Wednesday, 29 May 2013

East to Alaska!

After the hot sunshine of Arizona, it felt like we'd arrived in Alaska but really we were in Jacksonville, Florida having arrived in the middle of a Nor’easter.   This wasn't quite the weather we were expecting from the Sunshine State!
We'd decided to have some time on the beach before heading home, where, if this summer is anything like the last we’ll be lucky if we can even see the beach through the rain! 
Our first trip was to Fort George Island and the Kingsley Plantation situated along the St John’s River, it was cloudy with a strong, very cold wind blowing off the river.
The entrance road we followed winds its way for 2 miles through maritime forest that was once carefully tended plantation fields.
On each side of the gate the remains and one reconstructed slave cabin built of tabby, a type of concrete made from oyster shells

fan out in a semi-circle.

Probably the most valuable crop grown on the plantation was indigo.   One slave could plant and tend 2 acres of plants producing about 160 pounds of indigo which converted from 1761 to today would be worth about $2,000.00.   Indigo was also the most dangerous crop for the slaves to produce as prolonged exposure to the disease carrying insects and the noxious fumes meant that the life span of a slave who worked on indigo production was between 5 and 7 years. 

As most visitors to the plantation arrived by ship an avenue of royal palms guided them from the river landing to the house. 

Originally built to take advantage of cooling breezes from the river, extra rooms, a hall and fire places were added which made the house more difficult to keep both cool and warm.

By plantation standards the house isn’t a huge antebellum mansion advertising the wealth of its owner.   Back then law enforcement may or may not arrive, and expected and welcome visitors weren’t the only people who could arrive by the river, pirates could as well! 

Have fun, we are!
PS:   Yes the weather did improve, dramatically!

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