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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

Hills in Florida?

~Saturday, April 8, 2023~

Day 1,029

An easy going morning, though one that kept me at my laptop a little longer than expected. There was just so much to write about from our tour yesterday of Fort Castillo. But once we did get out, the humidity really hit us. Having spent so much time in Florida these past several months has prepared us for what’s in store if we choose to live in this part of the country. Factoring in the humidity, we now know to add about 20 degrees to whatever temperature it is.

I was happy my hubby and Sadie were willing to do the Ancient Sand Dune Trail for a second time so I could experience it.

This loop is beautiful and entirely wooded, offering shade throughout. You’d never know you were walking on relic dunes other than the fact Florida is void of hills.

The trail led us up a few steep grassy sections, some even with stairs. Historically, these sand dunes were formed millions of years ago by wind and wave action during a time when the ocean extended further inland than it does now. Through the ages, the sand has become enriched, allowing a forest to flourish here.

Eventually, we’d end up on the Marsh Trail, a completely different experience offering little to no shade, but a few short paths to the lagoons of what’s called the Salt Run. This section of water also meets up with the Atlantic Ocean. Due to low tide, its muddy shores exposed a ton of oyster shells and mangrove roots. But it was the refreshing water that offered Sadie a nice place to cool off before continuing on.

About a mile further, close to the park entrance, we found the entrance to the Spanish Coquina Quarries. There were helpful interpretive signs that gave us the background story on these old quarries, but not much else. This archaeological site dates back to the late 1600’s when the Castillo de San Marcos was first built, providing over 400,000 stone pieces to complete the project. The quarries ran continuously until the turn of the 20th century. But other than the history, there wasn’t much to see other than a few stone fragments and a route to the city’s amphitheater, a 4,000-seat venue. We didn’t hike to the amphitheater but can only imagine what an amazing concert going experience this would be.

After hiking back to the campsite to drop off Sadie, we then rode our bikes just outside the park entrance to check out the local brewery scene. What intrigued Jeff most about Old Coast Ales was its 4.9 Google score.

Now we see and taste why. The atmosphere was bright, inviting and comfortable with plenty of beer offerings in a wide variety of styles, all brewed in house. Like many local breweries, it gots its start brewing small batches at a time out of someone’s garage, hitting the mark, now churning out 200 gallons at a time! Their “Bicycle Built for Brew” logo is equally intriguing. The “Alcohauler” is a fully functional bike, inspired by a 1930’s Dutch beer delivery bike. Evidently, the brewery owner’s brother, a bike-builder, built the bike a few years back for the North American handmade Bicycle Show, now proudly displayed in their taproom. Hey, why don’t we mass produce these things for hauling groceries, replacing barrels with crates? At least I’d feel like I’m doing something good for the environment.

We made it back in time before the weather took a turn. Over a brilliant lightning/thunder show, Jeff made a delicious, homemade pizza topped with a garlic/olive oil sauce, sliced pear, fontina cheese, basil and tomato. Yum! Let’s just hope this water percolates quickly into the ground before we see a pond outside our door. We are on a coastal flood alert!

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