Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny and by 8:45 a crush of volunteers were rambling down the wooden steps by the Aquarina Beach Club swarming on to southern Melbourne Beach.
A mighty thanks to all of our enthusiastic volunteers and supporters who helped make the first "Smarty's Army" Coastal Clean Up a huge success last Saturday, January 13. We had a remarkable turn-out of 77 participants who combed and scoured the beach. Men, women and kids grabbed their clean-up bags and brought back a jumble of plastic and foam debris, shoes and sandals, children's toys and balloons, a street sign, hefty hunks of cement and wooden pier boards, tree trunks and heaven knows what else. All were inventoried the Surfrider tent. A special shout out to the AQ's sledge-hammer swinging and circular saw carving guys.
Bell and Buddha, yellow and black labs, romped up and down the beach and swam in the ocean, while several pods of dolphins glided by not far off shore. We organized the beach clean-up to honor Smarty, our fun-loving Toller retriever who left us at the end of September.
Each year from December through March a remarkable event takes place. North Atlantic right whales can be sighted in the warm, calm coastal waters off the Atlantic coast between Jacksonville and Sebastian Inlet, Fla. to give birth and nurse their calves. In the spring they head back home to feeding grounds in the Bay of Fundy between Maine, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.
Reaching lengths of up to 55 feet and weighing from 40 to 70 tons, some of the creatures come within a couple hundred yards of the beach. Mothers can be seen schooling newborn calves, while juvenile whales play nearby. One of the most endangered marine mammals in the world, North Atlantic right whales are mostly black with whitish patches on the head and belly. They have a graceful and deeply notched "fluke," or tail. Two blowholes on the top of its head give a distinctive V-shape to a right whale's spout.
Scientists estimate that there are only 490 right whales in existence, but thanks to a decade's work of volunteer whale watchers, that number is on the rise. Protection and stewardship of these mammoth creatures is essential.
When it came to super-cool cars in motion pictures, nobody did it better.
The fictional British spy James Bond was first introduced to his silver Aston Martin DB5 in the 1964 blockbuster Goldfinger. With Sean Connery behind the wheel the DB5 caused quite a stir, not only because of its timeless beauty but also all its lethal gadgets. Dubbed the most famous car in the world, the DB5 was almost as big a star as Connery. It has appeared in a half-dozen 007 movies.
For this year's Motor Car Exhibition at McKee Botanical Gardens, Aston Martins will be well represented along with Jaguars, MGs, Austin-Healys, Triumphs, Rolls Royces, Bentleys and a host of other intriguing British cars on Saturday, February 10.
The weather is typically gorgeous, the cars stunning. Elaborately dressed entrants picnic alongside their vintage cars with blankets and wicker baskets. The car aficionados come together to show off their prized treasures-- perhaps a family heirloom or just a reminder of high school glory days when cars were made of steel, leather and wood. There's nothing quite like the joy of owning these delightful driving machines.
It's one of the most recognizable items on the planet.
Spanning more than five centuries of design and craftsmanship, a new touring exhibition explores the design and artistry that has played a major role in the guitar’s evolution. “Medieval to Metal: The Art & Evolution of The Guitar” is currently on display at the Vero Beach Art Museum running until May 6.
Organized by The National Guitar Museum, the exhibition features 40 iconic stringed instruments, ranging from an intricately inlaid Moorish oud, a six-foot long Renaissance the orbo, to guitars displaying the modern Italian design of the Eko and one with a stunning transparent acrylic body of California's BC Rich guitars.
Through the years the guitar and its shape have been integral elements for artists such as Vermeer and Picasso, and today they are incorporated into the advertisement of everything from clothes to cars.
We arrived at the Zota Beach Resort two days before Christmas for a holiday stay. The gulf-front getaway is uber-modern and sleek, set in a secluded location surrounded by tropical blooms, lush foliage and swaying palm trees. A local gem in the charming little town of Longboat Key, Zota has been making waves since its opening in late June.
What's up with the name? Historians believe that early Spanish explorers manning longboats spotted the white sands on the barrier island from a distance and were reminded of the Sahara Desert, thus "Zara." The native origin of the word Zota is blue waters, so the area became known as Zara Zota-- "the Sahara by the blue waters." Over time the indigenous name evolved to become Sarasota.
Longboat Key (LBK) plays the name game, too. It comes from the vessels manned by Spanish explorers such as Juan Anasco-- a scout for Hernando de Soto in 1539-- who traveled through the north pass of the barrier island. Much later Confederate soldier and carpenter Thomas Mann was awarded a homestead grant of 144 acres on both the north and south ends of the island, settling here in 1891. Mann sold his property around the turn of the century for $500.
LBK offers both a scenic and elegant environment. It boasts the rare combination of beautiful beaches and renowned visual and performing arts culture in Sarasota just to the south. Less than 11 miles in length and no more than a mile across in its widest point, manatees and dolphins play just offshore. Great egrets and great blue herons fish along the beach, while cormorants, ospreys and pelicans wheel overhead, before swooping down into the turquoise Gulf in search of a meal.
The query in The Mystery of Edwin Drood is not whodunnit, but rather why and how?
Based on the unfinished novel by Charles Dickens, Vero Beach's Riverside Theatre is presenting a boisterous revival on the Waxlax Stage. The interactive musical was nominated for nine Tony Awards, taking home five, including Best Musical in 1985. The production runs through February 4.
Dickens began publication of Drood in 1870 in ongoing installments. When he suddenly died later that year, the novel was never finished leaving all sorts of questions hovering in the provincial English town of Cloisterham where the story is primarily set.
When Rupert Holmes was approached to write a musical for the New York Shakespeare Festival, Holmes chose to tackle this bedeviling mystery. It was the first Broadway show to have multiple endings. The audience completes the story by voting on the murderer.
Who do you love? Gershwin, Stravinsky, Respighi or Rimsky-Korsakov? How about Prokofiev, Debussy, Ravel and Grieg?
The Space Coast Symphony Orchestra has compiled hundreds of requests over nine performing seasons which they're turning into their next performance, "Fan Favorites," a concert jam-packed with the biggest and best symphonic works. They will be performed at The Scott Center for Performing Arts in Melbourne on Saturday February 10 at 7 p.m. and at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Vero Beach on Sunday, February 11 at 3 p.m.
SCSO Conductor and Artistic Director Aaron Collins won the 2016 Richard A. Stark Award for cultural leadership from the Cultural Council of Indian River County.
"We have a very dedicated and knowledgeable audience that has no problem letting me know what they like," related Collins with a laugh. "We narrowed down the list of hundreds of requests to create a program something like an orchestral greatest hits album. And we are beyond thrilled to have Sergey Belyavskiy with us to perform Gershwin and Liszt."
For the past fifteen years I’ve been a contributing writer to a variety of national & regional magazines, prominent daily news-papers and websites. I have written about an array of topics such as arts & culture, chefs, food & drink, business entrepreneurs, travel, history, thoroughbred racing, and the animal and natural world.
I'm currently a regular arts & culture contributor to WFIT's website (the NPR radio station in Melbourne.), Vero Beach Magazine and Florida Today newspaper on a number of topics. Over recent years my work has been published regularly in Blood-Horse, Long Island Boating World and The Hunt and PA Equestrian magazines.
I am a regular contributor to the websites JustLuxe.com and SeeTheSouth.com. JustLuxe is an online magazine featuring the best of luxury lifestyle and travel, while SeeTheSouth features truly unique southern destinations. My travel articles also regularly appear in Florida Today, Long Island Boating world and the Delaware County Times, a major daily newspaper just outside Philly.
I've also contributed a variety of articles to the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, the Delaware County Times, and the Montgomery County Newspapers. I have been an Arts & Culture correspondent for Newsworks, the website for WHYY-TV (PBS in Philadelphia). I have been a correspondent to ESPN.com, America's Best Racing, the Paulick Report and Thoroughbred Racing Commentary.
After spending the past two decades in Wilmington, Delaware, my wife Jane, our Toller retriever Smarty and I have moved to Melbourne Beach, Fla. Located on a barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River, Melbourne Beach sits on the southern end of Florida's "Space Coast." The famed coastal highway A1A runs directly along the Atlantic. Melbourne Beach (pop. 3,000) offers unspoiled beaches with sparkling blue-green waters and thousands of beautiful seabirds and long-legged shorebirds.
Head north 35 miles on A1A and you arrive at Cape Canaveral, for decades our nation's gateway to exploring and understanding our universe. Today, Cape Canaveral is a hub for many of the most exciting new private space projects such as SpaceX, the rocket and spacecraft company founded by Elon Musk (manufacturer of Tesla vehicles). Upwards of 30 launches are planned in 2017.
Back down to earth traveling on two-lane A1A south from Melbourne Beach's compact business area brings you to a series of secluded and undeveloped natural beaches. Bonsteel Park's two-acre beach provides an excellent vantage point to catch glimpses of passing dolphins, while the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge is recognized as the most important nesting area for loggerhead turtles in the western hemisphere. It's also home to the gigantic leatherback turtles.
Nearby is Sebastian Inlet State Park which connects the Indian River Lagoon with the Atlantic Ocean. Its jetty break is recognized as one of the surf world's high-performance hot spots. Three generations of world-class surfers have surfed here, including 11-time world champion Kelly Slater. The 600-acre park is also celebrated for world-class fishing, and plenty of seabirds and wildlife.
Through my writing over the past decade I have traveled to spectacular destinations such as Lake Tahoe, Calif./Nev. and Sun Valley, Idaho; Cody, Wyoming/Yellowstone Park; Saratoga Springs, the Adirondacks, Saratoga Springs and Rhinebeck, New York; Port Clyde and Monheghan Island, Maine; Avalon and Stone Harbor, New Jersey; Middleburg, Charlottesville and Richmond, Virginia.
Other travel adventures have included Tampa and St. Petersburg, Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, Florida; and St. Simons and Jekyll Island, Georgia. My travel articles thoughtfully explore the history of the region along with museums, music and the arts, chefs and restaurateurs, wineries and craft breweries, outdoor and sporting adventures as well as profiling intriguing personalities of those regions.
In addition to my writing career I owned a marketing company where I represented a diversified list of clients in the areas of publicity, marketing and business development-- such as the famed Baldwin's Book Barn, Thoroughbred Charities of America and the Kahunaville restaurant chain. In another life I was the founder, publisher and editor of Life Sports Magazine.
Along with Jane and Smarty I look forward to writing about new adventures in Melbourne Beach, the "Space Coast" and other Florida destinations. That's Smarty below with his pals Willie and Nelson.