Martin Luther King Day: Exploring St. Augustine

Trip Start Jan 16, 2011
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Trip End Jan 19, 2011


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Flag of United States  , Florida
Monday, January 17, 2011

We knew rain was on the way, but a few sprinkles couldn’t stop the Globetrotters from exploring a new city. So, after enjoying breakfast -- fresh fruit, country scramble, bagels and orange juice -- we took a driving tour. James had mentioned the historic area of Lincolnville, long known as a thriving African American community. Today, the area is experiencing a reemergence and it did our hearts good to see historical markers indicating spots that will be forever remembered as part of African American history. 


We like to visit the visitor information center in a new city when possible, just to get a lay of the land and some insider information from the people who should know the city best.  There, we learned about some points of interest and also found out that some of the tour companies offer discounted tickets to several attractions. We purchased tickets to the Lighthouse on Anastasia Island ($8 each) and headed over the draw bridge to explore that landmark.

Several months ago, Michael had learned of a project between Spain and the U.S. that would build a replica of the Galveztown -- a ship on which Spanish governor/general Bernardo de Galvez had sailed. If you’re not familiar with Michael’s genealogy research, check out our blog from our New Orleans trip in 2010. In brief, Michael’s patriot ancestor, Mathieu Devaux, served in the American Revolution under Galvez, so Michael is particularly interested in this project. Actually, he is hoping to be at the launching of the ship when it leaves Malaga, Spain to sail to the United States. Everyone, say a collective prayer that he will be there when the time comes. 


When we arrived at the lighthouse, Michael asked the greeter if she knew about this project. She didn’t, but called another employee, Beau Phillips, to share some information with us. With all of Michael’s questions, Beau realized that he needed to pass us on to someone who could give us the whole story. He escorted us to the office of the Director of Archaeology, Dr. Samuel Turner. The more questions Michael asked, the more intrigued Samuel became with his story. We learned a lot about the project, including the fact that some of the lumber being used to build the ship in Spain came from live oak trees collected from the campus of Flagler College right there in St. Augustine. Pretty cool. We thanked Samuel for his time, hoping to maintain contact with him as the Galveztown project unfolds. 


Leaving the archaeology offices, we decided to do what we had come there for, which was to explore the lighthouse. If you’ve never visited a lighthouse, you must know that you have to climb stairs up to the top of the thing, all the way to the top; no elevator, no escalator; only your legs. Get the picture? This one included 219 steps to the top. And you’d better believe that the Globetrotters climbed every one. It reminded me of our visit to the Gibbs’ Hill Lighthouse in Bermuda. That one had only 185 steps, so we were taking it a bit further with this one. Once at the top, we were greeted by a blanket of fog. Not much visibility of the city below, but we made it. The climb down was easy, but I was really feeling the burn in my legs. At the bottom, we visited a shrimp boat exhibit on the premises and then departed. 


We took advantage of a break in the rain, and stopped off for a visit at the Castillo San Marcos, a fort that holds thousands of years of history. Read about it.

Back at the Westcott, we warmed up with hot tea, cheese and crackers, then headed to Rhett’s for a bite to eat. This moderately priced restaurant has a nice ambiance: dark wood-trimmed bar, black and white 1920s-style tiled flooring and a talented pianists. Michael tried the lobster bisque and crab cakes, and I ordered the house salad and gumbo puff. Both were delicious, as was Michael’s caramel apple martini! Just as we were about to order the restaurant’s signature bread pudding with warm bourbon sauce for dessert, our friend James arrived. We had arranged to meet him there to strategize our sightseeing tour for the next day. 


With our plans all set, James escorted us back to our B&B through the streets of St. Aug, sharing delightful tidbits about the city’s history. I was sure the next day would hold some great surprises.
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