Augustine can accommodate crowds. I leave my car in a massive new
parking structure, and start to cross a plaza toward the visitor
center. A sudden sound stops me in my tracks, and I pull back under
cover with only my swinging forearm getting wet as a downpour begins.
I have a short, collapsible umbrella in my back pocket, but decide to
wait a few minutes. Such showers don’t last long.
this is very unlike Seattle rain, I just watch for a bit. I
find it dramatically entertaining. The word rain,
as Easterners understand it, doesn't really convey what happens in
Seattle much of the time, better characterized as variable
atmospheric ambiguity, occasionally thickening into precipitation.
about a mile south to St. Francis Street to see the González-Alvarez
House, the oldest European colonial house in the U.S. Getting there
is a pleasant walk, especially one freshly scented by a sudden
shower. St. Augustine occupies a strip of land between two salty
rivers. Its narrow streets feature Spanish colonial houses, with
balconies hanging overhead. But the real charm lies in the private
space of courtyards, out of sight of passing pedestrians. The place
is otherwise pedestrian friendly. The north end of St. George Street
is closed to traffic. Today isn't at all crowded, but the town can
handle crowds of tourists – it smells more strongly of waffle cones
than of salt air or rain-wet streets.
González-Alvarez House has been here for some 300 years. St.
Augustine itself dates to 1565. However, this impressive antiquity
pales when compared to the Hopi’s Old Oraibi. This town might be
over 400 years old, but 400 years before that, Old Oraibi was already
I walk past the “oldest
through fragrant steam rising on the sun-warmed street. The ground
floor presents whitewashed walls to the sidewalk. The upper floor has
wooden siding, shutters and shingles, but still offers to the street
a rather expressionless countenance. Somehow, I’m not moved to move
the shutter. Though unsheathed, I keep my camera continent.