Monday, June 26, 2023

St. Augustine

 After our visit to Historic Colonial Savannah we made our way farther south across the Georgia border into the state of Florida.

A short drive later we found ourselves in the city of St. Augustine.  Colonized by the Spanish, it has a completely different flavor from the rest of the East Coast.  Founded in 1565 over 40 years before Jamestown, VA and 55 years before the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth, St. Augustine is the oldest European settlement in the U.S.  Truthfully, we were just a little disappointed at how crowded and commercialized it was.  However, we did find the old fort to be very interesting. We spent a couple of hours wandering around the walls and inside the courtyard buildings.

The early settlement was vulnerable to m
arauders and pirates, such as the famous Sir Frances Drake, so the fort was constructed to guard the Spanish shipping lanes as well as the town.




Views from the upper walls and the watch towers which overlook the town and waterway.

The day was quite warm and sultry so we just took a short trolley ride through the area before having lunch and heading back to our hotel.  Many of old streets were so crowded I had little desire to get out and walk around.  Much of the Spanish architecture was very pretty though. 

After a short rest we decided to drive out to the St Augustine Lighthouse. Even though the beautiful grounds were closed to the public that afternoon we were still able to see the beacon towering above the trees.

One of the most delightful surprises of our visit to St. Augustine was the discovery that we were just steps away from the famous Magnolia Avenue, one of the most photographed streets in America.  With it's towering oak trees draped in Spanish Moss,  I didn't begin to capture how beautiful it was.

When we returned from our walk we sat under the shade of the magnificent "Old Senator", the 600 year old live oak tree that graces the courtyard of  our hotel.  There is a small palm tree perfectly  intertwined within the trunk of the oak.  Popular legend says that if a couple kisses under the branches of the tree they will remain together forever.  What better place to spend the last evening of our anniversary trip.

I would like to come back to St. Augustine again at a different time of year in the hopes of spending more time in the historic district, but for now it was time to say goodbye and head back to spend the rest of our trip with the kids.


We had a wonderful final week hanging out with our grandson. We went for a ride on Thomas The Train in Chattanooga, TN.

And we also visited the numerous parks in their neighborhood.

We even took him to see a baby cow!

All too soon our visit was at an end.  Watching the sunrise on the tarmac, it was time to set our sights toward home.


In the eight weeks that we have been home from our visit we have been on a marathon of spring cleaning both inside and out as we prepare for the wedding of our youngest son in mid-July. It is all taking much longer than usual, as I have been having more back and hip issues than usual.  Much of our time has been spent outdoors.  We have taken down the old broken and battered fence which now opens the yard up to the back field and fruit trees.  Our property ends where the blackberry brambles begin on the ten acres behind us.

We have scrubbed the decks, cleaned out the ponds and fountains and planted all the flower pots.



This post has been a bit jumbled as I am trying to tie up a number of activities into one big package. Our daughter and family arrive tomorrow and we are excited to have the all the children and grandchildren together again for the next three weeks. While the wedding will not take place here, we will be hosting a combination wedding rehearsal barbecue and birthday party for our future daughter in law.  With a guest list of over fifty people, there is still a great deal of planning to be done and exciting activities to look forward to. Thank you for stopping by and I hope  you are all enjoying a lovely summer.


Friday, June 2, 2023

Savannah, GA

 Savanna, Georgia is probably one of the most charming cities in the South, indeed in the nation. Boasting the largest Historic National District in the country, it was a must see for The Inspector and me. So shortly after returning from Gatlinburg with our daughter we headed off on our own for a few days to celebrate our wedding anniversary.

With only two nights planned in the city we tried to make the most of the time we had.  Our accommodations were perfectly located just steps from the River Walk which is where we spent our first evening.

River Street was paved with a combination of bricks and cobblestones.  We learned that the stone streets were paved with the ballast rocks from the bottom of the ships that sailed into the harbor. The stones would often need to be changed for fresh ones and so the old stones were just dumped on the shore. Something had to be done with them. Turning them into an inexpensive material to be used for roads was a great solution.  However, cobblestones made for a pretty bumpy surface and so bricks would be laid in some areas to make it easier for the the horse and carriages.

As the sun set each evening the scene was filled with the sights and sounds of sidewalk dining outside restaurants, lighted fountains and sidewalk musicians as people strolled along the river walk.



The following morning we picked up a narrated trolley which would take us through the historic quarter of the city. Our first stop was the Cathedral and Basilica of St. John the Baptist. It seems that when the British colony of Georgia (named after King George II) was founded in 1733 part of it's role was to act as a buffer between the aggressive Spanish colonies to the south and the other British colonies to the north. To that end, all Catholics were banned from the colony including Savannah.  There was a fear that in the event of conflict the Roman Catholics might side with the Spanish rather than the English.  This sentiment did not begin to change until after the American Revolution when many Catholic soldiers distinguished themselves in battle alongside their fellow patriots.

As the Catholics began to establish themselves into the congregation of St. John the Baptist, their first church was built in 18ll. A number of church buildings came after.  Then in 1870 plans were made to build a new cathedral.  It was dedicated in 1876 and stood until a great fire burned much of the building in 1898.  Only a few walls and the spires remained.  But the congregation was undaunted and two years later the cathedral had been rebuilt and repaired. It was rededicated in the Fall of 1900.  Years of continuing restoration has brought the basilica to what we see today.  Unfortunately, a number of my indoor photos didn't come out but I will share what I have.


Once we had toured the inside of the church we walked across the street to the central fountain of Lafayette Square, and then down to the Colonial Park Cemetery.

My cousin used to post on a blog that featured beautiful windows and doors.  As we took a stroll through some lovely historic neighborhoods I would have titled mine "staircases, doors and ironwork"


While there are many historical and cultural reasons for painting your front door red, we learned that in Savannah when the door of a home is painted red it means the mortgage of that home has been paid off and you are no longer "in the red". 

 One of our last stops of the day was a walk through Forsyth Park.  We spent some time in front of the fountain under the shade of the oak trees covered in "Spanish moss". 


By this time we were overheated and exhausted. so what better way to end the afternoon before returning to our hotel for a rest then to stop for some Leopold's ice cream, a Savannah tradition since 1919. Butter Pecan! Yum!

 We had one last evening on River Street before heading out for Florida in the morning.



 Looking back, we would have loved to spend an extra day in Savannah and, Lord willing, there will opportunities to return again. Meanwhile, there was still much to look forward to before our journey was over.  I hope you enjoyed seeing Savannah through our eyes.