Off and Running at Saratoga Springs Print E-mail

 Florida Today

July 17, 2016

Like the mythical Scottish village of Brigadoon, Saratoga Springs comes to life each magical summer.Saratoga 3

Legions of fans will watch and wager on many of the world’s fastest and finest racehorses during the six week season beginning July 22 . With its steeply raked roof, lazily spinning ceiling fans and Victorian grandstand, Saratoga Race Course salutes a bygone era.

Already a summer destination for the well-heeled in the mid-19th century, Saratoga was celebrated for its brilliant architecture and its mineral springs' curative powers. John ("Old Smoke") Morrissey was the kingpin. A gambler, former boxing champion, and casino owner, Morrissey organized Saratoga's first thoroughbred four-day meet. It drew thousands of locals and tourists a month after the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.

Today, big crowds, big payouts and top-flight racing are hallmarks of the "Spa" summer meet. Fans and bettors fill the hotels to capacity ready to "go racing," turning up for such storied races as the Coaching Club American Oaks, the Sword Dancer, the Alabama, the Whitney, and the Woodward stakes races. The highlight is the 147th running of the $1.25 million Travers Stakes, a pivotal race for three-year olds at a mile and a quarter on August 27.

Kennedy Space Center Delivers An Epic Journey Print E-mail

 Long Island Boating World

August 2016

Here's a question: why are rockets launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida?KSC 7

Set on the Atlantic Ocean and relatively nearer the equator compared to other U.S. locations, Cape Canaveral is a prime spot because rockets traveling eastward get a boost from the earth's natural spin. So, they save on fuel as well as rocket power. The rate of spin is at its highest on the equator and slowest at the poles. Cape Canaveral's southern latitude of just 28 degrees above the equator is a nice fit.

In the early 1960s the area around Cape Canaveral was a rural beach within a short driving distance of both Navy and Army bases. Since infrastructure was in place for transportation and there was a fair amount of reasonable privacy and isolation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) established its command post here.

The Kennedy Space Center (KSC) became the gateway to the cosmos. Today, KSC's landscape is dotted with towering launch pads and support facilities filled with massive buildings and high-tech hardware and gear. But the space launch complex has a wild side.

Residing roughly midway between Jacksonville and Miami, the space center shares a boundary with the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Established in 1962 and operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it provides a protected habitat for migratory birds and endangered and threatened species. It's a strange marriage of colossal technology and exquisite natural beauty that has co-existed for more than 50 years.

Easy Going New Smyrna Beach Print E-mail

 Long Island Boating World

May 2016

Did New Smyrna Beach get the jump on St. Augustine?

NSB 1Historians have long debated whether the seaside town is the actually the original St. Augustine-- the Spanish-colonized spot known as the nations‘ oldest city. Why? Overlooking the Intracoastal waterway stands a stunning 40 x 80 foot coquina ruin. A limestone consisting almost entirely of shelly fossils, coquina was the only material resembling stone on Florida's sandy coast that explorers used to build structures in the late 1600s. Coquina is the primary building material of the famed masonry fort Castillo de San Marcus in St. Augustine. Still, other historians give credit for the structure to a Scottish physician named Andrew Turnbull who colonized the area for England in 1768. 

Today, the ruins are part of the larger Old Fort Park. Nestled among the moss-draped trees along the shores of the scenic Indian Rive, New Smyrna Beach is surrounded totally by bodies of water. The Atlantic Ocean lies to the east, the Intracoastal Waterway to the west and Mosquito Lagoon is between the two.

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.

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