I always get nostalgic when I go home for the holidays and hit the beaches I grew up on. Beach sand brings back so many memories of surf fishing for whiting, camping with my grandparents, surfing, learning to drive in Dad's old Scout, girlfriends, beached whales, beached ships, storms, and countless summer days ... (which gives my perky dermatologist some measure of job security).
It was nostalgia that pulled me back into the Fort Matanzas National Monument on Black Friday. Besides a youth spent on the surrounding beaches, I had lived inside the park as a Ranger back in the 80's.
As usual , the NPS is still doing a good job of allowing visitors, while still protecting the resource.
A few commenters asked about the identity of the fort in my new banner pic.
This is Fort Matanzas.
It's really just a fortified watchtower.
There is an inlet here that allows you access to the inland waterway ... and a route to St. Augustine. Previous to this fort, the Spanish settlers at St. Augustine used wooden watch towers to guard this back entrance to town. The idea was, you spot sails from the tower, then you slip into a small boat and slip upriver (14 miles) to warn the garrison at St. Augustine.
The problem with those wooden towers is simply that they were easily taken by British pirates like Drake, Searles, and Morgan. The Spanish got tired of having their town burned and looted by the terrorists of the day and finally funded this strong tower in the mid 1700's.
The boat ride over to the fort is a big attraction at Matanzas, but there is also a nice mix of forest, nature trails, oceanside beach, and inland waterway beach.
Having lived there for a few years, I can attest to the fact that is a VERY fishy area with lots of good bites to be had.
Flounder like to lay out at the tip of these rock groins on a moving tide.
I walked out onto the dock, looked up and got a lump in my throat. I worked with John Harley when I lived there as a Ranger. He was a good man and an excellent coquina stone mason. He's gone now.
Nice that the NPS honored him with this small tribute.
I lived upstairs, over the visitor center when I Rangered here. The new Ranger told me that is now their offices.
Maybe so, but it will always be one of my many homes and one of the more special ones ... my daughter Emma got her Earthly start just above that archway.