Clyde Butcher's fine art nature photography makes a meaningful souvenir.

What to Buy in Florida: Shopping for True Souvenirs from the Sunshine State

Mickey Mouse ears and crates of oranges: That is so last century when it comes to shopping for souvenirs that truly say “Florida.” Harry Potter is the new Mickey Mouse, and key lime products are much trendier in the citrus department. In Your Bucket Read More

Viewing Atlantis (NASA/Kennedy Space Center)

On a Mission with Space Shuttle Atlantis

Every morning, I wake up looking at a Space Shuttle, a career space worker by my side. The model reminds John of his 33 years with the program. Where we dine with his parents, photographs of launches and astronauts grace the walls. When the sheriff's Read More

Big Thunder Mountain Railway (photo by John Keatley)

Riding Rollercoasters at Disney’s Magic Kingdom

Slipping into the skinny seat of the shuttlecraft at Space Mountain, I kept hearing the voice echoing throughout the noisy room. "Shuttle preparing for launch. Shuttle preparing for launch." In 1975, the year Space Mountain opened, my sisters and I - Read More

Ponce de Leon landing in Florida vignette at the Fountain of Youth Park

Drinking from the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine, Florida

“Have you had a drink of the water?” the young man with the closely cropped beard and “Winston” name tag asked. “Do I look younger?” I shot back. “I suppose you’re going to tell me you’re 100 years old.” I’d done this before. I’d drank from the Read More

Azaleas in bloom at Maclay Gardens

Chasing Camellias at Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park, Tallahassee

Three camellias. The blossoms sat in a silver dish in the parlor near the door of the Maclay House. I'd seen them there on several different visits to the manor home, always freshly picked, always a trio. I asked the docent why. "It was Mrs. Read More

Americqn Alligators Hunt with Eyes Ears and Nose

Communing With Wildlife at St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park, Florida

When a close friend asked me to join her in a visit to her favorite zoological park in Florida, I jumped at the chance. I was curious to discover why my well-coiffed girlfriend of 50 years was so enamored with the mostly dark scaly skinned Read More

Camellia Garden, Dorothy B. Oven Park

Seeking Spring Blooms at Dorothy B. Oven Park in Tallahassee

Walking beneath ancient live oaks downhill from the manor home, I spotted the bright blossoms from quite a distance. "I bet those are flame azaleas!" One of the showiest of native azaleas in the Southeast, Florida flame azalea stands out in spring Read More

Goodwood

Touring Goodwood Museum and Gardens in Tallahassee, Florida

Amid the relaxed grandeur of a Southern plantation, it was the daffodils that caught our attention. In such a formal space, atop one of Tallahassee's highest hills, an estate dating back to the 1830s, you'd expect to greet daffodils in neat formal Read More

Driving Nascar

NASCAR Driving at Walt Disney World, Florida

It had been at least 15 years since I’d driven a stick shift but when offered the chance to take the wheel of a NASCAR race car -- provided I knew my way around a manual transmission -- I signed on. Driving is like riding a bike, right? And I'm from Read More

The camp's bookstore and information center

Communing with Spirits in Cassadaga, Florida

One little girl in the town of Cassadaga, Florida, loves shiny pennies so much, she’s often leaving them around on the floor. Another inhabitant named Arthur, a former opera singer from New York, has a penchant for cigars and booze. On a visit to the Read More

The adventure begins...

Horse-surfing in Bradenton Beach, Florida

My legs were quivering like tapioca pudding: I’m not going to lie to you. Nervous, yes. But also a reaction to pinning my knees into Winnie’s belly to avoid getting dumped into Bradenton Beach’s Palma Sola Bay. A.J., one of our personal Read More

baby alligator

Becoming a Midwife to a Baby Alligator in Florida

“Push!,” my husband urged. Flashback: Heard that from him often enough with the birthing of my own baby. But this one was entirely less painful. Well, except for that chomp on my finger. I had, as instructed, picked off a piece of tough Read More

Jungle Cruise boat at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

Exploring Disney’s Magic Kingdom with Mom

Dusk swept in as the jungle drums were beating and torches flickered along the edge of the boat launch. Mom paused for a photo with a tall tiki. "Send this to Autumn, she'll love it!" she said, as I snapped the image with my iPhone and emailed it Read More

One frisky manatee begged for attention.

Snorkeling with Manatees in Crystal River, Florida

The baby manatee nuzzled my cheek with its fleshy whiskered muzzle, and when I began to scratch under its chin, it went vertical in the water, grabbed my hand between its two rubbery fins with their five broad, flat fingernails each, and hugged it to Read More

Dolphins in the Ten Thousand Islands

Chasing Dolphins in the Ten Thousand Islands of Florida

It’s not even 10 AM, so I’m surprised to see the enthusiasm on this sultry summer morning in Southwest Florida. We launched from the Marco River Marina a little over an hour ago for a tour on the Sea Excursions Dolphin Explorer, a catamaran tour of Read More