We passed through Georgia and ended up camping Friday and Saturday at Fort Clinch State Park on Amelia Island. The St. Mary's River enters the Atlantic here in an area known as Cumberland Sound. The fort was built to protect this passageway.
There are two campgrounds here with a totally different look to them. Atlantic Beach campground (sites 1-21) is located in an open area right near the ocean. Amelia River campground (sites 22-62) has an abundance of shade provided by moss covered trees. This was our favorite campground so far on the trip. Below are photos of our campsite, a campsite from the beach area, the beach, and the pier:
A part of the park system since 1935, Fort Clinch is one of the most well-preserved 19th century forts in the country. Although no battles were fought here, it was garrisoned during both the Civil and Spanish-American wars. During the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps began preserving and rebuilding many of the structures of the abandoned fort. Daily tours with period reenactors depicting garrison life bring the fort to life for visitors. Sunbathing, swimming, and beachcombing are popular activities at the beach. Anglers can fish from the pier or take advantage of excellent surf fishing. Hikers and bicyclists can enjoy a six-mile trail through the park. Self-guided nature trails provide opportunities to learn about and observe native plants and wildlife.
The fort was closed when we went to look at it, but we played pirates and gained entry from the beach side. Below are photos of the fort and some "graffiti" gouged into a brick:
We left Sunday morning bound for Anastasia State park, but stopped first at Little Talbot Island State Park to take photos.
With more than five miles of beautiful, white sandy beaches, Little Talbot Island is one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier islands in Northeast Florida. Maritime forests, desert-like dunes and undisturbed salt marshes on the western side of the island allow for hours of nature study and relaxation. The diverse habitats in the park host a wealth of wildlife for viewing, including river otters, marsh rabbits, bobcats and a variety of native and migratory birds.
Surrounding surf and tidal streams present excellent fishing for bluefish, striped bass, redfish, flounder, mullet and sheepshead. Other popular park activities include hiking, kayaking, beachcombing, surfing and picnicking. Beachside picnic pavilions are available for use by park visitors and can be reserved in advance for a fee. A full-facility campground is located along the eastern salt marshes of Myrtle Creek. Kayak rentals, guided paddle tours and Segway tours are available.
Below are photos of the boat launch area and a typical campsite:
We arrived at Anastasia State Park Sunday afternoon and set up camp.
Anastasia State Park includes more than 1,600 acres featuring four miles of pristine beach, a tidal salt marsh, and a maritime and upland hammock. There is also an archaeological site where coquina rock was mined to create the nearby fortress, Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.
At Anastasia you can enjoy camping, beachcombing, swimming, picnicking, fishing, windsurfing, hiking, wildlife viewing, boating and more.
Anastasia's full-facility campground, including 139 campsites, is located in a wooded area within easy bicycling or walking distance of the beach. A self-guided nature trail takes hikers through a maritime hammock on ancient sand dunes, and anglers have the opportunity to haul in the big catch.
Monday morning we visited St. Augustine, the oldest city in America. We drove about 2 miles from the campground, glanced at the St. Augustine Lighthouse, parked, and crossed the historic Bridge of Lions into town. Below are photos of the lighthouse and some views from the bridge:
The photo above is Castillo De San Marcos National Monument, which for many years was the northernmost outpost of Spain's vast New World empire. It is the oldest masonry fort and the best preserved example of Spanish colonial fortification in the continental United States. It anchored East Florida's defenses, which extended northward to the St. Mary's River, westward to the St. John's, and southward to Fort Matanzas. It protected St. Augustine from pirate raids and from Spain's major rival, Great Britain, during a time when the Florida-Georgia-Carolina coastline was an explosive international battleground.
I took some photos of the fort:
Looking at the photo above, you might ask yourself, what the heck is that fort made of? I have your answer: seashells! Here is a close-up view:
A compressed mixture of seashells and other secret ingredients called "Coquina" was mined from a quarry right near the entrance to Anastasia State Park.
Just west of the fort is Saint George Street are countless little shops selling overpriced souvenirs and trinkets. Photos below:
There are also museums and old schoolhouses:
Tuesday morning I went to the beach at the campground. There is a concession called Island Joe's that offers supplies and free Wi-Fi. The water felt about 70 degrees and the clouds were breaking up as I too these photos:
You can see the pier through the mist:
We will be leaving here on Wednesday to spend three days at Lake Louisa State Park.
Most history books agree that the first Thanksgiving feast was held near Plymouth, Mass. in 1621 when English settlers known as Pilgrims asked Native Americans to join them in a celebration of their first successful harvest in the New World.
That's the traditional story of how Thanksgiving came to be, but ask someone familiar with St. Augustine history about the first Thanksgiving on American soil and they will explain how, on September 8, 1565, Spanish explorer Don Pedro Menéndez de Aviles called for a day of giving thanks to celebrate his safe arrival at a place he named San Agustin in honor of the saint upon whose feast day (August 28) he had first sighted land near Cape Canaveral.
Anchored on the Matanza River near a large marshy and treed area area where the Timucuan Indians lived in their 22 acre Seloy village, Menendez became the first European to step foot on what would later be called the city of St. Augustine. To celebrate that accomplishment, he and his crew of over 600 men along with 200 Spanish settlers who sailed with the five-ship fleet, held Mass at a spot where today a 208 foot stainless steel cross stands on the eastern edge of the Mission of Nombre de Dios on San Marcos Avenue.
So it was here in St. Augustine, just north of the Fountain of Youth grounds, that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated, not at Plimoth Plantation in New England.
Regards, Park Ranger