Re-discovering My Childhood in St. Augustine

I was a nerdy kid.

5th grade
Top three loves: cats, origami, and Disney musicals.

What am I talking about? I’m still a nerd.

Sisters in tubes
It’s genetic.

As I get older, I’ve really come to embrace my inner nerd. It’s sort of comforting to know that, given a square of paper, I can still fold up a book or a cup. Because you know what? I had a great childhood, and it’s fun to re-visit that.

And this February, I did that with travel. Jared and I climbed into the back seat of a Ford Focus and tagged along with my parents on a road trip, all the way from Indiana to St. Augustine, Florida, just as we did when I was growing up.

I was thrilled to be able to share St. Augustine with Jared. We visited many of the places I’d loved as a kid, and discovered some new spots for the over-21 crowd.

The Old

The Cheese Wheel

Cheese Wheel
The Cheese Wheel, a Fitzpatrick family favorite.

Truth: the sandwiches (called a ryder, basically a pita sandwich) weren’t as spectacular as I’d remembered. But I’d still go back.

Ripley’s Believe it or Not

Ripley's Believe it or Not St.Augustine
One of only two perfect replicas of the David.

Truth: We didn’t go in. Who needs to, when you can visit David for free in the parking lot?

St. George Street

Entrance to St. George St.
Photo bomb.

This old pedestrian street of shops, bars, restaurants, and cafes is still one of my favorite parts of St. Augustine.

The Spanish Bakery

Spanish Bakery
Home of the best bread in the world.

If you are ever in St. Augustine, go here (it’s on St. George St.) and buy a loaf of fresh bread for $2. If there isn’t any, wait.

You can thank me later. We used to consume whole loaves as children, back before portion sizes were a thing.

The Bridge of Lions

Bridge of Lions
Keeper of the bridge.

I’m obsessed with these lions. Always have been. Always will be.

The Lighthouse

St. Augustine Lighthouse
My favorite lighthouse.

They made the light blue to celebrate ‘Sea the Light.’ COOL. I’m a sucker for any variation on normality.

The New

A1A Ale House

A1A Alehouse, St. Augustine
Views from the bar.

Weekday happy hour, beer brewed on-site and gorgeous views of the bridge. What more could you ask for from a bar? And, in a strange twist, the bartender was the grandson of the former president of the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, who danced with my mom at my parents’ wedding.


No pictures here of this dark little bar off of St. George Street with the biggest selection of world beer we’d seen in a long time.

Taco Shop

Taco Shop
My clothes smelled like tacos for a few days, but I didn’t mind.

Also on St. George Street, home of the best burritos in St. Augustine. We went back three times.

Me, Reincarnated

One night, as we were walking back past the fort (Castillo de San Marcos), we noticed a family gathered together, pointing at the stone walls. Near the top of the fortress, skirting a narrow ledge, was some sort of creature.

Fort Matanzas
Tbat’s not the creature. That’s us.

“It’s a feral cat,” said the father.

“No, a raccoon,” said the mother.

Suddenly a girl, about ten, rushed closer to have a look before making a breathless announcement.

“That, my friends, is a raccoon,” she declared, with a flourish, enunciating every word. Then her voice dropped to a whisper of reverence. “The masked bandit.”

I froze. It was exactly the kind of weird statement I would have made at her age. In exactly the same tone of voice.

Jared nudged me. “It’s you,” he said.

I felt a weird sense of pride, and hoped that some day, this nerdy kid would be lucky enough to return to St. Augustine. That she’d stand there with someone she loves, and feel a sense of peace at how, sometimes, the world comes full circle.

And that being a nerd never goes out of style.

Old Jail
Part of the chain gang.


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  1. I love St. Augustine! I’ve only been twice just for a day trip, but it was so beautiful! I love the classy-ness (and yet colonial?) feel of old Southern cities like St. Aug., Charleston, and Savannah. This post made me nostalgic for home in the South!

    1. Right? It was a complete 180 from where I grew up, so it was such an exciting change to go down there every summer. And even still today. We stopped in Savannah on the way back, and even rainy you could tell what a cool city it is. Wish I could have stayed longer!

  2. I love those first couple of photos! I think being a nerd in your early years sets you in good stead for everything else life might throw at you 🙂

    1. Oh yeah baby. That’s me all right. There’s also a story behind the picture – basically the photographer asked me to remove the button as it ‘reflected the light,’ I said no, horrified (obviously I had carefully planned the whole outfit as a maximum reflection of my personality), and he said, “I guess I don’t really like cats. Ha! Ha!” It was like being punched in the gut.

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