This place, Saint Augustine Beach, is a few miles from Saint Augustine and located on an island across the Inter Coastal Waterway (ICW). I’ve read many of books about people that have boated the ICW down the East Coast to the Keys in Florida. It was cool to see it in real life and to drive across one of its many draw bridges. The park we are staying in is just a block away from the beach and backs up to a swampy wetlands part of the ICW.
We learned of some gators that hang out there near the docks so, after setting up camp, we walked over to check it out. It’s a beautiful wetlands area with a couple of docks and a boat launch. It looks like a person could do some exploring in a kayak or canoe. (which they rent here) The water is teaming with life but we saw no gators. The sign says that manatees are in the water as well but we never did see one show itself, just tons of fish, crab and frogs.
We loved this place so much that we stayed for 4 nights. The first morning there, I got up early and rode my bike down to the beach to witness the sun rise over the Atlantic. T
his was a first for me. I’ve seen many of sunsets over the Pacific. It looked just like one of those except that that it was morning and I was sipping a cup of coffee instead of a cold beer! The beach is really nice. The sand is packed at the water line and perfect for bike riding. A person could ride a bike for miles down this strand of beach if they wanted to. They also allow you to drive a car onto the beach in certain areas which is nice if you’re carting a bunch of gear. The air temp at the beach was upper 80’s with the water just slightly cooler than that.
We logged a lot of hours here, riding bikes, swimming and playing. Vonnie got herself a pretty nice sunburn as well.
We spent one day exploring the city of Saint Augustine. This is a really old city. The oldest in the USA. First settled in 1565, I think, by Spain and, then much later, became a US city. It’s been burned down a few times since but still has lots of old architecture still standing. At one point, we ducked into a pub that was built in the 1700’s. We had some beverages while some dudes dressed in pirate garb, along with many of the patrons, belted out old sailor songs.
The place had no glass windows and was lit by lanterns and candles. Pretty cool scene. We took a carriage ride through the town while the driver told the history of many of the old buildings. We did a lot of exploring on foot as well, checking out art galleries, museums, etc…. (see pics)
Each one of the buildings pictured have an interesting story behind them. For example, Thomas Edison had a hand in adding electricity to one of the old hotels here (the first electricity in town) and there is a whole story behind that but, obviously, too much to post here.
It was Vi’s 12th birthday and we celebrated it here. We hung at the beach most of the day then went to dinner at a little grill next to our campground. Vonnie and Vi had baked a cake earlier so we brought that out to the pool area that evening.
Vi had met a couple of friends that day and they came and swam and sang happy birthday and had cake with us. Vi got a camera for her birthday and she’s now been helping me document this journey. We also allowed her to set up a MySpace account so she’s all about that right now.
This place was tough to leave behind. We wanted to spend a month here and even halfway joked about buying one of the lots at our campground (selling for about $90k) and parking the 5th wheel there! Maybe when we retire….
After talking with some other travelers and locals, we made a tough decision to blow off southern Florida. Everyone we talked to agreed that this area was one of the nicest and mellow beaches we would see in Florida. They all said the Keys were beautiful but we would have had to give up almost a week to drive down there and back and we’re starting to run short on time. I guess that could be one of the places to add to my list of sailing destinations! We made plans to check out the Okefenokee State Park located in southern Georgia so we’re off in that direction. It’s a swamp land and they're supposed to have lots of wildlife including gators!
Saint Augustine Beach has been our favorite stop so far on this trip. It was a little tricky to find and we made some wrong turns. This little highway (A1A) gets pretty tight in some spots in St Augustine, especially when pulling a 5th wheel. At one point, after missing a left turn, we were in need of a u-turn and I noticed a vacant parking lot that I might negotiate one. It was closed off with cones and, with me blocking traffic, I had Vonnie jump out and move the cones so I could pull in. I pulled in and flipped it around as Vonnie came running toward the truck. She was fired up and saying "Hurry! There's a man chasing me and yelling at me." I then noticed that we were trespassing on what was a (not very) secured US Coastguard facility. I looked into the side view mirror and watched as a uniformed man was running out of the barracks toward our vehicle. He was waving his arms and yelling. Vonnie jumped in and we just peeled out of there before he could reach us.