Distilleries, Wineries and Breweries and some History too
Mar 17, 2018
|Another long one, if you want to just look at the pictures here's the synopsis: some cold weather (even frost), baseball, beach with friends, St Augustine FL, Savannah GA, history, distilleries, breweries and wineries, more golf and activities at the park, finally getting warm again. Otherwise, read on and enjoy!
Our wonderful and different winter in Florida, and our time in Paradise, is slowly coming to an end. In one week we will head out and start our way back home. The weather back home is still snow and freezing, and just so those back north don't think we've had it so good, the past week we've had our share of frost in the morning... okay, yes it did quickly get up into the 70's by noon and this coming weekend we will be golfing in the 80's again, but we did have a week of 60's... It is very upsetting to wake up, open the front windows and see the cars all covered in white frost... still, we are camped in Florida, about half way down the state. The northern part of Florida had some snow back in January while the southern part was sunny and warm the whole time. And we are parked in between, about even with Orlando towards the Gulf side, which tends to be a bit dryer. Now we could have gone another 100 miles south to RV parks there, but the price would have doubled and lets face it, there is a limit to how much hot weather one can take... right? Mother Nature needs to get better weather at home!
The RV park we are in has full time activity directors, so there are lots of things going on to the point where you cannot do them all. Last week they had organized a bit of a talent show called 'The Follies'. Hmmmm, watching 70 and 80 yr olds dancing on the stage, doing skits with the crowd hooting and laughing sure may have seemed silly but it was very relaxed. One elderly fellow did a standup comedy routine which had jokes from all generations and even though you could see the punchlines coming a mile away, the crowd still laughed so hard I think many peed themselves.
We felt we needed to hit a Spring Training baseball game, being in the state where 12 teams come! We chose to go to Lakeland, the closest and it is home of the Detroit Tigers. Michelle's dad was a huge baseball and Tiger's fan and they were playing the Blue Jays so she was happy, she could cheer for both teams!
Friends of ours, from Kenmore, were in Orlando on a family get together, so we co-ordinated schedules and spent the day on the Gulf beach, in the hot sun at Indian Rocks (just outside of Clearwater). A wonderful sandy beach with parking and washrooms close by. While the ladies walked the beach, Mike and Darrell played guitar and when it got too hot we all ventured into water to cool off. Dinner was at Caddy's On The Beach, live music, no walls, and the surf crashing only yards away, making for a perfect beach ambiance. We people watched and from our table by the sand saw the sun slowly setting.
We went on another 3 day bus tour, this time to St Augustine, Florida and Savannah, Georgia. Both places we took the trolley tours to get guided insight into the histories and a lay of the land. St Augustine is the oldest city in the USA and has serious Spanish colonial architecture, very scenic and pretty. But before the trolley tour ended it's loop in St Augustine we got off the bus and found our way into a Distillery tour... very very interesting, especially the end part where you get to taste.. over and over the various spirits. From that distillery, it just so happened to be just a walk around the block to a Winery which was just about to start a tour... very very interesting, especially the end part where you get to taste... over and over... the various wines they produce. We spent a long time learning the Five 'S's of tasting wine and how the mouth and tongue change as you drink the same wine. Then from the winery it was again another walk around the block to a chocolate factory, but we just missed the the last daily tour... darn... one too many glasses of wine or did we even walk the right way around the block? We will never know.
So lessons learned about St Augustine: Very old, very pretty, lots of places to drink and is definitely somewhere we will have to go back to and spend many more days visiting.
Savannah was another great town to visit and we again took the local tour trolley to get an idea of what was where. We quickly found that Savannah is an easy town to walk. The streets all run square to each other, the blocks were small and every few blocks there were town squares to commemorate all the history of the town and area. Side note - Savannah has the second largest St Patrick's Day parade in the US, next to New York. The day after we were there they were ready to green all the fountains (turn all the water in them green!) We got off the trolley and sauntered into a Prohibition museum. This reminded us of the tour we took in Moosejaw, a few years back, of the underground tunnels and the prohibition connections there. At the end of the tour here in Savannah was a recreated Speak Easy, complete with a bartender ready to serve up era true drinks that were sure to please. Sooooo, it was only 10:30am but what the hey... after getting a taste of the time (Mike had a Brown Derby with bourbon and grapefruit and Michelle had a French 75 with gin and champagne), then a fancy lunch around the corner at Belford's,a restaurant the bus driver recommended, we were off again to see the town.
We toured the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist which was filled with amazing paintings, statues and stained glass. It had been destroyed by fire in 1898 and was rebuilt by 1900. Mike even took a few moments to help the lady volunteers fix a glass display case before leaving (he only thinks this may help him in the afterlife). Found a tiny private war museum on a side street that was truly amazing, loaded with every kind of artifact you could imagine from every conflict the US had been involved in. As we walked the streets we wound our way to another distillery (whose spirits we tasted earlier in the day at the Prohibition Museum Speak Easy) and we were given a private tour and even met the owners. What is so great is that all these places have bars built into them, so we sampled some of their products before stopping next door at the local brewery for Mike to pick up a quick local craft beer to enjoy on the bus home.
So Lessons learned about Savannah: Oldest city in Georgia, almost as old as St Augustine, lots of history, very scenic and very very easy to walk.. oh and they have an open carry policy where you are permitted to walk most of the streets with your drink - what a civilized town. There is a street you must be north of to do this, but almost all of the town is in the open carry area, so it worked well for us.
As our bus made its way home we stopped at St Simon Island, south east of Savannah Georgia. All we can say is, there is so much pretty out there to be seen. It had lots of interesting little shops, but we didn't have much time to explore them. The tiny town around the lighthouse was immaculate and very well kept, and we expect that the small airport that handled all the private jets for the town was an indication of the money in the area.
Back at the RV park and with a few days between activities we took ourselves on a day trip to Tampa for a tour of the Yuengling (pronounced Ying-Ling) Brewery. My gosh what a popular activity, mind you it was now spring break... still a very fascinating tour, and we now have to take a small detour on our way back to Canada to take a tour of the original Yuengling brewery in Pottsville Pennsylvania. What may not be obvious is that the Yuengling family is German... well, the tasting room where we gathered after the tour was built in the late 50's and it all appeared to be still decorated as it was originally constructed. All the glossy shellac dark wood paneling would have made Mike's dad feel right at home. Now at this tasting room your only permitted two drinks at a time... over and over again... By the time we got ourselves out of there, the car GPS found a very large outlet mall. Between the beer tour and the outlet mall, we definitely did our steps for the day and had the back of the car filled with shopping bags. We had a quick lunch at a burger franchise called Ford's Garage... if your a Ford person, lots of old cars hanging from the ceiling and parked in and outside, and interesting decor to give you lots to look at while you waited for your lunch to arrive. Oh, and they were fantastic, there's a location in Dearborn, Michigan!
We've played a few more games of golf: won the Point O' Woods Paradise Scramble, and Mike finally beat Michelle in one of our twice weekly games at our usual course, so he isn't pouting anymore :-)
With only a week before we leave this RV park, we are already thinking about where we want to go next year, lots of places to see and ways to get there. This last week will be busy. Not only do we have to begin to pack things up, but we still have some golf to get in, a half day bus tour to the Lipizzaner Stallions, and need to finish walking a massive outdoor flea market, along with St Paddy's Day festivities today.
With travel coming we will post more often, sorry this is so long, we've been busy enjoying ourselves!