Watching the news coverage of all the cancelled flights and stranded passengers last month made us glad that we decided not to travel this summer. But it really wasn’t those airport scenes which killed our mojo. It was really inflation. The high cost of everything this year — gas, food, etc. — has pretty much kept us very close to home.
We’ve lived vicariously through the trips friends have posted about on Instagram. Sometimes one of us, I won’t reveal the name of the dashing fella, might mutter “show offs!” before slamming the iPad shut, and sidling off to the car for that four mile trek to the gym. A glorious and scenic four miles too, by the way. I just don’t go bragging about it to all my friends is all I’m sayin’. .
However, when all one has is lemons, one makes lemonade. Gas is now under $4.00 a gallon. Not enough to celebrate with a dinner at Ruth’s Chris, but tolerable enough to justify the 40 mile trip back and forth to nearby Jacksonville for a little Saturday fun. Join us for the ride. In fact, do us a solid by offering to fill up the tank when we get you safely back home.
We leave early partly because we know temperatures will be close to 100°F by the early afternoon, and also because our first destination is not exactly rich with parking options.
Our first stop is the Riverside Arts Market, a community farmers and artists market held every Saturday in Jacksonville’s Riverside neighborhood. Riverside is located on the west bank of the St. Johns River and is bounded by Interstate 10 and 95 to the north, the river to the south and east. The market is literally under the freeway overpasses — the kind of thing that probably wouldn’t fly in earthquake-prone California, but doesn’t even merit an eyebrow-raising here in hurricane-prone Florida.
Temperatures are already in the low nineties after arriving, but thankfully those freeway passes do provide a nice cover from the sun and also the occasional rain that falls intermittently ….
After the market, we head over to the nearby Cummer Museum. The museum is free on the first Saturday of the month, which is perfect for us “staycationer” types. We haven’t visited since prior to the pandemic, but even that visit was somewhat marred by the closure of their beautiful gardens from the 2017 onslaught brought on by Hurricane Irma. It took two years and $1.3 million to complete the renovation, and this was our first opportunity to actually walk and witness all the splendors offered. There are actually three separate gardens: the Olmsted, English, and Italian Gardens. Each are separated by short walls via stone, brick, and pavement walkways.
We were able to roam through all three gardens. But at one point the skies opened up and the rain, which had been threatening all morning, finally began to fall. I tried for one more shot as it started to pour, and you can almost see the frustration beginning to mount in my subject’s face.
Good grief, some people act like a few drops are going to kill them…
Safely back inside, we checked out the visiting exhibit: “Buddha and Shiva, Lotus and Dragon: Masterworks from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection At Asia Society.”
We have a lot of bhuddas in our home, at last count at least nine. As beautiful and interesting as ancient ones are to look at, I feared what this exhibit might do to inspire the procurement of even more. Those canny curators at the Cummer anticipated my fears and actually include a special exhibit gift shop for it. The sacred Buddha was looking out for me on this day, however, and we managed to leave with nary a dollar spent. Om Mani Padme Hum.
The museum visit completed, we made our way to the next stop: the Cool Stuff Vintage store, which is located in the Cork Arts District, literally on the outer edges of Riverside. Gorgeous first noticed this place while scrolling local Instagram posts during lockdown. We visited once last year and figured it was time to go again to see what treasures might await us. The problem is that each of us have vastly different ideas of what constitutes a treasure. We ended up calling it a draw, with Gorgeous only buying a few turn of the century appetizer forks and a tiny ceramic lamb. Hard as I tried, I was not able make a persuasive argument for the owl lamps.
Our final stops were in the Baymeadows neighborhood of Jacksonville. Baymeadows is a multicultural area chock full of ethnic grocery stores, delis, restaurants, etc. For Gorgeous, it’s a haven for all the hard-to-get spices and ingredients that she needs in her kitchen arsenal. Her two favorites in particular are the Al Basha middle eastern grocery store; and Raja Indian Spices, whose name speaks for itself. We hit both on this visit, plus quick run-ins to a couple of others before one of us began to wilt from the heat and exhaustion.
It was a fun day with lots of exploring and very easy on the pocketbook. Except for gas, inflation barely laid a glove on us in this round.
Hopefully more exploring as the weather cools a bit in the fall…
Until next time…