Day 4 of our Valentine’s Weekend Getaway | Palm Coast, Florida | Sunday, February 14, 2016
It was our last full day in Florida, and we had saved the things we knew we’d love for Valentine’s day: hiking and letterboxing! We ran out and grabbed some heart shaped donuts for breakfast, then took off heading South on I-95 for Palm Coast – a town about 30 minutes South from St. Augustine. Our first stop was at Linear Park where a 3-box Redwall series was hiding. The park had a playground and many short trails which combined could make for a great long walk. As we walked, Curtis was reminiscing over how much he enjoyed reading the Redwall books, and told me he plans to read them to our children. I don’t know what he’s waiting for, I think Charlotte is at the age where she too can understand and appreciate fine literature. 😉 The first two boxes were short walks on random trails, and the third box took us down a long paved path to a river. It was such a beautiful area, thick with bright green tropical plants.
The main attraction we hit on this day was Washington Oaks Gardens State Park. This is a large park just North of Palm Coast that consists of gardens, trails, and ocean beach. There was a $5 fee to enter, and dogs are allowed everywhere except the formal gardens and the beach. We decided to start off our time in the park with hiking and looking for one more letterbox hidden along the trail. The area was much like the last park we had hiked in, except without paved paths. For not being a mountain or having any sort of overlook, we actually really enjoyed this hike and were able to appreciate the area a bit more. While walking through, we came across part of the Florida Trail – the trail that stretches across the state. All these long backpacking trails do is remind us of how we’d like to do a long distance hike together someday…the Florida Trail might not be our first choice, but it was still cool to find. 🙂
We made it around the 2+ mile loop without having found the box, but Curtis was pretty sure he knew where it was, so he and Charlotte went for another round while I went to check out the Formal Gardens in the park since Charlotte wasn’t allowed there. There were a lot of people around here, but for good reason because the gardens were so beautiful, even if it may be early in the season. The only down side was the smell…it definitely had the now-familiar to us “swampy” odor. I really enjoyed taking in the Florida plants, but my favorite tree there was what I believe is called the Norfolk Pine. I remember seeing a tree similar to this while we were in Santa Barbara, and after I was unable to figure out what it was I assumed it was fake, something they set up to hide a camera or something. But now I’m sure this is what it is!
After we finished up our day at the park (the letterbox had been a bust), we started to make our way up the coast back to our hotel. Of course, we first had to fit one last fort into our trip – Fort Matanzas National Monument. However, we weren’t able to actually go through this one because it required taking a ferry, and Charlotte wasn’t allowed. We considered just having Curtis go, but knew that would be at least an hour with Charlotte and I waiting for him – and the ferry that leaves on the hour was just about to take off. We passed on this for today. Here’s a quick history of the area, brought to you by Curtis!
While not as “popular” as the Castillo de San Marcos, Fort Matanzas is just as interesting, and it’s a shame that neither of us could take the ferry out to it.
Situated on the Matanzas River, the Fort was built to guard an inlet from the Ocean into the River. Marauders would normally be able to enter the river and sail up the Matanzas and attack St. Augustine from the rear, by passing the Castillo. In fact, this is the exact route and method that Oglethorpe and his regiment used during the attack on the city in 1740. Furthermore, that attack is what led Governor Montiano to build the Fort.
But like many forts, after it was built, it saw no action except to repulse a second attack by Oglethorpe in 1742 and the occasional pirate.
Of additional interest is how the River, Fort, and Inlet all got their name. Matanzas – spanish for slaughter. This story extends back to right around the time St. Augustine was founded. A year before then, French Huguenots attempted to colonize “French Florida” by building Fort Carloine along the St. Johns River near modern day Jacksonville (the exact location is actually not known apparently) under the direction of Jean Ribault.
A threat to the Spanish claims to Florida, Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles was sent to destroy the settlement. Repulsed in his first attempt, he established St. Augustine. Ribault then launched a fleet to counter attack Menendez but was caught in a storm. Menendez then marched overland during the storm and sacked the fort killing the garrison of 200-250 and leaving only about 50 women and children alive. Menendez then returned to St. Augustine in time to round up the shipwrecked crews of Ribault’s fleet. Ribault, believing that he and his men would be treated as a prisoners of war, surrendered to Menendez. But Menendez instead executed Ribault and his Huguenots as heretics near Matanzas Inlet. Giving it, and the surrounding area the name of slaughter – Matanzas.
And that concludes our history for this trip. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I did learning it. I sometimes wonder why I get so involved in inconsequential events of history (Oglethorpe and his men didn’t succeed in their attempts and had very little impact on the War at the time), but then I am reminded of this idea from the book I am reading (A New Age Now Begins by Page Smith) “Although of little impact to the World at the time, these events meant the World to those involved”. The men under Oglethorpe and Montiano, Menendez and Ribault, literally faced life or death in some of these events. Food for thought.
And finally, for our Valentine’s day dinner, we went to this AMAZING sushi restaurant in Green Cove Springs – Pan Asian Cuisine Sushi Bar & Grill. Now, if you know the area well, you would know that this is another half hour passed St. Augustine and where our hotel was, so why did we go so far for food? This is where I must reveal the incredibly nerdy side of us and how we sometimes plan our trips. We realized after getting back to our hotel the night before (after the traffic-to-the-outlet-mall-fiasco) that if we had only gone a little further on that highway, we could have crossed into a new county. Yeah…we’re county counters. We each have our own maps where we keep track of this. Judge all you like, but this is super fun for us and kind of addicting. Haha! Anyway, it was totally worth it. We got there right when they opened and they were all decked out for Valentine’s day – complete with candles and chocolate! The menu was amazing – it had all sorts of Asian food (Japanese sushi and hibachi, Chinese dishes, and even some Thai!), the waitress was very helpful in explaining what things where and we had fun conversing with her, and it was all decently priced for plenty of food – and they even surprised us with giving us a dessert at the end. We’ve talked about it, and we feel like a lot of times it’s not as satisfying to go out to eat like it used to be. The only restaurants that continually impress us and we always enjoy are sushi restaurants!
And that concludes our adventures from our Florida trip! To see more pictures, visit savingtimeinabottleimages.tumblr.com. Coming up next in our adventures- we actually stay in our state for 2 weekends! Notice I didn’t say city. 😉