Bob and gail’s next adventure st. augustine electricity dance moms episode

For Joni’s visit we had developed an itinerary of touring the surrounding cities and beaches. Checking the weather (don’t all good boaters do that at least twice a day?) we decided to go to St. Augustine first, as the cooler weather would be better for touring a city, saving the hotter days for the beaches. We had a early start as it was an hour long drive and we wanted to get one of the first tour trolleys. It is a “hop on, hop off” trolley that allows us to see what we want to see in detail and get a running commentary/history of the town between stops. I think we could all recite most of the commentary by heart after two days!

St. Augustine is the oldest, continually occupied European settlement in the continental US, 42 years before Jamestown, and 55 years before Plymouth Rock. It was nicknamed “the ever-faithful city” by the Spaniards because of its endurance through so many difficult times. The town was burned down at least 4 times and changed hands frequently in its early history.

Castillo de San Marcos burned so many times that they finally built it of stone. It never fell to enemy after that. The stone is a soft limestone made up mostly of shells. It would seem an inferior material but was discovered to absorb the cannonballs rather than having them shatter a harder stone.

The city was burned completely in 1702 after a siege of the fort by the English. After 52 days they finally gave up but not without destroying every building in the town. The fort never fell. There have been other fires, but none so devastating. The visitors’ center was a small museum and we learned so much of the town’s history there. They also had a gift shop (of course) so Joni and I tried on hats This one happened to match BOTH of our outfits!

Many stops on our tour, usually require payment to get in to see the attraction, so we had to pick and choose carefully. We did not choose to see inside this jail but there was lots of information and attractions outside for our enjoyment and edification.

Henry Flagler (one of the founders of Standard Oil) was most instrumental in building many of the town’s historic sites. He and his wife liked to vacation here but thought it charming but boring, so he built a resort hotel. Now housing Flagler College (re-developed by his nephew to create a low-expense, quality school, which it still is), the resort was only open during the “season” – approximately January-April, and cost each guest around $4,000. You must pay for the entire season even if you only stay for part of it! That is around $100,000 today. It was so successful that another entrepreneur built another hotel next door. That hotel failed within a year and Henry bought it for $325,000, lock, stock, and barrel! He also built a less expensive resort for the not so wealthy (what is that definition?) next to Ponce de Leon Hotel. He realized early on that his guests would need transportation to get to his resorts so he bought, developed, and improved Florida’s railways. The town jail was too close to his fancy resort so he purchased it from the town and built them a new one further away. The new jail was in an upscale residential area, so he built accordingly. Many people actually thought it was a hotel and stopped and asked for a room .

In the back of the store was their warehouse with bicycles, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, and other paraphernalia. One of the early washing machines had attachments to run a meat/bone grinder, butter churn, or ice cream maker. Kinda reminds you of – “and wait!…there’s more!” Did you know that you didn’t need a drivers license for an automobile. but you did for a bicycle? Also, it was illegal for children to ride bicycles! Then again – how would a child even get on one of these?

Hotel Ponce de Leon was full of cutting edge technology. It was on of the first buildings in the country to have electricity (installed by Edison no less!) and filtered water! The water in Florida smells like sulfur and Flagler realized that his guests would not like it. He built a beautiful fountain in the courtyard with an elaborate system to filter the water. The fountain also served as a sun dial.

The fireplace in the Ladies Lounge (where the ladies went while their husbands checked in and paid the bill). Edison also installed an electric clock above the fireplace here. It only tells the correct time twice a day now as it cannot be repaired without cutting through the marble. Edison “signed” the clock with his trick of substituting “IIII” for the Roman Numeral IV.

Henry Flagler’s family was not immune to sorrow. He and his first wife had three children – one who died early and then his wife died of Tuberculosis. His remaining daughter lost a baby shortly after birth and then she herself died soon after. Flagler built a church in her memory. He is buried there with his first wife, daughter and grandbaby.

Although there are many more magnolias in this area than I’ve ever seen in one place before, Magnolia Street is no longer lined with them, but instead Live Oaks draped in Spanish Moss. The leaves look nothing like an oak to me, but they do reproduce with acorns. It is a “live” oak because it stays green year round – losing its leaves only when the spring growth is ready to replace them.