January 7, 2010

Our trip to St. Augustine

On December 31st we took a two-day vacation to St. Augustine, Florida. My favorite part was the lighthouse- despite climbing 219 stairs to the top. (I'm not all that fond of heights) I got some really good photos, even with the overcast weather; and the Fresnel lens was great! Above: I wanted to get a picture of the lighthouse stairs from the center, but they still had their Asherim tree up. :-( Oh, well. I still got a good picture. :-)

Some neat St. Augustine facts that we learned:
  1. St. Augustine is the oldest city in the U.S., built as a fortification by the Spanish. Saint Marys, GA was the second city built, as a monastery town.
  2. The St. Augustine lighthouse is the only U.S. lighthouse still using a Fresnel lens.
  3. The Castillo De San Marcos is built almost entirely of Coquina.
  4. There are only two places in the world where Coquina is found in any great abundance- the local Anastasia Island- and Cuba.
  5. The man who's collection of oddities became "Ripley's Believe It or Not" wanted to buy the house owned by the author of "The Yearling" to hold his collection, but she refused. It wasn't until after Ripley's death that the museum was founded, in St. Augustine.
  6. The wife and children of the Indian chief Geronimo were held in the Castillo De San Marcos. One of his children was born there. The Chief was not personally held there, because it was thought that he would stir up trouble. Instead, he was held at a fort further South.
  7. "Coquina" (Spanish for "tiny shell"), is a soft limestone made up of broken shells and sand cemented together by calcium carbonate, essentially creating a natural form of concrete. Tabby is "poor man's Coquina", made with various common shells, such as clams and mussells.
  8. In 1513, the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce De Leon discovered the area (and named it La Florida) while searching for the fabled isle of Bimini. Due to the favorable current patterns, the Spanish decided to build a fort at or near the site of St. Augustine.
  9. Juan Ponce De Leon was only 4' 11" tall.
  10. Flagler College in St. Augustine built the world's first Olympic-sized swimming pool. Originally the ceiling to the pool room would open at night so that the guests could swim under the stars.

Above: The Castillo from a boat tour.

Above: A macro photo I got in front of the Lighthouse Museum.

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