Saturday, October 10, 2009

End of Summer in St. Augustine

It's been crazy busy the past few weeks! I'm hoping very much to settle down and stay that way a while.

Toward the end of September, Cullen and I, along with my Mom and her little doggy, too, went to Jacksonville, FL, for my cousin's wedding. This was Cullen's first wedding, and he was very taken with the whole idea. His cousin Kathryn, who was beautiful as a flower girl, taught him a little of how to dance with a girl at the reception. Her mom, (another of my cousins) Jamie, and her husband, Ken, did the photography. If you love weddings or photography, check out their blog here: There are some gorgeous photos, including a session of bride and groom in full wedding attire in the ocean at sunrise the next morning! Scroll down enough and you can see Cullen and Kathryn dancing like crazy!

After the wedding, we stayed a few extra days visiting with my aunt and uncle and enjoying South Ponte Vedre Beach. Here is Cullen with his grandmother, Ma (my Mom!) I just realized that they both have their eyes closed in this pic!

This area of beach was unlike anything I've ever seen! There was very little sand, but there were millions of shells. Most were crushed, but quite a number whole and intact. Cullen collected pocketfuls and bucketfuls, and he had a blast doing it.

We took two days to explore nearby St. Augustine, which wasn't really enough time to see everything. I let Cullen choose the places he wanted most to see. Of course, first on the list was the Castillo de San Marcos, the old fort. There were re-enacters working on cleaning muskets that were very patient in answering Cullen's questions and in posing for photos.

The structure is constructed of coquina, which is a natural limestone composite of crushed shells, sand and calcite. Cullen got a kick out of finding coquina in buildings and walls throughout St. Augustine.

Our visit was on a Monday and the fort was not at all crowded. Cullen had plenty of room to pretend, and I just sat back and let him have fun.

Looking at this photo, I can't believe I let him sit on the wall like that! It was quite a drop to the ground!

A little train tour was fun and informative, if a terribly bumpy ride. Maybe that made it more fun for the little guy, though. He wanted to see the Old Jail from the 1800's, so we took the tour and learned quite a bit - most of it more gory and morbid than I really would've chosen for him if I'd thought about it more ahead of time. Nothing seemed to upset him, so I guess it's all right. He is all boy, after all!

Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Archaeology Park was another highlight for us. We both drank a little of the sulfer-smelling water. I'm hoping to look younger any day now!

The talks and presentations here were outstanding - very informative, yet engaging even to a 7 year-old boy! The planetarium showed us how the Spanish explorers navigated by the night skies. Cullen was fascinated. (He took plenty of pictures, but I really need to give him a lesson how to let the camera's auto-focus do its job.) He wanted specifically to get a photo of this little wall made of "tabby" - a mixture of lime, water, oyster shells and ash. Think of it as man-made coquina. Who knew a he would be so enamored with building materials?

Within the park's 15 acres, there are quite a few ducks, peacocks, squirrels and other assorted creatures. Cullen learned the hard way to never let a peacock take food right out of your hand. Their beaks are sharp! He tossed cracker crumbs out on the ground after that, but this way the squirrels had chance to get in on the munchies.

We spent time just enjoying the beauty of the place and talking about what life must have been like for the Spanish settlers and the Native Americans that had once lived there.

This was a perfect close to summer.


{ jamie } said...

Beautiful! It was perfect weather for all that exploring, and it sounds like it was right up Cullen's alley! :)
But I do want to know: Why didn't you bring some of that fountain of youth water home for the rest of us???

(Thanks for the plug, too, by the way!)

Taylor said...

I wish I could have gone :)

Dad told me we visited the fort when I was younger. I don't remember it at all!

Jowanna said...

Love the pictures of Cullen in St. Augustine! We went there a few years ago and had a great time.