Nov 032014

It was still pretty cool but the wind had eased up, making yesterday a lot better day than Saturday to play tourist. I have to tell you, the more we see of St. Augustine, Florida, the more we like it.

Whenever we are visiting a new area I always ask the local people we meet how they like living there. Usually it’s a mixed bag of hometown pride along with complaints about the things that are wrong with the community. But we have not met one person here, from natives to transplants, that has not said they love the place and everything about it.

And even though it’s a busy place down in the touristy areas and at the two outlet malls out on the interstate, it’s still a small southern town, with small town values. When we took our Old Town Trolley Tour on Friday, one of the stops was at Ripley’s Believe It or Not, home of this replica statue Michelangelo’s famous David. Created by Sollazzini & sons Studios in Florence, Italy, it is one of only two in the world made to the exact specifications of the original – 17 feet high and weighing 10 tons.

David Statue 2

Our tour guide said the folks in St. Augustine were thrilled when word of the statue coming to town was released, but then scandalized when there it was in all of its naked glory on busy San Marco Avenue. I mean, a 17 foot tall naked guy will stop traffic! After a lot of hasty telephone calls and some negotiations, a hedge was put around the statue with an entrance that screens it from the public unless they want to see it.

David hedge 2

Also on the Ripley campus is this impressive horse made entirely from vintage 1950s and 1960s chrome car bumpers. Measuring over 20 feet from nose to tail, the sculpture was created by metallurgist Sean Guerreroto to honor the Denver Broncos. Our tour guide said she had nicknamed the oversize horse what else, Hi Ho Silver.

Silver horse statue

Here is a close up to show you how the horse is constructed. And unlike the David statue, it seems to be a gelding. Or maybe gender-neutral?

Silver horse statue close

One of our favorite things to do in St. Augustine is stroll down St. George Street, a pedestrian only roadway where no cars are allowed. Here you will find all kinds of interesting little shops selling everything from tourist trinkets to fine art, and restaurants offering snacks, ethnic foods, and live entertainment.

St George Street scene 2

St George Street scene

There are some very old buildings here, including the Salcedo House, once the home of General Jorge Biassou, a former Haitian slave who led an uprising in 1791 and was made a general by the Spanish because of his loyalty in their wars with the French. The general lived here, and owned a large tract of land outside of the city that was worked by his own slaves.

Salcedo Souse

A couple of blocks away is the oldest wooden schoolhouse in the United States, built over 200 years ago while Florida was still under Spanish rule. It was constructed of red cedar and cypress and put together with wooden pegs and handmade nails.

Oldest Schoolhouse

After we left St. George Street we spent some time walking along the waterfront and admiring the Bridge of Lions, the drawbridge that spans the Intercostal Waterway over Mantanza’s Bay, connecting Anastasia Island with downtown St. Augustine.

Bridge of Lions

If you want a slow paced, romantic way to experience this beautiful city, how about a carriage ride? Several horse drawn carriages can be found along the waterfront. I wonder if the horses that pull them feel as inadequate when they see the giant silver horse at Ripley’s as I did when I saw the statue of David.


Congratulations to Wayne Shunamon, this week’s winner of an audiobook of John Daulton’s Rift in the Races. We had 53 entries in the drawing, and stay tuned, because a new contest starts soon.

Thought For the Day – Some things may be beyond our control, but those that are within our control… we have to control the hell out of them! – George Wier

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  6 Responses to “David, Silver, And St. George”

  1. I think if you ever had to sit out a Hurricane down there on the ocean front country. You would lose your attraction for that part of the country. And return to the southwest and dry out.

  2. Yes, Nick the horse may be a fem but David looks like he just took a dip in the cool ocean!

  3. I swear only in America will someone find something wrong with a beautiful work of art. I guess a lot of folks have not been to a Art Museum and looked at a the master pieces. They think they are protecting their children from seeing male gentilia Did the not know that when they wanted a authentic replica of the statue that what they would get. If they had to cover the area a fig leaf would have done just fine but they hit all but his head behind bushes. This will probably get me some nasty replies to my comment but that is life

  4. We saw the original in Italy. I’m not into art, but everyone was thrilled to see it. I saw the replica but it didn’t have the lighting like the real one. You just can’t believe how well done it is, until you see the size and detail.

  5. Dave Kunz, California has earthquakes and wildfires, much of the country has tornadoes and blizzards, and the southwest desert can kill you in a heartbeat. At least with a hurricane you have plenty of warning and can leave. None of us are getting out of life alive anyway, might as well enjoy it while we can.

  6. I love St. Augustine but it can get cold there in the winter. Our first winter we were retired our 1st FL stop was there & it was very cold. We had our winter jackets on the first day. It did start to warm up to light jackets. That January it was cold all the way down south from the time we left MA on 1/1. We are in the Vero Beach area which is warmer than St. Aug. but not as busy as further south. No pier in this area at least not big like the one you described.

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