Friday, February 24, 2012
Hot , Humid , Historic Florida
St Augustine at last! We took the Dixie Highway to Port Orange and crossed the Intercoastal Waterway onto the barrier islands that include south Daytona, Daytona Shores and Daytona Beach--absolutely no view of the ocean OR the waterway--a wall of condominiums of all colors, sizes, shapes and styles. Where there is an empty lot there is a fence blocking the view. Blessedly there are a couple of State parks where nothing is built and so periodically a bit of beach peeks over the dunes temptingly. Then there are communities such as Summer Haven and Flagler Beach which have built their mansions and small, though expensive bungalows across the road from the water--allowing more unsullied beach to be enjoyed by all. The original Marineland still has its dolphin experience but we had no interest in seeing it. There is also the Alligator Farm that has been there for over 50 years but we are happy to see them in the wild. The appearance of the Anastasia Island light alerted us to our imminent arrival at the Lion Bridge and the magnificent Ponce de Leon Hotel with is now actually Flagler College. Behind it is the Presbyterian Church dome--the church also built for Flagler--he who started the whole invasion of Florida by his affluent friends, the first snowbirds. Quite the salesman, he told them the hotel was built on the site of the Fountain of Youth, discovered by Poncey himself! But none of this was of interest to me--I've seen all that before and it was nice but what I remember from my visit 54 years ago in the Castillo de San Marcos--built by Spain to protect the main settlement of its Florida colony in 1625. It is constructed of blocks of tightly packed cochina shells--I was so fascinated by that material as a teen and just had to see the place again. It is just as I remembered it. It has aged better than I--with my gimpy leg and susceptibility to the heat and humidity which just make me miserable. Still, with the wind tearing at my hair,my clothes sticking to me, and feeling very off balance on the uneven ground, I was so happy to be there. It is a beautiful fort, if small, and just has a special place in my memory.We spent two hours there in the blue and white blazing, blinding sun and loved it. Then we went back over the Lion Bridge and headed back to NSB. We hope to return next week after Daytona is done and see Fort Mantazanas which was built to defend the inlet leading to St A and which was manned and commanded by the soldiers at the Castillo. It was not open to the public when I was a girl and is apparently in a great deal of disrepair, having been deserted by the British and Americans in their time operating the Castillo--or Ft St Mark or Fort Marion--as it was renamed. There is a half hour ferry ride to get to it and that is worth the trip. We stopped in Flagler Beach and had late lunch at Martin's. Fried Oyster platter for me, Seafood platter for Bill. The lady who owns it used to live in Rotterdam and her gentleman friend is from Maine--Penobscott Bay area. So guess what we discussed/ What a small world this is. And then it was back through the Forest of Condominiums' Ocean Obscura City. Past by the NSB airport and the Goodyear and DirectV blimbs bobbing at their moorings and waiting for the action in Daytona on Sunday. A quick shower and nap and now settling in for TV or a Netflix movie---not sure which. The next couple of days are going to be spent kicking around here--avoiding traffic. The beach, the seashore drive, and other little excursions. Looks as though we'll be thinking of moving West midweek. Nothing definite yet--we still want to go out half day sea fishing. I'm beginning to get antsy for the Panhandle and Louisiana! Until tomorrow--goodnight. Is it snowing up North? And those who started Feb vaca today--have a wonderful break.