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Greetings From FloridaLast weekend we took a day trip mini-vacation up to St. Augustine.  We decided since it was a vacation, albeit a mini one, we were going to do the touristy things. After all, St. Augustine is the oldest town in America pre-dating Jamestown by 48 years and Plymouth Rock by 55 years.  It has a full rich history.

We rode the trolley around the city several times, getting off in Old Town to walk through the quaint cobbled streets and wonder at the myriad of architectural styles.  We strolled past stone-walled gardens and rustic framed buildings, coquina and tabby construction worthy of today’s concrete masons and turn–of-the-century poured concrete walls.

As we walked we saw detached kitchens and lowly out buildings and some of the most beautiful churches, cathedrals and museums in Florida.

We visited the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse, which was built over 200 years ago while St. Augustine was under the Spanish Flag.  It was constructed of red cedar and cypress and put together with wooden pegs and handmade nails. The schoolmaster and his wife lived upstairs, above the small classroom.

And we saw a cannonball embedded in the wall of the Oldest House. It is the oldest surviving Spanish Colonial dwelling in Florida. There has been a building on the site since the 1600s and the present house dates to the early 1700s. In 1893 the house was opened to visitors to show how Spanish, British and Americans lived in old St. Augustine.

Me and Herman

Now personally, I enjoy going to new places and learning new things – even if its odd new things.  So we stopped to visit Potter’s Wax Museum, reputed to be the first Wax museum in the United States.  Fitting, I thought, for the oldest city in the nation.  Potter’s was interesting.  I’d been to Madame Toussaud’s in London many years ago so I wasn’t overly impressed. But Potter’s really was a decent museum.  There was probably 150 or so wax statues, many were of famous historical figures and there were even a few “new” fictional characters. What I found most interesting was the costume and work areas where you could see how these masterpieces are actually built.

Potter’s was originally in the building on the
corner, which now houses A1A Ale Works.  The original building has a curious twist.  It’s the site that the 1st 3D movie (and one of my all-time favourite horror flicks) was filmed.  That, of course, is “House of Wax” (1953) starring Vincent Price.  All the wax museum scenes were filmed in the upper floors so I absolutely had to go see.   We walked over, waited for our seats and I tried hard to picture the scenes in my head and place them in the restaurant but with little success.  I have to admit that while I was picturing the scenes, we were also enjoying our lunch, so that might have had something to do with my lack of concentration. Still, it gives me a good reason to go back and watch “House of Wax” again!

Circa 1965


A1A Ale Works – Great Lunch spot!

We even made a stop at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. Now as you know, Florida was “discovered” by Spanish Explorer Juan Ponce de Leon during his search for the Legendary Fountain of Youth.  What I didn’t know was that Ponce de Leon traveled on Christopher Columbus’s second voyage to the New World when he was just 17 years old. He eventually conquered and became the 1st governor of Puerto Rico where he was told by natives that in Bimini, a land to the north, there was a river or fountain where waters had such miraculous curative powers that any old man who bathed in them would regain his youth.  Ponce set off to find this amazing wonder, sailed right past Bimini, right past the Bahamas and right into Florida (which he could hardly miss as it was sticking out there in his way) near the place where St. Augustine was later founded.   The year was 1513 and Ponce de Leon wasted no time in claiming possession of Florida for the Spanish King.  Ponce de Leon, thinking that he had discovered the island the natives told him about soon found this spring and the rest, as they say, is history.  Well, sort of…

Even though the Fountain of Youth is supposed to be in Bimini I was taking no chances so I drank up, deciding that if the waters do have mystical powers I should be good for several millennia…

St. Augustine really is full of history – from the Spanish and British occupations, Pirates and the old forts to the railroad, architecture, Churches and Luxury Hotels of the turn of the century.  One day just wasn’t enough to explore all St Augustine has to offer.  I will be back.

What’s your favourite Day Trip?  Do you do the touristy things when you’re there?


What’s on my Kindle today?
Cronkite by Douglas Brinkley

Currently listening to: “Prairie Lullaby” from the album
Glad Rag Doll by Diana Krall

Current weather – cool, rainy, 74°F, and a light breeze over the lake