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Showing posts from November, 2015

Manatees And More Make Citrus County Florida An Outdoor Lovers’ Paradise

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November to April is manatee season in Citrus County, Florida. On a cold day as many as 500 manatees huddle in the crystal-clear springs there to keep warm and graze on the plant matter in the shallow waters. We visited in summer, travelling by boat and then swimming through a narrow passage from Crystal River into Three Sisters Spring. Even in the off season for manatees, there were many to be found.

Beyond the Mouse Ears—The Other Side of Orlando / Kissimmee

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In 1971, the opening of Walt Disney World forever changed Orlando. It is estimated that 52 million tourists visit the area each year. While Disney remains a much-loved destination for many and has certainly been a boon to Florida’s economy, some visitors (even those with kids in tow) are foregoing the parks and their contrived fantasy environments in favor of the way God designed Orlando originally—with alligator-filled swamps, lakes teeming with fish, trees covered in Spanish moss, wetland bird sanctuaries, citrus groves and pastureland ripe for farming and cattle ranching. The new generation of parents will take their kids to Disney, yes. But they will extend their vacation or return again for something more.

WHOOOOO Let the Ghosts Out?

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St. Augustine Delights Visitors with History and Legend

If Halloween night is party time for ghosts, the largest celebration will be taking place in St. Augustine, Florida. Ask any local in the city, and they will tell you with a straight face about their paranormal interactions. Travel Channel and Discovery Channel have both filmed specials about the ghosts residing here

Ghost Tours of St. Augustine Inc. has dedicated more than 20 years to uncovering and cataloguing the old city’s darkest secrets and mysteries. Lantern-lit nightly walking tours lead guests to graveyards, and various buildings across the city including a jail and a lighthouse. At the city’s historic fort we heard of maritime hauntings and pirates. Most of the city’s ghosts are happy and prank-playing, but some are sad at the loss of love or life. None cause any harm. For those who “prefer spirits with their spirits” the tour operator has teamed up with the original City Walk Pub Crawl tour in town to investiga…

Monemvasia Caps Off a Trip to Greece’s Fertile Peloponnese Region

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People at the Gulf Coast Version of “L.A.” Are Living Their Dreams

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It's Mardi Gras Every Day in Mobile

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General madness overtakes Mobile annually in the weeks and days preceding Ash Wednesday as chants of "Moon Pie! Moon Pie!" (the favored “throw” of Mardi Gras maskers) fill the air of this historic Port City. Mobile is the site of the New World’s first Mardi Gras, dating back to 1703. (That’s more than 60 years before New Orleans adopted the tradition.) 
Mobile's first Mardi Gras celebration dates back to 1703, when Societé de Saint Louise was founded. Originally called Boeuf Gras (Fatted Ox), the celebration was one of feasting and revelry on Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras (the day preceding Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season which leads to Easter). In 1783 the Spaniards arrived in Mobile bringing their version of Mardi Gras which included torch parades held on Twelfth Night.

Magnificant Bellingrath Gardens

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Bellingrath Gardens and Home offers 65 acres of year-round floral pageantry in a Southern estate garden. Also located in the garden is the Delchamps Gallery of Boehm Porcelain, the largest public collection of Boehm porcelain in the United State and the Bellingrath Museum Home, featured on A & E's America's Castles series, which is filled with priceless antiques and furnishings.

Lawrence Posner, Mobile's "Restoration Addict"

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Built 1836, Fort Conde Inn is Mobile, Alabama's second oldest house and its interior and exterior finishes reflect its architectural vintage from original heart pine flooring and customer-milled stairways, moldings, and window and door trim to marble fireplace mantle, plaster walls, 12-foot ceilings and crystal chandeliers. Walking into the Inn today is like taking a step back in time to when the home was originally built.

Mobile Bay--A Culinary Destination

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It’s no surprise that the Mobile Bay area is famous for locally-caught fresh seafood, making it worth the trip as a culinary destination alone. The Mobile Bay area is famous for locally-caught fresh seafood including shrimp, blue crabs, oysters, amberjack, flounder and much more prepared in a tantalizing variety of styles. There is also barbecue, spicy Creole and Cajun dishes, and down-home Southern cooking including homemade desserts like pecan pie, bread pudding, pralines and fudge. “Miss Pinky” at Wintzell’s Oyster House says it best: "It's so good, it'll make your tongue want to slap the back of your throat!"

Virginia Wines Would Make Thomas Jefferson Proud

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We were amazed to learn that the state of Virginia is ranked tenth nationally in commercial grape production and grape bearing acreage.  It turns out that English settlers who first came to Jamestown, Virginia in 1607 were required to cultivate 10 grapevines each.  The intent was to create a thriving wine industry in the New World.  Close to 200 years later, Thomas Jefferson himself pursued this mission, convinced that Virginia would one day be capable of producing world-class wines.  By the 19th century, Virginia winemaking flourished.  During Prohibition it all but disappeared.  It wasn't until the 1970s that Virginia winemaking was reestablished.

Oysters are “King” in Franklin County

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The diversity and availability of seafood has fostered the growth of Franklin County’s commercial seafood industry, contributing a vital $14 million annually to the local economy.

Though oysters have been commercially sold in Apalachicola for more than 175 years, cultivation of oysters by introducing oyster shells near natural beds to encourage juvenile oysters (commonly referred to as “spat”) to settle did not take place until around 1918.  This process of active cultivation, coupled with the increasingly wide-spread use of pasteurization and arrival of the Apalachicola Northern Railroad, were primary factors in the development of the oyster harvesting industry in Franklin County.

Scientists, Educators, Oystermen, Tour Guides and Outfitters— Personalities as Diverse as the Species in the Estuary

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A visit to the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve (ANERR) Visitors Center, provides an average tourist an insight into the delicate and essential work in preserving one of the most pristine productive estuarine systems in North America known as Apalachicola Bay.   It also helps justify why we ate so many raw oysters the night before; the truth is, all those live creatures we ate were raised in a culinary wonderland for marine life.  Unfortunately for the creatures, their culinary wonderland also makes them some of the best tasting seafood the world has to offer.

Exploring Franklin County's Culinary Goldmine

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Boss Oyster was ranked by Coastal Living Magazine as one of the “Top 10 Oyster Bars in the United States.” Boss has its own oystermen who take pride in the selection, prope harvesting and safe handling.

Historic Home? House on the Beach? or Condo on the Bay?

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Florida’s Franklin County—A Natural Escape

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Dotted along Highway 98, the quiet towns that make up Florida’s Franklin County-- Apalachicola, St. George Island, Carrabelle, Alligator Point, Dog Island and Eastpoint-- exist in harmony with the productive Apalachicola Bay estuarine system that produces $14 million annually for the local seafood supply industry.

Karakasevic Family--The Love of Liquid

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When you visit Napa Valley, make some room on your palette to taste not only the fabulous wines of Charbay, but also the  ports, vodkas, rums, whiskey, tequila, and  liqueurs.