Fort Lauderdale, My hometown

Fort Lauderdale is the place where I grew up. I actually grew up in Plantation, which is a city in the greater Fort Lauderdale area. Fort Lauderdale is home to so many things, but most people who travel to the city take advantage of its picturesque beaches and downtown atmosphere.

IMG_0866

One of the main reasons why I love Fort Lauderdale so much is because of the maritime presence in the downtown area. Located in the east side of town, there are several marinas and bridges that are situated along the intercostal.

IMG_0640

I remember taking some great boat trips up the intercostal, heading into the Atlantic Ocean. Downtown Fort Lauderdale has a lot of great bars and restaurants and the smell of the ocean is always present with a fresh breeze off of the Atlantic.

IMG_0631

Some of the best memories I have involve walking down by the water and staring at the yachts that are moored against the docks, moving side to side as the waves roll into their sides.

IMG_0635

Before moving to Texas I worked downtown at the main courthouse. Working downtown allowed me to appreciate the area so much more and all of the simple things that makes me miss the city so much. Nothing is better than heading home from work with the windows down driving over a bridge, overlooking the water as you pass by.

Fort Lauderdale also has several parks on the ocean that I would always take my kayak to, sliding the kayak from the hot sand into the warm water, padding along the beach. Another common sight is to see the passing cruise ships in the distance, as they bellow their horns as they move out into the deep ocean.

IMG_0868

As I close this entry about Fort Lauderdale, I think back to my last days there. Images of myself sitting on my kayak, staring out onto the evening sunset, watching the ocean. Or standing on the roof of the courthouse parking garage, watching the cruise ships ease their way from the port into the deep blue waters of the Atlantic. Fort Lauderdale will always be a part of me. And I will always look forward to returning home.

BAJA 11-04-06 065

Advertisements

Tallahassee

Nestled up in the northern corner of Florida, Tallahassee serves as Florida’s capital. This northern city is much different from south Florida. Tallahassee has more of a country-type atmosphere and is only an hour from the Florida-Georgia state line. Tallahassee is famously known for being the city being the home to the Florida State University and home to the Seminoles.

Capital

Tallahassee is a college town. Despite being  the state’s capital, the entire city revolves around the university. With the beach  a few hours away, Tallahassee can be very hot in the summer, and most of the time there is a faint breeze, which allows the hot summer air to hover over the city. IMG_1263

Tallahassee is very wooded and there are so many areas full of cool springs and hiking trails. During the football season, most things shut down during football games and it’s common to see the Seminole flag anchored at most houses in town.

Backyard

Despite being a wild and crazy college town at times, it’s also very picturesque and quaint. While it may not feel like the typical Florida city, with miles of beaches and flashy sports cars, Tallahassee is a beautiful city.

Tallahassee 017

Fort Myers, Home Sweet Home

Fort Myers is probably the one place in Florida that I could spend the rest of my life and be happy. Even though I am  not originally from Fort Myers, it is where I attended college and worked for a few years. I have always thought I had a laid back personality and Fort Myers is definitely a laid back town. 234 (1)

Fort Myers is usually  bit warmer in the summer, since the city is on the Gulf of Mexico. But Fort Myers has a balanced mix of beaches and wooded acres of untouched beauty. While this city is bustling during the winter months with older, retired seasonal residents, Fort Myers maintains its small town charm.

Florida Gulf Coast University, my alma mater, continues to shape the landscape of the area and is driving development. Educating nearly 30,000 students a year, Fort Myers is slowly embracing the university.  It’s common now for restaurants and stores to represent the school mascot, Azul the Eagle and offering discounts for more and more students.

Lugurt Hall

But part of the charm of Fort Myers is the calm beaches and beautiful sunsets. Fort Myers is near the Everglades, but it also is close to area beaches, offering the perfect balance. Fort Myers, despite being developed more and more every year, still has plenty of untouched land that is beautiful to drive through. It’s common to drive down one of the main roads, with hotels, businesses, and restaurants on both sides of the road, only to drive a little further to find empty land, sitting quietly amongst acres and acres of native trees . Some of the most well-known and abundant trees are the bald cypress.

Fort Myers

Fort Myers is also the former homes of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone. This city is a rich with history. Nearby Fort Myers are smaller towns like Naples, Bonita Springs and Cape Coral. Each of these smaller cities have a local vibe and provide for easy access to beaches and nearby waterways.

Naples

20130907_192347

Sunset

Fort Myers will always be home to me. I feel such a connection to the area that I hope someday I can have a house there, allowing me to visit and spend time in the town that helped shape me into the person I am today. As I think about the city now, writing this article, I can picture the sound of crickets chirping the wooded fields surrounding FGCU. I can feel the dying warmth of the setting sun as it dips below the gulf. And at night, the cool night air invites any person to drive with their windows down.

Fort Myers is a great place to spend some time. And it’s a place that I will always call home.

 

Walt Disney World: The Happiest Place on Earth

Central Florida is a bit different than South Florida. The natural landscape shifts from beaches to more wooded areas. Orlando is the biggest city in Central Florida and home of a major university, University of Central Florida. Though, Orlando’s most famous resident is Walt Disney World. MK

Visiting Disney World in Orlando is much like stepping into the magic of your favorite Disney movies. Consisting of four main parks, each unique in it’s own right, Disney also has more than 20 types of resorts that are just as magical as the theme parks.

Epcot

Magic Kingdom is the most popular, home to Cinderella’s Castle and rides like Splash Mountain, Space Mountain and much more. Broken into different lands, Magic Kingdom is fun from the second it opens to the second it closes.

Epcot is the most likely the second most popular theme park, recognized by it’s ride Spaceship Earth, which is commonly referred to as the big golf ball. Epcot has several exciting rides like Test Track and Mission Space. But what separates Epcot from the other are the different countries around the park. Great Britain, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Italy, France, and several others all compose the different countries in Epcot. Each land has it’s own attractions, shows, and restaurants.

MGM Studios probably comes in third on the popularity scale. This is the theme park where movies come to life. Home of Rockin Roller Coaster, it’s most popular attraction, MGM is also the home to the nightly show Fantasmic, where Mickey uses Disney magic to fight Disney’s most notorious villains.

Version 2

Lastly, Animal Kingdom. This park is not the most popular park of them all, but it is one of my favorites. Focusing on themes of Africa and Asia, Animal Kingdom allows visitors to embark on an exciting safari through the park’s game preserve, getting up close to lions, gazelle, antelope, giraffes, and several other animals seen on the African Savannah. And the park has a few roller coasters too, such as Expedition Everest. IMG_0140 (2)

Disney World is one of my favorite places on earth and the parks end every night with a parade and firework show. For me, it truly is the most magical place on earth.

Key West, the land of Hemingway, Buffet and anyone else who stumbles upon Duval Street

Key West is one of the best parts of Florida. The southernmost most part of the United States, Key West has been the home of several famous residents. It was where Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote his unique style of fiction, finding himself involved with bar fights, drinking, and fishing across the Gulf of Mexico. It is also the land of Jimmy Buffet, whose blend of island inspired music took root in this tropical city. IMG_0045

Key West is not large, less then 25 miles in length. But this small island is the home of a large naval base, established initially to combat pirates as they plundered their way across the Caribbean. Today, Key West is known to have some of the best night life and hosts millions of visitors every year. Whether they come by airplane, car, or cruise ship, Key West is one of the most perfect places in the state and probably the world. IMG_0030

Known for its fishing, snorkeling and scuba diving, Key West offers a laid back atmosphere that can help anyone relieve stress and simply relax. I always love to visit the keys. Especially Key West. Only 4 hours south of Miami, the Florida Keys operates at a much slower pace of life. I remember the first time I visited Key West. Surrounded by water and palm trees, the mere sense of tropical perfection can be felt everywhere. It is the one place where a tank top, flip flops and a bathing suite can be considered overdressed.

One of the best things I have done there is take a jet ski tour around the island. I recall leaving with the tour, gunning along the calm water of the Gulf of Mexico. I looked ahead and saw flat water as far as I could see. I remember the smell of the warm salt water as it surged across my lap. As I circled the island I could feel the transition as I entered the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Somewhat colder and deeper, and more rough, I’ll never forget riding across the bright blue waters, looking back at the island lined by palm trees. IMG_0078 (2)

Key West has some of the most perfect snorkeling and diving sites anywhere in the world. Sunken ships, coral reefs, and billions of fish swim around the island. It’s so easy to appreciate the beauty of nature when you spend time below the surface. I remember snorkeling along some of the coral reefs and felt the current propel me through schools of fish. I remember feeling their slippery bodies as they swam away from me. IMG_0079 (2)

Key West has some of the most beautiful sunsets also.I always love to go by Mallory Square in the evening and watch the street performers and musicians as they celebrate the sunset every evening. I remember sitting on a concrete dock and staring out into the gulf, feeling the breeze blow across my face, inhaling the sweet smell of the salt water and the seaweed that was pushed into the dock by the current.It truly is a magical place to be in the evening. 104_0183

Duval Street is one of the best experiences at night. Bar and bar of fun and a lively atmosphere, Key West is a lot of fun at night. I always loved to drink a Pina Colada, a mix of coconut, sugar, and liquor. One of the most famous bars is Sloppy Joe’s, which was where Ernest Hemingway was often seeing writing his stories while he lived on the island. And the Key Lime Pie is legendary. There are so many reasons why I love Key West so much. I may live in Dallas, thousands of miles away from the ocean but I’ll always have a small part of the Keys in my heart and I can’t wait to return.

The River of Grass

Everglades

 

The Florida Everglades. It is, without a doubt, one of the most unique parts of South Florida. Extending from Miami all the way into Central Florida, the Florida Everglades is truly a special place. Hundreds of miles of swamp help make up one of the most important ecosystem in the world. The word Everglades means river of grass, as that is what the Native American Indians called it. The Everglades is a slow moving river that is home to hundreds of species of animals. Alligators, herons, fish, hawks, deer, snakes and so many other species of animals live in the Everglades. Despite mostly consisting of grassy water, there are large areas of dry land, inhabited mostly by wild boar and deer.

 

The water of the Everglades is not deep, perhaps 20 feet at the most in some areas. much of the water’s depth varies by season. Florida is known to have a drought or two and the water level is never guarenteed to remain at a certain depth. For those living in Florida, many fish and hunt throughout the Everglades. One of the more popular activities to do in the Everglades is boating, as many trailer their boats and cruise up and down the canals. Some people fish for largemouth Bass and Tarpon, while others just enjoy the day on the water. The Everglades has several canals that can snake for miles and miles. These canals often have the greatest depth of water. But a majority of the Everglades is commonly referred to as the Flats, areas of water with a much shallower depth, full of thick sawgrass, weeds, mud, and strips of dry land. The best way of navigating these areas is on an airboat.

Fishing

Airboats are extremely light and made out of aluminum. Unlike other boats that have a motor that submerges underwater, airboats are powered by large engines and a propeller that sits above the water. Using two rudders to steer, these boats can travel in inches of water, making them useful for traveling across the flats. IMG_0300IMG_0286

The Everglades is a part of Florida’s DNA. Serving as the home of Florida’s Indian tribe, the Florida Seminoles, the Everglades is crucial to the south Florida environment. While the Everglades has become the target of development to meet the growing need of a rising population, it remains today preserved and protected, ensuring the generations of both Floridians and visitors can see the beauty and sheer brilliance of Florida’s River of Grass.IMG_0277

Welcome to Florida

 

Beach

Hi Everyone,

My name is Michael McDonald and I am excited to be a part of this program! This is my first class online and I am looking forward to getting the hang of the format. Just to give everyone a brief background of myself.

I’m from Fort Lauderdale, FL and attended the Florida Gulf Coast University, studying English and Creative Writing. After graduating I worked as a copywriter for a few years before eventually meeting the love of my life and moving to Dallas, Texas.

Since then I have been working at Hilton Worldwide as an eCommerce Analyst.Working for a company like Hilton sparked my interest in International Business after realizing the impact that global corporations can have as they operate their businesses throughout the world.

This blog, titled Welcome to Florida, will aim to capture my love for Florida and describe all of the places in the Sunshine State that I love so much. I believe that when most people think about Florida images of sandy beaches come to mind. While there may be miles and miles of the world’s best coastline, there are so many other areas of Florida that help make Florida such a unique state. From the Southernmost Point of the Florida keys to the northern woods of Tallahassee, I hope to share some of the best memories I have from the Sunshine State, helping you gain a better feel for the beauty of Florida.