1/2/21 to 3/1/21: Closing Out Two Months in Jacksonville

We arrived in Jacksonville early in January 2021 and have spent an uneventful, very quiet two months at the Marina at Ortega Landing. It’s a nice marina and with its nearly 200 slips full, has been more active than any we’ve encountered thus far. There are lots of liveaboards on our dock and several transients who are waiting out the worst of the pandemic before moving on. People are friendly so it's been nice for casual distanced visits. Pump out is in the slip — a very nice perk. The facility and docks are new, clean and beautifully maintained. Unfortunately there is a lot of competition for the small laundry room. Since I’m usually the one hauling laundry to and fro, I’m the one grumbling when there is a waiting line. But it's really been our only inconvenience.

Weather-wise North Florida got cheated the past couple months. Instead of the normal sun and 60s and 70s, we got a preponderance of gray gloom, rain and chilly conditions. Compared to the onslaught of winter that hit much of the U.S., gray gloom is not a bad trade-off. But the nice weather waited for our last week here and we've enjoyed a string of glorious days as we close out our stay.

I wish there was more to report. We stuck close to the boat most days. Mark finished several boat projects and I continued with the cooking thing. We were glad we could visit outdoors with my sister, Rhonda, who has long called Jacksonville home with her son, Damien. 

One highlight was my fortuitous scoring of a covid vaccine. Florida's original guidelines accepted anyone 65 and over. That's me. I went online in early January and snagged an appointment. I got both injections,  a month apart, so yay! I am done. Mark is 64 and no doubt a few months away from his vaccine. Our day-to-day won't change until he also is protected. Still, step by step, it feels like we and many of those around us are reclaiming our lives. It's a good, hopeful feeling.

We did rent a car a couple times while here for a little sight-seeing. Jacksonville doesn't have much of a downtown but it has lovely neighborhoods with some of the most beautiful "pocket parks" I've ever seen. The compact Ortega neighborhood with its gracious traditional manses and cottages is on a point of land directly across from us, bounded by the Ortega and St. Johns rivers. Tiny Stinson Park just this side of Ortega Bridge has lovely views of the skyline and, like all the parks we saw, exuberant live oaks dripping with Spanish moss. The popular and trendy Avondale and Riverside districts are a delight with their charming homes and quaint shopping streets full of restaurants and boutiques. The arboretum and a quick jaunt to Jacksonville Beach were was also nice diversions.

I feel we owe Jacksonville a deeper dive under better circumstances and hope to come back to explore further. For now, next stop is St. Augustine.

View from Stinson Park, a nice walk from the marina.

Ortega Bridge goes up on request for any boat large or small moving on the Ortega River.

First redbud blossoms.

Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens is mostly a woodsy, naturalistic  getaway but there are some colorful residents as well.

Mossy mushroom at the arboretum.

It's more fun to take walks on a warm, sunny day. But January and February 2021 in Jacksonville leaned toward a lot of gray, cool days that looked just like this.

Jacksonville's neighborhood parks are simply beautiful with their abundance of live oaks draped in Spanish moss.

Rhonda, and Garfield, a prince among cats.

A rosy glow marks the end of a beautiful day at Ortega  

Made a stop at Jacksonville Beach on one of the days we had a rental. Sunny but cool and breezy. Quiet.

Thank you, Florida, for the covid vaccine.


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