When I was young, vacation meant road trip. No one (at least no one I knew) ever flew anywhere. You drove. There was no destination. Every day was an adventure. We’d start planning these trips months ahead–unfolding maps, checking out points of interest, making an itinerary.
One memorable year we spent ten days touring Florida. I had just studied its history in third grade, and my parents decided why not spend time exploring our own state. My textbook had been pretty dry, but the writers were smart. They inserted a vacationing brother and sister at the beginning of each chapter just long enough to tease us story-loving children to the meaty text. It worked. Every time I started a chapter I was Sally on vacation with her brother John. (A lovely fantasy for an only child.)
Our last stop that year was St. Augustine in the Northeast corner of the state. I could hardly wait. That past year I had read all about Ponce De Leon and his search for the fountain of youth. There was even a picture of the famed fountain in my textbook. Like Sally and John, I wanted a sip of that water.
I remember entering the cave-like chamber where the fountain had been enshrined. After the guide recited the history and folklore, I finally got what I had come for–a drink of that water. At that age, I probably knew better, but I half-expected to feel something. I didn’t, of course, and it was all a bit of a letdown. But I remember thinking maybe the water would keep me young. Hah!
Fast-forward forty-five years. We’re at our vacation rental in Ponte Vedra, FL. Spur of the moment we decide to hop in the car and head south to St. Augustine for a little afternoon exploration. It’s a lovely coastal town, more kin to Savannah and Charleston than the beachy towns to the south. We toured the invincible Spanish fort, cooled off in a couple of old churches, and meandered around the narrow, quaint streets. Not that I wanted to revisit it, but I was quietly on the lookout for the fountain of my youth.
We’re also in search of a cupcake shop called Luli’s. With conflicting reports about its location, we finally determine it had recently moved to a converted house on our way out of town. As we head out we see the landmarks—the big stone cross, the pizza joint—but not the shop.
After several blocks, we know we’ve missed it. We turn right to head back for a second look. In front of us is sign for The Fountain of Youth. We can’t resist. We head down the residential street, pull through the arched parking lot. There it is in all its cheez-ball glory. Now when I could use a little magic water, I’ve got no interest.
We turn back. On our second pass we find Luli’s hidden in a quaint house. It’s too hot for tea or coffee, and I’m thirsty so I order a bottle of water and a Key Lime Cupcake. Now that’s magic!