Wednesday, March 23, 2011
St. Augustine....one of the best yet!
St. Augustine is the oldest city in the Nation, dating back to 1565. Architecture was strongly influenced by Spanish rule. Tour trains cater to tourists and we rode the choo choo with our red train sticker proudly beaming from our shirts!
The most interesting tourist site undoubtedly is the Fort. The original cannons made of brass are a brilliant green. Some are simple, but others are ornate and truly beautiful. The fort looks over the Matanzas River where Crawdad was moored.
St. Augustine Municipal Marina was recently renovated with many mooring balls, most available. We were surprised how few boating tourists there were in St. Augustine at this time. Most were sailboats. As we approached the Marina Office we were greeted by a "Gold Looper", which means they have completed the loop. They carry the same flag we carry proudly off our bow, but they carry a yellow flag. (We bought our flag when at Wheeler's Landing Rendezvous and are ready to fly it proudly as well!) The captain of Admirals Choice showed us a huge gash in the hull of his Carver. Just above the waterline. Current and wind are a dangerous combination. We are extremely vigilant, but often we have no control, as apparently happened to Admiral's Choice. He said the sound of the damage was gut-wrenching. I bet!
Again, the scenery on the way to St. Augustine was interesting. One portion of the trip was through another "ditch". This is a straight portion that is dug to connect two rivers. Portions of the ditch was nicely developed with homes on one side and natural growth on the other. Other areas along the ditch looked like "fish camps". That is not a compliment. Fish camp marinas are the simplest and often pretty darn bad.
Fort Matanzas is a National Monument run by the National Park Service. The fort was built in 1740 by the Spanish. We didn't stop to walk the property, but our friends have anchored nearby and enjoyed the tour. We cruised by and took pictures. Can't see it all, though we are trying. There is a lighthouse nearby on the Matanzas River and the blue and white striped lighthouse with a red top is a beautiful addition.
One picture included above is my view under the bridge. Sometimes the available space is barely more than the boat, but with bridge openings only on the hour or half hour, we try to comply when we feel "pretty" confident we can pass underneath. I will admit that occasionally I hold my breath. Jim drives and I direct him to the right or left, as often the highest part of the bridge is in the middle.
In an earlier blog describing Marathon, we mentioned Henry Flagler and his railroad. You will remember Henry Flagler started Standard Oil with John D. Rockefeller and Henry Rogers. Henry Flagler and his wife visited St. Augustine and fell in love with the area and climate, so he built the first of what were to be a series of hotels. He built the railroad down the East coast of Florida and finally to Key West.
The Ponce de Leon Hotel, his first hotel, is an architectural dream and is now Flagler College.The campus is amazing and the fountain in the front garden was especially entruiging to Jim. Many of you know of Jim's fountain. A long-term labor of love in front of our home!
Roaming the streets of old St. Augustine feel like Europe and Boo enjoyed much of the city with us. He especially enjoyed the dinner on the balcony of the Brew Pub as a "service dog".
Yesterday a dear friend called and said he and his family are moving to St. Augustine to begin work on June 1st. We love St. Augustine and now have another reason to return to lovely and charming St. Augustine!
Now off to Jacksonville to pick up Adrienne to cruise the St. John River. They say it is like "old Florida"!