Monday, June 30, 2014

Sweltering in the South and a visit to Astor

It is HOT, I mean really, really, really HOT.  Yesterday's heat index was 113 degrees inland and 108 on the coast. It is soupy and rainy and we are one month into Hurricane Season here in Florida.  Our first tropical activity is happening off shore but so far nothing predicted but more rain.  Florida is also the lightening capital of the US with storms occurring approximately 100 days out of the year.  The most dangerous area runs from St. Augustine (north) to Lake Okeechobee (south) and from east to west coasts according to the University of Florida.  Where do I live....yep, right about there.  Daily summertime showers are a fact of life in Florida and we rank number one in the number of deaths due to lightening, 94% of which occur between late May and the end of September.   Now you know why the snowbirds all go north around the end of May :-)

Visit to Astor, FL

Drawbridge over St. Johns River
Being too hot to do much else,  a friend and I met in the middle yesterday for a lunch along the St. Johns river.  The town of Astor is said to be "a quaint little Drinkin' Village with a Fishin' problem".  I didn't make that up, it came directly from the city's website. 

Located on the west side of the St. Johns River between Lake George and Lake Dexter, with a population of under 2,000.  In 1874, William Backhouse Astor, Jr. from New York's wealthy Astor family purchased over 12,000 acres, and established a town he called Manhattan. New settlers arrived by steamboat to the town which consisted of a church, schoolhouse, botanical garden, and free cemetery. William Astor also built a hotel, saw mill, and eventually a railroad. Over the next twenty years Astor saw his town grow, but the Manhattan name never caught on. When William Astor died in 1892, the town was officially renamed Astor in his honor.
Astor is directly off of SR40, the Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway.  There is hiking and biking, boating and fishing, and sightseeing.  We ate lunch at the Blackwater Inn on the river but opted for the inside view to beat the heat.
Our view through the window screen

Our waitress was very nice - entertaining, but nice!

Good lunch company

I don't know if Astor is famous for yard art, but they should be... there are two huge shops along the road with very unique "art".  There's also a Pioneer village that I'd like to visit one day, when the temperature is under 100 degrees!  So, if you need a life-size bear, or a 10' pink rooster, or a 15' T-Rex for your yard, let me know... I can hook you up!

T-rex, notice the people for scale.  Taken through the car window

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