07 January 2013

2013 SOUTH & EAST COAST to St. Augustine 13 - Crimson Tide Question

Port St. Lucie FL to Cape Canaveral FL to Crescent City FL to St. Augustine FL

Wind howling and a bit cooler. Got as high as 74 and as low as 65 on our journey today. It seemed cold. Can you imagine!! Changed from shorts to jeans about half way through the day and got out the sweat shirt. Drove 254 miles with 4'33" moving time. Haven't had to get gas since Key Largo going south, with 474 miles on the tank and 51.2 average MPG. The Prius loves the warm weather as much as we do. Price was $3.34 at the gas station just before entering Cape Canaveral area.

Usually hotels are pretty empty and cheap on Sunday nights, but when we arrived last night we were told things were hopping because of the game tomorrow in Miami. I didn't know what game and I didn't think too much about it as I am not particularly a big sports fan, except for the Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my. What I'm really a sports fan of is the parties with friends that go along with the TV game viewing.

Anyway went down to breakfast in the lobby this a.m. and there was a sea of red. I asked one fellow what bowl game it was and who was playing. He almost fainted with incredulity. He said look at what color is in the whole lobby. I said, "Stanford?" It just got worse from there.

Finally the breakie fixer lady took pity on me and said, "Alabama Crimson Tide and Notre Dame Irish are playing at the BSC (college Bowl Championship Series)." I mean guys were walking around in red flannel 'Bama jammas. Too funny. Last time we saw this much enthusiasm for a team at a hotel was the Furnace Creek Inn in Death Valley CA when Wisconsin was playing someone and one fellow wore Wis-y jammas all weekend.

Didn't really see much of the town. Our friends, the B's, owned some property here at one time and we wondered where it was and what had become of it. But this would be a long day, so moved on without checking.

We took the freeway headed north as we had traveled right along the east coast highway a few years ago. The point here was quick, not pretty. Florida is very flat. Every time we've check elevation it has been under ten feet above sea level. But along the freeway we saw big "hills." Pretty strange to know that the highest elevations in this state are hills of garbage landscaped with grass, and highway overpasses.

Along the way we saw lemon trees, still lots of long-legged birds, an eagle on some driftwood sticking out of a watery lowland, turtle crossing signs, "Daytona Beach Kennel Club and Poker" sign (which turned out to be a purified way of saying "greyhound racing" ... bummer), cool bird/beach art "engravings" on the sound barriers along the freeway, and landscapers bringing in tall palm trees and other ornamental plants to put along highway medians.

At the last minute and without research, we decided to stop by the Kennedy Space Center to learn more about our dwindling space program. It was a 40-mile side trip to the east of the freeway. We took a causeway and passed over a drawbridge along the way to the Center, lots of wildlife, and a farm of white bee hive boxes. Saw the rocket silos in the far distance, signs for the Astronaut Hall of Fame (which had a real space shuttle parked out front), and a War Bird museum, but we did not have time to take it all in.

It was $10 to park, no problem. But then it was $46 per person senior rate to get into the Center exhibits. That was a bit much for an off-the-cuff attraction, as wonderful as it might have been. We did have a close-up look at the memorial to JFK, a big Nasa "globe," some of the tall missiles on the other side of the entry fence, and the gift shop.

In the gift shop, there was an aasortment of really cool kid uniforms, such as lab tech and various astronaut styles, that would make a kid the hit of any Halloween party.

Also, some NASA golf balls that we thought about getting for James. Mike said if they were imprinted with "Kennedy Space Center" or better yet "Kennedy Center," we would have bought a dozen, but NASA didn't have the same ring for our golfer buddy whose last name is Kennedy.

Everything turned out Georgia peachy keen anyway. Just minutes after making a no-go decision to pay the hefty entrance fee, we got a call from Mike's friend W. We had hoped to see W on this day, but had not connected by phone or e-mail, and had given up on that meet-up. But W called just in a nick of time. A bit later we would have been north of the exit to his town. So we now side-tripped west of the freeway toward Crescent City.

Our lunch break with W lasted about 1-1/2 hours. Mike had met W in aviation maintenance school at Fort Rucker (the fort we had visited in Alabama at the start of our trip), continued on with him through several helicopter maintenance schools, then to Viet Nam and finally Germany. After Mike's stint was up, they parted ways. Much later, they reconnected through the internet and email, but had not seen each other since Germany in 1969.

They talked of other military guys they had worked with in Viet Nam, training at the forts, missions, experiences, good times, various types of aircraft and helicopters, contact with other guys they new mutually, and life after the military. It was way too short a visit, but you do the best you can. Too soon we had to be on our way, as we already held a hotel reservation in St. Augustine. We were so glad to get any time together under the circumstances.

It was good to get back off the Interstate. On our way to and from Crescent City, we saw our first semi load of oranges and some odd looking netty tented green plants. W advised us later that these were ferns farms and that ferneries are a big industry in this area. Also, saw some fabulous roadside markets with some GORGEOUS tomatoes. Too bad we were unable to lug home a bushel basket of those.

Also saw the biggest and best statuary and yard art pottery place we've seen on this trip so far. It had oversize horses kicking their heels in air, oversize bulls charging, at least 10-foot high roosters, and more stuff on the tackier side. But still no Statues of Liberty-s as Silvestri's in SF.

Just after dark, arrived to St A. with hotel reservations at the Best Western Historical Inn. This was one of our cheaper hotels, so we were a little worried. But it was clean, with an "historical" Spanish flair.

Guess what, the Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Notre Dame Irish game is starting momentarily on TV. Mike has settled in, while I play blog catch-up.

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