Looking to escape the worst of a summer that will not end, we decided to head north; hoping that four hours of drive time would translate into at least twice that much in degree difference. Spoiler alert: It didn’t! Hit with a short-span heat wave that coincided directly with our trip, it was sweltering. Ugh.
It also was a holiday Monday and I had mixed feelings about being in St. Augustine on that day. What holiday, you ask? The one that Florida denotes as “Columbus Day” but that I (and many like-minded souls) honor as Indigenous People Day.
The day wasn’t chosen deliberately. Our hotel was unavailable on the day we wanted so we had to push the trip back a day. (Or should that be “push the trip up a day”? I always confuse those two.)
Anyway, we left a day later than planned and there we were—landing in St. Augustine on “Columbus Day” surrounded by families with lots of kids “celebrating” the triumph of Columbus’ legacy. For those who may not know, St. Augustine was founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers. It is the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement within the borders of the continental United States. (Which is a really benign way to say that the Spanish came, killed, enslaved, and stole from the indigenous peoples with a passion that Columbus, no doubt, would have found inspiring.)
Plus, apparently autumn is NEVER coming to Florida. Did I mention it was HOT!
So long story short(ish), as non-kid-having trying-to-be-culturally-woke folk, we felt a bit out of our element. BUT, we do love museums and (ironically) the ostentatiousness of the Gilded Age, so the Lightner Museum saved the day!
Housed in the former Alcazar Hotel (built in 1888 by super rich guy named Henry Flagler), the museum is home of one of the premier collections of fine and decorative art in the country. Seriously, Lightner collected everything! Between the hotel itself and the collections on display, it really was like stepping through the Looking Glass into a different world.
Thanks and credit to Lewis Carroll for taking us to a Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. And thanks to Wander Essence for the inspiration and the reminder that I like to write about my travels!
Looking at our photos (all made by myself or my husband) and thinking about Cathy’s travel writing suggestions led me to Alice. Thus the Carroll quotes as captions. Hope y’all enjoy!