Fountain of Youth Spilleth Over

By Diana Bosse for Loveland Beacon

LOVELAND, OH (February 23, 2024) – Since last Valentine’s Day was spent at MUSC (University Hospital- Charleston, S.C.) with Steve getting his skull sliced open and a tumor removed, we decided to change it up a bit this year. 

The St. Augustine Lighthouse (Diana Bosses)

It was a no-brainer (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Instead of heading north to Charleston, friends of ours from Cincinnati were snow-birding in Florida, therefore we figured driving in the opposite direction of the hospital might be a bit more fun. 

I’d been to St. Augustine before and it’s a lovely old city, but I’m here to tell you: Ponce de Leon is a bold-faced liar. The proof lies in the baggier bags under my eyes, more pronounced crow’s feet, and recent diagnosis of osteoporosis – all since my last visit to the Fountain of Youth! The only thing causing my face to appear youthful these days is the zit that popped out just below my lower lip yesterday, resulting in the swelling of said lip. You’d think I’d be thrilled with the “pouty” look, but I resemble Bucky from the Fat Albert Gang cartoon more than I do Lisa Rinna.

A fat lip, however, was not going to prevent me from getting fat. Remember folks, every good road trip starts off with a good breakfast! After plugging in our destination on WAZE, I googled “hole in the wall breakfast places” en route. An interesting joint popped up just off I-95 in Richmond Hill, Georgia known as Plum’s Ice Cream & Sandwich Shop. Since Valentine’s Day 2024 coincides with Ash Wednesday, this Catholic girl was hopeful she could sub out two strips of bacon for two scoops of mint chocolate chip.

Plum good breakfast (Diana Bosse)

I was only half kidding about the ice cream, but breakfast was far from heart healthy. Steve’s meal was a carb lover’s dream as he exchanged his meat for grits, in addition to fried potatoes and buttered white toast. My veggie omelet was bursting with flavor and bursting with tomatoes, onions, mushrooms as well as three kinds of peppers. I had checked out the menu in the car on the way and couldn’t believe my platter, which also included potatoes and toast, was only $7. I figured the photos of the menus online were really outdated. They were, but the price had only jumped to $8 – still a fantastic bargain and you couldn’t put a price on the friendly atmosphere. Everyone treated us like family from the wait staff to the customers. Love was in the air at Plums (it was Valentine’s Day after all). 

I could only eat half of what was on my Corelle dish, which is a problem for someone like me who’s biggest pet peeve is wastefulness, but I had to throw in the paper napkin before my waistband burst. We still had 2.5 hours in the car, so Steve and I thought it best to use the facilities before getting back in the CRV. If I’d have known the unisex bathroom had both a toilet and a urinal, we could have gone together and saved a few minutes. I tend to freak out upon seeing a urinal when I enter a public restroom ever since that incident at Walmart when I didn’t realize I was in the men’s room until AFTER I did my business and thought the porcelain on the wall were unusual sinks. True story!

Diana, Terri and Joyful Joy the dog (Diana Bosse)

It’s a good thing we had bundled up as the temps in Florida were only expected to be in the low 60s, which is equivalent to freezing in Ohio. But the warm welcome from some of our dearest friends helped, including a very enthusiastic hello from Joy, their German shepherd. I’ve had a soft spot on my heart for the breed ever since I was a child. Viking the German shepherd lived at the top of our street. His owners didn’t have any children, but all of us kids would regularly knock on their door to see if Viking could come out and play. They’d even let us set up house in their carport in the summer and pretend Viking was our dog. Although Terri and Steve’s rental didn’t have a carport, for a few hours Joy brought joyful memories of life on Carrol Avenue back to life.

We spent a relaxing afternoon catching up with Steve and Terri, then together headed to the lighthouse that I had missed completely on my two previous visits to St Augustine. I didn’t even realize they had one until three weeks ago when I googled “Things to do in St. Augustine”. Sadly, this was not the first time we’d overlooked a lighthouse. Several years ago on a jaunt to St. Simons, Georgia, following a delicious lunch at a restaurant we had read about in Southern Living, we had walked across the parking lot when Pam and I thought it would be a good idea to go to the ladies room before starting our quest to find the lighthouse. It was an uneventful trip to do our business (meaning there were no urinals in the women’s room). We hopped back in Mike’s truck to find the boys studying the island map. We navigated the entire circumference of the island only to end up in the same parking lot, staring at the same restrooms. Had we actually looked up, we would have realized we had been at the lighthouse all along. True story!

Anywho, this time the four of us located St. Augustine’s light on our first attempt and successfully lighted the 219 steps without oxygen or cardiac arrest. The view was breathtaking, but since I’m not much on heights, after having a cranky volunteer (I’d be cranky, too, if I had to work 164’ up in the air) snap a group photo, I hugged the wall to get around the top so I could work my way back down the steps twice as fast as I went up.

Sunset over St. Augustine, FL (Diana Bosse)

We then headed to Beaches at the marina in Vilano for copious amounts of wine and shared plates of gator bites and nachos that were even tastier than Sea Pines Beach Club’s version. Promptly at 5:15 p.m. we boarded a boat which is Vilano Marina’s answer to the Salty Dog Happy Hour Cruise. Of course, no one compares to Captain Phil, but Captain James was quite informative. Fortunately, thanks to a Facebook tip earlier in the day from my Facebook friend Bill, I tipped off Captain James of the 5:39 SpaceX launch. 

The entire boat was thrilled to witness the glowing orb and long contrail in the sky just left of lighthouse. Because of my tip I, along with another gal who was the first to spot dolphins, were awarded official Red Boat flashlights as a prize. I suppose I should pass mine along to Bill next time I see him.

The next hour and a half was spent listening to “So Caught Up In You” by 38 Special no less than four times (Captain James could take some playlists notes from Captain Phil). We witnessed a Valentine’s Day engagement and celebrated another couples anniversary with cheap champagne, all while viewing a sunset that took our breaths away even more so than 219 lighthouse stairs.

The Great Cross of Nombre de Dios in St. Augustine, FL (Diana Bosse)

And most appropriately, our final glimpse of light on our Valentine’s Day Ash Wednesday illuminated The Great Cross of Nombre de Dios. This 208’ beacon of faith marks the spot where Spaniards placed a cross in 1565, celebrating the beginning of Christianity on North American soil.

As darkness claimed the sky, I whispered a prayer of gratitude to have been able to share such a beautiful day with wonderful friends and celebrate Steve’s incredibly good health a year after knowing tomorrow’s sunset is never guaranteed.

God is good!