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2018 Florida Road Trip Part 13

3 Apr

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

Day 13 Wednesday 10/31/2018

 

After a great breakfast at Denny’s this morning, I headed south on I-95 to visit the Southeast Museum of Photography (which is part of the Daytona State College) located in Daytona Beach.  This museum is best known for its rotating annual series of artistic events and photographic art displays.

 

 

The museum didn’t open until 11:00, so while I was in Daytona Beach, I headed west on U.S.-92 a few miles to visit the Daytona International Speedway Museum.  Because of all the race-day traffic cones and painted lane directions, it took me a while to find the museum. Once I found the museum entrance, I discovered you can’t see the cars in the museum collection unless you are part of one of the museum’s guided tours.  I was fast heading for a time/location crunch, so I said, “No thank you”for today’s museum tour and headed back up I-95 to meet my son for lunch in Ormond Beach.

 

 

Before I started this trip, I knew I would be going right by my son, Bill’s, office there in Ormond Beach on the last day of my trip, and made arrangements with him to meet at a restaurant close to his office.  When I arrived at Bill’s office, he had already made arrangements for us to eat at one of his favorite BBQ Shacks.  We drove over to Colt’s Pig Stand, where I had a “Verity Plate” of some of the most delicious pork sausages.  Outside the restaurant, Colt’s Pig Stand has the absolute largest “mobile BBQ Cooker” I’ve ever seen!  When they say, “We Deliver”they really mean it.

After that delightful lunch with my son, Bill, he went back to work, and I headed south on I-95 and east on U.S. 92 again.  This time I was looking for the Daytona Beach International Airport, so I could visit the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  Embry-Riddle was founded in 1925 as an aircraft dealer and U.S. Mail provider, located in Cincinnati, OH.  During WWII Embry-Riddle operated as an aviation school in Miami, FL.  After the war, in 1965, the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Institute was moved to the Daytona, Beach location.  The school continued to grow and expand over the years, and was renamed Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 1970.  I had always wanted to visit the university, thinking they would have a static display of aircraft spanning the years.

 

 

But I was wrong.  This large scale model hanging in the lobby of one of the Aviation Maintenance Sciences buildings was just about it.  The only other airplanes I saw as I drove thru the Engineering campus were the many Cessna 150’s being flown by student pilots. I sat and watched them take off and land for a few minutes, and I estimated there was an airplane taking off at about 1-minute intervals, and one landing about every 2-minutes.  All I can say is, they must have some really good Traffic Controller’s in their tower to keep all those airplanes out of trouble.

 

 

Next I headed south on U.S. -1 and A1A a few miles to visit the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse & Museum located at Ponce Inlet.  The first lighthouse built in this area was a wooden structure in 1835, but it didn’t last. In late 1835, during the Second Seminole War (1835-1842), the natives attacked and set fire to the structure and it collapsed the following year.  It was not until 1887 that another lighthouse (known as the Mosquito Inlet Light) was built on the north side of Mosquito Inlet.  This 175 foot tall lighthouse is the tallest in Florida, and one of the tallest in the U.S.

 

 

In 1927 the name Mosquito Inlet was changed to Ponce de Leon Inlet, and the lighthouse was turned over to the U.S. Coast Guard in 1939.  In 1972 the Coast Guard deeded the lighthouse to the city of Ponce Inlet.   A Lighthouse Preservation Association was formed to restore the lighthouse and three lighthouse keeper dwellings, and they also operate the museum.  In 1982 the lighthouse was restored to active service.

 

 

By now I was only about 50 miles from home, and headed south on U.S.-1 thru the familiar towns of New Smyrna, Edgewater, Oak Hill, and Mims, before reaching the outskirts of Titusville. As I pulled into my driveway, ending another interesting and unusual trip, I was filled with that warm feeling I get when I’ve been away from home for a while, and know I am about to see my lovely wife DiVoran,  and be sleeping in my own bed tonight.  I sure hope you have enjoyed reading about my adventures on this Florida Road Trip as much as I have writing about it.  It’s been fun, reliving the various experiences accompanied by some of the sights and sounds along the way.  That’s it for now folks.  Hope you will join me next time, when I take to the road again, to who knows where and when.

 

 

 

—–The End—–

 

 

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

 

Bill

 

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

2018 Florida Road Trip Part 11(Continued – 3)

27 Mar

A slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

Note to our readersI uploaded part 12 last week in error, so this week, we back up a day. My apologies-Onisha

 

Day 11 Monday 10/29/2018

 

The Hotel Alcazar lay unoccupied until 1947, when it was purchased by Otto C. Lightner to house his extensive collection of Victorian Era pieces.  The museum was opened in 1948, and consists of Gilded Age displays of the Lightner collection on three floors of the original hotel, including the three-story Ballroom (capable of holding 350 wedding guests).  The first floor houses a Victorian village and a music room filled with all types of musical instruments, including player pianos and orchestrions dating from the 1870s.  On the second floor visitors will find a large collection of Victorian glass items displayed, including stained glass works by Louis Comfort Tiffany.  On the third floor (Ballroom) there are displays of Victorian furniture, fine art paintings, and sculptures by famous Victorian artists dating from the early 1800s.

 

 

Across Cordova street from the Lightner Museum is the Casa Monica Hotel.  The hotel was built in 1888 by Franklin W. Smith, who also designed the Hotel Alcazar for Henry Flagler.  In fact, Smith was instrumental in convincing Flagler that the St. Augustine area was the perfect location to begin building the “American Rivera” down the east coast of Florida that Flagler dreamt of.  Not to be outdone by Flagler, Smith decorated and operated the Casa Monica Hotel as a showplace for the rich and famous.  However, soon after the hotel opened, Smith began to run into financial trouble that became so bad that he finally had to sell the hotel.   In 1902 Smith sold the hotel to his friend/competitor Henry Flagler. By the time of the sale, Henry Flagler had already completed two hotels there in St. Augustine (the Hotel Alcazar (1887) now the Lightner Museum and the Ponce de Leon Hotel (1888) now part of Flagler Collage).  This put Henry Flagler at the top of the heap as having a monopoly of the luxury hotels in the city of St. Augustine.

Trivia note: Did you know that Saint Monica (322-387) was the North African mother of St. Augustine (354-430), who was Bishop of Hippo Regius (395-430), in North Africa, and who the city of St. Augustine was named for.

 

 

 

 

 

Across King Street from the Lightner Museum is the Flagler Museum. Originally built in 1888 by Henry Flagler as the Ponce de Leon Hotel, this elegant hotel was another tribute to the entrepreneurial character of Henry Flagler.  At the time the luxury hotel business, in the St. Augustine area, was at an all-time high. It’s hard for me to imagine the opulence that adorned these luxury hotels.   They were so far ahead of their time that, for instance, Flagler had to hire additional staff to turn the electric lights on and off for the guests, because they were afraid to touch the switches.  As a part of Flagler’s dream to build the “American Rivera” in Florida, over the next several years, he began expanding what would become, the Florida East Coast Railroad (FEC), south to eventually reach Key West.  But, Flagler overlooked the fact that this new railroad would allow some northern tourists to by-pass St. Augustine for the warmer climates of places like Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

 

 

 

The Ponce de Leon Hotel survived the depression and WWII, but after a long downturn period, the hotel finally closed in 1967.  Then in 1968 Flagler College was founded on 19 acres behind the hotel and the Ponce de Leon Hotel became the centerpiece of the newly established college.  (Check out interior photos on the internet of this luxury hotel that students are surrounded by on a daily basis – e.g. Dining Room with its stained glass windows by Tiffany).  Also go to Wikipedia and click on Henry Flagler (1830-1913) for many more interesting facts about the man and his adventures.

 

 

While Franklin Smith was in his architectural prime designing and building luxury hotels, he also designed and built his own winter home there in St. Augustine (1883) just one block west of the current location of the Casa Monica hotel.  Smith built his home in the Moorish Revival style and named it Villa Zorayda.  It has sometimes been called the first example of “fantasy” architecture in Florida.   Henry Flagler visited St. Augustine in 1883 and was so impressed with Smith’s Villa Zorayda that he tried to buy it for his wife, but Smith wouldn’t sell.  Smith finally did sell the Villa Zorayda to Abraham Mussallem in 1913. After having been used for several different businesses, over the years, Villa Zorayda was finally opened to the public, as a museum, in 1936.

 

 

As I mentioned at the first of this day’s blog (Monday 10/29/2018), there was so much to see there in St. Augustine that I ran out of time to see it all, up close and personal.  Some of those places I saw from the trolley, but didn’t have time to go thru were:

 

“Gonzalez-Alvarez House” (1723) or “The Oldest House”

     The Ximenez House (1798)

 

             The Oldest Drugstore (1886)

 

                                                                                                   Potters Wax Museum (1949)

 

            Black Raven Pirate Ship (1720 replica)

              Colonial Corner (1740)

 

With the help of Greta (my Garmin) I finally found my way to the motel, just outside St. Augustine, and got checked in.  Once I got unpacked, I warmed up those wonderful Fish Tacos from the Sandollar Restaurant, and enjoy them anew.  Yummm!

 

 

To Be Continued

 

 

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

 

Bill

 

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

2018 Florida Road Trip Part 12

20 Mar

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

Day 12 Tuesday 10/30/2018

 

My plan this morning was to drive to outlying areas around St. Augustine to visit several additional points of interest.  As I was driving back into town, I passed a sign on a store-front, that advertised “Big Bill’s Die Cast” and I just had to stop to see what it was all about.  This is an amazing store!  This guy, Bill, really does have a die cast model of just about everything that has ever been made.  Cars, Trucks, Airplanes, Motorcycles, Boats, Tanks, and you name it, Bill has the item in several sizes.  His moto is, “If I don’t have it, they don’t make it”and I believe him.

 

 

After that interesting stop, I headed across the “Bridge of Lions” and Matanzas Bay onto Anastasia Island to visit the St. Augustine Lighthouse Museum.  Some historical records tell us that this area has been the location of a coastal warning light (watch towers) as early as 1565.  The current lighthouse was built in 1871 to replace the original 1824 lighthouse (the first official lighthouse in Florida built by the new, territorial, American Government) that collapsed in 1880, as a result of erosion and a changing coastline.

 

 

Now it was south on SR-A1A just a few miles to visit the Fort Matanzas National Monument (fort) located on the eastern side of the Matanzas Inlet.  This small fort was built by the Spanish in 1742 to guard the southern mouth of the Matanzas River, which opens up the southern access to St. Augustine. The fort itself is only accessible by ferry across the river from the Park Service Visitor Center.

 

 

This fort was built and manned by the Spanish to protect the rear entrance to the city of St. Augustine from attack.  The only way to get to the remains of this small fort is by a short ferry-boat ride.  I asked the Ranger how long it would take, from the time one left the landing, until the ferry-boat brought them back.  He said the ferry made the trip once each hour.  From the pictures I saw of this small fort, I didn’t want to take that much time to see it today.  Maybe another time.

 

 

South on A1A another few miles, and across the Matanzas Inlet, I checked out the Dolphin Adventure at Marineland.  This attraction was first opened by a group of dedicated sea mammal enthusiasts headed up by W. Douglas Burden and Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney as the Marine Studios.  This original facility was situated on a 125 acre plot located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intercostal Waterway (Matanzas River).  As the world’s first Oceanarium, the Marine Studios was designed to rescue, study, and film the underwater life and habits of sea creatures.

On my way south on A1A to visit Marineland, I had noticed several large homes, perched on stilts, located right on the beach.  Now as I headed back north towards St. Augustine, I stopped on the side of the road to get a closer look and take a photo or two.  It looked like the houses were located along the beach road known as Old A1A.  I had no idea people were allowed to build that close to the ocean.  I doubt they would have too many visitors during hurricane season, but of course, they would have an excellent view of any 20 or 30-foot tidal surge or tsunami coming in at them from the ocean.

 

 

 

 

I had to do a little back-tracking on A1A to get to SR-312, where I turned west to avoid having to go through down town St. Augustine again.  Then I turned north on N. Holmes Blvd. until I came across 4 Mile Road, and north again to where I turned west on SR-16.  All of this (with Greta’s help) got me to the St. Augustine Aquarium. This turned out to be a very interesting family-participation type  attraction, feathering all kinds of salt water  creatures including sharks and rays.  I was there long enough to witness the afternoon shark feeding, but wasn’t interested in the snorkeling or the zip line ride.

 

So, before heading back to the motel for the night, I started looking for a place to eat supper. And wouldn’t you know it, there was a Cracker Barrel Restaurant just down the road.  I stopped in for a delicious Meat Loaf dinner with garlic mash potatoes and green beans, and one of their fresh baked biscuits with butter and honey for desert.

 

—–To Be Continued—–

 

 

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

 

Bill

 

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

 

 

2018 Florida Road Trip Part 11(Continued – 2)

13 Mar

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

Day 11 Monday 10/29/2018

 

I hopped on another Trolley and made the short trip down the road to visit the Fountain of Youth and Archaeological Park.   This is one of at least three known locations in Florida that claim to be the site that Juan Ponce de Leon named  during his 1513 search for what the local Timucua natives referred to as the Fountain of Youth (I don’t think he ever found it).

 

 

Excavations of this area (1909-1977) have produced much evidence of the existence of Timucua native communities dating from as early as 2400 BC, but no actual proof of Ponce de Leon or his party.  The site has been a tourist attraction since 1927, when Walter B. Fraser purchased the property.  The attraction consists of several exhibits, including The Spring House, where I was able to sample water from “The Fountain of Youth” (I don’t feel any younger), a Timucua native village, a 1585 Spanish Menendez settlement, a chalupa boathouse, and a blacksmith shop, just to name  a few.

 

 

Next stop turned out to be a major Trolley stop where the Old St. Johns County Jail (Oldest Jail) was the centerpiece for the Oldest Store Museum, Gator Bob’s Cracker Trading Post, and the Florida Historical Museum.  The jail was built in 1891 by Henry Flagler in this location to keep it away from the downtown St. Augustine area.  It was designed to look like a hotel, so Flagler’s prospective investors would not be put off by its presence.  With room for 72 inmates and warden’s quarters, the jail was used until 1953, when it was closed and became a museum.  The museum displays prison articles, exhibits, and memorabilia explained to visitors, during their tour, by costumed actors relating tales of the jail and its occupants.

 

 

The Oldest Store Museum is a re-creation of the original 1908 general store that was operated by Mr. C. F. Hamblen.  The store is filled with turn-of-the-century “modern living” items that are demonstrated to visitors, by period dressed “clerks” and “salesmen” as part of their tour of the store.

 

 

Gator Bob’s “Cracker” Trading Post is your typical Florida tourist trap, with everything imaginable the visitor could be looking for as a souvenir.  I have to admit, this store has the most complete size range of alligator heads I believe I have ever seen.  Since I didn’t need an alligator head for my man-cave at home, I just took the next trolley back to downtown.

 

 

The next hour was a whirlwind of sights, sounds, and information about the many interesting places there in St. Augustine by our Trolley driver.  It would have been smart of me to have a tape recorder, so I could have recorded that wealth of information.   But, of course, who thinks that far ahead when on a road trip?  I got off the Trolley at the Plaza de la Constitucion park (1573), and began taking a closer look at some of the points of interest we had just driven past.

 

 

The Governor’s House is on the west side of the Plaza de la Constitucion, and served both the Spanish and British Governors, who ruled St. Augustine, during the First Spanish Period (1565-1763), the British Period (1763-1784), and until 1812 in the Second Spanish Period (1784-1821).  The building now houses the Cultural Center and Museum (click on Wikipedia for Governor’s House & Government House for more interesting information about early St. Augustine).

 

 

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine (1565, 1586, 1605, 1707, 1793-1797) is located on the north side of the Plaza de la Constitucion, and represents the oldest Roman Catholic parish in the United States.  The placement of the church facing the Plaza de la Constitucion follows the tradition of siting religious, government, and commercial functions around the central plaza, as dictated by the 1573 Laws of the Indies for Spanish Colonial town planning.

The original commercial stores, and more modern tourist shops, are situated on the south side of the Plaza de la Constitucion, satisfying the 1573 Spanish decree.  I looked up and down the west side of King Street for the Lyons Maritime Museum, but to no avail.   I continued a short distant west on King Street to visit the Lightner Museum.  This museum was originally built in 1887, as the Hotel Alcazar, by Henry Flagler (1830-1913) for wealthy northern tourist traveling south for the winter on Flagler’s railroad (1885).  Flagler spared no expenses on this magnificent hotel, which was far ahead of its time in amenities, including being one of the first hotels in the U.S. to incorporate electric lights designed by Flagler’s friend Thomas Edison. However, many of the rich and famous people in America were not exempt from the dreadful effects the depression years had on this country, and the hotel ended up closing in 1932.

 

—–More of this day’s activities will be continued next week—–

 

 

 

 

2018 Florida Road Trip Part 11(Continued -1)

6 Mar

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

Day 11 Monday 10/29/2018

 

By now I was ready to catch a ride on one of the Old City Tour Trolleys, and let them carry me around to see the many additional sites I wanted to see there in St. Augustine.  I walked across Castillo Drive to the parking lot for the Castillo de San Marcos Fort to wait for the next trolley.  As I mentioned earlier, the fort was built (1672-1695) on the western shore of the Matanzas Bay to protect the city of “San Agustin.“  As built, the basic coquina structure survived several attacks from enemy forces and pirates over the years.  When the British controlled  “La Florida” (1763-1783) they changed the fort’s name to Fort St. Marks.  Then during the Second Spanish Occupation (1783-1821), the fort’s original name was restored.  In 1819 Spain ceded Florida to the United States as part of the Adams-Onis Treaty, and In 1821 the fort was designated a U.S. Army base and renamed Fort Marion.  In 1933 the fort was turned over to the National Park Service, and in 1942 the original Castillo de San Marcos name was restored by an Act of Congress.

 

 

DiVoran and I had visited this famous fort years ago, so I wasn’t interested in spending the time going thru it again today.  However, during that former visit, we did learn some interesting facts about the fort. One was that while it was a U.S. military fort, it also served as a military prison, and incarcerated some of the most famous indigenous Indian chiefs  in our nation’s history, such as Osceola, Geronimo, and Howling Wolf, just to name a few (check Wikipedia for “Castillo de San Marcos” for many more interesting facts about this famous fort’s history.

 

 

At my first trolley stop I visited the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum.  This is a large 3-story museum building with some of the most interesting exhibits and artifacts imaginable.  Probably one of the most interesting, to me, was a movie of Robert Ripley’s trip to the mountainous jungle of Ecuador and Peru in the 1930s to visit the Jivaro (Shuar) Indians and film the entire “head shrinking process.” The Jivaro consider the shrunken head (tsantsa) of an enemy to be a valuable symbol of bravery for tribal warriors.

 

 

The other interesting item there at the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum was a “House in a Redwood Log” located in the parking lot in front of the museum.  This 4-room house was carved out of a 33 foot diameter by 8 foot long Redwood log, and looks a lot like the inside of a camping trailer (snug).  Signs outside the log inform visitors that it took Len Moore four months to carve out the 8-foot high interior and another eight months to complete his project. One major design problem I saw was the lack of a bathroom anywhere inside.

 

 

My next stop was to visit the Mission Nombre de Dios and its Museum.  The mission is said to be the site of the very first parish mass to be performed in “La Florida.” This was on the occasion of the landing of the Admiral Pedro Menendez de Aviles party from Spain in 1565, and was conducted by the chaplain of the expedition,Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales.  The first Franciscan mission was founded near this location in 1587, and ministered continuously to the people of “San Agustin” and the local Mocama natives during the 17th and 18th centuries.A shrine to Our Lady of La Leche was erected near the mission in the late 1500s and a 208 foot stainless steel cross was erected at the site in 1966 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the founding of the mission.

 

 

The museum itself is filled with artifacts and memorabilia related the long and interesting history of the founding of the Mission Nombre de Dios, as well as the addition of the Shrine to Our Lady of La Leche and the giant commemorative  cross.  One of the most interesting artifacts I saw at the museum was the coffin of Admiral Pedro Menendez de Aviles (his remains rest in Aviles Spain).  I found it interesting that Admiral Aviles not only became San Agustin’s first Governor, but that at one time or another, he was appointed Governor of La Florida and then later Governor of Cuba before his death in 1574.

 

 

—–More of this day’s activities will be continued next week—–

 

 

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

 

Bill

 

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

2018 Florida Road Trip Part 11

27 Feb

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

 

Day 11 Monday 10/29/2018

 

After a great breakfast at the motel this morning, I headed south on I-95 to visit the beautiful old Florida city of St. Augustine, with its many historic landmarks and museums. It had been several years since DiVoran and I had visited St. Augustine, and I had forgotten how difficult it is to find parking close to any of the museums or points of interest I was planning on visiting.  After wasting half an hour squeezing thru the narrow streets, looking for a parking place close to my first museum, I gave up and went to the Visitor Information Center. I bought an All-Day “On & Off” Old Town Trolley Tour ticket, which took care of most of my parking and museum access problems for the day.

 

 

I had allowed two days in St. Augustine to see the many museums and points of interest on my list, so the trolley tour approach should work out fine.  However, I had also forgotten just how many museums and other points of interest there really are in St. Augustine.  I had no way of knowing, at the time, just how long this day was going to turn out to be, or (now) just how long this day’s write-up was going to take me!  The Trolley Tour visited 23 different points of interest, and that didn’t take into consideration my personal list.  (This day’s activities will be divided into four parts, so bear with me).

 

At the visitor Center, I was informed that in 1565 King Philip II of Spain sent General Pedro Menendez de Aviles to Florida to settle the region and eliminate all French influence in the area.  Menendez claimed “La Florida” for Spain, at that time, and established “San Agustin” as the first Spanish settlement.  (Check Wikipedia for many interesting facts about the early Spanish claims to Florida).

 

 

Since the Visitor Center was only a block or so from the original “San Agustin” main city gate, I walked over to take a photo.  Local information informs visitors that even though construction on the Castillo de San Marcos fort had begun as early as 1672, it did not deter the devastating attacks on the city by various enemy forces and pirates over the next 30 or so years.  When construction of the fort was completed in 1695, even that did not stop Sir Francis Drake and his British fleet from attacking “San Agustin” in 1698, and ultimately burning the city to the ground in 1702 (check Wikipedia for “Sir Francis Drake in St. Augustine” for a very interesting story about why he was in Florida).

 

 

In the years that followed, the city was rebuilt and additional fortifications began with the Cubo Line, a mote, and a main gate (made of massive coquina pillars and heavy wooden doors). At the time this gate was the only access to the city of  “San Agustin,” and was closed and locked each evening.

 

 

Once inside the city gate, the “Oldest City in the United States” opened up to me, and I began the typical tourist walk down St. George Street.  The first building I came to was the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse.  Claiming to be the “Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse” still standing in the United States, we are told that the first school master, and his family, lived on the second floor of the building.  With no official records as to when this schoolhouse was actually built, it first shows up in city records in 1716, after the British burned the city to the ground in 1702.

 

 

Just down the street, was the Spanish Bakery, with its delicious aromas wafting out across the street.  A little further down was the Columbia Restaurant and the Medieval Torture Collection.  I had not known there was a Columbia Restaurant in town and besides that, it was too early for lunch.  I wasn’t particularly interested in what kind of cruelty people had imposed upon each other back in the Middle Ages, so I kept going.

 

 

At King Street I turned left and started back north on Aviles Street to visit the Spanish Military Hospital Museum.  This is a very interesting museum, with a guided tour that includes an elaborate description of the tools and procedures used by military physicians during the Second Spanish Period (1784-1821) in “San Agustin.”

 

 

I continued north on Charlotte Street until I got to Castillo Drive and visited the Pirate & Treasure Museum.  I was amazed at how many individual exhibits and how many artifacts they were able to fit into this small museum.  They claim to have the largest collection of “authentic” pirate artifacts in the country (dating from the mid-1600s).

 

 

 

—–More of this day’s activities will be continued next week—–

 

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

 

Bill

 

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

2018 Florida Road Trip Part 10 (Continued)

20 Feb

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

Day 10 Sunday 10/28/2018

 

 

Now I worked my way back to I-95 and headed south to visit the Jacksonville Fire Museum, located in the Midtown area of Jacksonville.   This museum is located in the restored 1886 Fire Station #3, and displays artifacts and memorabilia related the evolution of the Jacksonville Fire Department from the 1850s.  This includes various hand operated, horse drawn, and motorized firefighting and rescue equipment, that have been used by Jacksonville firefighters over the years.

 

 

The Museum of Southern History located in the Fairfax area of Jacksonville was my next stop.  The museum was closed today; however, their website informs me that this museum depicts the lifestyles and cultures of the antebellum South.  The museum also covers the cultures of the early Florida Native Americans and those who settled Florida, with respect to the Civil War and more recent times.  As it happens, the Civil War Governor of Florida, John Milton, whose plantation site I had visited, near Marianna the other day, is also mentioned in this museum’s website write-up.

 

 

Now I headed a few miles west to visit the Norman Silent Film Studios Museum located in the Arlington area of Jacksonville.  This studio complex (museum) began as the “Eagle Film Studios” in 1906.  This was a typical example of the northern U.S. film studios wanting to be able to continue filming throughout the winter months. Between the years of 1908 & 1922, as many as 30+ northern film studios moved their operations here, where the area soon became known as the “Winter Film Capital of the World.” Richard E. Norman purchased the Eagle Film Studios in 1908, and moved his Midwest film operations to the Jacksonville area, where he renamed it the Norman Silent Film Studios.  Over the years the Norman Film Studios gradually declined as the Jacksonville film industry moved its operations to southern California in the 1930s.  Finally, after many years of very little activity, in about 2008, as part of an overall restoration project, one of the existing buildings was opened as the museum (Google Norman Silent Film Studios to see how the film studio has progressed over the years).

 

 

Next on the list, I travelled across town to visit the Kingsley Plantation, located in the Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve on Fort George Island.  This 1797 plantation house, and out buildings, are situated conveniently on the Fort George River, where the owner’s docks gave him access to all types of river traffic, and for his own needed supplies and crop transport. Zephaniah Kingsley was a slave trader and shipping magnate, and owned several plantations along the St. Johns River, by the time he became the third known owner of this plantation in 1814 (Google “Kingsley Plantation” for more interesting details about Zephaniah Kingsley and the Kingsley Plantation).

 

 

By now I was ready to head for the motel, and gave Greta (my Garmin) the address.  After leaving the Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve and St. George Island, I spotted the Sandollar Restaurant and decided to stop in for a seafood dinner with them.  That was a very good choice.  Their Fish Tacos were out-of-this-world good, and the view of Mayport across the St. Johns River, from my outdoor patio table, was beautiful and restful, with the soothing river sounds and the whole scene being painted golden by the setting sun.

 

 

 

—–To Be Continued—–

 

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

 

Bill

 

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

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