May 192016

If you are history nuts like we are, what’s better than going to see a 275 year old fort? How about going to see a 275 year old fort and getting a free pontoon boat ride in the process? I love my job!

The rain came down all night Tuesday night but yesterday dawned with sunshine and blue skies. So we drove about 40 miles north to visit Fort Matanzas National Monument.

Fort sign small

The fort was built by the Spanish in 1742 to guard Matanzas Inlet, the southern mouth of the Matanzas River, which could be used by raiders to approach St. Augustine from the rear. This would allow them to avoid the deadly cannon at the Castillo de San Marcos, which guarded the approach to the city from the sea.

Fort from water

The Park Service Visitor Center is located on Highway A1A a few miles south of St. Augustine Beach, but the old fort itself is located across the inlet on Rattlesnake Island. The name alone would keep me from wanting to go there, but what the heck? Maybe I can’t outrun a rattlesnake, but given enough motivation, I can outrun Miss Terry if worst comes to worst.

Just by dumb luck we timed it right, arriving about five minutes before the pontoon boat left the dock to go across to the island. We grabbed our free boarding passes and got on board.


On the way, we paused to get a photo of this fellow hunting for dinner in the shallow water close to the shore.


It only took a couple of minutes to cross to the island, and then another couple of minutes while the Ranger driving the boat tried to get to the dock and had to make a second attempt at it. He said it was a combination of the current and the fact that one of the boat’s motors was out. That’s the excuse I used when I had my cabin cruiser way back in the day. Nobody bought it then, either. Maybe because it only had one motor?

There were only six or eight of us on the tour and a very nice lady Ranger showed us around and told us a little bit about the history of the old fort. I was wearing one of my Gypsy Journal T-shirts and she had a lot of questions to ask us when she realized we were RVers. As it turns out, she and her husband are planning to get an RV and do some traveling when she retires in a few years. We’re always happy to talk about the RV lifestyle and we shared some information with her, pointed her toward some resources (including this blog), and gave her my email and told her not to hesitate to reach out if she had any questions.

She and Terry had something in common, in that she moved here from Puerto Rico, and when Terry was a young girl she lived in Puerto Rico for a while when her dad was stationed there with the Air Force.

After we got back to the mainland and stopped at the Visitor Center again so I could get my National Parks Passport stamped, we drove into St. Augustine and spent some time looking around, still searching for that “maybe someday” place that would be our winter home while we’re still traveling, and our retirement home if and when we ever hang up the keys.

We found a very nice manufactured home at Coquina Crossing with a huge add-on room in the back that overlooked a little lake, with a two car garage, and all new appliances. The price was right, but the $773 a month lot rent was a lot more than we want to pay and still never own the land. Time to keep on looking.

It’s Thursday and that means it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Rabbits Never Die, the second book in my friend Steven Thomas’ Gretch Bayonne action adventure series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Rabbits Never Die

Thought For The Day – Give a man a fire and he’s warm for a day, but set fire to him and he’s warm for the rest of his life. – Terry Pratchett

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

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