Sunday, January 6, 2008

Playing Tourist & Relaxing in St. Augustine

Hello all:

The Winnie W. has been securely tied up in Saint Augustine, Florida, for the first week of this year 2008. This is partly due to freezing, blustery weather that would be poor for cruising.

This sign welcomes people arriving on Highway 1. Our dock is less than 2 blocks from this sign, and convenient walking distance to the "miracle mile" for shopping.

One of the items renewed/replaced here is our camera. After several years of arduous service, most of it on or around boats, our camera bit the dust. Fortunately there are a lot of "big-box" retailers within bicycling distance, so with some pedaling & hunting thru the shelves we found two replacements (the first one did not have a few key components so we took it back). Kathie has taken such great photos this whole trip, and has quickly gained mastery over this new equipment... bet you can't tell which of the photos in this blog entry were taken with the old and which with the new!

Hank likes his comfort, too; he's enjoyed taking long walks and evenings with the heater running.

Shrimp boats are tied up along the San Sebastian River, just across from where we are currently docked.

Here is one of the main buildings of Flagler College. Formerly the Ponce De Leon Hotel (link) built in 1887 by Henry Flagler (business partner of John D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil), it's just spectacular inside & out. It has the largest collection of Tiffany windows now "in use." Originally an exclusive winter resort for the Newport set, the guest list was by invitation only, and Mr. Flagler required three months deposit whether guests intended to stay the entire time or merely a few weeks. The building is now partly residential and partly for administration at Flagler College.

Great Blue Herons once were on the brink of extinction, now they are a common sight. Great comeback and a hopeful sign! Kathie caught this one meditating along the edge of Otter Creek, just off the San Sebastian River where we're docked.

Saint Augustine is a thriving modern city, and it thrives on its history. An outpost of the Spanish Empire in the days of treasure galleons & pirates, this is the old main gate built in 1739 as a portal thru the town's defensive walls.

We toured the Castillo de San Marcos, a late Spanish Empire Vauban-type fortification (link) that guarded Saint Augustine for Spain, Britain, the Confederacy, and the U.S. The town's forts (this one, and the earlier fort on this same site) were assaulted many times but the defenders were always successful.

Here's Doug with "El Milanese" (the one from Milan), one of Castillo San Marcos' original battery of 18-pounders. Eighteen pounds refers to the weight of the round iron cannonball which fit the bore; the gun itself weighs about 4 1/2 tons! The fort's battery numbered about 70 cannons, & included several large mortars as well.

The Castillo de San Marcos fort is a National Park and is undergoing restoration. There is a chapel, a guardhouse, barracks rooms, displays of maps modern & ancient, of course a large assortment of weapons, a collection of all the national flags which flew over the fort & uniforms worn by the armies that served here. There are a lot of interesting things to learn, such as how the brims of the familiar tricorn hats came to be turned up, and which contents of an 18th century surgeon's kit are still useful in 1st aid today.

The last photo is of a volunteer cannon crew, demonstrating the complex drill for firing a 6-pounder.

We're looking forward to continuing our cruise the "wrong way," north in winter. When we first made this trip to our home port, it took 8 days of hurrying along the ICW. We aren't in as much of a hurry this time, but are looking forward to getting back home.

Hope you all are well & happy- Doug & Kathie

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