My Heart, Our Honeymoon & Hurricanes

Oct 16, 2017

These past few months I have been watching the devastation in Texas, Florida, Georgia and Puerto Rico. Not only that, but my family lived in Jacksonville for Hurricane Andrew, so I have memories of how Floridians handle hurricanes; they are tough people.

As I was feeling horrible about the people of Texas, I was also watching this other storm. I don't have too many ties to Texas, but I still feel compassion and love for those who are experiencing severe devastation. Florida and Georgia are totally different. I have lived in both states for a total of 8 years of my childhood. Florida, when I was 2-6, which doesn't sound like it could impact me much. But, imagine a childhood filled with days spent outside, beaches and season passes to Disney (because you know every relative came to visit us when we lived there). It was amazing and when we moved to Pennsylvania I remember being super super sad. Pennsylvania is ridiculously awesome, but that's another blog post. Point is, I lived in Florida, I loved it and we continued to vacation there for the rest of my childhood and adulthood. You can expect about one million more posts on Saint Augustine alone in the future of this blog. But first I want to focus and tell you about our honeymoon and why the barrier islands of Florida and Georgia are so amazing.

We took our honeymoon before either of us had smart phones. So, I don't have a ton of visuals for this trip, but Jekyll Island Club Hotel did provide me with excellent photos (scroll to the bottom to see more from Jekyll Island Club Hotel).

Day One
We started the morning out at our beloved Stillwater, MN Bed & Breakfast, The Rivertown Inn. It's amazing, it's not cheap, it's worth it. We then flew from Minneapolis to Jacksonville. We drove in our sweet rental (a Charger, now my husband's dream car) to Jekyll Island. Literally the most idyllic dreamy place you can find on the barrier islands of Georgia. It has so much history, I can't even go into that. Spanish moss plus ocean, plus old old beautiful buildings. It used to be members only, but now the public is also welcome! Our suite exceeded our expectations. It was huge, glorious and romantic. We had a king bed, sitting area, fireplace, big bathroom with a shower Jacuzzi tub combo. I must have told them we were on our honeymoon, because they left a wonderful bottle of wine. Okay, it looked wonderful, neither of us drink alcohol, but we so appreciated the kind gesture. They also did turn down service. We thought someone broke into our room, turns out they just got our room all ready for a romantic evening while we were out to dinner. A+ for service.

Day Two
Jekyll Island Club Hotel's breakfast buffet was the best breakfast we have ever had. I'm kind of a snob who doesn't love buffets, but this one was on point. I recommend staying here just for the breakfast buffet. After breakfast, we took out bikes and explored the island. If you know anything about the Georgia barrier islands, you know about the iconic Spanish moss. It's breath-taking and all around the island. We biked to a dock, where we watched a storm come in and even saw dolphins. The bike back was a bit more brisk, because we got caught in the storm. We then took a swim in their beautiful historic pool. I truly felt like a fancy club member from long ago. We ate dinner at a local restaurant on the Atlantic. Delish.

Day Three-Four
Breakfast buffet round two. Excellent again. We checked out of our hotel and drove along the coast to Amelia Island. On our way, I made my husband try hot boiled peanuts. He was a total Midwest snob and hated them, but we are still together; we survived that apparent diss at my heritage. Amelia Island is another barrier island just outside of Jacksonville, Florida. I've stayed at the Hoyt House before but for our honeymoon we stayed at Elizabeth Pointe Lodge. A beautiful bed and breakfast type establishment, right on the ocean. Again, our room was amazing. Much smaller than our room at Jekyll, but filled with charm. It was also ocean front, so we could open our windows and hear the waves. We stayed two nights. We also got a honeymoon type package so we had wine, dessert both nights and one dinner at a local restaurant in addition to the breakfasts that came with our room. The desserts were an amazing treat and the dinner was phenomenal. We spent our time, relaxing in our room, exploring the island and sitting on the porch and beach.

Day Five
Amelia breakfast. It was delicious, but my favorite part was meeting people from all over the world. There were so many European tourists and often times American's don't get much interaction with Europeans on vacation (well, I had not, anyway). It was neat talking about the differences and why they loved vacationing in Florida. I was so proud that they felt welcome, comfortable and thought it was beautiful. I mean, Georgians and Floridians really have that southern hospitality thing down. I always find myself chatting with people in grocery stores (okay, just Publix) down there. I love it. We took this day to drive A1A slowly down to Saint Augustine. This is probably the most emotional part for me to write, because if you have seen any photos of Irma's destruction, Ponde Vedre got hit really bad. It is between Jacksonville and Saint Augustine. And I am sure there is devastation or hurricane damage all along the coast there. A1A is a road that hugs the coast and the only thing between the road and the beach are these wonderful beach homes, large and small. I'm sure it's those homeowners' little piece of heaven.

Day Six-Seven
This will be brief, because you will see many more posts about Saint Augustine. Detailed ones with restaurant recommendations, must do lists and hotel recommendations. I can't even count the amount of times I have been to Saint Augustine over my life. We started going when I lived in Jacksonville, so I have been going there forever. We tacked on Saint Augustine to our honeymoon agenda, because we couldn't be that close and not go. We stayed at the Best Western on Anastasia Island, a barrier island to Saint Augustine. While we were there, we went to our favorite restaurant Osteen's, fed dolphins at Marineland (just down the coast toward Daytona), took photos in front of Flagler College and walked the streets of this romantic old Spanish town. The perfect way to end our trip. In a place we had both been and a place we have since taken our children twice. It was amazing to dream about our family there and then walk those same streets with our two tots in tow. Saint Augustine was a huge part of my childhood and I intend for it to be a place that bears the same weight for my children. A home away from home, a place where locals treat tourists like locals, a place where the ocean is filled with big waves, dolphins and boats and the inter-coastal way is calm, relaxing and peaceful. A perfect place to end our honeymoon and get our adventure started.

Note: I'm praying daily for those who call these places home. Although I feel strongly about my connections to this area, I am constantly reminded that there are people affected who own homes and have lived in these places their entire life. They own businesses and have had their lives affected by this storm. And there are people who have experienced loss of life, a tragedy too hard to even comprehend. My heart goes out to these people the most. If my favorite vacation spot was affected, it doesn't change my life, but I feel deeply for those who are in this position. If you can help or make an impact to this region, Texas or Puerto Rice, please do so. They are wonderful humans who truly show love to others, now is our time to help them. It has been awhile since the hurricanes hit, but rebuilding will take years.

Jekyll Island Club Hotel Photos: