We woke up to a partly cloudy sky and steamy temps. Bob took Auggie for his morning walk and we just hung out until noon hoping for the weather to improve. We discovered that our campground is on a barrier island. This unnamed island is 35 miles long from the St. John’s River at the north to the St. Augustine Inlet at the south, where the Matanzas and North Rivers join to open up to the ocean. We had lunch and packed up our gear for Vilano Beach where driving on the beach is allowed. About the time we were getting ready to leave, we heard thunder and it started to rain heavily, so we had to hang out for a little while longer. The sun peeked out for a little while, but it continued to rain. It finally started to let up around 1:00, so we were on our way. We drove to the end of A1A at the St. Augustine Inlet and found a place to drive onto the beach. It required 4-wheel drive, so we had to keep looking for a better beach access. We did find this huge house on the beach where we turned around. What a place!
It continued to sprinkle, so we thought we’d check out the Vilano Beach Public Pier while we waited for the rain to stop. This cute little fellow greeted us as we walked out on the pier.
There were a few people fishing in the rain, but no one was catching much.
We walked out to the end of the pier and we got our first glimpse of the St. Augustine Lighthouse.
It was still pretty gloomy out, so it didn’t show up very well.
There wasn’t much boat traffic, but we did see this 46′ Ocean Sportfish, very similar to ours, going down the ICW. It brought back good memories.
As we left the pier, we drove down Vilano Rd. towards the ocean. This section of town looked like the city had done some work on it. They had redone the pier, a few restaurants, and built some shops. Bob spotted one that might have the sandals he’s been looking for so we stopped and went inside. Sure enough! He found some that he liked! We continued on towards the beach and noticed this cool looking motel–The Magic Beach Motel. It was an old motel that had been redone. Many things in the area had a “retro” look about them.
We found this sign at the beach that explained a lot. It told us that the Vilano Beach Casino once occupied this area until 1939. This area was revitalized in 2004 in hopes of becoming a sustainable downtown area with the help of a New Your philanthropist, August Heckscher.
The beach was pretty busy for such an “iffy” day. We had dark, stormy-looking clouds to the north all afternoon, but the sun was shining to the south. We had grey skies over us for most of the day. Still, we enjoyed ourselves watching all the surfers catching the big waves rolling in close to shore. This kid was really good. One thing about this coast of Florida….they sure get some big waves!
We chose a spot at the beach where we could watch the surfers accumulate in the water and take turns riding a wave to shore. They kept us entertained all afternoon. The beach here is very steep due to the wave erosion and while we were there the tide was coming in. Because the waves were breaking so close to shore, an occasional wave would wash over the top and send the unsuspecting beachgoers scrambling out of the way. It was quite amusing to watch. You never knew when it was going to happen.
We were close enough to the Inlet where we could watch any boats that might attempt to pass through to open water. A sailboat and the Coast Guard ventured out, but the sailboat returned soon after. It looked like it might be a little tricky to use that Inlet under the water conditions we had today.
Later, a touring pirate ship peeked its bow out through the Inlet, but then turned around and headed back in.
There were a lot of vehicles choosing to drive on the beach today. The daily cost is $2, but I’m sure most of the residents opt for the yearly pass. We didn’t want to get the truck all covered in salt, so we parked in the lot protected by the sand dunes. You could see the sea spray in the air and soon our glasses were covered with a layer of salt…as was everything else. This was an interesting vehicle that ventured out on the beach. It was all jacked up with 4-wheel drive. Bob said it reminded him of one of the bread trucks that he had driven back in the day when he worked for Jaeger Bread.
There was an area on the beach marked off with cones and tape to protect the leatherback sea turtle nesting areas. I saw this in two different areas on the beach.
As the dark clouds spread our way, we decided it was time to leave. Once we got back around 4:00, Bob checked the radar and rain was definitely on the way. I took Auggie for a quick walk and got back before it started to rain lightly around 5:30. We changed our plans for dinner and made an “indoor” meal because of the rain. It started to thunder and rain harder as we had our dinner and by the time we were done, it was pouring! Auggie had to miss his evening walk tonight, but we would make it up to him tomorrow. It rained the rest of the night as we watched TV and into the night. Tomorrow we look forward to going into downtown St. Augustine and checking out the lighthouse (of course). I think we’ll have a greater chance of rain in the next few days, but that’s ok we’ll be on our way home. We’ll see. Besides, that’s what they made umbrellas for!