My News 13 - floridatankful The latest in floridatankful county news from My News 13 http://mynews13.com/ en-us Sun, 26 Jun 2016 23:23:51 Sun, 26 Jun 2016 23:23:51 Copyright 2016 My News 13 30 <![CDATA[Doggie diner caters to man and his best friend]]> http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2016/6/23/doggie_diner_/?cid=rss Fri, 24 Jun 2016 5:45 AM Scott Fais With brushstroke in hand, Bay-area artist Anna Fields paints man's best friend in Dunedin. Here, discover “dogs who lunch.” Literally.

"On Saturday and Sunday's during lunch it's like a big dog party,” says Zachary Feinstein as nearly a dozen dogs are scattered across the patio of his Dunedin restaurant.

Some arrive on foot. Others are pushed in a buggy. And one gets a lift from mom in her golf cart.

"We just started 'yappy hour,'” says Zachary, owner of The Living Room, on Main Street, which specializes in American fare and small plates. Along with catering to dog lovers.

In this quiet pocket of Pinellas County, you’ll discover a dog friendly street. Take one look at the giant mural and know canines are kings at The Living Room.

"You can share it with your dog, absolutely,” Zachary says about the lunch entrees here.

The University of Central Florida graduate offers one menu for humans and a second for the dogs.

"We do a chopped chicken bowl,” Zachary says as he carried a dish out to the patio. Other options include pan seared salmon (that looks good enough for a human) and if a doggie's is a vegetarian, there’s a meal at The Living Room for dogs that includes seasonal vegetables.

And while you can enjoy lunch with your dog out on the patio, Fido is not allowed inside according to health code regulations. Check the forecast. Even when it rains, pets need to stay outside. Only service animals are allowed inside, while tails wag and brushstrokes glide outside.

Tankful on Television
You can catch new Florida on a Tankful stories each Thursday and Saturday on News 13 and Bay News 9. New editions play at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m. Classic Florida on a Tankful stories can be found each Friday and Sunday on Bay News 9 and News 13 at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m.

Tankful on Demand
Catch Florida on a Tankful with Scott Fais on your time, now on Bright House Local On Demand, Channel 999. Use your remote to scroll to the right to the TRAVEL category. Then SCROLL DOWN to TANKFUL.

Scott Fais joins Travel Monthly
Catch our own Scott Fais as the Florida Correspondent on the On Demand travel magazine, Travel Monthly. Each month, Scott joins other travel reporters from across the United States as they showcase a wide variety of attractions, diners, parks and landmarks from across America. See Travel Monthly nationally on Time Warner Cable channel 411.  And here at home on Channel 999 in the Travel section.

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<![CDATA[Tankful Summer Road Trip: Glamping in teepees]]> http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2016/5/30/tankful_summer_road_trip_teepee_hotel/?cid=rss Thu, 23 Jun 2016 6:30 AM Scott Fais Oh, where the buffalo roam — well, in this case, where the bison graze — you'll find something pointedly different.

  • Westgate River Ranch Resort is in River Ranch
  • Visitors can camp out in 600-square-foot teepees
  • Seminole Indians didn't use teepees, but tribe embraced the project

"If I could put it in a nutshell, it's a five-star hotel with the experience wrapped in a teepee," said Ray Duncun, the trail boss at the Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo.

The Tomoka Village is located along the Polk-Osceola County line. Duncun is excited to debut a new way to camp for the summer.

"It's camping on a glamorous scale like no one has ever done before with a teepee on the outside and the five-star hotel room on the inside," Duncun said.

The Westgate River Ranch recently opened 600-square-foot teepees.

"The tent sleeps four," Duncun said, adding that there's a pullout couch also inside.

The leather sofa sits next to the digital fireplace. It won't get too hot because air-conditioning units try to keep up with the heat and humidity. There's also a dinette table, as well as a mini fridge and a microwave.

The king-sized bed in the bedroom offers a good night's sleep with lamps on the end tables where you can recharge your mobile devices.

"We have a little closet for your clothes," Duncun said.

And around the corner is a claw-foot tub to soak in.

"Mom can soak there while the kids are outside climbing the trees," Duncun said.

Taking a shower is also an option. One thing is missing, though: television.

"But you don't need it," Duncun said. That's because the Seminole Indian-built Chickee Hut is like an outdoor lounge.

"They didn't use a tape measure or anything," Duncun said.

The Native Americans who lived in Florida never lived in teepees, but the Seminole Tribe embraced the project.

"We want (visitors) to have a unique vacation experience like they have had never before," Duncun said, "like they can get nowhere else."

The experience will have you saying shonabish when you leave, which means thank you.

For information on ticket costs, admission prices and operating hours, click here.

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<![CDATA[TANKFUL: State Park offers peace beyond the headlines]]> http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2016/6/16/state_park_offers_pe/?cid=rss Sun, 19 Jun 2016 6:45 AM Scott Fais While Orlando was forever changed this past week, there’s a tranquil respite that will forever stay the same.

With the rushing sound of water flowing, the noise of the outside world gets lost.

"As soon as you cross that threshold there, all of the creature comforts we have today, the internet, the Wi-Fi, completely disappears,” says Park Ranger Brian Snyder at the Hillsborough River State Park, just east of Tampa.

Pam Bahro and her family know this oak hammock is retreat from reality.

"It just gives you an opportunity to regroup from all of the nasty, negative stuff going on,” says Pam. “If you look out here, you're not seeing any of that. You're not hearing of it."

Down the trail, across a bridge, along the boardwalk, awaits peace without distraction.

"A whole bunch of absolute nothing,” Brian jokes.

The 4,000 acres that make up Hillsborough River State Park specialize in hitting the reset button.

"You can actually reset your internal clock,” Brian says.

Just be ready to share the road with the natives like turtles, water fowl, spiders, alligators and the mosquitoes.

"Slow down. And if you see something in your way, just take a wide birth around it and keep on going. But go slow,” says Pam.

Good advice as the only thing moving fast here are the rapids.

For the past 27,000 years, the Hillsborough River has flowed here as one of the fastest moving bodies of water in the entire peninsula of Florida. In fact, this is the only class two rapids you'll find south of the panhandle.

It’s so picturesque, you may not want to leave.

"We have one of the biggest campgrounds in the state of Florida,” Brain boasts. With only 112 campsites, reservations go quick.

Electric hook-ups and potable water are standard at each site.

"If you get it through the gate, you can go camping here,” Brian jokes.

While swimming is forbidden in the river, cooling off at the swimming pool that spans half an acre is a must on a hot summer day.

“That's the best sound. The crickets," Pam said.

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<![CDATA[Turtle Watch at the Canaveral National Seashore]]> http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2016/6/15/turtle_watch_at_the_/?cid=rss Thu, 16 Jun 2016 8:45 AM Scott Fais On Florida's east coast awaits a quiet respite that looks the same today as it did hundreds of years ago. And each summer, a peaceful pilgrimage is made in the stillness of the night.

The soothing sounds of nature are met with curiosity at the end of a summer day.

"They don't have any teeth and they crush it with their jaw,” explains Avia Michelle Woulard, an interpretive ranger at the Canaveral National Seashore.

Woulard is explaining how a loggerhead turtle eats, while passing around the skull of a massive turtle.

At this national park, visitors are welcome to stay late to behold a natural phenomenon when a mother turtle deposits her eggs.

"She is going to drop between 100 and 120,” Woulard tells the group.

"Turtle Watch" turtle nesting presentations give visitors an inside look at sea turtles first in a classroom, before heading to beach.

Once on the shore, visitors remain at a distance as a female loggerhead makes landfall to lay her eggs under the cloak of darkness.

"It's the texture of the sand, the magnetic force, that causes the female to return to where she was born to lay her nest,” Avia shares.

Since loggerheads are threatened, after sunset, lights and cameras are not allowed on the beach, even iPhones. With just moonlight, and the aid of red flashlights, guests can behold a natural wonder.

Turtle spotters run ahead of the group to find nesting mothers, before radioing ahead to guides. The evening ends when mother loggerheads finish laying their eggs and then swim back out to the Atlantic.

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<![CDATA[Tankful Summer Road Trip: Glass-bottom boats in Silver Springs]]> http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2016/5/30/tankful_summer_road_trip_silver_springs/?cid=rss Fri, 10 Jun 2016 7:15 AM Scott Fais Virginia Ferguson's boat has come in. In fact, it just spins in circles like it has for the past 43 years.

"I was the first female captain on the Silver River," said Ferguson, who is a fixture in the Ocala area.

  • Silver Springs is in the Ocala area
  • Glass-bottom boat rides there 1st set out in 1870
  • Canoes, kayaks also available for rent

The boardwalk still makes room for the towering cypress trees and the fountain that still flows. Take a closer look, though, and you'll notice the gate is missing and the turnstile has vanished.

As Ferguson will tell you, Silver Springs is still alive and thriving.

"It's really clearing up here," Ferguson said. "Along the open channel, you can see the eel grass."

Hand over your ticket and climb on board to what just may be Florida's oldest attraction.

"The guests on the boat would go, 'Ooohhh, wow,'" Ferguson said.

Glass-bottom boat rides at Silver Springs first set out in 1870 when tourists began heading south after the Civil War. In the past 40 years, Ferguson has seen a change.

"Forty-three years ago, you were hauling more, say, tourists (and) travelers," she said. "Now, the clientele of people is more laid back."

At Silver Springs, guests relax and put their backs to the windows, because the real show is on the floor.

It is full-throttle ahead as Captain Oscar joins Ferguson on board for an adventure that has withstood the hands of time for almost 150 years. Once away from the dock, the natural world comes into view.

With the electric engines and under the famed portholes, passengers can gaze into the world under the boat where the natural world bubbles up.

Turquoise canyons come into view. The bluer the water, the deeper the spring boil. Everything from Florida gar to turtles can be seen on board. Even a sunken canoe used by Native Americans rests just beyond the looking glass.

"Cypress only grow 1 inch in diameter every 47 years," Ferguson said.

 What you may have to look harder to see is the vision of how Silver Springs became a national natural landmark.

"It belonged to my father," said Susan McIntosh, a former Silver Springs landowner.

McIntosh's father, Edward Carmichael, owned Silver Springs after winning it, as the story goes.

"The poker game, of course," Susan McIntosh said. "He was a good card player."

McIntosh later donated the land to prevent a family feud.

"I have a brother who has five children, I have three and lots of grandchildren," she said. "And when we die, it would be such a mess to try and divide among us, so we said it would be a good reason to give it to the state."

Families can eat at the Springside Restaurant on site, which has daily specials. And while you can't go swimming, canoes and kayaks are available for rent.

Silver Springs is an icon that will continue to set sail as 500 million gallons of spring water continues to flow each day.

If you appreciated the ride, it's custom to tip the captain by leaving cash on the floor because there's optimism for the future.

"I think it looks great," McIntosh said. "And I think it's going to look better."

For information on ticket costs, admission prices and operating hours, click here.

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<![CDATA[Tankful Summer Road Trip: Goofy Golf in Panama City Beach]]> http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2016/5/30/tankful_summer_road_trip_panama_city_beach/?cid=rss Fri, 10 Jun 2016 4:45 AM Scott Fais Just across the street from the Panama City Beach Pier awaits something a little goofy that ignited an industry.

  • Goofy Golf is in Panama City Beach
  • Founded in 1959, iconic mini golf structures founded here

"To me, it's classic," said Jason Jones, a father.

Welcome to Goofy Golf.

In the summer of 1959, entrepreneur Lee Koplin had a vision. A big vision, actually, that included towering monkeys and a scaled-down version of the Great Sphinx of Egypt that could sit side-by-side and usher a hole-in-one.

"The kids are becoming nerds with technology, so we wanted to do something fun," Jones said.

Jones took away his kids' technology and replaced them with putters for an afternoon.

"I went to this Goofy Golf place," said Cameron Jones, who was using an actual putter instead of an Xbox controller. "It was so funny, because we had to hit it through all these holes, and then it went through more holes and then it went through another hole."

Cameron Jones discovered the place where miniature golf first became oversized with spiders and butterflies.

Not much has changed at Goofy Golf since 1959, either. The iconic structures, as well as the location directly across from the Gulf of Mexico, keep families coming back, generation after generation.

Jason Jones said his parents brought him to Goofy Golf when he was a kid. That's why he brought his children.

Goofy Golf is solidified in the landscape of Panama City Beach just like the windmill became the symbol for 18 pint-sized holes.

Hurricanes and spring breakers have left their marks over the years. A closer look will show you that the salty air has taken its toll.

The bridge may need some new planks, as well.

"You can get out and have a lot of fun still with the family with the classic stuff that has always been here," Jason Jones said.

For information on ticket costs, admission prices and operating hours, click here.

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<![CDATA[Tankful Summer Road Trip: Feeding frenzy in St. Augustine]]> http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2016/5/30/tankful_summer_road_trip_st_augustine_alligators/?cid=rss Thu, 2 Jun 2016 7:00 PM Scott Fais Gather around for a feeding frenzy in the United States' oldest city.

  • St. Augustine Alligator Farm opened in 1893
  • It's the only zoo that has every species of alligator and crocodile
  • Some of the species are endangered

"You're on the bridge, and everybody is ready to eat," said Michelle Kiley, from Ponte Vedra.

John Brueggen, the general manager of the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, said it's the only zoo in the world that has every species of crocodile and alligator. Visitors crowd the boardwalk to behold the 24 different species.

The St. Augustine Alligator Farm opened in 1893 as an attraction near a railroad depot.

"We like to say we're 120 years old, but we never want to look like it," Brueggen said.

The farm is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

"We want to be Old Florida," Brueggen said. "We want that feel, but we don't want you coming in and thinking, 'Gosh, is this boardwalk going to fall apart?' or something like that. We're constantly putting in and investing back into it."

Brueggen is part businessman and part Dr. Dolittle at the farm. The St. Augustine Alligator Farm still offers an up-close look at gators, but the famed gators who once slid down a slide are now content to sun themselves.

"Alligators and crocodiles maybe have a negative connotation in peoples' minds," Brueggen said. "These predators — and we are all wired to be fearful of predators — but many of them are endangered species. They are having trouble surviving in the wild."

Keep your eyes open, though. You'll spot some crocodiles mixed in with the gators.

"When you first go through, it's all the crocodiles from South America and then the ones from Africa and then the ones from Asia," Brueggen said.

Also, say hello to Maximo. The saltwater crocodile measures 15 feet, 3 inches long and 1,200 pounds. Maximo is the largest animal in the park. An underwater viewing window allows visitors to see Maximo swim.

Living reptiles at the farm also love attention. In the python cave, you can walk right up to the snakes.

And then there are the dragons.

Kiley fell in love with a monster. The Komodo dragons crave attention, often times coming face-to-face with visitors.

"She was sleeping over there," Kiley said. "She stuck her head out and said hello."

One of the most unique creatures comes from down under. The southern cassowary from Australia is called "the world's most dangerous bird."

Their powerful kick, as well as sharp claws, could flatten a human. Female cassowaries make the males raise the chicks.

Photographers also love the park for the proximity to nesting birds.

"We want people to walk out of here understanding that they are really cool and they might be a reason to do something to save them in the wild and have an appreciation for wildlife overall," Brueggen said.

For information on ticket costs, admission prices and operating hours, click here.

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<![CDATA[Tankful Summer Road Trip: Weeki Wachee mermaids]]> http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2016/5/30/tankful_summer_road_trip_weeki_wachee/?cid=rss Thu, 2 Jun 2016 7:00 PM Scott Fais For almost seven decades, people on two feet have shuffled in and had a seat in anticipation of seeing the impossible.

People entering the submerged theater aren't aware of the celebrity in the rear who is about to grow a tail as the curtain rises on a Florida tradition.

The famed Weeki Wachee mermaids still jump in daily and perform to the delight of the young — and the young at heart.

Sitting in the audience wasn't enough for Tracey Keim, though.

"I grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida, and I used to come here with my mom and grandparents," said Keim, a teacher and aspiring mermaid.

She fulfilled her childhood dream of becoming a mermaid with the weekend "Sirens of the Deep Mermaid Camp."

"This is better than I thought it was going to be," she said. "There are beautiful women here of all shapes and sizes."

At Weeki Wachee State Park's popular boot camp, you, too, can take the plunge.

"Being a mermaid is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be," Keim said.

As the spring flows forth, you're transported to another world, Keim said, adding: "You just realize that when you’re in the water that nothing matters."

Except for your performance, of course.

For information on ticket costs, admission prices and operating hours, click here.

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<![CDATA[Tankful Summer Road Trip: Lion Country Safari in Loxahatchee]]> http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2016/5/30/tankful_summer_road_trip_loxahatchee/?cid=rss Thu, 2 Jun 2016 7:00 PM Scott Fais Lions, chimpanzees and giraffes. Pack the kids in the car and head to Florida's east coast, where visiting Africa is all within a round-trip drive.

  • Lion Country Safari is in Loxahatchee
  • Visitors ride in vehicles as African animals roam free
  • Attraction also has endangered southern white rhinos

The creatures from a continent away are in the corner of Palm Beach County. Your vehicle transports you to seven different areas of Africa.

Brian Dowling, a curator at Lion Country Safari in Loxahatchee, said the collection of animals there is greater than the average zoo.

"They're not behind bars, they're not in small enclosures," Dowling said. "They are in large, open spaces. It's our guests that are confined ... in their vehicles as they go through."

Animals such as Kulan sprint right in front of your vehicle. The namesake with the big paws are still one of the most popular.

The days of lions mixing with cars are over, though. Drivers are now safely behind a fence.

"They open their mouths so we can examine their teeth," Dowling said. "But at the same time, they would probably eat you if given the chance. You have to treat the animals with what their potential is — with what they’re capable of."

Not behind the fence are the endangered southern white rhinos, whose horns are more valuable than gold.

The female rhinos are all about being loved, too.

"They are tactile animals," Dowling said. "They do like the touch."

When you touch a rhino's skin, it's pretty rough. However, if you let your hand go inside the back of their leg, you'll find a sweet spot.

Drivers also get to see chimpanzees on their island habitat.

Don't let the cute baby zebras fool you. Their mothers are fierce.

"These animals are as wild as you can get," Dowling said.

The experience on four wheels is the thing summer roads trips are made of.

For information on ticket costs, admission prices and operating hours, click here.

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<![CDATA[Tankful Summer Road Trip: Buggy tours in Ochopee]]> http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2016/5/30/tankful_summer_road_trip_ochopee/?cid=rss Thu, 2 Jun 2016 7:00 PM Scott Fais At the bottom of the state, you'll find the Wootens' roadside attraction that introduced airboats to Florida.

Across the street, there's a yellow house jacked up on stilts. It's time to take a trip into natural Florida with a true character.

"Go right on up, honey," said Shelley Wooten, an Ochopee princess. "Have a seat on the buggy with the white seats, everybody."

Byron Boyd, visiting from Canada, added: "It's kind of like backwoods meets old American hustle. It (has) a big engine and a big rig."

Wooten said it's her preferred transportation through the Florida Everglades.

And behind you the wheel, you'll find a one-of-a-kind.

"I was my dad's princess, and I'm from Ochopee," Wooten said. "Ochopee princess."

Take one look at her shotgun-shell earrings, and you'll know Wooten is comfortable around these parts.

"My (great-grandfather) did a little bit of rum-running and moonshining," she said.

But don't bother buckling up. There are no roads around here.

"All right, everybody," Wooten said. "We're getting ready to roll down the biggest hill in South Florida."

In the middle of the Big Cypress National Preserve, you can comb the Everglades for critters.

"You're above everything, and you can see the animals and birds," Boyd said. "It's just really cool."

With no oncoming traffic and Wooten at the wheel, you begin to see the ecosystem at work.

Raccoon, vultures, the Florida black bear.

"I've had people 10 feet, 15 feet away from the black bear on the buggy," Wooten said.

In the cypress hammock, Wooten also offers a close look at the plant life found in the swampy area. Passing manatees might also make an appearance in Florida's final frontier.

"Always remember, if Bambi can eat it, I can eat it, too," Wooten said.

For information on ticket costs, admission prices and operating hours, click here.

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<![CDATA[Florida on a Tankful: Dolphin-spotting cruise in Keewaydin Island]]> http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2016/5/24/florida_tankful_dolp/?cid=rss Tue, 24 May 2016 12:36 PM Scott Fais The sound of trumpets echo under platinum skies for a morning of discovery on the water.

Author Molly Jebber is on board to feel reconnected to nature before writing her next novel.

"We decided we wanted to go on a boat ride," Jebber said. "(We're) always looking for new ideas. It helps me get detail about description."

The novelist believes there's nothing fictitious about the wild dolphins she hoped to see.

"I love learning about the facts — how they teach their children, how they name their children, have their own language and are smart," Jebber said.

Jebber and her husband, Ed, joined Naples tour operator Pure Florida to explore Naples Bay.

Capt. Marty Martino guides the catamaran to where wildlife gathers.

"We spotted a dolphin out here," Martino said.

Jebber had a front-row seat to observe feeding dolphins, who seemed happy to show themselves, along with birds having breakfast.

"He's got a fish in his mouth," Martino said. "Now try to do that without any hands."

Keep your eyes open. Martino knows where to find animals.

"They are (like) a raptor," he said. "They rip and tear."

Halfway through, something unexpected happens when Martino beaches the boat and drops the ladder.

"Right across there is a path," Martino said. "It's about 100 yards."

Everyone is soon overboard. Where are we headed? Check back at 6 a.m. Friday for Part 2 of the story.

In the meantime, Ed Jebber has a revelation.

"I just made up my mind," said Jebber, who recently moved to Florida from Ohio. "We're going to do more down here by the water."

Tankful on Television
You can catch new Florida on a Tankful stories each Thursday and Saturday on News 13 and Bay News 9. New editions play at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m. Classic Florida on a Tankful stories can be found each Friday and Sunday on Bay News 9 and News 13 at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m.

Tankful on Demand
Catch Florida on a Tankful with Scott Fais on your time, now on Bright House Local On Demand, Channel 999. Use your remote to scroll to the right to the TRAVEL category. Then SCROLL DOWN to TANKFUL.

Scott Fais joins Travel Monthly
Catch our own Scott Fais as the Florida Correspondent on the On Demand travel magazine, Travel Monthly. Each month, Scott joins other travel reporters from across the United States as they showcase a wide variety of attractions, diners, parks and landmarks from across America. See Travel Monthly nationally on Time Warner Cable channel 411.  And here at home on Channel 999 in the Travel section.

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<![CDATA[Florida on a Tankful: Gilded Age treasures in The Lightner Museum]]> http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2016/5/18/lightner_museum/?cid=rss Sat, 21 May 2016 7:45 AM Scott Fais In what looks like a castle awaits an adventure that feels like a trip through the movie “Night at the Museum.”

  • The Hotel Alcazar is in St. Augustine
  • Hotel was built by Henry Flagler in 1887
  • The Lightner Museum houses vast collection of Americana

"It's not your typical museum. It really isn't,” warns Bob Harper.

The Hotel Alcazar, built by Henry Flagler in 1887 using Spanish Renaissance Revival architecture, is now home to a vast collection of Americana.

"Museums are like icebergs -- you only see the tip,” says Harper, the executive director.

Inside the Lightner Museum, you can find art, furniture, crystal, stained glass and even a stuffed lion belonging to Winston Churchill. It’s all part of the collection of publisher Otto Lightner.

"He himself became sort of smitten with collecting,” Harper says of the Chicago-based Lightner, who published a magazine from The Windy City dedicated to collecting everything from art to bottle caps.

On display today, Lightner's salt and pepper shakers are some of the most popular items.

"We have 8,000 or 9,000 salt and pepper shakers,” Harper snickers of the vast collection. Some of the shakers came from Tiffany and Company.

Meanwhile, a collection of vintage toasters is also popular.

"People love them,” Harper says. “They’re like, 'Oh. I used to have one like that,' or 'Grandma had one.'"

Harper says the structure of Hotel Alcazar is also part of the attraction. The central atrium used to be flooded, as a swimming pool.

"The swimming pool in its day was touted as the world's largest indoor pool,” he recalls.

Today, the diving board is gone, while the grand stairs remain. Visitors can still descend into the dry pool basin for lunch. A café offers a luncheon menu, where diners sit on the former pool bottom.

Although the pool dried up after the U.S. military performed training exercises in the waters during World War II, The Lightner Museum maintains the public bathing areas.

Stadium seating is part of the Russian bath. Now dried up as well, the communal area is open for touring. Water jets that look more like torture devices were part of a turn-of-the-century spa experience.

The rooms filled with artifacts and material items can feel like a three-dimensional trip through eBay.

"He would have had a blast on eBay,” Harper says with a laugh of Lightner’s passion for collecting during The Gilded Age.

Tankful on Television
You can catch new Florida on a Tankful stories each Thursday and Saturday on News 13 and Bay News 9. New editions play at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m. Classic Florida on a Tankful stories can be found each Friday and Sunday on Bay News 9 and News 13 at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m.

Tankful on Demand
Catch Florida on a Tankful with Scott Fais on your time, now on Bright House Local On Demand, Channel 999. Use your remote to scroll to the right to the TRAVEL category. Then SCROLL DOWN to TANKFUL.

Scott Fais joins Travel Monthly
Catch our own Scott Fais as the Florida Correspondent on the On Demand travel magazine, Travel Monthly. Each month, Scott joins other travel reporters from across the United States as they showcase a wide variety of attractions, diners, parks and landmarks from across America. See Travel Monthly nationally on Time Warner Cable channel 411.  And here at home on Channel 999 in the Travel section.

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<![CDATA[Florida on a Tankful: More than mermaids in Weeki Wachee]]> http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2016/5/18/swim_weeki_wachee/?cid=rss Fri, 20 May 2016 5:30 AM Scott Fais In the town of mermaids, you can grow fins.

"We have a great, fresh, first magnitude spring that folks can swim in,” explains John Athanason with Weeki Wachee State Park.

You may know Weeki Wachee for its mermaids, but the same spring waters the famed mermaids swim in are now open weekends for bathers. And the cost of admission won’t sink your wallet.

"Our prices since we became a state park are very inexpensive.”

Adults enter for $13 and children age 6-12 pay $8. The price includes mermaid shows, water park admission, nature boat cruise and a wildlife show.

The Buccaneer Bay water park features water slides that use rushing spring water instead of chlorine. Just be ready - it's a refreshing 72 to 74 degrees.

As for that lazy river? Just behind the jumping platform awaits a real river perfect for floating or navigating.

The natural side of Weeki Wachee a short walk away offers a glimpse into wild Florida.

"I love nature and this is unspoiled,” shares Ann Witt from Tampa’s Channelside neighborhood.

Ann and her family left the developed side of Weeki Wachee State Park behind to rent kayaks from Paddling Adventures and explore the quiet side of the Weeki Wachee River.

"There’s more current than people think,” she said of paddling. “I think there are objective issues… branches and trees and people and motor boats."

Paddling Adventures will help folks like Ann get on the water and then pick them up downstream in a shuttle van. There’s no need to paddle back against the current.

"Float at your leisure in a canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard,” recommends Virginia Williams, the assistant manager at Paddling Adventures.

"It's a fun, full day of entertainment,” John says.

Tankful on Television
You can catch new Florida on a Tankful stories each Thursday and Saturday on News 13 and Bay News 9. New editions play at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m. Classic Florida on a Tankful stories can be found each Friday and Sunday on Bay News 9 and News 13 at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m.

Tankful on Demand
Catch Florida on a Tankful with Scott Fais on your time, now on Bright House Local On Demand, Channel 999. Use your remote to scroll to the right to the TRAVEL category. Then SCROLL DOWN to TANKFUL.

Scott Fais joins Travel Monthly
Catch our own Scott Fais as the Florida Correspondent on the On Demand travel magazine, Travel Monthly. Each month, Scott joins other travel reporters from across the United States as they showcase a wide variety of attractions, diners, parks and landmarks from across America. See Travel Monthly nationally on Time Warner Cable channel 411.  And here at home on Channel 999 in the Travel section.

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<![CDATA[Florida on a Tankful: Daydream while cruising past Naples mansions]]> http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2016/5/11/naples_mansion_cruis/?cid=rss Sat, 14 May 2016 10:30 AM Scott Fais On the boat dock in Tin City in Naples, folks hand over a ticket and climb aboard for a tour of another kind. 

“Welcome aboard,” says Capt. Dan Maruszczak as people earn their sea legs aboard the “Double Sunshine” catarmaran.

Law school student Marta Sokolowska and her friends just finished their final exams. They decided to party aboard the boat that coasts past Naples' wealthiest zip code. 

“The kitchen is a must. I guess a big backyard area, and then, I guess a nice view,” Sokolowska says about what her future estate would look like. 

“I will get close enough to get the real estate agent’s name and phone number,” Maruszczak says as the boat passes the backyard of a home with a for sale sign displayed. The asking price: a cool $22 million.

Maruszczak takes passengers past the famed homes of Aqua Lane, Royal Harbor and Port Royal. These mega mansions have 10,000 to 12,000 square feet.  On average, their price tags start at $1 million and head to $50 million.

“That’s outside my price range right now,” Sokolowska jokes.

Yet most of these homeowners only vacation here.

Maruszczak points to the latest census data that show on average, these homes are used two to four weeks out of the year. In fact, only 12 percent are occupied on a year-round round basis.

Although these homes are stunning, after they sell, some new owners will bulldoze the house and start over. 

Before making a down payment, Sokolowska wakes up from her daydream and realizes she will need to pay back her law school loans first. 

“You have to pay off the loans first. And I don’t think this would be your starter house,” she laughs as the boat returns to the dock.

Tankful on Television

You can catch new Florida on a Tankful stories each Thursday and Saturday on News 13 and Bay News 9. New editions play at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m. Classic Florida on a Tankful stories can be found each Friday and Sunday on Bay News 9 and News 13 at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m.

Tankful on Demand
Catch Florida on a Tankful with Scott Fais on your time, now on Bright House Local On Demand, Channel 999. Use your remote to scroll to the right to the TRAVEL category. Then SCROLL DOWN to TANKFUL.

Scott Fais joins Travel Monthly
Catch our own Scott Fais as the Florida Correspondent on the On Demand travel magazine, Travel Monthly. Each month, Scott joins other travel reporters from across the United States as they showcase a wide variety of attractions, diners, parks and landmarks from across America. See Travel Monthly nationally on Time Warner Cable channel 411.  And here at home on Channel 999 in the Travel section.

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<![CDATA[Florida on a Tankful: Paddling on Silver Springs]]> http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2016/5/12/paddling_silver_spri/?cid=rss Fri, 13 May 2016 6:15 AM Scott Fais Coasting into summer along one of Florida's favorite springs goes hand-in-hand with kayaking and boating. But the location may surprise you.

"It's an easy way to get in with nature,” says Erin van Gorkom.

Joining the famed glass bottom boats at Silver Springs State Park are kayaks and canoes you can rent.

"You get back to your natural self without the pressures of anything,” Van Gorkom explains while waiting on her boyfriend at the canoe livery, just off the Silver Springs parking lot.

Van Gorkom is in love with a man who also shares an affection for the outdoors.

"Wildlife all over the place,” says Andrew Chu, before getting ready to begin exploring the rivers of Silver Springs. “You can see all the fish. The water is crystal clear."

Both of the University of Florida students are content to explore Silver Springs themselves, while you can request a guide when trying not to get lost.

"Now that it is a state park, it's all about the nature,” says Andrew Martus, a paddle guide employed by the concessionaire offering recreational opportunities within the park.

Martus has a sharp eye.

"There is a gator right ahead!" he says with enthusiasm.

In the wilds of Marion County, you're in gator country.

"There's a fish that just jumped out of the water. It kind of scared me a little bit,” admits Martus.

Beside gators, there's an urban legend surrounding the most popular resident hiding in the trees.

In the 1920s, a showman released monkeys on an island, according to Martus.

"The monkeys that are out here are Rhesus monkeys, the second best primate swimmer next to human beings, so they all swam off the island!” he says while looking above into the trees.

Today, there are three different roaming families of monkey, roughly 44 monkeys in all.

"You'll see them occasionally, farther downstream, usually more than likely,” he says.

Just keep your eyes open.

Not ready to leave? Spend the night.

Silver Springs is the new name of the former Silver River State Park. Here, tent and RV camping are popular, along with cabins in the woods.

Yet here, you're not roughing it. Each cabin has a full working kitchen, complete with a dishwasher. Two bedrooms share a modern bathroom with hot water. There's also a gas fireplace for the winter months in the family room.

"We try to go as often as we can,” Van Gorkom said.

Tankful on Television

You can catch new Florida on a Tankful stories each Thursday and Saturday on News 13 and Bay News 9. New editions play at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m. Classic Florida on a Tankful stories can be found each Friday and Sunday on Bay News 9 and News 13 at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m.

Tankful on Demand
Catch Florida on a Tankful with Scott Fais on your time, now on Bright House Local On Demand, Channel 999. Use your remote to scroll to the right to the TRAVEL category. Then SCROLL DOWN to TANKFUL.

Scott Fais joins Travel Monthly
Catch our own Scott Fais as the Florida Correspondent on the On Demand travel magazine, Travel Monthly. Each month, Scott joins other travel reporters from across the United States as they showcase a wide variety of attractions, diners, parks and landmarks from across America. See Travel Monthly nationally on Time Warner Cable channel 411. And here at home on Channel 999 in the Travel section.

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