Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Mayport, Fort George Island, Kingsley Plantation

Osprey Cove RV Park
US Naval Station -- Mayport
Mayport, FL
GPS: 30.378405, -81.404034

Today we played tourist and explored the area close to our home base at Osprey Cove. Our first discovery was that this area is severely complicated by the St Johns River Delta. I don't know if it is officially a delta, but it looks like what I think a delta should be. Tidal marshes and waterways that change shape twice a day with the rising and ebbing tide.

Mayport has a small town look about it and it is hard to believe that it is dominated by the US Naval Station and the major seaport city of Jacksonville just a short distance upstream. The town has been around for a very long time -- established May 1, 1562 -- 455 years yesterday. Happy Birthday Mayport.

Those of us who live on the Atlantic coast of Florida are familiar with State Route A1A as the beach route that runs along most of the coast. Today I learned that A1A includes a Ferry across the St. Johns River. In fact A1A is part of the Ferry's name. I also noted that there is no apostrophe in Johns.

St. Johns River Ferry State Route A1A

One way passage across the river is $6 for autos and trucks. The ride is short but the driving alternative is very long. So $6 is a bargain. Come to think about it, that's the purpose of any ferry. Duh!

The area on the north side of the river is known as Fort George Island.

Route A1A continues north and a long narrow, winding, rutted dirt road took us to the Kingsley Plantation.
Road to Kingsley Plantation

Kingsley Plantation
(1676 Palmetto Ave., Jacksonville, FL, 904-251-3537, GPS: 30.439941, -81.437831)
is part of the National Park Service's Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve.

The products from this plantation were Indigo and Sea Isle Cotton, but the story is the same as all others -- opulent lifestyle for a few made possible by grinding poverty and misery for many. I'm not going to repeat that classic tale here. However, Anna Kingsley appears to be the unique twist in this story.

The central figure of the plantation was Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley, African wife of the English plantation owner, Zephaniah Kingsley, who had settled in Spanish Florida in 1803 and became a successful merchant and planter. He purchased Anna as a slave in Cuba in 1806 when she was a teenager and freed her and their children in 1811. In 1814 the Kingsley family moved to Fort George Island, and Anna became her husband's business partner.

For those who want to dig deeper, the story of Anna, Zephaniah, and the plantation are easily found on Google.

The Big House

I wonder if this tree saw it all

The slave quarters' thick walls were made of 'tabby', a concoction of oyster shells mixed with sand, and they've outlasted decades of humidity and hurricanes to survive from about 1814.

Leaving the plantation and heading back to the ferry, we came across the St George Episcopal Church. We had to stop and take some pictures. The church secretary saw us and came out to host us on a short impromptu tour of the building and grounds.

... and she was kind enough to take our picture to prove we were there.

A return trip on the ferry put us back in Mayport on the south side of the river, by now very hungry.

Singleton's Seafood Shack was our target for solving that problem.

As we approached, we exchanged greetings with this cute couple. They applauded the food and encouraged us to try the 'colon cleaner'.

Singleton's menu was to die for. I settled on an Oyster Po' Boy and Michelle tried the Crab Cakes. Both delicious.

Singleton's Seafood Shack Oyster Po' Boy

On the table was a bottle of 'Colon Cleaner'

We sampled it "Whew!". Michelle bought a bottle for Adam. I'm not sure when we'll be able to give it to him or if we'll remember it and be able to find it when the opportunity comes.

Fed and comfortable we headed back to our rig at Osprey Cove, where I found another shakedown surprise. The bathroom vent fan is not working. I can't tell whether the motor, switch, or both is faulty. I'll deal with that tomorrow.

We had a good day. This is what RVing is supposed to be all about. Faulty fan is a minor inconvenience. I'll fix that.


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