Day 050 – St Augustine, FL > New Smyrna Beach, FL

I wish I could have stayed in St. Augustine a few more days, but was anxious and excited to get on the road to see my family in Melbourne. My Uncle Pino, “little Joe” in Italian, has been in and out of the hospital for the past 4o days or so and he was getting tired of it. My Aunt said that he was back in rehab so I hope that means that he will be back at home soon.

I got on the road in the early morning and actually passed Hugh on the way out of town going the other direction, so we stopped and talked a bit. I have been sticking to A1A for most of my riding in Florida as it bounces back and forth between the mainland and the barrier islands across the Intracoastal Waterway. The bridges across the waterway are the only hills now.

I made it to New Smyrna Beach and the lovely home of Debbie and Harrison just in time to enjoy homemade chili after showering away the days ride. I knew I was in a good place when I saw the Conch Republic flag hanging in their garage in front of a tandem bicycle. More about the Conch Republic when I get to Key West, but keep it in mind. Harrison is still an active cyclist while Debbie is now much more into yoga and even teaches classes at a local school to kids with disabilities.

After dinner Harrison took me on a tour of the area and showed me an area near an old sugar refinery that may have been the location of the famed Fountain of Youth that Ponce de Leon was taking about, but not in a literal sense. He explained to me that most scholars think the Fountain of Youth was a metaphor and instead of being an actual water feature it was describing a Native American beverage called “black drink.”  The beverage contains some caffeine and an ample amount of theobromine, the stuff in chocolate that kills dogs, but acts as a mild stimulant and vasodilator in humans. It was taken before battle and other ceremonial occasions by the locals and the Spanish though it was a pretty sweat drink to drink. According to an old Spanish map of the era (mid 1500s) the area around Sugar Mill Ruins Travel Park could have been a place that the black drink plant Yaupon Holly, an ornamental plant with poisonous berries, was cultivated for the drink. Once we got back to the house Harrison shared some with me and it tasted pretty good. I wasn’t ready to go into battle or anything, but I could see how it would be a substitute for coffee.

I had a great time hearing about the various cyclist that have stayed with Debbie and Harrison, a very pregnant woman, a couple from Norway that were on their last stop from a round the world tour amongst many others.







One response to “Day 050 – St Augustine, FL > New Smyrna Beach, FL”

  1. Penny Avatar

    Enjoying the history of the places you are traversing. We drank at the “Fountain of Youth” in St. Augustine on a Sister trip. It smelled of sulfur and didn’t have the advertised result. ; (