Amelia Island/Fort Clinch – April 3-14, 2022

This place is one of our favorites. The past couple of weeks, we have had fabulous weather. Our time on the computer has been focused on booking campsites for next year, on Florida’s new reservation system. It is proving to be very challenging to book a decent site. Otherwise, we are mostly outdoors, walking, running, hanging at the beach or exploring. We will not likely have good internet until around May 8.

Nice campsite at Fort Clinch State Park. The beachside campground is a very short walk to the beach. Nice to hear the ocean from camp.

Fort Clinch, Fernandina Beach FL
Construction of the fort began in 1847. During the Civil War, it was initially under Confederate control, until it was evacuated. Later, it was a critical fort during the Spanish American War and an operations center during WWll.
Fort Clinch State Park, Fernandina Beach FL
Fort Clinch State Park, Fernandina Beach FL
Fort Clinch State Park, Fernandina Beach FL
Beautiful sea shells at Fort Clinch State Park! Most people are looking for fossilized shark teeth. They regularly dredge the channel into the St Mary’s River for the ships and submarines stationed at Kingsbay Naval Submarine base. This is probably why the ancient fossils are easy to find. The three I found are near the quarter in this photo.
Baby alligator (photo taken from inside truck) Fort Clinch State Park, Fernandina Beach , FL
Dave, hunting for shark teeth
Fort Clinch State Park, Fernandina Beach, FL
A submarine being escorted past Fort Clinch. We were so lucky to see one!
The Palace Saloon, Fernandina Beach, FL
It was built in 1878 and was a men’s shoe store until it became an upscale bar in 1903. It is the oldest bar in Florida and was the last American tavern to close during Prohibition. It survived that dry era as an ice cream parlor. It was once a favorite haunt of the Carnegies, the Rockefellers and other socialites.
This shark tooth fossil is likely from a megalodon shark over 5 million years ago. A guy who regularly camps and fishes at Fort Clinch State Park, simply looked down and found this, one morning, a few years ago. He has carried it with him since then. A store in town buys and sells shark teeth. A tooth 30% smaller than this, costs around $600.

Flagler Beach, FL – March 20 – April 2, 2022

We were so happy to leave the bugs at our last campground and return to Gamble Rogers State Park. It is one of our favorites because it has campsites with ocean views. There are two campgrounds. One is right on the ocean, the only downside being the sand/dirt road and sites. It is normally not an issue for us, with the exception of torrential rain, like we are having as I write this.  Currently most of the campground is flooded as the rain continues. I’m feeling bad for some people who are tent camping. At the other campground is across the road, the road is paved and the sites have nice gravel surfaces, with grass and some folliage between them. We have heard that the bugs can be quite annoying in that area, when there is no wind.

We enjoyed talkng with the camp hosts, Tom and Christine, who were here last year. We also got to chat with a couple from Maine, who we met at Fort Pickens – Gulf Islands National Seashore last year. They were quite memorable because on many chilly days he was the only other person on the beach besides us. It’s really fun to see people you know on the road.

We really like the area. It’s a quiet laid-back surf town.  There are no high-rises or big resorts. There are only a few small hotels and inns.  It tends to get busy on weekends, holidays and during bike weeks. In general, it’s popular with bikers and cyclists as A1A is a scenic drive along the ocean.  There are other scenic drives nearby,  through the wetlands.

There are several state parks and nature preserves in the area, where we have spent a lot of time hiking.  We hiked most of the trails at the Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park.  The sugar plantation was destroyed in one of the Seminole Wars in 1835. The short trail to the ruins is beautiful. Over all, we rank the trails in this park as some of the nicest in Florida. We hiked at the Betty Steflik Memorial Preserve. We went there last year because it was recommended to us by Dave’s Aunt Faira, who frequently hiked there with Uncle Don, when they lived in St. Augustine. It is a beautiful place.

We always enjoy meeting people, which was not the same last year, during the Covid pandemic. It was great to get out more this time. There is a place very close to the campground called High Tides. I don’t recall if we avoided it last year, due to not being vaccinated yet, or if it was closed. Really, it doesn’t look too special from the road or beach. This time we walked over for a beer and were happy to meet the daytime manager from Detroit. The evening manager’s close college buddy was from Detroit. Needless to say, we felt totally at home. There was a shirt swap, sticker swap and we had some amazing food. It’s right on the beach and windows are open when the wind isn’t ripping off of the ocean. It’s a cool place with a great vibe and fabulous food. We hope we can get a site next year, but the new Florida State Park reservation system will definitely be a challenge.

We scored an ocean front site 2 years in a row. We’ll see about next year…. Gamble Rogers State Park

The beach with the Flagler Beach water tower and Detroit Surf Co flag in the distance. Gamble Rogers State Park
A turkey vulture at the Betty Steflik Memorial Preserve, Flagler Beach, FL
A gopher tortoise in the Betty Steflik Memorial Preserve, Flagler Beach, FL
View of AIA and the fishing pier from the rooftop at Finn’s
Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park, Flagler Beach FL
The ruins at Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park, Flagler Beach FL
Hiking the nature trail at Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park, Flagler Beach FL
Gamble Rogers State Park, Flagler Beach, FL
High Tides at Snack Jack, Flagler Beach, FL
High Tides at Snack Jack, Flagler Beach, FL
High Tides at Snack Jack, Flagler Beach, FL
Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park, Flagler Beach FL
Hiking Trail in Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park, Flagler Beach FL
Ormond Garage Restaurant and Brewery, Ormond Beach, FL. This place used to be a garage in the arly 1900’s. We met a couple of snowbirds at the bar, who work 7 months a year on the The SS Badger, the ferry that runs from Ludington, MI to Wisconsin.
A Tom Parrish board from Hawaii on display at Beachside Brew Pub, Ormond Beach, FL. Great beer, friendly people.
Ocean view from Tortuga’s Kitchen and Bar, Flagler Beach, FL
An enthusiastic Corvette owner was doing a photo shoot at the park. He didn’t mind a former Corvette engineer posing. He asked my name because a woman’s name is on his engine and he thought it could be mine. Hahah! Awesome! Gamble Rogers State Park, Flagler Beach, FL
Sunrise at Gamble Rogers State Park, Flagler Beach, FL