Archive for the ‘St. Augustine’ Category
2015 will mark the 450 anniversary of the founding of the city of St. Augustine by Pedro Menendez de Avilies. As part of the city’s celebrations, a countdown clock will be installed at the visitors center so residents and visitors alike can keep track of the big day! Old Town Trolley tours of St. Augustine sponsored the clock and our GM Dave Chatterton can wait to see it installed.
Who is the greatest love of your life?
The love of my life is my wife Andrea. We just recently celebrated our eighteenth anniversary in May. I have been blessed to have such an intelligent, loving, and independent woman as my wife. She stood by and raised our two wonderful daughters Ciara and Caitlyn while I was off defending freedom and democracy around the world on one of many nuclear fast attack submarines. She would often go months without a phone call, email, or any other form of communication and yet she never complained. She is the best person I know.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Having served in the United States Navy for twenty three and a half years. I attained the rank of Chief Petty Officer, successfully completed fifteen missions vital to national security of the United States of America, trained and mentored over 10,000 junior sailors, and somehow retained my sanity and sense of humor. I had the distinct honor of traveling to the North Pole in July of 2009 onboard USS Providence SSN 719, and commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the first voyage to the pole by America’s first nuclear submarine the USS Nautilus SSN 571.
What is your favorite vacation spot?
Scotland. I have been blessed with the opportunity to go there six times. I enjoy the friendly people, the rich history of the country, and the fellowship of their local pubs over a pint or two. I have visited Edinburgh Castle and had the privilege of watching the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Additionally, I have been to Stirling Castle which commands the landscape for miles around. Stirling Castle is one of Scotland’s grandest castles and a wonderful backdrop for some of Scotland’s most important history. This castle overlooks the sites where William Wallace and Robert the Bruce defeated the English in 1297 and 1314 at Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn. I intend to return to both England and Scotland in 2016 with my wife for our twentieth wedding anniversary.
Who are your favorite writers?
Writers would take more pages than are available here, but my guilty pleasures are a series of books written by St Augustine native Steven Berry. These books are historically accurate and the stories are written in such a way that the fictitious portions of these stories blend seamlessly. The hero of these stories is the one and only Cotton Malone. These include The Templar Legacy (2006), The Alexandria Link (2007), The Venetian Betrayal (2007), The Charlemagne Pursuit (2008), The Paris Vendetta (2009), The Emperor’s Tomb (2010), The Jefferson Key (2011), The King’s Deception (2013), and The Lincoln Myth (2014) which will be taking up some of my spare time in the near future. Additionally, I am looking forward to reading Return to Masada (2002), The Faces of Inanna (2011), The StrathNaver Legends (2010), and Aleister Through the Looking Glass (2010). These books are written by a man I am proud to call my friend the one and only Robert G. “Friar Bob” Makin.
What are three things you will always find in my refrigeerator?
Dezzani Italian Muscato Wine for my wife, Hard Apple Cider for me (preferably my own homebrew recipe), and vanilla ice cream; because life without ice cream is simply not worth living.
Each year during September, Old Town Trolley Tours of St. Augustine likes to say ‘thank you’ to the folks of St. John’s County by giving free admission to our tours and attractions during Locals Month. We feel it is a small gesture for all the support we get from the local community all year long. Imagine our surprise when the letter below showed up in the Letters To the Editor section of the St. Augustine Record.
Life changed at the Old Jail and for History Teller John Hunter on January 23, 2014. John had a stroke that left him with slurred speech and an impaired right side. With the passion he has for portraying Deputy Jim at the Old Jail, John wondered if he’d be able to speak clearly again or even climb the steps in the 1891 prison. Over the next three months, John endured a rigorous outpatient therapy treatment plan and worked hard at home exercises to regain his speech and mobility.
John’s friends at Old Town Trolley St Augustine rallied around him with support and love. CASTmembers Bonnie Nicol and Meghan Crawford headed up a fundraising effort for John that netted more than $2,000. I stayed in touch with John regularly throughout those weeks, always reminding him that his job was waiting for him whenever he was able to come back.
Deputy Jim returned to work in early May to the delight of his friends and our guests. John is known for his one-liners and the break room just hadn’t been the same without him. He is a favorite among our guests, as indicated by the many great comment cards he continuously receives.
As recently as May 13, here is what one guest had to say on TripAdvisor: “Upon arrival we were greeted by Deputy Jim. His 1908 appearance was spot on and my students loved his quick wit and sarcastic sense of humor. I originally thought that this tour was more of a tourist trap, but it was very informative and evoked a lot of positive reactions from my students. Jim made the whole thing worthwhile.”
Labeled as the biggest wine fight in America, the Batalla de Vino (Battle of Wine) is a St. Augustine event where 2000 people squirt each other with red wine. All of this is done in the name of charity. Old Town Trolley Tours of St. Augustine’s hearty souls were raising money for the Wolfsan’s Children Hospital. We are pleased to say not only did they have a great time, but the Old Town Trolley team placed second!
We had the good fortune of showing America’s Oldest City to over 60 of the worlds most beautiful married women. The Mrs. International Pageant is taking place on July 25 and 26 in Jacksonville and these busy ladies headed south for some fun aboard Old Town Trolley Tours. The contestants come from the United States, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. The Mrs. International pageant began in 1987 to promote married women’s commitment to the marriage and family, their accomplishments in the home and community and to open doors for married women around the world. The pageant is open to married women ages 21- 56.
Did you know that the Whetstone Chocolate Factory originally opened in 1966 by two lifelong Florida residents? It was a small ice cream store on St. George Street and the two owners later created a homemade fudge recipe. Now, the Whetstone Chocolate Factory sells unique and decadent artisan chocolates. Tours educate guests about the growth, harvesting, and production of chocolate and about the different varieties of chocolate. Come take the tour! Your visit won’t be as sweet anywhere else!
Or… just visiting the City Gates of St. Augustine would work too! The Old City Gates lie towards the north end of St. George Street and were at one time the only entrance into St. Augustine! It is a truly striking site composed of two ancient columns made of stone, which were built in 1808 as a line of defense for the city. They are a reminder of the turbulent times faced by the first American colonists and are a true landmark of America’s Oldest City.
Castillo de San Marcos is one of St. Augustine’s most impressive and beautiful attractions! It is constructed of coquina stone shipped in from Anastasia Island. It attracts thousands of people each year who are eager to learn about one of St. Augustine’s historic defenses which held prisoners of the Seminole and Civil War. Come enjoy the cannon firings, historical reenactments, and exclusive tours of the bastion!