Live Trip Map Day 7: December 30, 2008
Too Much Sand for Me
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I've driven this canopied road north of Ormond Beach before and it is one of my favorites. That it was once Dixie Highway is a bonus.

I sidetracked just a bit to Ormond by the Sea and, for the second time of the trip, got caught by a drawbridge. This time I was able to see what caused it.

I had seen the Bulow Ruins mentioned on a couple of signs and decided to take a look. I left the planned route and was soon at the entrance to the park. Inside the park, the road was as rough as it was pretty. It reminded my very much of the "sidewalk highway" remnant of Route 66 near Miami, Oklahoma. It doesn't have the visible washboarding of the Oklahoma road but the ride was essentially the same. I could drive no faster than 10 MPH over any portion of it and most of it was bone rattling at 5 MPH. After about a mile, I came to a locked gate, a pull-off, and a few bicyclists. A pickup truck that had been behind me pulled up to the gate while I parked off of the road. The woman driving got out and spoke with the cyclists as she unlocked the gate. I approached her as she climbed back in the truck and asked where the ruins were. "Oh, the ruins are inside the park", she said, motioning beyond the gate. "The park's closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Come back Thursday. It'll be open.". She climbed into the truck and drove through the gate. As she stopped to lock it behind her, I started back down the washboard.

Back on the Dixie Highway, I was thrilled when I came to brick pavement just north of a cluster of homes called Espanola. I even chuckled a bit at a "ROUGH ROAD" sign since I'd just finished a round trip over a mile of teeth jarring washboard. I merrily set off down the road but, when I encountered the rugged looking truck coming from where I was going, began to sense that things could get worse. They did. At first the brick was mostly covered with sand then entirely covered with sand then entirely covered with deeper sand. When I saw a grassy spot big enough for the car, I steered into it, got turned around, and headed back toward Espanola. Yes, a Corvette can be driven on sand. No, it isn't recommended.

Having clearly dodged a bullet, I backtracked to where I had left the current US-1 then drove west on Saint Johns County Road 204 to its intersection with the brick road. The last three pictures are from the northern end of the brick Dixie Highway segment. As I was stopped taking the first of those pictures, a pickup pulling a trailer headed down the road. I waited for the dust to settle a bit then followed it. I stopped a couple of times to look over the bricks and found few places where both cement edges, as seen in the last photo, were visible. After encountering a break in the brick pavement, I pulled into a turnoff to turn around. The truck I had seen earlier was headed back and I waited for him to pass before backing onto the road. He pulled into an open field and, when I stopped nearby, walked back to the road to tell me that, if I hadn't pulled over, he was going to stop and ask if I knew where I was. We talked for a bit and he told me that thing got pretty rough at the Flagler County line just beyond where I'd turned around. He also told me that most of the surrounding land is owned by a timber company and the road is used only by them and a few residents. About six and a half miles of "undriven" Dixie Highway exist between my two turnaround points. A humbling end of day discovery is a Google ground level view of my deepest penetration into the Florida wilderness.

Although she is talking about the road north of St Augustine, Granny's description from 1920, "...the road is brick paved about 8 or 10 ft wide the bricks are loose.", could apply to this section, too. I counted 10 bricks and 9 heel to toe steps; about 8 feet.

The Saint Augustine Lighthouse was very much a working one when my great-grandparents were here in 1920. Even then, visitors were often permitted but Granny says "We did not get in the light house." Whether they were turned away or just weren't interested, I can't say. But I "got in" and made it up the 219 steps to the viewing deck.

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