Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Castillo de San Marcos (a guest post by Benjamin)

May 24:

A couple days ago we were in Florida visiting a fort called the Castillo de San Marcos. The oldest masonry fort in the US is so cool! They built it in a star shape so that they could catch their enemies in a crossfire, which basically means that you are getting shot at from three sides.

That is terrifying! 

The fort went through five occupations in total: the first Spanish one, the British, the second Spanish one, the US, the Confederate US, the Union military and the National Service. Today they fly the Spanish military flag above the fort:

When we were at the park it started to rain so rangers came out and closed the top level because the walls were so small so if you slipped it would be bad (falling-off-the-wall bad). We were glad we visited the top level first so that we could still do the bottom level while it was raining. 

It was pretty windy up there!

[Phoebe kept reaching for Mom, but Daddy was trying to be the one to wrestle her most of the day because Mom wasn't feeling fabulous yet.]

Here's Zoë and Grandpa:

And here's Rachel looking at all the different types of cannons:

When we were are on the the top we all went into a little shooting nook thing and mom took a picture of all six of us kids in like a 2 foot by 6 foot thing (2 wide 6 tall) and it was so crowded.

[Here's Phoebe saying, "Get me outta here..."]

[Here's Zoë and Grandpa:]

I cannot believe that 6 kids fit in something that small, but good to know right?

On Sunday when we went downtown we watched volunteers reenact shooting guns and it was so cool and a bit loud. 

[Watching Sunday's reenactment:]

Inside of the fort the were some rooms for sleeping quarters for the guards on duty when they were not on duty they lived in the city with their families which is so cool.

I did the Junior Ranger booklet and got the badge so now I have eleven. [The kids worked on their Junior Ranger booklets in one of the little alcoves while it rained outside. We're counting some of these trips as field trip days; kind of a cool classroom.]

Here's Zoë and Alexander talking with the rangers to get our badges:

My favorite thing that I learned was that they did not live inside of the fort. Zoë's favourite thing that she learned is that they watched in horror as the British burned their homes. She also liked that the draw bridge took 15 whole minutes to close, which is why they kept the inner drawbridge open most of the time. The inner bridge was the one that took fifteen minutes to close; the outer one I think took like one minute to close so they could close it quickly in the face of danger—SLAM! 

From the top of the wall you could see the Lion Bridge, which raises up because boats are way too tall to just go under the bridge. I mean sailboats. Smaller boats can just go under the bridge and it's a pretty tall bridge and we walked over it and me, Dad and Phoebe jumped on the part that raises up. It had a little crack so that the bridge could separate up and boats could go under.

The castillo is like three hundred years old so all of the wooden parts have been replaced many times. If you want to go there it is like fifteen dollars per person or you can get the family pass for all of the parks so if you want to go there it is kind of expensive if you have a big family, which I do. It is a very cool park. You should visit!

[Mom's edits below:]

Phoebe loved the little piles of cannonballs that were placed around the inner courtyard. She was acting like such a momma's girl this particular day. I took these pictures with my cell phone camera while we were out in the courtyard together (after having stopped to nurse) while the older kids were working on their booklets. 

Here she is in Andrew's arms again, screeching, "Mom! Mom! Mom!"

Here's Alexander outside of the fort just before we left for the day:

We'd really planned on visiting Matanzas first, but we didn't realize how booking tickets for the ferry worked. We arrived just as the 9:30 ferry was leaving and the next available tickets weren't until the afternoon, so I booked a set of tickets for our family late in the afternoon, and we decided to head into St. Augustine to visit Castillo de San Marcos first (and then take Rachel into the old town area since she'd missed getting to see that on Sunday).


  1. Thank you for sharing all this information, Benjamin! Wow, getting shot at from three sides...

    I like that the six of you fit into that small space. That's a cool picture of you with the cannons. I didn't realize the men stayed at home with their families while not on duty, either. I'm glad you earned another badge. That is a really cool field trip!