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Monday, February 14, 2011

Daytona Beach/St Augustine, FL

We arrived at El Caribe in Daytona Beach, FL about 1 pm Friday, checked into the El Caribe and took our luggage to the room. We are on the top floor, 7th, with a room looking out over the Atlantic Ocean and the beach. It is quite a view. It was quite windy so the waves were probably two to three feet, more whitecaps than I have seen in a long time. We haven’t driven on the beach yet but I hope to do so before we leave.

We headed out later in the afternoon for the Ponce de Leon lighthouse. This is a working lighthouse with the lighthouse keeper’s home and a couple other buildings renovated. They have one building which houses the different lenses used in this and other lighthouses.

I climbed the 5,000 steps, well at least it felt like 5,000 but it was only 203 steps, to the top of the lighthouse. Look at this sucker and I want to climb it. DSCN0904 I don’t remember if this is going up or down it really doesn’t matter, there were a lot of steps.

IMG_0969IMG_0994IMG_0997I took quite a few pictures from the top of the lighthouse, http://www.ponceinlet.org/. I has some great views such as:


Here is where I almost bought the farm, I knew I’m not in good shape, well any shape actually, but the first half of the climb was killing, then everything went numb except my legs, they hurt so much I knew I wasn’t dead.

We had dinner at Inlet Harbor restaurant, good food, moderate pricing and a great view of the water. We even saw a couple dolphins swimming by. DSCN1102DSCN1110

We had a quite evening in the room and ended up going to bed right after the news, we are to start out early in the morning.

This morning we had breakfast at IHOP and then headed for St Augustine. I really enjoyed this visit, we began by visiting Castillo de San Marcos, http://www.nps.gov/casa/index.htm, I have put the link here so you can visit their website. It is an amazing story how the fort came to be and the history attached to it. Since this is a National Monument I was able to get all four of us in free by using my Senior Pass for Federal Parks etc. I have had this pass for about five years and this is the first time I have used it. Here are a few pictures I took at the Castillo;

IMG_1016This is the entrance to the Castillo.

IMG_1019 The courtyard, during a siege or battle all the people from the surrounding area would come to the fort for protection. The walls were 17 ft. thick in places.

IMG_1021IMG_1024IMG_1025IMG_1030These cannons could fire 1 1/2 miles with accuracy, the bigger cannons could fire 3 1/2 miles with accuracy.

IMG_1039IMG_1044IMG_1050The small holes you see in this picture are said to be holes made by cannon or rifle shot during a battle some 500 years ago. I was enthralled by this place, to think we were standing on a structure built in the 1500’s. The oldest structures I remember seeing before this are the stone walls in the battlefield at Gettysburg.

We bought a National Park’s Passport Book,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Park_Passport_Stamps, at the Badlands a few years back but didn’t even think about bring it with us so we couldn’t get it stamped. I asked the lady behind the counter about the stamp and she graciously gave me a slip of paper with the park stamp on it so I can tape it into our book. We have to get the book out and be more diligent about where the parks are so we can take the Passport Book with us next time.

We walked around the historic area of St Augustine and took a few pictures. I found a great chocolate shop and as a bonus they had Gelato, I told them I would be back. I guess Sarah heard me and we didn’t go down that street again so needless to say I didn’t get any chocolate. Here are a few pictures taken on St. George street.

DSCN0963This is the oldest school in the USA, there is a big chain wrapped around it to keep the sides from collapsing outward, I don’t know what is keeping them from collapsing inward.DSCN0964DSCN0965This raised piece is part of a door/window combination.

DSCN0966The walk was interesting, of course it is all set to attract tourist but the buildings look to have kept the original look to them.DSCN0974DSCN0976DSCN0977 I thought maybe you could read the plague and maybe you can if you copy it to another directory and blow it up. The inside of the cathedral had an interesting interior but the most interesting was the mural on the back wall.

We then saw “The Mission of Nombre de Dios traces its origins to the founding of the City of St. Augustine, America’s oldest city, in 1565. On September 8, 1565, Pedro Menendez de Aviles landed and proclaimed this site for Spain and the Church. It was here that Menendez knelt to kiss a wooden cross presented to him by Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, chaplain of his expedition. It was on these grounds that Fr. Lopez would celebrate the first parish Mass and begin the work at America’s first Mission. It was at this sacred spot that the Spanish settlers would begin the devotion to Our Lady of La Leche that continues into the present.” The cross which is erected on this site is quite impressive. The grounds are considered an archeological dig and has a very old cemetery, I saw a tombstone dated as early as 1815. The chapel on the grounds was small but unique.DSCN0992DSCN0988The inside of the chapel was very plain.

Then is was off to the Fountain of Youth,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fountain_of_Youth, this is also an archeological dig which has active digging going on. It was interesting to visit buy I don’t believe it warrants more than one visit. I really didn’t feel any younger after visit this park

.DSCN1002The fenced in area is a spring well that has been flowing since in the 1800’s and is believed to be the original site of the Fountain of Youth. During excavations of the site the archeologists found the stone cross and based on writings of the time they have this as further proof of the site as being the site Ponce de Leon thought to be the Fountain of Youth.DSCN1005

Then it was off to eat, we ate at Santa Maria restaurant, it is located on the water south of the Ponce de Leon bridge. The food was good, very good clam chowder, the wrap Sarah and I split was ok. The interesting thing at this restaurant is the feeding of the seagulls. The tables by the windows have a trap door on the window ledge where you can feed the gulls stale bread, provided by the restaurant at no charge. I saw one gull get a big piece of bread and the other gulls drove it to the water and you should of seen the melee, it was quite a scene.

After dinner we headed over to the lighthouse, http://www.staugustinelighthouse.com/, here is another link, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Augustine_Light, we visited the gift shop but didn’t go into the site I wasn’t going to climb this one and there was a charge to get in. I did get some pictures of the lighthouse and a building or two.

There was a unique looking tree on the property.


I decided not to climb the stairs in this lighthouse, I could have made it but the placed would have been closed by the time I made it up and back down.


We headed back to Daytona Beach arriving about 7:30, had some great ice cream and then back to the hotel.

Sunday dawned bright and no wind but the waves still roared into shore. Of course Sarah was up to watch the sunrise, it was nice but it was a sunrise. I’m just thankful for each day I see the sun because I figure when the day it never gets light out then I’m in trouble.

We checked out of the hotel and attended Mass and then off to eat. I know you all think I eat too much but if you think about it I usually only eat three times a day. We decided to drive on the beach to get to the restaurant. Here are a few pictures from that ride.

DSCN1094Proof that I did get out on the sand. It was actually a pleasant ride, 10 mph maximum speed. It was to cold for any sunbathers so we went a solid 10 mph. Seagulls were every where but that is to be expected.


When you are walking on the beach they don’t make a lot of effort to get out of your way. I also found small jelly fish laying on the beach, I figured they were washed ashore with the tide and got stranded, I don’t believe they were sun bathing. 2011-02-12_08-04-11_5062011-02-12_08-04-18_8612011-02-12_08-04-27_209

We left Daytona Beach around four and got back to Sarasota at 7:45 or so. Mark and I were listening to the Iowa Hawkeye basketball team get their ever loving beat out of them. I don’t listen to them very often, now I know why.

I got to thinking this morning about the trip to Daytona Beach and the one thing the area is noted for, Daytona Speedway. We went by it a couple of times and I didn’t get a single picture of it. The one bit of trivia I found was the Daytona race was raced on the beach until 1958, we saw some old pictures of the races, it would have been interesting to see in person. A good friend of mine, Jim AuBuchon, told me that during bike week there are between 500-600,000 motorcycles in Daytona. Now as far as I am concerned there is enough traffic now, I can’t imagine that many motorcycles running around there.

Anyway we had a good time and I did enjoy the visit to St Augustine and we are planning another trip to the area in a couple years.

Dreams Do Come True

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