Sunday, July 6, 2014

Fernandina Beach and Fort Clinch State Park

One of the paper mills of Fernandina Beach

Smoke curls out from the tall chimneys of the two paper mills either side of Fernandina Beach Marina creating clouds in the sky. The odour that these plants give off stuns the senses.  You’d be forgiven if you thought this town was an industrial one with not much to offer.  Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island is another of the ICW’s barrier islands.  The marina offers moorings for $20/night which includes use of all their facilities like the lounge, laundry room and showers.  The cute and colourful historic old town is full of coffee shops, restaurants, tourist shops, and curiosity type antique shops in old saloon style buildings.  Sim and I enjoy these junk come antique shops with their huge array of odds and sods, Eight Flags Antique market is a particularly good one with an eclectic mix of stuff from old furniture to second hand clothes.  The store is divided up into lots of smaller stores or showcases to browse around in. We wandered the streets and admired the buildings. When we’d tired from all the strolling around we cooled off in the lovely air-conditioned Amelia Coffee shop who do the best frozen mochachinos with whipped cream – true decadence.
High Street (Atlantic Ave) Fernandina Beach
We brought our bikes ashore for a few days using them to pick up groceries from the Walmart and Winn Dixie down the road – cycling back with a bike and back load of shopping is not an easy feat in the midday heat. And while we waited to see what hurricane Arthur did we cycled up to the pretty looking lighthouse that overlooks Egan’s Creek, run and maintained by the US Coast guard. We found out it is apparently not open to the public.  But a kindly maintenance man let us in to quickly to take a couple of photos.  The next day we cycled up to Fort Clinch State Park.  The park is about two miles out of town up Atlantic Avenue. Its then another three miles from the park entrance to the fort. Was our stamina up to it? Thankfully the road is shaded by those wonderful twisty, twirly trees covered in dripping moss so that we were protected from the midday sun. We passed several off road cycle paths and tried to take one but we realised after the first five meters that we are not cut out for that kind of adventure and so stuck to peddling the tarmac.  Still it was very pretty, we passed Egan’s Creek again – a stretch of tidal marsh land with long swaying grasses where the alligators live and peddled all the way to the fort.  Building began on the fort in 1847 but was never actually completed. It is very well preserved and modern looking compared to a lot of forts we have seen but then this is America where the old is new.  Even so it is interesting to see how well designed it is, being one of the finest examples of third system fortifications in existence. It was last put to use during WW2 as a base for part of a surveillance and communication system by the coast guard and army before it was deemed no longer of military value and sold to the state of Florida.  It was a neat place but I prefer my forts a little older and more weather worn. We (meaning I) then combed the surrounding beaches for shark’s teeth but they still elude me.  By now we were well and truly burnt out from the sun and still had five miles to cycle back to the marina.  It was a tiring day as we still wanted to fill up with fuel and water and leave the mooring we were on so as not to pay another day.  Needless to say after three days of settled weather as hurricane Arthur by passed us by while on the mooring as soon as we dropped anchor a 40kt thunderstorm passed through with the usual abundance of horrid lightening.
The courthouse

Inside Eight Flags Antique shop

We had a happy hour browsing inside the shop.
Amelia Island Lighthouse

Getting about on our new wheels!
Egans Creek and the lighthouse

Sim Cycling towards the Fort Clinch State Park

I love all the trees dripping in moss
The quarters inside the fort

Inside the fort walls

Canons on top
No sharks teeth here

Fort Clinch

Nearly killing myself trying to take this shot!

No Alligator sightings either.
Fernandina Beach Marina

Lots of shrimp boats

Another thunderstorm on its way

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