Sunday, June 10, 2012

A visit to the oldest city in the United States

No we did not visit Jamestown founded in 1604 and no we did not visit Plymouth Rock where the pilgrims landed in 1692.  We visited St Augustine, Florida, Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer and admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés,  It is the oldest continuously occupied city in the continental United States.  The citizens of this beautiful city are very proud of this fact and do not miss an opportunity to remind visitors of this fact.  While Avilés established the community of St Augustine, it was actually discovered by Ponce de Leon while searching for the fountain of youth in 1513. We had come into the St Augustine area in a major storm and our destination was the St Augustine Elks, but having never driven to this Elks and the lodge was across the Lions Bridge onto the Anastasia Island, we chose another campground further inland, Trout Creek RV Resort and Marina.  Sounds nice, right?  This was it. A little rough around the edges.
Because of the very heavy rain we asked to park in a area that was not grass. The lady in the office laughed and said every site is on grass. We were worried.  She sent us to a site that allowed our back dual tires on a slab of broken cement.  The people running the campground were very friendly and we were happy with our stay there.  We did have one hiccup with our mail delivery though. I had mistakenly used the zip code and information on the USPS website to direct our mail to.  When we checked it out the next morning we found it was a gas station that only has mail picked up and has never had a mail delivery, like a mail box.  Called the main Post Office and talked to the supervisor.  She gave us the phone number of the branch that receives this area’s mail we found a very helpful lady who said she would call us when that package arrived.  In the end we made that connection, drove to the warehouse that receives and distributes this area’s mail, and picked up our mail. Whew, what a relief. Our new VISA cards were in that delivery.
We drove to St Augustine and parked downtown in a $10 a day parking lot.  This seemed like a lot to spend when there were 2 free lots in the Trolley stops that we could have parked in.  This, however, turned into a serendipitous good decision. We bought 2 day trolley tickets and rode around the city not one but two times before getting off.  There is so much history in this city.  Because it is so old there have been 6 different flags flown over the city: Spanish (1695 - 1763) the British (1763 - 1784), the Spanish again (1784 - 1821), the United States of America (1821 - 1861), the Confederate States of America (1861 - March of 1862), and finally the United States of America again (1862 - 1900).  While many flags have flown over the city and the fort, Castillo de San Marcos, the fort was never taken.
While we rode the trolley we heard the name Flagler so many times I have to include some of the history of this very very rich man.  Henry Flagler, co-founder of Standard Oil, first visited St Augustine in the late 1800’s while on his honeymoon with his second wife.  He fell in love with the area and build opulent hotels and even a railroad to bring his very very rich friends down to Florida for the ‘season’.  These are a couple of pictures of his hotels.
Flagler build churches too.
The story of Henry Flagler in St Augustine is very interesting and if you are interested you can find more here.   Do you know who Henry Flagler’s partner was?  You can read the answer in the second paragraph in the hyperlink above.
P1050012We ate a yummy lunch at the White Lion across from the Castillo de San Marcos and walked down the main street which is like a mall with every kind of touristy shop you can imagine: high-priced shoes to tattoos, chocolates to pottery, flags to ice cream.  We had a Blue Bell ice cream cup and watched people watch Zoltar.  Sure reminded us of the Tom Hanks movie, Big.

As we walked back to the car we discovered there was to be a reenactment of the siege of St Augustine by Sir Francis Drake.  The weather was perfect, there were few people gathered in the downtown square where the siege culminated, and our car was parked across the street and we had paid for a full day.  We spent the next hour checking out the park and people watching.
We also did a little lizard watching.  He was certainly showing off for us.

We then heard the canon and guns being shot and the local towns people in costume getting ready for the conflict.
The battle was so well done and we enjoyed it immensely.
These re-enactors really take this seriously, they supply their own costumes, learn how to fire the authentic arms, matchlock muskets, and when we talked to them they were truly period authentic,
We had a great day in St Augustine and planned on coming back the next day. That will be St Augustine, Part II.

1 comment:

  1. Love your blog! My Mayflower ancestors are nudging me to mention the fact that they landed in 1620 at Plymouth. We are looking forward to becoming fulltimers next month. You are giving us great ideas for our adventures. Thank you for all you do!


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