Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Behind the Fence Bed and Breakfast

I was going to do a post about the lighthouse at St. Augustine but decided it could wait a while so I could do one about the wonderful bed and breakfast we stayed in over the weekend.  We were visiting my relatives in the Tampa area and I just had to stay at this unique place.
Who would expect to see an 1800's New England salt box style house in Florida?!
We were warmly ushered into the front sitting room furnished with authentic period antiques.
I signed the registration book and then the owner, Carolyn Yoss, showed us to our cabin by the pool in the backyard.
Even Hubby was impressed by his surroundings.  It felt like we had surely stepped back in time!
A trundle bed was under our very high bed.
Another bed was in the corner and modern amenities (microwave, refrigerator and TV) were hidden behind that old door to Hubby's left.
An old deep claw-footed tub was in the bathroom.
The next morning we walked up the path and entered the back door of the house for breakfast.
These stairs, near the back door, are from a former plantation house.  They are of varying heights and widths and slaves used them to access their room on an upper floor where they would be locked in at night so they couldn't wander the grounds.
Carolyn said most of these treasures came from her family and her husband's family.  Her family had locked them away in an attic because no one wanted them anymore.  When she married, her grandmother helped her clean out the attic.
Some of this pewter is from her family in the 1700's and some she collected.
When people in the area heard they were building such a unique house they brought them some antiques and offered materials from old buildings that were being torn down.
When their 6 children left home they opened the bed and breakfast since they had so many spare rooms.  The cabin we were staying in was originally built for extended family that decided to remain in Ohio.
There were so many marvelous things to see, including this old dry sink.
Carolyn graciously allowed me to take all the pictures I wanted to.
Besides running the B & B, she gives tours to school children so they can see how people lived over 200 years ago.  She hides all the modern amenities because she doesn't want anyone to see anything newer that her. 
Because we were so interested in everything, Carolyn took us upstairs to see those rooms too.
This is the largest guest room and it has a couple of beds too.
Every year a man from the Smithsonian comes to stay and offer advice, helping to keep them "honest."
We really loved staying at this unique and fascinating place.  If you're ever in Brandon, Florida be sure to stay at Behind the Fence Bed and Breakfast.  We're certainly happy we did!
I'll blog about our visit to the St. Augustine Lighthouse as soon as I can.  We were planning to head back to Arizona with our 5th wheel on Labor Day weekend but may leave this Friday instead so we don't have to experience Hurricane Isaac.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Henry Flagler Left His Mark in St. Augustine Too

When we were visiting St. Augustine we got to see Henry Flagler's famous Ponce de Leon Hotel.  It was the place to be, and be seen, in the late 19th century.  Today, this grand old building houses Flagler College.

Flagler spared no expense in building the premier hotel of it's time with all the modern conveniences anyone could imagine.

The attention to detail is amazing.  Note the frogs around the fountain and the dragon drain pipes.

When Flagler built his hotel St. Augustine was still a small town.  However, the guest rooms at the Ponce de Leon were often booked solid.  To handle the overflow, Flagler built a second hotel called the Alcazar.  To give his guests, at both hotels, something to do he included a casino and separate indoor heated swimming pools for men and women at the Alcazar.

Despite his tremendous wealth Flagler had his share of tragedies in his life.  He was devastated when his only daughter, Jennie Louise Flagler Benedict, passed away as a result of childbirth in 1889.  He built this church, Memorial Presbyterian Church, as a memorial to his daughter.

The baptism font is intricately carved from a solid piece of marble.

The lighting fixtures and pews are all original.

The church is still in use today and volunteers are available to answer questions.

Flagler added a mausoleum off to the side in the church where he entombed his daughter and her child side by side.

A mirror on top of their tomb reflects the beautiful stained glass in the dome of the mausoleum.  Henry Flagler is buried to their right.  His wife, for whom he built Whitehall Mansion in Palm Beach, was supposed to be laid to rest to the left of his daughter - on condition she not remarry after his death.  However, she did remarry (dying under mysterious circumstances 8 months later) and was buried by her own family in another state.

I still have more to post about St. Augustine but today Hubby and I head off to the Tampa area to visit with my Aunt and Uncle and cousins.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Castillo de San Marcos at St. Augustine, Florida

A little over a week ago, Hubby and I trekked north up the coast to St. Augustine to cross something else off my list of things to do and see while we're in Florida.  I've always wanted to see Castillo de San Marcos.  It is the oldest masonry fort in the United States and was for many years the northernmost outpost of Spain's vast New World empire.

Begun in 1672 and completed by 1695, the Castillo replaced nine successive wooden fortifications that had protected St. Augustine.

This drawbridge is the only entrance into the fort.  The Spanish kept the moat dry and, during sieges, used it as a pen for domestic animals.  If they were under attack from land the moat could be filled with sea water by opening flood gates on the seawall.

A soldier's life wasn't very glamorous.  This was one of the dormitories.

Local volunteers gave talks about the life of a Spanish soldier.

They also dressed up in heavy woolen uniforms.  One of the men assured me that the uniform wasn't too bad.  Once he was soaked with sweat from the Florida heat and humidity he was actually comfortable - sort of.

We had to cover our ears while they set off a cannon.  The little building behind them was used for signaling ships and the light house across Matanzas Bay.

This little building, called a shot furnace, was added by the U.S. Army in 1842 - 1844 when they filled in the east side of the moat along the seawall.  They used it to heat cannonballs until they were red hot.  Then they fired them at the enemy's wooden ships to set them on fire.

Here's a view of the courtyard from the top of the walls.

Hubby was particularly intrigued by all the cannons on display.

I was more interested in the lives of the soldiers.  This was one of the guard towers where the lookout on duty could stay out of the weather.

A garrison of Spanish troops safeguarded St. Augustine during the turbulent colonial era.  Later, English, and then American troops, also saw service here.  These are the gates leading into old St. Augustine.  They closed the gates at dusk every night.  If you didn't want to spend the night with panthers, snakes and alligators you made sure you were inside.

There are still many many buildings from that time period.  The streets were curved so, under attack, a cannon ball could not go straight down a street killing so many people.

Today, they house a variety of shops and restaurants.  Naturally, I did a little shopping.

One of the restaurants we thoroughly enjoyed was called Harry's.  They serve Louisiana type seafood.  We weren't sure we'd like that style of food but it was one of the best meals we've had in Florida!  You couldn't beat the ambiance either.  It was in an old house that had been remodeled a mere 150 years ago. 

After our delicious lunch we waddled on to explore more of St. Augustine.  Next time I'll show Henry Flagler's Ponce de Leon Hotel and the mausoleum where he is buried.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Kennedy Space Center

Back in February, Hubby and I visited Kennedy Space Center and I just didn't have time to blog about it then.  I'm finally getting around to it but, unfortunately, neither one of us can remember the details about the many pictures that I took.  Here's a sampling of what we saw though.

We had actually visited here many years ago with our daughters but the sign is still thrilling to see.

The Rocket Garden was first display we visited.  It contains many of the rockets that have been used over the years.

Hubby was fascinated with the history of each rocket.

He was like a kid in a candy store.

Then we had to see the lovely memorial to all the astronauts that have died.

Finally, we boarded a bus for a tour of the space center.

Here's the huge assembly building where they built the space shuttles.

We were fortunate enough to see the last two shuttle launches so it was thrilling to catch sight of this shuttle too.

Then we joined people from the other tour buses at the museum containing all sorts of space memorabilia. 

There was an entire room filled with space suits too.

They had old training gloves on display.............

.......shiny space modules...........

........and not so shiny modules.  Re-entry is tough on the shine!

There was even a van they used to transport the astronauts to the launch pad.

Unfortunately, by the time we finished our tour there wasn't enough time to visit the Astronaut Hall of Fame but I had to take a picture of the space shuttle sitting outside.

We had a great time visiting such a fascinating place and I was able to cross one more thing off my list of things to do while we're in Florida.

Last weekend we visited historic Fort Augustine but that's going to take about three posts to do it justice.  I promise to do it soon before I forget everything!