Archive for October, 2012

Photo: Playing in downtown Port St. Joe

Future football stars practice on the sidewalk of Reid Avenue as the shops of Port St. Joe are reflected behind them.

Continue reading Photo: Playing in downtown Port St. Joe »

18th Annual Halloween Howl at the Tallahassee Museum

The 18th Annual Halloween Howl at the Tallahassee Museum is this weekend, Oct. 26 and 27. I haven’t been to this event but I have been to the Museum itself and with all its trails and different areas, this should be super fun.

The two fright nights of fun begin at 6 p.m. and end at 10 p.m. each night. There are activities for all ages, so don’t worry about your kids being too young (or too grown up!) to have a great time. Here’s what’s on the agenda:

  • Not-So-Spooky Trail
  • Haunted Farm
  • Carnival Games
  • Costume Contests
  • Live Music
  • The Haunted Trail

Don’t wait to get your tickets at the window, get them online now and avoid the lines. Prices for members are: $8 for kids and $10 for adults; non-members are $10 for kids and $12 for adults. Happy hauntings.

Continue reading 18th Annual Halloween Howl at the Tallahassee Museum »

Be a Great Gift-Giver: Shop St. Pete’s Florida Craftsmen Holiday Boutique

If you’re the kind of person who likes to find really unique and meaningful gifts, you must visit the Florida Craftsmen Holiday Boutique in St. Petersburg. This is a non-profit organization that represents fine craft artists throughout Florida and what you’ll find here will leave you in awe.

The exhibition runs Nov. 2 – Dec. 29, 2012, with a special opening reception, Friday Nov. 2 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sundays Nov. 25 to Dec. 23, noon-4 p.m.

The location is at their gallery space at 501 Central Avenue, and you're sure to find plenty of things for everyone on your list. I'm talking handcrafted furniture (think Aiden from in Sex in the City), one-of-a-kind chess boards, beautiful pepper mills, sculpted bowls and gorgeous kitchen wares.

Need baby gifts? You'll find unique, beautiful items, and doll collectors will love the Sus Devnani holiday collection. Got a picky person who you can never satisfy? Browse the handwoven hats, scarves and shawls and the artisan jewelry is fabulous. Did I mention the handmade holiday ornaments and decorations?

They offer layaway and free gift wrapping, too. Start your list then get over to St. Petersburg to shop the Florida Craftsman Holiday Boutique.

Continue reading Be a Great Gift-Giver: Shop St. Pete’s Florida Craftsmen Holiday Boutique »

Be The Best Gift-Giver: Shop The Florida Craftsmen Holiday Boutique

If you’re the kind of person that likes to find really unique and meaningful gifts, you must visit the Florida Craftsmen Holiday Boutique in St. Petersburg. This is a non-profit organization that represents fine craft artists throughout Florida and what you’ll find here will leave you in awe.

The exhibition will run Nov. 2, 2012 – Dec. 29, 2012, with a special opening reception, Friday Nov. 2nd from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Hours are Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  and Sundays , Nov. 25 to Dec. 23, noon-4 p.m.

The location is at their gallery space at 501 Central Avenue, and you are sure to find plenty of things for everyone on your list. I'm talking handcrafted furniture (think Aiden from in Sex in the City), one-of-a-kind chess boards, beautiful pepper mills, sculpted bowls and gorgeous kitchen wares.

Need baby gifts? You'll find unique, beautiful items and doll collectors will love the Sus Devnani holiday collection. Got a picky person who you can never satisfy? Browse the hand woven hats, scarves and shawls and the artisan jewelry is fabulous – and that’s no exaggeration. Did I mention the handmade holiday ornaments and decorations?

They offer layaway and free gift wrapping, too.  Start your list then get over to St. Petersburg to shop the Florida Craftsman Holiday Boutique.

Continue reading Be The Best Gift-Giver: Shop The Florida Craftsmen Holiday Boutique »

Mala Compra Plantation: History From the Ground Up

Palm Coast – When Flagler County purchased an old waterfront fish camp 20-plus years ago, it had big plans for the site. The eyesore property, with its dilapidated trailers, primitive plumbing and electrical wiring, would be cleared out to make way for a picturesque county park with a boat ramp and nature trails.

But while county workers were removing trash, they discovered an unexpected archaeological treasure: the remnants of Mala Compra Plantation, once owned by Florida's first voice in the U.S. Congress and its first Hispanic member.

"The crews, of course, went in with the express purpose of demolishing and removing all the stuff that was there," recalls Al Hadeed, the Flagler County attorney. "One day the road and bridge superintendent called me and said, 'There is something here that you've got to see.' It was an old coquina well. And as we began to clear out stuff, we began to see other outcroppings of cut coquina."
{pullquote}
In the early 19th century, the plantation was home to Joseph Hernandez, who served as everything from a brigadier general in the U.S. Army to a committee member who helped select Tallahassee as the state capital. The site is part of Bing's Landing, an eight-acre county park that also includes a boat launch, fishing pier, and picnic and playground facilities.

Flagler County pursued archaeological grants to study the physical evidence of Hernandez' plantation, and then more grants to create a permanent display at the site.

"Normally when archaeologists dig, they take the artifacts and then cover the site back up," says Sisco Deen, the archive curator for the Flagler County Historical Society. "With this one, we got the artifacts, but they left the dig."

Today, visitors can walk on an elevated boardwalk around the perimeter of the plantation remains and read interpretive displays that explain the site's historical and cultural value.

"Typically, with these kind of sites, they bury them to preserve them because it's very expensive to preserve them in the open," Hadeed says.

In 2010, Mala Compra Plantation received two notable awards: One, an international recognition from the Society for Historic Archaeology, singled out the county for promoting historical archaeology. Another, from the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, rewarded the county's "Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Historic Landscape/Archaeology."

Additionally, artifacts from the dig – and others donated by descendants of Hernandez – are on display at sites around Flagler County, such as the Flagler Beach Museum and the county government services building, which houses more-valuable items that require a higher level of security.

Flagler County, of course, didn't know what it was getting when it purchased this small portion of Hernandez' old spread. But officials were surprised and delighted as they pieced together the history.

The son of Spanish immigrants who came to Florida from Minorca, an island off the coast of Spain, Hernandez was born in St. Augustine in 1788, when Florida was controlled by the Spanish. Much of his family moved to Cuba when Florida became part of the United States in 1821, but Hernandez stayed behind and launched a political career in his home state.

In 1822, he was selected to represent the new Florida Territory in Congress, where he served until 1823.

His plantation, which produced cotton and oranges and once consisted of nearly 800 acres, is also notable because Hernandez hosted John James Audubon there during Christmas of 1831, and one of the naturalist's paintings in Birds of America depicts a water bird at Mala Compra.

Seminole Indians burned the plantation in 1836 during the Second Seminole Indian War.

The plantation's name, Mala Compra, translates to "bad bargain," but who gave it that name and who got the short end of whatever bargain is not clear. Today, for those who treasure history, Mala Compra is a great deal.

If You Go

What: Mala Compra Plantation ruins
Where: Bing's Landing County Park, 5862 N. Oceanshore Blvd., Palm Coast
Phone: 386-313-4020
Web: flaglercounty.org
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Cost: Free

In the Area

To round out a visit to the remains of Hernandez' plantation, consider these other Palm Coast destinations:

The Hammock Beach Resort (200 Ocean Crest Dr., Palm Coast, 386-246-5500, hammockbeach.com), located just off Florida's scenic Highway A1A, is an oceanfront resort that offers myriad activities for golfers, anglers, families and relaxation seekers. The family-friendly resort includes a 91,000-square-foot water pavilion, complete with water park and lazy river. An onsite spa, two golf courses, nine-hole putting course, bicycle and kayak rentals and beachside bonfires complete the Hammock Beach experience.

Just north of Palm Coast, Marineland (9600 Oceanshore Blvd., St. Augustine, 904-471-1111, marineland.net) started the Florida tradition of bringing marine life to landlubbers. Opened in 1938 as Marine Studios, this Old Florida attraction was originally intended to satiate film and television studios' appetites for underwater footage, and Johnny Weismuller filmed here for his Tarzan movies. Most of the facility's original structures were retired after 2004, and today, dolphin encounters are offered at a modern 1.3 million-gallon facility.

Continue reading Mala Compra Plantation: History From the Ground Up »

Ainsley and Elmo Reunited Thanks to Ritz Employee

When five-year-old Ainsley lost her beloved Elmo while vacationing with her family at the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, the family thought he was lost forever. They returned to their home in Orlando with lots of tears and little hope that Elmo would be found and returned.

Turns out Elmo wasn’t lost at all, he was simply enjoying his vacation for a little while longer at the Ritz. A dedicated employee named Nelson Quesada not only found Elmo, but took photos of Elmo all around the resort: lounging by the pool, working out in the fitness center, playing video games, hanging out with other stuffed friends, cooking with the chefs… then Nelson mailed Elmo, along with a scrap book he created, back to Ainsley in Orlando. You just have to see the smile on this little girl’s face – priceless, indeed.

I just had to give a shout to the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island and to Nelson for customer service that went above and beyond anyone’s expectation. The world needs more Nelsons!

WKMG Local Six in Orlando aired the story and our own Food & Dining Insider, Rachelle Lucas, emailed me the link. You just have to see this. It will make your day. Ainsley and Elmo, Reunited.

Continue reading Ainsley and Elmo Reunited Thanks to Ritz Employee »

First Annual Delray Beach Wine and Food Festival

In a city nationally known for its fantastic festivals and events, The Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce is excited to produce its first-ever food & wine festival, Nov. 10-11, 2012.

The Delray Beach Seafood & Wine Festival is an upscale gourmet food and wine event that will highlight all that Delray Beach has to offer. It takes place on the east end of Atlantic Avenue beginning at the Intracoastal and extending east to Salina. Admission is free.

Festival hours are:

Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Sunday 11 p.m. to 8 p.m.

There'll be wine and food pairings you can attend, not to meniton of slew of live entertainment. To get the most of the event, why not make it a weekend getaway? Here's a listing of hotels with special accommodation offers.

Continue reading First Annual Delray Beach Wine and Food Festival »

Go Fast for This Daytona 500 Tickets and Accommodations Package

Here’s exciting news for NASCAR fans, The Shores Resort & Spa is offering a Daytona 500 package that includes tickets to the races.

The Shores is a beautiful property right on the Atlantic, with an onsite spa, bar, restaurant, amazing pool deck with fire pits and private cabanas. The five-night package is valid Feb. 20-25, 2013, and the savings tally up to more than $1,000. Here’s the offer:

  • Five nights of oceanview accommodations (Feb. 20-25, 2013).
  • Petty/Earnhardt Tower-Level Seating for two  at the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Drive4COPD 300 and Daytona 500 races (Feb. 23 and 24).
  • Sprint FanZone access for two (Feb. 23 and 24), the next-best thing to a garage pass. Prior to the race, walk the track surface and onto the pit road for pre-race driver introductions.
  • Airport Limousine pickup and drop off (for guests arriving by air into the Daytona International Airport).
  • One Official Commemorative Daytona 500 Photo Book.

You already know the Daytona 500 is the Super Bowl of stock car racing and this event draws one of the largest crowds to the region. Tickets are hard to come by, and so are hotel rooms. This package is your solution – so race to your phone and make your reservation so you can stay in AAA Four-Diamond rated style.

Call 866-934-Shores or visit www.ShoresResort.com and mention this promotion code: D513SH.

*Rates are per room. Package valid only for five-night stay Feb. 20-25, 2013.

Continue reading Go Fast for This Daytona 500 Tickets and Accommodations Package »

Daytona 500 Tickets And Accommodations Package

Here’s exciting news for NASCAR fans, The Shores Resort & Spa is offering a Daytona 500 package that includes tickets to the races.

The Shores is a beautiful property right on the Atlantic, with an onsite spa, bar, restaurant, amazing pool deck with fire pits and private cabanas. The five-night package is valid Feb. 20-25, 2013, and the savings tally up to more than $1000. Here’s the offer:

  • Five nights of oceanview accommodations (Feb. 20-25, 2013)
  • Petty/Earnhardt Tower-Level Seating for two  at the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Drive4COPD 300 and Daytona 500 races (Feb. 23 & 24)
  • Sprint FanZone access for two (Feb. 23 & 24) – The next best thing to a garage pass. Prior to the race, walk the track surface and onto pit road for pre-race driver introductions
  • Airport Limousine pickup and drop off (for guests arriving by air into the Daytona International Airport)
  • One Official Commemorative Daytona 500 Photo Book

You already know the Daytona 500 is the 'Super Bowl of stock car racing' and this event draws one of the largest crowds to the region. Tickets are hard to come by, and so are hotel rooms. This package is your solution – so race to your phone and make your reservation so you can stay in AAA Four-Diamond rated style.

Call 866-934-Shores or visit www.ShoresResort.com and mention promotion code: D513SH.

*Rates are per room. Package valid only for five-night stay of Feb.20-25, 2013

Continue reading Daytona 500 Tickets And Accommodations Package »

Maritime & Classic Boat Museum Holds Historical Treasures

Southeast Florida's Treasure Coast is named for the treasures spilled from shipwrecks that occurred here from the 1600s through the 1800s. But that nickname might also apply to numerous treasures still found here.

The Maritime & Classic Boat Museum, overlooking the mile-wide Indian River in the seacoast town of Jensen Beach, is a treasure itself, paying homage to this area's great nautical tradition.

This is not your usual museum. No one can trace exactly when it started, or how. There are no "records." There's only one paid employee. And admission is free.
{pullquote}
This museum came about because of – and is maintained and staffed by – a devoted group of local residents and a 10-person board of trustees who love the lore (and the lure) of the sea, and the precious old boats and artifacts that symbolize it.

"We started out 20 years ago, when a bunch of boat-lovers displayed a few old boats in the Jensen Beach Mall," board member Dennis Ladd said. "We later bought a property in Stuart. Then, a few years ago, Jensen Beach offered this site in Riverside Park and we've been here ever since.'

The museum is filled with classic boats and outboard motors, nautical equipment from the past 200 years, magnificent model craft including tugboats, schooners, pirate ships and aircraft carriers, and a library – with every book donated by the community.

"Many of our items have how-we-got-it stories," Ladd said. "Surviving spouses often donate equipment or artifacts. One guy sailed around the world to Russia by sextant, and wanted us to have the sextant."

The museum has an exceptional collection of artifacts donated by the Whiticar Boat Works, a local company that's been building and customizing boats for nearly a century.

Among those artifacts, once owned by founder Curt Whiticar, are tools from the era when great boats were built by hand – a brace and bit from 1875, a plane from 1910, a claw hammer from 1890, Heinisch shears from 1890 and a 1916 Stanley jointer plane.

Whiticar was also a wonderful painter, and the museum features some of his works of masted sailing boats.

"And we've also received artifacts from Shirley Evinrude, great-granddaughter of Ole Evinrude, inventor of the outboard motor and founder of the company that still bears his name," Ladd said.

A walk through the Maritime & Classic Boat Museum is journey back to a simpler time.

Here, you'll come across the "Pollywog," an Evinrude craft built in 1983 using blueprints from 1913, with a "knucklebuster" motor – so-called because you needed to spin it around with your hands to get it started.

Here, you'll see a sleek Chris Craft made of mahogany, built in 1936 for Roland C. Bull and called Bull's Ship.

You'll see a canoe with a steering mechanism – think about that for a minute – used for fly fishing. You'll see a "Dodge Water Car," made in 1929 by the brothers who started the car company; the craft was found many years later in a debris-filled field. There's a 1955 14-foot Chris Craft called "The Zephyr," a "kit boat" you had to assemble yourself. And you'll do a double-take at the "Vintage Rose," a 1934 Chris Craft with not one cockpit, but three.

The collection of scale models here is amazing. Each piece took hundreds – sometimes thousands – of hours of work.

There's a model of a 110-foot tugboat called Brooklyn, originally built in 1910, and one of the U.S.S. Constitution (Old Ironsides), built in 1797. See also the Baltimore Clipper, an old slave-trade ship, and – in stark contrast – the U.S.S. Enterprise, the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

There's a model of a Chinese junk. A shrimp boat. And a legendary New York City fire boat that helped fight the fires of 9/11. There's even a model of a ship used in the cleanup of the Gulf oil spill – with working electronic equipment.

One-of-a-kind items include the hand-crafted fishing poles once owned by Ralph Evinrude, son of Ole, and his wife, the noted actress Frances Langford, who lived here in Jensen Beach.

There's a working radar "sweep" that allows you to see other boats in the area, a compass-like instrument called a pelorus, star-locating equipment for navigation, a depth-finder and a spyglass from a U.S. Navy Officer of the Deck.  

"Basically," Ladd said, "pretty much everything that has led up to the invention of the GPS."

The museum has plans for a $12 million permanent facility just north of its present site, a state-of-the-art operation that will also serve as a community education center focusing on the ocean and the Indian River just outside the door. The economy notwithstanding, Ladd and the other trustees aren't giving up until the museum "on the hill" is a reality.

"We've all put in too much work to stop now," he said.

In the meantime, anyone who's ever fantasized about sea-spray in the face and salt air in the senses will experience the next best thing at the Maritime & Classic Boat Museum.

If You Go

What: The Maritime & Classic Boat Museum
Where: 1707 NE Indian River Drive, Jensen Beach
Phone: 772-692-1234
Web: mcbmfl.org
Cost: Free
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday; Closed Saturday, Sunday and major holidays.

Steve Winston has written or contributed to 17 books. His articles have appeared in major media all over the world.

Continue reading Maritime & Classic Boat Museum Holds Historical Treasures »