Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Saint Augustine (love it!)

I am falling behind in blogging. I hate playing catch up, but here goes. 

We pulled into Saint Augustine pretty late on Thursday night. Once we were checked in the hotel, I got looking on the Internet for things to do the next day. I got excited. Saint Augustine was exactly the kind of place I love. History. Character. And a bit of the bizarre.

We got up in the morning and headed straight into town. First stop was the Castillo de San Marcos. Construction on this incredible spot was started in 1672! That's old. I was blown away by both the beauty of fort and the amazing job done by the National Park Service. 

There people dressed in period costume all over the place. 

There were field trips running left and right, but there was so much to see that it didn't bother us at all.

The kids got to see something totally different from our historical sights at home.

This is the kids getting their booklets from a ranger. If they filled in the entire 20 (!) page booklet, they would receive Junior Ranger designation and a fancy patch. They were VERY motivated. Like, VERY.

We spent a lot of time seated on benches in the sunshine, filling in the truly excellent booklet. I learned a lot. So did the kids.

I also learned (by eavesdropping) that all these old guys dressing up and firing cannons for school kids are craaaaazy Republicans. They don't like Obama. At all.

When we had seen everything down below, we headed up to the rampart walls to see the cannon fired off.

They did the whole official ceremony in ancient Spanish.

Then they fired out into the water.

And, instead of a cannonball, they fire half a loaf of bread. Which explains the birds who cluster below, gobbling up the nice selection of toasted crumbs.

We took a bit of time to finish up the essay (seriously) portion of the booklets before heading down to have them marked and inspected.

But not before the boys and Finny tried to fire on the cars parked below.

Then it was off to inspection. The ranger was fairly horrified to discover the amount of talk about bums in my kids' essays. I had to explain to her that a pair of nice volunteers in costume had an array of old medical instruments on display in the back corner. They included an enema kit and a pair of "rectal scrapers". The kids (and Eric) asked LOTS of questions. And the answers featured prominently in their essays.

The look on the ranger's face told me that those two gentlemen might be hearing a word to two about their presentation...

Success! We all got our badges and patches (even me, because the ranger told me I deserved on too! I couldn't say no...).

We LOVED this castillo. I would highly recommend a visit here if you have kids.

After all that hard work, the crew was getting hangry (a combination of hungry and angry that happens a lot around here). We grabbed a tasty snack and walked around old Saint Augustine.

What an incredible place. The buildings are so old, beautifully maintained and tastefully commercialized. It was a great place to walk around.

We also stopped in at a little place I found on the Internet called The Spanish Bakery. They only make four things, plus bread and cookies. All their recipes are old recipes from the Spanish fort. It was cool to eat picadillo (delicious) and empanadas, lemon cookies and bread from back then.

In a bizarre turn of events, Lukey started burping. Eric then made him do five "burpees" for every burp.

They weren't perfect, but they were amusing.

To give you an idea of how old Saint Augustine is...behold this picture of the oldest wooden schoolhouse in the entire U.S. You can even see the big chain and anchor wrapped around it...used to literally anchor the building in hurricanes.

Crazy, but apparently it worked!

Our next stop was Ponte Vedra to stay with my Aunt Mary (who was crazy/generous enough to ask us to come!). En route, we popped over to a local beach that allowed cars to drive right on the sand.

Whereupon the kids commenced taunting and teasing the waves. I told them it was a bad idea. I told them not to get wet.

Finny got COMPLETELY wiped out by a giant wave. I didn't see it, but she claims that she did a total flip.

So...moral of the story...don't tease waves. Especially when you are dressed nicely and heading to a relative's house.

We made to Ponte Vedra and got to see my Aunt and Uncle's beautiful complex. It was gorgeous. The lanai is to die for...Eric and I decided that we have new goals for retirement.

We headed out to dinner to Pizza Napoli where we enjoyed fantastic pizza and beer and the truly great company of my Aunt. She was just enough like my mom to be instantly loved by the kids. Then, she was super fun and funny and she had the kids eating out of the palm of her hand.

It was love. Home for a good night's sleep with a full day of Aunt Mary fun awaiting us the next day.

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