by J. R. Beatty

Patch-Eye, Peg-Leg, Parrot-Pirate!
Patch-Eye, Peg-Leg, Parrot-Pirate!
St. Augustine, Florida is mainly known as the "The Nation's Oldest City" having been founded by Pedro Menendez in 1565. Walking through the Old City Gates down St. George Street past the Oldest Wooden School House, I first confirmed that this was also a Special Place For "REAL, CURIOUSLY CUTE CHARACTERS". (Click on the photos to see the details larger)

I asked "Pete" the one-eye-patched, slightly limping, peg-legged, handsomely costumed Caribbean Pirate with a stuffed, pirate parrot perched on his shoulder if I could take his photo. He said OK - but then looked disappointed when I did not drop a Lincoln or two in his pewter rum tankard after I had captured his digital image.

I guess I was a better pirate than he was in this instance. But I probably should have been more wary of his apparently authentic, potentially loaded, Pirate Pistola!

Two Biker Dogs<br> and Their Parents
Two Biker Dogs
and Their Parents
On a bench just down the street I found and captured these two cute "Biker Dogs" and their Parents. It was great to see how the parents supported their little doggie's "Biker Lifestyle"!

The little, whitish-colored doggies were sitting on their parents' laps wearing form fitting, doggie-sized, "Biker Leathers": jackets, pants, boots, sunglasses, and hats.

I also enjoyed noting the doggies had ridden in on two "Biker Hog" strollers!

St. Augustine "Castle Otttis" Towers
St. Augustine "Castle Otttis" Towers
When I drove down a residential street in the St. Augustine area, I photographed this set of three unusual, ancient looking, circular Castle Towers in a thick grove of trees.

I wondered what the entire castle would look like? Does it have a moat and a draw bridge? Was this Walt Disney's North Florida home? Does some European Duke or Duchess or a promiscuous paramour still live there? Were semi-innocent folks imprisoned there by the Sheriff of St. Johns? Does it have indoor plumbing and heat? This curious and spectacular building design really stirs the imagination!

Later, I determined on-line that "Castle Otttis" was created as an "original landscape-sculpture ... Done in Remembrance of JESUS CHRIST. A landscape-sculpture is defined as a structure built to adorn or to view the landscape. It is an impression of an Irish castle of 1,000 years ago."

"The interior was created under guidance of historians from the Catholic Diocese of Northeast Florida to evoke an atmosphere of an Abbey (or early Christian church) in Ireland during the same period. The Castle is made available by appointment to schools, churches, colleges, universities, institutions and community groups for academic and spiritual environments and has provided a unique setting for small, intimate wedding ceremonies." For more castle history and information, use this Internet link: http://www.castleotttis.com/

St. Augustine "Lights"
St. Augustine "Lights"
In this photo I see two bright "lights" - one the old circa 1874, 165 foot tall spiral St. Augustine Lighthouse where brave folks climb way up high to view the land and ocean horizons. For more historical details use this link: http://www.staugustinelighthouse.org/index.htm

The second light is a plain old, ordinary street pole light almost hidden in the intervening trees.

Both these lights provide direction and enable safe travel for folks on their way to "home port".

Beach Bathing Beauty ... huh?
Beach Bathing Beauty ... huh?
Then on a visit to the breath-taking beaches near St. Augustine, I took another photo of a Beach Bathing Beauty removing her wetsuit after an Atlantic Ocean swim.

From behind her in this misty evening light, she appeared to be an athletic young woman with lovely, long, wavy, golden-blonde-hair flowing down her bare, sun-burned back.

To my surprise she turned a little and then I saw that SHE ... huh?... HE also had a thick mustache over HIS lip! Sure, ... Believe It Or Not, Ripley ... I was quite mistaken at first glimpse. Just a little confused, but I will remember ... HIM ... every time I see this photo.

Yes, fortunately for us photographers, there still is a very interesting, warm St. Augustine, North Florida area with REAL, Curiously Cute Characters - and maybe even a little Resting Recovery Room for Winter-Cold-Escaping, Northern-State Snowbirds on their annual RV migration South - down inter-state highway I-95 to their own "winter nests" in Sunny Florida! Why don't you come join 'em!