Well ain’t this place charming as well. Not bad for over 450 years of existing. Getting into the specifics, and this it is the oldest continuously-inhabited European-established settlement in the lower 48 states. Though if Puerto Rico were a state, San Juan would take the distinction. The various waves of both colonial control are apparent through different sections of St. Augustine. Spanish. French. British. Confederate. American. Typically, all sign of the original active inhabitants is all but erased, aside from their likely spirits still here.
Not quite on the Atlantic yet, I head out A1A after a fantastic cappuccino and some slow cruising the tiny downtown. Destination: the ocean, the beach and Jacksonville. While it appears that the Algerian-born Augustine of Hippo was a fine theologian, I’m not sure I can say the same for Jacksonville’s genocidal namesake. But hey, twenty dollar bill y’all.
I head over a causeway bridge and bang a left heading due north. Whew!! It feels like a whole new bike ride!! I misjudge the amount of public space there is and soon wish I had hit the facilities back in St Augustine. I finally find a small amount of public ocean access. I get my first sight of the Atlantic Ocean!
Made it. And damn do I gotta take a leak. I make up for not putting my feet in the actual Pacific back in San Diego by putting my whole body in the Atlantic. I pee in the ocean. I guess technically I pee in my pants in the ocean. Whatever. Natures salty bathroom!!
As I meander north, I’m realizing that this is gonna be the last day of the ride. It’s bittersweet. I’d love to keep rolling but I got shit to handle back home. I feel good though. Coast to coast feels compete and total. I book an Amtrak ticket out of Jacksonville for tomorrow and head up the beach toward a possible souvenir shop. The permanent type of souvenir. For myself.
I know I’m getting close because where there once was no traffic, there is now traffic. And not the kind that’s directed by Steven Soderbergh. Lots of it. Also lots of quality tattoo shops. I strike out on being a walk-in at two of them before a third can take me in a about 90 minutes. Word. Having bicycled 30 miles on a banana. I seek out sustenance. It comes in the form of some chargrilled garlic parm oysters. I been had been hoping for and wanting some of these since NOLA. They do not dissappoint. Nom. Nom. Nom.
I finish up and head over for the ink. It’s small and quick and simple. Just a permanent piece of art as a reminder. Afterward I link up with my old friend Jose. He used to live in Buffalo but now is down in Jax. He’s like one in a billion New York transplants in the Sunshine State. One billion. He tells me I look like I bum. I know I do. We feast on some Asian style street food. Jose is putting me up for the night so I throw my bike in his truck and we cruise in Jacksonville city. I grab a shower, do work laundry and feel great. I’m sitting on a couch watching TV for the first time in a long time. Then I’m in a bed in a bedroom for the first time in a long time, looking up at the coolest fan I’ve ever seen.