Day 50(Starke to St. Augustine, FL)–64 miles

June 8, 2011 § 1 Comment


Every journey has an end.
—Seneca(4 BC-65AD)

We are arrived. We are finished. The journey is complete. My thoughts and words seemed clear as I rode this morning; now I find nothing.
The ride was miraculously uneventful; I had visions of one disaster after another today.
We leave early. Joe is concerned that I do not know the first turn, that I do not know where we are going…
In ten miles we pass Camp Blanding; at 20 miles we pass Penney Farms, which has a surprising history.
“In 1926, department store pioneer J. C. Penney founded the community of Penney Farms. He planned to develop an experimental farming village. The State of Florida incorporated the town in 1927. The real estate decline and stock market crash, however, caused Penney to scale back his ambitions to a community for retired ministers in honor of his minister father. Today, the Penney Retirement Community is a 192-acre (0.78 km2) home to Christian laypeople as well as clergy and missionaries.”
At 30 miles we pass through Green Cove Springs and approach our challenge of the day– the Shands Bridge. It is a relic from a bygone era, built in 1963, 34 feet wide and 6,662 feet long. There were plans to replace it in 2004, however….
At 57 miles we are in St. Augustine visiting the Fountain of Youth; I hope the pictures suffice; the $10.00 admission fee would age me, not rejuvenate me.
Next stop, Mission of Nombre de Dios, where the first Catholic mass in the New World was celebrated.
Life, however, is not complete without a visit to a National Park; thus we add the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument to our itinerary. Joe has a lifetime pass; we get in for free. Begun in 1672, it is the oldest masonry fort and the best preserved example of a Spanish colonial fortification in the United States. The Castillo took nearly 25 years to complete, using something called coquina, a composite of tiny shells, stuck together by time and lime. It is extremely resilient; the original walls remain intact.
I had never heard of St. Augustine; how could I have missed this portion of history?
St. Augustine was founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer and admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés; it is the oldest continuously occupied European-established city and port in the continental United States.
In 1565, five ships under the command of Pedro Menendez de Aviles, arrived at what is now St. Augustine. For perspective, colonists wouldn’t reach Jamestown for another 42 years and the Pilgrims wouldn’t touch Plymouth Rock for more than a half century!
I remember the Pilgrims; St. Augustine was never mentioned.
We pass the historic lighthouse; Joe’s son has flown out from Chicago to congratulate us on a job well done. He meets us at the hotel on the beach. Life is complete.
What will the next adventure be?
Thank you for caring, for reading about and for supporting the trip.

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