Finding our new “place”. 

Maybe it was a sign. I’m not sure. You can make anything good a sign that you should do something. Or something bad a sign that you should not. But maybe it was a sign.

Like the night before I was sitting in the car in front of a hotel in Saint Augustine Florida and we had been told that there was no room for us there. The hotel had been overbooked. So after 13 hours of driving the four of us (hubby,my boys and I) had no place to sleep.

“Maybe this is a sign that this isn’t where we should live “.  I said to nobody in particular as I sat in the car. My boys probably weren’t listening because at 15 they only wanted to get out of the car-get food in their guts-and get to sleep or back in their devices. Hubby was out trying to find us a room.

Maybe it was an omen. I didn’t want an omen. We had driven all the way from home in Maryland to Saint Augustine on the upper East Coast of Florida to see if this could be our new “place”. We had planned to stop in Georgia somewhere for the night as our real destination was Orlando, Fl. Kevin had a business meeting then a trade show to work there. I wanted to see Saint Augustine. Maybe see isn’t the right word. Maybe feel is. For some reason over the last maybe five years I have had this feeling I needed to see the area. I had a feeling it might be a good place for our next place to call home.

So our hotel room getting cancelled was not a great start. It also was dark so I couldn’t much of the area anyway. But as luck would have it Kevin found another room right next door to the hotel that cancelled us. It was their last room.  A good sign right?

So the next day as we drive around the cutest town I have ever seen my spirits were high. I wanted to see the ocean and check out the beaches of Saint Augustine.

Saint Augustine is broken up into sections. There is the main city part separated by the Matamzes River -cross the bridge onto highway A1A and you are at the beach area.

We drove a ways down the beach via Google maps. I love being able to see where I am in reference to everything else. I’m a map girl (geography major here). We parked along some beach homes somewhere past many of the condos and hotels.  (Later I would find out you can drive on the beach in some parts.).  We walked over the dunes via a small boardwalk  where we saw a turtle nesting -how beachy is that? Then we were met by a huge beautiful expanse of beach with very few people on it.

And there were lots of dogs with their people. Lots. Another sign?

Kevin and I began walking along the beach as the boys decided to hang back near the beach entrance ( one loves to find shells. The other likes to complain). We dipped our feet into the the cool water -we marveled at the size and beauty of the place. And we felt instantly at home there. Was it BC it was the beach? Or was it something else?

Maybe the dogs?

I kept wondering what the dog rules were for the beach there as there was so many dogs.  All on leads. In Maryland and Delaware  where we go dogs aren’t allowed on the main beaches all summer. And I get why. It gets super crowded but it’s a bummer that they can’t go on after five pm. A better time for dogs in hot weather anyway. A couple state beaches inDelaware  have beaches where dogs are allowed. Saint Augustine was in the middle of their busy time and dogs were on the beach. I was hoping this meant something good!

But I needed to ask someone. And just as I was thinking that,  a group of three people approached us. With a dog. So I stopped and asked them what the dog rules were.

“They can come out anytime but you have to have them leashed or you can get a ticket. We sometimes let her (their dog) off leash and watch for the sheriff!”

I laughed as this didn’t look like a rogue group. They were husband and wife and daughter. All over 50 -the parents being 70ish.

We got chatting a bit more about how they felt about the area -love it. Their daughter lives in Orlando-loves it.

Then we got into where everyone was from. The parents lived in Geogia still -part time. When we said we lived in Maryland all three of their faces lit up.

“We lived in Maryland! Where do you live?”

We said we live now in Carroll County but come from Montgomery (near Washington DC). They lit up again.

Turns out the daughter who thought she was way older than us (we figured out she was only about two years older but thanks for the compliment ) had gone to a high school where we knew many people and long story short she had known a friend of Kevin’s -who has since passed away -very well. She knew other names we tossed out too.

Was that a sign? That we are walking  along a random beach in Florida and walk up to random three people and they are from where we are from?  And know people we know? If anything it proves the world isn’t so big. But it felt like a sign to me.

And the way I was “feeling” about the place was pretty positive. I felt very at home. I loved that dogs are allowed on the beaches and there when we went to walk the city later there were many in town.

For me a move to somewhere else outside of Maryland- a place I lived all my life aside from one year in Boston -will have to be based on many things. Maybe signs are part of it but for me it has to be how of feel there. We also have to be practical. It has to work business wise for my husband. Which means near major highways and a major airport. It has to be near to a beach and I need to be able to put my horses someplace or have them on my land. The cost of living will hopefully be better as well.

But we also have to feel it. And for years now a place I never had been to except on tv and online felt like a place I needed to see.

I have worried that Florida would be to crowded and busy. Like many beach areas are and especially in the south. It will be.

Saint Augustine was busy during our visit. The beach was not crowded by my standards though. In my neck of the woods you have to get down to the beach to claim your spot early during the high season. Sometimes fights ensue over primes sand areas. You can hear the conversations of all around you. So the  beaches of Saint Augustine seemed deserted.

It’s almost surreal to think of a move south but the more we search for our place the more real it seems. I want warmth and sun and sand. I don’t want to wait ten years either. Waiting until the kids are done school high school is what we are hoping. So we have time to visit some places to see what we feel about them.

But Saint Augustine charmed the pants off me. And signs or no signs the feeling we got warrants more research.

As I’m writing this we are still in Florida but on the west coast now visiting my dad and his wife. While I love Marco Island it’s not a place that I’m feeling. I would want to live. It’s funny -those feelings.

On our way back north next week we plan to stop by Saint Augustine again to show our daughter Flagler College. She wasn’t on the trip down with us and she’s a junior And I think it’s worth a stop off.

Im excited to go there again -even for an hour. I feel the same pull to the place now  as I did before I ever saw it. Except now it’s more.

I’m looking foward to spending more time there. I’ll be doing my research and hoping in the end my feelings and practicality of living in a place will make sense together         . But in the end we might go with the gut and maybe rely on a few signs.

(I’ll write more about the city part in my next blog).