Astral Nomads

One man, one woman, one rabbit......traveling with the stars.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine

I dreamed I saw St. Augustine
Alive as you or me
Tearing through these quarters
In the utmost misery
With a blanket underneath his arm
And a coat of solid gold
Searching for the very souls
Whom already have been sold*

Here in St. Augustine, I could not get that song out of my head. I consider this, however, to be a great improvement over being in Hollywood, Florida where Kool & the Gangs's "Hollywood Swingin'" was my internal song du jour. Dylan vs. Kool? Not even a contest. St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States and the historic district, where the Astrals traipsed around today in some fairly cold and windy weather is reminiscent of the French Quarter in New Orleans, except it's Spanish, a lot smaller, and not near as bawdy.

Here's a giant ball supposedly marking mile 0 of the Old Spanish Trail, which allegedly ends all the way over in San Diego, California. At least that's what this plaque implies. The only Old Spanish Trail I could find on Google ran from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Los Angeles California, so I have no idea what this giant ball is doing here. At first I thought it was a cannon ball or some other kind of war-like projectile. Then I realized how big it was. Even using a catapult, it would be pretty hard to send this thing any distance.

This fountain has replicas of the masks used on the fountains in Cordoba, Spain. Here's Astral Wendy auditioning to be a fountainhead. There might be an Ayn Rand joke in there somewhere which I would work on if I thought Ayn Rand deserved any of my energy.

This is the old Huguenot cemetery. Pretty old and probably
pretty creepy at night. There seems to be a lot of commercial
activity around ghost tours in this town, at least judging from
the ubiquity of advertising for such fare. One even guaranteed
seeing a lady ghost at the conclusion of the tour. Right. Maybe it's the 
Huguenots that are doing all that haunting.

Here's a couple of views of the old section of town. It's very
scenic and there are a lot of shops and restaurants. I call it just
on the hairy edge of being touristically tacky. It has less t-shirt shops
than the French Quarter in New Orleans.

I guess like any town that's been around for a long time, there's a certain amount of architectural competition for which variant of the faith has the coolest church. The oldest is the Cathedral of St. Augustine and it's pretty impressive. The Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists, and Baptists came later, after the British took over, and they threw up some mighty edifices, too, some of which are featured later in the post.

Inside the Cathedral.

This building is part of Flagler College, which is right in the historic
district. Some of the buildings of this school were built as luxury hotels
by Henry Morrison Flagler, who was a tycoon and partner of John
D. Rockefeller. He also started the railroad which became the Florida
East Coast Railway, which is only of interest to the Astrals because
the tracks are so close to our hotel room that it sounds like the engine
is coming through our front door. Flagler College has a world renowned
museum, which we're going to check out tomorrow, since the forecast is
calling for rain.

Given a stage, I will always pontificate. Luckily, there
was no-one within earshot because, when I pontificate,
it's guaranteed to be utter nonsense.

Here's Wendy pacing the Old Slave Market while
wishing our son Dale a Happy Birthday on her cell phone. 

One of the prominent attractions here in St. Augustine is the Castillo de San Marcos, a Spanish fort, the construction of which began in 1672. It's perfectly situated to protect the harbor and never fell in battle. It was pretty cold and windy up on the ramparts today. The only warm part of the whole fort was the dungeon and I was contemplating committing a minor infraction just to get thrown in there. Also, it's run by the National Park Service, so our annual pass come through again. Total charge: $0.00. I was waving that receipt around like a schoolboy.

Here's Astral Wendy hanging by an old Spanish mortar. These
things could lob a projectile about a mile. The Astrals say: Give peace
a chance, man.

I don't know what to say about this, but it seemed
funny at the time.

Wendy needs to pose affectionately with every
pirate statue we encounter. I have stopped asking why
but I'm thinking of buying a cutlass.

Here's the best Cuban sandwich in the entire universe, served at the La Herencia Cafe. We had that for lunch along with cup of delicious and garlicky tomato-basil soup. This cafe is highly recommended by the Astrals. Great food, reasonable prices, and friendly service.

The view from our table at the cafe.

The is the tower from the Methodist entry in the church 
architecture competition. Pretty sweet terracotta and red brick
and definitely an honorable mention.

But it's the Presbyterians by a large margin! I couldn't even
really classify this style but it's a pretty impressive go with some
slight Moorish influences, a smattering of Romanesque, enough
gold to rival the kingdom of G-d, and a dome that screams:
We're number one! Take that Catlicks!

Wendy and I are both big fans of pareidolia, which is
seeing patterns in random things. Wendy is the master of
spotting instances. Here's a concrete patch on a sidewalk that
looks like the profile of a sleepy pirate. Hey, wait a minute!

*Bob Dylan, I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine

-The usual suspects.


  1. I bet Astral Wendy is a Captain Jack Sparrow fan too!

  2. Nope... I like Johnny Depp but his pirate character is a bit silly, not the swashbuckler I go for! lol

  3. I enjoyed the photos of the different churches--interesting architecture--and I hope you enjoyed your visit to the Flagler Museume, which I've only read about.

  4. Dad- What's with you making faces in "cubbies"'s kinda getting to be your thing?

    I'm framing it and will mount alongside the italian grump cubbie!

  5. @erica: It's series that will delight all viewers. The other, btw, is Copenhagen. Did you get a snow day?

  6. Thanks Tree... I love old churches on the outside too! Going to the Flagler Museuem and then Ripley's Believe it or Not for some Astral balance!

    Erica, good call.... that and the pontification on a podium...I sense a frustrated actor. Enjoy the snow day coming up!

  7. Wendy--Are you practicing puckering up for your old friend, my new friend Charlie? That"s my girl!

  8. Hahaha Clark... can't you see that I'm practicing my flirt technique with those pirates... one must start slowly and lowly in these matters! LOL