Friday, September 15, 2006

Roadtrip To The Heartland

This past weekend, we packed up the car and hit the road for a much needed weekend getaway. Tony, Jody and I headed 5½ hours north to St. Augustine, in Northeast Florida. Having been founded by the Spanish in 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest European settlement in, what is now, the United States. It's a small town with cobblestone streets, Spanish Colonial and Southern Victorian architecture and a million antique shoppes. It has, what are some of the cheesiest "attractions" I've ever seen, including Ponce De Leon's Fountain of Youth. And just outside the downtown area, you can find beautiful beaches and kitschy mid-century motels. St. Augustine just drips with charm, ghost stories and Spanish moss. I love everything about it.

Except for one thing - the people. St. Augustine looks like it should be home to artists and poets and eccentric ladies with frizzy hair who live to feed homeless cats. You'd expect folk singers and hippies and older gay couples. It's easy to imagine literary geniuses sequestered in Victorian turrets, writing the world's next important work.

But, because north Florida is geographically and culturally very much a part of the Deep South, St. Augustine is awash in hateful rednecks and Bush-loving bible-thumpers. I haven't had to "not be gay" for a long time, and I forgot how unsafe it can feel to be surrounded by conservative straight, white Americans with monster trucks.

These are the folks who think it's a good idea to drop the bomb on the Middle East and exterminate all them A-rabs. They're the same people who won't allow the Coloreds into their church and pray to Jesus that them Mexicans will die in the desert before they can git here to steal our jobs. I actually saw a nice American family proudly wearing this nice t-shirt...

Um...yeah...it takes a minute...Malcolm X. I can't even imagine the extent of hatred in someone's heart to go so far out of their way to hurt other peoples' feelings. And these bumper stickers - produced by the 700 Club - are apparently the very latest in vehicle accessories...



Despite all the homeland hatred, we had a great time. We took in the sights, watched wild dolphins, toured the Castillo de San Marcos (built in 1695)and drank from the Fountain of Youth.


Our Accomodations. Yes. The Bunnies Jump!


The Castillo De San Marcos


Downtown St. Augustine


5 comments:

VegasGustan said...

My dad lives in St. Augustine. He lives on the beach and is not quite a redneck...but not quite evolved either. He has his issues, but he does not proudly display them like a pompous ass. He keeps them to himself unless someone who has an "alternative lifestyle" (I hate that phrase) pisses him off...then he goes good ole' boy on 'em.

Never been to visit him, maybe I should for the city it looks quite nice.

Cyrus said...

You should visit St. Augustine, but if ya don't mind me askin'...why haven't you visited him?

Valerie - Riding Solo said...

loved the photos, Cyrus.

VegasGustan said...

In a word...money.

Orikinla Osinachi. said...

Very bold images of protest messages by those who feel threatened by the private lives of others.

Live and let me live.

God bless.