Posts Tagged ‘St. Augustine’

[Note: the following post contains some mature language. Sorry, Mom.]

Tourists are People, Too

I spend an awful lot of time harping about tourist traps. I find them crowded, expensive, artificial, and uninteresting. I’m probably one of the 1% (or less) of Americans who’ve been to Disney World and didn’t like it. The best part of my trip to Disney was the people who went there with me. Spending quality time with good friends is always a good thing, but the park itself is overpriced and over-hyped. Thankfully, the guy who arranged the trip was an amateur Disney specialist: he picked the best time for us to go and we didn’t run into any noticeable crowds. We went on Space Mountain four times in 20 minutes!! Even I have to admit that was pretty cool ….

Public Domain Photo, University of South Florida

I spend an awful lot of time harping about tourists, too. So many of them are aggravating, pushy, disrespectful, and uninteresting. I’ve been to so many fascinating places in this country, and almost without fail, there will be some other tourist there who does nothing but bitch and whine about everything from the weather to the fact that you actually have to get off your fat ass and walk half a mile on a trail to see Devil’s Tower in its full glory. Generically, tourists piss me off, even when I’m one of them.

My friends tell me I’m too judgmental and intolerant. And yeah, by and large, they’re right. It’s part and parcel of being a socially dysfunctional hermit :P. But, as that great American philosopher, Popeye the Sailor, says: “I yam what I yam.” However, I’m going to shock all who know me: for this post on the old Spanish fort of Castillo de San Marcos, I thought I’d cut everyone some slack.

Public domain photo courtesy of the University of South FloridaCastillo de San Marcos is right on the waterfront in beautiful St. Augustine, Florida. St. Augustine is a great little city: clean, green, properly developed (meaning neither a dead city nor a frenzy of strip malls). The day I visited was a beautiful, clear day, and I was in a terrific mood. I was on my long, one-way drive from Palm Beach County, Florida, back to New England, beloved land of my birth. I had lived in Florida for over two years, and I just never fit in.

I met some great people and made some good friends but, generally, I was a terrible Floridian. I hate sunbathing (I’m a burner, not a tanner). I love walking outside during snowstorms (walking outdoors during wildfires just ain’t the same, regardless of what the brochures say). I’m not a graceful Rollerblader (I once wiped out on top of a fire ant nest, not pleasant). And I just can’t waste my entire paycheck on a boat, even on the “p*ssy boat” a buddy of mine wanted to co-buy. Don’t get me wrong: I’m all in favor of attracting p*ssy, but two cans of malt liquor and some Dairy Queen is a lot cheaper than an 18-foot cigarette boat.

So let’s swoop back from female anatomy to Castillo de San Marcos. I was on this long, 24+ hour drive from Palm Beach back to my home state of Massachusetts, back to be with all those special folks I left behind in the first place, and knew I’d need a lot of breaks. Fortunately, there are lots of NPS sites on the path, including San Marcos. I swung in to St. Augustine for my visit.

Public domain photo courtesy of the University of South Florida

I was very impressed. Not only is the fort well-preserved and interesting (I find the evolution of warfare to be extremely fascinating), but it blends in wonderfully with the city itself. I’ve been to so many NPS sites that are simply “there” as far as the locale goes. They’re usually off the beaten path, away from the city hub, not integrated at all with the social scene, basically forgotten by the populace. The great thing about San Marcos is it’s right there, downtown, within site of the beaches and next door to some great bars & restaurants.

To top it all off, the city itself is clean, well maintained, upscale, and nice to visit. But it’s not incredibly snobbish either, all the folks are really friendly, even the normally-annoying tourists. I found a nice pub nearby, had a good lunch & a brew, a quick chat with some locals, and headed back to the highway. Even I, the Uncultured Yankee Cynic, can’t find a single, negative thing to say about either Castillo de San Marcos specifically or St. Augustine in general.

Yes, I was truly in a good mood that day.

Public domain photo from the University of Central Florida

[Sadly, I didn’t own a digital camera when I visited Castillo de San Marcos. Public-domain photos courtesy of the University of South Florida. They have a neat little site with photos and brief descriptions of the defense measures of the fort. See link list below.]


Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

University of South Florida Castillo de San Marcos Site

Find Your Own P-Boat

Google map to Castillo de San Marcos

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