A short spin around an Ancient City

It’s time for our annual winter endurance camping adventure. When a group of over the hill retirees shiver in the dark pretending we can still laugh at the elements like we did when we were younger.

This year we returned to Anastasia State Park. Where the trees have learned to bow to the tyranny of wind and salt. In addition to being my favorite place to camp in all of Florida it is also a great spot from which to ride forth into and around the Ancient City.

They have been keeping watch on Anastasia Island for pirates and privateers since time immemorial. That didn’t stop Drake from sacking the town. These days, in the interest of cost cutting, it is tourists who are impressed into tower top sentry duty.

This is a city born of the sea, and so they take their maritime heritage seriously indeed. Don’t get this whole “talk like a pirate” thing though.

Yes, it’s a tourist town. But they don’t have to make stuff up here. History really happened.

The Conch House has been a St. Aug institution since before I was born. But I turned my back and suddenly it turned into a resort.

If you haven’t seen Freedom Park that may be because it’s the city’s best kept secret. Tucked away on the edge of the marshes at the extreme southern fringe of the old city. You actually have to go past the place where they train DEA and customs agents to do sea interdictions and then a garbage truck depot before you finally get there. But trust me, it’s a trip worth taking because it’s an extraordinary park.

Oh yeah, and you also have to go past the place where they keep the horses when they aren’t doing carriage duty. They are just past the place where they keep the yachts up on concrete blocks.

A national cemetery. A hidden lake. Pocket parks and walled homes that have weathered the elements more or less intact. This is a city whose tucked away neighborhoods beg exploration.

Still, one cannot live by the bicycle alone. One also needs a loaf of bread, a jug of wine and….hey!..where did that damned bird come from?

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