February 28, 2007
We're in New Jersey. It is cold. And cloudy. And grey. Where's the sun? Oh, yeah, it's in Key West.
We left Baltimore this morning, actually it was noon. We stayed in a nice hotel last night because it is so freaking cold out. Slept in and relaxed this morning, waiting for it to warm up so the bus would run nicely. Yes, well, it isn't warm enough. We've been on the road for two hours and we've spent more time pulled over than actually driving. The carburetor gets too cold when we're on the highway and it's icing up. Soo... we're making it back, but retardedly slow. Might be home tonight, but it looks more likely to be tomorrow.
South of the Border
Getting some Fireworks!!
This gate, opened in 1739, provided the only access through the defense line on the north side of St. Augustine.
To the Fort!
This structure is a hot shot furnace for heating cannon balls to be shot at wooden vessels and to set them on fire. It is part of the water battery built by the US (1842-44) when this side of the moat was filled and guns were mounted on stone arcs behind the sea wall.
Ponce De Leon Hotel.
This magnificent structure was erected between 1885 and 1887 by Henry M. Flagler, the hotel and railroad magnate whose activities contributed greatly to the development of Florida’s eastern coastal area. Designed by the New York architectural firm of Carrere and Hastings, the building reflects the Spanish Renaissance style through out. The hotel was the first major edifice in the United States to be constructed of poured concrete, a mixture of cement, sans and coquina shell. The interior is decorated with imported marble, carved oak, and murals painted by Tojetti and George W. Maynard. Its stained glass windows were created by Loius Tiffany of New York. The Ponce de Leon Hotel was the flagship of the Flagler hotel system, which soon extended all along the east coast of Florida. Located in the “Winter Newport,??? this resort hotel entertained celebrities from around the world, including several US Presidents. During World Was II, the hotel served as a Coast Guard Training Center. In 1968, this historic landmark was converted into Flagler College, an accredited liberal arts institution.
Oldest Schoolhouse in America
The dunce cap was not placed on the head of a bad child, but instead on the head of a slow learner.
The Dungeon under the stairs for naughty kids
The kitchen: The kitchen was not used as a cafeteria. The teachers who taught did their own cooking in this building and students brought their own lunches. South kitchens were often built as separate buildings to spare the main house any excess heat. Also should the kitchen catch on fire the main house may be safe.
Chimney of the kitchen; the chains were used to ground buildings and prevent them from falling over during high winds.
February 26, 2007
Beep beep, here comes the bus!
We spent Sunday in St. Augustine, which is a BEAUTIFUL town!! That blog post will be up soon, but it will take me some time to go through all the pictures I took. We are now in Savannah, Georgia, soaking in what will probably be the last sun and warmth we'll have for awhile. See you soon!
Washington Oaks Gardens
This area was part of a Spanish land grant to Bautista Don Juan Ferreira in 1815. It was then developed as a plantation by General Joseph Hernandez, an early Florida planter. George Washington, a distant relative to our first president, married Hernandez’ daughter, Louisa in 1844. They were given this land by Hernandez and remained here until 1856, developing the plantation and starting an orange grove. Louisa died in 1859, and George left, but returned in 1886, to live here the rest of his life. It was then purchased in 1936 by Mr. and Mrs. Owen D. Young, and the gardens, groves and plantings were expanded.
Mr. Young, Time Magazine’s Man of the Year in 1929, bought the property for Louisa as a wedding gift. The day after their wedding on February 20, 1937, the Youngs held an outdoor party at the renamed “Washington Oaks.??? Louise Young soon began work on the house and gardens she built here. Washington Oaks would become her masterpiece.
Heath in the Rose Garden
This majestic, moss draped live oak tree is presumed to be the largest at Washington Oaks. Live oak trees can reach heights of 40 to 50 feet with a trunk diameter of 3 to 4 feet. Their low, massive branches provided naturally formed, angled wood that was valuable in building wooden ships in the 1800’s. It was for that reason that one of America’s first forest reserves was established in the panhandle of Florida. Live oeaks are common on sandy soils and are among the more long-lived oaks, often achieving ages greater than 200 years.
House Front View
View from the House
Matanzas River, in front of the house
Owen Young died in July, 1962. Soon after his death, Louise Young began to discuss the donation of Washington Oaks to the State of Florida for use as a state park. Mrs. Young’s wish was for the gardens to be “maintained in the present form??? as a memorial to her beloved husband.
February 24, 2007
Blue Spring is a first magnitude spring, meaning it discharges approximately 101 million gallons of water a day. Its water source is the Floridian Aquifer, which is replenished every year by rainfall in the area. While rain helps to “refill??? the Aquifer and the Spring, it also carries with it minerals from the ground.
These minerals promote the growth of algae deep in the Spring, which is why the water is a cloudy bluish-green.
The spring water is always 72 degrees, which provides a stable environment for manatees during the colder months. November through March, the manatees leave the colder waters of the St. Johns Rover for the safety and comfort of the 72-degree spring.
Mom and Baby tail view
Mom and Baby side view
Pair of Adult Manatees
For hundreds of years the Timucuan Indians made the spring area their home.
BIG Fish!! There were SO many fish in the spring run, and some of them were enormous!!
The spring run, river and surrounding swamps and upland provided food, clothing, shelter and materials for tools and weapons. Snails gathered from the sandbars were a staple food for these people. Over the centuries, the discarded shells formed a massive mound.
Jefferies Wyman, an archaeologist from Harvard, studied the mounds in the 1800’s. His work showed that the mounds were built three to four thousand years ago. Additional to the largest mound running along the south bank, on which the Thursby house was built, was a second mound running opposite to the first on the north bank of the spring, suggesting that the two mounds may have been one but were later separated by the spring outflow.
The materials unearthed included clay effigies, shell tools, pottery, projectile points, and bone fragments, both animal and human. Wyman wrote that the human bones were punctured in similar ways to the bones of deer, opossum, turtle and alligator that he found. He attributed such “perforations??? to the practice of cannibalism by the native residents of this area.
St. Johns River
Three years after England acquired Florida from Spain, John Bartram, a prominent British botanist, explored the St. Johns in search for its source and any valuable resources.
On January 4th, 1766, he rowed his boat past sunning alligators
and discovered the “surprising fountain???, the clear water of Blue Spring.
By the mid 1800’s most of the Indians had been killed or driven south and pioneer settlers took their place.
After fighting in the Mexican War with the US Army, and exploring California, Lewis Peace Thursby left his hometown of Brooklyn, New York to live in Florida. He, his wife, Mary Ann, and their infant daughter, Mary Alice, arrived in Blue Spring in October 856, on a steamboat by way of Jacksonville. They were the first white permanent settlers in Blue Spring.
The Seminole Wares had removed most of the Indians from Florida, and the upper St Johns area was experiencing a surge in growth. The US was offering land grants and by the mid-1850’s the town of Enterprise, about ten miles south of Blue Spring, had emerged as an important port on the St. Johns River.
The Thursbys purchased 133 acres and a three-room log cabin for four hundred dollars from Samuel Parsons, a nurseryman from New York. Parsons had visited Blue Spring seasonally to collect exotic plants. The acreage was covered with hundred-year-old live oaks, towering pines, cabbage palms, cypress, sweet gum, and wild olive trees. Southwest of the house was a large grove of wild orange trees.
The House the Thursbys built
For several years, the family lived in Parson’s original log cabin and in a more rustic cabin they built during the construction of their new house. Mary Ann Thursby had nine more children, raising them with no conveniences. Medical care was not readily available and the pioneer life could be brutal.
Three of the Thursby children died in infancy and their first son, Lewis Jr., died after being bitten by a rattlesnake while playing under the house.
Mary Ann Thursby was given the honorary title of “Madame Thursby??? for all of her hard work. To feed the family, oranges, corn, beans, Irish potatoes and sweet potatoes were grown in the garden and hogs and cattle were raised.
Rainwater was collected in a cistern for washing, cooking, and bathing. Spring water was used for drinking, but not water from the main boil. It was too sulpherous. The Thursbys would row a small skiff up the run to a small side spring and return with glass jigs filled with fresh drinking water.
The Thursbys burned logs for heating and cooking. Potbelly stoves heated the house and an iron cook stove heated the kitchen.
Natural air-conditioning kept the house cool. The Thursbys designed the house with tall windows and shutters to moderate temperature extremes in the summer. The porches were an important feature, used for relaxing and working on domestic projects as well as shading the rooms from the direct sun.
February 23, 2007
Along this coast, in the early morning darkness of the last day of July 1715, a hurricane destroyed a fleet of eleven of possible twelve ‘homeward bound merchant ships carrying cargoes of gold and silver coinage’ and other valuable items from the American colonies on its way from Cuba to Spain.
This flotilla was carrying several years worth of stockpiled treasure that had not been shipped due to Spain’s participation in Queen Ann’s war.
Winds and waves stripped the eleven ships of their rigging and dismasted them. Ships began to founder and sink in the darkness. Some broke apart and probably sank in deep water. The decks of some ships separated from their hulls. Survivors clung for life to these outsize surfboards. Only the Urca de Lima survived the storm. She served as a supply base for the survivors until help arrived. She was never refloated but was burned to the waterline to hide her from pirates.
This piece of wood is from one of the ships of the 1715 fleet. There are four holes, one in each corner in which wooden pegs were inserted called tree nail fastening. One peg still remains in the upper right hand corner. Notice the “Teredo Clams??? holes throughout the wood. Teredo Clams are a major problem for all wooden ships because once the teredo clam enters the wood it will live its whole life drilling holes.
Canon- found a mile off shore still loaded with a cannonball and barshot
About 1500 men, women, and children who survived the disaster and reached the shore made their camp along the barrier island near the place where the fleet’s flagship had sunk. The low, dense vegetation afforded some protection from the elements.
The castaways knew they were on the Palmar de Ais, named for the natives of the area. They understood they were about 180 miles from help at St. Augustine. Their greatest problem was enduring until help arrived. No Indians had met them or helped pull the weak from the surf. Native Americans who lived along the coast tended to move inland during the storm season. The survivors were on their own.
Many officers had survived. They organized search parties and camps. A few looters who fled with their ill-gotten riches were arrested as they neared St. Augustine. The rest of the survivors remained until rescue ships picked them up.
Attempts to salvage the ships’ cargoes began almost immediately. Professional salvage crews, made up of natives and islanders from Cuba, replaced the survivors. Their efforts with diving bells, grappling hooks, and other salvage implements were successful.
About 80% of the lost property was recovered by the crews of 1715-16. Archaeological work at the site revealed that the salvagers seem to have erected some temporary structures for use as storehouses for the recovered gold and silver.
While the salvage operation was in process, many pirates attempted to steal the treasure, including Henry Jennings, and English pirate, who sailed to the site, drove off the guards and seized a large quantity of the recovered coins, which he carried away to Port Royal, Jamaica. But the great majority of the treasure was safely regained and moved to Havana by the Spanish salvagers. Nevertheless, salvage was completed by April 1716. At least one additional attempt was made in 1719.
Not until 1928 was a wreck from the 1715 fleet rediscovered, the Urca de Lima, off Fort Pierce. The next clues appeared on the land; In the early 1940’s Spanish colonial artifacts were uncovered at a site south of Sebastian Inlet.
In the mid-1950’s a hurricane completely changed the face of the shore. Kip Wagner discovered a second archeological spot: the site of the Spanish salvors’ encampment, indicating that treasure ships had gone down nearby. He soon located El Capitana and by the mid-1960’s had brought up silver pieces of eight, gold doubloons, bars and plates of both metals, pearls, jewelry, rare Chinese porcelains, and countless examples of everyday items used by seamen and passengers traveling in 1715. Major new discoveries are still being made along the Treasure Coast.
Competition! We'd better get out there!
Our treasure: three bottle tabs, a piece of foil, and an unidentifed piece of iron.
The ships of the 1715 fleet do not rest alone. At least thirty vessels perished in these waters between the 1550’s and 1945. Ships and cargoes were lost to storms, unlucky mechanical failure, faulty navigation and the torpedoes or submarines. Crew of many other ships endured close calls along this shore.
Giant Sloth Jaw
The Ais Indians were native to this area of Florida. Unlike most other FLorida Indians they were not farmers. They gathered wild plants, hunted deer and bear, and took birds, fish, turtles, shellfish, and manatees from the rivers and sea. Their midden piles (a midden is a garbage heap) of clam and oyester shells are still evident along the coast.
February 21, 2007
Barred Owl Sounds
To hear the sounds a barred owl makes (until I get home to do my impression of them, which is quite accurate) please visit this website:
Scroll down past the Bigfoot Recordings to find Barred Owl Recordings. The one closest to the huh hu hu hu (while gargling) is the Mating Call.
Some info on this site: Barred owls are very different from other owls. They mate for life and are very family oriented. The male does not stray far from the female and the young remain at the nest as a family unit long after other owling species have left the nest. It is not unusual to hear an entire family of barred owls call out in territorial defense. This can be triggered by almost any loud noise at night. The mating calls & territorial calls are similar if not the same on occurence.
Barred owls have a variety of vocals which range from single "whhaaaa" type hoots, to the typical "who cooks for you, who cooks for you all" calls to primate-like "cackling". The latter being why they are so often mistaken for bigfoot creatures. Don't let these beautiful birds fool you out there in the dark. They do sound quite spooky when they really let loose, but... they are only owls, not bipedal primates.
February 20, 2007
Today we went boating around town!
We hit a sandbar, but George pushed us safely back to the deep water.
Here are some photos from the animal park we went to yesterday.
My favorite: the Barred owl
Here is the owl puffing up to make his noise, which sounded really neat. Not just a who-whoing, but a huh-huh-huh-huuuuuu while gargling.
Red Shouldered Hawk
Blue Macaw- i think
Albino Racoon- he wouldn't turn around so this is the best picture I was able to get. He was playing with the normal colored raccoon behind him.
We found this Great Horned Owl on the nature trail. He seemed to really like having his picture taken!
February 16, 2007
Julie and Dave
DAVE AND JULIE BOUGHT A HOUSE!!!! CONGRATULATIONS AND I can't wait to see it!!!!! and CELEBRATE!!!!
George and Lily
We Miss You Lily!!!
John D MacArthur Park
We went to John D. MacArthur park on Monday, even though it was rainy and cloudy. Most of this week has been rainy and cloudy.
February 15, 2007
It's raining. Blah. And it's cold. 59 degrees!! We have to wear socks today because it's so cold. We just went to the hot tub to warm up. But it's raining, and we're bored.
February 13, 2007
On our way to Volksblast!
Our Bus and friends
Heath's Favorite Bug
George's Favorite Bug
This bus still had it's original sales slip- bought in the 70's for $5,600.
Notice the slanted tire
A man riding his motorized cooler
Triplets in a shopping cart
We arrived at Volksblast too late to register, so we were not entered in the contest. But, we did get a lot of compliments on the bus, and compared to all that we saw we thought we were definetly in the top 10. Especially when you consider that we use our bus every day (living in it) and most of the VW's at the show were only brought out of their garage's for shows, and really aren't used at all. We'll be sure to pre-register for the next show.
Bahia Honda on Saturday
View of Flagler's Railroad Bridge
Walk on the beach, the water was so nice and warm!
One more fish
View of the beach from the bridge
This was Flagler's Railroad Bridge, and then it was turned into the bridge for cars. A bit narrow for two way traffic, don't you think?
Sting Ray swimming under bridge
February 12, 2007
Manatee Video, this one should work.
Yes, Julie, quite sure it isn't a rock. Unless you've seen rocks with whiskers coming up for air...
February 11, 2007
Various Key West Photos
George has a new buddy
George and Michelangelo
Heath and Rick
George and his bus
Some photos of Fort Zach
2 Nice houses
Here is a manatee!
February 10, 2007
Last Sunset on Key West
Hello! I know I'm way behind on the blog! I have quite a few posts to do including houses of Key West, Key West Cemetery Letterboxing, a manatee video, Fort Zach, some sunset shots, and lots of other random but great photos.
We have left Key West and are headed to Miami for VOLKSBLAST 2007! Woohooo! It's $25 to enter the contest (proceeds go to Habitat for Humanity) and prizes are awarded (not sure what they are) by people's choice. We have done a great job cleaning her up and making her look beautiful, and with the hard wood floors and new interior paneling George has put in we think we have a great shot! Oh, and George bought a great hammock today that we're going to put up outside and hopefully that will win some points too. Maybe we should cook hot dogs and give them out to people? Hmmm... too much?
I'll get my photos posted as soon as possible! See you soon!
February 08, 2007
February 05, 2007
Video of Val and Al, I hope it works
Stu found a coconut and asked George to help him get into it.
First we drank the milk,
and then ate the inside! Yum!
Blue Heaven Saturday Night
Saturday Night we went to Blue Heaven,
with our friend Jean and his dog Maggie, who we park next to every day at Fort Zach. Jean is a composer from Canada, and he has done a lot of work for French films and Candian TV, among many other things.
Also from the park, we have met Val and Al who were performing at Blue Heaven that night. Val has the most amazing voice!!! She could be famous in an instant. They live in a TINY town in Canada that is VERY NORTH! I think it is called Tour Le Sac, but I can't find it on any maps, so I have to ask George about that. They only perform in their town, where Val is a bartender where Al performs, and in Key West. They come to Key West in their vans every winter and play at local places a few times a week, including on Little Palm Key which is a very posh resort for only about 6-8 very wealthy people at a time. I'll try to upload a video clip so you can hear just how amazing she is!
Maggie, who is very well behaved and speaks French. Yes, she actually speaks French. You know what I mean.
From left to right: Heath, George, Maggie looking at Val eating her dinner, then the stripper... I mean dancer who I can't remember her name but she is buddies with some of the Ft. Zach crew, then Al, and another guy that owns a concession business, can't remember his name either.
A few whisky's in...
Yeah, we're having FUN!!
And in the morning we dragged our hangovers out of bed to go get some Checker's Burgers and onion rings for breakfast, and the lady gave us some fries too, which we were very glad she did. And then off to nap. Good times.
February 03, 2007
George went rollerblading to get some exercise. He came back about 45 minutes later; he didn't go very far because he ran into Stew and they chatted...for about 40 minutes. Yeah, great workout!
February 02, 2007
Mike and Emma
More photos from Sugarloaf
Hello! Sorry for the delayed photos. I've been battling another cold. It's unbelievable; I wasn't sick for over a year while working at a crappy job, and then as soon as I'm on vacation I get two colds in a month. Anyway, I'm feeling much better now. So here are some photos from last weekend!
Sunday was WINDY!!! And here are some pretty clouds.
So we went to Mangrove Mama's to get out of the wind and cold. What Fun!! We had stone crab claws (delicious) and conch chowder, and coconut shrimp, and Julie and Alison had great pasta dishes- shrimp scampi and another with pesto and everything was absolutely delicious.
Monday morning sunrise
Back to Key West for a walking tour (for more photos check out www.JuliaMccurdy.com) and some PIE!! I love pie.
Monday Night at the campsite. Geoge cooked delicious shrimp!
George and Alison
Heath and the Shrimp