Our Lady of the Blue Highways

Our Lady of the Blue Highways
Portrait in oils by Jackie Poutasse

Saturday, February 20, 2010

St. Augustine

St. Augustine

I have a very slow internet connection here - I can't up-load photos, so I'll send out a blog of just photos as soon as I can.

After returning from my “9 mile hike” Myra was up and pushing JT to hurry and get going – it wasn’t even 7 a.m, but she wanted us to get an early start.

We decided to take a tour of the historic district. The history of St. Augustine is fascinating.

There was a guided trolley tour that lasted about 1 ½ hours with lots of info – it stopped at about 20 different places. Our tour tickets allow us use of the trolley for 3 consecutive days and we can hop on and off at the different stops. The driver was very knowledgeable about the history – at least the first driver was. The second one thought he was on comedy central, sprinkled off color comments among his speaking points. Not that I’m against off color humor, but that wasn’t the place for it considering the people of all ages – including children – on the trolley. We got off and waited for the next stop to continue the tour.

We did stop at the San Sebastion Winery for a tour – and tasting, too, of course. And of all things, I learned something about vanilla during the tour. This will stay with me forever. Have you ever gone to the grocery store and tried to decided whether you wanted real vanilla or vanillan? Well, I now know the answer to that question – stick with the real vanilla – no matter the difference in price. Vanillan is a by-product of Oak. The makers of vanillan pick up oak wood pulp from mills, and extract the vanillan from it.

I noticed a French Pastry shoppe from the trolley. Tomorrow I’ll track it down – it’s in the restored historic area. French Pastry can’t be considered junk food, ……. Can it?

During our informative history tour, we just had to hop off to visit a rubber stamp store, a bead shop and a quilt shop. Afterall – we have to keep our priorities straight. And, no, I didn’t buy anything.
Day 2

Caught the trolley and hopped off at the Presbyterian Church which was built by a Mr. Flagler – One of the richest men in the country – he literally bought St. Augustine – built hotels – he wanted the property where the little Methodist church was location. To tempt the congregation to move – he built them a large new church and an impressive parsonage a couple blocks away from where he wanted to build his awesome Ponce de Leon hotel. More about that later.

He built the Presbyterian Church in memory of his daughter who died in childbirth along with her baby. The building took 1 year to built – 1000 workers working 500 per shift – to get it done in time to dedicate it on the anniversary of her death. Beautiful carved wood work, Tiffany windows, Huge – Just huge, and even 20 some years after it was built, there were only 163 members of the congregation. A few decades back they put in a pipe organ – with 5000 pipes. It has huge vaulted ceilings - reminds me of European structures.

Back to the hotel - It is now Flagler College. When it was built – it was the first hotel in the country that had electric lighting. They even had Thomas Edison come down to make sure it was done right. Unfortunately, guests were afraid to touch the switches, so they would use candles instead of the electric lites. Flagler had to hire servants to turn on and off the lights to prevent a fire from the candles. At the time it opened, it was only opened 3 months of the year. If you wanted to stay only a week, you still had to pay for the whole season. Definitely not a blue collar establishment. The structure has beautiful Tiffany windows - made for the Hotel when Tiffany was in his 20's

We continued through the day, walking through the historic district – checking out all the shops, and historic buildings. We stopped at a Spanish Bakery – with only 3 items on the menu. Empanadas, sausage rolls and soup. Served with a roll, a cookie and a drink. $5.50 – Super fast service, great food, greater price.

This photo of the Wee Beastie is of the oldest school building. Notice the chains and the anchor. This was done to keep the building from floating out to sea during a hurricane. (see explanation of lack of photos above)

More walking. And more walking, and did I tell you we walked a lot. A Lot. We did find the French Pastry shop, and indulged – then caught the trolley and headed home to dinner.

We were fed and in bed by 7 p.m.

Day 3 St. Augustine

The Fort. The highlight, if you ask me. It is awesome. It didn’t stop at walls and moat, but continued through 5 different levels of defense. Never taken by force. We spent hours there.

I Also got my America the Beautiful pass, and was able to bring JT and Myra in as my guest. This is great. I intend to get a lot of use out of the pass.

After the fort, we checked out a state park campground. They were so taken by it, they decided to work-camp there next year. It’s right on the beach, but the campsites are wooded. Really nice park.

On the way home, Myra noticed a sign for Bingo, She drove back to their campsite, pushed JT out the door, and off we went to play bingo. I haven’t played bingo since childhood birthday parties. Myra’s been playing for 20 years. Beginners luck, or experience – neither helped. We came home empty handed.

Bear Hugs,

1 comment:

  1. hEY Boots, sounds like you are getting into the travel mode! Glad to hear you are finding all the cool cards to have, even a dollar or two will add up. Looking forward to seeing the pics....I'm down in Nags head for a few days...2 days of sun and now they are actually using the S work....H