Fort Clinch State Park

Fort Clinch State Park is our last stop in Florida.  

I saw an armadillo walking by the side of the road here. I think of Texas when I think armadillo, NOT Florida. I have a hard enough time keeping track of where we are and what day it is without getting confusing signals like that.

We tried to go see the fort itself before checking into our campsite for the night but we got there just in time to see the last reenactor leaving for the day. We’ve probably seen enough forts for now anyway.

Our assigned campsite, #23, had a picnic table in the middle of it. We had to park on the narrow road while Dave moved it. People still managed to pass us, though. And once we got into the spot we discovered it was perfectly level. Yay!

But!  When we plugged into the electricity we found an open ground so our EMS said, “No no.” Move or boondock? Too tired to move. So we opened the windows, turned on all our fans, and stayed put.

Outside our window is a clothesline installed as an Eagle Scout project.

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Hanging from that clothesline is a blue glove of the type used to wash cars. Inside that glove is a bird nest. Next to the nest is a sign saying the birds don’t mind you using the clothesline.


Do you suppose the birds were too tired to move, too?



Fort Caroline and Kingsley Plantation

We waited for a lift bridge. It went way up for a small sailboat with a tall mast but came back down before the excursion boat passed under it.


We tried to go to the Castillo de San Marco in Saint Augustine, Florida. Their parking lot is limited to vehicles under 21 feet long. We are 24 feet not counting the Segway on the back. So we followed the signs to the over-sized vehicle parking but all we found was a parking ramp too short for us to get into. Oh, well. At least they were open. And I got a picture as we drove by.


We saw a boat so big it had a baby boat on the back of it which Dave called a “toad”. That’s what RVers call the cars they pull behind their big rigs. Sometimes they call it a “dinghy” since that’s what boaters call their rowboats they use to get to and from ships they anchor out a ways because they draft too much water to get into port. Technically the baby boat I saw was a dinghy but since it was the type motorboat often seen cruising on lakes and rivers in Minnesota it’s hard for me to think of it as a dinghy. It was a baby boat only in relationship to the one hauling it.

We then went to Fort Caroline National Memorial. According to their timeline we’ve all taken turns wiping out one another. The Timucuan Indian’s helped the French build Fort Caroline only to see it destroy their way of life. The Spanish attacked the French, who were Protestants, and Catholicism became the ruling religion. The Spanish then planted citrus trees. The British fought the Spanish then spent 20 years clearing the land. Spain regained control at the settlement of the Revolutionary War. During the Civil War the fort protected the plantations. Then the railroad brought the tourists. And here we are today being tourists reading about all of them. But are we learning anything?

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At least Fort Caroline made us feel welcome by providing this:
Kingsley Plantation greeted us with a mile and a half of this road:
Definitely not big rig friendly. Not even small rig friendly  Fortunately, other drivers were friendly.
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At the end of that road we found this:
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Mr. Kingsley owned many slaves including the one who became his wife and the mother of his four children. To me, that makes the following portion of the plantation even more astounding. This is what remains of 25 of the of the 32 slave cabins that housed as many as 60-80 slaves during Mr. & Mrs. Kingsley’s tenure.
Here’s a bit about the lives of those slaves.
And here’s some about the cabin materials.
What remnants of your culture still exist today?

Florida’s Space Coast

The bus in this area is called the Space Coast Area Transit.  SCAT?!

We went looking for the Surf Museum in Cocoa Beach. Found an empty lot. We saw plenty of surfers at the beach but apparently not enough of them were buying stuff at the store that housed this museum. So, there’s another part of Florida’s story we don’t get to learn about. Bummer.

We drove by Port Canaveral. There were two big cruise ships in port. One of them was a Disney ship. We’ve cruised with Disney and had a good time. We were there for the Ebert & Roper Film Festival at Sea. For three years in a row we spent a weekend seeing films and discussing them with Roger and Richard and other film buffs. My favorite story of those trips is the time we were supposed to see Who Framed Roger Rabbit. That’s a Disney film and we were on a Disney ship but they couldn’t show us the film because they didn’t have the right projector to do so. Roger Ebert got pretty upset with them making us all sit in the theater while they tried to get it right. So he talked the staff into letting us move to a bar next door where we could at least visit with one another while we waited. Then he announced to us they would be serving beverages in the bar. The staff person’s mouth dropped open. But, serve us they did: screwdrivers and bloody Mary’s and fruit juice  soft drinks since this was before lunch. We never did get to see that film that trip.

We headed north on I-95. We haven’t spent much time on Interstate freeways this trip so, even though we are nearly out of Florida, we came to our first Florida Rest Area  Nice place. Vending machines. Recycling bins. Family rest rooms.

I learned to appreciate family rest rooms after Dave’s Dad had his stroke. While Carl was still in the hospital they made an appointment for him to see a dentist to replace the caps they lost when they intubated him. They provided transportation but he couldn’t go alone so I went with him. While there Carl needed to use the men’s room. He couldn’t go there alone either so I went with him. When the door opened while we were in there I was quick to announce my presence to the gentleman coming in. He looked startled, said he was only there to wash his hands anyway, did so, and left. Poor guy! I hope there was another restroom close by.

I saw a sign that said, “The cost of D.U.I. is sobering.” If only that was true. Many people pay the cost without ever getting sober. I have family that succeeded and family that didn’t. It’s hard to do.

Our next stop was Fort Matanzas National Monument. I wasn’t feeling well and this is a park that requires riding a ferry boat to an island then climbing 15 steps up to the fort. So I stayed home while Dave went. According to its website “The park commemorates the killing of nearly 250 French Huguenots by the Spanish, an act that gave the river and inlet the name Matanzas, Spanish for “slaughters”. One hundred seventy-five years later, the fort was constructed to help protect St. Augustine from a new threat – the British.” Here’s what Dave saw:

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When we pulled into Anastasia State Park and were lucky enough to get a site for the whole weekend. It helps to stop for the weekend on Thursday instead of waiting until Friday.

So here we sit. Catching up on our computer stuff and researching Georgia, the next state on our trip up the Atlantic Coast. Our first stop in that state will be to pick up mail. I wonder if we’ll hear anything from any of you. Probably not. You all know by now the fastest way to reach us is e-mail.



Florida’s Treasure Coast

Our first stop of the day was the FPL Energy Encounter in Jensen Beach.


We like science museums and this one had free admission and parking and was lots of fun. When we walked in the door I told the receptionist we had come to play with their toys. She laughed and gave us pass cards to use as we explored their exhibits. You study an exhibit then scan your card and answer a multiple choice question. If you get the answer right, it gives you a secret word. At the end of the exhibit you tell the receptionist the secret words and she gives you a prize. We got magnets advertising the FPL Energy Encounter. We’ll put them in a geocache somewhere. Maybe someone will read them and go there and have as much fun as we did.

We then snacked in the car instead of taking time for lunch so we could hit another museum before it closed. The down side of starting our day so late then finding a museum to be so much fun we stayed longer than we expected is it can really mess up your meal times.

But we did make it to the Smithsonian Marine Ecosystems Exhibit before it closed.


The receptionist there recommended the touch tank for a manicure.


There are six ecosystems included in this exhibit: 1. Seagrass, 2. Mangrove, 3. Lagoon Hardbottom, 4. Coral Reef, 5. Nearshore Reef, and 6. Oculina Reef. Here’s a bunch of photos I took but I no longer remember which aquarium goes with which ecosystem so take your own best guess.

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Other exhibits included these:

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Look at the size of this clam shell! I had Dave stick his toe up there to give some perspective.


The we went to the Savannas Recreation Area only to learn their campground closed last week and won’t open again until August. It’s no longer tourist season in Florida. Too hot, I guess, and the campgrounds don’t want to pay for the electricity for all our air conditioners.

Then we got a chance to be glad for GPS. The cops closed our road. Fortunately we instinctively turned the right way and Dave’s iPhone has mapping software that shows us where we are so were soon back on our route.

We got to see some sights in Vero Beach, though. “Bail Bonds.” “Pawn Shop.” Our U.S. Highways don’t always take us through the best parts of town.

We camped at Sebastian Inlet State Park. Most of the sites were not level but we found one that was. The place was full of bugs, though. Biting bugs. I got little sleep and now I look like I have the chicken pox. That’s part of the reality of a camping lifestyle.



Miami Area

I found a few more notes I took in the Everglades so I’ll add them here. It’s really not far from Miami.

In camp at Long Pine Key it sounded like big, fat raindrops on our RV but it was really big, fat bugs flying into our windows and skylight. We couldn’t open our door without something trying to come in.

I discovered just how much I am addicted to the internet. I was ready to leave the Everglades before we got done there because I couldn’t get connected. I’m not happy to know that about myself but it is now a fact of my life. All my current friendships are through the internet and all my travel research is done there. Being disconnected is disconcerting.

Driving down Flamingo Road we went through Rock Reef Pass–elevation 3 feet!

And I saw a mirage on that road. The headlights of an approaching vehicle were reflected in water on the road where there was no water.

The entrance to Flamingo campground is being rebuilt. The old place where you pay was closed and the new one not yet opened. Dave and several other campers were trying to decide what to do. The consensus was to fill out the paperwork and wait for the ranger to come collect it  But the ranger drove his rounds without visiting us. Free camping is good.

How could we not stop here?


Fruit and Spice Park in Redland, Florida, turned out to be a large collection of tropical plants from all over the world that had been turned over to Miami-Dade County to become a park. You can take a 45 minute tram tour of the place or do your own walking tour. They have samples you can taste at their visitor center. But the don’t sell any of them. And we were overdue for lunch. So we settled for buying some choco/cashew ice cream before leaving.  After I tasted most of the samples, of course. Dave, not being an adventuresome eater as you may have guessed by now, tried none of them.

Our next stop was Scully’s Tavern in Miami–another Diners, Drive-ins and Dives place. The building was part of a yellow strip mall–not at all impressive. Inside was so dark we had to wait for our eyes to adjust before we could walk further in. But the food was fabulous! I had the Swisshroom Burger and Dave had the Cheddar Bacon Burger. I saved half my sandwich, of course, and all our leftover French Fries. I rarely save French fries because the don’t really reheat well but these were too good to not try to reheat them. Plus we got two deserts to go–my carrot cake and Dave’s Key Lime Pie. Later we had supper where French Fries and desert were featured items supplemented by deviled eggs and an apple.

In between those two places we passed a couple of interesting signs. One had the hurricane symbol we’ve come to know so well lately and said, “Emergency Evacuation Bus Pick-up Site.” I wonder if that sign predates or postdates Hurricane Katrina?

The other was a sign on an orchard that wasted no words. It simply said, “Thieves Shot.”

We went to Larry and Penny Thompson Park in Miami for two nights. This is another Miami-Dade County Park. Their campground is laid out in “pods”. They look like a child’s drawing of a cross between a lollipop and the sun. The road in is the stick then there’s a circular road with campsite radiating from it. There are also a few sites within each circle. There are eleven pods with 20 sites per pod with four restroom/laundry buildings spread among them. No problem getting a site midweek at this time of year. We got a site next to one of the laundry rooms so we could do four loads of laundry.  It’s nice to have everything clean again.

Our table came furnished with a piece of fruit that was popular with the local wildlife. I got pictures of the first and last visitor but missed the pair of cardinals that also visited.

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As you can see the blue-jay knocked the fruit off the table so I don’t know if we had any visitors after that.

As we packed up to leave this morning Dave discovered our left front tire is low. It is also showing uneven wear. Apparently the alignment we had done in Phoenix after noting wear in the right front tire needs to be done again.

As we left the park , we drove to the various laundry rooms there trying to trade all five of the paperback books I’ve read for new ones. We succeeded by taking all the books except the one in German but I’m not sure how happy I am about some of the ones I got in exchange. I decided better a couple of Harlequin Romances I haven’t read than keeping books I have read, though. At least they’ll make good trades down the road since they are popular with a lot of people.

Then we went back to the Walmart in Florida City where I had my last prescription refill done. I found out this morning they’d only given me 30 pills instead of the 90 I was supposed to get. These meds are too expensive for me to want to pay for two months worth when the insurance denies the claim they already paid. I’m glad we are still only about 30 minutes from Florida City, though.  Can you imagine trying to get the other 60 pills at a different WalMart? It took us two hours to get out of there but they did give me the rest of the pills without argument once my turn came. And we bought groceries and other stuff while we were there.

Then we drove to Miami Beach looking for the 11th Street Diner at the corner of 11th and Washington.  


Parking in that neighborhood is on street and cars are parked bumper to bumper so we were beginning to think we wouldn’t get to eat there when we turned the corner in front of the diner and found a drive-in spot right in front of a loading zone. Our bumper and the Segway hung into the loading zone but there was a parking enforcement officer nearby so I hurried over and asked her if we would be OK. She said, “Yes.”

So eat we did. Dave had the Cowboy Burger, a chocolate fudge malt, and a piece of Key Lime pie. I had the Sobe grilled chicken sandwich with avocado and pineapple, a diet Coke, and a couple bites of Dave’s pie. No leftovers today. My sandwich came with chips and Dave’s fries didn’t look worth the hassle.

By now is was about 4:30 in the afternoon and all we wanted to do was get out of the big city traffic. Right. I saw a couple of vehicles that had been playing bumper cars but we didn’t participate.

Further north we stopped to get fuel. This is the first station where I’ve seen slave pumps. I’d heard about them on the Escapee’s discussion forum so I recognized them for what they are. Slave pumps are on the right side of the vehicle when you are pulled up to regular pumps on the left side. The slave pumps have no tops that let you pay there. You pay on the left and pump from both if you have a vehicle with auxiliary tanks. That way it doesn’t take as long to fill up those trucks with two large tanks. Plus the slave tanks have the larger nozzles that dispense fuel faster than the regular nozzles. We can’t use them. They don’t fit into our fuel filler pipe which is good because our tank isn’t big enough to keep us from pouring fuel everywhere if we filled that fast.

About 6:20 p.m. we drove by the exits for the town of Jupiter where our next museum stop was supposed to be. Way too late for that day. We just want to get to our next campground but its exit is till 14 miles ahead of us. At least at Jupiter we finally drove out of the city. It’s nice to see trees along the road again.

At last! St Lucie Lock Recreation Area. We were greeted by an attendant saying, “I was beginning to wonder if you were going to get here.” So were we but she obviously was looking for someone else since no one but us knew we were headed here. The people she was waiting for had reserved the last spot. They might still come so she couldn’t let us have it. That’s what we get for refusing to make reservations.

So we are in Phipps Park about a block away from St Lucie. It costs $21 instead of $12 but it has electricity so we can run our air conditioner. It gets hot in Florida at this time of year. Imagine that!