Live Trip Map Day 8: December 31, 2008
Ending the Year in Georgia
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Today's journal starts off with some pictures from last night. The first was taken from the motel parking lot. The unreadable lighted sign at the right is the famous O'steen's Restaurant and the sign to the left is the British Pub. Besides having the perfect location, the Anastasia Inn had a nearly perfect $49 plus tax price and a very nice room. A trinity of eating, sleeping, and drinking that's hard to beat and definitely gets my recommendation. Dinner? Shrimp & scallops.

No problem. Just time for an oil change. I spoke with Marcia on the phone yesterday and she set up an 8:30 appointment. When I arrived, Jeanna checked me in and Dan changed my oil. I only got a picture of Dan but all three made me confident that they knew what they were doing. Jack Wilson Chevrolet also gets my recommendation.

I immediately gave my new oil a ride downtown for a look at some of Saint Augustine's history. The first stop was at the Government House Museum. Lots of interesting displays but the most photogenic items were some large body puppets intended for parade use. The annual Menendez (Pedro Menendez is credited with founding Saint Augustine) parade is no longer held due to budget cuts so no one knows when the puppets will next be used.

My photographs include the Public Market, usually called the Slave Market, and the statue of Ponce De Leon. The building with the Woolworth's door handle is now a clothing and souvenir shop but was once the site of significant lunch counter sit-ins. The Santa Maria Restaurant was the home of Mayor Pinicham and he was the one who turned it into a restaurant.

Once about 40% of the buildings in Saint Augustine were built of tabby but this fifteen foot wall is the only remaining example. Tabby is made of whole oyster shells. Most of the wall has been covered for protection with just the end exposed. The last picture is of the oldest Catholic parish in the present United States.

The next stop was not on my Dixie Highway route and I was past the best turn-off before I knew it. I turned around and was stopped by railroad crossing gates that were lowered while a couple of work vehicles passed through the intersection. Even before the vehicles were clear, the Hummer in front of me edged to the curb as if going over. But the gates were raised and the car next to the Hummer spurted through. By the time the driver had the Hummer pointed correctly, the gates dropped again. They were only down briefly but the Hummer climbed over the curb to go around the lowered crossing gate. I'm sure sales of these things would go even lower if an IQ test was required.

This is a stop I had planned on even before leaving home. In his latest book, "Roads to Quoz", William Least Heat-Moon's last "road" is the Intercoastal Waterway and his journey on it ends at Fernandina Beach, Florida. Heat-Moon and his wife ate breakfast here but he spends more words describing a girl rushing outside for a cigarette than he does on the food. Even so, it sounded like just the place I wanted to visit and it was. Terrell ran an Exxon station here for years but son Ray wanted to run a restaurant. Ergo T-Ray's Burger Station, where Ray does the cooking, Terrell serves and generally keeps people happy, and the happy people enjoy eating some good food in and around a gas station. Terrell waited for me to take his picture then broke out the perfect smile and a thumb up gesture and turned away before I could snap another shot. A cool guy and a cool restaurant.

A couple I shared a picnic table with at T-Ray's told me about Fort Clinch and I decided to check it out. The interesting place is dressed in its Civil War guise and there are knowledgeable docents in uniform answering questions and entertaining kids. The drive to and from the fort is mighty pretty, too.

Once into Georgia, following the Dixie Highway to Savannah mostly means US-17. There were a few places where old roadbed, from reducing a curve or some such, could be seen and I did see a short section of Old US 17 that ended at a river but it appears the most of the old road has been turned into the new road. A smooth and pleasant drive.

I did call a couple of downtown motels to verify that they were full for New Year's Eve but had no trouble securing quite nice and reasonably priced accommodations just a bit north. I think I'll spend a bit of New Year's Day looking over the city.

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