion in the world.
Keeping our eye on weather shows another cold front headed our way. With that in mind we worked fast to wrap up errands before we would hunker down for the rain and storm to pass. We filled the larder (including 2lbs of pulled pork, separated and into the freezer, from Mojo BBQ) and a final bike out to the Fountain of Youth before the bikes were stowed away for departure. The trip was specifically for the peacocks. Why, do you ask? Well, because I just read Why Peacocks: An Unlikely Search for Meaning in the World's Most Magnificent Bird by Sean Flynn. It is quirky and written with a good sense of humor...reminding me a lot of Bill Bryson. And at the nearby Fountain of Youth there are many peacocks so I rode over there explicitly to photograph the peacocks (3/22). I got lucky and a couple of the fully plumaged (ha, ha - spell check does not like that word) males were totally nonplussed about me and my camera so I got to take a lot of photos. They really are magnificent birds! Bikes were folded, batteries removed and covers cinched tight. Off we went for dinner to Casa Reina Taqueria and Tequila. Wow – it was awesome! The two-story building pays homage to its 120-year old landmark home heritage. It was brought back to life by partners of neighboring Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grill and they did an amazing job. The restored building is like a tropical jewelry box with food that is off the charts…especially the rellenos with batter light as tempura but fluffy thanks to tequila. St Augustine has history and texture everywhere – we love it.
As for our schedule - we will wait for this front to pass before we toss the lines and move along back north in the next several days to kick off our Great Loop trip.
Elderflower Old Fashioned
0.5oz St. Germain Elderflower liqueur
2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
Luxardo Maraschino cherry
Large ice cube
Stir not shaken. Makes one cocktail.
Korean Beef B’Siniyah (4 servings) Danielle Oron of iwillnoteatoysters.com
1 1/3 lb ground beef chuck
1 yellow onion, grated
½ cup Korean kalbi marinade
1 – 1 ½ cups tahini (depends on the size of your baking
dish or pan)
½ – ¾ cup water
3-4 tbsp toasted pine nuts
toasted sesame seeds
Korean chili flakes (gochugaru)
Combine the ground beef, grated yellow onion, kalbi marinade, and a few pinches of salt. Cover with plastic wrap and set in the fridge for at least 1 hour. (Can be left to marinate anywhere up to 24 hours).
Whisk together the tahini, water, and a pinch of salt until smooth. The consistency should be a thick pancake batter. Set aside.
Pre-heat oven to 450˚F and heat a grill or grill pan on high heat.
Make 14 patties from the beef mixture (about ¼ to 1/3 cup per patty). Season patties with salt and black pepper and grill for 2 minutes/side until nicely charred. Transfer patties to an oven-proof pan or baking dish leaving some room between them. Spoon the tahini into the pan/dish around the patties leaving the top half of the patties exposed. Bake for 5-6 minutes until the tahini is warmed through and slightly bubbly.
Remove from the oven and garnish with toasted pine nuts, sesame seeds, and Korean chili flakes or paprika. You can eat this as is or mash it into a fluffy warm pita. Enjoy!