Great Loop: “Oldest” European/African American settlement in the US

Days 32-35: February 18-21, 2023

St. Augustine, FL, goes way back. So far back it was in the 16th century. In 1565 Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, a Spanish admiral founded the city. It went back and forth between Spain and Britain over the years, but its claim is that it has remained continuously occupied.

Ponce de Leon arrived in 1513 and found the Fountain of Youth in the city. We tried the water. It’s pretty yucky. Has a great sulfur aftertaste. Do I look younger?

Day 1 (February 18)

Our trip from Palm Coast to St. Augustine was pretty smooth though we had a shallow curve to navigate that a local had forewarned us about. Indeed, it was a tricky area, and we were happy to have the first-hand knowledge to get us through.

It’s always fun to see the random sights along the way: a place we’d neither fuel at nor be to towed to, Poseidon watching over us, gorgeous views of the many small marshy islands, remnants perhaps of a restaurant area with a BIG fish protruding out of the sign, a sunken sailboat—one of too many we’ve seen on the trip, and dolphins!

St. Augustine arrival

When we arrived, the wind was whipping. The marina dock was full, but they had space on mooring balls, so we took a couple. Out boat doesn’t allow for ease of bringing a line from the stern to the bow. Therefore, it was a little bit of maneuvering to get it all hooked up. Boris and Mayli dinghied over and helped out get us situated. We were quite thankful for their help during that wind and chop!

We safely made it into town by dinghy to do a bit of strolling. We hit up the oldest house museum right before close as they were having a free day. I’m glad we don’t live in the rustic olden days. After wandering a bit more, it was time for dinner. We hit up the A1A Alehouse. I’d like to say it was amazing, but my rating is just ok. Did I mention it was Sangria Saturday!

On the way back to the boat the wind had picked up even more. We knew we were going to get wet, so we convinced Boris not to make two trips. Probably a mistake as we took a few waves over the stern and quickly found ourselves in ankle-deep water. SOS! We’re sinking! Luckily the dinghy held steady, and we made it back to Lil Sudden where we could bail out the water. Definitely need a bigger bilge pump!

Day 2 (February 19)

On the first full day we planned to take the hop on hop off style Old Town Trolley Tour around the historic downtown to hit the main tourist attractions. Mayli had a list! It started out as planned and we hopped on. The first stop was the Castillo de San Marcos. The Castillo is the oldest masonry fort in the U.S. The Spanish built it in 1672 to fend off the British. The fort was made from coquina—a natural resource found on the Florida coast of a limestone composed of seashells. They liked it for the fort as it wouldn’t crumble when struck by cannon balls. It would just absorb them so they could recycle the balls and send them back at the enemy.

The fort has many cool areas to explore, and since it was Sunday, they had canon fire reenactments. The canon was pretty loud even though they only used a half pound of powder and not the three pounds the Spanish would have used for the same cannon.

The next stop on the tour was the Fountain of Youth. Yes, the actual one Ponce de Leon declared. Again, yuck! The theme area was very living history farm in feel. As we were wandering around, I got a message from my high school friend Turf who we planned to meet for dinner, and he was free earlier. We decided to cut our tour of the town of early and head to meet him at the alehouse.

Bar Hopping Intermission

The rest of the first day was spent checking out various establishments in the old town with Turf. We started again at the A1A Alehouse for a few beverages. Then we hit up the No Name Bar followed by the White Lion. And finally, we trekked further out to the Icehouse for some dinner.

Day 3 (February 20)

Tonia and I decided it was a good morning for a walk to check out the St. Augustine Light House. We started the journey by crossing the Bridge of Lions and checking out the lion statues on each end. Then we found coffee and “hot” cocoa. We happened upon a Whetstone Chocolates shop and had to stop. The lady at the shop was the nicest person and we had some good conversation while waiting for our drinks.

With coffee in hand, we continued walking to the lighthouse. On the way we went by the Alligator Farm. That place looks huge. We’ll have to add it to the list for next trip.

The route we took didn’t lead us directly to the lighthouse, so we probably walked a mile out of the way. Oh well, good for steps! I booked tickets online while walking up to save 10%.

With the lighthouse complete, it was time for lunch. We spied a taco shop on the walk over, so we had to stop there. The tacos were double decker (bravo) style—my favorite, like Taco John’s. Tonia’s mahi burrito bowl was also super tasty. We’re liking these local places.

The rest of the afternoon was pretty chill. Tonia did her work thing and I played a round of mini golf with the Hodak clan.

Turf recommended a restaurant on the water called Conch House so that jumped to the top of our list and we zoomed over in the dinghy to try it out. It’s neat. Has a bar area out on the dock with cool wood and holes in the floor to view the water below. They were revarnishing when we were there, so we didn’t get to check out the upstairs, but it looked cool. The restaurant portion is on the land and has tiki hut tables lining the water.

Day 4 (February 21)

On the last day it was time to find a way to address Tonia’s allergies. The trees were blooming earlier than she was used to in WA and earlier where we were with the warmer-than-usual weather. We popped on the trolley to get closer to a pharmacy. We hopped off and walked over to get more medicine. On the way back, we hit up Hazel’s Hot Dogs for some lunch grub. Then we wrapped up the trolley tour of the town.

All in all, a great historic town to visit with lots to see and do.

Tonia had fun spying the many horses of St. Augustine, though managed to miss the real-live horse and buggy pic!

Adios St. Augustine

Day 32 Trip Details:
Palm Coast, US to Saint Augustine, US
Time: 3 h 37 m (12:30 to 16:08)
Distance: 22.38 nm

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