Feb. 19

Left Florida and are now in Georgia.          We were in between storms, and made it to the campground with no problems.  The wind started to pick up after we were set up, but calmed down so that Larry and I enjoyed a nice afternoon sitting outside the trailer, reading.  Our campground is the Blythe Island Regional Campground.

 We made a wrong turn when exiting the highway and wandered down a country road.  The nicest young man stopped us and asked us if we were looking for the campground.  He started to give us directions, then just said “Follow me.  I’ll take you there!”  It was 10 miles in the other direction.  I don’t know if he was heading that way or not, but he sure did not have to do this for us!
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Feb. 18

Well, we are learning to take it easy and enjoy the slow life!  We didn’t do much today.

I really enjoy having the washer/dryer in the trailer.  I can do laundry and work on other things at the same time!

Florida has signs all over the highways advertising Flea Markets.  I think every county must have one.  Today we decided to visit the one here in St. Augustine.  It was like going to the county fair!  No rides or ferris wheels here, but we have seen them at other markets!

The sheds (or barns) stretched on for blocks, all interconnected.  There were used items for sale,of course, but also booths where the owners must have bought stores that were closing out.    Farmer’s market produce, fresh shrimp, flowers, were available, as well as vacuum cleaners, computers, and food vendors…I’m sure kitchen sinks were in there someplace, but we did not walk the entire complex.  If there had been something we needed, I’ll bet we could have found it there, but we were just curious!

The other day we were down in Old Town and were told about a family who makes flavored popcorn in their home and sells it.  We got some.  It is the tenderest popcorn I’ve ever had!  So, we went back today for more!   http://popnoff.com/

This street has been named one of the 10 most beautiful streets in the nation, according to the National Geographic.  “Magnolia Lane,” though there is not one Magnolia tree on it, anymore.

Feb. 17

Today is a very drizzly day, starting off foggy, then getting damper as the day progresses.  A Polish craftsman in the old town has made a custom sign for us.  We ordered it on Tuesday and picked it up today.    We’ll get a stake and post this at our campsites, so others will know where we call home.  (Our truck and trailer have Montana tags–another story for another time!)

Now to the Castillo de San Marcos!  This is the fort pictured in most publications about St. Augustine.          It protected the town from invasions, both land and sea.  A dry moat surrounding the fort was used by the townspeople to house/protect their livestock when under attack.                The National Park rangers get to dress up like soldiers and fire the canons!     Larry and I were surprised at how solid this structure is, even after 500 years.  The walls are thick, made with the coquina stone.  One story about the structure was pretty good.  The British tried to take the fort and fired round after round of canon at it.  The balls hit the walls, but the shells absorbed the hits and really did very little to hurt the fort.  But, to fool the Brits, during the dark of night,the Spaniards went out to repaint the walls.  The next day, the British inspected the damage inflicted (via telescope, I presume)   and could see nothing!  The assumption was that they had missed!   This is a large area inside the fort.   “Necessary” functions could not be done in an outhouse.  The fort had a “flushing” system! 

  Rain started falling a little heavier, so Larry and I returned to the trailer where he took a nice long nap and I worked on the computer!

Feb. 16

Lazy start to the day.  Larry has been looking in the different campsite offices to see if anyone has started a book trade.  This office has one!

7 new books!

We left the trailer after lunch, passing this little park with a carousel, 

then on the trolley again, heading downtown to see the Government House Museum.  The Government House was the site of  three ruling nations–Spanish, British, and American (a territorial capital of Florida)    and constructed with this Coquina Stone. Coquina  is used throughout St. Augustine as a building material.  It is a soft limestone that is cemented together with calcite.  The material has been used in this area for over 400 years, and is rarely found more than 3 miles inland.  A quarry was across the inlet and had to be ferried over to the mainland.

The trolley is great, since parking is scarce downtown, and expensive.  The drawback is that it takes a long time to get to where you want to go!  Because of that, we only toured the museum, then caught the trolley back to the truck. The trolley stop was right in front of the oldest diocese in the United States.  Their registry goes back to the 1500’s!    On our way back down to the marina, we stopped at the Castle Warden    mentioned in yesterday’s post.  One of two replicas of the famous David is outside of the Ripley Museum.  It was acquired in 2007.  David, in all of his glory, caused such an uproar in St. Augustine, that the museum had to surround him with a tall hedge! 

We had tickets for a sunset cruise in Matanazas (Spanish for Massacre) Bay, on a wooden topsail schooner “Freedom” — a replica of a 19th century blockade runner–  www.schoonerfreedom.com/  

The evening started out on the verge of drizzle, but once we got into the bay, the clouds lifted and we had a beautiful evening to relax on the water.

Sails need to be hoisted–  Here I am–part of the crew!    Since this truly was a tall ship, the drawbridge was raised for our passage.      We sailed to where the bay meets the Atlantic and back again.    The sunset was beautiful, and Larry enjoyed the ride. 

Feb. 15

Larry and I bought a package of tour tickets, yesterday.  The tickets, and the trolley transportation, are good for 3 days.  Old Town Trolleys seems to be a good deal!  The competition is Ripley’s, as this town has the first Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum site.  What is interesting about the Ripley’s museum is that Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings owned the building!  The original owner was Mr. Warren.  He wanted a winter home for his family.  Warren wanted to give each of his children (13 daughters!) their own rooms, so he built this 39 room castle.  Only draw back– just one bathroom!  Rawlings bought the castle and turned it into a hotel.  Ripley senior kept trying to buy it.  She would not sell.  Ripley’s son finally bought it, after his father died, and turned it into the famous museum of oddities. www.ripleys.com/staugustine/

Anyway, we did not finish our tours of locations yesterday, so today, we started at the Oldest Store Museum.  http://www.trustedtours.com/store/oldest-store-museum-experience.aspx

  The store is stocked with an enormous amount of turn-of-the-century items, left in a warehouse and rediscovered.    The tour guides were great.  They were in character and really tried to “sell” the merchandise.  One of the girls was a theater major.  So much fun!

After this start to our day, we went back “downtown”and searched the shops.  So glad!  I found a great pair of sandals!

We wandered the streets until tour time for the Flagler College.  Henry Flagler built this as a luxury hotel.  It was originally called The Ponce de Leon Hotel.

Only the wealthiest of the wealthy, or the “Who’s Who” of the times could stay here.  It was by “invitation only” for several years.  The stay was for the winter season–  even if you only wanted to stay a weekend, you had to pay for three months!  The sulphuric water was supposed to be good for all ailments, and it flowed freely throughout the hotel–bathing, washing, swimming, etc.  I guess the joke around town was that the locals knew who was staying at the hotel, not by their expensive clothing, but by the way they all smelled–Phew!

Flagler did bring water into the hotel and stored it in the towers on the property, after determining that people really did not like to smell like, or drink “rotten eggs.”  Shades of Nevada, Missouri!

It was active as a hotel until the 1960’s, then in 1968 was established as a college.

“Henry Flagler’s grandson, Lawrence Lewis, Jr., was the driving force behind the development of Flagler College. It was his vision to create a small, private liberal arts college on the grounds of the old hotel. Lewis served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Flagler College for more than 20 years, guiding the College through a re-organization in 1971. He directed millions of dollars through foundations, family and personal funds into new construction, restoration projects, endowment and various other programs to ensure the continued success of Flagler College.

The tuition to this college averages about $22,000 yearly, which includes tuition, room and board, and insurance.  Students dine in luxury, surrounded by Tiffany stained glass windows and Tiffany designed chairs.    Students dine in the dining hall Flagler had for his important guests.  The windows are all Tiffany designed.  The dining hall has two instrumental lofts.  Our student guide told us that the concept was to make sure there was a constant flow of music at all times.  When it was time for a group to take a break, the musicians on the other side would join in on the last few measures of the song, then continue on until their break, at which time the first group would take over, and so forth.  This explains the two band lofts we saw over the swimming pool/ballroom of yesterday’s hotel.

All work was completed within 18 months, including the hand-painted murals in the lobby and the dining hall.  Any gold or silver paint was gold or silver “leaf”. The artist must have slept on his scaffolding to complete the work in time!

Flagler was so proud of the fact that his hotel had the first electricity in the state, that he had bare bulbs showing in his light fixtures.  Not too attractive to today’s standards, but I guess it was ok for the times!

Anyone coming to visit this St. Augustine area needs to plan a week!  We have not toured the old fort yet, nor have we done the museum with the timeline of events of development.  More importantly, there are shops in all of the cross streets.  MUST examine them soon!  😉

 

Feb. 14

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Trolley tour today!  We started at the Old Pharmacy–started by a man who wanted to have an orange orchard.  Between bad farming techniques and winter freezing, the owner fell back on his first career as an apothecary.    The old town area is very quaint with lots of cute shops.  Will have to return!

After lunch, we got back on the trolley to visit the oldest wooden school house.  The building has very heavy chains wrapped around it and the chimney to “protect in the event of high winds.”  The cypress school is over 200 years old.    Every one needs this– but the explanation of symbols was new to me.   From the schoolhouse we traveled to the most famous spot in St. Augustine.  Ponce de Leon’s landing site and the Fountain of Youth.  Folklore about this water probably started because the Europeans had not had any fresh water for a long time.  They saw the Indians looking so healthy, and they had a source of water that was fresh, even along the ocean, so this was a treasure.  Larry and I both had some.  Not as good as some we’ve had–the taste was very sulphuric.  I think peacocks should be the state bird.  We’ve seen a lot of them this trip, but this is the first white one!    The site boasts the one and only 2-story tall spinning globe, which showed the routes of the Europeans as the came to the “new world”.   A cannon firing demonstration followed the 9 minute history lesson.    Back on the trolley to a small museum and the jail, also built by Flagler.  It seems the original one was right across the street from his new, posh hotel. http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/14157

He offered to build a new one for the town, as long as it did not look like a jail.   In fact, travelers getting off the train at night would come across the street and knock on the door, asking if there were any rooms to rent!

This is the living room of the sheriff and his family, who lived in the front of the jail.

More exploring tomorrow!  Oh–weather report–up to 75 today.

Feb. 13

Cool start to the day.  Last night, the temps dipped into the 20’s.  We hook up a garden hose from a water hydrant to provide water to the trailer.  Larry got up at 3:30, and noticed we had no water.  He went to the source and brought the hose in to thaw.  The temps are supposed to be back in the 80’s by Thursday.  Strange weather!

Today we visited two museums.  We thought it would be more comfortable doing inside things, rather than outside!

the first was the Villa Zorayda,

Villa Zorayda Museum St. Augustine Florida www.villazorayda.com/ “an architectural masterpiece built by Franklin Smith in 1883. The Villa Zorayda is a 1/10th scale replica of a small portion of the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. Originally built as a private home it has an extensive art & antique collection including an ancient Egyptian rug over 2400 years old!”

Very interesting, but so much stuff to dust! 

The Lightner Museum www.lightnermuseum.org/  was completely different.  Very opulent and spacious.  Mr. Lightner was a collector of collections.  Lace, glass, stained glass, buttons, hats, musical instruments–all housed in a hotel built by Henry Flagler.    The hotel was originally one used for the staff of the rich and famous who stayed across the street in what is now the Flagler College. Hope to tour it this week.

 

This is an example of the old art of “hair decorations”.  I add this to the album for my daughter!       St. Augustine is home to many pieces by Tiffany.  This museum has several stained glass pieces, as well as lamps.  The college across the street has 40 Tiffany windows in it.

  The Lightner Museum (  the former Hotel Alcazar, built in 1887)  boasted the largest indoor pool in North America.  This is a picture of the pool area looking up to the third floor ballroom, which circled the pool.

    This is the alcove where the instrumentalists sat to play for the guests in the ballroom.  There is one at each end of the hall.

We were privileged to hear some antique instruments play.   

Mr. Lightner collected everything!

flagler basically built St. augustine.