Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ode to 2014

Six years of blogging,
I can scarcely believe it!
Next year with my memory jogging,
I hope dear reader, you'll still wish to read it!
About authors and zombies this year I did write,
As well as butter, Egyptians and Halloween night.
And Fried Green Tomatoes, whose taste was from Heaven,
Come along with me dear reader and see what may come in year seven!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Monday, December 8, 2014

Its a Long Way From "I Do" to Voodoo

The Colonel and I celebrated the 28th year of our marriage (October 18th) this year. Normally we do not make a "big deal" about it.

Before The Colonel retired from the Air Force, there were some years that he was not home on our anniversary day, so we celebrated it whenever we could.

Our anniversary landed on a Saturday this year and on the same day as ZOMBICON 8.

ZOMBICON is the largest gathering in Florida, of zombiephiles. Fort Myers city officials call it "a bona fide phenomenon". In its sixth year, around 20,000 people attended (23,000 attended this year). It has been said that you don't just come to the event, you are the event.

ZOMBICON is a zombie-themed, music and art festival that began in 2007. Why a zombie theme? George A. Romero filmed the opening scene of his 1985 movie, Day of the Dead, in Fort Myers. You can see the Edison Theater behind the zombie.

Of course The Colonel and I wanted to see what this"bona fide phenomenon" was all about, so we made plans to attend ZOMBICON 8: Voodoo Nightmare.

The gates did not open until 4:00 p.m. The Colonel and I arrived in Ft. Myers about an hour early because we wanted to make sure we could get a good parking spot (we did). To eat up (no pun intended) some time, we walked around the river front as well as visit the lovely library.

The promoters of ZOMBICON 8 were asking for a non-perishable food item to be donated as you went into the gate as well as paying a nominal entrance fee. We approached a table at one of the gates, handed the woman our canned food items and were prepared to pay the fee, but the woman never asked us for it so we entered the gate with our wallets non the thinner.

The Colonel and I walked around the festival, along the streets of Ft. Myers' historic River District. It was a section of Ft. Myers we had never been to before. The buildings were beautiful and there were interesting shops and restaurants inside them. We want to go back there one day, sans zombies.

This is my photograph of the Edison Theater. I love its Art Deco look.

The streets were beginning to fill up with crowds of zombies and non-zombies. The Colonel and I did not dress up for ZOMBICON 8.

We were on a street corner zombie-watching, when a young father came from behind us, and he had his little girl dressed as a zombie. She was so cute, if a zombie can be cute. The little girl's father told her to do her "zombie arms" for us as I snapped a couple of pictures.

 Here is a happy zombie baby and some little zombie brothers.

The Voodoo Nightmare theme for ZOMBICON 8 inspired some very good costumes.


We saw all kinds of zombies.....



We even saw "Rick" from The Walking Dead. 

As the day wore on, more zombies and non-zombies filled the streets and the bands continued playing their music.


The Colonel and I were getting hungry and despite all the "blood and gore" we witnessed, we got a delicious, coal-fired slice of pizza from Capone's before the zombie walk started. Anyone dressed as a zombie could be included in the zombie walk.

We did not leave ZOMBICON 8 until dark, around 8:00 p.m. It was still going on strong when we left. It reminded us of Key West's Fantasy Fest, but without the nudity. We being an "old married couple" had to call it a night.

We are looking forward to ZOMBICON 9 and next time were going as zombies.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Useppa Island

This is Useppa Island.

This little island (about one mile long and 1/3 of a mile wide at its widest part) has been visited by people for thousands of years.

Paleo Indians lived on the island about 8,000 BCE. Later, Calusa and then Seminole Indians would live on the island.

In the early 1830s a Cuban fisherman named Jose Caldez, operated fishing ranchos here. There were twenty palmetto-thatched houses and sixty people on the island. By 1836, all the houses were abandoned or destroyed. It is believed that Jose Caldez named the island "Josefa" which was later Italianized to "Giuseppe" and eventually transformed into "Useppa".

During the Seminole Wars, the U.S. Army had a very temporary fort here. Fort Casey was built in 1850 but then abandoned before the end of the year.

The 1870 census reported only two people living on Useppa Island. Another report in 1885 said it was totally uninhabited and by 1895 only one family lived on the island.

Useppa Island has been known for its luxury resorts since the late 1900s.

In 1894, John Roach, a multi-millionaire streetcar magnate from Chicago, bought the island for $395. He built the Useppa Inn on the island. Mr. Roach also began inviting his wealthy friends to Useppa Island to partake in the new sport of Tarpon fishing.

Above Tarpon pictures are from the Internet

Some of the famous visitors to Useppa Island were: Teddy Roosevelt, Zane Grey, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Herbert Hoover, Mae West, Shirley Temple, The Vanderbilt and Ringling families.

In 1911, multi-millionaire, Barron Collier purchased the island. He was the largest landowner in Florida at the time, with over one million acres in his possession.

Mr. Collier built a house and lived on the island. He also improved the sand beaches, built tennis courts and a nine-hole golf course. Mr. Collier made improvements to the island's existing hotel.

Barron Collier died in 1938, the island was then owned and managed by the Collier Development Corporation until 1961 and then a Mr. Snow bought the island, adding an airstrip and swimming pool.

In May of 1960, Useppa Island was used by the CIA to began training for the Bay of Pigs invasion.

Mr. James Turner bought the island in 1968 for $540,000. He made the island an "adults only" resort, no children under 14 years-old were allowed on Useppa.

In 1976, Mr. Gar Beckstead bought the island. He is still the current owner. Mr. Beckstead made many improvements to the island and its buildings. Useppa Island is still a private, island resort called Useppa Island Club and there are some privately owned houses on the island.

The Colonel, his parents, his sister and I visited Useppa Island in mid-October. We made the long drive to Captiva Island and caught the boat, The Lady Chadwick, at 10 a.m.

We boarded the boat and began our trip to Useppa Island, which took about one hour. As the boat made its way to the island, one of the crew members told us of the history of the area. He pointed out other smaller islands and the fishing camps tucked between them.

On our way to Useppa Island we made a stop at Cabbage Key to drop off some of the other passengers on the boat. The Colonel and I have been to Cabbage Key before.

Our approach to Useppa Island.

Our time on Useppa Island was limited. We had enough time for lunch, a visit to the excellent, local museum and a little walk around. We made our way to the Collier Inn for lunch. The Collier Inn was once the home of Barron Collier.

The inn was beautiful inside.

We ate in the dining room that was to the right as you entered the inn and not the one pictured above.

Our lunches were delicious. After lunch we made our way to the little museum on the island. The pink path to the museum took us by beautiful scenery and cottages.

This is the museum on Useppa. It told the history of the island. As volunteers for a small museum, The Colonel and I always like to see how other small museums operate.

Before we headed back to the dock to meet up with the Lady Chadwick again we visited the gift shop and poked our heads into the local bar. We were told to check out the Tarpon scales on display there. The bar top was made of hundreds of Tarpon scales sealed in Epoxy Resin. The person who caught the Tarpon has their name on the scale, as well as how much the Tarpon weighed, and when/where it was caught.

The Lady Chadwick made her way back to the dock. It was time to leave Useppa Island.

We saw some dolphins swimming and jumping alongside the boat during our trip back to Captiva Island. At one time there were seven dolphins. I tried to get a picture of all of them together, but I was fighting the other photographers on the boat to get the perfect picture and my camera was taking too long between shots to be ready again to take another picture...and dolphins are swift jumpers and swimmers. I did get a couple of shots of a single dolphin.

When our boat docked once again at Captiva Island we saw several manatees in the water.

The Colonel and I had been wanting to visit Useppa Island and the little museum there for some time...we can now check that off of our Bucket Lists.