We had some luck with such good flights to get here but we had even better luck when the weather was against SpaceX. Our first day in Florida and we were able to drive up to Titusville and watch the SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket launch, with four astronauts onboard, to the International Space Station. Not something we ever thought we’d be doing but wow, what an experience. It was incredible, over in a flash, well, less than a minute, before the orange streak of heat disappeared into the dark yonder. The skies and land all around Cape Canaveral lit up and the sound of the boom was like the loudest clap off thunder that went on for ages. No photo’s as watching it was the thing to do!
We stayed at a B&B that can only be described as quirky. The man at the bar had arrived from Hotel California, we thought, and the fella on the horse had clearly taken a wrong turn. Aside, all part of the experience and not one we’ll forget in terms of one of the oddest places to stay, full of ‘collectables/junk’. Great spot to watch the rocket though.
We took the coastal route for a slow journey north, avoiding the interstate, towards St Augustine which claims to be the oldest town in the US. We found it to be very touristy, it was Veterans Day so a public holiday. In the oldest parts there were some Spanish styled period houses but they were outnumbered by tourist shops. Many of the back roads had lovely patterned cobble bricks. The City Hall was pretty impressive and imposing due to its scale and it’s ornate roof. In reality the drive up was more interesting, mainly on US A1A along several narrow islands. For example, Washington Oaks Gardens State Park with its stunning gardens, especially their rose garden and Spanish Moss smothered Oaks, glorious butterflies and a woodpecker. At Matanzas Inlet we watched Ospreys swoop for fish then perching on dead trees to nibble away at them. Wouldn’t have minded but we scoured Scotland and didn’t see a single one! Here, they are everywhere! Other sightings include Brown Pelicans, Egrets, Herons and Ibis.
It’s a diverse route up the coastline from the tacky Daytona Beach to the swanky houses at Amelia Island. From there we crossed into Georgia, it had been on my mind for a while… for a stop over at Brunswick. Nestled an hours drive between Jacksonville and Savannah it’s a sleepy town, full of character and short of life. It reminded us of Bedford Falls (for anyone who knows It’s a Wonderful Life) as it had a wide tree lined boulevard, flanked by a variety of architecture styles, well preserved. It had all the charm but not the snow, James Stewart or Angel Clarence! The town centre itself was designed by an Englishman Sir Joseph Jekyll, in the late 1600’s who was a pal of General Oglethorpe, the founder of Georgia. Yes we’ve had to read up on the British Colonial influences all around this area pre US Independence. Many of the town squares reference the English, eg Queen Square. We came across a competition we’d never seen before, a game called Cornhole, involving tossing small cornbags through a hole on a sloping board approx 10 meters away, tricky!
Leaving Brunswick we drove around some of the roads away from the centre, still historic but a mix of properties, various levels of grandeur and repair! Fascinating to see more of the day to day life of such a quiet understated place.
Continuing north via Jekyll Island and the swish, St Simons Island we stopped at Fort Frederica which was a British Fort. A stunning place with immense Oaks shrouded in Spanish Moss, scattered around the property ruins from the Fort days. From there we headed to our next stop.
Savannah was our first larger town to visit. There are numerous squares full of Spanish Moss laden Oaks and Magnolias and in the historic area, full of gorgeous houses, incredibly well kept and so diverse in their styles. So many grand, 19th century homes at every turn. It’s a place to wander around, not particularly a coffee shop or shopping type of place, it was all about the outside spaces. Several parks and innumerable garden squares, it’s very green. Waterside, there’s a recently developed complex, based around an old power station. The integrity of the old building has been really well regarded and inside were some incredible examples of giant geodes and fossils. Someone has also created a full size bling’d Dippy based upon the one that used to be at The Natural History Museum.
All in all we really liked Savannah, the people were very friendly and chatted as we stood looking around. It’s a well to do kind of place, feels prosperous in way that exudes old wealth but equally being a University town has a young feel too.