Saturday, April 12, 2014

2014-5 St Augustine Florida


St Augustine

Campground:  St John's RV Park, 2493 State Road 207, Saint Augustine FL, 32086, (904) 824-9840
PA discount rate:  $19.70 includes taxes, water/elect 50amp site, all pull-thru sites. Next to large Flea Market which is open on weekends.

Palatka to St Augustine, 30 miles

Having a few more days to explore the area, I drove into Palatka and took a right hand turn following the Historic District sign.  Had to stop and take a few pictures of yet another wood batten sided white church.  They are very prevalent in this part of the state and just have a charming look to them.  About a block away was another sign directing me to the Bronson/Mulholland house.  It’s an 1854 house and surprisingly was open on a Monday.  Self guided tours, but since a group from a small cruise ship was in town, I was able to join them and get a free tour of the place.  Not too much of the original furnishings or décor were present, but the house itself was worth a walk around.  Next door is the Putnam County Historic Community which is housed in the old Fort Shannon building.

good fishing along the St John's River

House tour, Palatka Fl

Small American Cruise ship docked on St John's River, Palatka Fl

  • Putnam County is the poorest county in Florida.
  • People line up along the St John’s river front in Palatka during shrimping season to catch shrimp.  The water along here is brackish, a mix of fresh and saltwater
  • Some local fishermen use crab trap type devices to catch fish.  They are set along the river and the fishermen stop by every couple of days and pick up their catch.  No need for fishing poles, hooks, line or bate.
  • Larger vessels could come up the St John’s river but Jacksonville purposely created lower bridges restricting traffic going up river forcing all large ships to dock in Jacksonville only. 

The Half Shell Resort gave me two days of free stay when I asked to stay a couple extra days due to some bad weather coming into the area.  Now that’s a friendly gesture one doesn’t see too often.  It amounted to a $46 savings, “Thanks Half Shell”.

Distance Traveled:  29 milesSt Augustine

I’ve arrived at this 451 year old city, St Augustine.  So much history to explore, besides it being a beautiful city.  When I travel I learn so much more about our country and the history behind it.  You may recall of course that Columbus sailed the ocean blue and discovered the New World in 1492, but he never landed or discovered the America’s, only some of those itty bitty Caribbean Islands .  North America was discovered by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513, though he didn‘t realize at the time that it was a vast continent.  St Augustine was established in 1565.  Now to my way of thinking, they should celebrate Ponce de Leon as much as Christopher Columbus if not more so, but of course Columbus always gets top billing.

Having vacationed in St Augustine a number of times, I always love coming back and exploring more of it each time I’m here.  Today, I toured the Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth.  It’s where the Timucuan Indians had lived for over 3,000 years that is until the Europeans arrived.  Admiral Pedro Menendez de Aviles established the first permanent settlement in North America in 1565 and he decided to settle right in the midst of the Indian territory.  He had to first kick out the French upstarts that had recently landed in the area and were trying to establish a foot hold in the area as well.  Then the Indians kicked him out forcing him back to the barrier island along the Atlantic, Anastasia Island.  Eventually moving the Indians out and reestablishing St Augustine.  Then the English came and burned down the place.  After that pirates raided the place and in between all this the settlers were struggling to just stay alive and forage for food.  Not an easy start for this 450 year old city.

Fountain of Youth

one of my favorite shots of the week

I was surprised at the amount of history was contained on the Fountain of Youth site as it is more of an historical and archeological park than anything else, but I guess the moniker of being the Fountain of Youth was a way to get the early tourists interested in the site.  Archeology digs continue at the site, being mainly done by university graduate students.  Various exhibits explain the Native American history, the founding of North America by Ponce de Leon which he called Florida and the establishment of St Augustine.  What a nice way to explore the beginnings of this city rather than through the often times congested narrow streets of the old town.  Though that has it’s charms as well.  The mix of historical buildings, tourist shops and restaurants and the heyday of Florida as a tourist destination.  With the arrival of Flagler’s railroad into Florida and his grand hotels that he built in each city on the east coast like a string of pearls.  Starting with what I think is the grandest of the all his hotels, the Ponce de Leon, now Flagler College, right here in St Augustine.

Oldest House 1600's

outdoor kitchen

Each day I’m hear I get to explore a bit more like a visit to the oldest house, the Gonzalez-Alvarez house,  built in the early 1600’s.  Learning about the various improvements and additions made to the oldest house along the way.  Later, I’d take a tour on a tour boat along the intracoastal waterway just to get a different perspective of the city.

A series of historical homes in St Augustine

Private Homes in the old part of town

our tour boat

Bridge of Lions with Spanish Ship 

the fort

Along with time each day to relax and enjoy the superb spring weather we are having here.  75-82 degrees each day, with cool nights.  Sunny blue skies with big puffy white clouds, all the new green growth on the trees and flowers blooming throughout the city all make for super enjoyable days and evenings.  Here at the campground it feels like all of Ontario Canada has come to visit Florida this winter as they are now migrating back up north with lingering stops along the way, especially places like St Augustine.  Can you blame them for enjoying it so much.  Sunning themselves each day, trying to absorb as much of the sun as they can, getting dark tans before heading back into Canada for the summer.

I’ll be heading out and crossing the Florida/Georgia border this coming Wednesday, with a few stops through Georgia as I too migrate north before turning in a westerly direction.

Till the next report, enjoy each day by learning something new and exploring your own area.

White Peacock, Fountain of Youth park

More pictures on PICASA.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Just came across your blog post about your visit to Fairfield, IA. That post brought back many memories, my Dad's family all grew up in Fairfield.

I will be looking forward to following your blog posts.