We got up at 4:15 am hoping to see a launch of a SpaceX rocket, but we couldn’t see it from where we were. But we did watch it on the SpaceX web site. After that it was back to bed. I decided I needed a rest day after being busy for many days in a row, so I slept in a little, had a leisurely breakfast, and just hung out all day.
Our last full day here, and we went back to the Kennedy Space Center. We had a couple of errands to do on the way, like filling up on diesel fuel, so we were a little late getting there, or at least later than originally planned. But we got to the Universe Theater for a presentation by a NASA astronaut. They do that every day there, and this time it was Barbara Morgan from STS-118. She went through the entire mission and described in detail what she and her crewmates did. This was outstanding. We then checked out the Journey to Mars exhibits. We had seen the presentation there a few days ago, but now we went back to look at the rest of the building. Then we checked out a concept vehicle for a Mars rover when there is a manned mission there. From there we poked out heads into Planet Play just to see what it was, and it was a play area for kids. Finally, we went to the Heroes and Legends building. It had a couple of filmed presentations to start, then exhibits relating to the astronauts, with many videos, a mockup of the Mercury control room, and the Astronaut Hall of Fame. We left feeling like we had seen just about everything we could see of any significance. And it was a great experience for a space nerd.
Mims to Hastings 20230128
Another travel day after a week in Mims. We refilled our empty propane bottle and got a good start. It was a short trip straight up I-95 to the 4 Lakes RV Park, outside of St. Augustine, where we had a 4 night stay booked. The trip was pretty straightforward, but when we arrived we found that the people on duty here were from our part of Michigan. That has been happening to us a lot. This park is very nice, and after setting up we went for a walk to stretch the legs a little.
Cheryl didn’t sleep well, so we took today as a rest day. I spent most of it reading a book. You need periodic rest days on these trips. A months long RV trip is not like a week-long vacation. You have those days that are like a vacation, but you also have to buy groceries, make dinner, do the laundry, and so on. It is more of a mobile lifestyle.
We went into St. Augustine and boarded the tram. It is a hop on-hop off way to get around the town and see all of the attractions. We hopped off when we got to Castillo San Marcos, which is a national monument, so I got another stamp in my National Parks Passport. St. Augustine is the oldest European settlement in America, predating both Jamestown and Plymouth. It was established in 1565, though explorers had visited previously. They called it Florida because of all of the flowers they saw. The Spanish discovered the Gulf Stream, which runs right up the coast of Florida, and it made for more rapid transit from the New World back to Spain for the treasure fleets. And to protect those fleets from pirates and from other European powers they needed fortified outposts, which is why St. Augustine was settled. The Castillo San Marcos took a few decades to build, but once completed it proved to be impregnable. We listened to 2 historical presentations from a docent about the fort. The first was about the Spanish monarchy and Spain colonization of the Americas. The second was about the use of the fort later.
This area changed hands several times. The British got it in the Seven Years War (1763), then lost it in the American Revolution when it went back to Spain, an ally of America (1783). Then America decided it wanted Florida, and purchased it from Spain in 1819. Florida became a state in 1845. The Castillo San Marcos became Fort Marion, and during the Civil War was occupied by both Union and Confederate forces at different times. After the Civil War it was used to imprison Native American leaders who surrendered at the end of the Red River War. The commander of the fort, Captain Pratt, decided he didn’t want to just watch them die, so he embarked on a program of education, but it also meant stamping out their culture. Pratt went on the found the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania after leaving the Fort.
We spent a few hours at the Castillo, then hopped back on the tram. Many of the attractions were just tourist traps we had no interest in, but the Fountain of Youth site looked promising. We finished the tour, did some shopping, and then headed back to the RV.
We headed back to St. Augustine to visit the Fountain of Youth site. Ponce de Leon did visit this area, and there is a spring. I took a drink, but I can’t say I feel any younger yet. But the site was worth the visit for other things. It is an active archaelogical site exploring the first European settlement in what is now the US, as well as the native inhabitants. They had demonstrations of period weapons and blacksmithing, a planetarium presentation on the celestial navigation practiced by Spanish mariners, the original mission church, Native houses, and so on. We thought it was well worth the 3 hours we spent there. After leaving, we filled the truck with diesel fuel, and went back to the RV.
To Savannah 20230201
A travel day. It was about a 3 hour trip from the St. Augustine area up to Savannah, Georgia, and that wasn’t too bad. I think we really did a better job this trip keeping our driving down to a more manageable level. The Savannah Oaks campground is nice, with lots of shade, and we relaxed after getting the RV set up.
After breakfast we headed into Savannah to take a look around. We went to the Visitor Center first to get a map and some information. There seemed to be several hop-on-hop-off tours available, one of which appeared to be the same company as the one in St. Augustine. And since we were not entirely satisfied with that one, and the other company was local, we went with the local company. And we really lucked out with a very knowledgeable guide. We did a complete tour that took about 90 minutes, then got on another one and hopped off at Forsyth Park. From there we walked through some of the nieghborhoods on our way back to the Visitor Center where we were parked.
Savannah was the first planned city in the US, and the streets are laid out in a rectangular grid, so no diagonals. There is a lot of history here from the conflict with Spain, to the American Revolution, and of course the Civil War. More recently, a lot of movies were shot here, such as Forrest Gump. When we were at Castillo San Marcos they told us with some pride how General Oglethorpe brought an army into Florida to try and take the fort, and was defeated and sent back in failure. In Savannah the story is about how he was on guard to protect the colony from the Spanish. Every situation has two sides. In the American Revolution Casimir Pulaski from Poland came here to create a Cavalry for Washington’s army, died in Savannah and is buried here. And of course General William T. Sherman ended his famous March to the Sea here and presented Savannah to President Lincoln as a Christmas present.
Savannah is a beautiful city. In the grid are park squares every couple of blocks, with lovely trees and Spanish Moss everywhere. And the architecture is lovely. The old houses all have a flight of stairs outside that the lead to the entrance. This is because the kitchens were all placed at ground level, and were operated by enslaved people, so the actual family living began one flight up. There is a lot of very nice decorative ironwork, and the works that created the ironwork also supplied a lot to New Orleans, so they look similar.
It was a rainy morning, so we stayed in. Later we did a few chores, and then went out to dinner at Ruby Tuesdays. But mostly a day of rest. We’ve been on the road for most of two months now and a bit of tiredness is creeping in.