Wednesday, April 11, 2012

from Florida back to NOLA

Yes, we are back in New Orleans since yesterday afternoon.  We left Florida on Easter Sunday and spent the night in Tallahassee, then on to Pensacola for a night.  Have to love this life when on Easter I get to spend some time swimming in RV park pool and drying off in the hot sun!

Anyway, before we left Jacksonville Florida, we went out to Amelia Island to touch the Atlantic. Amelia Island is northeast of Jacksonville. We stopped at one of the state parks that run along the coast in this area.  A beautiful trail leads you from the parking/picnic area to the beach.  What a delight!

Then on to Fort Clinch State Park on Amelia Island.  This was built in 1847 to protect the St. Marys River which runs between Georgia and Florida.  It also protected the fishing industry in Fernandina Florida which is on the inward side of the island.  Troops were stationed here during both the Civil War and the Spanish American war, but no battles were ever fought here. There is a beautiful drive under live oaks and hanging moss to get from the entrance of the park to the fort.  It turned out to be really stormy by the time we got to the Fort, so we did a quick tour and then headed back to town, Amelia City for a late lunch.  We do that a lot-late lunches since we really try to eat just one meal a day, though we both agree that southern cooking has not been our friend.

no idea why this was addressed to the "young ladies"

officers eating area; includes silver tea and coffee service to the right

In addition to the fort, Amelia Island has some bits that are a rich man's playground.  A couple of golf resorts and some very high end looking gated communities.

The closer you get to Ameila City, the more normal the residences.  There were some really well maintained older, 1830s homes, which were just beautiful.  The town is a really cute seaside town with lots of places to eat and shop.  Very friendly.

Heading back we stopped at Kingsley Plantation on Ft. George Island.  We had missed the 2pm ranger talk, so just did a self guided tour here.  I would highly recommend doing the ranger tour, since it would give so much more information about the former slave woman who owned and ran this plantation.  This was appartently not that unusual situation in 1811 Florida.   One of the things grown here was indigo, which was a much requested item, so a valuable commodity to be able to sell.  One of the things we learned about indigo is that the chemical compound used in its making is lye which is of course highly toxic.  Slaves working with the mixture had a high mortality death rate of 5 years from the time they started working this process.

remaining walls of  slave dwellings, tabby construction

The little bit of Florida that we saw was enough for me to know that I really like being in a warm, sunny climate, with pines, oaks with moss, palm trees, palm plants of many kinds, azeleas and water near by.  It was beautiful everywhere we went.  That is also true of the whole south that we saw, it is a beautiful part of the country. Oh, and before I forget, bugs, bugs, bugs. Piney woods, live oaks and rolling hills are everywhere we went. We have been told that the seasons in Florida are "early summer, mid summer and late summer".  The south that we have seen so far, is not a part of the country that either one of us wants to live in.

So, here we are again in New Orleans, nearing the end of our trip around the south.  We took the shuttle into the French Quarter, which as you may remember was actually built by the Spanish when they were here, today to get into the swing of N'awlins.  We went to have croissant and mochas at the Croissant D'Or and then went off to visit the US Mint museum.  It felt right to now be visiting where coins were made, since we had seen paper money being printed while in Fort Worth.  This mint was functional under both the Confederacy and the US, though at different times of course.  Coins made here had an O stamped on them.

Upper floors of the Mint, were dedicated to local N'awlins jazz musicians.  There will actually be a larger jazz museum section in about two years.  Today, there were live performances by locals that we were able to attend.  Guess this is the warm up to the French Quarter Festival that starts tomorrow and runs thru Sunday.  Its the largest free, yes free, music festival in the country.  Groups from around the world playing jazz, zydeco, cajun and who knows what other kinds of music.  Support for all this free music comes from the street food and drink that various restaurants will be selling at stands throughout the various stage areas.  Should be quite interesting to hear and see.

Tomorrow we are off to cross the longest bridge in the world, Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, see a few plantations and then baseball- the Zyphers.  Will let you know how all of this goes.

Michelle and Fred
Traveling the country so you don't have to!