Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth
When Russell and I reached St. Augustine (Saturday, Nov. 23, 1996) the first thing we did was check out the Fountain of Youth. (It was the first thing we did because I pouted.) we followed their signs till we came to a rough parking lot type thing next to a camp type thing enclosed by a wooden fence type thing. It really looked like a giant fort or something. That is, until a choo choo train trolley came by giving a tour. A blue and red choo choo train. No Lie. I have to admit, I was a little confused. Russell, having grown up in Chattanooga where tourist traps are the "thing", knew what we were in for. I, however, did not.
The girl at the counter told us that the Fountain of Youth was inside the Spring House. (Now, in a million years, I never would have guessed that The Fountain of Youth would be inside a building. But it is. The Fountain of Youth is not outside.) And that there was a tour you had to go on to see it. After I whined a little, she did admit that you didn't have to go on the tour to see it though.
So, after I paid the $9.50. (I have to point out that Russell, knowing full well the scam we were about to encounter, stepped away from the counter when it came time to pay the money. This is Kristine's little adventure and Kristine can pay.) Okay, so I give the girl the money and head for the Spring House. There's people inside so we gotta wait. We wander around and discover we are inside a reproduction of an old Indian village. Scattered around the village are old cannons which I found odd, yet somewhat interesting. Anyway, my excitement is waning but I'm hanging in there waiting for the Spring House to clear out so I can go drink from the fountain and ensure my youthfulness forever.
We wander up to a building with this wrinkled man standing at the door. He says, "Would you like to go into the Discovery Dome? Inside you will be treated to a short, 8 minute presentation of the early history of the Spanish discovery of the New World." I'm thinkin' who cares? I want to drink from the Fountain of Youth and ensure my youthfulness forever. But, the Spring House is still full and we've got the 8 minutes so we go in.
Let me just run you through the so-called, 8 minutes.
When the song ends, the lights come up and the wrinkled man politely invites us to the Planetarium. No way, man! Russell and I rush for the door!
And what do we see? The Spring House. Completely empty. And roped off. And guarded by two high school girls who are more than well aware they have the most uncool part-time jobs in the whole junior class.
We beg them to let us in. And against their better judgment they do.
Let me stop here and say that there is no way I can do justice to the scene inside. You have to visit it yourself. If you like a good laugh, it's well worth the $9.50. Inside the Spring House is a museum display. Life size Indians are standing around a pool of water about two feet wide. That's it. There's no more. The state of Florida has enclosed the Fountain of Youth in a building and surrounded it by fake indians. I don't care. I head for the water when, out of the corner of my eye, I see a trash can. I go over and peer inside. It's filled with little plastic cups. My heart dropping to my stomach in anticipation of a great disappointment to come, I swing my head to the right. There is a card table with a blue plastic pitcher resting on top. Surrounding the pitcher are about 20 little plastic cups filled with water. Water, I can only assume, that came from the Fountain of Youth surrounded by plastic, life-size Indians, that is supposed give me youthfulness forever.
Yeah, well. What are ya gonna do? Russell and I each pick up a cup and toast. "To eternal youth!", we say. And drink.
11 Magnolia Avenue
St. Augustine, FL 32084