Wednesday, April 19, 2023 - Today we started late for a 45 minute drive to the Eagle Hammock RV Park at the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base. We were allowed to arrive before our scheduled arrival time of 3:00. Bob, the Camp Host, is a super nice guy, an Air Force retiree, and very helpful in discusing things to do in the area. Fantastic site with full hookups on a nice lake with turtles and alligators (not likely to kayak this lake).

After setting up our rig, we drove to the historic town of St. Mary's to check it out. It is nice, but somewhat limited in historic buildings that we would normally see. We did check out the Visitor Center and made reservations to take the ferry over to Cumberland Island for bike riding and looking around. This island is pretty "natural" in that there are no motorized vehicles on the island and you have to walk, ride horse, or bike the island. None of the trails are paved, so we rented a bike locally for $25 a day. We depart at 9:00 am and return at 4:45 pm tomorrow.

Thursday, April 20, 2023 - We woke early and after a quick breakfast of toast and coffee, we drove to St. Marys to begin our day on Cumberland Island. The Cumberland Island Beach Preserve can only be accessed via ferry boat, so we were scheduled for the 9:00am departure. We paid about $40 each for ourselves and then an extra $12 each for the bikes. The preserve is a National Parks Seashore Preserve, so we had to have our National Parks "Geezer Pass" available. This is the one-time purchase pass that seniors can buy that allows access to all national parks for free. We boarded the ferry for the 30-minute trip to the docks on Cumberland Island. There are two docks and we got off at the second stop. At the first stop, many tourists got off who had tours planned with the local tour concession for the island. They take visitors around the island who do not want to walk or ride a bicycle. The bikes go to the second dock and can then ride to the Plum Orchard Mansion seven miles north. Ninety percent of the island at one time belonged to the Tom and Lucy Carnegie family. Tom was Andrews brother and he earned great wealth in the coal and steel/iron industries. The trail was awesome with some sand that would cause you to "fish-tail" periodically. We could ride past the mansion for another seven miles, but the road was very sandy and hard to pedal through on our mountain bikes. I had rented a bike for $25 for the entire day. The Plum Orchard mansion was amazing. Over 22,000 square feet with over 30 rooms and 11 bathrooms. It was built with certain corridors that were for the staff and others for the family and guests. The servant areas were painted with yellow walls so that the servants always knew where they were allowed to be. Hard to describe the mansion with words, so be sure to look at the photo gallery on the mansion. Raquet ball court, swimming pool, men's smoking room, women's visiting room, dining room, music room, and much more. Tom died at 40 and left all his estate and nine children to Lucy. Lucy then proceeded to build five houses on the island for several of her children. Lucy lived in another home on the island that she named "Dungeness." The Plum Orchard home was built for her son George Carnegie and his wife Margaret Thaw. We received a great one-hour tour of the Plum Orchard mansion from a volunteer name "Debby' who lives in the house during the summer months. The tour was great. I hope to have a video of the mansion available too. She told us about hearing an alligator at night thrashing in the slough behind the mansion. We decided to go take a look in the slough to see if it was there. We walked up to the edge of the slough and did not see the gator until we looked down to the water right in front of us. There it was. It was seven to eight feet long and pretty nasty looking and we were about seven feet from it down the slope. Luckily, it continued to sun-bathe on the shore and ignored us completely. After exploring the Plum Mansion, we rode our bikes back to the Dungeness Mansion ruins. This fantastic home was destroyed by fire in 1959 and has not been rebuilt. There are many other side buildings to explore including a cemetery. We had a great day on the island, but had to head back to the dock to catch the ferry back to St. Marys. Before we got on the ferry, we rode to the beach on the east side of the island. There were few people there and the beach was huge. A nice place to come for the day. We rode the ferry back to St. Marys. This has to be the slowest ferry that we have ever seen, but we made it back. After de-boarding, we went to a place where pizza is sold from a trailer and had dinner. It was pretty poor in quality and we would not return for a second one. We returned to the RV and relaxed after a wonderful day at the Cumberland Island Beach Preserve park.

Friday, April 21, 2023 - We have always wanted to visit St. Augustine on the Florida east coast, so we decided to do it on this day. We drove south on Interstate 95 through Jacksonville towards Daytona Beach. There is a fort in St. Augustine as this was one of the first footholds in North America. In 1564, the French built a small garrison 40 miles north of where St. Augustine is today. A year later in 1565, the Spanish built several forts around St. Augustine. The "Castillo de San Marcos," or the main fort in St. Augustine was begun in 1672 and completed in 1695. It has a very interesting "star" shape and protects the city from ships sailing in Matanzas Bay. This fort never fell to an invading force. Be sure to see the photos of the fort in the gallery. We spend about 2.5 hours touring the fort and then walked into town to eat. We ate at a very nice Mexican food restaurant with outstanding views of Matanzas Bay and the island of Anastasia. The views of the bay were excellent and the food was tasty, but it arrived cold. The only drawback to the meal was the cold food. We then walked around the streets of Old St. Augustine before heading back to the RV at the Kings Bay Submarine Base. The old town is quite nice with lots of small tourist shops and food venues. There is an open-air music venue in on place too. Ali-in-all, it was a very nice day.

Saturday, April 22, 2023 - This was supposed to be a rainy day, so we planned to stay at the RV and do chores. It turned out that the weather would be good, so we drove to Amelia Island to ride out bikes from Amelia City south on Amelia Island to Big Talbot Island and then on to Little Talbot Island. We had ridden this trail before and had made arrangements with a bike shop there to work on our tandem, so we dropped off the tandem before we started our ride. They handlebar shifters and the derailleur were to be replaced. The day was beautiful and the trail was awesome. We ended up riding south to a place where the state is working on two bridges and we had to get on the road for a short stretch. On this short stretch was the Kayak Amelia location where we were planning to com the next day to kayak with Brandon, Mandy and their family. We stopped to check it out. We then continued farther south on the trail to the St. George River Bridge that is the city limits for the city of Jacksonville. Jacksonville is the largest city in the United States in land size. Pretty impressive. We then rode back to the bike shop to pick up our tandem. We ended up with about 31 miles of riding on the day. The bike mechanic recommended a good place for us to eat, The Surf Shop, near Fernandina, so we went there for lunch. After lunch, we went back to pick up the tandem and headed back to the RV. We took off the bikes and loaded the kayaks on the truck for tomorrow's kayaking trip with the McMullen family.

Sunday, April 23, 2023 - We met the McMullen Family at the Kayak Amelia concession on Big Talbot State Park. We had our kayaks and the McMullen's rented from the concession. It was a clear day with temps in the mid 70s, but the winds were up quite a bit out of the north. The water was a little choppy, but not too bad. Brandon and Tyler had their own single kayaks, while Mandy and Ava started out in a tandem. It was a lot of fun being out on the water, but there was not a lot in the way of wildlife to see. We did see some egrets and herons and a few fish were observed jumping out of the water. We traveled south along Simpson Creek from the concession and then headed for the Fort George River. We stopped at a sandy beach to get out and stretch our legs before heading farther south towards the bridge crossing the Fort George River. We turned around and headed back into the wind. I traded out with Mandy and I paddled the tandem kayak with Ava for the rest of the trip. We tied a rope to Tyler at one point and he towed us for a ways; what an animal!! We made it back to the launch site successfully and loaded up the kayaks on the truck. We then went to a Wattaburger restaurant on the return trip in the small town of Yulee. After lunch, we all headed back to our respective homes. It was a fun day and a great trip.

Monday, April 24, 2023 - We spent the morning working on the blog and doing chores around the RV. We have been "on the run" for the last four days, so this is a good day to take a break and rest up a little.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023 - ??