Travelling USA travel blog

Kids playing on St Augustine beach

Out for dinner

We left Wakiwa Springs late morning and travelled towards the eastern coast of Florida (Atlantic side).

St Augustine is a fascinating little city with a rich history. I'm not much of a history buff, actually to be truthful I failed history at school and cried many times over dates and times I couldn't relate to but being on this trip has helped me realise that it wasn't the history that i din't get it was having to remember all those dates. My mom had said to me way back then that I should just read it like a story and now, finally I get it. It only took me 15 years!

St Augustine is the site where a man named Pnce de Leon landed when he was looking for the fountain of youth. He was the first man to hit Floridian soil and promptly laid claim to it on behalf of the Spanish royalty. Until 1845 when Florida became the 27th State battles raged over St Augustine between the Spanish, the English and the Americans . Eventually after much blood shed and horrendous acts of torture sometimes in the town square Spain handed calmly handed the city over to the americans.

Some of the architecture has a very spanish feel to it and Flagler College which used to be a hotel is especially beautiful. We were too cowardly to brave the heat and so we drove around looking at the various buildings rather than walk the city. We did brave the heat to look at the Castille del Marcos, a fort originally built by the Spanish and used over the years by the British and Americans to defend the land from the other. I don't love forts but what i did find interesting is that the material they used to build the fort is sea shells that have compacted to form a hard rock over hundreds of years. I don't think that the original builders new this when building but it turned out that this 'rock' was virtually impenetrable by cannon ball. To add to this good fortune the cannon balls would become slightly wedged in the rock enough to be held in place and at night the soldiers would be sent out to collect all the enemies canons. The following day the enemy would be pummeled by their own canons.

Another interesting trip was when I dragged the kids kicking and screaming to the Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum. Originally the home of a wealthy businessman, (the author of The Yearling also lived there for a while) it now houses the collection of the very eccentric world traveller and cartoonist Robert Ripley. The home itself is in the style of a two story spanish castle. The businessman had spared no expense when building and had beautiful lead pane windows installed but had not been a very practical man because there is only one bathroom in the entire castle.

The exhibit itself was very interesting although not as unbeliveable as it had been in it's day. Even if we are not seasoned travellers like Mr Ripley, who went to 200 countries more than any man of his time,many of the artifacts he collected we will have seen on National Geographic like nose rings and neck stretching necklaces. Of course these things were concidered wildly outrageous when he brought them home and some even accused the man of being either a con artist or a nut. One man spent his life devoted to trying to prove Mr Ripley wrong and sent letters questioning the validity of the various items to anyone who would listen.

So most of what is in the museum is not new but it is fascinating. There are some surprises, like the man with three legs who played soccer and a fun area where you check your thinking and perceptions against some nifty games and challenges. The kids were quite pleased I had dragged them there.

Another highlight of St Augustine was the beach. Having not seen the Atlantic in a while the kids were overjoyed to see waves. The weather was hot, the water was warm and there were waves. Throw in a store that sells candy/sweets/ and ice creams and you have my children's idea of Nirvana.

We left St Augustine, reluctanlty but excited because it was time to cross a state line.

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