Fort Matanzas and Castillo de San Marcos

Trip Start Jul 19, 2007
Trip End Jul 28, 2007

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Monday, July 23, 2007

Our first national park of the day was just 4 miles south of our hotel. We stopped at Starbucks for breakfast (I hadn't had Starbucks since we left Ft. Lauderdale!) then drove down to the fort. It turns out the fort is only accessible by ferry, so we watched the park video while we waited.

The video used several of the same scenes we'd seen in the De Soto Memorial video! A lot of the other parts of the story showed drawings we had seen in the visitor center at Ft. Caroline. There was some new footage as well, but the park service certainly was getting their money's worth from that film!

The fort was very small but strategically very important in the defense of the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine. It was in the low 80's the day we were there and the rangers at the fort were in complete costume - heavy wool jackets and all. There was a nice breeze, but they still had to be HOT!

Our second national park was just a few miles to the north in St. Augustine. Both Paul and I had been to the Castillo de San Marcos Monument before. One of the more interesting things about this fort is how many structural changes have been made to the fort over the years. Walls have been made taller, rooms made bigger, the commander's house in the center of the courtyard, then removed.

The cannon stands at the top of the Castillo were like the ones Paul designed for the owner of Sunbeam Plastics' house in St. Kitts when we were first married.

We ate lunch at McKnight's Irish pub on the square. The food was great. I had bangers and mash, Paul had fish and chips. We shared Irish Whiskey cake for dessert - it was wonderful! We wandered around the shops for a while, then stopped at a gourmet grocery and got some cheese and crackers to have with our wine later.

The beach at the hotel was fantastic. It was powdery fine, light gray and where it had been wet it was hard packed. Walking on the beach was really easy. The beach is very wide, the water was warm. We went out in the early evening hoping to stay out late enough to see sea turtles come in and lay their eggs. We stayed out until about 9:30 then gave up.

We learned that sea oats help prevent erosion of dunes and banks along the shoreline. They look very cool silhouetted against the sky.
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