TOUR AMERICA 2019: SAINT AUGUSTINE FLORIDA

Home Is Where We Park It:  Stagecoach RV Park

Date:  April 16, 2019

Saint Augustine Part One

This weather is really weird this year.  Two days you need the AC even during the evening.  Then just like that you need the heat back on at night.  Last night the temperature dove down to 49 degrees.  Now we going up into the 90’s by Thursday.  Then a major storm is supposed to move in on Friday.  There’s no making sense of this.

What to do today.  We both wanted to go into Saint Augustine but we both were moving sort of slow.  Stay or go?  Go won out so we had a hasty breakfast, a cup of coffee, drugged Marti to keep him from barking and we were out the door.  One of the reasons we came to this park was the provided transportation to the trolley tour  in Saint

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Augustine.  Taking the shuttle eliminated our need to drive in, find our way around, and locate a place to park.  It worked like a charm.  Especially at the end of the day when we were bone tired and had no desire to fight afternoon rush hour traffic.  A  twenty-minute

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ride on the bus and we were at the Trolley Depot.  The plan was simple, we’d ride the

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trolley the first time all the way around in order to scope out what we really wanted to see.  The next time around we would take advantage of the get off/get on privilege and spend some time at the attractions we wanted to investigate.  The ride around was two hours and we now have our stops planned out.  We’ve got the next two days to see them all since the shuttle is free each day and our Trolley pass is good through and including Thursday.  But we weren’t done today, not by a long shot.

At the Trolley Depot there were several attractions for the tourist like us.  The first was

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the typical tacky tourist trap.  We loved it!  Walking in you could till immediately that you had to hang on to your wallet.  We sort of succeeded but there was just so much.

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Of course there were the crazy signs that I just had to take pictures of.

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This one I really liked.

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There was food for the hungry.

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We didn’t do too bad, a couple of T-shirts, some post cards, ice cream of course and a new turtle for me.

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We now have two turtles on the dash of Graybeard, Dad and his son.

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Within Gator Bob’s there was another attraction that we wandered through.

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Oh yea we had to see that canoe!  In we went and it turned out to be really informative.  We learned about Florida’s first people, and it wasn’t the Seminoles.  The native American’s in this area were the Timucuan Indians.  They were mostly fisherman, netting fish by the hundreds.  They also hunted deer and other animals, and trapped turtles and birds.  Living on and near the water they were accustomed to using dugout canoes for transportation on the river and lagoons.

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Which brings us to that 1000 year old canoe

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This is what is left of it today.

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We learned a bit about the Spanish period in the development of Florida.

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We discovered that the richest shipwreck in history was

IMG_0217.JPG We learned that had it not been for a hurricane Florida could have become a French territory rather than a Spanish settlement.  In 1565 French and Spanish ships clashed off the coast of Saint Augustine.  A hurricane blew in and caught the French off guard and scattered and sunk their ships.  Survivors attempted to march overland back to their fort in the North but the Spaniards intercepted them and slaughtered all of them.  This permanently ended the French threat.

We also learned about the early settlers of Florida known as Crackers.

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We learned that in the 1900’s the Florida Land Boom changed the face of tourism in Florida forever. Few groups had a greater influence on this than the Tin Can Tourist, named for the heavy gas and water cans they carried on their cars and the cans of food that they lived on.  IMG_0235

They modified Model T’s and any other car they had into campers.  Some just had a space for sleeping.  Others were equipped with canvas sides, sinks and stoves.  Magazines of the time often included articles on how to convert cars into campers.

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Since they couldn’t afford fancy hotels they looked for open land on which to camp in their home-built campers.  In time they became important to the rural economy of many Florida communities.  Thinking about it, I guess you could say we  are following in their footsteps as we move around from RV and state parks in Florida today.

We also learned a bit about Henry Flagler, the richest man at that time and his influence on Saint Augustine.  We learned a bit about the hotels he build and his east coast railroad.

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We also learned an interesting tidbit about the Ponce de Leon Hotel.  Though it had electric lights guests were afraid to touch the switches so employees were hired to turn the lights on and off!

We learned that his East Coast Railroad made the east coast of Florida and accessible vacation destination.

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Along with transportation to Saint Augustine, he also provided transportation around town.

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Leaving the Museum we next visited the Old Saint John’s Jail.

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Interesting facts about the jail.  The first jail sat next to Flagler’s hotel.  This was unacceptable to him since the sight of convicts upset his customers.  Thus, he gave the town $10,000 to build a new jail with two stipulations.  First, it had to be at least a mile from his hotel.  Second, it had to look like a hotel itself.  He didn’t want his rich customers coming to Saint Augustine and being turned off by the sight of a jail.  This is what was built.  This is the oldest surviving government building in St. John’s County.

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The cells were to the left.  Today there is glass in the barred windows but back then it was just bars.  Each cell was open to the elements 24/7.  Anything and everything often came into the cells, bugs, birds, rats, and whatever the weather offered up.  To the right was the sheriffs house.  There were rockers on the front porch and curtains on all the windows.  The building offered just the look that Flagler wanted.

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The sheriff at that time was Joe Perry.  He was 7 foot tall and weighed close to 300 pounds.  This is a life size replica of him.

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Of course there was a tour offered and of course we took it.  Here’s our guide.

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A look inside at the women’s cells.  Barbara’s turn now to be locked up.  The women were given a mattress, the men just a metal frame.  Of course the mattress was usually full of all kinds of nasty bugs.

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Men and women were segregated.  The women cooked for the men.  The men during the day were released to work on chain gangs.

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Prisoners did have certain privileges.  Like a bath once a month.  Men on the first, women on the second.  They provided a big tub of cold water on the first.  Each man took a dunk, if you wanted to wash your clothes you just kept them on.  Then the following day the same tub of water was provided to the women.  I sure wouldn’t want to be the last one in that tub!

They also had a very unusual way of punishing those who misbehaved.  The birds cage.

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They placed you inside.  They then hauled it up in the air by a rope over a tree limb.  There you hung in the cage for 48 hours.  Towns people would come to throw whatever they could find at you.  You were given no food or water.  There were no potty breaks.  Get the picture – gross!

They also believed in hanging you if need be as well.  Now, if you were condemned to die by hanging you were tasked with building your own gallows.

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And your cell was situated adjacent to the gallows such that every day you could clearly see it out your window.

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Leaving the jail there were two more areas we visited today.  Enough, though, for now.  There will be plenty more in the days to come regarding our travels and sightseeing.  Stayed tuned and we will be pleased to take you along.

That in part was our day on The Road of Retirement.  We came home exhausted but with a good feeling.  We had walked, and walked, and walked some more but are ready for more.  After that is we have a good night’s rest.  There is so much more we want to see and will try our best to get it all in during the next two days.  We’re determined so I’m sure we’ll get it done.

Thanks for coming along with us today.  Join us again tomorrow as we set out again for some more sightseeing the Saint Augustine.  Till then, have a good night.

These are the voyages of  Graybeard and it’s occupants, four paws and two humans.  Our continuing mission: to explore as many new states as possible, to seek out new acquaintances and make new friends, to boldly go where we have not been before

See you on down the road

 

One thought on “TOUR AMERICA 2019: SAINT AUGUSTINE FLORIDA

  1. Thanks for a very informative blog. Glad we don’t travel in those RVs and that bath water!!! UGH!!!! The trolley was definitely the way to see the area. Enjoy!

    Like

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