Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Flagler Beach and Fort Matanzas, in Florida

Please note that the blog is a day or so late, due to not having internet service everywhere we go.  We like to keep you guessing about where we are!

Sunday, March 17 and Monday, March 18

Like Zombies, we woke, packed efficiently, and departed our hotel without even eating breakfast. We were on autopilot. Feet tired, brains overloaded with sights and sounds. We did manage to stop at the Disney Discount Store, however, where we dropped all the money that we hadn't spent at Disney World, but got more “stuff” for our loved ones than we could have gotten there.

We took a short drive north to DeBary, Florida, where we visited with my first cousin, Barbara Bonnewell Rinner and her daughter, Kim.  We had not seen her since her husband, Deane, passed away last May, and it was good to catch up.  We took her out for a quick lunch before leaving to go north a bit more.


Our “intent” was to go back to Georgia and find a place on the ocean for yet another night, but as we know a wonderful beach which was not too long a drive, we headed for Flagler Beach, Florida. Our "intent" changes at any given moment, since we are, after all, ramblers!

We've been here at Flagler Beach before, too. It's like an undiscovered place. Beautiful beach, small town, very few shops. We heard about it from a biker friend who had stayed here during Bike Week in Daytona one year. We'd hoped to find it the same as we left it that year.  It has grown.


We notice that realtors are setting up their offices. More restaurants are here than the few years ago that we were here. Houses are being built. Tourists are coming. I hope that we don't find a Wings store on a corner the next time we come back. The charm of this place is its unspoiled simplicity.

The Topaz Motel is a combination antique museum and motel. Nothing fancy. Big, clean rooms with everything you need. No internet service, which is why you are reading this a day or so late, but it's sort of like putting down the cell phone and enjoying just being in the present. The ocean is outside our window, and we can sit on the porch and listen to it and see the waves move up onto the shore. That's why we came back again.

We've had a walk on the beach, collected some shells, and had a fantastic fried haddock dinner at The Funky Pelican. This place offers things like”Funkatizers,” “Nacho Mamma Dip,” the “Monte Funksto” sandwich, and the “Soup of the Moment,” which is the chef's creation, made fresh daily. They also have small plates, which is nice for tourists without refrigeration. Great service, good food, fun atmosphere.

 It was such a fun place to eat that we went back there for breakfast on Monday, where we had a fabulous view by our table.
A walk “up town” took us to an ice cream shop where we enjoyed coffee and cotton candy flavored ice cream before coming back to our motel and listening to the ocean.

On Monday, after breakfast, we headed north on Rt. A1A which is the coastline route. We wanted to see the small beach towns where people live.  We made one stop at a beach shop, then ooohed and ahhhed at some of the homes and sandy beaches along the way.

A sign for a National Park caught our eye, the driver did a fast left turn into the drive without any warning, and we found ourselves at an old Spanish fort called Fort Matanzas.

The rangers in charge fit us onto a boat with perhaps fifteen other passengers. It was taking off shortly, and soon we were on our way to Rattlesnake Island to see the fort.  A very knowledgeable park ranger told the history of the fort before we disembarked.

A short walk past some very active fiddler crabs that were digging holes in the sandy ground took us to the small fort. Small perhaps, but it had all the characteristics of other forts we've visited.

There were cannons, a bedroom for the soldiers, and storage areas. The walls of the fort were quite high. The ranger explained that the mortar was made by firing oyster shells, breaking them down, and adding that to sand. They quarried natural stone and the mortar held it together to make the walls.

The entire tour including the boat ride to and from the island only took an hour or so, and then we were back on the road, heading north on Rt. A1A.

After seeing some very lovely beaches, homes and towns, we neared St. Augustine where we decided to get back onto I95 North so we could make some better time and position ourselves close enough to Savannah, Georgia so that we can begin our visit to this amazingly beautiful city in the morning.

We are in a Quality Inn in Richmond Hill, Georgia, a short drive out of Savannah.  Dinner was prepared in our motel microwave so we could watch The Biggest Loser season finale on time.  :)