Tag Archives: Tampa

𝗙𝗹𝗼𝗿𝗶𝗱𝗮 𝗕𝗼𝗼𝗸𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝗗𝗮𝘆! November 15, 2014

bookstoreday-poster-smallClick here to find a celebration near you and to submit your design for a special release poster based on our famous Florida book 𝘈 𝘓𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘙𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘥 by Patrick D. Smith.

The inaugural Florida Bookstore Day will be a day-long event celebrating independent and used bookstores, local authors and small presses in various cities throughout the Sunshine State.

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Filed under Florida, Florida Facts, Sarasota

Warm Mineral Springs, Florida

A Florida spring with healing properties

That’s Warm Mineral Springs’ claim to fame, anyway. I’m not sure if that is true, but going there is a lovely way to spend the day. I’ve been there many a time and I do feel refreshed. But, keep in mind that you leave there feeling refreshed in a different way than most springs in Florida.

Warm Mineral Springs is, well, warm! It’s 87 degrees year-round. That’s a really nice temperature for water that you soak in. The other difference is that the water has the 3rd highest mineral content in the world. Because of this, it is a destination for many Europeans and visitors from across the world. That’s one of the fun parts of the springs–hearing many languages spoken around you.

Floating and swimming around the spring is a pretty neat experience. It might not be for the faint of heart–there is a sulfur smell and there is floating algae–but it’s usually enjoyed by all. It’s a great way to relax and meet new people. You can truly say this is not a theme park experience and your northern visitors will have something to write home about.

Now, I haven’t been there since the new owners took it over. So, I truly can’t speak for the atmosphere now. But the many visits I made in the past were highlighted by the food. A quick look at the menu shows me the food is a little different, but I see the pierogies on there. I hope they are the same! Try them! The rest of the menu looks updated and more spa-like. I bet they worked hard to create a menu that went with the healing properties-it looks healthy. Let me know how it is.

It’s also worth the time to read about the history surrounding Warm Mineral Springs. Ponce de Leon thought it was the Fountain of Youth and archaeologists have found cool stuff there. Some of the history is detailed at the springs and some also on their website. Don’t miss reading up on this unique aspect of the springs.

Warm Mineral Springs is a unique Florida experience. Check out their website to learn about their hours and prices. I’d love to hear about your experience, don’t forget to share by posting them on Twitter and doing an @pineapplepress. Looking forward to hearing from you.

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Filed under Our Town, Sarasota, Travel

Wildlife Rescuers—Responding to Human Impacts

A guest blog by Bonnie Nickel, author of Those Mischievous Monkeys.

There are wildlife rescue groups throughout the state of Florida and beyond, including our own Wildlife Center of Venice, started in 2004. Ours, like many, operates solely on donations from the community, receives no government funding, and is staffed almost entirely by dedicated volunteers.

The facility sits just outside of town and on my research trip, all was quiet with the exception of the rustling wings of a flock of opportunistic vultures looking for a free handout. By mid-day, breakfast had been served and the sick had been tended to. When I arrived, one of the founders and licensed rehabilitators, Linda, was feeding the newest drop-off, a young southern flying squirrel, mauled by a domestic cat.

Young squirrels, rabbits, and birds are frequent patients of the center. When asked, center volunteers said that keeping domestic cats indoors would prevent many injuries they treat. Birds in particular are well-represented at the center. A variety of injuries, from golf ball strikes and fishing line entanglements, to a direct and deliberate strike by a kayak paddle (no kidding), land birds at the center. Over half the birds recover and can be released to the wild. The scores of orphaned squirrels, raccoons, and other mammals have a higher release rate and are often released in the groups in which they have been raised. Occasionally, a rehabilitated but unreleasable bird or animal will be sent to another facility to provide companionship for another unreleasable critter of the same species.

On the day I visited, the center housed herons, anhingas, pelicans (including the unreleasable blind pelican hit by a paddle), eagles, a hawk, a northern gannet, a frigate bird, an owl or two, a purple gallinule, a sandhill crane, 30+ raccoons, an equal number of squirrels, and a tortoise. Since the objective is to return wildlife to its habitat, encounters with humans are minimized and the center is only open to those dropping off injured wildlife.

After years of work, the infrastructure of the center is really taking shape. Donated metal shelters for raccoons replace older wire and wooden enclosures. Eagle scouts have constructed several individual structures for squirrels and large birds. Plans are being hatched for a new hospital structure and a 100-foot flyway for rehabilitating larger bird species. The latter project is next on the to-do list and will be accomplished with help from the Sarasota Bay Parrot Head Club—they are hosting a Casino Night fundraiser on January 20, 2012 with donations going to the Center.

Any wildlife center is, by necessity, a community effort. Besides frequent fundraisers, and dozens of volunteers, our center relies on professionals in the community for veterinary care, and local businesses for food and services. The center participates in a program with the local community college allowing students to earn course credit while volunteering at the center.  This is an excellent opportunity to develop the next generation of wildlife rescuers and enthusiasts.

The center counts 20 volunteers among it wildlife rescuers—those that actually trap or capture injured wildlife. Some of the most effective rescuers are former hunters. They have the skills required to trap an injured bird or animal and a mindset now focused on conservation. The thrill of the chase still exists but the stakes are higher. For the bird with the fishing line wrapped around its beak, or the fledgling eagle that has lost its parents, the rescue can be a matter of life or death. And the rescuers are persistent. One rescuer responded over 15 times before conditions were just right to trap an injured bird. The great blue heron required a foot amputation because of ever-tightening fishing line around its leg. So far, it is responding well and will likely be released.

One of the center’s few paid employees (funds donated by a local foundation) fields 30-60 calls per day. Not all are rescue requests. Some callers seek information about wildlife in their yard giving the center an opportunity to educate residents about local fauna. The staff and volunteers view community education as one of their critical missions. A little curiosity about our natural surroundings, along with the knowledge imparted by wildlife enthusiasts, can go a long way toward adjusting our actions in ways that will prevent many of the injuries seen at the center. Small actions like properly disposing of fishing line, keeping domestic cats indoors, and refraining from feeding wildlife are simple and effective. Oh yeah, and don’t hit birds with your paddle.

At the center, there are always animals to feed, laundry and dishes to be washed, buildings to maintain, wildlife to capture and transport, events to plan, presentations to give, articles to write, the list goes on. No skill goes unused. Hands-on help, donations of supplies, monetary donations, or attendance at fundraisers like the Casino Night are all helpful. Check the website of the center nearest you to see how you can help.

This is critical work, but in the end, are we just tinkering around the margins by rescuing individual birds and mammals? Maybe, but until there’s a sea change in how we treat nature, wildlife centers help maintain endangered, threatened, and keystone species that may otherwise disappear from the planet. The individuals who engage in this noble work deserve our deepest thanks and whatever support we can afford.

Good news on the global conservation front has been scant lately. I ask myself, is it worth itemizing the good news when it’s vastly outnumbered by the bad? I think so. It’s that little thing called hope—focusing on the good bits while we work on ways to negate the bad. Fortunately there’s been some good news around the world lately about reassessing human priorities. Success in this area may translate into good news for the natural world. In the meantime, here are some glimmers of hope:

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Filed under Beach, Guest blogger, Our Town, Sarasota

Lithia Springs Park in Tampa, Florida

There’s no need to travel to north Florida for a swim in a Florida spring.

A relaxing afternoon can be found at Lithia Springs Park in the Tampa, Florida area. It’s a refreshing swim at a great price.

Don’t go looking for the same ambience as a north Florida spring, because that’s not what Lithia Springs Park has. There’s no tubing or large areas to swim in. And the swimming area doesn’t feel overly natural because of the cement and railings they’ve built around it. However, the water is clear, the bottom relatively free of debris, and the swimming area separated into shallow and deep areas. You’ll also find a friendly crowd–most are swimming as part of their weekend picnic.

Another thing Lithia Springs is missing is the distinct smell of Warm Mineral Springs. It’s also missing the floating debris and really slippery rocks that are hard to avoid. I’m not dissing Warm Mineral Springs, because I actually quite adore it too–but this is a whole different experience that I’ll write about another time.

The picnic area at Lithia Springs is in great shape and quite shady…full of people laughing and having fun. It’s quite large and there seems to be two distinct areas. There are grills and pavilions, so it’s perfect for a large gathering. There’s also a nice playground and the bathrooms aren’t bad either.

If you live in west, central or south Florida–Lithia Springs is a must-see for outdoor enthusiasts and families. If you want to swim, don’t go in winter because the 72 degree water is a bit chilly. A summer swim feels refreshing, but you wouldn’t catch me there in the winter. For picnics or other outdoor fun in winter, the park would be a great option because they offer a cheaper ticket if you choose not to swim.

Check out Lithia Springs if you’re in the Tampa area and want to have a relaxing picnic and a refreshing swim with friends. Lithia Springs is perfect for a group looking to swim as part of their day outdoors, not those looking to swim all day. Every visit I’ve made has been very pleasant and I find it preferable to the long drive north to the other natural springs of Florida. It’s a true outdoor gem for this area.

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Filed under Family travel, Travel

Florida Halloween events

Here’s a last-minute list of some 2011 Florida Halloween events to check out this weekend:

Guavaween: An adult event in Tampa’s Ybor City. Everyone needs to experience it at least once. Saturday from 3p till ??

Jacksonville Zoo Spooktacular: A great time at the zoo for the whole family, with Halloween events and food. Oct 28-31.

Halloween Ghost Train on the Seminole Gulf Railway in Ft. Myers: A Halloween murder mystery for adults. Oct 28th-31st.

Downtown Pensacola Trick or Treat: Costumed kids 9 and under can trick-or-treat at about 50 stores. Oct 28th.

Spookover at the Deering Estate at Cutler (Miami area): Adults can spend the night with ghost hunters while searching for a woman in the Victorian dress. Oct 28th.

History Mystery Tales and Tours III (New Smyrna Beach): Take a mysterious walk in downtown New Smyrna Beach on the evening of Oct 28th.

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Tampa’s First Food Truck Rally

First Tampa Food Truck Rally posterThe Cuppin Cake Who made it out to Tampa’s First Food Truck Rally this past weekend?

I started seeing the hype a week or so back, and knew I had to attend. The food truck movement is going strong in Miami, but this was the first time I saw some evidence of it in our general area. This rally is the first in a series of rallies, and I think the events will gain more fans for the food truck concept. I can’t wait.

This one was held in the Hyde Park area of Tampa, in the parking lot area of a local church. There was live music, restrooms, and free childcare!! We got there a little after 11 and the lines were already long. The food smelled great and ranged from cupcakes to sandwiches to vegetarian dishes. Some of the attendees are complaining about the execution for the event, but the idea is so great that it can only improve next time. I must admit I only sampled a cupcake—but I will definitely bring more hardy companions to the next event, ones who will not shy away from a line so I can taste more. I hope everyone hangs in and supports this exciting new part of Tampa’s food life. And hopefully Sarasota’s food truck culture will not be far behind!

The Facebook page for the event is here: http://www.facebook.com/TampaFoodTruckRally

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Filed under Sarasota, Travel

Pineapple Press books

A question we get asked a lot goes something like this: “Do you have any books on Sarasota or Tampa or Ft. Myers or this specific hotel or this specific tourist destination?” The answer is often yes, kinda–because we don’t have a lot of books that just focus on certain cities or tourist destinations. We publish a lot of travel titles that are about backroads or small towns or traveling by boat and these contain information about certain cities or hotels or tourist destinations. We often have books that are about south Florida or northwest Florida or all of Florida and relate to museums, gardens, bicycling, fishing, etc. We also have compilations of historical stories that cover the whole state of Florida. We are always happy to answer your questions about our titles. Give us a call and we’ll gladly research what we can for you to see what books might have a certain city or place in it.

Below are some of our newest titles that relate to this post.

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Pineapple Press is all about Florida

If it’s a Florida subject, we probably cover it.

Whether it be about Florida’s beaches or water

Florida towns or Florida travel

or rural Florida…

Learn more at our website at www.pineapplepress.com

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Here’s a peek at downtown Sarasota, Florida

Our guest post by Bruce Hunt got me to thinking about towns. Our offices are in downtown Sarasota. I thought you might be interested to see what downtown Sarasota looks like. We’re probably a medium-sized city..smaller than Tampa and larger than Arcadia. I’d love to see what your city’s downtown looks like. Tweet them to us @pineapplepress using #mytown as a hashtag. I look forward to seeing them!

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Filed under Our Town

A Guest Post by Bruce Hunt, author of Visiting Small Town Florida

The question I get asked at book signings, more than any other question, is, “What’s the best Florida small town to live in?” And I always try to answer, first, by explaining that my book is a guide to visiting small towns in Florida, not a guide to moving to them. It’s actually written with big-city dwellers in mind, those who have had more than enough traffic jams, noise, and rude people during the week and just want to stay someplace 180 degrees different for a weekend. Then I explain to them that I actually live in a big city, so I’m probably not really qualified to evaluate small towns for their livability. I’m just the visiting guy. Besides, every person has different needs and, therefore, different criteria for deciding where to live.

Then, after my explanation, the next question they invariably ask is, “So, what’s the best Florida small town to live in?”

After several years of this I finally gave in and started telling them: “OK. If I were going to move to a Florida small town, here’s what I would look for. Mind you, these are just on my personal criteria for my own small-town livability needs. As the standard disclaimer goes: Your results may vary. It would have to be a town that understands the importance of, and embraces, its history. It would also have to be one that encourages the maintenance and restoration of its historic structures and neighborhoods. It would have to be a town that promotes itself as a destination for visitors interested in a historic place—that is the economic life-blood of nearly every successful Florida small town. It would have to be a vital, enthusiastic, friendly community of people who work hard to keep it that way. And one more thing—gotta have good restaurants! Here are four that ring all those bells: Apalachicola, up in the panhandle where the Apalachicola River spills into the Gulf; Fernandina Beach on the northern tip of Amelia Island; Mount Dora, in central Florida’s hills-and-lakes country; and Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island on the southwest coast.”

Bruce Hunt is the author of Visiting Small Town Florida, the third edition of which is due to be released in April. Visit his website at www.brucehuntimages.com

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