And So It Begins

We decided to start with a brief trip to St. Augustine. We were there a month ago for our week out of the system, during which we saw most of the city and met a Rabbi who had been a resistance fighter during the Holocaust. He let us see his yellow star! But there were a few outlying attractions that we hadn’t made it to, so we decided to head back for a long weekend.

We arrived at Bulow Plantation in Flagler Beach on Saturday, May 8 at around 4 p.m. It was the only time it’s ever been so hot when we moved the RV that we couldn’t stick around to set up. We literally unhitched, turned the A/C down full blast, and took off. Thankfully there was a Russell Stover outlet on the corner, where we passed an hour eating free samples and looking around. We took a short drive through Flagler and then, once it cooled off a bit, went back to set up.

Sunday was Mother’s Day, which made me a bit emotional. I’m so thankful that Dad has taken over a lot of the “mom role” in my life, but still, I missed my mother terribly. We went to the Mother’s Day breakfast at the RV park and then headed out sightseeing. Thankfully the weather had cooled down dramatically. It was in the mid-70s and breezy, with little cloud cover, perfect for  Dad’s photography.

First stop was the Bulow Plantation ruins. The place was a sugar/indigo/cotton plantation during the 1800s, but was burned down during the Second Seminole War in 1836. Only the shell of the sugar mill is still standing. We talked to some really nice volunteers, who are trying to grow the crops that were grown during the plantation’s heyday. It turns out the plantation owner was actually a supporter of Native American rights, but he kind of got caught in the crossfire.

We then headed to Fort Matanzas. Located about 15 miles south of St. Augustine, the Fort was built in 1740 to protect the city from invaders attempting to sneak in from the south. It’s little more than a guard shack on an island, with enlisted and officers’ quarters, a watch tower and a gun deck, but it was a lot of fun! You have to take a boat from the mainland, and there’s a short guided tour. Best part of the experience: Climbing a ladder straight up through a narrow crawl space and emerging to a spectacular view of the city. Highly recommended, if you find yourself in the area.

We finished the day at an archeological site that we noticed on the side of the road. It’s been partially excavated, and you can walk around the perimeter of the site. It was a sugar plantation, apparently built on an older smaller house. Like Bulow, it was burned to the ground during the Second Seminole War.

Monday was the St. Augustine Lighthouse. The complex is much bigger than I anticipated, and the included audio tour told us all about the history of the lighthouse and the families that lived and worked there. The tower is open to the public, and at 219 steps it’s quite a climb! I’m slightly claustrophobic and slightly scared of heights, but I did really well. The view from the top is just breathtaking! A photo will be forthcoming when I get them uploaded. It’s not for the faint of heart though, as the railing is relatively open and the wind’s pretty intense. I saw more than one person standing with their backs pressed tightly against the wall, well away from the edge.

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