A religious experience…

It seems that at every turn today we were running into some religious experience, so if you are among the unwashed heathen then you may choose to skip this entry even though you perhaps need it more than anyone else.

As we left the boat this morning we were on a mission(pun intended) or more correctly Jan was on a mission and I was tagging along. First we rode to a convenient bike rack on the campus of Flagler College and set out on foot for the nearby Catholic Church. Now we are not Catholic, but this church is historical and worth a look. In fact the Pope, who might change in the meantime, will be visiting St. Augustine in 5 years to celebrate 500 years of the Catholic Church being established in the new world and will say a mass in this small cathedral.

This statue is to commemorate the fact that one of the priests heard about a colony of Minorcans who had been abandoned about 200 miles south of here and went and led the starving people back to St. Augustine. Their decendants are still here today.

Next we scrambled back to the former Ponce de Leon Hotel that is now the centerpiece of Flagler College. There is so much history surrounding this hotel that I cannot even scratch the surface. How about Thomas Edison personally supervised the wiring of this first hotel ever to have electric lights. It had its own generator plant as Edison started out using DC current. And Louis Comfort Tiffany supervised the decorating. The dining room, still in use today, seats 600 and has Tiffany stained glass windows all around. The windows alone are valued at $135,000,000.00! Quite an endowment for a small private college with only 6000 students.

Anyway, they give a tour of the hotel at 1000 and we took it. You cannot imagine. You just have to see it. Absolutely no expense was spared.

Two interesting factoids. Flagler’s third wife was 37 years his junior. He had a portrait painted of her and paid the artist to paint it as she might look in 37 more years. Wonder how she took that? Since he was the third richest man in America I bet she took it just fine. Here is the portrait.

Second factoid. Look at the face of this clock. It is made of a solid piece of white onyx, the largest piece in the western hemisphere. Look closely at it and tell me what is different from nearly all others. I will answer this in tomorrows blog. The first person to send in the answer wins an opportunity to wrestle the next alligator.

After the hotel we rushed across the street to the Lichtner Museum. Mr Lichtner was a collector of other people’s collections. He would buy them up in toto and display them as his own. We never saw so many different things in one building.

Outside we saw a young fellow with his skateboard. He looked like he could have posed for some of the statues we had just seen of Greeks in the museum. He was attempting to fly off the sidewalk, skin his skateboard down an iron stair rail and land in one piece on the sidewalk below and then continue off the street level sidewalk and into the street without being struck by oncoming traffic. I encouraged him to be careful to which he replied, “Why would you even say that to someone who rides a skateboard.” He has a point. As Jan’s Mama T used to say, “Folks use all the sense they got.” Take a look.

Perhaps I should have called an ambulance before I left. But Jan was in a hurry so we headed over to The Colunbia for lunch and what a lunch it was. Here is a shot of the bar and one of the kitchen door. You will see that I was right when I said cocina meant kitchen in Spanish. 

This young lady was making a pitcher of mojitos at the table for just two ladies to drink with their lunch. She opened and poured the entire contents of a half pint bottle of rum into that pitcher. I figure these ladies will need a nap this afternoon. Just pray they are not driving.

After lunch we took off for our next stop in Florence, Italy.

On the way we met Miss Carrie who is the ex officio mayor of St. Augustine and will be the Grand Marshall of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade this year. A sweet lady. Then we stopped for some art and a look at the zero milestone on the Spanish Trail.

Also we passed the old cemetery where over 700 victims of the yellow fever epidemic are buried in mass graves.

Finally we made it to Florence, Italy where the magnificent marble carving of David by Michelangelo stands.

Okay so we are not really in Florence but this is a lifesize replica of the famous original that is located in Florence. And this one was made there too in actual size. The city made them put a hedge around it for modesty. David is carrying his sling and a rock preparing to meet Goliath. This is found at the Original Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum. There is also a four room house built inside a single redwood log.

Lastly we went to jail. Yes Jan was causing trouble in a store and got arrested and when I tried to help they threatened to throw me in jail too. Here is the result.

We only got out because Jan made friends with the Sheriff who is 6’6″ and weighs 300 lbs. Be watching the SPOT tomorrow as we make a long run to Jacksonville and up to the Ortega River.