The Oldest City

St augustine  037St augustine  024Ponce de Leon discovered Florida when he landed in what is now known as St. Augustine in 1513, which makes Florida 500 years old this year.  The city of St. Augustine was founded and established in 1565 by Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles and is the oldest “permanently occupied European settlement”.

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St augustine  025St augustine  038It is also where we concluded our amazing five month journey through Florida.  St augustine  027

St augustine  045St augustine  046St augustine  050We stayed on St. Augustine Beach, which is across a bridge from the city.  The campground had various boardwalks which gave us easy access to the beach.  And, since Hector was still wearing a boot on his foot and Angel was still a little shaky in her walking, that was a very good thing.  In fact, Angel really enjoyed going to the beach and spent some time “convalescing” there.St augustine  056St augustine  053St augustine  055St augustine  051St augustine  049St augustine  047St augustine  006St augustine  048St augustine  003St augustine  001St augustine  004

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Wilderness Systems Tarpon 140s

We’d been planning to purchase kayaks, and after lots of research found an outdoor store and kayak specialist that carried the kayaks we wanted and the car rack components we would need to add in Jacksonville, an hour away.  The forecast called for rain so we set out for Jacksonville.   We tested our kayaks in a lake behind the store (between rain showers).   And Hector got the salesperson to purchase our roof box in the transaction, as we’d no longer have room for it.

The fine folks at Black Creek Outfitters in Jacksonville, Fla

The fine folks at Black Creek Outfitters in Jacksonville, Fla

Luckily, (most) of the rain held off while we emptied the contents of our roof box into the back seat, the staff reconfigured our rack system and added a new rack to the back,   But we drove back to St. Augustine in a driving rain storm.

St augustine  007We spent the next day figuring out where to put all of the stuff that had previously lived in our roof box and was now filling the back seat of our car.  And the answer, as it has been before was:  part goes in the motor home, part goes in the car, part goes to Goodwill and part gets shipped back home.   This meant laying everything out on our campsite and hoping it didn’t rain that day (it didn’t).  That afternoon we still had a little time to walk to the beach for a bit.

St augustine  008St augustine  009St augustine  011The next day, we crossed over to St. Augustine and climbed the beautiful St. Augustine lighthouse.  Hector actually walked up the 219 steps while wearing his boot and was getting a lot of attention.St augustine  010St augustine  017St augustine  013

St augustine  018St augustine  020St augustine  021St augustine  015The original watchtower was built in the late 1500’s which makes this the site of the oldest aid to navigation in North America.  The watchtower became a lighthouse in 1824, but a new tower was completed in 1874 in a less vulnerable location, just before the old tower fell during a storm in 1880.  That new tower is now St. Augustine’s oldest surviving brick structure.

The Junior Service League of St. Augustine restored the tower and the Keepers’ House, which had been destroyed by fire in 1970.  The Keepers’ house is now a museum of the history of the lighthouse and its Keepers.  These were very hearty and resilient people.St augustine  012St augustine  022St augustine  016

Johnny Depp?

Johnny Depp?

St augustine  040St augustine  026On a short trolley tour of St. Augustine we saw the city’s oldest cemetery, the old city gates, the fort, whose construction began in 1672 and was completed in 1696 and Flagler College, which was previously a luxury hotel.  Henry Flagler, a self-made millionaire, who founded the Standard Oil Company in partnership with John D. Rockefeller wanted to make St. Augustine the South’s playground for the rich and famous.  He built the Flagler Hotel, a luxury hotel, and hired an inventor named Thomas Edison to bring electricity to his hotel.St augustine  044St augustine  039St augustine  029St augustine  043

St augustine  030St augustine  032Walking around the city’s cobblestone streets revealed other “oldest” structures including the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine.  The first structure was built in the 1560’s, but this, along with multiple subsequent structures were destroyed by fires (from attacks on the Spanish by the English) and weather.  The current structure was completed in 1797.  St augustine  034St augustine  036St augustine  033

St augustine  062St augustine  061And, before leaving St. Augustine, we launched our new kayaks (still nameless) and paddled over to the outside of the fort.  It was pretty windy and choppy when we got out to the open water around the fort.  We were the only boats just on the outside of the fort so the tourists were waving to us as we paddled around.  It was definitely a different perspective seeing the fort from the water.St augustine  063

St augustine  002St augustine  064So, having enjoyed much of what Florida has to offer, we said so long and drove north to Georgia.

~ Brenda

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