St. Augustine – On The Road To Florida

 

Old Gates of the City

Old Gates of the City

We rolled down I-95 past St. Augustine, Florida, on Thursday about twelve noon and found our campground just south of there off SR 207. I had picked it out of the Passport America directory and was curious to see how the description jibed with the actual place.

As you might expect, things always look better on paper than they do in person. However, in this case, some of the sites were paved and level, a big plus for me. Unfortunately, no one was in the office when we arrived, and still not there when we returned from lunch and the outlet malls up the road at five-fifteen that evening.

So, the next morning at eight-thirty I walked over to find that someone was actually in. Turns out the site I had picked was reserved for someone else arriving Friday evening and I would have to move. I hate having to pick up and move to another spot in the middle of a stay but what could I do? The lady was pleasant enough, even apologetic though not her fault, so I smiled and paid my tab and walked back to the RV to prepare to move it three spots up the row.

A quick word about Passport America for those who don’t know: I was offered a one-year membership for $40 with three more months thrown in free by Camping World. I took them up on it and it’s paid for itself several times over. Basically, I can stay in any one of their listed RV parks for half-price, subject to occasional restrictions. It can seriously reduce your camping costs and I’m quite pleased.

Clock outside Welcome Center

Clock outside Welcome Center

 

On Friday, we went in to the old town part of St. Augustine and picked up a guide book from the Welcome Center and walked down toward St. George Street. After passing the old Gates of the City, we turned right on St. George and just strolled along rubbernecking and window shopping and, sometimes, wandering into one or another eclectic shop peddling all manner of tchotchkes.

At noon, we walked a short distance to the corner of Cuna and Spanish Streets to the Prince of Wales Restaurant , featuring British and American dishes. I’m a big fish-and-chips fan and ordered their ‘small’ plate, as did Ellen, who does not usually order that. When it arrived, without a long wait, the well-battered piece of cod spanned the entire plate making me wonder how big the ‘large’ plate would have been.  Filling up the rest of the plate was a generous portion of thick-cut lightly battered chips, or french fries on this side of the pond.

With their slightly lemony home-made tartar sauce for the fish, and a bottle of HP Sauce (a lot like our Heinz 57) for the chips, I was a happy camper. (A little RV humor…)

Our server was a cute, young, tattooed, stretch-pants wearing, pierced nose, blond young lady who was nevertheless very pleasant and efficient. I asked Ellen if our waitress was wearing yoga pants but she couldn’t say for sure.

 

Oldest wooden schoolhouse in America

Oldest wooden schoolhouse in America

We rolled out of there pleasantly full and continued our walk down St. George until we reached the end of the retail section. We then turned around and started back for the Welcome Center. When we sat on a bench for a moment before walking into the public parking garage to retrieve the truck, I heard a sound coming from one of the several vendor canopies set up nearby. I thought I recognized it and asked Ellen if she could identify it. She guessed a moose call but I don’t think there are many moose in this part (or any part) of Florida. I told her it sounded like a didgeridoo. If you remember the song, “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport,” then you remember the line, “Play a didgeridoo, boys, play a didgeridoo.” It’s a long, wooden tube/horn with a somewhat flared end. When, according to the gentleman ‘playing’ it, you purse your lips and blow like you’re making a motorboat noise into the small end you get a twangy buzzy hum out the other. Very hard to describe. Here’s a sample: Fascinating.

If you decide to visit St. Augustine, plan to stay at least three nights and maybe four, depending on the season. The Castillo de San Marcos is a must-see, although we skipped it because I’ve seen it a number of times and Ellen has been there, too. Plus, the impasse was still going on in Washington and it was closed due to the government shutdown.

 

Secluded garden behind an art and glass shop

Secluded garden behind an art and glass shop

There are segway tours and boat tours and helicopter tours and carriage tours available, as well as tram rides and trolley rides and Florida souvenirs galore. It’s a family-friendly place, steeped in history – it is the country’s oldest settled city, after all – and pretty laid-back. And the weather ain’t bad, either.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Bob Engelbrecht
    Oct 12, 2013

    Sounds like you guys are having a great time (Ellen 2?)

    • Barry
      Oct 12, 2013

      Yup, Ellen too. Thanks for commenting, Bob!

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