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On This Day in 2007 – St. Augustine, FL (Part 4 of 4)

The date was March 6, 2007.  On that day we were on vacation in St. Augustine, FL.

We hung around our hotel room until 9:00 AM, at which time we left to tour the Fountain of Youth.  Even though it was not that far of a walk we chose to drive to the Fountain of Youth.  We learned that there was free parking at the attraction and figured that we would be doing a fair amount of walking about the grounds.

StAugustine200703_137Entrance to the Fountain of Youth

Our tour of the Fountain of Youth included The Discovery Globe, The Planetarium and The Spring House.  A tour guide took us through each of these buildings.

StAugustine200703_141The Discovery Globe

The Discovery Globe was an 8 minute presentation in which we were immersed in total darkness.  With the aid of an immense two story globe and black light, the journeys of the early explorers and other items of historical importance were mapped out.

In the Planetarium we embarked on a 15 minute journey through storm and stars to track the voyage of Ponce de Leon to the New World.  The stars reset themselves to appear as they appeared to him on the night before he came ashore in 1513.  Lobby exhibits referenced instruments used for celestial navigation and life aboard a Spanish galleon.  Bob and I found the Planetarium to be a fascinating experience.

The Spring House protects a landmark cross and the original spring.

StAugustine200703_142The Spring House

StAugustine200703_145Landmark Cross

The landmark cross, discovered at the turn of the 19th Century, is made of 27 coquina stones and is believed to have been placed there by Ponce de Leon at his historic landing.  The cross remains today in the spot where it was originally discovered.  The spring, located adjacent to the landmark cross, sustained the Timucuan Indians for thousands of years before Europeans explorers arrived.  As a preservation measure, the spring was welled up in 1875 to keep it from collapsing in on itself.  We were invited to participate in the tradition of drinking a cup of the unique water as millions have done in the past, while viewing the animated dioramas of the Indian village of Seloy and the historic first landing.  And, yes we did drink from the Fountain of Youth.  I haven’t noticed, though, that our youth has been restored.

On our own we viewed the first Christian Indian burial grounds and explored the 15-acre park site.  We saw statues of the Timucuan chief and Ponce de Leon, a monument marking the landing site, various cannons and anchors, and HUGE water urns.

StAugustine200703_157The 15-acre park overlooks the Matanzas River and St. Augustine Inlet.

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Statue of Chief Oriba

According to a placard located near this statue, Chief Oriba was Chieftan of the Timucuan Indians Village located on the Fountain of Youth grounds, when Ponce de Leon landed there in 1513.  Chief Oriba was a big man, over 7 feet tall!  He had great influence on the relationship between the Spanish and Indians.

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Statue of Ponce de Leon

StAugustine200703_155This monument marks Ponce de Leon’s landing site.

StAugustine200703_156an old cannon

StAugustine200703_149one of several huge water urns

As we were leaving the park we saw a flock of peacocks.

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Peacocks!

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StAugustine200703_160Bob fed one of the peacocks.
The peacock would take feed from one hand but not the other.  How interesting!

From the Fountain of Youth we drove downtown.  We lucked out and found a place to park along Avenida Menendez.  We ate lunch at the A1A Brewery.

StAugustine200703_026The A1A Brewery is the yellow building behind the statue of Ponce de Leon.

StAugustine200703_181Bob enjoys a stout at the A1A Brewing.

We enjoyed our meals.  Bob ordered battered salmon with fries.  He had a couple stouts too.  I ordered a grilled chicken salad.

After lunch we drove to Vilano Beach to see the ocean one last time.

StAugustine200703_194Bob, gazing out across the Atlantic Ocean

We spent the rest of the day in our hotel room, relaxing and watching TV.  We watched the movie “The Prestige”.  “The Prestige” was about rival magicians in turn-of-the-century London who battle each other for trade secrets.  The rivalry is so intense that it turns them into murderers. The title refers to the product of a successful trick.  The movie was good but difficult to follow.  We both want to watch the movie again.

 

We departed St. Augustine at 6:15 AM on March 7.  We ate breakfast at Shoney’s in Kingsland, GA.  We were back on the road by 7:49 AM.  Our next major stop was at New River Gorge, WV, where we walked 200 ft down a boardwalk to see the longest arch bridge in the U.S.  The sun was not in the greatest position, so the pictures are just OK.  At 5:08 PM we were back on the road.  We stopped for the night at a Sleep Inn in Sommersville, WV, which is located 25 miles north of New River Gorge.  We ate dinner at Applebees.  Our meals were good and not expensive.  We saved 10% by showing the waitress our hotel key.

On March 8 we departed Sommersville at 6:45 AM and returned home around noon.  I kept track of the miles that we drove during our St. Augustine vacation.  We added 2,220 miles to our odometer.

This concludes a look back at our St. Augustine vacation in March 2007.  In the event you missed reading the first three blog posts, I have provided links to each one.

On This Day in 2007 – St. Augustine, FL (Part 1 of 4)

On This Day in 2007 – St. Augustine, FL (Part 2 of 4)

On This Day in 2007 – St. Augustine, FL (Part 3 of 4)

Now that I have concluded a look back at our St. Augustine vacation, you can probably guess to where I would like to make a return trip.  After all, it has been 9 years since we were last there!

 

 

On This Day in 2007 – St. Augustine, FL (Part 3 of 4)

The date was March 5, 2007.  On that day we were on vacation in St. Augustine, FL.

We drove from St. Augustine to Daytona Beach, arriving there before 9:00 AM.

DaytonaBeach200703_001Daytona Beach

It was bike week, and Bob wanted to see Daytona Beach during bike week.  We arrived in Daytona Beach way too early in the day.  The vendors were just setting up, just opening, when we arrived.  There wasn’t anything going on.  We didn’t see any reason to hang around, so we drove back to St. Augustine.  Later we learned that the happening place for bike week in Daytona Beach was “over the bridge”.  At that time in the morning, though, I doubt there would have been much going on over there either!  Bob did buy a long-sleeved bike week tee shirt and hat from one of the vendors.

On the way back to St. Augustine, we stopped at Fort Matanzas.  The fort is located on an island, and the only way to get to it is by boat.  We saw an 8-minute film and then walked out to the ferry dock and took a few pictures of the fort.

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Fort Matanzas

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We choose not to ride the ferry, which was free, to the fort.  The next ferry didn’t leave until 11:30 AM.  We would be stuck on the island for an hour before a ferry returned to pick us up.  It didn’t look like we needed an hour to tour the fort.  On hindsight, I wish we would have taken the time to visit Fort Matanzas!

We were back in St.  Augustine by noon.  We circled around town a few times trying to find a place to park.  We gave up and drove back to the hotel, parked our car and walked back downtown.  We ate lunch at Harry’s Seafood & Grille.

StAugustine200703_185Harry’s Seafood & Grille

StAugustine200703_122Bob at Harry’s Seafood & Grille
(wearing his new Daytona Bike Week hat)

It was our best meal since leaving on vacation.  Bob ordered a grilled chicken wrap.  The chicken was wrapped in a spinach tortilla.  I ordered chicken tenders.

After lunch, we walked back to our hotel via St. George Street.

StAugustine200703_127Bob and I on St. George Street

The maid had not yet cleaned our room (It was 3:00 PM!).  We decided to take care of some errands.  We went to Winn Dixie and purchased pop; we went to the post office and purchased postcard stamps; and we went to Radio Shack and purchased a cable that allows our portable DVD player to play movies on the TV screen.  We brought movies with us on vacation.  The screen on the portable DVD player was too small for us to enjoy the movies.

Later in the evening we went to Vilano Beach.  Vilano Beach is just 2 miles from the center of St. Augustine.  From St. Augustine we followed SR A1A north over the Usina Bridge.  The vista that emerged as we reached the crest of the bridge was beautiful.  We got a bird’s eye view of the Atlantic Ocean.  We drove to a fishing pier and watched the sun set.

StAugustine200703_131Sunset at Vilano Beach

Before returning to the hotel we stopped at Dairy Queen for cheeseburgers and ice cream cones.  Back at the hotel we watched the movie “Man of the Year” starring Robin Williams.  The host of a late-night political talk show (Robin Williams) decides to run for president.  The thing is, he never expected to win.  Robin Williams had an opportunity to be both funny and serious in this movie.  It was a good movie, and we enjoyed it.  We watched the movie on our portable DVD player, which we were able to play on the TV screen thanks to the cable that we purchased at Radio Shack earlier in the day.

We went to bed after watching the movie.

 

On This Day in 2007 – St. Augustine, FL (Part 2 of 4)

The date was March 4, 2007.  On that day we were on vacation in St. Augustine, FL.

We got an early start to the day, awakening at 6:00 AM.  We got our showers and ate a continental-style breakfast at the hotel.  We spent the day sightseeing, mainly on foot.  We left our hotel at 8:00 AM and walked a few blocks to the Old City Gates.

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Old City Gates

These city gates used to be the only entrance to the enclosed city.  While we were taking pictures of the city gates a hawk flew in and stole a bird out of one of the holes of the gates.  You should have heard the racket that the blue jays made when that happened!

We walked through the city gates to St. George Street, a pedestrian-only roadway.

StAugustine200703_011St. George Street

There was hardly anyone on St. George Street at that time of the morning. While on St. George Street we saw the oldest wooden school house; we walked by the Colonial Spanish Quarter; and we walked by a lot of gift shops, cafes, and restaurants.  Everything was closed, except for a couple cafes that were open for breakfast.

StAugustine200703_063Oldest Wooden School House

StAugustine200703_019St. George Street

We stayed on St. George Street until we reached Cathedral Place.

StAugustine200703_184Cathedral Place

We walked down Cathedral Place towards Matanzas Bay.  There is a small park between Cathedral Place and King Street in which we saw a statue of Ponce de Leon.

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Statue of Ponce de Leon

After photographing the statue, we continued our walk along Avenida Mendendez, which is right alongside the bay.  We enjoyed the picturesque views across the bay to Anastasia Island, where the St. Augustine Lighthouse is located.

StAugustine200703_033Matanzas Bay

We turned up St. Francis Street, where we saw the González-Alvarez House, also known as The Oldest House.

StAugustine200703_037The Oldest House on St. Francis Street

We passed the entrance to Old St. Augustine Village (Nine historic houses spanning 1790-1910 with gardens and courtyards).  The village was closed; however, we were able to peek over the fence to get a glimpse of the village.

StAugustine200703_045Old Augustine Village

The village wouldn’t open for another couple hours, so we continued our walk.

We walked past Flagler College and the Memorial Presbyterian Church.

StAugustine200703_048Flagler College

StAugustine200703_058the Memorial Presbyterian Church

The entire historical area (St. George Street, St. Francis Street, Cathedral Place, etc.) is beautiful; however, I was most impressed with the architecture in and around Flagler College.

We returned to St. George Street.

StAugustine200703_061St. George Street

What a difference a couple hours makes.  The street was FULL of people.  We stopped for a mid-morning break at a cafe.  It was nice to sit and relax after walking about town for two hours.  After finishing our snack we walked back through the city gates and crossed either Castillo Drive or San Marco Avenue to the Castillo de San Marcos.

StAugustine200703_070Town Wall and Castillo de San Marcos

We arrived at the Castillo at a good time, as we were able to watch a musket firing and cannon demonstration.

StAugustine200703_083Musket Firing Demonstration at Castillo de San Marcos

StAugustine200703_090Cannon Firing Demonstration at Castillo de San Marcos

After the demonstration, we paid our $6.00 each and walked inside the Castillo.  We walked all around the fortress and took in a few of its exhibits.  We enjoyed the view of the city from the top of the fortress as well as the views of Matanzas Bay.

StAugustine200703_091Bob at entrance to Castillo

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StAugustine200703_072the view of the city from the the Castillo
(Note the Old City Gates at far right of photograph)

StAugustine200703_097Bob and I on the upper deck of the Castillo

StAugustine200703_099Belltower, with view across Matanzas Bay

StAugustine200703_100Castillo de San Marcos

After touring the Castillo  we walked back to our hotel.  After  a couple hours rest we drove to Anastasia Island.  We ate a late lunch at McKnight’s Irish Pub.  That was an interesting place.  Bob ordered buffalo chicken dip.  We both expected that Bob’s meal would be chicken with a sauce in which to dip the chicken.  Instead Bob’s meal was buffalo chicken dip with tortilla chips.  The dip did have little bits of chicken in it.  Bob was disappointed with his meal.  I liked my meal, though.  I ordered a chicken salad sandwich with chips.  We shared dessert .. apple crisp with caramel & ice cream.  Dessert was very good.  While eating we watched several short films (10-15 min in length).  I have to laugh because McKnight’s advertises itself as a dinner theater.  The “theater” was the short films.  After lunch we drove to St. Augustine Lighthouse.

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St. Augustine Lighthouse

We didn’t tour the lighthouse. The ticket price seemed a bit steep — $8.00 each.  We would spend a  small fortune if we paid admission fees for every historical building or place of interest in St. Augustine.  If we return one day to St. Augustine, I will have to research the availability (and cost) of one ticket that provides admission to many different places of interest.   After seeing the lighthouse we drove to St. Johns County Pier, located at the north end of St. Augustine Beach, where we enjoyed views of the Atlantic Ocean.

StAugustine200703_106St. Johns County Pier

StAugustine200703_107We enjoyed watching the girls feed seagulls,
while at St. Johns County Pier.

At 5:45 PM we were back in our hotel, where we stayed for rest of the evening.

 

On This Day in 2007 – St. Augustine, FL (Part 1 of 4)

The date was March 3, 2007.  On that day we had arrived in St. Augustine, FL, after a two day drive from our hometown of Warren, PA. The next few blog posts will provide a look back at our St. Augustine vacation.

We departed Warren, PA around 12:15 pm on March 2.  We arrived in Wytheville, VA at 8:05 pm.  After checking into our room at the Comfort Inn, we ate dinner at The Cookery (part of Flying J).  Friday’s special was the all-you-can-eat steak and seafood buffet.  We ordered the buffet.  Afterwards we wished we had ordered something else because the buffet was not all that good and was expensive ($10.95 ea).

We awakened at 5:00 am on March 3.  We were able to get breakfast in our hotel, even though breakfast didn’t start until 7:00 am.  As we checked out I asked the hotel clerk if there was anything “in there”, meaning the breakfast room, that we could take with us.  He told us that cereal, fruit and fruit juice was available.  We ate instant oatmeal and orange juice for breakfast.  By 5:43 am we were on the road again.  We arrived in St. Augustine at 2:45 pm, where we had a hotel reservation for 4 nights at the Quality Inn – Historic.  An Internet search for Quality Inn – Historic in March 2016 indicated that the hotel is now closed.

We ate a late lunch at Denny’s, across the street from our hotel.  We went for a walk after lunch.  We visited the Mission Nombre de Dios, located a short distance from Denny’s.   According to its website, the Mission Nombre de Dios “traces its origins to the founding of the City of St. Augustine, America’s oldest city, in 1565. On September 8, 1565, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés landed and proclaimed this site for Spain and the Church. It was here that Menéndez knelt to kiss a wooden cross presented to him by Father Francisco López de Mendoza Grajales, chaplain of his expedition. It was on these grounds that Fr. López would celebrate the first parish Mass and begin the work at America’s first mission. It was at this sacred spot that the Spanish settlers would begin the devotion to Our Lady of La Leche that continues into the present.”  What drew us to the Mission Nombre de Dios was the Great Cross.  We saw the cross while at Denny’s.  The Great Cross is massive; it is made of stainless steel and is 208 feet tall.

StAugustine200703_179the Mission Nombre de Dios

StAugustine200703_167Statue of Fr. López

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the Great Cross

StAugustine200703_177Our Lady of La Leche Shrine

After our visit at the Mission Nombre de Dios, we walked along SR A1A to the information center (across from the historic area parking garage).  We picked up a map of St. Augustine.  At my request, an attendant at the information center marked a walking tour on the map.

We returned back to the hotel at 5:30 pm, where we spent the remainder of the afternoon and evening.

 

Our “Get out of the Cold” Vacation – Mexico (Day 4)

We spent the fourth day (Thursday, January 14th) of our Florida vacation at Epcot. Epcot is divided into two parts: Future World and World Showcase. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I will be sharing with you our visit at World Showcase over the next several days. Earlier I shared with you our visit to Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Morocco, Japan, the American Adventure, Italy, Germany, an African Outpost, China and Norway.  This blog post contains photographs from our visit to Mexico.

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Replica of Pre-Colombian Pyramid
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It’s always twilight at the Plaza de Los Amigos.
(located inside the pyramid)
This photograph was taken with available light, hand held, 1/10 sec, f3.5, 14mm, ISO1600.
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Gran Fiesta Tour boat ride
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Gran Fiesta Tour boat ride
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I tried on a sombrero.
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Donald Duck
clad in the traditional Mexican sombrero and serape

All total, we spent approximately 5 hours at Epcot’s World Showcase. I’m sure that you have heard the saying “If it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium”. Well, our walk through World Showcase was similar. You might recall that while walking towards World Showcase that we learned our vacation was cut short. Bob, who had been on temporary lay off from work since January 4, was to return to work on Monday. Our walk through World Showcase was at a faster pace than desired; however, we wanted to catch the 5:30 PM shuttle back to our hotel to pack for our return home, which would be an early departure the next day.

I hope that you have enjoyed walking with me through World Showcase. What I find so attractive about World Showcase is that the architecture, the food, the merchandise that is sold, the entertainment and the employees are authentic. I believe that a visitor to World Showcase can find the essence of a country, much as a traveler returning from a visit might remember what he or she saw. Visiting World Showcase is the next best thing to actually traveling to a particular country. Of course, I would much rather visit the actual country if the opportunity presented itself!

Our “Get out of the Cold” Vacation – Norway (Day 4)

We spent the fourth day (Thursday, January 14th) of our Florida vacation at Epcot. Epcot is divided into two parts: Future World and World Showcase. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I will be sharing with you our visit at World Showcase over the next several days. Earlier I shared with you our visit to Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Morocco, Japan, the American Adventure, Italy, Germany, an African Outpost and China.  This blog post contains photographs from our visit to Norway.

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Stave church, replica of Gol Church of Hallingdal
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Viking statue in front of Stave church
Inside the Stave church is an exhibit on Vikings.

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Resembles Akershus Fortress in Oslo
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Giant Troll and I

In addition to exploring the streets of Norway, we went on a ride aboard a dragon-headed boat. We traveled through a very dark forest populated by trolls. One of the trolls cast a spell on the boat, which caused us to travel backwards to the edge of a waterfall! The boat moves forward into an ocean storm and then into a fishing village where the boat docked. We got off the boat and walked into a theater, where a short movie took us on a tour of Norway and introduced us to its people.

From Norway we walked to Mexico, the subject of my next blog post.

Our “Get out of the Cold” Vacation – China (Day 4)

We spent the fourth day (Thursday, January 14th) of our Florida vacation at Epcot. Epcot is divided into two parts: Future World and World Showcase. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I will be sharing with you our visit at World Showcase over the next several days. Earlier I shared with you our visit to Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Morocco, Japan, the American Adventure, Italy, Germany, and an African Outpost.  This blog post contains photographs from our visit to China.

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Paifang Gate in front of the Temple of Heaven

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Temple of Heaven

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We walked inside the Temple of Heaven, where we saw these tomb warriors. According to a plaque, “These tomb warriors were intended to be the protectors of the emperor beyond the grave. Because nearly all of the faces are unique, some archeologists believe that the figures were modeled after real soldiers.” When I came home, I discovered on the Internet that this is a replica of a famous excavation in Xi’an, China.
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Colorful Chinese shop
The paper umbrellas are very pretty!

We were amazed as we watched the performance of the Dragon Legend Acrobats. In the three photographs that follow the young performers are spinning carpet on their hands and feet.

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The young performers did various tricks with hoops and a jump rope too.

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From China we walked to Norway, the subject of my next blog post.

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