By late June, our long stay at the beach was winding down. Seeing as there are only so many days in a row one can load up three boys, 3 boogie boards, infinite digging apparati and a cooler, we opted to spend some of our last days exploring other places near and around Amelia Island.
First up, a visit to a true dive restaurant: T-Rays.
Look up “dive restaurant” in the dictionary and this place surely has its photo there. It’s an old gas station that has lovingly been converted into a burger shack by a father and son duo. Our boat captain told us about T-Rays, also name dropping that it had been written up in the New York Times (to offer it authenticity, we guessed…).
There is no sign for it. I googled the directions and fifteen minutes later we pulled into the rusty, crowded gas station. T-Rays is decorated like any good dive should be–loads of collegiate items rivalling for space, bumper stickers plastered all over the walls, random postcards framed on various tables. We loved it.
There’s just something fun about sitting at a counter in a clutter-filled dive while “Stairway to Heaven” bleats out of an ancient boom box sporting a tin-foiled-antenna.
Here Jack, Tuck & Theo take their meals outside. We weren’t kidding when we said it was a dive.
Fortified by tasty vittles, we headed to a real fort: Fort Clinch. We were on a hunt for re-enactors.
(Re-enactors aside, Fort Clinch is a pretty awesome little place, chock full of all sorts of interesting nooks and crannies…).
The boys love coming out here to explore.
Only one re-enactor at Fort Clinch today. Boo. Guess we have to take our hunt elsewhere…
And so we did: to St. Augustine the following day. We raced a thunderstorm home and then let the boys take showers outside.
It was a first for them and an Unexpected they asked for daily until we left…
Next up: field trip! We loaded up the following morning and headed south to St. Augustine, America’s oldest city and front-runner for America’s Trappiest Tourist Trap. It did have a few lovely places…
…but we didn’t see many of them because we were too busy getting our kitsch on and riding the tourist train (it was RED! Theo had to!), gagging our way through the Ripley’s Believe It or Not collection and hunting for re-enactors, of which, St. Augustine has a plethora.
Wartime re-enactor with his musket:
Prisoner re-enactor (?) outside of St. Augustine’s oldest jail (why on earth is a jail on a tour? We realize this begs the question of why on earth we were on a tour, but I told you about that red train, right?)
By far the best little gem we found here was the Pirate Museum. I told Russ that if we’d been here a few years ago when Jack was in the throes of his pirate obsession, we might not have been able to leave. Everyone needs a pirate hat like this one (modeled by Jack on his 4th birthday):
The Pirate Museum was done up right. Lots of interactive things for the boys to touch and hear and lots of gory journal entries for the grown-ups to gawk at.
And it goes without saying that this place had some rock-star re-enactors, but they got all surly when I tried to take their pictures. Come on, fellas…live a little.
A few other worthy photos:
From the oldest fort in America…
Tucker and Theo check out a cannon:
Our little historian read every plaque and stopped to watch every move made by the soldiers.
We didn’t go here though if you’ve been and it has seemed to help, please let me know.
We laughed like nobody’s business on this day. Maybe a road trip was just what we needed. Maybe a change of scenery, a different latitude, a left-turn in our day-to-day routine was all it took. Maybe our three little fountains of youth were working extra hard, spinning their own youth-fortifying magic on us. Whatever it was, it is worth re-enacting.