February 13, 2011

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La Florida

At the request of a friends daughter who now lives in another state and misses the state she was born and spent her life growing up in until a few years ago.  Since a request to write is such an honor, especially about a subject I know just enough about to be a little dangerous, I hope you enjoy my blog about Florida.

For many of us who grew up in Florida, our lives are partially defined by the areas of Florida which we live. With approximately 1350 miles of contiguous coastline, the longest in the United States, many of us have the opportunity to grow up on or near the beach, or coastline of some sort or another. That being said, even those who life in the widest area of the state are only an hour or so drive from being to either coastline and usually only minutes away from being away from a water resource of some type.  This unique characteristic coupled with the amazing year round weather which earned the state nickname, The Sunshine State. It was this beautiful year round weather and sunshine gives us the gift of year round green trees and flowers in such abundance that when the Spanish explorer Ponce de León on April 2, of 1513 and all the vegetation was in bloom he named it La Florida (flowery land).

Ponce de León never did find the fountain of youth, but his exploration has started a migration to this peninsula hanging off of the south eastern corner of North America that is closing in on 500 hundred years! During that time Florida has had parts of it controlled by five different representations: Spain, British, France, the Confederacy, and the United States. A little recognized would also be the Conch Republic in the pirate town Key West.

Speaking of Key West, for most of Florida’s history, the waters were the trade routes and source of life sustaining sustenance. Fishing for food with hook and line or with a net to catch mullet, blue crabs, shrimp, etc., have long been a means of survival for many who lived, explored, and traded around the peninsula. Spanish ships loaded with silver, gold, emeralds and more traveled the coasts, and Piracy thrived in our Caribbean waters. As the 20th century came into being some of our more prominent residents such as Earnest Hemingway and Thomas Edison also partook in sport fishing leading the way for sport fishing as an industry of play and recreation for those who could afford it. Of course, they’d travel here in Ford cars, using Firestone tires and Edison headlamps (all 3 being Ft Myers winter residents and neighbors)… even the Kennedy’s enjoyed some local business.

Speaking of cars and Kennedy’s, a sport which was spawned from the running of ‘moonshine’ and having fun on the back roads found its way into being on the beaches of Florida. No, I’m not talking about Spring Break, though thats a close second. I’m talking about auto racing, first having taken place on the beach and parts of A1A then in 1959 finding its permanent home at the speedway that is currently in Daytona.

Something that people are often surprised to hear about is that Florida was the beef state that dates all the way back to Ponce de León, as well as having supplied over 50,000 head of cattle to the Confederate army through out the civil war and even trading with Cuba up through the 1900’s. To this day native Floridians are referred to as “Crackers” or “Florida Crackers”, a nickname given to the cattlemen who used the distinctive 19′ whips to drive cattle. Anyone who has had the pleasure to be near one of these whips in action can attest to their effectiveness with driving cattle, but also to its amazing sound! The only way I can describe it is that it sounds like a rifle being fired when the whip cracks. To this day cattle can be found on most any open property around Florida, though its used as a tax write off or mixed use “Ag” tax break in many more urbanized areas.

As other states such as Texas brought about ever growing herds, the second largest industry in Florida, agriculture, began to receive more attention. In spring the sweet, sultry smell of citrus in bloom wafts through the air. I’m always surprised how far the smell carries in the light spring breezes. Oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, lemons, limes and more all in bloom. Driving through areas where the groves is like driving through some sort of dream wonderland with smells from pungent to sweet all vying for attention in the olfactory senses.

We’ve also go the stuff of legends and stories. We’ve got our own Big Foot thats affectionately known as the Skunk Ape. A fun assortment of poisonous snakes, alligators, sharks and more that can turn the living into tomorrows news stories. Movies and TV Shows have been filmed here with legends like Humphrey Bogart (African Queen) and Sean Connery (Just Cause), Flipper, Miami Vice and more recently CSI Miami to name a few.

Surfing, diving, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, camping all in the same day along with time to spend relaxing in the sun.

Musicians such as Jimmy Buffet and bands such as Sister Hazel call are rooted here. Rock legends such as Edgar Winter and members of the band AC/DC make their homes here.  Before I forget, I would be doing a disservice to my Florida education if I did not mention the Sawunnee River and the state song “Old Folks at Home” that opens with the famous lines “Way down upon a Sawunnee River...”

Florida has the unique distinction in that NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is located there and operates America’s astronaut launch facilities. In other words, if your an astronaut or aspiring to be, your gateway to space is through Kennedy Space Center. Watching a launch on TV doesn’t even come close to watching one live.. words can’t do justice to the awe inspiring power and sound which is put into action and people hundreds of miles away can literally see! On a launch day, people flock from all over the world to the area around Merritt Island to witness mans fight into flight, breaking the bonds of earth on a fiery tail and thunderous booms on a trek into space. “T minus 9 seconds… 8… 7… main engine start.. 5….4…3…2….1…solid rocket booster ignition, we have lift off….” if you’ve been there for a launch or near by you’re probably remembering it right now…

From an explorers past with small ships and a dream, pirates, wars, Super Bowl championship football teams, World Series winning baseball teams, Baseball Spring Training, a Stanley cup winning hockey team, Spring Break, auto racing, world-renowned authors, and prehistoric fossiling, and modern day silver and gold treasure hunting, Florida really is a state filled with the opportunity to experience living life to its fullest!

Colin Bulla is a Certified Life Coach and Professional Network Marketer. Call 239-878-2328 or email colin@colinbulla.com to arrange an interview to receive coaching or to work with his amazing networking team of sharp men and women changing their financial stars!


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