Sunday, November 30, 2014

The King's Head

Half a dozen miles north of St Augustine, alongside a four lane stretch of Highway One there is a big red double decker bus. It marks a roadside haven.

I need to stop whining about the hole left by a recently closed Irish pub in Key West, so spending a couple of hours here could be considered bittersweet.

The owner's daughter was ruling the roost, a cheerful presence we had met on a previous visit and she served me my Old Speckled Hen, and brought us a Cornish pasty to share.

My wife tried one of the mixed drinks, not the kind you imagine, but a mixture in this case of beer and cider, I believe they call it a snakebite. Because it is intoxicating but she suffered no ill effects.

The pasty does the job but it's not as innovative as the Irish foods Finnegan's used to put out. The afternoon sun filled the space with a glowing warmth. I could have sat for hours doing nothing much but we had a hotel room to check in, and our dog snoring in the car needed a walk.

So we took Cheyenne downtown, where we walked around enjoying the lights, the clean streets...

...the absence of drunks, and the overwhelming numbers of happy families enjoying a stress free night out.

I wonder if Key West could pull this off?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Live Oaks In Black And White

When I was a teenager I saw a movie, The Innocents, so scary it made me reluctant to cross the dark quadrangle at school on my way to the dormitory after the showing. The black and white images of the story of demonic possession freaked me out to a degree I still recall toady at the ripe old age of 57, forty four years later. I was a member of a movie club at my boarding school and of all the films we watched that one remains in my memory.

It was around Dix yesterday morning when Cheyenne and I braved the 42 degree temperatures rendered even colder by a brisk north wind. Unlike my teenage self I was no longer scared by the gloom and the weird twisted trees...just intrigued by their shapes.

Trees like these aren't to be found in the Lower Keys.

And Spanish Moss, the material that yields the "horsehair" once used to stuff mattresses, is abundant on these live oak trees.

In summer they have wildlife talks in what is, in fact, a state park.



Cheyenne thrives in sub-70 degree weather.

Nothing to do with Key West, whence I shall return on Monday, but lovely nonetheless.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Images From Jekyll Island

I really like this place. It's beautiful, well kept, unpretentious, welcoming and all based on a particular moment in history when very wealthy people made this their vacation retreat. That the State of Georgia bought this land after Workd War Two before it all crumbled is to the eternal credit of the state government. When people say government doesn't work they should check this place out. Saved by government powered by a public-private partnership, enjoyed by the taxpayers. Great stuff.

I think of the architecture on display at the modern millionaire's retreat, Ocean Reef and the comparison falls completely flat, especially compared to this place. Jekyll Island is proud of it's history and it's on display. This is the original symbol created for the new Federal Reserve they dreamed up here in 1910.

These rooms inside the main club house can be rented for family or business gatherings. It's nicely done.

Spanish moss, in abundance. Evocative.

You and your dog can walk these gorgeous gardens at will.

These coastal marshes aren't the turquoise waters of the Keys but the views are tremendous. There was a strong very cold north wind blowing here. Cheyenne was in her element.


And from the end of the island we froze and watched the sun set.



She found something gross to chew on, of course. Bliss.


Nice place Jekyll Island.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving At Jekyll Island

A dog walk to start the day.

We reserved a table last March when we stopped at Jekyll Island State Park in South Georgia during Spring Break. We were too late for a table in the main dining room which needs a year advanced reservation. We were seated in the Crane Courtyard which worked out well for us.

We sat indoors by the fireplace and strolled out to the courtyard to check out the food.

Which included all the stuff you associate with Thanksgiving, lots of meat and fish, vegetables, stuffing and desserts.

We chose this place because it is so different for us, a climate more suited to the Fall harvest season, a state park preserved almost by chance, history still lived today in a pale reflection of the opulence of 1900.

Our brunch at Crane Courtyard, inside the Crane "cottage" turned out to suit us better than the main dining room where the food is the same. Crane felt less crowded and less stuffy than the main dining room, plus we all enjoyed stepping outside into the sunshine to get our food in the outdoor courtyard.

Crane Cottage was the most expensive vacation home built on Jekyll, and it was toilets that paid for it.

The main clubhouse is extraordinary. We couldn't take a room here as they don't take dogs, so we stayed at the Hampton Inn next to the beach.

It's just a hotel now, no longer a winter base for the masters of the world. Anyone can drink at the bar...

...or be seen posing...

...or sitting by the fire.

The masters of the world really did gather here. They created the Federal Reserve system in this room at the beginning of the 20th century. They created the private banking system to regulate the currency with no one's permission or vote. They did it here:

Cheyenne got a long cold walk in the morning so she was feeling no pain passed out in the car on a 55 degree afternoon with a cold north wind raking her. She loves this weather.

An after lunch walk was indicated so off we waddled passing another of these winter homes built as "cottages" by the millionaires of the day who liked to celebrate holidays in like minded company.

This magnificent structure was offered as a gift. They lived at the same time men were earning a buck fifty a day to sweat their balls off building the Over-The-Sea Railroad, and they took the work in horrendous conditions because it paid well.

The funny thing is, economists tell us wealth inequality is worse today than it was then.

A lot to be thankful for then.