Fleeton Year of Adventure travel blog

Poinsettia borders in a St. Augustine park

Castillo de San Marcos at St. Augustine

The Castillo with the St. Augustine waterfront in the background

Musket drill at the Castillo, by volunteers acting as Spanish artillery

St. Augustine waterfront in the Old City

Orange trees in the park near the waterfront

Cathedral basilica of St. Augustine

The famous Alcazar Hotel from the early 1900s, now a museum

It's sister hotel the Ponce de Leon, now a college

Hibiscus shrubs growing around the hotels

A hungry peacock

St. Augustine light station

Daytona Beach

One of the little lizards along the beach walkways

Bird life on the beach

The late afternoon mist coming in along the beach

Driving past the Daytona Speedway after dark - it sure looked big!

We started off our day in St. Augustine, heading to the "Old City", founded by the Spanish in the 1600s, and according to the Americans it's the oldest city in North America. It has lots of interesting places, the largest being the fortress called the Castillo de San Marcos, on the waterfront. In design it's very similar to other forts we have seen, such as the Citadel in Halifax, only smaller. It's built out of a local sandstone which is full of seashells, and apparently the fact that the sandstone is soft helped it absorb attacks by cannons, where harder rock would have collapsed. There were costumed interpreters acting as Spanish soldiers, and they did a musket demonstration. After seeing the fortress we walked past the old city shopping area along the waterfront, then up to the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Augustine - very Spanish in style, but not too large. We found a post office so that I could renew my stock of post card stamps. Then we walked around several huge old buildings which had been built as hotels in the 1910-1920s by a compatriot of John D. Rockefeller, to attract wealthy tourists to Florida. One is now a huge museum and civic complex, and the other is part of a college. Everywhere we saw gardens full of tropical plants and flowers. We then spent a while walking to where our map said we would find the Fountain of Youth, with no success. Eventually we found that what the Spanish Explorer Ponce de Leon thought was his Fountain of Youth was a stream in a First Nations community near the waterfront, and which is now in the middle of a tacky tourist park. We skipped paying to go inside, but we did buy lunch in their lunch counter outside, which had peacocks hungry for peanuts (or anything else you wanted to feed them apparently.) We then drove across the inlet in front of the fortress to see the St. Augustine lighthouse, and then back north to the city's Camping World for a few things we'd been wanting. We left St. Augustine with every intention of driving non-stop southward to the other end of Florida, but we decided to stop in Daytona Beach for a bit, since we wouldn't be back past it again. It was basically like any other tourist city, but we did have a nice walk on the beach. Anyone is allowed to drive on to the beach and park there, but we didn't want to get our giant wheels stuck there so we didn't! As we left the beach the ocean mist was floating in as the light faded. We left the city going past the huge International Speedway, and then headed south on the I-95 in the dark. We stopped once for dinner at a Cracker Barrel, a low-priced very popular chain of family restaurants which serve home-cooked style food we have tried before, and ended up in Fort Lauderdale late in the evening. We parked at a Wal-Mart, did our packing for the next day, and fell asleep for a very short night's rest.

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