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St. Augustine, Florida

First claimed by Don Juan Ponce de Leon, Spanish explorer and treasure hunter on March 27, 1513, the area was known as La Floria, "Land of Flowers." Renamed in 1565 in honor of the Feast of St. Augustine Day. Throughout the Civil War, Union troops occupied the town, although it was seceded with the rest of the confederacy.

St. Augustine lies about half hour south of bustling Jacksonville, along the eastern seaboard. We stayed on St. Augustine Beach, a mere four miles from the historic downtown St. Augustine, home of Castillo de San Marcos fort overlooking the Atlantic ocean which is now a National Monument (photo 2). This fort protected the city from pirates and marauding ships seeking to plunder the town. Across from the fort are the Old Gates (photo 4) that passes people to St. George Street and the heart of the tourist trade (photo 3) and the old Huegnot Cemetery (photo 3). We parked in Ripley's Believe it or Not huge parking lot (photo 1) and walked to the old fort and then crossed the street to walk through the Old Gates. Down busy St. George street, which is called Spanish Quarters. Here Spanish gift shops, along with taverns and restaurants offer relief during the hot humid noon day sun. It seem that each town has it water wheel to grind the flour (photo 6). It has it owns favor, similar to the French Quarters of New Orleans.

Apparently the City Fathers own the shops and lease them out to merchants. They protect the merchant by barring non license vendors from offering their wares. Several street people were protesting this denial of their right to offer their wares (photo 5).

There are two local Ghost Tour groups offering a haunting tale or two as they walk amid the streets of the Spanish Quarter relating ghostly tales of the past, mingled with some modern day hauntings. Karen Harvey, manager of Tour of St. Augustine, spoke at the Ghost Hunting 101 Workshop offered by North Florida Paranormal Research Inc, Ghost Tracker Investigation. The other ghost tour group is the Ancient City Tours, who allowed us to come into their old military hospital headquarters and film inside. They have a door that swings shut all by itself.

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