Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for the ‘Florida’ Category

Captain Bill Calmly Cruises Through Life

Captain Bill at wheel

Captain Bill takes the wheel of the Lorena Sternwheeler.

When you’ve been a captain for thirty-five years, navigating the waters is something you do with ease no matter the situation. William Page, called Captain Bill by those who know him best, has surrounded himself with life on or near the water for most of his life.

Captain - child

That’s Bill on the right with a diving helmet his dad found in a Pittsburgh River.

   Growing up in Zanesville, he lived close to the Muskingum River and had many daring adventures there as a child while picking up coal along the railroad tracks. Riding a log jam down the river while fishing was one escapade that got him in trouble. Often he and his cousins would climb up under the bridges to catch pigeons – they wanted a carrier pigeon.

Captain - Aquatics Unlimited

Aquatics Unlimited in Zanesville was one of his first business ventures.

   Bill worked for Anchor Hocking Glass for 25 years as an engineering draftsman and mold maker. But the water was calling him and he opened Aquatics Unlimited in Zanesville. Here he designed and built swimming pools and spas, and taught scuba diving.

Captain - Swimming Pool

This swimming pool in Nashville, Tennessee was the last pool he constructed.

   Because of his diving abilities, he was a reserve deputy sheriff in Perry and Muskingum Counties. There he was active doing search and recovery dive team training and rescue missions.

Captain Diving

Giving scuba diving lessons was something Bill truly enjoyed.

   Then he took a vacation and fell in love with the waters of Florida. Soon he moved there, where he owned Knox Bait House Marina. When Bill decides to tackle a project, his persistence has always paid off. Since he had been a commercial diver, he decided to open a scuba diving center where he gave lessons on the Crystal River.

Captain - Manatee

Swimming with the manatee was a favorite Florida pastime.

   He set up a manatee training program at Crystal River because of their abundance at that location. His training program received international recognition. He fell in love with the manatees and enjoyed teaching people how to interact with these large aquatic mammals, who are very friendly when properly treated.

Captain Silver Suit 2

He was honored to wear the Silver Suit of Jacques Cousteau.

   While managing the Port Paradise Dive Center, he was in charge of everything from boat and diving equipment rentals to training divers and giving tours. This is where he was lucky enough to wear one of the famous silver suits of Jacques Cousteau who said, “The best way to observe a fish is to become one.” Bill understood how to do that.

Captain - Video Recorder

Bill still has the underwater video recorder that he used quite often.

   While in Florida, Bill’s life was filled with excitement. He worked at Walt Disney World with the dolphins, was part of the support team for a simulator space capsule with NASA, and directed scuba diving programs at the University of Florida and Bay Point Dive Center.

  There’s a special experience of freedom while diving. The feeling of weightlessness in the water and in the space capsule were pure delights for Bill. One special pleasure was diving to view all the colorful fish, especially at night when some give off a fluorescent glow. “We dive not to escape life but for life not to escape us.”

Captain - Yacht

Sailing his charter yacht Challenge led to many exciting trips in the Caribbean.

   In Florida, he received his captain’s license and took people on cruises from Ft. Lauderdale to the Caribbean. For three years he captained The Challenge, a 52′ charter sailing yacht.

   An old friend from Zanesville, Dorothy Montgomery, pulled some strings and asked him if he would come back and temporarily captain the Lorena. He had never operated a sternwheeler before but decided to accept the challenge. That was fifteen years ago.

Captain and Becky

Bill and his wife, Becky, share a passion for the waterways.

   Since then Captain Bill and his wife “Admiral” Becky, social director on the Lorena, have enjoyed the Muskingum River and the people who ride along with them. They hope to be back on board by the end of May each year.

Lorena Paddlewheel

Today Bill is Captain of the Lorena on the Muskingum River.

   While steering the Lorena, he notices his environment. In the sky, he sees many different birds, eagles and an occasional seagull. In the water, herring and other fish make themselves known but he quipped, “I haven’t seen an alligator, but I’m looking.”

   In his spare time, Bill drives tour buses and school buses for West Muskingum. He fills every hour of the day. If he would have one bit of advice for young people, it would be, “Education. Get it all.”

   Everyone has dreams and Bill is no exception. One dive he would still like to make is off the coast of Australia in the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system.

Captain - Queen of the Lake II

His next project is to direct the restoration of the Queen of the Lake III at Buckeye Lake.

   His next project is fairly close to home as he has been asked to be project manager at Buckeye Lake as they complete the final steps on the restoration of Queen of the Lake III.

Captain at home

The Captain’s home office is filled with nautical memorabilia.

   There’s no doubt that Bill and Becky enjoy life to the fullest these days. Bill enjoys playing keyboard, guitar and accordion but never took a lesson. He’s one of those true musicians that play by ear. Today he’s perfectly happy to just relax in their beautiful home near Zanesville.

   Bill has seen things under the water that most have never seen. Memories float to the surface when he speaks of his adventures.

   “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonders forever.”

~Jacques Cousteau

Barefoot McCoy Captures Real Life in His Songs

 

Surrounded by music since childhood, Jake “Barefoot” McCoy of Newark, Ohio now provides musical entertainment all over Ohio and across the United States. His popular folk music developed step by step throughout his life.


Barefoot as a child

Even as a child, Jake attempted to play his dad’s musical instruments.

   His family was homeschooled and piano instruction was part of the curriculum. At the age of five, he began classical piano lessons from a teacher who came to their house every week. A half-hour of practice was required daily.

   Jake feels lucky to have started his musical training at an early age. Music filled his heart and soul so by the time he was eight, he played as much by ear as by reading the music. It wasn’t until age 13 that Jake wrote his first songs using piano and guitar as accompaniment.

Barefoot at Apoxee Trail Florida

The Apoxee Trail in Florida is a great place to go hiking with your guitar.

   When attending Newark High School, Jake also participated in cross country and track. Running and being in nature got in his blood too, and he still gets pleasure from hiking today or taking long walks in the woods.

   Jake attended Asbury College in Kentucky for four years where he earned a degree in music and performance, with minors in accounting and agriculture. In that small town of Wilmore, locals met on the porches or in local clubs and enjoyed sharing music. That’s where he developed as a banjo player.

The same teddy bear is available in multiple, playful settings.

Historic Roscoe Village featured Jake at their grand piano for a Christmas concert.

   It was while enjoying music on those hot summer evenings along the Kentucky River that Jake began playing without wearing shoes. A couple of his friends, Rainwater, a Cherokee, and Gail Roe gave him the Indian name of “Barefoot” at that time and this unique name distinguishes him easily from other performers.

   While in Kentucky, he performed with many local bands from 2010 to 2014 and immersed himself in Appalachian culture, including readings of Thoreau and Wordsworth. If you listen closely, you can hear traces of his beliefs and values in the songs he writes.

Barefoot at South Florida Fair - West Palm Beach

Fairs are a popular venue. Here he performs at the South Florida State Fair in West Palm Beach.

   2015 created a memorable year for Barefoot as he went to California to visit a relative. He stayed the year playing every day as a street performer on the Santa Monica Pier. In the evenings he would play at local clubs and bars. While surrounded by all that music, he wrote over 100 songs that year.

   He began performing solo in 2015 and has since delighted crowds at over 1200 shows in Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Indiana, New Mexico, and California. His most recent festival took place in March at Dawsonville, Georgia.

Barefoot April

Jake Barefoot McCoy writes meaningful lyrics for his folk songs.

   A special relative that influenced his music tremendously was Doc Watson. His folk guitar playing inspired much of Barefoot’s technique today. During the American folk music revival in the 1960s, the award-winning Doc played acoustic guitar and banjo with a special picking style.

   A multi-talented young man, Barefoot is a singer, songwriter, and musician. A specialty he has mastered is putting poetic lyrics together that tell stories of yesterday and tomorrow. Barefoot is a truly great lyricist able to capture beauty, happiness, frustrations, and pure fun.

Barefoot at Keyboard

The keyboard is a central part of his performances.

   He varies his performances by playing guitar, banjo, harmonica, and piano. No matter what instrument he picks up, his skill and feelings come pouring through. Those bare feet keep him in close touch with his foot percussion, which is often his guitar case.

Barefoot at Cherokee, NC

Cherokee Nation in North Carolina has a festival that he thoroughly enjoys.

   While playing around on the piano at home, he often just happens across his next song. He loves telling a story through his music and usually is working on several new songs. Sometimes he might work on a song idea for years, but often it happens in just one day, maybe even ten minutes.

Barefoot Latest Album

His album “Back to Virginia” takes you on a musical adventure from valleys to mountaintops.

   His albums are Bye Bye Bluebird, Ballyhoo, American Lady, and Back to Virginia. At concerts, Take Me Away and Cali top the list of requests. Summer in My Soul is his latest hit.

I will not grow old

While my heart is full

The world outside is so cold

But it’s Summer in My Soul.

Tourism Barefoot McCoy

He was a featured entertainer at Ohio Tourism Day on the Ohio Statehouse steps.

   Some of his favorite concerts have occurred at the Cherokee Festival in Cherokee Nation, the Paul Bunyan Festival at Old Washington, and Apple Butter Festival in Coshocton. My first concert of Barefoot’s occurred on the Ohio State House Lawn at a State Tourism Show and later listened when he performed at the Guernsey County Senior Center Picnic.

Barefoot at Senior Diner

Guernsey County Senior Center asked him to play for their Senior Picnic in the park.

   Like all young men, he has his dreams. One of those would be to go on an international tour. He’d also enjoy playing with Tommy Emmanuel, who he admires for his complex fingerstyle technique on the guitar. The talented Jake “Barefoot” McCoy certainly has a wonderful chance to fulfill his dreams.

Barefoot Tee

This Barefoot tee shirt could be a fun gift.

   Visit his website at www.barefootmccoy.com to hear some of his music. It’s an easy place to order an entertaining CD. Bluegrass fans might like to pick up a Barefoot Raglan Tee Shirt or Hoodie for themselves or a friend.

   Watch his schedule and plan to listen to his delightful musical creations sometime soon. Barefoot McCoy is a pure American Folk Music treasure.

Impressive Flag Show By Vane Scott in Sarasota, Florida

Vane at Patriot Plaza

Vane Scott had an attentive crowd at Patriot Plaza in Sarasota, Florida.

This concert was presented before the recent social distancing was put in place.

     The 2,800-seat outdoor amphitheater at Patriot Plaza in Sarasota, Florida was recently filled to capacity for Vane Scott’s presentation of “The Many Faces of Old Glory.” The event was sponsored by the Sarasota Military Officers Foundation so American patriots could learn more about the history of the flag of the United States.

Vane - The Pops Orchestra of Bradenton and Sarasota (2)

The Pops Orchestra of Bradenton and Sarasota provided background music.

     This was a repeat performance for Vane Scott as he had previously performed there in 2015 with the backing of the Pops Orchestra of Bradenton and Sarasota, who again provided background music for this year’s flag show. When someone is asked back for a repeat performance, it’s obvious that the show has been appreciated.

vanes-dad-with-flags

Surrounded by the many flags used in the performance, Vane’s dad started this flag show.

     Vane credits his dad with starting the flag show back in 1975. Of course, Vane went along to many of those shows and his passion for the story grew. His dad encouraged Vane to learn the story of the flag and they even practiced at the kitchen table when his father became ill.

    Soon afterward, he decided to carry on the family tradition.“I needed to tell Dad’s story.” Vane would tell you today, “Dad’s with me every time I do his show. It’s been nine years since he passed away. I miss him terribly.”

Vane Show Crowd

A capacity crowd filled the stadium to hear the history of our flag.

     When he was introduced, he told the crowd, “I’m from Newcomerstown, Ohio along with a couple of famous people you might remember. The baseball pitcher, Cy Young, grew up in our area and Ohio State’s football coach, Woody Hayes went to school there.”

     He then delighted the crowd of Floridians, many with Ohio roots, by raising his arms and saying, “O-H”. To which nearly 2000 voices responded, “I-O.” The evening was off to a great start!

Vane - Many Faces of Old Glory

Vane tells the story as he shares the Bennington Flag from the American Revolution.

     “The Many Faces of Old Glory” contains the story of the many steps taken before we arrived at the United States flag we know today. Vane has over twenty different flags that help him tell the story. Some are odd, strange and downright crazy looking so there is humor laced with the history to make the show entertaining as well as informative.

Vane and Miss Tampa

Miss Tampa Lauren Nielsen provided patriotic vocal selections.

     Vane was honored and pleased to have Miss Tampa Lauren Nielsen as his backup singer. She sang “The Star Spangled Banner” as well as “God Bless America.” Vane remarked, “She has an amazing voice and range. She hit those high notes perfectly.”

     He still uses the same flags his father left folded up nine years ago. His goal is to help others understand the country’s rich heritage and give us a reason for being proud of our country.

Vane Scott

Vane is always ready to tell “The Many Faces of Old Glory”.

     While Vane is back home now, he’s always willing to present his flag show when the opportunity presents itself. Perhaps when things settle down in our country, your group might like to contact Vane Scott for a performance of “The Many Faces of Old Glory.”

    Contact Vane at 740-498-8803 or email him at vanescott@yahoo.com. Visit his website at www.ManyFacesofOldGlory.com

      Vane always reminds the crowd, “We may be born in America, but to be an American is quite another thing.”

Relax with Snowbirds of Florida

Lunch at an outdoor patio.

Lunch at an outdoor patio.

Ever wonder how the Snowbirds live in Florida? Come along for a trip to southern Florida and see how these folks entertain themselves from day to day. Actually, they seem more like children than adults, playing at being grown-ups while enjoying the freedom of children.

This is basically a life of leisure, and everyone runs on their own schedule in the mornings. Some are early risers and like to swim in the pool or exercise before the day gets warms. Others tend to sit back in their recliners and watch the morning world come to life outside their windows. 

Most live near the water so there is always entertainment nearby. The appearance of egrets, ibises, sea gulls and turtles in the nearby lake adds joy to the day. One of the neighbors might decide to throw some bread towards the birds and then the fun begins.

Dolphin statues line the streets as part of Sea Venice Arts Project.

Dolphin statues line the streets as part of Sea Venice Arts Project.

More sea gulls than you thought were in the area, suddenly appear wanting a taste of bread.Turtles even rear their heads out of the water for a tasty treat. They are usually unseen in the water, but when feeding time comes along, their long necks reach out to grab a bite. Once in a while, they will climb out on a rock to sun themselves. 

Shopping seems to be one of the favorite activities for men and women alike. The men usually head to Home Depot while the women check out all the downtown stores almost every day. Most of the time they just look, but sometimes they are tempted to buy a colorful blouse or capris – Florida style. 

Buckeye Ladies gather for their weekly luncheon.

Two tables of Buckeye Ladies gather for their weekly luncheon.

Of course, shopping without lunch isn’t a possibility. All the Buckeye Ladies gather once a week to keep in touch with home news as well as form new friendships. Their weekly gatherings also give them a chance to try a different restaurant every week. You can be certain that quite often seafood is a part of the menu.

On the days when they’re not shopping, lunch on the patio is the order of the day. Everyone enjoys sitting out in the sunshine where they can enjoy fresh air, a gentle breeze, and a quick sandwich and soda.

Afternoons are spent visiting.  These are the friendliest people you could imagine. Ladies ride their three-wheel bicycles from house to house, sharing their latest purchases and bakings. Somehow these ladies still find time to bake the tastiest cookies when they are home for a few minutes.

Surprise visitors pop in unexpectedly quite often. If you have a home in Florida, you can expect company from the northern states to stop by to say hello anytime they are in the area. Refrigerators are well stocked so there is always something the men can throw on the grill, while the ladies can whip up some extras without too much problem. Steaks and hamburgers are quite popular on the grill and the guys seem to handle this with ease. Then the ladies will toss a salad, fix some potatoes, and always seem to manage some fresh fruit for dessert.

Sunset on the lake at their  backdoor

Sunset on the lake at their backdoor

Evenings might be spent playing cards or Scrabble around the table with friends who just happened to stop by. A card game called Head and Foot seemed to be popular as it could be played without too much concentration. That way everyone could visit and play cards at the same time. 

The Club House is also a popular place for friends to gather in the evening for Bingo. They are quite serious about plans for the evening as snacks are packed in coolers and everyone makes certain they have their Bingo spotter with them. The game is a fast moving affair with helpful eyes on everyone’s cards.

These adult children enjoy their relaxed lifestyle and that is what retirement should be all about. 

View of the causeways leaving Tampa

View of the causeways leaving Tampa

There is no doubt that the climate is perfect for the Snowbirds during the winter months. But visitors must return to the cold blasts of northern winter. Flying out, the scene of the causeways crossing Tampa Bay is a great way to say goodbye to a beautiful Florida visit.

Way Down South – Key West

“Cayo Hueso” – Spanish for “Bone Island” – was the original name for Key West because of all the skeletons found on the beaches during the days of pirates and sunken treasures. This is the southernmost city in the continental United States with Cuba just 90 miles away! With the Atlantic Ocean connecting with the Gulf of Mexico on its shores, the sunsets here are spectacular and always accompanied by a gentle breeze.

Just getting here is an adventure as you travel across forty two bridges through the Keys on US Highway 1, the Overseas Highway. The route is only 113 miles from the southern mainland of Florida to Key West with the longest bridge being seven miles long.  All the way you are surrounded by tropical beauty and aquamarine waters. You see the coves where pirates landed long ago, and where drug smugglers currently hide their stash.

The highway here is actually built on the original route of the Overseas Railroad, which was constructed by Henry Flagler back in 1912. When the railroad and its bridges were destroyed in a hurricane in 1935, it was rebuilt and reopened as a highway in 1940.

Ernest Hemingway, John James Audubon and Harry S Truman all were frequent visitors here. The Hemingway house is one of the favorite stops and has a relaxing garden, which is a photographer’s dream. Nobel Prize Winner  Ernest Hemingway called the island home for ten years and found solace here along the turquoise waters. Be sure to look for the 40-50 six-toed cats that are descendants of Hemingway’s favorite tomcat, Snowball. Did seem fitting to take home one of his books, so selected his final work published during his lifetime, which not surprisingly had an ocean theme, Old Man and the Sea.

Conch Tour Train gives a guided tour of the island and even makes a stop at Sloppy Joe’s, the most famous bar in Key West. Opened in 1933, the day after Prohibition was repealed, owner Joe Russell had previously operated an illegal speakeasy. Hemingway and his “Mob” of literary cohorts were regular customers, who philosophized and drank the days away.  Today the bar is filled with historic memorabilia dating back to the days when Hemingway – known as Papa – stopped in for a drink with one of his best friends, Joe Russell – known as Sloppy Joe.

Heritage House Museum, the historic Porter family home, gives visitors a taste of the pirate folklore and island life. Built in 1834, this is one of the oldest houses on the island where Jessie Porter established a creativity haven for many famous artists and writers.  The Robert Frost winter cottage in the garden has a beautiful orchid collection. Each year the Robert Frost Poetry Festival is held at this site to promote Key West as a literary destination.

Sunset Pier on the Gulf Coast of Florida is the best seat in the house for the fantastic sunsets of Key West. Here at the Sunset Celebration you watch the sun sink into the Gulf of Mexico while the streets are filled with arts and crafts exhibits, entertainers, psychics, and of course, food!

As poet Wallace Stevens once wrote: Key West is the real thing – the sweetest doing nothing contrived.

Key West, Florida can be reached by crossing all the bridges through The Keys down US Highway 1 to its very end. It is the only highway going that direction so there is no possibility of getting lost.  Enjoy the journey!

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