Thursday, April 20, 2017

Orlando Day 6

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
Today was a much slower, easier day. In fact, when we got back to the hotel, I could still feel my feet. We rolled out in the vans about 9 am and headed for St. Augustine, the oldest European city in the United States. It's nearly two hours away, and we weren't sure what we'd see, but we knew we were going to start at Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. All the way down the road we kept looking for alligators, which we still haven't seen, but we didn't see a thing in the blur of trees rushing by.

The National Monument was pretty busy, and the parking was horrendous. Luckily, Mom is an expert driver, even in a 15 passenger van, and Bob was lucky when he volunteered to find a parking spot. He hopped in as we all piled out, and then a car pulled out right in front of us, so he drove 15 feet to the parking space. We also got in to Castillo de San Marcos for free because Mark used his fourth grade pass. As soon as we got in, the boys started up the Junior Ranger, and because they wanted to be Advanced Junior Rangers, it took a long time. Eventually, though, they earned a badge and a patch.
This was the first time Mark got to use his fourth grade pass. 
I think Seth took 10 pictures with muscles on this adventure. The fort was in a beautiful location.
The entrance was cool because it was pretty intense just to get inside. 
This is the old Lion's Bridge that is a drawbridge still being used.
Castillo de San Marcos is an old fort with walls more than twelve feet thick. It was totally unconquerable in its time, and had to be purchased by the British from Spain, because it could not be captured. The layout of the fort was really cool. There was a large open courtyard surrounded by 30 foot high walls. The inner wall is built into rooms for barracks and storage, and there is a wide staircase leading up. When you get on top of the wall, there are paver stones for a good 25 yards across the rooms below and the outer wall. At each corner are wider points called bastions and there are huge cannons mounted all along every wall. Best of all, there is a massive moat that surrounds the fort, though it was mostly used for protecting cattle from invaders. They kept up to 600 cows in it. A lot of the tour was about the artillery and the make up of the fort. They even fired off a cannon, which Dax and Seth hated. They sat in the video room with their ears plugged for half an hour to avoid it.
We had the nicest ranger come and talk with us about the Junior Ranger program.
The windows and doors let in natural light.
This is the big open courtyard in the middle. 
They had a secret place where they stored ammunition, and we had to crawl inside to see it. 
This is the special powder storage area so it wouldn't blow up if the fort ever got hit.
The boys loved all the cannons throughout the fort.
Here is a view from up top!
Everyone kept pretending to fire the cannons, even Dad. 
Dax couldn't believe how huge the cannons were.
This is a look toward the outside. The moat was the outer grass area.
The coolest thing we learned about the fort was that the walls were built out of sedimentary rock called coquina, which is sand and shells. It was amazing that basically the entire fort is shells. This helped it absorb cannon shot rather than being broken apart by it, which is one reason it couldn't be captured. We all really liked this monument, and we spent over two hours wandering around. Dax even spent his money on a Junior Ranger game, which he's had his eye on for a long time.
The stairs were awesome. 
We were fascinated by the walls filled with shells. 
They had a demonstration on how they would have fired the cannons as a warning. Mom and Mark watched!
Grandpa had been here before and was excited to share it with everyone else. 
This was definitely a favorite stop for all of us!
Our next stop was downtown St. Augustine, but it was a tourist trap, so we only spent a few minutes wandering around. We may have missed something, but we didn't like St. Augustine. I think we were mostly tired of walking. Instead, we drove up to the lighthouse at Anastasia State Park and snapped a few pictures. Then we went to the beach at the state park. This turned out to be the highlight of the day.
We debated going into the oldest schoolhouse in America, but we were ready to just hit the beach. 
There was a wall that surrounded the entire town of St. Augstine, and this is all that's left.
The walls in town were all made from the shell stone, too.
The lighthouse was fun to see. The boys had never seen one.
We got quite a few family pics this trip because we were traveling with family. 
Bob laid on the ground for this pic because we were trying to get the lighthouse behind us.
The sun was in a horrible spot for pictures when we were there. 
The old building and lighthouse were beautiful.
There is a beautiful beach at Anastasia, and it is covered with shells. Seth was in the water and soaked to the skin right away, and he Mark played until they were freezing cold. Dax and Dad walked the beach looking for interesting finds. We brought home a bunch of different shells, which are innumerable at this beach. We stayed and played with the cousins for a long time, and the weather was perfect. Everyone enjoyed the Atlantic and the pelicans kept swooping down right on top of us. It was  a much nicer pace than our first five days here.
Seth was soaked in a few seconds.
The boys loved being at the beach with all their cousins.
Dax had fun, but he got cold quickly! 
The pelicans flew right by us, and so close to the water.
They were so fun to see! 
They flew directly over us quite a few times. 
Randy was brave and got in the water. The only adult who did. 
The first day we were in Orlando, it was 97 degrees. Today at the beach it was 67 and windy. 
The Caspian terns hung out on the beach, too. The boys loved sitting close to them.
The oldest kids loved body surfing.
Seth just wanted to run away from waves.
But sometimes he got caught!
And fell down in the water!
Dax spent a lot of time looking for shells along the beach. 
The sisters! We aren't all together very often!
About the only thing left to do was make the drive home. One of things we wanted to see was the Daytona Speedway. We found a restaurant that is right down on the beach called the Starlite Diner. It was too dark to go down and see the famous Daytona Beach, and we only drove past the speedway, but the food was awesome, and we finished it up with strawberry shakes. We still didn't get home until after 10 pm, but at least the boys slept most of the way back to the hotel. It's a good thing, too, because we are off to Cape Canaveral early in the morning!
The food was delicious at the diner. We are suckers for good diner food! 
It was a great day!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! So fun!! I've never been to that fort or St Augustine area. I love the picture of you and your sisters!


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