Yesterday was a very good day. We did a lot and were surprised at what a spur of the moment activity like going to the bank could bring us.
Around 5:30, I asked Laura if she’d like to come with me to the bank. I had a few checks sitting in my bag from house selling odds and ends. The checks were for a decent amount of money, so I really wanted to get them out of my bag and into an institution. I was worried about them falling away somewhere as I shuffled things here and there.
At first, I expected her to decline. I usually run these types of errands myself. I mean really, who wants to run to the bank with someone else? It’s almost like asking someone if they’d like to drive with you so you could fill your car with gas. Not entertaining at all.
I told her though – I said, “This bank is right up A1A toward St. Augustine. We’ll get to look at the ocean to our right for most of the ride. And there’s that big inlet I told you about a few weeks ago.” She kind of perked up, which suggested a fissure in her disinterest. She actually was interested the entire time but likes to play these games with me.
It didn’t take much arm twisting when she agreed to the trip. There were clouds in the sky and things being overcast made for a more pleasant ride. At least we wouldn’t get sunburned by simply driving around. A few drops of rain had begun to fall as well.
So, within a few minutes, we were in the car driving north. It’s actually a really nice ride after you get past all the neighborhoods and congestion of Palm Coast. Once we were on the east side of I95, it was pretty much smooth sailing. Pay the $2 toll to cross the bridge that saves us about 10 miles of driving and off we were. I’ve decided that I don’t mind the toll. It’ll give me a way to get rid of the change accumulating in my car’s console.
Driving up A1A is an adventure in itself. After the commercialism of Florida, things empty out and there’s state park after state park. I mean, honestly, there are so many parks with so many natural and historical attractions, I’m not sure we’re ever going to enjoy all of them. One I’m particularly interested in visiting is “Washington Oaks Gardens State Park.” Do a search for it and look at the images. You’ll see what I’m talking about and why I’m so interested. It looks beautiful and is only a few miles away from where we live.
Okay, so we continued to drive north, toward St. Augustine and finally made it to the bank. We never had to leave that road, which was nice. Once we were in St. Augustine, things got a bit more crowded than they had been at the beginning of our ride.
We arrived at 6:04 and I knocked on the locked door. I saw two women standing inside waving for me to go through the drive through window. Good thing they were in there and they were so agreeable, because if they weren’t, we’d be taking another trip at a later date.
But really, going to the bank isn’t the exciting part of our trip and I’m sure you have about zero interest in reading about it. I did have to give you some filler content though, just to warm you up for our “little tour” of the area.
After I deposited my checks through the slidey thing at the bank window, I turned to Laura and asked her if she’d like to continue north just a bit more so we could get a glimpse of the alligator farm in St. Augustine. She kind of shrugged her shoulders again and didn’t argue. Good thing she didn’t either, because I wasn’t interested in fighting as I drove her to the alligator farm against her will.
We headed north and in just a few miles, saw the alligator farm on our left. You can check it out here:
I even took a few pictures for you. It was closed and we already have plans for a real visit in the future, so I kept things to a minimum. I will tell you though, it looks might interesting and adventuresome.
It was neat to see the farm up close. We’ve been looking at this place online ever since we were living in Connecticut and I’ll tell you, it looks even better in person. They have zip lines and kind of like a canopy tour where you get to walk through the trees. They even have a special pass we’re going to take advantage of, where you get to go into the park before it opens to take pictures. It’s reserved for photographers – or budding bloggers such as ourselves.
St. Augustine was becoming more and more exciting as the minutes passed.
I didn’t bother to ask her as I pulled out of the parking lot to continue up the road. We were almost in downtown St. Augustine and not visiting the town we’d seen online so many times would just be silly. She didn’t argue anyway. We were both pretty hopped up on adrenaline as it was. Our plan of moving away to visit new destinations was transitioning into “full swing” mode.
Now, I don’t care how many times you dig into the street view of Google Earth, nothing can prepare you for how truly cool St. Augustine is. It’s probably the most amazing town I’ve seen to date. It kind of reminded me of New Orleans and a small village in Europe, not that I’ve ever been to either. I guess what I’m trying to say is that St. Augustine’s claim as the oldest city in the U.S. rings true as one drives around because between the historical sites and the architecture, one can become overwhelmed. I kept saying, “Oh, we have to go here and get pictures, we have to go there and get pictures. Ohhhh, when we come back, there are so many places to stop and get pictures.” As you can tell, taking pictures and bringing them to you has truly become part of my life.
We did two loops through the streets and saw some pretty neat stuff. There were multiple horse and carriage buggies, so much in the way of odd and interesting architecture and dozens of couples holding hands. It’s a romantic city, to be sure.
I’m going to post just a few pictures below to give you a hint of what I’m referring to. As I reviewed the pictures after we got home, I said, “Wow, these don’t look nearly as good as what we saw in person.” So don’t be disappointed. Better shots to come.
It was a good first pass through St. Augustine. Good enough to put on our list for deeper exploration.
But folks, I have to tell you that the drive through St. Augustine wasn’t the most fun we had yesterday, because during our ride back south toward Palm Coast, I decided to pull into a parking lot at Fort Matanzas Dunes and Ocean Beach.
If ever I ask myself what the heck I’m doing in Florida, I need to hop in the car for a quick trip to the beach. The beach cures all. It wipes away any doubt I’ve ever had about any stunt I’ve ever pulled. It opens up my perspective and allows any hesitation I’ve built up to this point to fall away. The beach is one of those gifts from nature that realigns my psyche.
There’s a place almost directly between Palm Coast and St. Augustine called “Fort Matanzas.” The area consists of a few islands and one of the most beautiful beaches I could ever ask for. The sand is more white than other beaches in the area and it’s quite desolate. And it’s one of those flat beaches too. One where you can walk out very far in the water and still have it be only up to your knees. It’s a walking beach to be sure. As we were there, we kept repeating that we could seriously do some damage on this one. Seriously do some damage in the way of exercise. You’ll see what I’m talking about in the pictures below.
There are two small parking areas on either side of the road, just north of the inlet. They each have trails that lead to the water. One leads to the intracoastal waterway and one leads to the ocean. I decided to stop in the parking area with the trail that leads to the ocean. I’ve been telling myself for days now – “I don’t care about the weather. I swear, I’m going to swim in the sea!”
And I did. It rained on us yesterday as we walked along the beach, but I took my shirt off, emptied my pockets and I ran into the water. As I entered, I stopped, wondered what I was doing and then dove in. I tasted the salt, stood up to wipe the water from my eyes and looked back at Laura who was just standing there smiling. She was wearing jeans, but I could tell she was mere seconds from tearing her clothes off to jump in after me. There’s truly nothing like being spur of the moment and there’s nothing like being all alone on a Florida beach during a rain storm. Watching the clouds break in the distance, only to come back together is a sight.
There are a few very interesting things about the area we stopped at. I wasn’t aware of them until we were walking along the boardwalk, but apparently, there are a few wildlife attractions we needed to take notice of.
Laura first noticed all the wild flowers. There were Beach Sunflower, Butterfly Pea, Blanket Flower, Prickly Pear Cactus, Moonflower, Spotted Beebalm, Standing Cypress, Partridge Pea, Stinging Nettle and Sea Ox-eye Daisy. All of these flowers were growing in the dunes, just west of the beach.
Also, the dunes were home to the Gopher Tortoise and various creatures that used the burrows made by the turtle as habitat as well. I’ll show you in a picture below.
There are two more pieces of information I’d like to share about yesterday’s visit to the beach. We learned that there is a sea turtle volunteer program that helps little baby turtles survive and make it to the ocean after birth. The program is called, “Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol.” We looked it up because we had an interest in volunteering, but unfortunately, the program’s already full. I just thought that would have been a fantastic blogging opportunity.
Also, apparently St. Augustine allows driving on the beach. While we were out there yesterday, we kept seeing headlights on the sand. There’s a entrance ramp about a mile north of where we were. Seriously guys – driving on the beach? Before we moved here, one of my friends kept telling me that I should sell my car because it’s four wheel drive. Yeah, not going to do that. But what I am going to do is purchase a beach driving pass. Like I told Laura yesterday, “I’m not going to die before I drive on the beach.” A worthy goal, I’d say.