The monkey is back in Florida this week. Kongo’s company is moving its corporate headquarters from New Jersey to Jacksonville this summer so the monkey is busy making sure a lot of details are taken care of. When he is in Jacksonville, Kongo drives across this bridge a couple of times each day. Since he first saw it last fall, the monkey has always admired its clean lines and harp-like structure but its name is sure a mouthful: Napoleon Bonaparte Broward Bridge. Napoleon Broward, by the way, was a former river boat captain, pilot, and governor of Florida, famous for draining the Everglades.
So this morning, before the “crack of dawn” as they say in the south, Kongo heads out to capture some sunrise bridge images.
This bridge spans the St. John’s River on Interstate 295 East, one of the loops around downtown Jacksonville. Just to the east of the span is Blount Island, one of the largest intermodal transportation hubs on the Eastern Seaboard. Every day large cargo vessels come up the St. John’s River from the sea to load and unload cargo from Europe and the Caribbean.
The bridge was completed in 1989. It is one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in the United States with more than 21 miles of cable.
Under the bridge on the north side of the St. John’s River is a small park called Dames Point. There’s a small pier there and from it you can see some of the tugs and cranes that support the shipping traffic in and out of Blount Island.
A few early rising fisherman joined Kongo on the pier and topped off his coffee. They were pulling in some pretty good-sized black drum fish.
When Kongo stopped for coffee at a Kangaroo Express before heading to the bridge he stood in line behind an elderly gentleman who was complaining about the Jacksonville police following out-of-state visitors. He said when people come to visit him the cops follow them everywhere.
“It’s just harassment, plain and simple,” he said. “Just because they have New Jersey plates on their car. Happened to me too when I moved here from Cherry Hill.” (Cherry Hill is the next town over from Kongo’s company headquarters)
“Well, what were they doing?” Kongo asked, not sure what tangent the gentlemen might launch next.
“Nuthin’. Nuthin’ at all. Just drivin’ around with kids in the car lookin’ at stuff.”
(Among other things, the old gent lost his “g’s” somewhere along the way.)
Hmm, Kongo thought. Something’s not right here.
“So why do you think they’re following your friends?”
“Well who knows what these cops are thinkin’. I’m guessin’ you just can’t trust Yankees. You know, people from the north.”
“Yup, know about those Yankees. They play baseball, right?”
Kongo had his coffee by this time and smiled politely and said, “Good luck,” nodding knowingly at the cashier.
When he got back to his rental car he checked the plates. Florida. OK, one less thing to worry about.
Travel safe. Have fun.