This fishing pier is actually the east end of the old A1A bridge over the intracoastal waterway at Vilano Beach, in St. Augustine. St. Augustine has no shortage of nearby beaches, but when I was a kid, Vilano was always the quieter, laid back, funkier beach.
There was a distinct difference that you could not help noticing when you crossed this bridge and landed at Vilano as opposed to crossing the Bridge of Lions and landing on Anastasia Island.
Anastasia Island was often simply referred to as "The Island" ... epecially that portion directly across from downtown St. Augustine, an area known as "Davis Shores" after a a developer named ... Davis (surprise!) pumped sand over the pristine marshes, dug some canals, and sold lots back in the early 20th century land boom.
It was said that "God lived on The Island".
God may have had one of those expensive bayfront homes on Anastasia, and later perhaps a condo on St. Augustine Beach, but I don't think she had any Vilano Beach real estate holdings.
Although, I may be mistaken on that, I hear she works in mysterious ways.
Vilano was very different from "The Island".
Vilano was more of a "regular" (not rich) folks beach community with a lower population of doctors and lawyers. Due to a bodacious surf break, it was home to scores of surfers who only added to the funky character of the little community.
Today a high rise modern bridge replaces the old lowslung drawbridge that still partially exists as that fishing pier. This "new" bridge zips you across the intracoastal waterway in minutes, and while it does offer a brief high speed view of the ocean, there is no drawbridge to force you sit and watch the dolphins as you wait for a boat to pass.
This is the price of efficiency.
To be fair, the old draw was a little fussy sometimes and since it lifted a section of the bridge straight up, if you ignored the crossing arm you went straight into the drink.
When you consider the fact that for a very long time, there was a bar called the "Lazy Sands" practically at the foot of the bridge that had a drive through window for mixed drinks served in a "to go" cup ...then you can imagine how a drawbridge might consume more drivers than expected.
Like I said earlier, Vilano was a different place.
Exhibit A for the exquisite funkiness of old Vilano is the building above.
All around this old motel, set into the walls, are pink flamingoes. They are not just paintings but three dimensional sculptures.
The building is chainlinked and posted with no trespassing signs. The flamingoes stare out from behind the fence like sad, captive birds at a zoo.
Sadly, I think these birds are an endangered species. I'm sure this building is waiting it's demolition.
Losing this kind of folk art is painful to me. Having built things, carved things, and painted things, it occurs to me that a lot of effort went in to making and painting these. Flamingoes are everywhere at this old defunct motel.
Near the office, a giant pink and almost scary looking flamingo watches for customers who no longer come.
Today's customers are across the street at the megageneric motel.
It doesn't take much imagination to predict that a similar motel may take the place of the old flamingo encrusted Vilano Beach Resort.
Can't you just hear the crackly buzz?
I didn't think so.
The sun was almost gone by the time I finished my walk with Bear. We spent too much time photographing the flamingoes and the sun did not wait.
In the gathering gloom, I grabbed one last shot.
A huge modern supermarket will soon replace this surf shop according to the "Coming Soon" sign posted on this block.
The bulldozer waits.
The sun sets.