St. Augustine, FL, the nation's oldest city, is a twenty-minute ride south on the super-slab from Jacksonville, but where is the fun in that? Instead of the Interstate, I opt to take a more circuitous route. I leave Jacksonville on State Road 13, through Fruit Cove, towards the tiny town of Hastings, forty miles to the south.
SR 13 runs parallel with the St. John’s River, which flows slow and easy, north from headwaters in Indian River County, some 300 miles through Jacksonville to the ocean. The gentle sweepers along SR13 are pleasant, tree-lined, and nearly devoid of traffic. The view alternates between pine stands that allow the bright morning sun to wash the road in light and live oaks, bearded with Spanish moss, that create a tunnel-like ride through shaded hollows. The tarmac is smooth and nearly flawless.