Friday, March 8, 2002

The Tour, 2002, Part 5

March 5, 2002

A moving day, lots to do, breakfast, email before we leave, pay some bills, pick up and clean the trailer.

And, let me tell you how COLD it is!  Oh, my!!  New record lows have been set all over Florida overnight.  I put on the winter coat this AM, and boy, oh, boy, did it feel GOOD!!  It was about 41 degrees this morning when we got up.  And windy.  They had wind chill warnings up till 9 AM.  Sorta like our fog warnings.   HA HA.

We drive up to St. Augustine, stopping for a grocery fill up along the way.  We had managed to put a good dent in the supplies, especially that of the refrigerator.

Our campground is on an unnamed island NE of St. Augustine, just over a bridge.  The Intercostal Waterway is on one side of the island, the Atlantic on the other.  The campsites are so buried in the local trees and greenery that no trailers are seen from the road.  Each campsite is very private.  We cannot remember camping anywhere quite like this, it is quite beautiful.  

It reminds me very much of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and personally I like this more than anything I have seen in Florida.  Trouble is, well, it is cooler here all winter, their high season is during the summer, just like the Outer Banks, and unlike any other campground we have been in during our stay in Florida.  All the other campgrounds have their busy season during the winter and by April they are almost empty.  This place is just the opposite.

We set up, take a walk, talk to a couple from Nova Scotia who have stayed here most of the winter, and say it is a bit cool, always.  Dinner, and then relaxing.  Tomorrow we will do the tourist thing in St. Augustine.  Lots to see.  We have already extended our stay here one more night, not sure we can get more, but we may try.

The weather and news reports we have been seeing say that it is very cold and some snow and ice in Michigan.  It was 18 this AM in Raleigh North Carolina.  Full winter weather in March.  BLAH!  BUT, the good news, the azaelas are in FULL bloom here.

Oh, it is “Biker Week” here in Florida, one feels out of place if NOT dressed in black leather with HOG or Harley Davison printed all over it!

March 6, 2002

Today we tour St. Augustine.  After breakfast we head for downtown.  It is mild by Michigan standards, but there is a very cold wind off the Atlantic.  Need the ole ears covered.  We buy tickets for the “train”, it takes you all over town, you can get on and off at your pleasure, ticket is good for 3 days, and you get free parking.  First we ride about half the tour, then jump off for lunch, Barnacle Bills, you know, seafood, you know who!  Oh, the food was very good, Man purchased a t-shirt, he loves those seafood t shirts (not quite as much as the food, but a LOT!)

We visit the “Fountain of Youth”.  No, we did NOT drink any of that sulfur water.  ICK!  We then walked the grounds and read all the monuments.

Back on the tour bus, we eventually jump off on St. George Street, which is closed to motorized traffic, lots of shops, shops of all kinds, clothes, toys, food, art.

Along the way we hear of Osceola, Seminole Indian and his part in history.  This of course grabs my interest, as Sallie Darden, my great-great grandmother has a brother named Osceola.  I have only one Osceola in my data base, and it is he.  An unusual name, I wonder if there can be some link that may prove interesting.  Like, did Sallie’s father have some interest, did he serve during the Seminole War?  With the names of several books, the search for them is now included in our visit to St. Augustine.

Back at the trailer we have a drink and a pizza and crash.  We are tired from the wind, and the walking.  My allergies kick in, a little, with stuffy nose and sticky eyes.  Not bad enough that I have to take meds, and for that I am thankful. 

March 7, 2002

Back to St. Augustine, we start our day at the Fort, a national park.  After a long look, we walk over a few blocks to Columbia, a Cuban/Spanish eatery.  Food is good, coffee was GREAT!

After lunch we take off walking again, down St. George Street again, popping in and out of stores we did not visit yesterday.  Eventually we make our way all the way across town to the Oldest House, and find that the St. Augustine Historical Society Research Library is not there, as we had been told, but is back a few streets.  By now my legs are feeling the effects of 2 days of tourism, not so much the walking, but the standing.  The old knees are screaming.

Find the library, snoop around a little, find that there is a “Henry Darden” in the 1840 census of Florida, which is interesting, Charles Henry Darden.  Hmmmm???

We have to wait quite a while for the “train” to come pick us up, all the trains that come by are full.  Arggghhh!!  Being soooo tired, this wait is more than painful.  Man tries to find a beer “to go”, but fails.   Finally seated on that little red train we ride back to our car.

On the way back to the trailer we ride around a little on the beach where we are staying.  Lots of building going on, probably the result of the “new” bridge.  We joke, only half way, that property values probably jumped from $1,000 an acre to $90,000 an acre when that bridge was completed.  Someone built a “castle” out here, really, does not appear to be lived in, but looks like a castle and is called that.

I groom Captain Hook and Chantilly, and comb out Gallagher.  Sandwiches for dinner, by 10 my shoulders and back are burning, and I give up the chores and grab my heating pad!

Tomorrow we leave, wish we could stay longer, it is very beautiful here, St. Augustine is very enchanting.  Very much like Savannah, Charleston, and the beaches are very similar to the Outer Banks.

Thoughts on leaving Florida:

There are a lot of old people here, sorry to those readers who are older.  The warm weather draws them, it is a break from the cold and from the aching bones.  Understand that part.

So many wheel chairs.

Many with blank looks on their faces.

Slow walkers.

Lots of golfers.

They love to wear shorts even if the weather is cold.

On the west coast they drive slow, in Ft. Lauderdale area, they drive like maniacs, don’t stop at stop signs, pull in front of you, cut across 5 lanes of traffic in only moments.

Lots of ambulances, several pulled into campgrounds we stayed at.  Conversations overheard at campgrounds often centered around, who was sick, who had died, who was out of the hospital.

The dog people are nice here, even after all the trouble we initially had finding campgrounds to stay in.  We have practiced “selective dogs” here in some of the campgrounds, at Ft. Lauderdale they did not tell us that they only allowed 2 dogs.

Map they give you at the Florida Welcome Center had no Exit numbers, not so good.  Understand that soon they will have exit numbers and mile markers at each exit.

Florida is NOT always warm!  

Florida is the origin of “road rage”.  (We do not know that, we suspect it!!)

The explorers of ole did not discover gold here in Florida, but if they were to come back here today, they would find the gold, dripping out of the pockets of so many of the folks that spend some time here each winter.  Holy, moly, expensive houses, expensive RV’s, expensive clothes and jewelry, money dripping out of pockets everywhere.  Of course, this brings along some snotty nosed attitudes, YUCK!

Onward and forward.

March 8, 2002

Our last day in St. Augustine and we are very reluctant to leave this campground.  It is warm, very warm, close to 80 degrees.  Checkout time is 1 P.M. and we stay till about 10 minutes before the hour.  We have a slow morning of packing up, Man calls and finds a campground at our next stop, which is to be the Okefenokee Swamp, in Georgia.  We have lunch, and then get ready to unhook the water, electric and put away the last of the gear, including the sewer hose.  Man has put the cover to the sewer connection inside of the bumper, something he does not usually do.  So, forgetting that he had done that, he tries to jam the sewer hose back into the bumper and proceeds to push that little cap into the middle of the bumper.  Oh, NO!!!!!  Now, he wants that sewer cap, really really bad!  His first try is the broom, which does not work.  After I clean the broom handle he decides to try a coat hanger.  He gets a hanger from his closet, cuts it, creates a hook, and the ole sewer cap is retrieved.

Our drive takes us past Jacksonville.  There are two routes we can take, one is through town, the other is the bypass.  We usually chose the direct route, and usually this proves to be a good choice.  Well, not this time.  The traffic is really bad, and it is only 2:30 in the afternoon, ok, Friday afternoon, but wow, this traffic has to be seen to be believed.  Lots of cutting in at the last minute when lanes give out.  Lots of lane changing.  Just plain ole messy!  Glad to put that behind us!  Especially Man!

We arrive at our next campsite, only 13 sites here, right across from the entrance to the Swamp, and I mean right across!  The owners appear to be Hippees from the 1970's, that said, they are very particular about their campground and have sorta strange rules.  They have owned the campground since 1997, when they purchased it, the grounds were a dumping ground.  They have cleaned it up.  It is quiet and we like it here a lot.    We set up, have dinner and lay around.

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