Yesterday after church, I rode Dakota to the Mayport Ferry. The strong headwind fought against me as I cranked along. It also brought in a smell that I’d so quickly forgotten: the salt marsh. There’s nothing like the scent of brackish water when the St. Johns River mixes with the tides of the Atlantic Ocean.
I climbed the Wonderwood Bridge, a monster that had been constructed after my relocation from Jacksonville, Florida. It towered over the Intracoastal Waterway, granting me the best seat in the city over the marsh.
On the beach side of the waterway, I rode through Florida hammock, trees that grow on each side of the roadway, creating a tunnel. Spanish moss hung from the branches. I marveled at how something so beautiful could be deadly to the trees.
I wound through the jetties, fishermen on one side of the road, and the naval base on the other. To the left I could see the shrimp boats. On the right, frigates and aircraft carriers, a fitting portrait of freedom, and the price that’s paid to insure it.
A mile later I wheeled into Mayport, a coastal town turned port in Jacksonville. Remnants of Old Florida lined both sides of the streets. I tried to imaging what Mayport was like when the Timacuan Indians paddled across the river in canoes to Ft. George Island, or as they called it in their native tongue, “Alimacani”. Today, the Mayport ferry transports cars, trucks and pedestrians from side to side.
Rustic seafood restaurants were full of Sunday afternoon sightseers and seagulls hovered hoping for a morsel of fish from the patrons.
This is old Florida, the place I remember when I first came. Palm trees, hammock lined roads that lead to brackish fishing holes. Wooden buildings that had long since grayed from year after year of salty winds from the sea.
I miss old Florida. I’m glad I got to see it today. I’m thankful I smelled the marsh and grateful for the odor of freshly caught shrimp lingering in the nets of the boats that docked for the day along the shore.
As I rode home, I felt blessed by having experienced the blistering feel of salt water, wind and sun on my face, and the sound of sea oats rustling in the ocean breeze. Though Florida is no longer my home, I am grateful for the Nostalgic Ride through the Florida I remember and can start back out on the Road to Freedom this week knowing I made memories today that will keep Old Florida alive in my heart.
What Nostalgia Ride have you taken recently? Share it here!
This post was so timely! Yesterday was a difficult one. We said "See you later" ( I can't do goodbyes) to the pastor who baptized my husband when he came to the Lord, and to his beautiful, sweet wife. Thankfully they are only moving a few hours away. But yesterday the entire church came together to honor the couple and the sacrifices they have made over the years. I told myself I would make it through without crying, but I didn't. It was wonderful though to sit back and look at how much impact one person can have, and sometimes they don't even realize it.And I think, wow, what will heaven be like? How wonderful would it be if we could get there and have impacted people, maybe some we never even knew about. Ride on Reba. You will be that person.