Happy 500th, Florida!

My current heroine is still working hard in her Old West kitchen, and will be agreeable to sharing more of her insight next time we meet. In the meantime, I wanted to bring you with me on a little side trip to St. Augustine, the oldest city in the United States.

As of April 2013, Florida is 500 years old. The year 2015 will mark the 450th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine, the nation’s first city.

Located midway between Jacksonville and Daytona, St. Augustine remains the only documented location of Juan Ponce de Leon’s 1513 voyage of discovery—a voyage that made him the first European to set foot on what would eventually become the United States of America.

Side note: the Timucuan Indians preceded Ponce de Leon’s historic journey by thousands of years.

Pervious to this trip, Ponce de Leon had already been the sitting governor of Puerto Rico. He’d heard many tales from the local natives about a mythical Fountain of Youth situated on an island to the west of him. He set out with a fleet to find this jewel in the New World. Thinking he’d landed on an island rather than a large peninsula jutting out from an even larger body of land, Ponce and his crew came ashore April 3, 1513 and planted the flag of Spain. He named the spot, La Florida—land of flowers. Since I happened to be in St. Augustine this week I can attest to this overabundance of flowers. Oh, yeah. Lots and lots of flowers!!!

He also came upon a spring he assumed was, indeed, the Fountain of Youth.

Since I was able to sample water from this same spring on my recent trip, and I am still as old as dirt, I can safely say he did NOT find the Fountain of Youth. But the area is gorgeous, and full of rich history.

I discovered another treat at the Ponce de Leon Fountain of Youth Archeological Park. Twenty-five peacocks. The male

peacock gets all the credit for his beauty, but check out the female. She’s all white and simple GORGEOUS. She’s my new favorite bird.

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8 thoughts on “Happy 500th, Florida!”

  1. I have been to St. Augustine and I loved it.. I went to the Ponce de Leon Fountain of Youth Archeological Park and loved going to all the wonderful historical places. I loved the cobble stone streets and all the beautiful Lionsgate Bridge as you drive over it into the city… Florida Is one of my fav states to visit and I have been many times… Happy Birthday Florida…

  2. What a beautiful place, Renee. I would love to see it (but that water probably wouldn’t work on me either. And no, I can’t believe you’re older than dirt.)

    Another very old place I’ve been to is Acoma pueblo in New Mexico. As far as I know, it’s the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the U.S. But I’ve no idea how that compares to St. Augustine in years.
    Thanks for a very interesting blog.

  3. Hi Kathleen! Yes, I love St. Augustine, could spend days and days exploring and reading all the historical markers! I grew up a few miles north if there. Good times!!

  4. I’m always sort of surprised to be reminded of St. Augustine and isn’t Santa Fe, NM really old, too? I always think of Jamestown and the Pilgrims landing as oldest but I know that’s not right.
    Also, love the white peacock!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve never seen one before.

  5. I’ve always wanted to go here, Renee, and now you made me want it even more. I’ve always wondered why it’s pronounced AugusTEEN but the actual saint is Augustin. Like tin.

    Good post and great pix. xo

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