I hope that everyone had a terrific holiday and I would like to welcome everyone to 2014! I’m quite certain that it will be better than 2013. I’m trying to be optimistic!
I was away for a little while for three reasons:
1. I wanted to be away for a little while;
2. It was the holidays; and,
3. I took some much needed time to finish the novel I had been working on.
Now that it’s done and I am awaiting a few critiques, it’s time to get back to visiting some American Small Towns before I need to do some more editing!
I don’t know about the rest of you, but with the winter storm blasting through the northern part of the United States, I still wanted to keep my toes in the warm sand. Who could blame me and who’s with me?
How about a place where the sun is shining most of the year and where average daily temperatures are in the 80’s?
Then join me in one of the oldest, continuously inhabited cities in North America: Saint Augustine, Florida (population 12,975).
Hold on, let me check something. Yep, it’s still January, but I don’t think Florida realizes it yet, and that’s just fine by me. You won’t hear me arguing one bit.
Saint Augustine (Spanish: San Agustin) was founded in 1565 by Spanish admiral Pedro Menendez de Aviles, and served as the capital of Spanish Florida for two hundred years. After being attacked for many years, it was the English assault in 1702 that made local residents say, “Enough is enough.” Along with the residents, the Spanish military began the process of fortifying the entire town with strong walls and an entrance to the city called, “The City Gates.”
Castillo de San Marcos
This fort was built in the late 1600s and was used all the way up until the 20th century by the U.S. Military. The Seminole war chief, Osceola and Apaches were held here for a time. Its the oldest masonry fort in the U.S.
Castillo de San Marcos was twice besieged: first by English colonial forces led by Carolina Colony Governor James Moore in 1702, and then by Georgia colonial Governor James Oglethorpe in 1740. Possession of the fort has changed six times, all peaceful, among four different governments: the Spanish Empire, the Kingdom of Great Britain, the Confederate States of America and the United States of America.
Hotel Ponce de Leon
This was an exclusive hotel in St. Augustine, Florida, built by millionaire developer, Henry Flagler, and completed in 1888. The Hotel Ponce de Leon was designed in the Spanish Renaissance style by New York architects. The hotel was wired for electricity at the onset, with the power being supplied by D.C. generators given to Flagler by his friend, Thomas Edison. Today, the building and grounds of the hotel are a part of Flagler College.
St. George Street
Downtown is centered along this street, which is a pedestrian-only thoroughfare. So, don’t think about trying to drive your car through. Here, you’ll find several historic buildings have been subdivided into numerous stores almost creating a small indoor mall, containing businesses of varying sizes from average size stores to small stands. Some of these small malls include St. George’s Row, The Spanish Plaza, and the Heritage Walk. There is a wide variety of shops in St. Augustine. Due to the area’s proximity to the beach and the large number of tourists that come through the area, you’ll find some inexpensive souvenir shops and t-shirt shops.
St. Augustine Lighthouse
The lighthouse is rumored to be one of the ten most haunted places in the world. Many visitors and others believe that the lighthouse and surrounding buildings have a history of paranormal activity. Allegedly, visitors and workers have seen moving shadows, heard voices and unexplained sounds, and seen the figures of two little girls standing on the lighthouse catwalk (who purportedly were daughters of Hezekiah Pittee, Superintendent of Lighthouse Construction, during the 1870s; the girls drowned in an accident during the building of the tower). Other reports are of a woman seen on the lighthouse stairway or walking in the yard outside the buildings, and the figure of a man who roams the basement, or the unexplained smell of cigar smoke. The male figure is said to possibly be Civil War hero and former lighthouse keeperWilliam A. Harn.
So far, Florida has failed to disappoint, but then again, it isn’t summertime yet, when I’m sure the heat and sticky humidity would make you miserable. Now I know why people come here during the winter and head back up north during the summer. It truly is a magnificent state, and St. Augustine is absolutely amazing and filled with history. Do yourself a favor: the next time you schedule a vacation to Disney World, make sure you spare a few days and head on over to the coast, especially St. Augustine. You won’t regret it!