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Green Cove Springs and St. Augustine

March 4, 2013

Florida – Friday, February 22

I headed back down to Green Cove Springs to shop for their food pantry, and got tuna, canned chicken, pasta and spaghetti sauce, juice, peanut butter, soup and canned ravioli – they had a wish list on their website. I had a little trouble finding them and had to call for directions – which were given to me using landmarks, not street names, but it got me there! They were a bit off the beaten track, and at first looked kind of small, but inside it’s a big, well organized facility. They’re open 5 days a week, and have a lot of volunteers, and have helped thousands of people over the years. They have refrigerator and freezer space too, which is nice, and had a number of bags packed up and ready to go, and the bags are packed according to family size. I enjoyed talking with the volunteers and learning about their facility.

From there, I went to Spring Park to see the springs for which the town is named. One of the food pantry volunteers told me that water from the spring flows right into the community pool, and the flow volume is so high that the water goes right back out the other side of the pool area. And they don’t need any chlorine or anything for the pool – there are enough natural chemicals in the spring water that it stays clean and doesn’t need further treatment. I did notice a little bit of a sulphur smell, and I don’t know if that bothers people when they’re swimming. The water in the spring is so clear that I could see all the way down to 28 feet. The sign says the 78 degree water flows at a rate of 3000 gallons/minute – hard to comprehend that much water always flowing out! It makes its way down to the river after going through the pool. Tula and I did a little walking in the park.

After grabbing a Subway for lunch, I headed for St. Augustine, the nation’s oldest city. It has a great historic district and a long road of old-time shops and cafes that is closed off the vehicles. The oldest wooden schoolhouse is on that street too. It was pretty crowded even though it’s still not really tourist season. I was here back in 2004, when Florida was the first of the randomly-picked “state trips” that we did during the summers. Castillo de San Marcos, an old fort that’s part of the National Park system, was within walking distance of the historic district, so we walked over there too. There were volunteers dressed up in Revolutionary War uniforms teaching people how to fire a musket. Tula couldn’t go into the fort of course, so we walked through some neighborhoods by the ocean instead. Then I took her back to the car, and walked back to the fort, and got in just as a ranger was demonstrating the variety of shot that a cannon can use. He mentioned one other effective offensive move that I hadn’t heard of before, and that was to fire glass balls at enemy ships – sailors back then went barefoot on deck because old-style shoes (which had neither a right or a left-the shoes were the same and one could switch them back and forth depending on wear)were slippery, and a bunch of shattered glass on deck with bare feet caused more than a little havoc. And all they had to do with other sharp-edged cannon balls was rip a sail or 2, and that also slowed down the enemy progress. They were pretty ingenious with what they had. The fort was getting ready to close for the day by the time I left, and I took the long way back to the car.

I had wanted to make a donation in St. Augustine since it is the oldest city, and St. Francis House was nearby – they’re a soup kitchen/shelter that serves dinner to its shelter residents at 7. So I caught them as they were starting to put a meal together and they have a nice big kitchen. Their shelter doesn’t have as many beds as they would like – they’re the only shelter for 4 counties – so they’re always full. They serve breakfast to the shelter residents every day, and then serve lunch to anyone, so lunch is their biggest meal of the day, averaging about 150 people 7 days a week. So I gave them a donation check – I hadn’t been able to reach anyone in mid-afternoon to see what they needed, and didn’t want to just guess.

Tula and I went in one more short walk to finish off our miles, and headed back to Orange City.
Something really strange happened to the first batch of photos I tried to upload, so these are extra for now. They still seem to be in my photo file, but missing from what I can upload – I’ll have to try to figure it out later!
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