Astral Nomads

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

Monday, January 10, 2011

Nomads Go Tourist, Believe It or Else!

The Nomads typically eschew things too touristy, but every so often, we throw our distaste of such things to the wind and go whole hog into that mindset. It was warmer today (around 65F) but overcast, so we headed into historic St. Augustine in the Eurovan, a trip of about 7 minutes. We had been walking from motel to downtown but the forecast called for afternoon showers, so we decided to drive and park. First on the list was the original Ripley's Believe It Or Not museum. Not quite the same without the Jack Palance voice-over, but still pretty cool with some interesting items. Believe it or not.

The museum is located in this fabulous old mansion, built by one of those robber-baron tycoon types that seemed to go wild in Florida back in the day. Pretty nice digs for a single family, eh?

Outside the museum, there was a four room house carved out of a single segment of a sequoia tree. Compared to the Eurovan, it was palatial. Here I am in the dining nook. Actually, it's kind of a four nook house. It would be perfect for the Astrals except that Otis would probably eventually eat the entire thing, one gnaw at a time.

One of my favorite things was this giant ferris wheel, built entirely from erector set pieces. It was housed in a multi-story gallery topped by a ceiling of stained glass. And it actually was turning. Hard not to believe when it's rotating right in front of you.

Here's a full-size statue of manatee made entirely from 
crushed soda cans. Hmmm...I do believe, I do believe.

This is a stuffed cow that was born with two legs
growing out of its back, making for a total of six. This
deformity had no effect on Astral Wendy's love of all things
bovine. Generally, the museum was kinda heavy on the grotesque.

For example, here's a two-headed rabbit that would
surely give Otis the creeps. I can imagine one head 
looking forward and running while the rear head is
trash-talking the fox in pursuit. 

The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.
Samuel Johnson

Good Dr. Johnson notwithstanding, this is one tall dude. If I remember correctly,
he was 8'11". All I could think of was whether I would stand any kind of a chance 
in a little one-on-one hoops. Probably not, since I got no game, but it's amusing
to speculate on what the final score might be.

Here's Astral Wendy about to be crushed
by the fattest man ever to be inducted into
the armed forces. The skinny creep enjoying
the spectacle from the back is a guy who,
due to a rare medical condition, gained no weight
for 62 years or something. He was 5'2" and 48 pounds.

There was a sign saying 'open this if you dare'.
So I did.

Outside the museum, there's a full size replica
of Michaelangelo's David, carved from marble
from the same quarry as the original. I was smart
enough not to pose next to this piece.

After the Ripley Museum, we went up to the Fountain of Youth park, which is a cheesy yet somehow endearing tourist attraction from, I'm guessing, the 1950's or so. Ya gotta love the marketing spin on the sign, which proclaims this as 'A National Archaeological Park'. It has has no affiliation with the National Park Service (yeah, we had to pay to get in) and the only evidence I saw of active archaeological endeavors was a pit near the exit of the gift shop which had a sign saying "Archaeological Dig in Progress". Hmmmm...I'm no Sherlock Holmes but the lack of any fresh earth seemed mighty suspicious.

All that aside, we really dug this place for what it was.
Here's some of peacocks that roam about freely.

And they DO have a natural spring which is billed
as the Fountain of Youth, the water of which
made us feel much, much younger. So we have that
going for us.

They also had a small planetarium (not pictured) which
had a show on the stars at the time of Ponce de Leon's
voyage of Florida discovery and this giant two-story globe
which showed (in 1950s multi-media glory), the routes of the
Spanish invaders (er, explorers). Both shows had a recorded
voice-over that made me feel I was back in grammar school at
a school assembly. 

Part of the exhibit on the indigenous Timucuan had
this totem which I mistook for a lectern. 

Who needs all the conveniences of a Eurovan kitchen?
We should have saved this photo and pretended it was
our campsite. More gator-squash casserole, hon?

Here's Wendy flirting with another statue. 

We ate lunch in the historic district at the Florida Cracker Cafe.
Great food and real friendly service. I had a very good Oyster Po'Boy
and Wendy had a Cracker Fish sandwich. There were no left-overs.
A definite Astral Nomad recommendation.

Trusty old Astrid, biding her time time in parking garage.

Tomorrow, we're finally going to check out the museum at Flagler College and then begin to head west.

-The usual suspects.


  1. You two ARE the fountain of youth!

    By the way, as a child my aunt was friends with "the world's tallest man." I asked her once what he was like, she shrugged her shoulders and said, "tall." Gee, thanks for that bit of enlightenment, Aunt Betty!

  2. Thanks Tree... you made me giggle with that gem!

  3. I am seriously addicted to your blog now! I just want you to know it's negatively impacting my productivity at work because I can't stop reading it! Love the tourist-gig in St. Augustine, reminds me of the trip I chaparoned last year with Madeline's class but without screaming teenage girls. Hope it stops snowing in the Panhandle! Happy traveling!

  4. @Stacy: The first one's always free, sayeth the Pusher Man. Ha! It will get warm eventually, somewhere.