My News 13 - florida-tankful The latest in florida-tankful news from My News 13 http://mynews13.com/ en-us Sun, 31 Jul 2016 5:39:11 Sun, 31 Jul 2016 5:39:11 Copyright 2016 My News 13 30 <![CDATA[Florida on a Tankful: A beach that's gone to the dogs]]> http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2016/7/28/summer_dog_beach/?cid=rss Fri, 29 Jul 2016 5:00 AM Scott Fais If you've ever felt guilty about leaving your best friend at home while you step out for a day at the beach, now you don't have to.

  • Honeymoon Island State Park is in Pinellas County
  • Island is one of the last natural barrier islands in the county
  • The park includes a dog beach

Riley is a pretty lucky pup.

"We wanted to take her to a dog beach where she could run around and swim, because she loves to do that,” says Gracy Hardin, a new puppy owner.

The dog days of summer include a trip to the beach in Dunedin.

"She needs some exercise,” Hardin says of Riley, who’s smaller than a house cat at 3 months old.

Honeymoon Island State Park is Florida’s most visited state park with more than 1.2 million pouring through the gates. Even with the crowds, Jack Cassidy from Vail, Colorado is a fan as he holds Riley’s leash.

"It's pretty peaceful, pretty tranquil,” Cassidy says.

There’s good reason for that.

"It's one of the last remaining natural barrier islands here on the coast of Pinellas County,” boasts park manager Peter Krulder.

Dog treats, fresh water, a blanket and a 6-foot-long leash are a must.

"Dogs are going to do what dogs are going to do,” Krulder says a with a laugh. But the 6-foot-long-leash rule is no laughing matter.

"We have shorebirds that come out here and nest. We also have eastern diamondback rattlesnakes,” Krulder says.

According to Krulder, the only time dogs have been bit have been when they were off leash. The snakes, nor the rain, seemed to ruin Cassidy or Riley’s day at Honeymoon Island State Park.

"It's a pretty secluded place with a lot of versatility,” Cassidy firmly believes.

"Dogs love the water out here," he says.

Good to know:
Entry fee is $8 per car. The park is open from 8 a.m. to sundown, 365 days a year. Dog owners should plan to bring fresh water, shade and a blanket. Tents are allowed on the sand. More on the Honeymoon Island State Park dog beach can be found here.

Tankful on Television
You can catch new Florida on a Tankful stories each Thursday and Saturday on News 13 and Bay News 9. New editions play at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m. Classic Florida on a Tankful stories can be found each Friday and Sunday on Bay News 9 and News 13 at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m.

Tankful on Demand

Catch Florida on a Tankful with Scott Fais on your time, now on Bright House Local On Demand, Channel 999. Use your remote to scroll to the right to the TRAVEL category. Then SCROLL DOWN to TANKFUL.

Scott Fais joins Travel Monthly

Catch our own Scott Fais as the Florida Correspondent on the On Demand travel magazine, Travel Monthly. Each month, Scott joins other travel reporters from across the United States as they showcase a wide variety of attractions, diners, parks and landmarks from across America. See Travel Monthly nationally on Time Warner Cable channel 411. And here at home on Channel 999.

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<![CDATA[Florida on a Tankful: Cocoa Beach Surf School]]> http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2016/7/27/cocoa_beach_surf_sch/?cid=rss Thu, 28 Jul 2016 5:00 AM Scott Fais Getting up on a surfboard can take some practice.

Fortunately, instructor Jake Olson has you covered in the best summer school class in Florida.

  • Cocoa Beach Surf School is run by Flohana
  • Students are led in surf drills and safety procedures
  • Company also rents boards

"I've had 6-year-olds all the way up to 65-year-olds,” says Jake, an instructor with Flohana, who operates the Cocoa Beach Surf School by Flohana.

The iconic Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier serves as the backdrop as students grab a board and first hit the sand for practice.

"Most people we get have never been in the ocean,” Jake says as class begins.

Students are lead in a series of drills and safety instructions in the shade under the boardwalk before heading into the water.

"Paddle bro! Paddle hard! Now pop up. Sideways. BOOM! That's it!!” Jake shouts like a coach, as though a wave were approaching. The only wave here is that of the stares of bystanders walking past the pier at the students lying on surfboards in the sand.

Practicing standing on dry land is the first step to standing up on a board.

"Realistically, out there is going to be a lot tougher,” Jake warns.

Yet, as Amber Henley discovered, practice makes perfection.

"I'm from Kansas. I play basketball and run track. I don't surf."

That's until this summer, following plenty of wipeouts for Amber.

"I don't think I have enough fingers or toes to count,” Amber admits. After several lessons, she now joins Jake as an assistant instructor.

"You got it dude. That's it, man,” Jake says as the on-land practice wraps up.

With that, Cocoa Beach Surf School by Flohana students grab their foamy boards, built for buoyancy and head out into the Atlantic. Each board is bulky, heavy and equipped with rubber fins, to reduce the chance of injury and increase the odds you’ll be able to stand up.

"Everybody has to have a leash, that way, your board doesn't take off,” Jake says as students get attached to their board.

He then takes students out into the Atlantic, where they attempt to catch a wave.

Once you're lying on the board, chest down, Jake then points the nose of the surfboards towards the beach. When the right wave appears, Jake pushes riders forward and then shout instructions.

“Pop up, dude!”

From the shore, Amber runs play-by-play.

"Much better than the first one,” Amber says on Scott’s second attempt. “He's lasting longer ... Uh oh!"

After standing for several seconds, Scott tumbles, falling victim to the surf.

Students are given several chances to get up on the boards during an hour or two hour lesson. One-on-one lessons and group sessions are available.

"When you're learning, you are going to fall,” Jake says. “That's part of the fun."

The waters around the Cocoa Beach Pier are shallow. In fact, during low tide, the water level at the end of the pier is only waist deep. Lifeguards will keep swimmers out of a designated “surf zone” reserved for surfers only. This way, novices will not have to worry about hitting a swimmer in their path.

"Scott's getting it pretty well,” Amber concludes at the end of the lesson.

For those who want to return to class, the Cocoa Beach Surf School by Flohana also rents boards, minus the instruction, so you can practice again next weekend.

"You're about a seven or an eight, man,” Jack says scoring Scott’s performance. “Just getting up and catching the wave is good."

Lessons begin at 9 a.m. daily and conclude around 5 p.m.

"I've never had anyone not stand up, and luckily, you guys didn't break my streak today, so I am stoked about that,” Jake concludes.

Tankful on Television
You can catch new Florida on a Tankful stories each Thursday and Saturday on News 13 and Bay News 9. New editions play at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m. Classic Florida on a Tankful stories can be found each Friday and Sunday on Bay News 9 and News 13 at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m.

Tankful on Demand
Catch Florida on a Tankful with Scott Fais on your time, now on Bright House Local On Demand, Channel 999. Use your remote to scroll to the right to the TRAVEL category. Then SCROLL DOWN to TANKFUL.

Scott Fais joins Travel Monthly

Catch our own Scott Fais as the Florida Correspondent on the On Demand travel magazine, Travel Monthly. Each month, Scott joins other travel reporters from across the United States as they showcase a wide variety of attractions, diners, parks and landmarks from across America. See Travel Monthly nationally on Time Warner Cable channel 411.  And here at home on Channel 999.

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<![CDATA[Florida on a Tankful: Cruising with the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves]]> http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2016/7/21/aquatic_preserves_cr/?cid=rss Fri, 22 Jul 2016 4:45 AM Scott Fais In this part of Gasparilla Sound, a special eco cruise sets sail, if you can score a ticket.

Folks keep cameras in hand as sea birds and playful dolphin are along the course plotted for discovery off the coast of Placida.

"You're going to make sure all the hair is away from your face,” instructs Stephanie Erickson with the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve as guests get a lesson on fastening dive masks. 

On board, six people who are about to jump overboard, like 10-year-old Rachel Daniels.

"I want to be a marine biologist and maybe a diver,” Rachel says with her hair blowing in the breeze as the pontoon boat approaches the dive site.

The shallow waters give participants a look at the Gulf coast’s rich eco system.

"I get to explore an eco-system that some other people might not see,” Rachel’s father Sean says before heading overboard.

With the dive buoy set, Rachel and Sean comb the grassy bottom for aquatic life and come up with handfuls.

"That was a sea cucumber. I named him Filbert," Rachel says of the red potato-sized creature. "He's Squishy."

Other creatures awaiting to be admired in their natural setting include crabs.

"They have really small claws. It's not like they can get you that bad,” Rachel says of the creature with pinchers.

Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves provides all the gear and an education on the lightning whelk and horse conchs.

"It's great to see that excitement and enthusiasm for what's out here,” says Stephanie Erickson with the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves office.

The educator on board assists in explaining the unique inhabitants of the estuary.

The trip leaves Rachel inspired to take action in the future on behalf of sharks, her favorite animal.

"Those people who like shark fin, I am going to try and ban that and have little reserves where sharks can be happy,” Rachel said.

Sign-ups for the tour are hosted here, on Event Bright.

Tankful on Television
You can catch new Florida on a Tankful stories each Thursday and Saturday on News 13 and Bay News 9. New editions play at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m. Classic Florida on a Tankful stories can be found each Friday and Sunday on Bay News 9 and News 13 at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m.

Tankful on Demand
Catch Florida on a Tankful with Scott Fais on your time, now on Bright House Local On Demand, Channel 999. Use your remote to scroll to the right to the TRAVEL category. Then SCROLL DOWN to TANKFUL.

Scott Fais joins Travel Monthly
Catch our own Scott Fais as the Florida Correspondent on the On Demand travel magazine, Travel Monthly. Each month, Scott joins other travel reporters from across the United States as they showcase a wide variety of attractions, diners, parks and landmarks from across America. See Travel Monthly nationally on Time Warner Cable channel 411.  And here at home on Channel 999.

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<![CDATA[Florida on a Tankful: Octagon Wildlife Sanctuary]]> http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2016/7/19/_octagon_wildlife_sa/?cid=rss Thu, 21 Jul 2016 4:45 AM Scott Fais "It's the wildest old age home in Florida,” says Sandy O'Grady under a shady hammock.

The welcome mat is out at the Octagon Wildlife Sanctuary in Punta Gorda.

"We don't buy, sell or breed,” Sandy says of the 38-year-old sanctuary who rescues unwanted and neglected exotic animals.

"We found them in a development behind Sam's Club in Port Charlotte,” she says standing next to an enclosure belonging to Tigers.

The retired tug boat captain, who later laid the bedrock for Interstate 95 among other careers is paving forward with compassion.

"We take the animals that have been abused, neglected and mistreated, and we try to make them as healthy and as happy as we can, for as long a life as they can possibly live,” Sandy says of Octagon’s mission.

"Hey Ross. Hey, How are you?” she gently asks of a monkey.

The Charlotte County sanctuary rescues exotic animals from circus's and abusive homes. A hyena, purchased as a pet by a male stripper, was saved from his 5th floor Miami condo. A tiger used as a prop for photography never had it’s bones formed properly. And then there is Teddy, the one-eyed bobcat.

"His eye got infected,” Sandy says.

The unwanted here are given a forever home. While federal agencies will call upon Sandy, Octagon receives no financial support from the government.

"We have no glitter or glamour around here,” Sandy says of the open-air facility that meets national and state regulations governing how bears, lions and tigers are cared for. In fact, some have televisions.

"He doesn't like building shows or there's certain cooking shows he doesn't like,” Sandy says of a monkey who does not like certain TV programs.

The animals eat twice a week and have their homes cleaned by a volunteer workforce.

"It's our duty, as people, to take care of God's creatures until he wants them,” Sandy concludes.

NOTE: The Octagon Wildlife Sanctuary in Punta Gorda is open weekends from 11a.m. — 4 p.m.  Weekday visits are by appointment only in the mornings.  The afternoons are reserved for feeding, cleaning and animal rest.

Tankful on Television

You can catch new Florida on a Tankful stories each Thursday and Saturday on News 13 and Bay News 9. New editions play at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m. Classic Florida on a Tankful stories can be found each Friday and Sunday on Bay News 9 and News 13 at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m.

Tankful on Demand

Catch Florida on a Tankful with Scott Fais on your time, now on Bright House Local On Demand, Channel 999. Use your remote to scroll to the right to the Travel category. Then scroll down to Tankful.

Scott Fais joins Travel Monthly

Catch our own Scott Fais as the Florida Correspondent on the On Demand travel magazine, Travel Monthly. Each month, Scott joins other travel reporters from across the United States as they showcase a wide variety of attractions, diners, parks and landmarks from across America. See Travel Monthly nationally on Time Warner Cable channel 411.  And here at home on Channel 999. 

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<![CDATA[Tankful Summer Road Trip: A zoo for reptiles in St. Augustine]]> http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2016/5/30/tankful_summer_road_trip_st_augustine_alligators/?cid=rss Fri, 15 Jul 2016 6:00 AM Scott Fais Gather around for a feeding frenzy in the United States' oldest city.

  • St. Augustine Alligator Farm opened in 1893
  • It's the only zoo that has every species of alligator and crocodile
  • Some of the species are endangered

"You're on the bridge, and everybody is ready to eat," said Michelle Kiley, from Ponte Vedra.

John Brueggen, the general manager of the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, said it's the only zoo in the world that has every species of crocodile and alligator. Visitors crowd the boardwalk to behold the 24 different species.

The St. Augustine Alligator Farm opened in 1893 as an attraction near a railroad depot.

"We like to say we're 120 years old, but we never want to look like it," Brueggen said.

The farm is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

"We want to be Old Florida," Brueggen said. "We want that feel, but we don't want you coming in and thinking, 'Gosh, is this boardwalk going to fall apart?' or something like that. We're constantly putting in and investing back into it."

Brueggen is part businessman and part Dr. Dolittle at the farm. The St. Augustine Alligator Farm still offers an up-close look at gators, but the famed gators who once slid down a slide are now content to sun themselves.

"Alligators and crocodiles maybe have a negative connotation in peoples' minds," Brueggen said. "These predators — and we are all wired to be fearful of predators — but many of them are endangered species. They are having trouble surviving in the wild."

Keep your eyes open, though. You'll spot some crocodiles mixed in with the gators.

"When you first go through, it's all the crocodiles from South America and then the ones from Africa and then the ones from Asia," Brueggen said.

Also, say hello to Maximo. The saltwater crocodile measures 15 feet, 3 inches long and 1,200 pounds. Maximo is the largest animal in the park. An underwater viewing window allows visitors to see Maximo swim.

Living reptiles at the farm also love attention. In the python cave, you can walk right up to the snakes.

And then there are the dragons.

Kiley fell in love with a monster. The Komodo dragons crave attention, often times coming face-to-face with visitors.

"She was sleeping over there," Kiley said. "She stuck her head out and said hello."

One of the most unique creatures comes from down under. The southern cassowary from Australia is called "the world's most dangerous bird."

Their powerful kick, as well as sharp claws, could flatten a human. Female cassowaries make the males raise the chicks.

Photographers also love the park for the proximity to nesting birds.

"We want people to walk out of here understanding that they are really cool and they might be a reason to do something to save them in the wild and have an appreciation for wildlife overall," Brueggen said.

For information on ticket costs, admission prices and operating hours, click here.

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<![CDATA[TANKFUL: A wild park over the Florida-Georgia line]]> http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2016/7/14/a_wild_park_over_the/?cid=rss Thu, 14 Jul 2016 12:56 AM Scott Fais What if there was a theme park where admission was only $40 (online advance purchase), came with a free water park and second day free?

Put one toe over the Florida-Georgia boarder and even on a rainy day, find adventure across from rural farmland.

“Wild Adventures is like no other theme park,” says Laurie Windham, Wild Adventures public relations manager.

Wild Adventures is a quintessential summer amusement park where when it rains, there’s still a big attraction.

“Baby lions! That’s all you got to say,” Laurie says with excitement. “Baby lions!” she exclaims again.

Six-month-old African Lion Cubs Kiara and Tiki are pretty curious.

“There are about 32,000 left of this breed left in the wild right now,” says Chris Kilpatrick, Wild Adventures Zoo Curator.  “They just put them back on the endangered species list about a year, a year and a half ago.”

“Are your shoes endangered?” Scott Fais asks quick as Kiara nibbles playfully on the tips of Chris’ shoes.

“Yeah. Probably so!” Chris answers with a laugh.

While they are still cute, they won’t stay this size for long.

“Once they reach around 10 to 11 months, then they start becoming lions," Chris hints.

At that time, Chris will no longer be able to handle the lion cubs, who currently are on a diet of red meat and chicken. It will be a tough day when he can no longer interact with the brother and sister pair without a safety barrier. Already, the duo is beginning to mature and recognize their instincts.

“The girls are the hunters. The girls are usually the more coordinated ones. The guys are just there,” Chris says with a laugh, adding male lions babysit their young while the females hunt.

The siblings here will be kept together, as Wild Adventures is their forever home. Kiara has been fixed, and will not be bred. Tiki will not be fixed, since male lions need testosterone in order to grown their mane. Chris says most male lions do not have a full mane until they reach four years of age.

Besides the lion cubs, Wild Adventures is home to other African animals. Giraffe, zebra, Asian elephant and judu join 300 other animals.

Like Florida, afternoon rain showers in Georgia will halt rides and force the closure of the Splash Island water park, included with paid admission.

When weather interrupts a day, Wild Adventures employees will lead dance parties and games on the midway.

Party music blasts from picnic shelters, while others play “keep away” with balls on the midways as weather passes.  Drawing in chalk in guest areas is also encouraged.  Life guards at the waterpark sit in circles with visitors and play "hot potato."

The warm hospitality is a cornerstone of Wild Adventures parent, Herschend Family Entertainment. The same company owns a majority share of Dollywood and Silver Dollar City.

A life-size dinosaur exhibit for 2016 also comes with paid admission and stays open in the rain.  A nature trail is home to a dozen animated prehistoric beasts that move and growl.  The for-2016-only attraction is included in a daily ticket price.  The sandbox at the end is covered and popular during rain showers.

Plus, folks can’t leave without trying the foot long corndog made from a secret recipe.

“It’s hand-dipped into a special South Georgia corn bread recipe, and then deep fried to a golden brown,” Laurie says.

But the real stars this summer are Kiara and Tiki.

“The idea is, you come to Wild Adventures, you spend a day, you walk away from all the other things in your world,” Laurie concludes.

NOTE: Be ready for an afternoon thunderstorm in southern Georgia. Leave your home early to enter the park at opening. This will give you a jump-start on the day before storms roll in.

Tankful on Television

You can catch new Florida on a Tankful stories each Thursday and Saturday on News 13 and Bay News 9. New editions play at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m. Classic Florida on a Tankful stories can be found each Friday and Sunday on Bay News 9 and News 13 at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m.

Tankful on Demand

Catch Florida on a Tankful with Scott Fais on your time, now on Bright House Local On Demand, Channel 999. Use your remote to scroll to the right to the TRAVEL category. Then SCROLL DOWN to TANKFUL.

Scott Fais joins Travel Monthly

Catch our own Scott Fais as the Florida Correspondent on the On Demand travel magazine, Travel Monthly. Each month, Scott joins other travel reporters from across the United States as they showcase a wide variety of attractions, diners, parks and landmarks from across America. See Travel Monthly nationally on Time Warner Cable channel 411.  And here at home on Channel 999. 

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<![CDATA[Tankful Summer Road Trip: Weeki Wachee mermaids]]> http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2016/5/30/tankful_summer_road_trip_weeki_wachee/?cid=rss Fri, 8 Jul 2016 6:00 AM Scott Fais For almost seven decades, people on two feet have shuffled in and had a seat in anticipation of seeing the impossible.

People entering the submerged theater aren't aware of the celebrity in the rear who is about to grow a tail as the curtain rises on a Florida tradition.

The famed Weeki Wachee mermaids still jump in daily and perform to the delight of the young — and the young at heart.

Sitting in the audience wasn't enough for Tracey Keim, though.

"I grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida, and I used to come here with my mom and grandparents," said Keim, a teacher and aspiring mermaid.

She fulfilled her childhood dream of becoming a mermaid with the weekend "Sirens of the Deep Mermaid Camp."

"This is better than I thought it was going to be," she said. "There are beautiful women here of all shapes and sizes."

At Weeki Wachee State Park's popular boot camp, you, too, can take the plunge.

"Being a mermaid is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be," Keim said.

As the spring flows forth, you're transported to another world, Keim said, adding: "You just realize that when you’re in the water that nothing matters."

Except for your performance, of course.

For information on ticket costs, admission prices and operating hours, click here.

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<![CDATA[Florida on a Tankful: Vacation from summer vacation]]> http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2016/7/6/florida_tankful_mand/?cid=rss Thu, 7 Jul 2016 5:45 AM Scott Fais If the long Fourth of July weekend left you wanting a vacation from your time off, Bali is just down the road.

  • Leave the world behind at the Mandara Spa at Walt Disney World
  • All spa services are 20 percent off for the summer

At the place where swans and dolphins meet, you will find an oasis.

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort is a destination for the senses. Here, there outside world is left behind and the southern Pacific Ocean begins.

"It's a staycation," said Bill Toth, the spa director at the Swan and Dolphin Resort's Mandara Spa.

The Mandara Spa transports visitors to Bali for a journey of treatments designed for both women and men. 

"Men are getting a lot more facials," Toth said. 

First up, the Mandara facial. The "Signature Facial" transports visitors to an island far away. 

"It gets rid of all the dirt and oils that sits up under the skin," the technician in a dark room said. 

The nourishing and soothing massage later uses an oxygen machine to activate enzymes and vitamins.

Next, with candles lit, visitors can be transported on a journey using a "coconut poultice." Hiding inside what looks like washcloths tied to look like autumn squash, these rolls are filled with coconuts and herbs warmed by steam. 

"It's more for rolling, rocking, and pressing on some problem areas on your shoulders. Is that going to be OK?" the technician said.

Finally ...

"Everyone should get pedicures," the nail tech said. 

File down the toes and get ready to soak. For those who work on their feet or marathoners, the signature pedicure is paradise. 

Look close: Technicians use bamboo sticks to push out leg aches and revitalize tired feet while you take care of your hands. 

"You feel like you can do a back flip off the table, but you're too relaxed to want to," Toth said.

 While the outside world is waiting, you don't have to return to it. Not yet, at least. 

All spa services at the Mandara Spa at the Swan and Dolphin Resort are 20 percent off this summer when you book a stay.

Tankful on Television
You can catch new Florida on a Tankful stories each Thursday and Saturday on News 13 and Bay News 9. New editions play at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m. Classic Florida on a Tankful stories can be found each Friday and Sunday on Bay News 9 and News 13 at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m.

Tankful on Demand
Catch Florida on a Tankful with Scott Fais on your time, now on Bright House Local On Demand, Channel 999. Use your remote to scroll to the right to the TRAVEL category. Then SCROLL DOWN to TANKFUL.

Scott Fais joins Travel Monthly
Catch our own Scott Fais as the Florida Correspondent on the On Demand travel magazine, Travel Monthly. Each month, Scott joins other travel reporters from across the United States as they showcase a wide variety of attractions, diners, parks and landmarks from across America. See Travel Monthly nationally on Time Warner Cable channel 411.  And here at home on Channel 999 in the Travel section.

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<![CDATA[Florida on a Tankful: American pride at US Air Force Center]]> http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2016/6/30/air_force_museum/?cid=rss Sun, 3 Jul 2016 4:45 AM Scott Fais "3..2..1.. zero. Liftoff of the Falcon 9!”

In June, countdowns become popular along Cape Canaveral. Three rockets lifted off carrying pride for Brevard County.

"There is quite a bit going on,” says retired rocket engineer John Hilliard. “This is a very active year."

  • Air Force Space and Missile History Center is just outside Cape Canaveral AFS
  • Center pays tribute to launches, past and present
  • Air Force Space and Missile Museum is run by Air Force inside Cape Canaveral AFS

In a simple 1960s-era white block building, behind the SpaceX Florida complex, sits a center devoted to climbing higher.

"Everything from the wing type missiles to the ballistic missiles to the sub launch missiles and what has occurred from different steps from these launch complexes here at the Cape,” says Hilliard, a volunteer with the 45th Space Wing.

Hilliard volunteers his time and knowledge at the Air Force Space and Missile History Center, adjacent to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The gymnasium-sized center pays tribute, from the first launch in July 1950 with a German V2 upper-stage rocket to what launched last week.

"You can either put one or five solid motors on each Atlas, depends on the size of the payload,” Hilliard says while walking the exhibit floor.

Each launch pad has a display. The rockets and crew capsules are all documented. Videos, photos and artifacts adorn the walls.

"It actually all started here,” says the center's director and curator, Emily Perry. “If the Air Force hadn't done what they did here, NASA wouldn't be able to do what they do at Kennedy Space Center."

The Air Force Space and Missile History Center is free to the public and sits outside the armed gates of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

A second facility, however — The Air Force Space and Missile Museum — sits behind the gate and is still off-limits without planning ahead.

"You need a pass from PA (public affairs),” Air Force Lt. Col. Greg Lindsey says.

Visitors need to apply in advance and arrive in a group, providing their own bus. The phrase “B.Y.O.B.” here means “Bring Your Own Bus.”

The public affairs office at Cape Canaveral can arrange group tours that start at the “block house.” The reinforced cement building served as the control room for early rocket launches that took place just yards outside. In fact, the windows consist of a dozen panes of glass.

Inside the block house are exhibits dedicated to satellites, Barbara Eden of “I Dream of Jeannie” fame and the primates who were launched into orbit before people.

"Once you can see it, feel it and touch it, it's a different perspective than reading about it,” Lindsey says.

The two facilities are something Perry is proud to call "Brevard County's best kept secret."

Note: The Air Force Space and Missile History Center is free to visit but closed Mondays. Hours are as follows:

  • Tuesday-Friday: 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Saturday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Sunday: Noon-4 p.m.

Tankful on Television
You can catch new Florida on a Tankful stories each Thursday and Saturday on News 13 and Bay News 9. New editions play at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m. Classic Florida on a Tankful stories can be found each Friday and Sunday on Bay News 9 and News 13 at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m.

Tankful on Demand
Catch Florida on a Tankful with Scott Fais on your time, now on Bright House Local On Demand, Channel 999. Use your remote to scroll to the right to the TRAVEL category. Then SCROLL DOWN to TANKFUL.

Scott Fais joins Travel Monthly
Catch our own Scott Fais as the Florida Correspondent on the On Demand travel magazine, Travel Monthly. Each month, Scott joins other travel reporters from across the United States as they showcase a wide variety of attractions, diners, parks and landmarks from across America. See Travel Monthly nationally on Time Warner Cable channel 411.  And here at home on Channel 999 in the Travel section.

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<![CDATA[Tankful Summer Road Trip: Buggy tours in Ochopee]]> http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2016/5/30/tankful_summer_road_trip_ochopee/?cid=rss Thu, 30 Jun 2016 5:30 AM Scott Fais At the bottom of the state, you'll find the Wootens' roadside attraction that introduced airboats to Florida.

Across the street, there's a yellow house jacked up on stilts. It's time to take a trip into natural Florida with a true character.

"Go right on up, honey," said Shelley Wooten, an Ochopee princess. "Have a seat on the buggy with the white seats, everybody."

Byron Boyd, visiting from Canada, added: "It's kind of like backwoods meets old American hustle. It (has) a big engine and a big rig."

Wooten said it's her preferred transportation through the Florida Everglades.

And behind you the wheel, you'll find a one-of-a-kind.

"I was my dad's princess, and I'm from Ochopee," Wooten said. "Ochopee princess."

Take one look at her shotgun-shell earrings, and you'll know Wooten is comfortable around these parts.

"My (great-grandfather) did a little bit of rum-running and moonshining," she said.

But don't bother buckling up. There are no roads around here.

"All right, everybody," Wooten said. "We're getting ready to roll down the biggest hill in South Florida."

In the middle of the Big Cypress National Preserve, you can comb the Everglades for critters.

"You're above everything, and you can see the animals and birds," Boyd said. "It's just really cool."

With no oncoming traffic and Wooten at the wheel, you begin to see the ecosystem at work.

Raccoon, vultures, the Florida black bear.

"I've had people 10 feet, 15 feet away from the black bear on the buggy," Wooten said.

In the cypress hammock, Wooten also offers a close look at the plant life found in the swampy area. Passing manatees might also make an appearance in Florida's final frontier.

"Always remember, if Bambi can eat it, I can eat it, too," Wooten said.

For information on ticket costs, admission prices and operating hours, click here.

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<![CDATA[Doggie diner caters to man and his best friend]]> http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2016/6/23/doggie_diner_/?cid=rss Fri, 24 Jun 2016 5:45 AM Scott Fais With brushstroke in hand, Bay-area artist Anna Fields paints man's best friend in Dunedin. Here, discover “dogs who lunch.” Literally.

"On Saturday and Sunday's during lunch it's like a big dog party,” says Zachary Feinstein as nearly a dozen dogs are scattered across the patio of his Dunedin restaurant.

Some arrive on foot. Others are pushed in a buggy. And one gets a lift from mom in her golf cart.

"We just started 'yappy hour,'” says Zachary, owner of The Living Room, on Main Street, which specializes in American fare and small plates. Along with catering to dog lovers.

In this quiet pocket of Pinellas County, you’ll discover a dog friendly street. Take one look at the giant mural and know canines are kings at The Living Room.

"You can share it with your dog, absolutely,” Zachary says about the lunch entrees here.

The University of Central Florida graduate offers one menu for humans and a second for the dogs.

"We do a chopped chicken bowl,” Zachary says as he carried a dish out to the patio. Other options include pan seared salmon (that looks good enough for a human) and if a doggie's is a vegetarian, there’s a meal at The Living Room for dogs that includes seasonal vegetables.

And while you can enjoy lunch with your dog out on the patio, Fido is not allowed inside according to health code regulations. Check the forecast. Even when it rains, pets need to stay outside. Only service animals are allowed inside, while tails wag and brushstrokes glide outside.

Tankful on Television
You can catch new Florida on a Tankful stories each Thursday and Saturday on News 13 and Bay News 9. New editions play at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m. Classic Florida on a Tankful stories can be found each Friday and Sunday on Bay News 9 and News 13 at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m.

Tankful on Demand
Catch Florida on a Tankful with Scott Fais on your time, now on Bright House Local On Demand, Channel 999. Use your remote to scroll to the right to the TRAVEL category. Then SCROLL DOWN to TANKFUL.

Scott Fais joins Travel Monthly
Catch our own Scott Fais as the Florida Correspondent on the On Demand travel magazine, Travel Monthly. Each month, Scott joins other travel reporters from across the United States as they showcase a wide variety of attractions, diners, parks and landmarks from across America. See Travel Monthly nationally on Time Warner Cable channel 411.  And here at home on Channel 999 in the Travel section.

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<![CDATA[Tankful Summer Road Trip: Glamping in teepees]]> http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2016/5/30/tankful_summer_road_trip_teepee_hotel/?cid=rss Thu, 23 Jun 2016 6:30 AM Scott Fais Oh, where the buffalo roam — well, in this case, where the bison graze — you'll find something pointedly different.

  • Westgate River Ranch Resort is in River Ranch
  • Visitors can camp out in 600-square-foot teepees
  • Seminole Indians didn't use teepees, but tribe embraced the project

"If I could put it in a nutshell, it's a five-star hotel with the experience wrapped in a teepee," said Ray Duncun, the trail boss at the Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo.

The Tomoka Village is located along the Polk-Osceola County line. Duncun is excited to debut a new way to camp for the summer.

"It's camping on a glamorous scale like no one has ever done before with a teepee on the outside and the five-star hotel room on the inside," Duncun said.

The Westgate River Ranch recently opened 600-square-foot teepees.

"The tent sleeps four," Duncun said, adding that there's a pullout couch also inside.

The leather sofa sits next to the digital fireplace. It won't get too hot because air-conditioning units try to keep up with the heat and humidity. There's also a dinette table, as well as a mini fridge and a microwave.

The king-sized bed in the bedroom offers a good night's sleep with lamps on the end tables where you can recharge your mobile devices.

"We have a little closet for your clothes," Duncun said.

And around the corner is a claw-foot tub to soak in.

"Mom can soak there while the kids are outside climbing the trees," Duncun said.

Taking a shower is also an option. One thing is missing, though: television.

"But you don't need it," Duncun said. That's because the Seminole Indian-built Chickee Hut is like an outdoor lounge.

"They didn't use a tape measure or anything," Duncun said.

The Native Americans who lived in Florida never lived in teepees, but the Seminole Tribe embraced the project.

"We want (visitors) to have a unique vacation experience like they have had never before," Duncun said, "like they can get nowhere else."

The experience will have you saying shonabish when you leave, which means thank you.

For information on ticket costs, admission prices and operating hours, click here.

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