Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mini-Vacation to St. Augustine, FL

Levi and I went on a mini-vacation/homeschool field trip down to St. Augustine, FL which is about a 2 hour drive from us.   It was a nice little get-away for just the two of us to spend some time together!   

The first thing we did after checking into our hotel was head to the Castillo de San Marcos, which is an old Spanish fort and a National Park.    

We got there just in time to see a cannon firing drill, which was a lot more elaborate than other cannon firings we've seen.  

Cover your ears!  

This was the corner tower - it was a beautiful day! 

Levi's new friend.   

Inside, there were some more of the tools that they use to check, load, light, clean, and wipe the cannon. 

This is what the middle of the fort looks like, looking down from the upper level.

They have a "Junior Ranger" program where kids can fill out a workbook (sneak in some more history lessons and some handwriting practice)

Inside of the fort

Another view from the top

More cannons

Levi finished the whole Junior Ranger book, and got "sworn in" as a Master Junior Ranger.  He got a certificate, badge and a patch.   It will be fun to visit other National Parks and earn more of these!   This park ranger was great, he made a big deal over Levi completing the book, swore him in, radioed up for a special delivery of the badge for him, and then insisted on taking our picture afterwards.  

We then went for a walk in the moat, which, much to Levi's surprise was usually left dry so that their animals could hang out there and graze and be somewhat protected.    

The bridge leads to the entrance. 

It was a good place to run!  

But also, a favorite spot for snakes (see the two black racers?).  Also a nice shot of the coquina walls.  The whole fort is made from Coquina, which is softer than other rocks so absorbs blows from cannon balls.    

We also got a view of the bridge

And the lighthouse, which looked pretty cool, but Levi is 2" too short to climb it!   I'm not sure why they have a height limit, I would have liked to make him climb all of those stairs! 

That night, we went out to eat, and Levi swam in the hotel pool (and was complimented the next day by a guest who had been watching his swimming skills from their window...). 

 The next day, we met up with some homeschool friends for a field trip to the Old Florida Museum

This was our tour guide.

 Levi raised his hand when she asked for a volunteer, was told to sit down, and THEN was told that he was demoing how they used the toilet!     I caught his embarrassment/amusement face.  I don't think he minded too much though, he was happy to be picked. 
 Explaining where the word "potty" comes from.

Next the kids got to dip candles.   They only got to do a couple of dunks, which was a little disappointing, it would have been neat to go through the whole process like we did at Fort Christmas, but each kid got to take a finished candle home. 

Next, outside there were a bunch of hands-on activities for the kids to try. 

9 Pin:

Ring toss: 

Making a fence:

Corn Grinding:

 The Kitchen:

Pump Drills: 

Video of how the Pump Drill works:

Smashing shells: 

 Cup and Ball game:   Our tour-guide spent a long time helping Levi figure this one out, he never did get it in, but got close!

Weaving:   I think I need to build one of these, it shouldn't be too difficult.... 

Alquerque:   This game is similar to checkers,  I could make one of these sets too! 

This was the inside of a "rich man's" house. 

After lunch, we went on a trolly ride around town.  It was a pretty bumpy ride and it moved quickly, so it was hard to get pictures.  

This was the old drugstore.  (Olden days walgreens?)

A cathedral modeled after the one in Venice, which I have been too a long time ago. 

Flagler College

Lions guarding the bridge

The "Old Senator", a really really old tree.   Its at least 600 years old and the oldest in the area.  

Magnolia Street, lined with magnolia trees 

After the trolly ride, we were planning on going with some others to another fort, but got lost (thanks to my lack of direction), and so I let Levi choose what we did next.  He wanted to go on a tour of the Old Jail.  

 There was a random gator out front. 

 A "hanging tree".  One of the reasons they chose this as the location.    The jail was at another spot, but it was close to a fancy hotel.  The owner of the hotel (Flagler) paid $10k for the city to build this jail, away from where his hotel was.  That is also why its pink and "pretty" looking.  

The gallows, and our tour guide who was in "convict mode" throughout the tour.  He talked to us as if we were going to become fellow prisoners, which freaked Levi out at first (he was very convincing!), I had to explain a couple times that it was just for show! 

4 metal beds and a can for a toilet, no glass (back then) and 6-7 men living here.  These guys never got to step outside their room.       This jail was what Alcatraz was modeled after.  

The only picture of a hanging.  The guy in the hat was the sherrif, and he didn't like his picture taken.   He was 6'6" and 400lbs.
The guy being hanged asked if he could have his picture taken, as he never had one done before.  He wanted the picture for his kids.  He was convicted for killing his wife, the mother of his kids!   Because the Sheriff also had a boy and a girl, he decided just this once to allow just one photo to be taken. 

Two more photos were found recently, taken without the Sheriff knowing. 

This is the kitchen.  The men got grits for breakfast (the red wheel ground them), and a scoop of beans for lunch and for dinner.  The chain gang got hard tack for lunch.  They all got coffee, so they would stay awake to work!   Also, if the chain gang caught any meat, they could bring it to the kitchen to get it cooked up for all to share.   The female prisoners  made the food, and put it in the dumb waiter (the black thing in the corner) to go upstairs. 

There is the sheriff! 

A prisoner in the upstairs cells - they got less room because they spent 14 hours a day on the chain gang.  

I had Levi go inside for a picture, he was not happy! 

The sheriff's house was just across the hall - he got free food, free rent, pay for him and his wife and 5 step commute to work.   It was much nicer than the jail! 

Old sewing machine

And lastly we went to the mini-museum there, they had a general store, and some real silver, and some native American stuff.  It was little, but had a lot of interesting things to check out.  

And on our way home, we stopped at the fort where the boat rides were, Fort Mantanzes.  Next time we will have to take the ride and check it out!  

So we did a lot in just 2 days!  Next time we go, we'd like to see the pirate stuff.   There is a ship you can ride on, and a pirate museum too. 

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