St Augustine Florida (Port #71) ; Apr 12-15

Hey Gang,
This is a long update, but I think one you may like.
Don’t start if you are in a hurry, read it later.
BTW – St Augustine is an AWESOME city !
We are in a marina right in the middle of St Augustine Old Town.

In this installment of The Murphree’s Great Loop Adventure, you will see and learn about ;
> Old Town St Augustine
> The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
> The link between the The Castillo & Football
> Flagler College
> The Oldest Street in the USA
> New Friends ; Bob & Marjorie Stoker & Bryan & Kim Hinman
> The St Augustine Love Tree
> Old St Johns County Jail
> The Fountain of Youth

Apr 12 – Thu
We just arrived in St Augustine Florida this afternoon.
We had very little time to scope out the city, but what we saw so far is awesome.
The city seems like a cross between – New Orleans, Key West, Mackinac Island, & Greenfield Village.
It appears very touristy, but also very 1700’s European settlement like.
There appears to be hundreds of restaurants & pubs, and music in almost every venue.
Secluded patio areas, riverfront balcony places, horse-drawn carriages, spooky graveyards, torch lit coves, and more.
I can’t wait to see what the next few days bring.

Before walking the town at night, we had a late dinner on the front porch of a small British place that looked like an early settlement home (called The Prince of Whales). There were 2 adorable golden retrievers on the porch (Max & Emily, not related) , a guy playing music on the street corner across from our table, a real English waitress, and The Best Fish & Chips in Town (see the sign below to prove it).

It was a wonderful 1st afternoon & night.
We can’t wait for the weekend.

PS – Happy B’day Randy (#56) !

PS #2 – Are you thinking about Looping, here is todays fuel bill. This will take us only for the next 300 miles. But I did get the -$26.00 discount (1 cheap meal or 4 beers).
Makes filling up the Jeep Grand Cherokee seem like not such a big deal.
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Apr 13 – Fri
Day 2 in St Augustine was quite the fun/exciting day.
We started the day with the not-so-fun washing the boat routine, but by 11am we were on our way for a stroll down the riverfront boardwalk. We walked to the place where there were Horse Drawn Carriages that would take you on a guided tour of the city.
Upon arrival, we met driver “Emily” and horse “Brock”.
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During the 1 hour ride we saw several sites; The Castillo de San Marcos Fort, 3 different churches, Flagler College, Museums, Hotels, Bed/Breakfasts, Restaurants, The Oldest Street in the USA, and the Tallest Building in St Augustine.
The Castillo de San Marcos is a fort built by the Spanish in 1672 which became a National Monument in 1924 (more on this later).

Castillo de San Marcos (more on this later)


Grace United Methodist Church
Ancient City Baptist Church
Flagler Memorial Presbyterian – front
Flagler Memorial Presbyterian – side


This is a St Augustine Sky-Scraper, the Tallest Building. After it was built the city went nuts and demanded no more tall buildings to block the beautiful view of the water. In Old Town St Augustine, there are also NO major chain stores or restaurants (No Walmart, No McDonalds, etc).

Flagler College is a private four-year liberal arts college in St. Augustine, Florida. It was founded in 1968 and offers 29 majors and 34 minors. Named after Henry Flagler of Standard Oil fame, who also is primarily responsible for the development of the Atlantic coast of Florida. I can’t describe how beautiful the Flagler College Campus is, the photos don’t really show it.



The Lightner Museum is a museum of antiquities, housed within the historic Hotel Alcazar building.

After all that carriage pulling, Brock was very hungry, and stopped at what appeared to be one of his refreshment stands, the local Lost Art Gallery, where he appeared to know the owner.

After the Lost Art Gallery, we continued down what is supposed to be The Oldest Street in the USA – Aviles Street.
Google says = Aviles Street is a narrow, brick road in downtown St. Augustine that is chock-full of history. Now, an archaeological dig appears to prove what many people in St. Augustine already claimed – that Aviles is the oldest street in the United States (May 4, 2010).

Driver “Emily” identified several Bed/Breakfast places during the tour, and told us that there were 36 bed/breakfast joints in Old Town SA., ranging from small hidden places to large waterfront places.

We went by many restaurants , of which O.C. White is supposed to be one of the “best” in SA according to Emily the tour guide, along with Columbia and A1A. We will most likely try one or more of them before we leave.

O. C. White Restaurant
A1A Restaurant, nice 2nd floor balcony views of the ICW

It was a fun morning spent with Emily & Brock.
After the tour I asked “what places should we not miss before we have to depart SA in 2 days”. Emily mentioned – The Castillo de San Marcos Fort, The Old JailhousePonce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth, and the The Flagler College Tour– where there is supposed to be 79 Louis Comfort Tiffany Stained Glass windows which stream light onto the beautiful hand-painted murals on the walls and ceiling.
So much to do, such little time.

After the Carriage Ride, we did go to one of the recommendations from Emily. We went to the nearby Castillo de San Marcos. The Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States built-in 1672, 107 years after the city’s founding by Spanish.
My attempted quick version of the Castillo de San Marcos History, from the billboards at the fort;
> Ponce de Leon landed near St Augustine in 1513 and claimed “La Florida” for Spain.
> The Spanish established their hold on La Florida in the 1600’s.
> Europeans battled for control of “The Americas” in the 1600’s.
> France, England, and Holland attacked locations held by the Spanish in Florida.
> The Spanish built The Castillo de San Marcos in 1672 to secure their deliveries from Europe to La Florida.
> The Spanish used the fort to defend their territory several times in the early 1700’s.
> Spain ceded control of La Florida to England in the 1760’s after the 7 Year War.
> Spain regained La Florida after helping the United States defeat Great Britain in the Revolutionary War (1775-1783).
> In the late 1700’s to early 1800’s Spain’s control over La Florida became weakened due to battles in Europe (Napoleon) and South America. La Florida became a near law-less land of border raids and rebellion.
>  The United States acquired Florida from Spain for 5 million dollars thru the Adams – Onís Treaty of 1819. The treaty defined a new boundary between the New U.S. & the  New Spain (now Mexico).
> In 1900 the US army left the Fort de Castillo, the fort became vacant.
> In 1924 President Coolidge made The Castillo a National Monument.
> In 1933 the National Parks Service took over, and operates The Castillo de San Marcos today.

Before you fall asleep with the history lesson, perk up – we have Football !
The fort had all the usual fort type stuff, but there was one room in the fort that we walked into a late discussion linking the fort to football. My attempted Short Story ;
> In 1875 Captain Richard Henry Pratt assumed command of Fort Marion (formerly The Castillo de San Marco).
> Captain Pratt believed, contrary to his commanders, that Indians should be redeemed and educated, not exterminated. He treated them as fellow human beings and spent the next three years doing everything within his power to educate, teach and “convert to Christ,” the Indians under his charge.
> 1875-1879 George Pendleton , a US Senator met Captain Pratt and became involved.
> In 1879 they were granted permission by the U.S. government to create an Indian school called The Carlisle Indian School, in Carlisle Pennsylvania.
> Twenty-nine Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians are brought to the newly opened Carlisle Indian School. In the fall of 1879, the Carlisle Indian School formed its first football team.
> Today, the Carlisle Indian School is known world-wide for Jim Thorpe and the 1911 football team called the Carlisle Indians, who compiled a record of 11–1 in 1911 and outscored their opponents 298 to 49.
> The coach of that team was “Pop” Warner (Glenn Scobey Warner), who started coaching at The Carlisle Indian School when he was 28 years old.
> The Carlisle Indians’ Football Team was active from 1893 until 1917. It became a very successful Div-1 program, with a winning percentage of .647 which still stands as the best of any college football team in history. In her 2007 book about the Carlisle Indians, author Sally Jenkins characterized them as The Team that Invented Football, due to Pop Warner’s innovations such as; the Forward Pass the term Touchdown, and the End- Zone which was initially an End-Line.
> In 1912 there was an important game between Carlisle vs. Army that pitted one of America’s finest athletes, Jim Thorpe, against the man who would become one of the nation’s greatest heroes, Dwight D. Eisenhower.
During the game, Dwight Eisenhower, aware of Thorpe’s talent, attempted to knock him out of the game several times. One one attempt, Thorpe was in fact knocked out of the game, but returned on the next play. On a subsequent attempt to injure Thorpe, Eisenhower hurt his knee and was never the same player afterwards.
Carlisle won 27-6.
> Evidently, there are several well-known books on this subject, most notably “Carlisle vs Army” by Lars Anderson.
> So we can thank the Carlisle Indians, Jim Thorpe & Pop Warner for  – the creation of modern football as we know it & for making sure that Dwight D. Eisenhower did not get drafted by the NFL so he could go on to become one of the country’s greatest presidents.
At the end of the Castillo de San Marcos Tour, we watched a re-creation of a cannon-firing. The Spanish troops were taught a very elaborate procedure, in order to not make mistakes during the heat of battle. Me & Nellie both had the same comment – “the procedure takes so long for 1 fire (10-15min) , how did they actually defend off invaders. The demonstration was over 10 minutes, we have only shown the actual firing of the cannon.
Cannon Video =

Friday night we had a special treat !
One of our blog readers is Chris Elliot (formally Chris Stoker, I still call her “Stoker”).
Chris is my sister Brenda’s life-long friend from high school at Dondero in Royal Oak.
Chris made a comment on the blog a few days ago that her uncle lives in St Augustine.
I called Brenda to get Chris’ phone number.
I called Chris to get her uncle Bob’s phone number.
I then called Bob Stoker to see if he would like to play tour guide.
The rest is history.
Nellie & I now have great new friends in Bob & Marjorie Stoker.
Bob & Margie arrived at the ss Gettin’ Looped about 4pm.
We proceeded to be Gettin’ Looped between 4-9pm.
We had dinner at an excellent place across the Lion’s bridge called The BlackFly.
The BlackFly restaurant is under the internationally known BlackFly Brand of Vaughn Cochran, a Florida artist who lives and paints in St. Augustine. The kitchen at BlackFly is a “Scratch Kitchen”; everything is fresh, as local as possible, seasonal and made to order.
Bob & Margie seemed to know everyone in the joint, including the owner & our very social waitress Allison (on display in the photo below).
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Nellie had the Black Fry Shrimp, I had the Sweet Tea Pork Chop – which may have been the thickest/most tender pork chop I have ever had.
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It was an awesome fun night making great new friends.
Thx a bunch Stoker (I mean Chris) !

Mar 14 – Sat

Guess what , more surprising treats !
While on the phone Friday with my pal of 43 years, Dave Hinman, I was told by Dave that his nephew Bryan also lives in St Augustine and has been here for about 25 years.
Shortly after hanging up with Dave, I received a call from Bryan Hinman asking if we were interested in a St Augustine tour guide on Saturday.
The rest is history !
More new friends – Bryan & Kim Hinman.
Bryan & Kim arrived at the ss Gettin’ Looped about 12 noon.
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After the mandatory welcome aboard photos & guest log book signing, we sat on the aft deck and talked about Dave for about an hour, talked about The Loop, talked about our families, and became pretty good friends in a very short time.

Bryan & Emily took us on a tour of the Flagler College Campus where Kim got her degree in teaching. Unfortunately, the campus Dining Hall (not to be called a cafeteria) with the 79 Tiffany Stained Glass windows, was not open to the public on this day. We did however get a small glimpse of the Tiffany windows from the outside (less impressive due to protective coverings on the outside). The campus is beautiful, the photos don’t do it justice. The first photo below shows the hall where Henry Flagler’s remains were put on display for 3 days after his death (the Ponce de Leon Hotel at that time). Upon his death, Flagler requested that all the windows and doors be opened for 3 days to allow his spirit to leave for the afterlife. Before day 3, a large storm arrived, the janitor closed the doors and windows, and Flagler’s spirit was trapped. Kim Hinman, who lived in the women’s dorm in this building, concurs to the stories of “spirits & strange happenings” in the building.

We also walked to St George street, the oldest school house, & the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine Catholic Church (the seat of the Catholic Bishop of St. Augustine).

Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine Catholic Church


Before returning back to the boat, we made a brief trip to The St Augustine Love Tree.
St. Augustine’s Love Tree is really two trees—there’s a sable palm growing out of the heart of an oak tree. If you separate them, both will die. According to the legend, if you kiss your love under the tree, you will have everlasting romance.
Nellie & I are going on year #36 in September, but a little insurance policy can’t hurt !

While touring, we stopped and had lunch at The Mojo Old City BBQ.
Nellie & I split a Mojo Club (pulled pork, smoked turkey, bacon), Kansa City Burnt Ends (outer edges of beef brisket), and the house specialty Mac-n-Cheese.
Mojo BBQ

After lunch we returned for our premature farewell, as Bryan & Kim had a local fund raiser later Saturday night and had to leave earlier than any of us wanted.
It was a great beginning to a new friendship.
Thx for the hookup Dave !

In spite of living in St Augustine for 25 years, Bryan & family are still avid Tiger and Detroit Sports Team fans, note the Ole English “D”

After Bryan & Kim left, we were out on the aft deck of Gettin’ Looped, and Looper Bill from the vessel First Forty yelled over “hey Mike , NASA is launching another rocker in the next 10 minutes”.
Sure enough, about 5 minutes after he said it, up went the rocket.
Blog followers may recall that we saw a launch while in Cocoa Beach right from the beach , 3 miles away from Cape Canaveral. The launch was a little disappointing , but we understand the rockets used then were small for a small payload.
Now we were about 125 miles away from Cape Canaveral, and the launch seemed almost as big.
It was a nice late afternoon treat.

Saturday night, Jonell & I were still full from lunch.
We skipped dinner, but went out for milkshakes about 8pm.
We went to a place called Cousteau’s Waffle & Milkshake Bar.
It was a no-frills, Waffle & Ice Cream or Milkshake place alone.
Nellie had The Calypso – a key lime pie type shake
I had the The Ping Island – a peanut butter buster type shake.

Apr 15 – Sunday (Tax Day Tomorrow, are you ready) !
Today Sunday, was tourist day for us (as if every day is not already).
We went to the very touristy “Old Jail” and the “Ponce de Leon Fountain of Youth”

The Old Jail or Old St John’s County Jail 
This was a real functional jail from 1891 to 1953.
The Old Jail was built by the P.J. Pauley Jail Building Company in 1891 (same company that built Alcatraz). Its was financed by Henry Flagler, who struck a deal with the county for $10,000 because the former jail building stood on land that Flagler needed for the construction of his Ponce de León Hotel. The Old Jail served as the St Johns County Jail until 1953. After a new more modern jail was built, the vacant Old Jail was sold to entrepreneur Henry “Slim” McDaniel who began operating the remarkably well-preserved building as a roadside tourist attraction. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
Originally built to house up to 72 prisoners, and at one time holding over 120 prisoners, the Jail consisted of; a general population area, a maximum security area, a women’s section and a lower level kitchen. The maximum security housed the most dangerous prisoners held at the Jail & included a Death Row Cell. A total of 8 men were hung from the Gallows on the Jail compound during its history. Overall conditions at the Jail were quite poor by modern standards and prisoners were typically used as free farm laborers during the day. Baths were infrequent, toilet facilities consisted of one bucket per cell and diet was poor and was typically supplemented by any animals that the prisoners might catch while working on the fields. The two-story southern wing of the Jail consisted of an Office for the Sheriff and living quarters for his family. The jail was meant to look like a house not a prison (requested by Flagler), and it also served as a house for the sheriff & his family.

Next stop on the Sunday tourist day was The Ponce de Leon Fountain of Youth.
The Fountain of Youth tales have been recounted across the world for thousands of years, with writings going back to 5th century BC.
The legend became particularly prominent in the 16th century, when it was attached to the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León, who was said to be searching for the Fountain of Youth when he traveled to what is now Florida in 1513.
But just how magical is the Fountain of Youth?
The very widespread story goes something like this …
In 1513, Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon became the first European to land in Florida and was in search of the Fountain of Youth. Some records from the turn of the 17th century state Ponce de Leon was impotent and wanted to find a cure. Others indicate that standing at 4-feet, 11-inches, he sought more height, power and strength like the native American Indians.
Through the centuries, the St Augustine site of the Fountain of Youth remained active. A well around the springs was built in 1875, and in the early 1900s the site became a roadside attraction when landowner Dr. Luella MacConnell began selling “magical” water for 10 cents a glass. When she died in 1927, Walter Fraser took over the property, and his family still runs it today.
So, is the water really magical? Well, Luella MacConnell died at the age of 56 & Ponce de Leon died at 61. And it turns out that based on his armor swords and personal furniture, Ponce de Leon was around 5-feet, 8-inches tall, which was around the same height as the average male Indian. Ponce de Leon also had children, so he was neither short nor impotent. He is properly credited, however, with naming Florida, which translates to “Flowering Easter” in Spanish since he landed around the Easter holiday in 1513.

This is pumped in spring water from the Fountain of Youth

This is the “Actual Fountain of Youth” in the same room as the pumped in spring water.
Fountain of Youth Video =

BTW – the Fountain of Youth Park had a lot of other stuff like a celestial navigation room showing how early explorers used the stars to navigate.
But the most interesting thing was a large flock of Peacocks, very active & very proud to be displaying how beautiful they can be.

After Tourist Day, we got back to the boat about 2pm and began to batten down the hatches for a storm that is predicted to cross St Augustine between 4-6pm this afternoon. The storm is projected to bring winds of 50mph.
So if you don’t get any more blog updates, come salvage the remnants of Gettin’ Looped.

We have reservations tonight at the highly recommended Columbia Restaurant. It is about a 10 minute walk from the boat. The weather will determine if we keep the reservations, or have jambon & fromage sandwiches tonight.

Next Stops =
> Amelia Island, Fl = Tuesday
> Jeckyl Harbor, Ga = Wednesday
> Sunberry Crab Company, Ga = Thursday
> Savannah, Ga = Friday for 1 week
> Hilton Head, SC = watch the HBC Heritage Golf Tournament this weekend, we will be staying just behind the 18th green in 2 weeks



6 thoughts on “St Augustine Florida (Port #71) ; Apr 12-15

  1. Awesome job Mike. For the first time in my life I am interested in going to visit St. Augustine. Hope you weathered the storm okay. We had an ice storm in SE Michigan today.


  2. Mike -Jonell
    So glad we were able to meet up with you and hear about the Loop. We look forward to following your journey and Im certain we will cross paths again.

    Bryan & Kim Hinman


  3. Mike, It’s Brian Beechie from FCA, the trip looks fantastic and your blog is out of this world! Keep it up my man, we are following your adventure and hope to do it ourselves in a few years. You guys rock!


    1. OMG
      What a nice surprise to see your comment Brian.
      I did not even know you were following the blog, thx a bunch.
      The trip has been the most exciting thing we have ever done.
      I’m excited that you are thinking of doing The Loop also.
      We will be back in September, if you want to do a dinner and talk Looping with me & Jonell, we would love to do that.
      Say hi to all them FCA boys.
      You still in Powertrain ?


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