Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Two Washouts & Fort Matanzas

We started out today heading over to Palatka to hike around Ravine Gardens State Park to see the Azales but we ran into a few problems. Once we got there the Ranger at the gate told us that we would not be able to drive or walk around the 1.8 mile loop road because they were repaving it, but we were welcome to walk the trails. Since it's been raining like crazy the last few days we figured that the trails would be to muddy and the temperature was only in the mid 50's so we decided to pass.

Good thing we had a backup plan, take some back roads and head back over to the coast and go to Washington Oaks Garden State Park. No Ranger there so we put our 5 dollars in the self service box and drove into the park, well it's still cold but not as cold as the freeze a few weeks ago that killed of just about all the flowers, so we're going to call this another wash out. Sure is a good thing that we have a backup to the backup, if this doesn't work I'm not sure what we're going to do.

A few miles up the coast and we find it, Fort Matanzas National Park. Fort Matanzas was built on Rattlesnake island around 1740 by the Spanish, it's purpose was to protect St Augustine from being attacked in the rear by ships sailing up the Matanzas River. The name Matanzas means massacre in Spanish, it got its name from an event in the took place here in 1565 were 250 French soldiers were killed by the Spanish. You reach the fort by a park ferry which leaves the dock every hour on the half hour, a five minute boat ride and you're at the fort, we were allowed to spend about 40 minutes at the fort and could go where ever we wanted as long as you didn't climb on the walls. Re-enactors were there to tell us the history of the fort and what life was like for the soldiers the were assigned there. It was still cold but they had a nice big fire going inside the fort to take the chill off. The fort itself wasn't very big about 50 x 50 with a 30 foot tower, it had 5 canons and was normally staffed by only 5 to 8 soldiers.

Gauge for figuring out the canons elevation.

When we got back to the main land they pointed out that there was a nesting Great Horned Owl right at the visitor center, they blended in so well with the trees that it was almost impossible to see them.

So our backup to the backup saved the day for us, now it's back to the rig and try to stay warm for the night and figure out what tomorrows backup will be.

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