Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Fountain of Youth, St. Augustine, FL

When the alarm went off at 5 am, I thought, who cares about a stupid sunrise over the Atlantic.  I turned the alarm off, no snooze.

I cared enough that I couldn't go back to sleep.

Sunrise was at 6:31 am.

I wanted to get some photos of the sun halfway up.

Because I didn't get up right away, I missed that.  It is about 6:40 when I arrive.

I think I got some good shots anyway.

And I am really glad I got my lazy butt up.

Until I almost had a panic attack after this shot.

There are surfers in the water (look to the left in the image above).  As I watch them, I see a fin.  At least I think I see one.  I stop walking and look harder.  I watch, alert.  Definitely a fin.  I start to get a little freaked out.  I want to yell - SHARK!  Inside I AM yelling - SHARK!  LOOK!  IT'S RIGHT THERE!  IT IS GOING TO EAT YOU!

Then I see two more fins.  And then a baby dolphin jumps.  A school of dolphins, not a shark.  Good thing I didn't yell.  I feel a little embarrassed anyway.

After I calm down, I pay a dollar to walk on the pier.

There are quite a few people fishing, even at this hour.

No catching but a lot of fishing.

If someone does catch a fish, this is where they clean it and dump the guts in the drain that  leads back to the water.

Where these surfers who haven't been eaten by the sharks in my imagination hang out.

After the pier, a short stroll on the beach before hitting the road to hunt down breakfast.

I decided last night to go back to The Fountain of Youth before flying home.  I have no idea how long it will take but I figure well, I'm not getting any younger, and I will have time for a quick drink at the very least if I get there when they open.

Once again I hit the main highway, rather than taking the "scenic route" to St. Augustine, stopping at a Denny's for a quick breakfast.  Because I am going to be early and I pass right by it, I decide to stop at the Ancient Shrine of Nuestra Senora de la Leche to see if i can get lucky and find the chapel open.

It is!

The inside is small but quaint.

Candles can be purchased at the closed visitor's center.

The Fountain of Youth is a short drive down the road.  The parking lot is largely empty.  I pay and pick up a map.  There is a lot more here than I expected.

My handy map.  I have a hard time following it but at least it shows 
what the possibilities are.

The entrance to the fountain.  Should I be suspicious of the water hose reel on the right?

There's the fountain, behind that wood barrier.  Not what I expected.

This fountain just outside is what I expected.

You don't get to dip your own water, they have it all lined up in plastic cups for you.  I take the 3rd cup of the day.  Since I haven't seen anyone, I suspect the employees are 
working on their own eternal youth.

It tastes like water.

Outside, I find this man and ask him if I look younger.  He has no opinion.

One of the things I can do is go to a Planetarium.  After Houston, I know I don't want to do that so instead I go to the theater.  There is a large globe that lights up and rotates while a live narrator talks about the voyages that led to the discovery of Florida.  On this globe, the whole of the US is labeled Florida. That is because the entire US was Florida based on their version but I must have missed that part in my high school US history class.

This is really interesting but there is one problem.  The Florida School for the Deaf and Blind - which is here in St. Augustine - is here for a field trip.  The woman at the front is signing what the narrator is saying.  I can't stop looking at her and find I go long periods of time without looking at the globe.

Next, I walk around the grounds.  I don't see any people that aren't employees. There are several peacocks on the grounds.

I see two beautiful white ones.  What isn't beautiful is their call.  It is quite intimidating.  This one starts to follow me.  I am worried I might have to break into a run.  I am feeling pretty happy about the lack of other people at this moment (the kids went to the Planetarium).

She stops her pursuit of me when she sees this showoff.

The plaque here reads (spelling and line breaks are theirs, not mine):
On March 3 AD 1513
Don Juan Ponce de Leon 
set sail from Porto 
Rico in search of
"Bimini" and the
"Fountain of Youth".

On Easter Sunday 
March 27 he sighted
this land and named 
it "Florida".

April 3 AD 1513 he 
entered the harbor
landed in this 

Behind him is the Historic Landing Observation Platform.  

Birds are the only thing landing here today.

That is one big cross over at the Ancient Shrine of Nuestra Senora de la Leche.

In the gift shop, I buy bottles of water for my parents and David.  I get David a bottle containing about 2 oz and mom & dad get a liter.  They are older so they need more.

This tour doesn't take all that long since I am the only person here and there is no waiting around.  I still have a little time before I go to the airport.  I end up using it to check out the inside of a jail.

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