Tag Archives: United States

BEAUFORT FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL, guest post by Terrance Zepke

Into food and wine? Then you need to make plans to attend this fun event. The Eighth Annual Beaufort Wine & Food Weekend will be held April 25 – 29 in Beaufort, North Carolina. There are lots of special events to choose from, but a few are already sold out. Ticket cost depends on the event, ranging from free to $95 for gourmet wine dinners. It is one of the largest outdoor wine festivals in the state, but winemakers come from as far as Sonoma, California. And this years promises to be spectacular with an A-list of chefs participating.

One of the chefs participating this year is Chef/Owner Scott Howell of Nana’s in Durham. Nana’s is ranked as one of the top twenty best organic restaurants in America and  has won Wine Spectator’s “Award of Excellence” for its wine menu. But I’m especially excited about Chef Nathan Thurston. He is the top chef at one of my favorite restaurants, Ocean Room at The Sanctuary Resort on Kiawah Island. I know firsthand why he’s won numerous American Culinary Federation competitions.

There will be lots of special events, such as wine and cheese tastings with live music, seminars, wine dinners, a contest for the best bartender concoction, and cooking demonstrations. If you’d rather have a cold beer than a glass of Riesling, then plan to attend on Saturday, April 28. There will be barbeque from a couple of top pit masters and some great beer breweries, such as Sierra Nevada and Natty Greene Brewing Company, will be featured.

The event is a fundraiser for the Beaufort Historical Association and the NC Maritime Museum at Beaufort. So, be sure to drink and eat lots in the name of charity!

For more information, visit http://beaufortwineandfood.com

Terrance Zepke, Guest Blogger
Author of Coastal North Carolina and Ghosts & Legends of the Carolina Coasts

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2nd Florida Keys Twitter Chat 2p EST Feb 29, 2012 #flkeys

The #flkeys chat is back, in a special Leap Year edition!

Join @KeysClaudia, @ViaKeyWest, @PineapplePress, and @FTLMagazine on Twitter to talk about Florida Keys festivals. We’re especially talking about the Marathon Seafood Festival, coming up soon! Use hashtag #flkeys to join in and chat with us on Twitter at 2p EST on Feb 29th, 2012. To learn more about past chats, check out our Pinterest board for the chat: http://pinterest.com/pineapplepress/flkeys-chats/ or the Storify archive: http://storify.com/KeysClaudia/florida-keys-twitter-chat-flkeys

Here’s our video intro to this week’s chat:

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Talking the Florida Keys with Claudia Miller (@KeysClaudia) #flkeys

What are the best beaches in the Florida Keys?
What are the best restaurants in the Florida Keys?
Where’s the best coffee in the Florida Keys?

@KeysClaudia and I will be chatting on Twitter about these subjects and more on January 25th at 2pm EST. We hope you’ll join us! Use hashtag #flkeys to join in. For more information, check out the Storify log for the #flkeys hashtag.

Claudia Miller is a writer and weekly blogger for Florida Travel + Life Magazine . Check out her blog to learn more fabulous Florida Keys tips.

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2011 Florida Holiday Events

Author Bruce Hunt is discussing Winter in Small-Town Florida today (Monday Dec 5th) at 12pm on Twitter via a Twitter chat.
Use hashtag #smalltownFla to follow along.
Follow Bruce on Twitter @BruceHuntImages. You can reach us via @PineapplePress

A sampling of Florida’s holiday fun for 2011

Florida is a fun place to spend the holidays, especially if you want a different spin on winter events. Those of you visiting from up north might be surprised about what Floridians created into winter fun!

South Florida

Holiday Historic Lighted Inn Tours: Visit beautiful Key West inns while sampling mouth-watering foods and seeing exciting performances. Dec 9-10 and Dec 16-17. Learn more at www.schoonerwharf.com

Annual Dropping of the Conch Shell: Sloppy Joe’s is home to this annual New Years Eve event. Learn more at www.sloppyjoes.com

North Florida

Pensacola Winterfest: Looks like it’s a month-long celebration in Pensacola this December. Learn more at www.pensacolawinterfest.org

Regatta of Lights: St. Augustine’s spin on Christmas lights. See a parade of boats in historic St. Augustine. Dec 10. Learn more at www.visitoldcity.com

Central Florida

Cruising Downtown DeLand Car Show: Classic cars and crafts bring the holidays to DeLand. Santa Claus is the special guest. Dec. 17. Learn more at www.plantcity.org

Mount Dora Christmas Events: Mount Dora is famous for their many Christmas events. Lights, shopping, and oodles more fun. Learn more at www.mountdorachristmas.com

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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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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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FIVE REASONS YOU SHOULD VISIT CAPE HATTERAS LIGHTHOUSE

  1. If you make it to the top, you can say that you climbed to the top of America’s tallest lighthouse.
  2. It’s an excuse to visit the pristine Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
  3. To see where and learn how the beacon (which is the equivalent of a 12-story building) was moved. A remarkable feat!
  4. Because it is one of the few lighthouses that permits night tours and full moon climbing tours (seasonally).
  5. The view from the top offers a bird’s eye view of the lower Outer Banks.

For more on Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and all the other beacons that dot the shores of the Carolinas, check out Lighthouses of the Carolinas Second Edition, by Terrance Zepke. For more on the author and her books, visit www.terrancezepke.com


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Looking for Pirates in the Carolinas? A Guest Post by author Terrance Zepke

Look no further, you brave soul. They’re all over the Carolinas. Here are a few suggestions:

There’s a new Blackbeard exhibit at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, North Carolina. It has artifacts from the famous pirate’s shipwreck, Queen Anne’s Revenge. While the exhibit is permanent, the artifacts will change periodically. www.ncmaritimemuseums.com/beaufort.html

Check out the pirate museum inside Teach’s Hole on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina. The gift shop, which opened in 1992, claims to have more than 1,000 pirate-theme items for sale, as well as a small pirate museum. www.teachshole.com

The Pirate Voyage is an extravagant dinner show that opened in June 2011 at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina that includes a huge pirate battle. www.piratesvoyage.com

Pirate Invasion is a big, annual festival that takes place in Beaufort, North Carolina every August. Participants will enjoy a pirate attack, treasure hunt, face painting, music, special tours, and much more. www.beaufortpirateinvasion.com

Charleston was a big hangout for pirates during the era of Blackbeard. Take a guided tour to learn more about the Golden Age of Piracy and to see where some of them were hanged! The guide wears a pirate costume complete with a colorful macaw perched on his shoulder. www.charlestonpiratetour.com

Terrance Zepke
www.terrancezepke.com
Author of Pirates of the Carolinas and Pirates of the Carolinas for Kids

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Fort Myers Beach, Florida

I spent a lovely weekend on Fort Myers Beach, Florida at a resort on the beach. I was inspired to share some links to great places to visit in the area.

Fort Myers Beach is in southwest Florida and located near Sanibel, where there is great shelling, a lighthouse, and wonderful wildlife. A visit to J.N.Ding-Darling National Wildlife Refuge there is a must. Naples is to the south and Punta Gorda to the north, bot have great shopping and interesting restaurants. This time we stayed close to the resort, but I’ve visited all of these places before and they’re a perfect complement to a visit to this part of Florida.

The weather was perfect on Saturday, which allowed for a long walk on the beach. We saw some great specimens of shells, both alive and dead. I’ve never seen so many starfish in one place before and cute little crabs were everywhere! We left them where they lay of course, but it was a real treat to see them up close. I have to say I wished we had Florida’s Living Beaches with us, because I wanted to be able to identify exactly what we were seeing.

I also stopped by the Shell Factory on the way home for a shell-shopping treat and found some new surprises! They have a fun arcade and an interesting collection of stuffed wildlife now.

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Guest Post: The Grand Strand (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina)

One of the top vacation spots in the southeast is the sixty miles of South Carolina coastline that is nicknamed “The Grand Strand.” Myrtle Beach’s Grand Strand is more grand than ever, thanks to the many new attractions that have opened in the last couple of months.

The Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and Promenade meanders from 2nd avenue pier to the 14th avenue pier, allowing terrific views of the Atlantic. www.myrtlebeachdowntown.com

If it’s a pirate’s life for you, check out Pirate’s Voyage. Formerly the Dixie Stampede, Dolly Parton spent $11 million renovating the theater to create the ultimate dinner show complete with a buccaneer battle and pirate feast. www.piratesvoyage.com

Kids and adults alike will find plenty to do at WonderWorks, a new indoor family attraction near Broadway at the Beach. It a four-story building designed to look like it is upside down. The amusement park has 100 exhibits, including a simulated roller coaster and a virtual swim with sharks. The only outdoor attraction offered by WonderWorks is the Soar and Explore Zipline and Ropes Course. Soar fifty feet above the water on a course that travels 1,000 feet between towers. You can also try your hand at the pirate-themed ropes course that is more than forty feet tall and spans three levels. www.wonderworksonline.com

For a view that is 200 feet above sea level, be sure to ride the SkyWheel. This is a 187-feet Ferris wheel with forty-two temperature-controlled glass-encased gondolas. It’s the same concept as the London Eye (London, England). At night, it really comes to life with one million LED lights. There are a half-dozen other amusement rides nearby, including the Slingshot. These attractions replace the old Amusement Pavilion, which was built in 1948 and torn down in 2006. www.themyrtlebeachskywheel.com

For more on South Carolina, be sure to read Coastal South Carolina: Welcome to the Lowcountry by Terrance Zepke

Visit www.terrancezepke.com for more on ghosts, pirates, coastal history, and travel.

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