US Road Trip Epilog: 6th August 2005

120 miles or so south, starting on along Highway 23 before joining the Interstate to get around Jacksonville and Highway 1 into St. Augustine.

Crossing St. Johns River around Jacksonville
Crossing St. Johns River around Jacksonville.

It's very hot today, so I'm using the aircon from time to time to cool down. Even though it's been fixed, I'm still a bit wary of using it due to the extra load it puts on the engine. Maybe I'll get more confident about using it with time.

All the motels in St. Augustine seemed to be expensive when I checked on the internet, especially as it's a Saturday night, so I decided to choose the one that is likely to be the nicest - a Holiday Inn. When I arrive at 1 p.m. they tell me I can't have my room until 4. They seem to be in a bit of a state of chaos as someone overflowed a bath last night and flooded three floors down. That and they've got three separate wedding parties in for the night.

The waterfront at St. Augustine
The waterfront at St. Augustine.

Nothing for it then but to leave the car and walk the mile or so downtown. Once there I spend much longer than I need to in the Visitor Information Center. That'll be due to the fact it has effective air conditioning.

Downtown St. Augustine
Downtown St. Augustine.

St. Augustine is the oldest European colony in the US, having been founded by a Spanish explorer. That would explain the large number of tourists - including, unsurprisingly, a lot of Spanish - crowding the streets. The street above is an exception as it has no shops selling paintings, 'antiques', pirate-related tourist tat and all other manner of rubbish. The good news is that there seems to be a number of places promising live music tonight.

The entrance to the Fountain of Youth
The entrance to the Fountain of Youth.

St. Augustine is also famous as Juan Ponce de Leon (crazy name, crazy guy) sailed here and was the first European to set foot in the US. He was looking for the Fountain of Youth. Frankly, I don't know how it could miss it given that huge sign at the entrance. Obviously he did though, otherwise I presume he'd still be around somewhere.

On the way back to the motel I stop in a pharmacy to buy some beer (yes, you can buy beer in chemists in most states). Whilst looking through the discount CD's I see Bob Seger's Beautiful Loser for $7. The title track is great but one of the songs I've had reverberating through my head for the past few months is Travelin' Man, for obvious reasons. The CD is added to the cart - just a shame I've got no way of playing it at the moment.

In the evening I was planning to return to downtown but a very impressive thunderstorm, complete with all the lighting and sound effects, puts paid to that. Nothing for it them but to watch the NASCAR Busch Series race from Indianapolis. The race is delayed for 1½ hours after 50 laps or so, meaning I can also get my Law & Order fix whilst they're waiting for the track to dry and the race to resume.

Later at night, around 2 or 3 a.m., the wedding receptions have obviously ended and the guests adjourned to the corridor outside my room to carry on the party. I'm sure they'd be more comfortable in one of their rooms, but I guess that there may be an attraction to hotel corridors that eludes me.

US Road Trip Epilog: 7th August 2005 >