Saturday, April 6, 2013

St Augustine, FL

Odometer  29788
Trip Meter  94 miles

Joan and I left Mims, FL at 11:00 this morning heading north on US route 1 to St. Augustine. When we got as far as Daytona we turned on to A1A which follows the Atlantic coast.
Daytona  Florida
We made arrangements to stay at the Pellicer Creek RV park about 15 miles south of St. Augustine, and we arrived just after 2 PM. The owner was very good to us and allowed us the Passport America (1/2) price even though they don't normally do this for Saturdays- we liked the park, and this area, so well we decided to stay for 3 days. A good choice as it turns out. After getting the RV set-up, we still had time to take the car into town.

The downtown was very crowded and there was virtually nowhere to park.
After driving the crowded streets with the car, we gave in and bought trolley tickets- let someone else do the driving and let them tell us what we were seeing. 

 The tickets were $25 each but we found out we had on-off privileges for the next 2 days too! We had time for a loop through old town and having the driver's narration really enhanced the experience. We will be back tomorrow to use the trolley to get us in place for our walking tours.
What a cultural experience!
The first Spanish explorers landed in this area in 1513, five hundred years ago- this year!
Established in 1565 by the Spanish, St. Augustine is the oldest, continually occupied european established city in the continental US. Over the next 250 years, St Augustine swapped hands back and forth between Spain and England . Florida finally became a territory of the USA in 1822.
Here is a little of what we were able to see:

A grand hotel, the Ponce de Leone  built in 1887 by Railroad and Oilman Henry Flagler, was one of the nations first electrified buildings.  It is now a part of Flagler College, a private 4 year liberal arts college (established in 1968 by family members many years after H. Flaglers death).

This is the original Fort Castillio de San Marcos built by the Spanish.  It was started in 1672 and is the oldest masonry fort in the continetal US.  It's walls are made of a stone known as coquina which is Spanish for "little shells".  This material was quarried sedimentary limestone that was still soft when excavated,  The cut blocks had to be air dried for at least 3 years to become hard enough to be cemented into place.  The English laid seige to the fort twice and never succeded in capturing it.  At first the US used the fort mostly as a prison for native Americans.  The fort was occupied by the Union during the Civil war, but reverted to a prison after the war.

The older steets of old town are beautiful tree-lined avenues.  Note the wall to the right of this picture.
the picture below is a close-up of that wall.

This wall is called a Tabby wall and is constructed with oyster shells and cement and supposedly protects the Fountain of Youth.- Uh- huh.

Here is a photo taken from the trolley of the oldest house in the continental US.  We hope to get a better one when on foot tomorrow.  The bottom stucco home is Spanish, the wood frame top was added while owned and occupied by the English.  Most of the town was destroyed each time the British laid seige to the fort first in 1702 and again in 1740. Hence no older homes survive.

More tomorrow.

Your traveling friends,

Jeff and Joan

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