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Floridays

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So I am back in St. Augustine for Thanksgiving for some Floridays. The weather has been perfect and I am getting to re-experience my old home and the site for the make believe setting in my book, Latchawatchee, Florida! Latch is alot different than St. Augustine. For one, there’s no bad energy in St. Augustine and it’s alot older than Latch. If you’ve never been to St. Augustine, you truly must go and I think you will really enjoy my book, The Opaque Stones also—read it while you’re thereTravel to the oldest city in America sometime and experience the history for yourself, don’t take my word for it. It’s as rich if not richer than New Orleans and as amazing as San Francisco. I even traveled down St George street to get a new Panama hat. Everything is just dripping in history and aura, it’s like a spiritual place. They’ve even got a Fountain of Youth if you want to live forever. Anyway, check out my latest book, How To Live also, plus I got a Youtube channel with some St. Augustine videos there promoting the book. For more Floridays articles, click on the Florida tags or see related articles below. Thanks!

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Me with my new Panama hat on St. Augustine Beach.

BUFFETT LIVING

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I first really heard of Jimmy Buffett when I was living in Fairhope, Alabama because although he is originally from Mississippi, he grew up in the Mobile area. His sister owns a restaurant Lulu’s in Gulf Shores near the Flora-Bama. You might read Buffett’s biography A Pirate Looks At 50 for a journey through the islands and Southeast Florida and the South. I went to Key West recently and loved it and lived in St. Augustine, Florida in 2005. There’s a bunch of Buffett b-sides which no one really knows about that work the best for me. It’s songs like Anytime, Anywhere and Back to the Island and Creola that work better than Grapefruit Juicy Fruit or Margarittaville, but anyway, I am not the most loyal Buffett fan, but I like his works and he has traveled the world widely and is clearly one of the best sources for where to fish and visit in the Caribbean and Florida. He lives in Palm Beach, Montauk and St. Barts. Three places I really like. Although my book is primarily set in a make believe modern day St. Augustine, California and Palm Beach, St. Barts is in my book towards the end. You’ll enjoy it, check it out!

THINGS TO DO IN MARIN COUNTY

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I used to go up to San Francisco about once a week for awhile from the Monterey Pennisula and I always found going north of the bridge to Marin County to be absolutely amazing. Not to mention the drive in. There are alot of things to do in Marin County. My first stop was usually at Guaymas in Tiburon. Sitting right on the water, Guaymas has some of the best authentic Mexican fair you can ask for. I ordered the ceviche every time I went. They serve it in an ice cream sundae glass that’s literally overflowing with fish. Next, I would go to a quaint cool bookstore in Sausalito. This little water village has the coolest houseboats imaginable. San Francisco native Jerry Garcia even lived there. Next I would cruise over to downtown Mill Valley. It’s like a mountain retreat nestled in a thick forest of beautiful trees. Stop there at Mill Valley coffee for a double espresso. Hey, pick up some groceries at Whole Foods. Think about Sweetwater Music Hall at night to jam out with the latest bands also. San Anselmo is another place I would go and it’s a great place to just cruise around with your jeep top down or your convertible in full swing. After that, go to Muir Woods, and see these just stunning Redwood trees that you can’t even come close to wrapping your arms around. It’s absolutely amazing.

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A DAY ON 30A

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I have been going to 30A since I was a kid, so if you want to know the best way to spend a day on 30A, take it from me.

So I went to the 30-A area in Florida to hang out, and had an awesome time! Beach shells, swimming in the ocean, grubbing at Modica Market, walking through the lovely Seaside sand swept streets at night, cozying through the small little nook walks here and there—the green spaces, the food, the white sand beach, the people, nothing beats Seaside, except Watercolor right next door! I really like all these communities along the Gulf Coast down the highway 30-A from Grayton Beach to Alys Beach to Rosemary! They all have their unique appeal, cool shops, and great food! Just south of Destin, Florida, Seaside was born in 1980 and features a sprawling array of cottages built close together in a new urbanist community based on small towns of the South.

Sitting out on the beach in my blue chair with my umbrella, watching the waves roll in while reading a nice book was how I spent my late mornings and early afternoons. I also spent a lot of time in Seaside’s swimming pool, which came equipped with its on towels and lounge chairs to lay out on. Another thing I did was cruised on foot everywhere. Be sure to stop at Sun Dog Books and Record store. It’s like awesome reading for me there, plus off the wall LPs upstairs. Get a coffee across the way at Amavida and browse the grove marketplace (an open-air market!). That’s right, I said it, an open-air market! There’s a pizza joint there also that hit home runs on my appetite, but nothing really appealed to me more than sitting in an Adirondack chair right next to the beach, listening to singer songwriters being pumped through the stereo system, and drinking a cold beverage. It was like that for me right out in front of the Shrimp Shack (that’s where my beer came from). Up and down 30-A, the Shrimp Shack is my pick for the freshest, quickest seafood to eat. Nothing beats their marinated crab claws I tell you. They also serve Dreaming Tree wine and have a whole cooler full of beers and beverages alike—anything to cool you down when you’ve been in the hot Florida sun. The atmosphere is unbeatable with screen doors and sand coming up to the back door entrance. You feel like you’re in paradise—some kind of Jimmy Buffett song I guess. A cool breezeway for eating at picnic style two-seaters is a great place to take it away on the food or out back at the big gazebo overlooking the Gulf. Just take it away there and trust me, it’s the place to be. Another place to check out is Bud N’ Alley’s in the grove. More of a sit down place, they offer anything you could want seafood-wise, plus they have a killer bar upstairs that overlooks the Gulf. It’s a great place to catch a game—we saw the World Cup there! For fancy dining, don’t forget Thirty A up the road. Named after the legendary drive and area, it has simply the best high dining fare you could ask for. I had the scallops and loved it.

Back at Seaside, check out the Airstream trailer line-up anytime you’re hungry or parched. Go to Raw n’ Juicy for a fresh green juice after body surfing in the Gulf or to Frost Bites for ice cream! At night, the green space offers outdoor movies sometimes, and there is also an awesome theater. Also, nothing beats just walking around gazing up at the stars. While we were there, two rainbows lit up the sun baked sky! It’s that kind of place. Magical things happen there all around you. Check Seaside out, it’s worth the trip. Rent a house or a condo or stay at Watercolor Inn! Thank me later.

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OYSTERS AND PEARLS

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If you’re a sea buff, it’s important to know about oysters and pearls. Along time ago, pearls came from wild shelled mollusks. Pearl divers swam for them, and hundreds of pearl oysters or shelled mussels had to be opened just to obtain one pearl. This made the price of pearls extraordinary in Queen Elizabeth’s days. Pearls were the likes of kings and queens and never a common place thing. Although, pearl divers still dive for wild pearls in certain parts of the world to add to the luxury of the pearl market, most pearls are now grown in a laboratory much like a harvest. A tiny irritant is injected into the shelled mollusk along with an implanted bead usually, and the creature creates a pearl as a protection against the irritant. The timeframe is a whopping one year for an Akoya oyster to be harvested and much longer for other species. Many people think a grain of sand is often the irritant that causes a pearl to form, but in the wild it is usually a parasite inside the shell or an exterior shell attack. A pearl can also come from clams such as the most famous and largest natural pearl ever The Pearl of Lao Tzu. Weighing a staggering 14 pounds, the pearl was valued at around 40 million dollars by The Guiness Books of World Records. The internal make-up of a wild pearl like those from clams and a cultivated one are different, and X-ray detection can discern the two. In The Opaque Stones, I have many pearls and oysters, and  before writing the book, like a fool, I always just thought oysters were wild pearl producers, harvested that way, and a particular species excelled at it. After reading about the process, I learned some fascinating things for writing the book. You won’t get much more about it from reading my book than I have here, but it’s worth a look for fun. If you liked oysters and pearls, you might like the art of treasure hunting.

Trivia: Why won’t you get a pearl in an oyster by accident while eating out? Answer: Because pearls generally come from a different species called a pearl oyster.

THE ART OF TREASURE HUNTING

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The art of treasure hunting is both real and alive today and has always been of great intrigue to me! I wrote about it in my book The Opaque Stones for goodness sake. In doing the research for the book, I read quite a bit about it online and in books to get the facts straight. Treasure hunters search for treasure underwater and on land for buried treasure generally. A great deal of hunting today occurs underwater though for lost artifacts, including gold and other jewels. This is done via scuba diving and robots, as well as other very sophisticated technical equipment. Its like video game stuff there! Underwater antiquities range from gold coin, some of which has numismatic value, to silver, rubies, pearls, and other jewels, as well as other precious artifacts that might have survived with historical value such as an antique mirror. Sunken ships aren’t merely the stuff of movies and books either. The ocean floor is literally littered with shipwrecks. A little wiki fact I pulled states that the UN estimates roughly 3 million shipwrecks are scattered on the sea floor. How many of those contain buried treasures from forgotten times? Many of the fleets containing treasure are Spanish galleons such as the one Mel Fisher found. Mel, one of the most famous modern offshore treasure hunters, found the Nuestra Senora de Atocha off the coast of Key West where the heavily armed ship was destroyed in a hurricane. The Atocha finds are valued at around a staggering, whopping, and measly pathetic 450 million dollars.

Everything from bad weather like Key Largo hurricanes, rival ships or Johnny Deppish pirates, even on deck fires could bring a ship down, just to name a few. Many times, treasure survives better underwater when it is buried in sand where crustacean, oxygenation and wave action doesn’t deteriorate it as quickly, although, the sand itself can deteriorate the ship and artifacts. In many cases, wood doesn’t do as well underwater, so many ship artificats will just be buried under the sand. Maybe you get lucky and find a bell from the ship or a brass plate with the ship’s name on it.

A tagline of my book is “every hunt starts with a good story” and I think there is a lot of truth to that for all treasure hunting. Nothing is more true for on land hunting where buried treasure is sought. As with underwater hunting, the equip goes far beyond metal detectors, involving very technical devices. This treasure was often buried by outlaws or hidden in place of banks, and it was never retrieved. There are abandoned mine shafts too. But that’s a danger all its on. You’re not just dogging sharks there like the underwater guys, you’re in danger of the mine collapsing, not to mention dangerous vapors to dodge. Besides, what’s in a mine that hasn’t been taken? As long as lost treasure exsits, the art of treasure hunting will continue!

TIPS ON SEA SHELLING

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Hi, I am author Duke Tate and I am writing today to give you some tips on sea shelling. When I lived in St. Augustine, Florida for a short while, I collected seashells. I also used to wander up and down the deserted beautiful beaches of Vilano for the occasional shell. I displayed shells around my house there briefly. I even used one monster shell as a soap dish in my bathroom and still do. Finding these shell treasures sunken in the sea and beached on the shore and collecting them is a truly fun and useful activity. Used as tools, pavement, jewelry, musical instruments, ritual objects, currency, and in horticulture and some architecture, shells are endlessly fascinating, and have a variety of uses. If you’re a real shell head, you can even get a shell display case for your living room and display your treasures or simply display them in a clear glass container or something cheap and affordable like a Mason Jar. In order to optimize your shelling experience, if you aren’t in a place where shells fall from the star sprinkled sky every night like Sanibel Island, go early in the morning or later in evening, especially after a very large storm. Storms rake up the sand, kicking up sea debris, including shells. Also, monitor the moon-phasees as well because a full or new moon means monster tides to bring the shells in. Go with a plastic bag, so gentle shells don’t break–or flip your hat upside down like mine in my photo! and pile shells in it for fun (if it’s a washable straw hat–ha!). Good luck finding sandy treasures on the shore, or wade in a little bit–sometimes shell are just out into the water some. My book, The Opaque Stones, has shell hunting in it briefly. They even find a sand dollar or an old gun.

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