Tag Archives: St Auguestine

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.




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

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