On the 18th I had to say goodbye to Shayne, Bev and Fort Clinch. I headed down to Gamble Rogers State Park, one of my favorite Florida parks. It’s a favorite not only because of its history (see link) but also because of its namesake Gamble Rogers, a local hero in more than one way. They’ve created this website where you can learn about him, hear his music and stories. The park website will explain why the park was renamed in his honor.
I’ve been at that park every year since I began RVing other than the covid year 2020 and the vandalism year 2021. And every year I’ve had a beach front site that I posted many pictures of. The ocean was right outside my front window. I could sit in my front room and watch the waves roll in. It was fabulous. Although it is also responsible for most of Winnona’s rust problems.
But this year, for the first time there was too much competition and I wasn’t able to get a site on the ocean side so I am on the River Side. What river? I’m not sure. On one map it’s labeled as the Halifax River and on another it’s called the Matanzas River.
Because there is an Ocean side campground and a River side campground you can watch the sun come up over the ocean and go down over the river basin with just a short walk from one side of Highway A1A to the other. But don’t get too excited. Getting reservation, since the great covid explosion for RVers, is nearly impossible. My site on this side is fine, though it and all of this campground, is new and there are few trees and no privacy.
There is a lovely wooded trail on the riverside which I walked every morning over to the beach side. The first time I walked over I was shocked to find that all of the stairs down to the ocean in the beach campground and the public access were closed due to damage.
Gamble Rogers has a very short amount of beach front but there is a stretch of public beach which connects with North Peninsula State Park which has public beach access as well. I walked through the ocean front campground and out the locked back gate to the first set of stairs I could sneak down to the beach. This is some of what I found.
The park’s main beach access – closed. As is the access from inside the campground.
Many of the palm trees holding the dunes were destroyed
The dunes were being rebuilt. I guess if they go further south they can pick up the sand that washes away from up here and bring it back.
Most of the public and private beach access stairs were unusable and dangerous.
I took this picture of the stairs I went down by slipping under the board blocking it off and carefully going over the two missing boards at the bottom of the steps.
I wasn’t the only one using those stairs. You can see clearly what they are trying to rebuild here. I’m really not sure how many more hurricanes they can protect Highway A1A from. This view is looking south.
Going north on the beach there is a darling tiny 3 room motel which I’d always hoped Carrie and her family might come to one Christmas and stay on the beach. It is directly next door to the Ocean Front Campground. I didn’t see anyone working to do repairs. It made me very sad. It was darling and every year I showed pictures of it on our original blog.
The restaurant Snack Jacks is just beyond it a short distance and every year I had at least one meal there by simply walking down the campground steps, up the beach and up the now missing Snack Jack steps to their outdoor seating. Luckily their main inside seating building was only slightly damaged but the outdoor dining was totally destroyed.
When I walked out to the A1A side, I could see they have started repairs.
It was a gray and drizzly day on Sunday when Shayne and Bev talked me into driving down to meet them at the Ormond Beach Seafood Festival. Not that I wasn’t thrilled to see them but a seafood festival in the rain??? I turned out to be glad they were going since it was the push I needed. On my own I would not have known about it or thought to go in this weather.
But it was great. At the entrance was the pirates booth but they were always talking to each other with their backs to us. I was cold and hungry so I didn’t stop, maybe they were too.
The booths along the walk in all were non profit organizations connected with water quality, water animals and environmental concerns.
I met up with Shayne and Bev who had already check out the food booths. The smells were fantastic
I came back here several times trying to decide between these nice big plump crab cakes or a lobster roll.
It drizzled and the air was saturated. I’m sure that’s what kept away the huge crowds that I’m sure this festival usually draws. Nice for us.
First off Bev bought some cactus chili which she shared with Shayne.
Shayne bought his gator bites sandwich here.
He said it was YUM! He also had some fish tacos and something else henow says he can’t remember. No wonder, this was a month ago.
Bev opted for a gyro and a corn cake. I settled on the lobster roll with slaw. And they did it right – hot lobster!! not cold. Luckily I remembered to get a picture of it after I’d eaten about half. It was all great food.
After filling up at the festival, Shayne wanted to stop by the Hershey’s ice cream parlor. Neither Bev nor I had any objection though I think we were both stuffed. Still, there’s always room for ice cream. It melts – right?
If I recall we both got 2 scoops. But the bargain of the day was 5 scoops for $5.95 which is what Shayne got. This picture was taken only seconds before the top scoops fell into his hand. He caught them and didn’t lose any of them. And the manager got him a cup. Well done!!
Every day I walked through the wooded path on the river side over to the beach. It became a ritual that I looked forward to.
The beach was pretty empty but the waves were always wonderful as I walked along the shore. It’s certainly a great place to get your exercise.
My second daily ritual was to walk from Winnona to the dock on the riverside to see the sun set over the mangroves every early evening. There wasn’t always a visible sunset but it was always beautiful.
Next post I’ll finish off my two weeks at Gamble Rogers and officially be into December. Just in time to wish you all the Happiest of Holidays!