It all started out simple enough. We were going to drive to the Old School Diner for some grub, head over to the Harris Neck NWR for some pictures, then come back home. That’s it. An hour down, two hours there, and one hour back. Four hours and we’d be back by 8pm to spend the rest of our Saturday night vegging on the couch.
But when is anything in my life ever simple?
Jason saw this story (watch the video!) on WTOC about this place called the Old School Diner, which apparently had the best food on the planet and is a regular eatery for Ben Affleck when he’s in town. We did some digging, found that there was a wildlife refuge right down the street from it and decided to have a Saturday outing.
We leave the house around 1pm and we get to Harris Neck around 2:15pm. We find the diner and I’m a little doubtful about the place. When you pull up, there’s some old trailers off to the left, one or two which still look inhibited, and an old rundown one up from it. There’s a lot of stuff everywhere and it looks a little junky. There’s old carpets all over the parking lot and Georgia license plates nailed up all around the wooden fence on the property. I’m a little concerned.
The Old School Diner doesn’t open until 5pm so we have some time to kill. We head towards the refuge and I spot the World’s Smallest Church. I have to go in! We stop, see the crowd trying to stuff their way into it, and decide to come back. We head on to the Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, which used to be a WWII Army airfield. Aside from the one pond which was filled with thousands of egrets, there’s not much to see.
Most of the swamps and animal life are off the beaten path, so a simple drive through the refuge will probably leave you bored…like I was. There’s a lot of pavement from the airfield, where structures used to stand and runways used to be. The earth has reclaimed most of this space and it’s grown over with trees and lots of greenery. There’s a lot of dense forest space…and some monster spiders…but that was it. Color me unimpressed. I’ll stick with the Savannah NWR, thank you very much.
We check our watches and it’s almost 4pm. There’s still an hour to kill so we decided to hit the World’s Smallest Church.
We get there and discover that it is in fact, the world’s smallest damn church. The thing is tiny! It’s 10 ft. x 15bt. and only capable of holding 13 people at a time.
There’s a chocolate lab who’s followed us into the church, so the husband and son head out to play while I snap some pictures of the interior. I head outside and find the family playing catch with a pine comb. This is the world’s smartest dog…right next to the world’s smallest church.
We seriously wanted to bring him home with us. And if he had jumped into the bed of our truck, we would’ve. But he had a collar on and looked healthy, so he belonged to someone, so we said our goodbyes and headed towards the Old School Diner.
We get there, find a parking spot on the carpeted driveway, and make our way inside the place. Now, I have to tell you, the place looks a bit “iffy” upon first glance. There’s a lot of stuff…and it’s everywhere. In the yard. On the walls. There’s no cohesive theme at all…but upon closer inspection, I found that to be a really cool thing. There were a ton of little gems hidden throughout the patio area, including this awesome tiled table with vintage pinup tiles on it. Love it!
When you go inside, there’s pictures all over the wall of past customers. Small tables are set up in three small rooms. It’s actually really comfy and homey. Have I mentioned that Ben Affleck is a regular at the diner? He even has his own room in the back. It’s nice and quiet.
So we go in, get seated, and out comes Chef Jerome to greet us. He shakes my husband’s hand and takes mine and gives me a kiss on the cheek. What a gentleman. That’s what I call a warm welcome. And he smelled so nice! We chatted up the people at the table with us and the server brought us some ice cold sweet tea, which was nice because it was stinkin’ hot outside. We were served a basket of homemade hush puppies and tartar sauce, which we tore up. And that’s really odd for me because I do NOT like hush puppies and tartar sauce. But these were just soooo good. They were sweet and not at all gritty. And I could be mistaken, but I think there were bits of sweet corn in them. I ordered the shrimp creole with rice and my husband ordered the “Shrimp and Pig”, which is bbq ribs and huge shrimp.
Both were delicious. Oh my god, the entire meal was so good. The bbq sauce was probably the best we’ve ever had…and we’ve had a lot! Man, it was all so good that we were eating the drippings off the plate. And the shrimp were huge and fried up to perfection. We finished up, rolled our way out the door, and vowed to come back soon. The Chef waved us goodbye from the kitchen door and we drove away with a greater appreciation for the place. If you’re ever in the area, you MUST go there! Hell, I’ll go there with you! Next time I’m going to order the wheelchair platter…$45 gets you EVERYTHING on the menu! That’s what the wheelchairs out from are for apparently.
From the Old School Diner driveway, we decided to drive to Brunswick just for the heck of it. So we did. And when we got there, we decided to drive down to the Florida border. The farthest south I’ve ever been is Jeckyl Island, Georgia, so we figured “what the hey”. We planned on crossing the Florida line, taking a picture, and then turning around and going back home.
That didn’t happen.
We drove to the Florida Visitor’s Center and we jumped out to take some pictures next to the sign.
From there, we decided that Jacksonville was only 30 minutes away, so let’s just drive there…for the heck of it.
So we did and when we got there, we decided that we were only 20 minutes from St. Augustine, so we should keep on driving until we get there…for the heck of it.
And we did.
We hit St. Augustine around 10pm, much too late to see anything, but we still had a great time. We drove past the Fountain of Youth, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum, the Castillo de San Marcos, and the Old St. Johns County Jail.
We did make it over to the St. Augustine Lighthouse, but there was a private tour inside, so we were unable to go in, but we did take some photos from the outside.
Yeah, we weren’t able to do much in our short trip, but we did enjoy the general splendor of the city. It’s absolutely breathtaking at night. I can only imagine what it’s like in the daytime. My husband has promised to take me back in a few weeks for a weekend. I’m very excited!
So yeah…we started out just going out for a bite to eat and we ended up in Florida. I call that a nice Saturday drive, don’t you?
I’ve got a ton of pictures of our trip on Flickr. Check them out. :)