UNESCO: The Everglades

Funny enough I grew up a stone’s throw away from a UNESCO Site: The Everglades. It is the only landscape like this in the whole world. An incredibly unique ecosystem of brackish water (fresh & salt mixing), shallow sawgrass fields, and the largest mangrove system in the Western Hemisphere. Like so many of our world’s unique ecosystems, this one is also in danger from extensive pollution and human construction.

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Riding on an airboat is the best (although noisiest) way to see the Everglades because of the often muddy shallows and propeller-tangling reeds. Personally, I am more partial to canoes and kayaks but not when there are alligators lurking right underneath! Many commercial airboat companies provide earmuffs so the noise shouldn’t be too much of a bother – but forget about your hair looking good at the end of the day!

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Although summertime is certainly not the best time to visit Florida, trust me I live here full-time, but it’s when many people have vacation. A summer’s day in the Everglades requires a few smart packing tips:

  • Sunblock
  • Bug spray
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Athletic clothing

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I have been in and out of the Everglades a lot in my time, honestly not realizing until a few years ago how monumental this ecosystem was for life in South Florida. You can spend a whole day in the Everglades, especially if you couple an airboat ride along with a visit to the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Seminole Indian Museum on the Big Cypress Indian Reservation. In college I took an Anthropology class on Native Americans in America and part of our course was visiting this museum to look at historical versus contemporary native life.

JMF

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Memorial Day Weekend @ Blue Springs

Memorial Day Weekend in Florida necessitates cold drinks, water, and sunshine. A few years ago we hit up some West Coast beaches while enjoying Sarasota & the Ringling Museum. This year, we went to Blue Spring State Park, the winter home of Florida manatees, with a few friends.

IMG_2392IMG_2395We got to the park by 8 am and there was already an incredibly long line; it took us almost an hour to get into the park. Tub rentals are $5 for the first hour and $2.50 for every extra hour.

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The tub numbers we randomly got made up the date of our engagement! 4/26 🙂
1614202_10153405454794611_2986530912619547214_oWe floated around for a bit enjoying the warmth of the sun along with the chill of the 70 degree water (freezing for life-long Floridians, but perfect for manatees). After a few hours, we went to Black Hammock in Oviedo for some yummy gator lunches.

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When you can’t travel cook…1905 Salad

1905 saladI’m not a salad person and I so wish I was! Well crafted and filling salads are a work of beauty but no matter how inventive I try to be, they always falls flat. So I am one of those sad people who need a recipe book for salad. Pathetic I know, but this salad is fantastic. It comes from the famous Columbia Restaurants’s cookbook I bought while in St. Augustine (their original location is in Ybor City, Tampa). If you are looking for a hearty salad this one is for you!

Serving suggestion: make some homemade Sangria and a nice flank steak and call it a night!

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JMF

Summer Plans

I am so incredibly excited to announce our summer plans!!! Will and I have each been accepted into two prestigious programs this year.

 

Will is going to the University of Florida in Gainesville for a 2-week program on incorporating infectious diseases (a life-long passion of his) in to his AP Biology class. His program is called CATALySES (Collaborating to Advance Teaching and Learning of Science Educators and Students).

 

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And I have been accepted to a 3-week program in New York City called the Religious Worlds of New York. I can’t wait to go back to NYC to explore their religious diversity and learn about how I can better teach global religions to my Humanities students.

Additionally, my sister and her boyfriend are coming over to the States for 2 weeks. Crazy enough, NONE of these events overlap too much so it allows us to say YES to everything. Man, we’ve got a lot on our plates but I am so ready for summer 2017! 🙂

JMF

Lonely Planet Magazine: Long Weekend in Tampa

Lonely Planet Summer 2017So I subscribe to the Lonely Planet Magazine because I love their travel books and this is another great publication about travel and experiencing global culture. Well in June’s edition they have a Mini Guide with a long weekend in Tampa. Funny enough it nearly matches up with our long weekend in Tampa a few weeks ago!

Here’s their itinerary:IMG_1667Day 1

img_1673Day 2

  • Eat at the Oxford Exchange (gorgeous building but I was not impressed)
  • Take a stroll along Tampa Riverwalk
  • Paddleboard through Tampa Bay (we went to the beach instead)

Read more about my Tampa travel style HERE!

img_1704Day 3

  • La Segunda Central Bakery (yum!)
  • Ybor City Museum State Park
  • Columbia Restaurant (love their 1905 Salad)

JMF

P.S. I would like to add the Dali Museum and the Sunken Gardens as two MUST do’s while in Tampa!

Hello Hyde Park Village

While in Tampa for a long weekend we literally stumbled upon Hyde Park, an adorable upscale shop-lined town center. I had seen pictures of Hyde Park on Pinterest but I wasn’t going to carve time out of our short trip to go there until Will decided he wanted to go to the gym before we hit the beach for the day. Guess where the nearest L.A. Fitness was to us!? HYDE PARK

So while he was sweating in the gym I was walking around looking at all the adorableness around me. Hyde Park reminded me a lot of two other cute historic towns by me: Sanford and Winter Park.

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Read more on the blog History in High Heels: A Day in Hyde Park Village & Biking through Hyde Park Village.

JMF

Tampa Sunken Gardens

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I’m not sure where I first heard of the Sunken Gardens (but it was probably on Pinterest, like everything travel-related!). Any who, the gardens are essentially a sink hole in the middle of the urban landscape of St. Petersburg that were turned into a lush botanical garden. It was really great to wander around alone, trying to take awkward photos! 🙂 I scooted out in a little over than an hour because it was about to downpour!!!

Tickets are $10 for adults and they are open Monday-Saturday from 10:00 am-4:30 pm & Sunday from 12:00 pm-4:30 pm.

Read more: Memorial Day Weekend: Siesta Key & Selby Botanical Gardens

If you have kids…there is a Children’s Museum on site; I obviously didn’t go in but there were a bunch of families streaming in and out.

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JMF