Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Two Tourists in St. Augustine

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Day two of poking around St. Augustine, Florida like the rest of the tourists.

Our timing was off- we arrived on a weekend, which means it was more crowded in the old city than we prefer.  But in order to keep our schedule we had to tough it out.  Jeff is signed up to take a class on the mechanics of the motorhome from the people who make the chassis -Freighliner- in Gaffney, South Carolina on the 18th, and we have lots to see in Georgia and South Carolina before then.
Here is where it all started.  Aviles Street is the oldest street in the oldest city.  Part of our walking tour was to walk the whole downtown- much of it has been recreated- but much of the old shows through too- it's amazing.  We both enjoyed the walking tour and took way too many pictures.
The grand building above, is the Ponce de Leon hotel built by Henry Flagler in 1988 when there was not much else here.  The hotel was cutting edge construction, it was the first large scale building to be built using poured concrete- a building material that Flagler liked a lot.  He wanted the style to be Spanish Renaissance, and in order to keep with that style, bricks were used for color and style elements.  It was one of the first buildings to be all electric (not even the White House had electricity at this time).  Flagler had 3 large generators for power.  There was running water throughout- the towers on both sides of the picture above held 8000 gallons of fresh water and there were 50 rooms with private bathrooms.



Although Michelangelo's David statue has been reproduced many times, St. Augustine has one of two exact replicas which were made from the same marble (same quarry) and is a full size version (rare).  The City leaders required Ripley's to grow a hedge around the nude statue- so it is completly surrounded except for an off-set entrance. The original Ripley's- Believe it or not! is in the castle-like structure in the back ground.
Joan and I signed up for a harbor cruise on the Victory III
The harbor cruise gave us the great photos of the Castillo de San Marcos (fort) that we have in our previous blog and the Bridge of Lions which spans the channel between St. Augustine and Anastasia Island.  The original of this bridge was award winning at the time of it's creation, and when it needed replacement, the city urged a restoration that would preserve it's origial look.  The restoration took 4 years and 80 million dollars!
We also got a good look at the St. Augustine lighthouse that sits on Anastasia Island.
The Anastasia Island Lighthouse from the bay on the Atlantic side
After the cruise we had fish and chips at O.C.Whites on San Marco Boulevard where Jeff treated himself to a Mojito coctail to fortify himself for the afternoon.
In the Afternoon we drove our car out to Anastasia Island over the Bridge of Lions to take a tour of the lighthouse
The lighthouse has 200 cast iron steps that rise up 165 feet to the lantern room.  The tower completed in 1874 is made of brick, and has a first order Fresnel lens.  A first order lens means that the lens stands about 9 feet high.  The lens was damaged by vandals with a high power rifle in the 1980's- 19 of the original lens elements were damaged,  The lens was repaired with the help of several local corporations (Disney and FARO Technologies) who donated the equipment and labor to use a 3-D digitizer to make scans and print out plans for replacement  lenses.  The techniques that were developed here are being taught elsewhere  to effect similar repairs on other damaged lenses.
Here is Joan preparing for the 219 steps to the top.
Here's proof that Joan actually made it to the top- 165 verticle feet in the air!
The Museum at the lighthouse also employs professional modelers to build and re-hab some of the maritime models on display here.  Les and Sue were very happy to explain the intricracies of their current model.  Sue's job was to glue on the 5000 individual copper sheets on the hull.  Turns out Sue has relatives in Grants Pass- and has visited Oregon several times small world eh?

We are off to Brunswick, GA tomorrow..

Your travelling Friends,

Jeff and Joan

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