Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ghosts and Graveyards

We have been to St. Augustine, Florida, a couple times and never get tired of the city. It has quaint elements that are very fun to explore. We bought trolley tickets which are good for three days and allow you to hop on/off at any of 22 stops along the way. It is a great way to get from point A to point B, but I do have some warnings. The ride is extremely rough and bumpy, even in the forward car. We both had headaches and backaches yesterday and didn't really attribute it to anything. But after the ride today, we discovered that the rough ride may very well be the culprit. At times you almost get whiplike movements of your head and we now believe the ride is to blame. Even though our tickets are still good tomorrow, we are going to be looking for a place to park instead. Now we took the trolley system. Ripley's has a similar system pulled by "trains." They actually have wooden benches and it's possible those wouldn't give as bad a ride and the molden fiberglas benches we were on. You might keep that in mind. We stayed on the entire trip the first time because the driver narrates the trip around the city and gives you plenty of history and suggestions of things to explore. While most tell about the same things, we have found that different drivers do add little tidbits here and there. And one driver we had yesterday afternoon was a real comic! He was very funny and enjoyable to listen to as he delivered the history lesson.

We hopped off at one of the early stops and then visited many of the hundreds of shops located in historic buildings and tried to imagine what life was like back in the 1600's.

We finally walked back to a trolley stop and boarded for the trip back to the car. Once there, we headed back to the park. We wanted to rest up for our "Ghosts and Graveyards" tour in the evening.

Our Ghosts and Graveyards tour was to start at 8:20 p.m. It was already dark by that time which added to the "spookiness" of the tour. Our tour was narrated by a British guy who was dressed in period costume and delivered a history of hauntings in St. Augustine while plying us with "cheesey" jokes. It was a great time. We visited the two main cemeteries in town. The Hugenot Cemetery has many people buried who were victims of a yellow fever plague. There are several mass graves in there, so no real way to tell how many people are buried in this old, old cemetery. The second cemetery is believe to be on the site of an ancient Indian village and regular hauntings are said to occur here. A little boy, they say, is often seen swinging from the tree branches. He was 5 years old when he died.

We traveled over to Anastasia Island then and to the grounds of the lighthouse. The St. Augustine Light is said to be the most haunted lighthouse in the country. We actually could see people up in there, but the narrator told us that there was a group of para-normal adventurers, a.k.a. ghost hunters, who where there to try and conjure up and document ghostly apparitions. The light has been featured in several television shows about ghostly activity and was also featured in a National Geographic show about the same. We did not go up into the light, but we could look and observe from the playgound where children once again are said to haunt. There was a lightkeeper whose three daughters were killed in a tragic accident and their spirits are said to be heard in the playground. A lighthouse keeper himself plummeted to his death from the top of the lighthouse and he also is said to haunt the light. Very interesting stories, but we did not observe anything last night.

The last stop on our Ghosts and Graveyards tour was at the Old Jail. The jail was built by Henry Flagler and was supposed to resemble a hotel. It was dark and spooky there, though. I really didn't see many lights and they kept it very dimly lit. We got to see inside cells and we got to hear the "tales" of the eight criminals where were kept there and hanged at the gallows out back. One of the condemned was our "jail docent" who appeared after some commotion out in the hall. We were all in one of the main cell blocks and after the banging, etc., this inmate appeared and told us the stories of the eight men who were executed here. He was a very good actor and was very quick witted. He played his role well and told us about life in the cell blocks when the jail was actually in use and included information about the ghosts that are said to haunt the jail.

The tour was about an hour and fifteen minutes. It was packed full of information and if you come to visit, you may want to take in a ghost tour. There are several from which to choose and there is also a "Halloween Bash" tour which looks like it would be fun.

We were back in town for a while this afternoon, but this being a weekend, it was very crowded. The trolleys were also crowded and running very slow because of all the traffic. We decided to postpone our tour of the fort. We may do that tomorrow.

Till next time. . .


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