Fort Mantanzas – A Hidden Treasure

Built in 1742 by the Spanish to guard Matanzas Inlet, which was used as a rear entrance to the city of St. Augustine, this National Monument listed on the National Register of Historic Places is one of the most popular places to visit in St. Augustine.

Located on Rattlesnake Island, Matanzas Fort is 50 feet long on each side with a 30-foot high tower. The standard garrison of the fort was an officer in charge, two gunners, and four infantrymen although if necessary more troops could be accommodated. There were six cannons which could all reach the inlet when shot, which was less than half a mile away at the time. There was only one occasion when the cannons were actually fired. This occurred in 1742 as the fort was nearing completion.

Today the fort stands as a monument to the history of St. Augustine. Boaters who travel down the Intracoastal to hang out at the Matanzas Inlet enjoy its splendor as they pass by as well as enjoying fabulous sunsets over the fort.

Free tours of the Matanzas Fort are available daily. For more information on visiting the Matanzas Fort go to Fort Matanzas National Monument (National Park Service website.)

St Augustine Beach Pier

Did you know that the St. Johns County Ocean and Fishing Pier is now considered among the top third of attractions in the St. Augustine area on TripAdvisor, with a rating of 4.5 out of five stars. The gift shop is boasting record revenues generated from pier admissions, merchandise sales and rentals. That revenue, however may not be nearly enough to fund a new pier when the current pier nears the end of its lifespan.

Humble beginnings, A New Deal for St. Augustine
In the 1800s, Anastasia Island was called South Beach. From St. Augustine, beachgoers took a ferry over the Matanzas River at King Street, and then rode a donkey cart on dirt roads to the lighthouse. Later a wooden bridge was built and visitors took the South Beach Railroad from the bridge to the beach. The beach was always a popular recreational area, but it lacked a fishing pier. When Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal economic recovery program came about in the late 1930s, county leaders saw their opportunity. In 1937, they applied to the federal Works Progress Administration for funds to construct a recreation complex that would include a seawall, boardwalk and fishing pier, flanked by a pair of hotel buildings. St. Augustine Historical Society documents show the county received about $66,000 to construct a 1,344-foot pier and 840 feet of concrete seawall. The next year they asked for another $68,000 to construct two coquina rock buildings to house a life-saving station and recreational rooms. Susan Parker, executive director of the St. Augustine Historical Society, wrote in her article, “The St. Augustine Beach Hotel; A New Deal Project,” that these projects were “conceived as an impetus for beach development.”

augustine-pierCompleted in July 1939, the 1,300-foot wooden pier was believed to extend further into the ocean than any other pier along the Atlantic Coast. This boast was very short-lived, though. The first of many damaging tropical storms hit in October 1939, wiping out 500 feet of the pier and demolishing the rest room pavilion. Another 500 feet were heavily damaged. The county applied for WPA funds to rebuild the pier, adding a T-shape at the end. It had to be shortened to just 800 feet. During St. Augustine’s 375th anniversary celebration in 1940, they held a “gala opening” for the official St. Augustine Beach Recreation Project. All too soon World War II “dampened the leisurely, carefree character of the beach front complex,” Parker wrote.
In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, the Coast Guard controlled all access to the beach during WWII. Civil defense volunteers searched the sea for submarines and the skies for enemy airplanes. No one was allowed on Anastasia Island after dark without identification and those few allowed through had to drive with their headlights off. Turbulent times St. Augustine Beach was incorporated in 1959.old-pier The pier was holding its own until the fall of 1962 when a nor’easter rendered the original pier structurally unsound. The beach suffered terrible erosion.

In the summer of 1964, the beach around the pier made international news when the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) held civil rights demonstrations, known as “swim-ins” or “wade-ins,” in an attempt to integrate all-white beach areas. Historians said this particular tactic was unique to St. Augustine Beach. old pier2In fall of 1964, Hurricane Dora, the first hurricane in 50 years to strike St. Augustine directly, tore off the end of the pier and sent waves crashing over the seawall into the coquina buildings. The pier stayed open for fishing but the beach erosion and the damaged buildings made the area unattractive to visitors. The hotel and restaurants closed. Erosion continued to threaten the seawall, especially during a northeaster in Feb. 1973. A nor’easter in 1978 took another piece off the end and caused extensive damage to the pilings. Concrete shields were placed around them, but they were damaged when Hurricane David blew through. A concrete-bolstered pier opened in 1984 to replace the wooden New Deal pier. It was now 1,000 feet long.

Recreation and renourishment The pavilion, which hosts concert and events, was built in 1998. After this, the era of sand renourishment officially began. Between 2001 and 2012, millions of yards of sand were added to the beach in three big installment projects, according to The Record archives. These projects were done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of a 50-year commitment to keep the beach renourished. The pier was again rebuilt in 2002, with the help of a $17 million U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project to restore the coastline. In 2011, the county approved $300,000 for repair work hoping to extend the life of the pier for another 10 years. Barring another hurricane or mean nor’easter, the pier as it appears as 2014 comes to a close this week, is how it is likely to stay until around 2021. Plain and simple.

Florida Zip Line Adventure

Adventure is my middle name! I thrive on new experiences, meeting new people, and having a blast. So it was no big surprise to my husband that I jumped on the opportunity to go to Canyon Zip Line and Canopy Tours when Kevin’s family invited us! Zip Lining in Florida you say?

Believe it or not, there is a really great place to zip line right in Ocala! The place is called Canyons Zip Line & Canopy Tours. The staff is not only well trained but they also provide you with some really bad jokes and a lot of fun along the way! This organization has been featured on Fox News, ABC, NBC, and National Geographic. We did the Full Zip/Canopy Tour which includes 9 zip lines, 2 rope bridges and a rappel which lasted for approximately 2 ½ hours.

The zip line you’re seeing me on in the video is the longest and fastest zip line of the 9. I was doing approximately 50 miles per hour over the water! What a blast!! After we finished that, I decided to do the Super Zip which was so incredible. You’re strapped into a harness and suspended from the zip line so that you are belly down. It was the closest I have ever gotten to
feeling like I was flying like a bird, and it was exhilarating! The ride was ¼ mile long over water and trees. I absolutely loved it!

The only thing I didn’t do while we were there was go horseback riding through the 100 acre property! Oh well, maybe next time. For more information on how to have a blast with family and friends and confront your fear of heights (like I did) visit zipthecanyons.com.

Biking on the Beach

Biking on the beach is one of my favorite things to do in St. Augustine! I do it several times a week, usually in the morning hours. It’s a great workout especially when it’s windy! At the same time, it’s very relaxing and definitely puts my mind and soul in a great Zen place to start my day!

Riding on the beach, however, takes its toll on your bike. A regular maintenance schedule is really important in order to keep your bike in the best shape possible so you can continue to enjoy those fabulous bike rides! Here are some helpful tips that every beach biker should know about their beach cruiser!

If you have not ridden your bike in the ocean waters (which is not good for your bike but sure is a lot of fun) or been rained on, let the sand on your bike dry naturally then brush the sand off with a soft brush. Rinsing it every time you ride tends to make your bike rust out faster especially if water has seeped into the frame through the seat post and handlebar post. This will cause rusting from the inside out. You want to make sure that there is a sufficient amount of white lithium grease on the end and bottom of the posts that go into the frame so that everything stays lubricated. You can remove these posts with the right tools (usually a 15mm box wrench) and grease the posts yourself. Make sure when you put them back that you check the lines on the posts for the minimum insertion position. Having the posts set too high can cause the seat or handlebars to come off during a ride and put you in harms way!

White Lightening Clean Ride is the best lubricant for your chain at the beach because it has silicone in it that will prevent the sand from sticking to the chain. Turn your bike upside down when putting the lubricant on your chain and turn the chain while wiping gently with a towel or cloth to get the excess product off the chain. You only need to lubricate if your bike has gotten wet (do it after it dries) and then maybe once a month or so depending on the condition of your chain.

T9 or Tri-flow are the 2 best lubricants for the nuts and bolts of your bike. You can get these at a bike shop or Ace Hardware. Using a dry silicone spray on your bike frame and handle bars will keep your bike shiny and protect it from the elements. (It will rust slower!)

It’s normal for the air in your tires to go down especially if you have not ridden in a few days or weeks. Standard PSI for a beach cruiser is 35-40 PSI. You should always go a little below max on your tire pressure.

Make sure you have a bike that fits your body correctly. You should be able to stand over the frame with clearance. When you’re sitting on the bike, you should have a slight bend in your knee when your leg is extended in the downward position on the peddle. Your shoulders should be relaxed with your hands on the handlebars. If you need to adjust the seat, the seat is usually on a rail so that you can slide the seat back and forth to find the right reach for you.

I hope you find this information helpful! Happy riding and I hope to see you on the beach!

St Augustine Wild Reserve

Java AngryThis week’s kwfallon.com blog features a “wildly” popular local attraction up near the World Golf Village, but you’re going to have to leave your golf clubs at home along with your cameras too!
If you haven’t been to the St Augustine Wild Reserve, I highly recommend you add it to your “to visit” list and visit with family and friends as we did on May 21st to celebrate my sister Marjorie’s 81st birthday. The Fallon Party were 12 strong including my great niece Sophia and my great great nephew Camron, who was a very good boy and loved all the “Big Cats” especially my personal favorite “Java” who’s featured in my blog today. I borrowed the following from the Reserve’s web page as it clearly states their Mission and a brief bio of the reserve’s founder, Deborah Warrick.
You can find out everything you need to know at: StAugustineWildReserve.org 
The St. Augustine Wild Reserve is a non-profit corporation created as a rescue center for unwanted exotic animals. Many individuals obtain an exotic pet, only to realize that the animal’s wild nature doesn’t fit into their life (or their household) as they expected. This is where we come in. The Reserve will take in unwanted exotic animals as an alternative to euthanasia. Some of the Reserve’s animals came from abusive homes. Two wolves were rescued when their owner was involved in a fatal auto accident. Many of our animals were confiscated by wildlife agencies from individuals who held these animals without proper state permits, or who starved their animals, maintaining them in inferior conditions. Five Arctic wolves and an African lion were received from Michael Jackson, who no longer wanted them at his ranch near Santa Barbara. The Founder of the Reserve, Deborah Warrick, has worked with exotic animals all of her life, having received extensive training at the Los Angeles Zoo. She has received her AA Degree, and B.S. Degree in Holistic Nutrition to better care for the animals’ nutritional needs. She earned her B.S. degree in Biology in 2011, graduating Magna Cum Laude.
We do not allow photography at the Reserve, which we believe irritates some of the animals. We do, however, offer a photographic CD of all of the animals, available at the end of each tour. Our goal is to educate the public about exotic animal ownership, to prevent future animal abuse. We transport various animals to schools, churches, and other outreach venues for educational presentations so that individuals may see what these animals are really like, dissuading them from obtaining such an animal as a pet.

St. Augustine Amphitheatre

Styx ConcertThe St. Augustine Amphitheatre is rich in its history. As part of Anastasia State Park, it is comprised of 16 acres and includes an old quarry where coquina rock was mined to build early St. Augustine homes, commercial buildings, and the infamous Castillo de San Marcos fort. The Amphitheatre was built to commemorate St. Augustine’s 400th Anniversary as our nation’s oldest permanent European settlement in 1965. Following its completion, the play “The Cross & Sword”, written by Pulitzer-prize winner Dr. Paul Green, began its 32-year run on stage. In 1973, “The Cross & Sword” was designated “Florida’s Official State Play” by the State Legislature in recognition of the cultural and historic value of the production.


In 2002, St. Johns County decided to refurbish the Amphitheatre. Five years of construction turned the Amphitheatre into a state-of-the-art performing arts venue capable of holding up to 4,100 concert goers. The new facility includes a conference room, 4 concessions stands, a merchandise area, a large plaza, and an elaborate arboretum of walking.
In addition to the incredible shows by top performers held here, there are many free events for families to attend. One of the most popular of these is the Old City Farmers Market which takes place every Saturday morning from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm. Here you will find offerings from some the the finest local organic farms, delicious baked goods, homemade sauces and jams, beautifully crafted hand-made jewelry, breathtaking artwork from local artists, a variety of plants, and more! For more information on the Amphitheatre, see StAugAmphitheatre.comFarmer's Market

Marineland Adventures!

 

Dolphin at MarinelandMarineland was founded as “Marine Studios” in June of 1938 with over 30,000 guests showing up on the first day! Known as the “World’s First Oceanarium”, the original vision was to duplicate the variety of marine life as it exists in nature for the purpose of filming scenes for motion pictures and newsreels to meet Hollywood’s growing demand for underwater footage. Marineland was used to shoot all or some of the scenes in many films and televisions shows. Some of the most famous were “Creature from the Black Lagoon”, “Sea Hunt”, and “Benji Takes a Dive at Marineland”! Did you know that Benji was the first dog in history to scuba dive? Filming started in 1939 and continued through 2001. For more information on the history of movies at Marineland see: Marineland.net
In 2004, after a series of hurricanes struck the northeast coast of Florida, most of the original, older structures were retired and an updated facility was built. In 2006, Marineland opened it’s 1.3 million gallon facility known as the Dolphin Conservation Center. This facility was thoughtfully designed paying attention to the behavioral needs of the animals while accommodating the viewing capabilities of the scientists, the logistical needs of the trainers, and the educational and entertainment needs of the guests.

Ryan and me with dolphin
Ryan and me with dolphin
Kristyn at Marineland
Kristyn during dolphin encounter

Sitting on ocean-side property 18 miles south of St. Augustine, Marineland offers guests a variety of interactive and in-water programs that allows participants to make physical and emotional connections while learning all about the Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. The staff’s focus is on education. When I took my son and daughter for the full-immersion experience, I learned more about these incredible animals than I had ever known before. The care that they are given is impressive. The oldest dolphin to ever live in human care in the world lived here. Her name was Nellie, and she lived to be 60 years old, the equivalent to 120 years in human life. The average life span of an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin in the wild is 40-45 years for males and more than 50 years for females. I was very impressed with the trainers, the facility, and the efforts being made to education the public in order to spread conservation efforts to help preserve the environment! For more information about Marineland, visit: Marineland.net and Wikipedia.

The Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTM Research Reserve), in partnership with Marineland Dolphin Adventure, invites the public to a free lecture on the third Tuesday of each month at Marineland Dolphin Adventure to help educate the public about the natural world and its inhabitants.

Ryan Kissing Dolphin

#SaintAugustineLifestyle