We stayed at a campground that was recommended to us by a family that we met last year in The Keys. They said each site was wooded and private, and they were spot on. In fact, it was almost too private. It may have just been where we were, but it was really quiet. Our site actually backed up to a road that leads to a restaurant, but there was also a neighborhood across the street. An "iffy" neighborhood, to be exact. If I had realized there was a state park nearby, we would have tried to get a place in there.
When we got there on Thursday, we just laid low in the campground. We walked to a nearby restaurant called "Aunt Kate's". If you're in the area, it's definitely a place to eat. Great service, delicious food, and a nice view if you walk onto the pier:
We opted to not eat on the deck since it was pretty cold. This restaurant has quite the history. It all started in 1900 when Henry Flagler (of the railroad fame) stopped and asked a couple for a meal. You can read the rest of the history here. The bar is made from the man's boat:
The top of the bar is the actual decking of the boat. Very cool.
The next day, we bundled up and went into St. Augustine. Thank goodness I had gloves & a scarf in the camper. I had a sweatshirt that's so thick that I can only wear it when I'm outside, and then I wore my rainjacket over that to help with the wind.
We visited the Old Jail and the Museum before getting on the trolley. The first thing we did was find some lunch (and someplace warm!) with the Castillo de San Marcos nearby.
After lunch, we walked up to the site (which is a National Park), but we didn't go in. We actually saw enough of it just walking around.
There was an awful lot to see; it would've been much more enjoyable if it had been warmer. We strolled down St. George:
Ducked into St. Photios, which is a Greek Orthodox Shrine. There were 2 ladies who looked into the courtyard but didn't go all the way in. They have no idea what they missed.
We walked by The Oldest House, which dates back to the 1600's and has Spanish influence. The top floor indicates English influence, since it was added in the 1700's.Next to The Oldest House is the Tovar House (cannonball house). It's said to be haunted. It also has a couple of cannonballs embedded in the wall. I wasn't aware of that, so we didn't see it.
The Casa Monica was beautiful.It was built across the street from the Ponce de Leon Hotel (owned by Flagler), which is now Flagler College.
They were built at the same time; however, the owner of The Casa Monica went bankrupt since the hotel didn't open when expected due to the furniture not arriving on time. The furniture was to arrive by train...which Flagler owned.
We also went into the Basilica, which was so much more beautiful than I was expecting.
There was the gate to the city:
Bed & Breakfasts decorated for the holidays:
St. Francis Barracks (which now hosts the Florida National Guard):
The Catholic Cemetery:
The site where the 1st Mass was held on American soil:
The White Lion Bridge which is a drawbridge:
We ended the day visiting The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park:
There were peacocks:
The Coquina Cross which was unearthed in the early 1900's and is believed to be lain by Ponce de Leon:Of course we had to drink from The Fountain of Youth. That was something I've wanted to do since elementary school. (Although now there are questions about the authenticity.)
While the demonstrations were going on, I happened to look over at the White Lion Bridge and see that the drawbridge was up:
The next morning, CH got out of the camper and asked where our cooler was. I told him that it was next to the door, but it was gone. We suspect that some local teenagers grabbed it, since we had just a few beers and Angry Orchards in it. The joke is on them, though: we didn't refill it with ice, so the drinks were probably warm. We also had a couple of other things of some value sitting out that were untouched, which points to teenagers. We really liked our cooler, though, but we can get another one. As we were leaving, we talked with a couple who had stayed in the campground and was staying there for 2 months. They mentioned that if there was anything you didn't want stolen, you needed to make sure to lock it up. Especially on weekend nights.
Our trip home was pretty uneventful, unless you want to count an almost hit in Atlanta and another one in Chattanooga by people not knowing the meaning of merging. The view in Jacksonville was pretty, though:
I'm sure there were things we missed seeing. I would have loved to have walked along the harbor, but it was just way too cold. This is the closest I got:
You can see in this picture how badly the wind was blowing:
I don't know if I'll ever get back to St. Augustine, but I can now say that I've been there!