St. Augustine, America’s Oldest Inhabited City

I’m back!

Six years ago when I retired from Allison Transmission two of my dearest friends and I came down here from Indiana. We were on our way to Kissimmee but chose to spend a few extra days in St. Augustine on our way down. Even though we spent only a day or two here, I was enchanted. I knew I’d return one day, I wanted so much to introduce Don to St. Augustine. And here we are!

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This building houses the office, a meeting room, kitchen & laundromat

This building houses the office, a meeting room, kitchen & laundromat

We arrived on Wednesday and shall be here for a full two weeks. We’re parked at a very small, quite campground on US-1 about 17 miles south of St. Augustine. It’s called Pellicer Creek Campground and it’s a family owned and operated park. Pellicer Creek has 30 full hookup campsites in a lovely wooded area right on Pellicer Creek, ergo the name. Amenities are few. There is no bath house so only self contained units may camp here. The building that houses the office also holds a small meeting room, a compact kitchen and a laundry room with two washers and dryers. The park is gated and a security code is required to enter. The staff is some of the  most pleasant and helpful we’ve come across during our travels. The campground is nicely landscaped and very well maintained. The camp doesn’t offer a playground, pool or any park activities but there’s a nice sitting area on the river and a boat ramp to put in a canoe or kayak. It’s peaceful here and we both like it a lot.

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Pellicer Creek flows into the Matanzas River, which is part of the Intercoastal Waterway. The creek was named after Francisco Pellicer, an early Spanish resident in the area and large  plantation owner. Some of the wildlife that can be found along the creek include alligators, Bald eagles and many, many other spectacular wading birds.

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Old King’s Road was built before the American Revolution for the British. The road was once the main route into Florida and the seaport of St. Augustine. Today historians have determined that it runs along the same route or parallel to US-1.

Our campsite is spacious yet cozy. It’s nicely landscaped with flowering bushes that are just coming into bloom.It’s staggered so we’re not looking into our neighbors windows and they in turn, aren’t looking into ours. We will not hesitate to stay here again.

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Once we were set up and had eaten lunch, we headed to Don’s favorite place….the beach! We’re a mere 10 miles from beautiful Crescent Beach and best of all, our little fur child can sunbathe with us.

Crescent Beach

                                                                                                                                                             CRESCENT BEACH

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The tide was out when we arrived. This made for a vast expanse of sandy beach. Wider than any we’d ever seen.No more crushed shells!  It was good to be back on a beach that didn’t hurt your bare feet to walk on.  Two young boys wanted to pet Tucker but our boy was on a mission, straining at his leash, he was focused on one thing and one thing only, the water. He couldn’t get there fast enough. Don and I let him romp in the surf to his heart’s content before returning to camp. We’re looking forward to spending some time here.

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Patterns in the sand

Patterns in the sand

We did get an unexpected surprise while crossing the beach dune via the boardwalk. Off to the side I spied two Gopher turtles just outside a burrow entry in the dune. Best of all, it was a male and a female, and how do I know this? I watched the male’s courting routine work it’s magic on the female. First the male moves his head, much like a Bobble Head. Then he approached the female from the front trying to bite her, she tucked her head inside her shell but he succeeded in biting her leg twice. As she tried to retreat, he moved around her, then behind, finally achieving his goal. Does this make me a voyeur?

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There is so much to do and see in St. Augustine I’m not sure if two weeks will be long enough to get everything in that we want to. We’ll give it our best shot though.

 

THE OLD CITY GATE Proof that St. Augustine was once a walled city. It's estimated that this was constructed in the early 1700's.

THE OLD CITY GATE
Proof that St. Augustine was once a walled city. It’s estimated that this was constructed in the early 1700’s.

Today I took Don to see the Old City Gate and to walk the ancient streets of the old city’s historic district. There were more shops and restaurants than I remembered being here. We strolled into a few of them. Don bought a shirt in one and I may go back to another to make an earring purchase. We picked up a bottle of Key Lime BBQ sauce that we’d sampled and liked. We’ll try it on chicken later this week.

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                                                                                                                                                 HISTORIC ST. GEORGE STREET

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Gerry, our camp host had recommended we have lunch at Columbia Restaurant in the historic district. He suggested their Cuban sandwich with a cup of Spanish Bean soup. It was a favorite of his when he was on the police force and used to stop there for lunch. I’ve been wanting to try an authentic Cuban since we came to Florida so the choice was obvious. Don had some difficulty deciding what to have for his meal, he had a hard time deciphering the menu.  Much of it is in Spanish and the extent of Don’s Spanish is “Dos cervzas por favor.” I did my best to translate but my Spanish is pretty elementary. He decided to have the Ensalada with turkey.

IMG_2355 Columbia, outside & inside Inside Columbia Restaurant

My meal was very good. I have never had a garbanzo bean soup before but it was tasty, especially so with the potatoes and sausage in it. Don said his salad reminded him of Olive Garden’s.

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Built over 200 yrs. ago while under Spain's rule. Local legend has it that the chain & massive anchor on the right was added to hold the school in place when a hurricane blew thru. Apparently, it worked.

Built over 200 yrs. ago while under Spain’s rule. Local legend has it that the chain & massive anchor on the right was added to hold the school in place when a hurricane blew thru. Apparently, it worked.

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After lunch, Don suggested we visit the Pirate and Treasure Museum. Pat Croce, a pirate affectionado, started his first pirate museum in Key West, after a successful five year run there, he decided it was time to move to another pirate stronghold, St. Augustine. Pirates such as Sir Francis Drake and Robert Searles frequented the old city and the Spanish fort, the Castillo de San Marcos. The museum is meant to be educational and houses an ever growing collection of artifacts. There is a whimsical element to the exhibit that is sure to capture the imagination of young children and teens alike.

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                                                                                                                               WHICH PIRATE IS THE SCURVIEST LOOKING?

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                                                                                       THIS LATE 1600’S CHEST IS ATTRIBUTED TO THE INFAMOUS CAPTAIN WILLIAM KIDD

The coin affixed inside the chest is a King Charles II shilling from 1668.

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The original Jolly Roger design.

The original Jolly Roger design.

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Imagine what riches this 150 lb., 400 yr. old metal chest once held! It belonged to the pirate Thomas Tew & is one of only two in existence.

Imagine what riches this 150 lb., 400 yr. old metal chest once held! It belonged to the pirate Thomas Tew & is one of only two in existence.

 

In the section Below Deck, a Disney Imagineer designed a sound experience of Blackbird’s last battle. The museum calls in spine tingling, we called it fun.

The hook Dustin Hoffman used in the movie HOOK

The hook Dustin Hoffman used in the movie HOOK

The sword used by our most infamous pirate of the modern day, Captain Jack Sparrow

The sword used by our most infamous pirate of the modern day, Captain Jack Sparrow

A full day of sightseeing behind us, we returned to the Suite Pea where Tucker was awaiting our return. What shall we visit next?

WE HOISTED UP THE BLACK FLAG,

AND A PIRATE I BECAME;

I THEN COMMITTED CRUELITIES

TOO DREADFUL FOR TO NAME.

NOR SEX NOR AGE WE SPARED,

BUT ALL WE TOOK WAS SLAIN;

NO MERCY DID WE EVER SHOW,

FOR DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES.

 

Here’s lookin’ at you kid………………………..

 

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Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “St. Augustine, America’s Oldest Inhabited City

  1. What fun! I love, love, love St Augustine! My family visited there lots of times when I was growing up as I had an aunt and uncle who lived in Jacksonville, FL. Joe and I have been once together, but it was before we retired! Next time we head east, I might talk him into a return…..who knows?

    That is so cool you saw the turtles. Once I saw a mama laying eggs. What a privilege to have the time to enjoy nature! And the pictures of Tucker at the beach just warm my heart!

    Enjoy……

    • This place is easy to fall in love with. So many things to see & do. Fabulous beaches. Great restaurants & an abundance of history.We saw the female turtle again this morning, no sign of the male.It was a thrill to watch them mate but your experience was equally thrilling. You & Joe, & Don & I are truly blessed to be living this lifestyle with all the nature & beauty it offers us.

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