Engineering Anastasia

A day doesn’t go by where I don’t say, “you engineered the heck out of that, baby.”  My brilliant husband can fix, finagle and fig-rig anything.  On Wednesday he made a $2, 1987 Blue Angels stunt kite we bought at a yard sale fly in no wind with by adding a tail of duct tape, which of course was in one of the buckets in the belly of the coach.  
Rotating Ice Packs
Vintage. It’s the way we like things.  Our 1995 Ranger redux, our estate sale furnishings, my 5s iphone.  It’s fitting that we love the vintage Pace Arrow, pristine in fashion and lovingly maintained by B & E.  With all things vintage, the cool factor is paid for with compromises, and in this case the cool factor was the fridge not working.  Some might say, “We’re out,” meaning, “we eat out,” but the engineer had other plans – rotating ice packs cycled through a functioning freezer into an ice cube cooler, changed out every 12 hours and buying just enough produce and dairy to be consumed in 3 days.  When you have nothing to do all day but ride bikes, read and hit the beach, cooler maintenance is a creative pastime.
The Beach
Anastasia Island in Anastasia State Park rivals Siesta Key in beauty, but surpasses it in charm and accessibility.  We landed Site 54 on Shark Eye Loop in this hard-to-cop-a-spot park last December – the last available to accommodate a 34 footer in the dead of summer.  
The four hour drive from Bradenton to St, Augustine on Monday was mostly smooth, with just a hint of terror along the I-4 Orlando corridor.  Narrow construction laden lanes paired with mini-vans on Mickey and Harry pilgrimages and Mac Trucks trying to make up time gave a few white knuckle moments when our rig was inches from their rig and holding our breath was the only thing keeping us apart. I-4 one say, never again.
The park is tucked off Anastasia Blvd, about 2 miles out of historic St. Augustine, the oldest city in America, founded in 1585.  Our plans were to enjoy the beach and nature trails in the park and bike into town to soak up the history of the Spanish settlement.  The first night, Nicole drove down from her home just north of Jax for a kick off dinner at Casa Maya, were the blackened fish and skirt steak taco salads tasted like they were caught and harvested that day. 
 Nicole took us on a short walking tour of the town, filled with cuteness and history.  We were giddy at the idea of exploring the city by bike the next day.  We took advantage of her semi-nativeness from the time she rotated there in PA school and drove out A1A to the surrounding beach burbs to get the lay of the land.
Swat, Surf, Sun, Repeat
Anastasia is the most amazing beach – white powder sand, shell-seeking walks, rolling waves for body surfing and wide swaths of compact sand for paddle ball.  With lots of stuff to tote and no car to pack, Eric engineered the heck out of our bikes and bodies.  With the umbrella strapped to my back, chairs hanging like purses from his shoulders and the paddles, bag, mats, kite bungeed to the seat shelf, we cruised through the park on a 1 mile ride to fun in the sun.  The set-up was an all day affair – meaning set up in the morning and take down in the evening, with coming and going at leisure.
If beach paddle-ball was an Olympic sport, we’d be gold with our 1960s C. Young and Doug Russell wooden paddles we bought out of a garage at a Connecticut Ave estate sale two years ago.  Forget everything you know about the plywood paddles with ping pong ball you get from souvenier shops. Think pro league in vintage gym shorts with rubber goggles modernized to swimsuits and oakleys,  Swat, surf, sun repeat.
Boots to Bikes
“These bikes were made for touring
That’s just what they do
One of these days these bike are gonna tour all over you.”
It’s about 3 miles from site 54 to downtown St. Augustine, via Anastasia Road and a small drawbridge.  On the way in, you pass a lot of restaurants, bars and thrift shops, of which we stopped in every one but bought nothing, before making the tight path crossing into the main attraction.  With a cooler on the seat shelf, we rode down to the old Spanish Fort to check out the famous coquina walls and find some shade for lunch.  Between the cars, trolleys and pedestrians, the city is not very bike friendly, especially when you forgot the key to the bike lock and can’t dismount to navigate on foot or your bike will also be part of history.  In our travels, we’ve seen a lot of forts, this one looked fairly similar from the outside, so we skipped the admission price in search of shade for sandwiches, ending up in the park in the center of town.  The beauty of the park was overshadowed by bugs and vagrants and since we were bound to the bikes, we woofed down our turkey sammies and gps’d our way to the nearest CVS, 4.8 miles away to procure a new bike lock so we could immerse in the city.
In our travels, we passed The Fountain of Youth, the Old City Jail and a variety of other pay-to-play tourist traps while sharing the road with the Old Town Trolley Red Bus and other lost people making their way through the maze of a city not built for congestion and gawking.  Without seeing anything, we’d seen it all and that was just fine with us.  After a stop at CVS for the lock, we ventured another mile down the highway to Kyle’s Fish Market, the most authentic find outside of Anastasia Park where Kyle himself pulled a large red snapper caught that morning from the case, filleted it and packed it on ice in our cooler.   
Dinner for 4 at the site 54 Fire Pit Grill with Nicole and Adam and a bottle of superb Pinot from Monterey to toast their engagement!  Add the Tennessee tomatoes from the produce stand next store and you get fresh and flavorful – better than anything we could get at one of the 312 eateries in town.  The white knuckle against  traffic ride on 50mph San Marco Highway tested my mettle, but I stayed close to my partner’s wheels and when he turned or darted, I held my breath and did the same.  Hot and heart-pounded, we pit stopped at Hyppo Popsicles on Hypolite Street for a refreshing sangria plum and decadent Elvis – peanut butter banana dipped in chocolate.  Popsicles are the new cupcakes and I’m sure they’ll be a store in your neighborhood soon.
 Farewell, Anastasia.  We didn’t spend nearly enough time with you but we took what you gave us and certainly will return!