Casa Monica Stairwell

On the first day of my stay at this hotel I was sitting in the lobby and noticed the whole staff walk across the lobby and through a door into what appeared another room. It seemed apparent they were heading into a staff meeting. As I sat there I saw several people walk in and out of the meeting. From the amount of people I guessed it was an important meeting. Curiosity got the best of me and as I headed to the elevator I took a quick peak inside. In fact it was a stairwell which the afternoon shift was using to get to their assigned floors. I may not be the sharpest tack in the drawer, but at least I’m easily amused. This is the stairwell at the Casa Monica hotel in St. Augustine, Florida.

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Casa Monica

I almost ruined our mini-vacation by booking a hotel room about 90 miles away from our destination. It was a good thing I checked out the drive using the hotel address on Google maps the day before we left. When reality sunk in I begged and pleaded my way into the last hotel room at our original destination. Not knowing the town I didn’t know what to expect, however this is the first thing we saw when we approached the check-in desk. I came back to take this photo early the next day when the lobby was empty. This is the lobby of the Casa Monica in St. Augustine, Florida.

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Welcome to Hogwarts

It was with these words that our guide (an upperclassman two weeks away from graduation) introduced us to the dining hall at Flagler College, a four year liberal arts school with the distinction of having some of the most impressive architecture in Florida. The college was built as the Ponce de Leon hotel for the well to do back in the gilded era. Imagine eating your tacos before class surrounded by priceless Tiffany widows and fourteen carrot gold chandeliers. From the looks on some of the faces at lunch when we dropped in, they couldn’t have cared less.

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Castillo de San Marcos

This is the entrance to Castillo de San Marcos in St Augustine, Florida. I got here for this shot just after sunrise. For a couple of hundred years this draw bridge was a crucial link to the outside, and for weeks it would be raised as the fort was under siege. Possession of the fort has changed six times through various treaties over the centuries, yet it was never defeated in battle. However, if you come here a couple hours after sunrise, you just might be defeated by the tens of thousands that visit this sturdy bastion daily. I wonder if the Spanish had that in mind when they built it.

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Looking for a Sunset

Looking for sunsets can be a blessing and a curse. I find myself always mindful of the direction of the sun and the cloud layer, two prerequisites of a good shot. On this particular day I had very little to look forward to so, being on a mini vacation, I found myself in the hotel bar sipping a drink that was way too colorful. My resolved to ignore the hour gave in and I quickly headed up the elevator to snap this through the window of our 5th floor room which looked out across Flagler College in St Augustine Florida. I quickly performed the task, having given it that “college try” and made haste back to the bar before the next round. This is how I try to keep my priorities. No comments to this post will be accepted, …unless you’re buying the next round.

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Bridge of Lions

I’m fascinated by bridges so they’re natural subjects for my photography. This is the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine. The lions at the entrance of the bridge are a tribute to Ponce de León and are a symbol of the Spanish royal family, harkening back to St. Augustine’s past as a Spanish colony. According to our guide, these lions are carved from the same quarry as that used by Michelangelo. I thought they we’re impressive enough to get up before dawn and capture them without the normal traffic experienced at the height of spring break.

Halfway There

These are the stairs half way to the top of an operating lighthouse in St. Augustine, Florida. As I rested for this shot, it seemed strange to me that with all the satellite positioning, underwater sonar and autopilot systems we have available, relics such as this still exist. I would have assumed that a lighthouse was obsolete in the day of iPhone navigation. I mentioned this to the ranger at the top of the 219 stairs and he reminded me that a few weeks ago not far from this spot a modern cruise ship had lost all power and was drifting. He also mentioned that not all fishing boats operating near here are outfitted with modern equipment and the lighthouse serves as a vital aid. Seems technology is not always as reliable and trustworthy as we’d like to believe and a few “relics” like this might just be a good Plan B. I guess there’s no app for that in the iPhone store.

Yard Sale

The Lightner Museuem in St. Augustine Florida houses an impressive collection of artifacts from the guilded age. Back in the day, the museum was actually a private gentlemens club owned by Henery M. Flagler, and the only women allowed in were dancing girls. Notwithstanding, later publishing manate Otto C. Lightner used the building to house his extensive collection of goods. He was one of a very few that had any cash during the depression, so most folks parted with their treasures for a fraction of their original cost. Regardless, a world class collection that would be the envy of any self respecting bargin hunter.

Cold Sunrise

On this cold and windy morning I found myself at a park waiting for sunrise. In general, we have warm weather most of the year here in Florida, but occasionally we disappoint. We think nothing of wearing polar fleece when it drops below room temperature. A few years back I happened to be in a hotel lobby on one of those days and overheard a family at the front desk asking the clerk for directions to the beach. I felt a little sorry for them, this was not a beach day. But, off they went, oblivious to the sixty degree weather.