Monday, August 14, 2000
- St. Augustine
- Castillo De San Marcos
- St. Francis Inn
- 46 Ave Menendez
- Light Keeper's House
And if possible, head over to Gainsville for the last scheduled site.
A change of plans
“We made a mistake!” Kurt yelled this morning.
“What?” I was still slightly groggy from just being awakened.
“We made a mistake! One of the sites we're visiting is an inn! We should have stayed there last night,” he said.
“What do you say we stay one more night in St. Augustine. We stay at the St. Francis Inn. What do you think?” Kurt asked.
We were doing well time wise; it wasn't taking the week I expected it to take. One more day wouldn't hurt us. “Why not? But better call first to see if they have any rooms available,” I said.
Kurt picked up the phone and called. He talked to the owner, Tom, for a few minutes then asked about the rooms. Then he turned to me. “They only have two rooms available,” he said to me. “But the two rooms are the haunted ones!”
“Get them,” I said, getting interested.
“Okay.” He then made arrangements for one of the rooms. I guess we'll be staying another night in St. Augustine.
We then made plans for the day. Check out of the hotel, then hit Castillo De San Marcos, the main fort in St. Augustine. Then lunch at 46 Ave Menendez, which is also known locally as Harry's Seafood Bar Grille. After lunch, check into the St. Francis Inn, then hit the Light Keeper's House.
Then, off to Castillo De San Marcos.
Castillo De San Marcos
In 1833 a sealed off section of the fort was opened up and two skeletons were found, as well as the smell of perfume. It was thought that the skeletons were the wife of one of the commanders of the fort from the 18th century and the other was her illicit lover.
Since then, reports of a glowing and the smell of perfume from that part of the fort have been numerous.
Castillo De San Marcos was easy to find—off the main street in St. Augustine; you can't miss it. It was interesting going back to the fort, for I had been there once before twelve years earlier. I remember not paying to enter the fort, nor were all the exhibits there twelve years ago.
We paid our money, and entered the fort. Kurt was worried that we might not see the part of the fort where the paranormal manefestations occured but in going through the fort we came across the site.
You enter a room from the outside, enter another room and through a doorway is a long room that was used to store munitions—this was the room, barely lit by the light of a low-wattage bulb (of course, such luxuries didn't exist back in the 1700 or 1800s). I recorded the room, but I won't know the results until I get back to Lower Sheol for a thoural examination, but while we were there, we didn't notice any paranormal manefestations.
We spent some more time examing the fort but we got what we came for.
46 Avenida Menendez
One story is that the ghost, known as Bridgette, was a victim of an earlier fire. Another story is that Bridgette hung herself in her room, years before it was a restaurant. She still manefests at times in her room, which is upstairs.
Kurt and I arrived for lunch. Seated, we discussed when we should ask the staff about the ghost; after some discussion it was felt we should order and pay for lunch first, then ask in case we were escourted off the premises.
After lunch, we approached the bar tender and Kurt asked about the haunting. We were then informed that indeed there were stories and that the ghost was floating around upstairs in her old room.
Of course, Bridgette's room is now the ladies room for the upstairs portion of the restaurant.
Kurt asked if we could check it out, and the bartender said we were free to check it out, provided we knocked on the door first. We headed up stairs and made our way back to the restrooms. Kurt knocked on the door and asked if anyone was inside. A voice from inside indicated it was being used so we backed off and waited a few minutes.
Once the restroom was vacated, we entered. It was easy to see it as a bedroom; it was big enough to be a room. But I did not bring any photographic equipment with me, and again, there were no paranormal manefestations to be seen or felt. A minute later we left.
St. Francis Inn I
At least one ghost, Lilly, possibly a young black girl dressed in white, is said to haunt room 3-A of the Inn. Multiple people have claimed to have seen a female presence in the room. There are also reports of poltergeist activity, as well as unexplained noises and voices throughout the building.
And guess what room we're staying in tonight?
When we arrived right after lunch, Tom, the current owner/manager, said the room wasn't quite ready for us but if we were to come back an hour or so later, it should be ready. We thanked him and decided to check out the last site on our list, the Lightkeeper's House.
Many bizarre and unexplained accidents have happened around the lighthouse. Also a ghost has been reported by several people but it's unclear if it's a man who hanged himself in the lighthouse in the 1930s or one of the earlier lighthouse keepers who died while painting the lighthouse in the 1850s.
The lighthouse can be seen from quite a distance away, but actually finding it was a bit tricky. Parking was also a bit difficult, the parking lot in front of the lighthouse being way too small.
We arrived and purchased the tickets required to climb up the lighthouse—219 steps up 165 feet. Kurt and I then started the climb. There are eight landings within the lighthouse, the stairs making a half-circle to the landing, which almost fills half the width of the lighthouse. I video taped our ascent up the stairs, pausing on each landing to take a picture downward, marking our progress upwards.
But I have a fear of hights, and at the last landing before the top had to stop. I could not make the final ascent, my vertigo nearly overtaking me. I gave Kurt the digital camera and spend the next few hellish eternities making the descent down the stairs and rushing out the entrance to sit down and spend another few hellish minutes calming down.
Ghosts, I can handle. Heights—that got to me.
I didn't stick around to experience any paranormal manefestations, but given the number of people around, I doubt there would be any and as usual at all the sites, the staff are relunctant or not allowed to talk about the hauntings unless asked first.
On the ground, I listened to a small girl, under age seven, ask her mother repeatedly why she couldn't climb the lighthouse. The mother kept telling her that she was too young to climb the stairs, seven years being the minimum age. A few minutes later her son, not much older than seven, appeared at the entrance, sweating. Like myself, he was named Sean, and he too, didn't make it to the top, it being way to high for him.
Several minutes after that, Kurt walked out, having made it to the top and taken several pictures from there that I've yet to see.
We then headed back to the St. Francis Inn.
St. Francis Inn II
We arrived back at the St. Francis Inn and were able to check in. Tom informed us that the price of the room included breakfast in the dining room, breakfast being served from 7:30 to 10:00 am. He also held a informal gathering in the dining room between 5:30 and 6:30 pm for guests to meet each other and converse. Also available to the guests are complementary coffee, tea (both hot and iced) and water. Guests can simply walk downstairs and partake of any aformentioned beverage anytime, provided they are available.
He then showed us to room 3-A, Lilly's Room.
We walked up two flights of stairs. The stairs have this odd perspective that is best not dwelled upon least you miss a step. It's more noticible going downstairs than up. Our room is at the top of the stairs.
One of the first impressions of the room is the lack of square corners. In fact, looking at the building as a whole you realize there is not one right angle corner in the building at all. Even the doors are trapezoidal in shape, but not enough to give it a true Alice in Wonderland appearence, but enough to give it an odd feeling. The room itself is trapezoidal in shape, white walls with green trim and deep red carpeting.
Kurt and I spend an hour or so relaxing in the room before going downstairs for the social.
Around 6:00 pm Kurt and I walk downstairs and enter the dining room for the social gathering. Provided for the guests are orderves and beer (American). There were two couples already in conversation; Kurt grabbed a bear, I an iced tea and we sit down at a nearby table to listen in.
Perhaps fifteen minutes later, the younger of the two couples excuse themselves and leave for dinner. Kurt then engages in conversation with the remaining couple, a pair of retirees on their second visit to St. Augustine from their home in Jupiter, Florida. The gentleman used to work in a television studio but it's never made clear in what capacity. I think his wife was a teacher and the talk soon turned to our themed vacation of haunted house hunting and later, to Kurt's career as a high school English Teacher.
Perhaps a half our later the older couple decided it was time for dinner and we left for dinner.
Kurt and I went to the Columbia, a Spanish restaurant that is a central/northern Florida chain of about six restaurants, headquartered in Ybor, Florida. The food is excellent, abundant and a bit pricey but well worth it. The restaurant in St. Augustine is in the Spanish Quarter, several blocks long running parellel to the ocean, one end starting across the street from the Castillo De San Marcos.
I had trouble finding a close parking spot so we ended up parked on a residential street several blocks west of the Spanish Quarter. A fifteen minute walk brought us to the restaurant. Afterwards, we walked back to the car, finding it quite easily, but I got turned around driving back to the Inn, finding myself driving south along US-1 for about five minutes before getting my bearings and turning around.
Fifteen minutes later we were back at the Inn.
An American Experiment
While catching up with documenting the trip, Kurt and I came across an episode of Behind the Music on VH1 about the Monkeys. “Stop it here,” I told Kurt so we left it there. Afterwards was a VH1 movie about the Monkeys and we figured it was as good as anything and watched that as well.
After the segment were the Monkeys meet the Beatles in London, Kurt turned to me. “The Beatles invited the Monkeys in order to feel them out,” he said.
“The Beatles biggest competition at the time were the Monkeys. So they invited them to feel them out, see what their strengths and weaknesses are. If they come across as unsure of themselves, then there is no competition.” Made sense, even if the Monkeys themselves didn't see that.
Later on when the segment about the Monkeys' movie Head and how Jack Nicholson was involved, Kurt turned to me again. “They were an experiment.”
“In what way?”
“To see how far they could go in making a psychadelic movie. How far they can go, to see what the limites are. Later on, Easy Rider comes out,” he said.
“Ah,” I said. “So that explains why Jack Nicholson was there.”