Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Fort Matanzas

April 22 Fort Matanzas was a small outpost built by the Spanish to protect the back door to Castilla de San Marcos. Matanzas means "slaughter" in Spanish because the French having washed ashore after a hurricane and a botched attack on the Castilla, were slaughtered by the Spanish. The Spaniards believed that Catholicism was the best religion going and thought those crazy Huguenots worshiped in a different way and needed to die because A. the attacked the fort and B. they were of a different religion.
So that lead us to drive down to the national monument. We arrived to hear the ranger making the last call for the boat and asked if we were going. I said sure we'll go for a boat ride and this is what we saw.

I think the camera has picked up a ghost. It has been taking some weird pictures.

Yours truely. I enjoyed a long talk with Ranger who drove the boat. He has served 15 years at Fort Matanzas and was at Fort Bowie about fifteen years ago. We visited Bowie last winter.

Across the street from the Park was the ocean and it was a mandatory stop. 

St. Augustine

Tuesday April 25

We left base camp and rolled south to St. Augustine to look at the old fort and roll around the downtown area.  St Augustine was the oldest city in the United States. It was strategically important for the Spanish because it guarded the Gulf Stream, which they used as a superhighway to move ships full of gold, spices and slaves from the New World to the Old.
We got free handicap parking in the city parking garage and then went for a stroll down Spanish memory lane. We passed an old cemetery where they buried those that were not Catholic and had enough money to be buried there.
Then it was in through the Old City Gates built of coquina (a sedimentary rock composed of shells) in 1808, 154 years after the city was founded and the Spanish decided that they needed a permanent wall built around the city to keep out those marauding French and English.  
The twin pillars topped with pomegranates are original and the mounds and wood are replicas of the original. 
 We strolled through downtown poking our noses into the little shops and stores until we came to the old Spanish square where we found this marker.

Becky has a wont to look at old churches and this one fell into the category. It was impressive and very ornate. I reminded her that we saw the oldest church in the Americas on our trip to the Dominican Republic when we took a tour of Santo Domingo.

 Outside we found a statue of Ponce de Leon

Docked along the piers is the replica Spanish ship El Galeon.
 From there we walked back along the water to Castillo de San Marcos. Work began on the fort in 1672 and took 23 years to complete. Built from coquina quarried locally with small axes and shipped by boat. Cement was made by burning clam shells to get ash and mixing in water and other ingredients. The fort withstood several attempts by the British to capture it and stands today as a testament to the hard work, the hard ships and the history of our world.

Entrance to the chapel.

These racks were the sleeping quarters and the sacks are filled with straw to provide some padding. The bunks would not accommodate a person over five eight. These Spaniards were short.

We left St. Augustine and headed north on the A1A. Patrick wanted to go to the beach and we found this little one just up the road.

Patrick and Becky took their first stroll along the Atlantic on this trip.             

Fish tacos and margaritas.
 After the beach, we headed north again in search of some food. We found some at The Pier Cantina and Sandbar at Jacksonville Beach. With full bellies, we returned to base camp.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Rollin South

Friday April 17, 2015 We left Stone Mountain in the rain. I was soaked by the time we climbed into the Tahoe to leave. Everything was just wet and damp. I wanted to take the back roads and by the time we rolled into Gray it was half way through the day and I wanted to be at the Fowler's in Green Cove Springs before dark so we shifted to the west and got on the dreaded interstate. The only excitement in the day was when the trailer door popped open while we were driving. I expected to see all manner of items fly out the door like a cockpit depressurizing. But they didn't and only the cat looked frightened.
Tracks for the day
We got to Darrel and Evelyn's around five o'clock. The kids were ecstatic that we were here. Like all kids, having someone new to visit and play with is always super exciting. We haven't seen the Fowler's in five years so it was good to be here and spend time with my old Navy squadron and room mates at HM-14 in Norfolk, VA.
Their house was down this nice sand lane at the end of a cul-de-sac

We set up in their front yard and made a base camp for exploring the area.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Kennesaw and Stone Mountain

Wednesday April 15
We left Sam and Suzie's home and drove south taking the back route to Atlanta to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. We had lunch in the parking lot and then toured the museum. We got our stamp for the National Parks Passport and then headed across town to Stone Mountain.
I've driven in and around Atlanta six times in my short life and every time the traffic was awful but today, it was worse. Made even more fun by pulling a trailer and we were near evening rush hour. What should have been a graceful 38 minute drive took us two hours. I felt like I had run a marathon when we finally made it Stone Mountain Campground.

Our campsite! It was packed gravel and sand. The bathroom was nice with large handicap stalls and showers.

Out the back we could see the lake. 
Thursday we got a late start, seems to be the norm on the trip. Its nice to sleep late and Patrick is catching up on the sleep his was missing out on at the house. We drove around to the Mountain and took the tram to the top.
From the Stone Mountain website

Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson

Pan sideways to see the panorama shot

Yes, I am wearing hat, coat and gloves! It was cold and rainy and it was very windy! Patrick sprinted across the rocks like a gazelle and freaked out his mother. There was a fence so he wasn't going to fall that far.
We went down to the bottom and went to the small museum about the building of the monument and the history around Stone Mountain. 
Seems like yesterday Patrick wasn't taller than Becky and then he was a foot taller.
Becky's maiden name is Ansley and so we needed a picture of this cool handgun made by an Ansley

A famous photo spot during the carving of the monument was in the Jefferson Davis' horse's mouth. Patrick sits in a Styrofoam replica. 

 After our time at the largest chunk of granite in Georgia, we went back to the camper, had a late lunch and then drove into Atlanta. When I was in the Navy and was sent to Bahrain, we used to go to what is now the Ritz Carlton Bahrain and eat steaks at The Ranch and then go to Trader Vic's for after dinner drinks. Many times all the personnel from the detachment would be there and things would get rather festive!
Trader Vic's has restaurants all over the world and there is one in Atlanta. I have been to this one and I wanted to take Becky and Patrick. Partly because I am partial to a drink that they have called the "Gun Club Punch." 
The infamous Gun Club Punch in the middle

What a stud!

Dessert! Chocolate Lava Cake with ice cream. I forgot to take food pics.
After a satisfying dinner and a lighter wallet, we headed back to the trailer to bed down for the night. We slept through a rain storm.