Travel


Relaxing is Easy on Longboat Key Print E-mail

Long Island Boating World Magazine

February 2018

We arrived at the Zota Beach Resort two days before Christmas for a holiday stay. The gulf-front getaway is uber-modern and sleek, set in a secluded location surrounded by tropical blooms, lush foliage and swaying palm trees. A local gem in the charming little town of Longboat Key, Zota has been making waves since its opening in late June.Zota 1

What's up with the name? Historians believe that early Spanish explorers manning longboats spotted the white sands on the barrier island from a distance and were reminded of the Sahara Desert, thus "Zara." The native origin of the word Zota is blue waters, so the area became known as Zara Zota-- "the Sahara by the blue waters." Over time the indigenous name evolved to become Sarasota.

Longboat Key (LBK) plays the name game, too. It comes from the vessels manned by Spanish explorers such as Juan Anasco-- a scout for Hernando de Soto in 1539-- who traveled through the north pass of the barrier island. Much later Confederate soldier and carpenter Thomas Mann was awarded a homestead grant of 144 acres on both the north and south ends of the island, settling here in 1891. Mann sold his property around the turn of the century for $500.

LBK offers both a scenic and elegant environment. It boasts the rare combination of beautiful beaches and renowned visual and performing arts culture in Sarasota just to the south. Less than 11 miles in length and no more than a mile across in its widest point, manatees and dolphins play just offshore. Great egrets and great blue herons fish along the beach, while cormorants, ospreys and pelicans wheel overhead, before swooping down into the turquoise Gulf in search of a meal.

 
Spotting the Rarest Whale in the World Print E-mail

 Delaware County Times

January 15, 2018

Thar she blows!6 RightWhale_FFWCC

Each year from December through March a remarkable event takes place. North Atlantic right whales can be sighted in the warm, calm coastal waters off the Atlantic coast between Jacksonville and Sebastian Inlet, Fla. to give birth and nurse their calves. In the spring they head back home to feeding grounds in the Bay of Fundy between Maine, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.

Reaching lengths of up to 55 feet and weighing from 40 to 70 tons, some of the creatures come within a couple hundred yards of the beach. Mothers can be seen schooling newborn calves, while juvenile whales play nearby. One of the most endangered marine mammals in the world, North Atlantic right whales are mostly black with whitish patches on the head and belly. They have a graceful and deeply notched "fluke," or tail. Two blowholes on the top of its head give a distinctive V-shape to a right whale's spout.

Scientists estimate that there are only 490 right whales in existence, but thanks to a decade's work of volunteer whale watchers, that number is on the rise. Protection and stewardship of these mammoth creatures is essential.

 
Easy Going Pass-a-Grille Print E-mail

Florida Today

January 7, 2018

“See you at Sunset!” It's a frequent greeting in Pass-a-Grille. Folks gather at the Paradise Grille to watch the glowing red-orange sun sink into the Gulf of Mexico horizon. One lucky guest is chosen to ring a ceremonial ship's bell, exactly 15 times. Over the past two decades, seven thousand people from around the world have rung the bell and signed their names and remembrances in the guest books, now on their 20th volume.Pass 6

Call it a perfect snapshot of the sleepy little Keys-type community populated as much by pelicans as people. Occupying the narrow southern tail of St. Pete Beach, Pass-a-Grille is nestled between the Gulf of Mexico and Boca Ciega Bay. The quirky beach town is a mere thirty one blocks long and one block wide.

Each morning wiry kids with spinning rods in their hands line the seawall on the east side of the town. On gusty days its broad sugary white beaches play host to kite boarders. Kayakers and paddle boarders navigate the Gulf waters most afternoons. Loggerhead sea turtles nest here during the summer.

History says Spanish explorer Panfilo de Narvaez landed at Pass-a-Grille in 1528. The town is named for the 18th century "grilleurs" who would stop on the beaches here to smoke their day’s catch in order to preserve it for the trip home. It is mostly a residential community of well-preserved clapboard cottages, cozy inns, and an occasional waterfront mansion. Old Florida palms line the streets, which offer a collection of off-beat shops, art galleries, and waterfront restaurants.

 
Surfing Santas Shred Waves in Cocoa Beach Print E-mail

 

Delaware County Times
December 10, 2017

You never know where a kooky idea will lead.SSantas 01

On Christmas Eve 2009, George Trosset went surfing dressed as Santa out back of his beachside residence in Cocoa Beach, Fla. His son and daughter-in-law dressed up as elves. The local newspaper published a picture on the front page of its Christmas Day edition. When Trossset's buddies spotted the picture, they asked about joining in the holiday spirit. The following year 19 turned up to hit some gnarly waves.

Flash forward to 2016. Surfing Santas is a full-on, mega event. As the sun poked in and out of high clouds on Christmas Eve early morning a steady stream of 772 Saint Nick costumed surfers (topping 648 in 2015) grabbed their surfboards and carved the waves, while an estimated 8,000 spectators poured onto the sand near Coconuts restaurant in Cocoa Beach.

Dressed in themed outfits – Frosty the Snowman, Santa and Mrs. Claus, gingerbread men, reindeer, elves toy soldiers and other holiday characters-- the spring-break type throng stretched out over two city blocks. They stayed for hours entertained on the main stage by the surf-roots band The Aquanauts, Balsa Bill singing Mele Kalikimaka on the ukulele, and the Brevard Hawaiian Dancers.

 
The Middleburg Mystique Print E-mail

 Florida Today

November 19, 2017

Driving along Highway 50 you feel as if you've been transported into the middle of an English countryside where low stone walls gracefully wind through rolling pastures that stretch to the horizon. Hay bales dot the landscape. Welcome to the heart of Virginia’s horse country.MiddleburgHuntReview

Forty miles southwest of our nation's capitol, the tiny community of Middleburg (pop. 750) is set in the lush foothills of the Blue Ridge and Bull Run mountains. In 1750 an enthusiastic 16 year-old named George Washington came to survey the surrounding lands. More than 200 years later Jackie Kennedy galloped on horseback across its lush hills as she rode with the Orange County Hunt.

One of the quaintest destinations on the east coast, its fox hunts, antiques shops, and nearby vineyards are year-round attractions. The Virginia Gold Cup is one of the nation’s most prominent steeplechase races attracting a crowd in excess of 50,000 at the Great Meadow in Plains, Va. the first Saturday in May.

Still, the most festive event is the annual “Christmas in Middleburg,” a three-day yuletide extravaganza beginning December 1. On Saturday the Middleburg Hunt & Hound Review takes to the streets creating the spectacular sight of 150 horses with riders in black leather boots, breeches, and pink and black hunting coats. In keeping with the animal friendliness of the town, the parade includes horses, foxhounds, ponies, llamas, alpacas and a variety of dog breeds, all trotting down Washington Street. Treading on the coattails of the foxhunters, floats, bands, and troops pass by, and the signature antique fire trucks-- and, of course, Santa, who closes the parade riding on an ornate horse-drawn coach.

 
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