After spending Sunday and Monday on Canaveral National Seashore, we boondocked Monday night at the Cracker Barrel in Palm Coast, FL. Vaughn and I went across the parking lot for a dinner date, while the kids stayed ‘home’ (in the parking lot) having Cup of Noodles (which they love and I think are gross…), and watching a movie thanks to electricity conveniently provided by our on-board generator.
The next morning, we got up and drove the van to nearby Fort Matanzas National Monument. Fort Matanzas is a small Spanish fort that was constructed in 1740 to protect the walled city of St. Augustine from possible seige (mainly from the British). Vaughn had called the park first thing that morning and asked if they had big rig parking. After telling the ranger the size of our rig, the ranger said to just drive it down and see if it fit in the beach parking lot across the street! LOL! Needless to say, we left it on the outskirts of the CB parking lot where we had stayed the night.
When you arrive at Fort Matanzas, there are beautiful grounds to explore via nature trails, and a small visitor’s center that shows an 8 minute film about the park; we also picked up Jr. Ranger books here. After learning a bit of history about the park, we were ready to visit the fort itself. Fort Matanzas is on the other side of the river from the visitor’s center, and is accessible only by NPS ferry…
The tickets are free, but there are a limited number available. While we were there, only one of the two ferrys were running, but it took 2 trips over, every hour on the half past, carrying 36 passengers each time. We managed to get the last 9 tickets they had for the next tour, and Beth volunteered to stay back in the warm van with Caleb and Savanna.
The rest of us boarded the ferry for the short, 5 minute ride across the river. It was quite chilly out on the water, and we were glad for coats, but wished we were dressed a little more like the ranger driving the boat!
Fort Matanzas is not a large ‘fort’ at all – it was more like a watchtower; this is the backside, facing away from the visitor’s center and the bay access…
No one is allowed on the ground except by NPS tour. At the fort, there is a uniformed Spainard, who tells about life at the fort. He didn’t give a ‘talk’, but just made some casual conversation mentioning details about life at the fort. The group was free to explore as they wished – each tour gets about 40 minutes at the fort.
The kids had a bingo that they had to do at the fort, and the bigs, who were working for a ‘Master Junior Ranger’ patch, had some extra pages to do here. Molly found the ‘water cistern’ and is checking it off on her bingo… The lower level of the fort is a bunkhouse and general quarters for the attending soldiers. There were period correct games that the kids could play…
but the part of the fort that we liked the most was the fire in this room…(I’m telling you, it was FREEZING!) 😉
This lower room was just a step down from the main deck of the fort – underneath, in the bottom part of the fort, is a large cistern where they stored their drinking water. This is the view towards the ocean…On the deck were 4 cannons overlooking the river…
Going up the outside staircase to the second story, this is one of the two small windows looking out the back of the fort… From this second story room, the kids climbed a ladder to the roof of the fort…the only way up or down… The fort was a pretty cozy place on the day that we were there, but I could not imagine life in this small space when the bugs were bad or it was very hot out! (then again, it was much more spacious than the RV! hmmmm….)Our uniformed ranger leaving the fort with our group, to hitch a ride back over to the mainland for his lunch break… Fort Matanzas was a fun little stop! We enjoyed the ferry ride, we got to see dolphins swimming in the river just off the fort, and the kids enjoyed the Florida history lesson. Inside the visitor’s center, there is small diorama of the fort… After the kids turned in their Jr. Ranger books, we left the park and drove into St. Augustine to visit another National Park – the Castillo De San Marcos. Remember when we had bad timing in TX and tried to visit the Alamo during spring break. Yeah, deja vu. We drove right on by yet again – well, actually, we drove through the parking lot, but since there were nearly a dozen cars already circling the lot hoping to come upon someone pulling out, we decided to let them have the spaces. We like National Parks, but not that much. We’ll have to do the Castillo next time.
Instead, we drove back down to the 5er, and pulled out. While we had planned on doing the rest of the FL east coast National Parks on our way north, we scrapped that and just hit the road. Goodbye Florida, hello Georgia!
This is the view that the kids see… (only it’s almost always Eli driving, unless he’s tired like here)And this is my view. We had been ‘sitting’ in Florida so long that I forgot just how much I love this view 😉 We stayed Tuesday night in a Cracker Barrel parking lot just inside the Georgia border. We don’t run the furnace at night if we are not sure how many days we are going to be boondocking since we don’t want to run our batteries way down. It was quite chilly that night, and we dug out extra blankets.
We didn’t put all the slides out; this is Savanna and Molly squishing between the slide and the fridge to get right up close to the furnace vent blowing hot air after daddy turned it on in the morning… It was chilly enough for a Hot Cocoa Morning – we hadn’t had one of those for months (in fact, I couldn’t find cocoa in the Costcos in FL!)! Emma may be just a little on the dramatic side (or she may have just acclimated to warm, sunny Florida quickly like her mother 😉 )… Despite the chilly nights and roughing-it in parking lots, we are so glad to be putting on the miles again! New sites, here we come!