I have been intrigued by this fort ever since my first visit as a child, mainly because it's made of blocks of coquina stone.
Coquina rock is the product of sedimentary formations that underlie much of Florida's Atlantic shore. Coquina is a mixture of shell fragments and quartz grains held together by calcium carbonate that formed when higher sea levels covered our present coast. Coquina means "tiny shell" in Spanish. The name also was given to the small clam, Donaxvariabilis, whose shells provided the natural aggregate for Coquina rock. Anastasia Island was called "Cantera" - Spanish for quarry - in St. Augustine, because it was a rich source of superior Coquina rock. Large-scale quarrying began under Spanish rule in 1671 for the construction of the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine.
The thickness of the outer walls of the castle vary from 14 to 19 feet at the base, and tapers to 9 feet at the top. There are reported to be over 400,000 blocks of stone in the building. Each one was cut and set by hand.
The firing of the canons ceremony turned out to be very interesting. About ten minutes before the start I staked out a spot where I would have good visibility. The whole ceremony from start to finish took about fifteen minutes, and was performed with great precision and obvious pride in the task.
Each of the participants seemed to have a specific duty.
One of the soldiers urged the curious onlookers to retreat back from danger.
You will notice not only are these not your typical 17th century Spanish soldiers both in height and girth, they also seem to have broken through the gender barrier.
The park ranger explained to the crowd that he was the only paid member of the group. The other volunteers had trained for many hours to earn the right to perform their duties.
After the ranger completed his comments to the assembled group of onlookers he began speaking in Spanish and giving very precise orders to the troops.
Notice the hands placed over the ears.
The cannon balls were about the size of baseballs, and one of my goals was to photograph one as it was shot out of a cannon.
The noise was deafening and the crowd members had been warned to cover their ears. However, only my left ear was plugged up since my right hand was holding the camera. Deafening sound for sure! It actually hurt a bit. A good set of ear plugs would have come in handy.
Good point, Deyana. It was 90F/32C when I was at the fort and there was absolutely no shade on the top. Fortunately, the ceremony puts the "soldiers" outside for less than 20 minutes, but even in my pinafore and Maryjanes I found it very hot and was happy there was a bit of a breeze.
Thanks, Questa. I'm glad you are enjoying my report. I thought my ears were fine, but my boss came into my office this morning and I have no idea how long he'd been standing there before I noticed. I'd have to guess the hearing in my right ear, which is closest to the door, is a bit dimmed. Maybe that's a good thing.
Leaving the fort, I walked south along the waterfront towards the Bridge of Lions.
I hadn't realized I'd caught a picture of a dolphin fin until I looked back over my photos at the end of the day.
After taking many photos of the bridge I turned around to find these three pigeons giving me the eye. As soon as I trained my camera on them they played nonchalant and acted like they hadn't just been sizing me up as a possible source for food.
I plan to go back and fill in descriptions of the buildings in the previous post because they are of great historical and architectural interest relating to the Henry Flagler era.
At this point I had walked away from the areas that get the highest foot traffic, but was looping back in that direction again.
Once I got to the the center of the old section the crowds picked up again. Just near the Columbia Restaurant is where I usually run into an assortment of protestors and street people, and this visit was no exception. The seemingly hate-filled god people were there to tell me I was going to hell if I didn't repent. They were actually a bit scary and I did not linger to take photographs, especially since the crowds were so tightly packed in that area. There was just nowhere to stop and get a good photograph unless I was right in their faces.
However, just a little bit farther down the street I encountered a handful of Tea Party people, and though I struggled with the idea, I decided posting pictures was the right thing to do. They certainly do not represent my way of thinking.
After that experience it was nice to find this peaceful little garden to the rear of a shop.
And then it was time to call it a day. Until next time...
With my oldest daughter turning forty this month, my family started working last spring to plan a joint trip to the Atlantic Coast. Since much of the celebration took place near St. Augustine, I have revived this thread, started in 2012, so I could add a few more photos.
But, first things first. We had a hurricane to deal with before we could go to the beach.
We were quite fortunate, with one daughter flying in from New York City, and my son's family of six traveling from Arizona, they all made it safely into town just hours before Hurricane Hermine. The hurricane/tropical storm slowed down and also aimed more to the north than had been originally predicted, so our area only suffered some high winds and lots of rain. While places alone the west coast of Florida, such as Cedar Key, experienced a lot of storm damage, we were quite lucky.
Most of our county lost power over night, but mine was restored before noon on Friday. Our main concern, due to the location of the storm, had been the threat of tornados, but again, we were spared.
So, what do you do with six children when there are too many fallen limbs and debris to play outside? You call the bowling alley. Not only did they have power, they were open.
On Saturday, after checking to see that roads were clear, I left for the beach with my oldest and youngest grandchildren, followed my my older daughter and her youngest. We would be joined by the rest of the group later that evening after they attended the university's football opener.
The clouds were still dark in places and a few straggly bands of Hermine passed us by throughout the day as Hermine made its way up the eastern coast of the US.
There were 13 of us in all. Since we wanted to be together, we pooled our resources and rented a house right on the beach. It was quite large and served us pretty well. However, I discovered many problems later, once everyone else had left. Maybe I'll add some of the details to the end of this report.
Though the county still allows cars to drive on the beach, there weren't too many to be seen in the days after the storm. I assume the numbers are limited, and drivers are charged for entry, but I'm not sure of the details.
That's an excellent set of pictures with an unusual palette of colours, particularly the last photo right above. I was surprised how much the grassy dunes look like the coast in far away Massachusetts.
Next best thing to being there! That's a remarkable group of pictures, Htmb, and I greatly appreciate that you made them BIG enough to really capture the expanse of sea, sand, and sky. I love the intimate peeps you got, from the man and his little dog to the bunny rabbit who thought it was undercover. Really lovely and enjoyable -- thank you!
The sand dunes between the house and the shoreline are a fascinating environment. Not only do they help prevent beach erosion, but they support lots of different types of creatures.
One very large Florida native happened to present itself practically under my feet one morning as I walked down the ramp through the dunes.
In Florida, when we talk about "gophers," we don't mean furry little creatures that live up north. We are actually talking about the gopher tortoise.
The gopher tortoise spends most of its time in long burrows where they are protected from the elements and from predators. Their tunnels can reach up to about 15 meters and it's estimated the tunnels provide support for a multitude of other animal species, too. I found one burrow entry about four meters from the edge of the house.
Since the beach is so expansive, it's sometimes difficult to see what creatures are actually right in front of you. I took a chair down to the shoreline to try to capture closeup photos of some of the birdlife.
I really like watching the tiny sandpipers. They stayed away from me at first, but after awhile they seemed to feel less threatened and I was able to get some closer shots.
Sandpipers can be quite aggressive with each other. This one was posturing and warning it's friend to stay out of his space.