I hope everyone is enjoying the lovely Spring we are having! I picked some fresh asparagus already and planted broccoli. There are buds on the blueberries and cherries and even some blossoms on the strawberries already! Can’t wait to eat fresh fruit and vegetables!

The oak-lined street that
goes to the Fountain of Youth.

Anyway, continuing on with my trip to St. Augustine, my next stop was the Fountain of Youth, supposedly discovered by Juan Ponce de Leon. I walked from my hotel so had the opportunity to enjoy the sights along the way at a leisurely pace. The street pictured here is said to be one of the most photographed streets in the United States, and is located right outside the Fountain of Youth.

According to popular legend, Ponce de León discovered Florida while searching for the Fountain of Youth. Though stories of vitality-restoring waters were known on both sides of the Atlantic long before Ponce de León, the story of his searching for them was not attached to him until after his death.

Fountain of Youth bubbling
up from the rocks.

For those not familiar, the Fountain of Youth is a legendary spring that reputedly restores the youth of anyone who drinks of its waters. The Fountain of Youth National Archaeological Park in St. Augustine is a tribute to the spot where Ponce de León is traditionally said to have landed.

In reality, the tourist attraction was created by Luella Day McConnell in 1904. “Diamond Lil” as she was known, fabricated stories to amuse and appall the city’s residents and tourists until her death in 1927.

Of course, there is no evidence that the fountain located in the park today is the storied fountain or has any restorative effects, but that doesn’t stop visitors (or me) from drinking the water. The park also exhibits native and colonial artifacts to celebrate St. Augustine’s Timucuan and Spanish heritage.

Peacock in the park.

As an aside, while doing research for this article, I found out that poor Ponce de Leon came to a sad ending. He was wounded in the thigh by a poisoned arrow during a fight with the local Indians. Knowing he was badly wounded, he ordered the survivors to take him to Havana, where he died in July 1521 of his infected wound.

I arrived at the Fountain of Youth park just as it was opening, so was the only one there at first. This allowed me to visit with the peacocks, which you can see are vibrant and beautiful!

Peacock and Pepsi machine.

When I came out of the gift shop, I had the opportunity to see this guy showing off his colors to the Pepsi machine behind him. (He was seriously jealous of the color of the Pepsi machine. He only turned around to face me when I started taking pictures).

I am a full month behind in my blogging, but later this week I’ll write about my time in the beautiful Southern city of Savannah, Georgia, which I visited on my way home from Florida.

Until then…

Jessica James

 

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