Monday, May 30, 2016

Chapter 2 - Estero to St Augustine



May 28th, Day 1: For those of you that know us, our rising early is normal so our leaving home in Estero at 6:50 am on the morning of Saturday, May 28th should not come as a surprise. Our drive this first day up to St. Augustine, Florida is around 270 miles and under normal conditions it should take us a little over five hours to reach our campground on St Augustine Beach. But like a na├»ve young couple, we left at the beginning of Memorial Day weekend, and once we reached Interstate 4 headed towards Orlando, we hit a traffic jamb of enormous proportions.  We arrived at our campsite at 1:30 in the afternoon after 6-1/2 hours of driving, way beyond our normal goal of driving no more than 4 to 5 hours per day.  We were determined however, not to let it stress us out.  Just relax.

Our campground was actually pretty nice although a bit over priced at $65 per night. As you can see in the photograph above, we are parked right next to our big brother, a $300K motorhome, and it hardly seems fair that our little $13.5K travel trailer has to pay the same price to park as this enormously expensive motorhome.  This can happen only in our country like ours for I am sure that in a socialistic country like Cuba this would not be the case. We would be charged no more than $15 per night. I wonder if Hillary would consider changing this inequity.  Bernie surely would. Anyway.

After hooking up our trailer and unpacking a few items from our car, we were back to normal and ready for relaxing.  Rather than being full-out tourists today, we decided to take a short drive over to the beach and see what it is like and then hold off going into historic St Augustine until tomorrow.  The beach was crowded and hotter than hell and not for old folks like Kathy and I and of course, Cabo so we returned to our campground after only a brief sandy walk. Had cocktails and dinner and went to bed relatively early. We roughed it.  No Netflex movies and only a few satellite TV channels.

May 29th, Day 2: With no Wall Street Journal to read online it being Sunday, I delayed getting out of our cozy bed until 6 am.  After we had breakfast and warm showers we headed for downtown St. Augustine around eight, determined to beat the crowds. Our first stop just a mile or so north of our campground, was at the St. Augustine Lighthouse which was still closed when we arrived. We were told by other early visitors that yesterday this historic site was mobbed with at least a 45 minute wait to climb the lighthouse. We were happy just to see this beautiful site.  This lighthouse built in 1874 is one of the most visited sites in this historic city.








After leaving the lighthouse, we continued north for a few miles down Highway A1A and across the Bridge of Lions and into historic downtown St Augustine, Florida. The bridge crosses the Matanzas River which separates the mainland from the inner coastal and St Augustine Beach. At both ends of the bridge we noted beautiful stone statues of lions.  I love this city.  Loaded with statutes and old buildings, old churches, and a billion gift stores (and tourists).




St Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied city in what is now the United States originally founded by the Spanish back in 1565, 55 years before the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth.  While obviously nothing has survived intact from that period, the downtown area is very historical and expensively renovated.  The photo to the left shows a section of St George Street and behind Kathy is The Cathedral Basilica of St Augustine, constructed between 1793 and 1797.










We walked the entire length of St George Street which as you can see in the photograph to the right was not originally built for cars. Most of the old homes if they have not been torn down over the years have been renovated and turned into shops and restaurants and in a few cases remain as homes.  St George Street is a must see if one visits St. Augustine and it is special because even the numerous trolley cars that are all over the city cannot come down this small city street. Fortunately our walk down the street occurred early before the crowds descended on the area.

The oldest structure in the city is Castillo de San Marcos originally built by the Spanish beginning back in 1672.  We did not go in the fortress not only because poor Cabo was not allowed inside, but also because by the time we arrived at the fort, it was much to crowded to enjoy.  Fortunately we had the opportunity to visit and tour the Castillo de San Marcus a number of years back.






We are going to end this chapter of our travels with a photo of Kathy in front of the famous Columbia Restaurant. Here again while the restaurant was not opened at this time of day, we have previously eaten at the Columbia both here in St Augustine as well as their sister restaurants in Tampa and on St Armands Key here in Florida. It is a fabulous place to enjoy great food and drinks.

We returned to our "Tiny House" in the early afternoon and spent the remainder of the day just relaxing and in my case organizing this chapter of our Blog.  We cooked dinner on our propane grill while enjoying (in my case anyway) a gin and tonic (my version of a healthy drink).  We were in bed fairly early, but watched an hour or so of TV before finally calling it a day and falling asleep dreaming of our drive up to Hilton Head Island in the morning.

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