Travel


Pelican Island: A Bird's Eye View Print E-mail

Delaware County Times

April 23, 2017

Back in the late 19th century a four acre spit of land was a thriving bird rookery in the Indian River Lagoon. Beautiful herons, egrets, spoonbills and pelicans were so plentiful it was hard to fathom that these birds might soon disappear.PelicanIsland 4

However, with the introduction of steamboat and railroad transportation the number of American settlers started to swell in coastal central Florida. Many were plume hunters stalking the local birds for their dramatic colorful plumage coveted by the booming millinery trade. The most fashionable ladies of Manhattan society were in a frenzy over feather hats.

Avid outdoorsman and naturalist Frank Chapman (who became a bird curator of the American Museum of Natural History) spearheaded a public outcry against the bird slaughter. He helped convince President Theodore Roosevelt that poachers were wiping out the populations of exotic birds on Pelican Island. It was a horrid business where hunters killed and skinned the mature birds, left orphaned hatchlings to be devoured by lurking crows. Eliminating two generations at once.

On March 14, 1903, President Roosevelt signed an executive order establishing Pelican Island as America's first National Wildlife Refuge. Never before had the federal government set aside land for wildlife. Roosevelt would go on to establish a network of 55 bird reservations and national game preserves - the forerunner to today's National Wildlife Refuge System.

 
St. Pete: Hitting New Heights Print E-mail

 Florida Today

December 2016

If you haven't ventured over to downtown St. Petersburg in a while, you're in for a surprise. A big surprise.SP 01

Named in 1892 after the hometown of a Russian railroad magnate who helped develop it, over the past decade St. Pete has morphed into one of the top go-to destinations in the Southeast. Once taunted for its green benches, bingo nights and sluggish snowbirds, today St. Pete is a textbook case for urban reinvention.

Evidently, "God’s waiting room" has moved on.

With the city's demographics shifted in a more youthful direction, downtown is thriving thanks to a resurgence of condos on the water and a burgeoning bar and restaurant scene. Anchored by the posh Vinoy Renaissance Hotel, Beach Drive serves up a myriad of cafes and gourmet restaurants from Central to Fifth Avenue NE. The Canopy, perched atop the Birchwood Hotel, provides an escape from the downtown bar scene norm as you look out across Tampa Bay with one of its tropical-inspired cocktails in hand.

 
Golden Autumn Getaway at St. Simons Island Print E-mail

 Florida Today

October 22, 2016

Best-selling antebellum novelist Eugenia Price often spoke of the "special light" on her beloved St. Simon's Island. Turning a beautiful golden color in autumn, the expansive salt marsh grasses are especially dramatic when lit by the setting sun.StSimons Marsh

The Golden Isles in southern Georgia have long attracted travelers with their astonishing beauty, abundant wildlife, and historic gems. About midway between Jacksonville and Savannah, the unspoiled barrier islands comprise St. Simons, Jekyll Island, Sea Island, and Little St. Simons Island, just off the mainland city of Brunswick.

The salt marshes here are a fragile yet an enormously productive ecosystem, considered as some of the most extensive and productive marshlands in the world. The incoming tide nourishes and feeds the grasses of the marsh. The outgoing tide harvests its products and, through the tidal energy, breaks down the grasses and feeds the resources to the sea. A nursery for commercial seafood, the decomposing plant material are a superb source of food for blue crabs, shrimp, oysters, clams and all manner of small fish.

Majestic ancient oaks line the Pier Village district located at the end of Mallery Street on the southern end. Overlooking St. Simons Sound, the pier provides benches along each side allowing visitors a place to watch fishermen and crabbers haul up their day’s catch or simply enjoy the views of Jekyll Island in the distance.

 
Doubling Down on Lady Luck Print E-mail

Long Island Boating World

October 2016

Feeling lucky? Pompano Beach, Fla. officials sure are. They’re betting a recently sunken former New York City tanker will become a scuba diving hot spot as well as providing a much needed boost to south Florida’s fragile coral reefs.LadyLuck 2

Formerly known as Newtown Creek, the 324-foot vessel was scuttled on July 23 about a mile and a half east of the Pompano Beach Fishing Pier. Holes were strategically cut into the wreck and prefilled with water so the ship would only need a minimal amount of water to sink.

The rechristened “Lady Luck” is the centerpiece of Shipwreck Park, a series of 16 other ships-turned-reefs, brimming with an array of marine life. With whimsical pieces of art on its deck, Lady Luck is expected to be one of the most popular and accessible major dive sites in the country. Free to divers with their own boats, Lady Luck is projected to attract 35,000 participants each year.

The 2,557-ton Newtown Creek’s propellers-- at seven feet in diameter-- were powered by twin 1,500 horsepower diesel engines. It has fine lines and a sharp bow with a beam of 49.6 feet. The lovely grey hulled coastal tanker traversed New York Harbor’s waters for close to a half century hauling sludge.

 
Marvelous Monhegan Island Print E-mail

 Florida Today

August 22, 2016

We're queuing up on the docks of the village of Port Clyde ready to climb aboard a 65-foot vessel, the Elizabeth Ann. With the passengers, mail and freight loaded, we steam out of the harbor past Marshall Point lighthouse and a series of pine and spruce-clad islands before reaching the open sea to ply our way toward Monhegan Island.Monhegan 12

Navigating among the schooners and other boats that traverse the Gulf of Maine, Capt. John Haines points out puffins winging across the water on their northern migratory route. We get up-close views of porpoises, and families of brown seals frolicking in the sea or basking in the sun on Seal Rock. Hundreds of buoys mark lobster traps, each marker color coded to identify its owner. Lobstermen are allowed a maximum of 475 traps during the season that stretches from November through May.

After an hour ferry ride, my wife Jane and I step off onto Monhegan and hike up past the Island Inn that sports an American flag whipping atop its cupola. The tidy village boasts impossibly quaint houses surrounded by colorful flowers. There are no cars, and no paved roads, just narrow lanes and footpaths. A handful of tailgate-less work trucks haul pallets of building materials, propane, produce and food, beer, wine and other cargo from the docks to businesses operating on the island.

Barely a square mile in area, Monhegan is a down to earth and hard working culture, where fishing and lobstering families still live and work by the tide clock. The summer resident population hovers around 200, but day-trippers can add another 600 or 700 to the mix. Winter is a quiet and lonely time; the island shrinks to its bedrock population of 65.

 
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