In the past few days I have started writing a dozen stories about St. Augustine, the Golden Isles of Georgia, Savannah, Charleston, plantations, mansions, old oak trees, song birds and slavery. I don’t have the time to sit on the computer writing when I am visiting a place that I might never return to again. Yet, I want to capture the moment and excitement of travel as I see things for the first time and get unfiltered thoughts translated into words.
This has been an incredible week of gorgeous weather for traveling from Florida to North Carolina in early May. Today, on Thursday afternoon I saw a cloud block the sun for the first time since I arrived in Florida from California last Saturday. The cloudless blue skies have been ideal for photography, but left me mentally and physically exhausted from the near record hot temperatures of 12 hours above 80F and six to eight hours over 90F each day while I spent eight hours outside, mostly during the 90F part of each day. That has kept me from thinking and writing clearly. Besides the hotels I have stayed at each night, I stopped in several other hotels in Savannah and Charleston.
This post is an overview of my impressions of the places I have been and over the coming weeks I’ll expand on many of these impressions with articles about St. Augustine, Savannah, Charleston, and the resort regions of the Intracoastal Waterways and islands of Georgia and the Carolinas. My perspective is that of a first-time visitor to the area. These are my initial impressions of the places I have been on this trip.
Florida: St. Augustine to Jacksonville
I arrived in Jacksonville on a Saturday night and on Sunday I decided to visit St. Augustine, the nation’s oldest continuously occupied city since 1565. I only spent four hours in historic St. Augustine. I had two primary objectives for my visit.
- See Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, the Spanish fortress protecting Spain’s control of Florida for over 200 years.
- Visit Flagler College where Ponce de Leon Hall was originally built as a luxury hotel by Henry Flagler and is now the centerpiece of a private college institution of higher learning.
The public institutions I attended did not have college rooms that looked like this. The furniture and paintings are pieces that were part of Henry Flagler’s original Ponce de Leon Hotel from 1888.
St. Johns River, Florida
I tried to avoid driving up I-95 when I left St. Augustine and U.S. Route 17 took me by some beautiful spots on the St. Johns River, the river that created Jacksonville, Florida.
Boating on Trout Creek off U.S. Route 17 Florida
The St. Johns River helped create Florida as a winter resort in the 19th century when northerners vacationed in winter in luxury hunting lodges on the river.
Places to come:
Savannah is a blast and one of the prettiest green cities I have seen withits 22 squares and Forsyth Park.
Charleston is mansions and history on the beautiful Charleston Harbor, good and evil.
North of Charleston I found my sighting of alligators and the rare red wolf in Francis Marion National Forest.
North Carolina brought the winds and hundreds of turkey vultures soaring over the pines in Topsail.
It is 5:00am and I have a ferry to catch to Ocracoke Island on North Carolina’s Outer Banks in two hours and a one hour drive to reach the ferry landing.