Cocoa Beach: Surf City Print E-mail

 Delaware County Times

May 8, 2016

Heard of an Ouroborus? Thought so.Cocoa 6

It's an ancient symbol of a serpent eating its own tail. On a sun-splashed April weekend, artist Todd Brittingham turned up in Cocoa Beach, Fla. to create his own giant Ouroborus. It marked the 28th Annual Earth Work, during which the artist along with a gang of helpers built a massive environmental sculpture in the sand. He called it a "Sky Message," and it took up the length of two football fields.

The sand art seems a natural fit. An iconic and quirky beach town, Cocoa Beach is celebrated for wide beaches and surfing teachers, fishing rigs and dinosaur digs, a surf megastore and art galleries galore, rocket launches, oceanfront happy hours and candy colored sunsets.

Set in the heart of Florida's Space Coast — that stretches 72 miles along Florida's east coast — the kitschy beach town has 321 for its area code. For good reason: it's just a short drive north on Route A1A to the John F. Kennedy Space Center.

SS United States Could Set Sail Again Print E-mail

March 2016

Gutted and rusted, hitched to an unused wharf in South Philadelphia for two decades, things are looking up for the once majestic SS United States. It may yet one day sail again.SS US_01

In early February the Los Angeles-based Crystal Cruises luxury travel company announced plans to overhaul the ship at a cost of upwards of $800 million. The once sparkling transatlantic steamship is owned by the SS United States Conservancy that struck a deal with Crystal to save the ship. But before the SS United States can be transformed into a modern luxury cruise ship, the vessel must undergo a nine-month technical feasibility study.

During that time period Crystal Cruises has agreed to cover all costs of the $60,000 cost a month associated with preserving the ship, including the ship's mooring on the Delaware River. The feasibility study is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.

In its glory days during the 1950s, the iconic ship-- nicknamed the "Big U"-- carried everyone from royalty to Hollywood stars to immigrants across the Atlantic Ocean, accompanied by three on-board orchestras. Passenger lists included Presidents Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy as well as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Princess Grace of Monaco, Gary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, John Wayne, even Leonardo da Vinci,'s Mona Lisa painting. Her decor was known for its sleek mid-20th century shapes and vibrant colors, courtesy of an all-female design team led by Dorothy Markwald.

Melbourne Beach: A Space Coast Gem Print E-mail

 Long Island Boating World

April 2016

Did you know that parrots are the third most popular pet in the world? Trouble is they live a long time. Cockatoos and Amazonian parrots can reach the age of 75 or older, so there are a lot of bird castaways. In a cozy Dutch colonial house in Melbourne Beach, Fla., Luann Apple provides a home for unwanted exotic birds often nursing them back to health.MB 01

Birds like Woody, a glorious blue and gold Macaw that now flourishes in this healthy tropical setting. Apple's ultimate goal is to ready the birds for adoption, finding them a good home which bestows a lot of love.

My wife Jane and I discovered the parrot sanctuary on a stroll down Ocean Avenue on a recent visit to the ocean-side community. Located on the barrier island between the Indian River and the Atlantic Ocean, Melboune Beach (pop. 3,600) offers unspoiled beaches with sparkling blue-green waters with large dunes blanketed with sea oats and native wildflowers.

It's truly a taste of Old Florida charm and ease.

Melbourne Beach: Old Florida Charm Print E-mail

Delaware County Times

December 20, 2015

 It is one of America's magical roadways. A north/south route, Highway A1A sprawls out in sections along Florida's entire Atlantic coast. Cruising along A1A in Central Florida we pulled into the towns of Melbourne Beach and Indiatlantic located on the barrier island between the Indian River and the Atlantic Ocean. Relaxed and unhurried, the twin sister towns offer unspoiled beaches with sparkling blue-green waters and large dunes blanketed with sea oats and native wildflowers.

Mel 2

It's truly a taste of Old Florida charm.

Melbourne Beach (pop. 3,500) is one of Brevard County's older beach communities and is named after the famed Australian coastal city. Travel A1A fifteen miles south and you come to Sebastian Inlet State Park. Sebastian's jetty break is recognized as one of the surf world's high-performance hot spots.

The inlet has been home to at least three generations of world-class surfers, including six-time world champion Kelly Slater surfed here. Monthly events and big-name surf camps are staged here as is the Sebastian Inlet Pro-- a five-star World Qualifying Series competition that draws some of the biggest names in the sport each January. In 1994 a part time treasure hunter, diving in eight feet of water about 100 yards from the wave break "First Peak" found $1 million worth of jewels and gold coins from a Spanish galleon that sank their more than 250 years earlier.

Getting the Scoop on Florida Bay Scallops Print E-mail

 Long Island Boating World
September 2015

It's that crook in the arm of the state where panhandle becomes peninsula and white sandy beaches give way to marsh and limestone rock, Florida’s Nature Coast.Scallops 1

Flocks of white pelicans often zip past in winter and great egrets dot marshy expanses, white as snowflakes. Ospreys are common sights soaring over shorelines, patrolling waterways, and standing on their huge stick nests. The hunting osprey is a picture of concentration, diving with feet outstretched and yellow eyes sighting straight along their talons.

The Apalachee Bay--where saltwater from the sea and freshwater from rivers and uplands mix-- supports one of the richest and most productive eco-systems in the world. In the spring spotted seatrout, redfish, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, and jack crevalle can easily be caught around the rich grass beds.

However once the calendar flips to summer,  local fishing guides  pop up Bimini tops on their working skiffs and switch to dipping for delectable, palm-size scallops. Three hours north of Tampa, Steinhatchee ("river of man") is midway between Apalachicola and old Suwannee River herself. And, it's decades closer to the uncluttered "Old-Florida" of lazy rivers and even lazier days hidden in the shade of the old moss-draped oaks.

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