Hornby Island, BC – Scenic Jewel of the West Coast

Hornby Island is a small island (approximately 30 square kilometres) off the West Coast of British Columbia, Canada. For such a small piece of land, it is a place of significant natural beauty with an exceptional variety of waterfront beaches and extensive forested hiking trails. In the summer Hornby boasts some of the warmest ocean swimming waters North of California and other recreation opportunities abound. From hiking and mountain biking to sea kayaking and diving, Hornby offers much for the multitudes of visitors that find this island home in the summer.

Located about five hours from Vancouver, you need to take three ferries just to get to the island. This isolation fosters a unique local culture with a thriving creative community of varied artists, musicians, and actors. In fact, the very presence of all these creative types serves as its own drawing card for many other artists, musicians, and actors to find their home among the 900 full-time residents.

The weather on Hornby Island is very moderate, not too cold in the winter, and not to hot in the summer. Summers are normally dry and sunny with daytime highs averaging about 22 C while winters are rainy averaging daytime highs of around 5 C. Long summer days, lots of music, and laid-back island living contrast the wet winter times of quiet solitude with the visiting sea-lions and eagles.

Although Hornby Island is home 900 people year round, the population swells to over 3000 on busy weekends in the summer. It’s for this reason that experiencing Hornby’s scenic charms is arguably best left for the off-season where you’ll share an uncrowded island with only locals and wild life. In my opinion, few things are more beautiful watching than nature unfurl her beauty as the fall, winter, and spring seasons work their magic across the island. Everywhere you go during the off-season has a serene, spacious feel and offers some sort of unique flora and fauna for you to become enchanted with.

So if you are planning a waterfront vacation and want to visit a unique, special place I honestly can’t recommend any place nicer than Hornby Island, BC.

Island Shopping in Southern Florida

So you have already enjoyed fabulous vacation swimming in the ocean and walking the Sanibel Island beaches. Now is the time to go get some mementos (other than your gorgeous tan) to take back home to all your jealous friends. Yes, it’s time for something no vacation is complete without: shopping!

The Islander Trading Post? might be your first stop for some unpretentious doodads in Sanibel. This shop offers things such as vintage signs and post cards, as well as other antique items for your home. For those suds lovers in your life, the store offers a variety of beer items. This shop is big and you could easily lose track of time, but there is more island shopping to do!

Cheese Nook Gourmet and Gift Shop is another place to find some unusual gifts for friends and family in your life that may consider themselves “foodies”. The discerning palate will enjoy things here such as 5-year old vintage gouda, or the store’s best selling item, the double cream specialty brie. Other items available are gift baskets and specialty seasonings such as party dip mixes. There are dill party mixes like the “green flash”, as well as others such as Captiva Island sunset, playful dolphin, and even pink flamingo, which is a red onion dip mix.

Some of the best shops to buy t-shirts and beachwear in Sanibel Island, Florida are Paradise Boutique, Aqua Beachware, and Life is Good Synereget store. The Sanibel Sunglass Company offers some of the best brand name sunglasses such as Ray Ban, Oakley, and Costa Del Mar. Who wouldn’t love a gift of a pair of frames straight from the islands?

For more “island” feeling gifts you can check out Tiki Jim’s. This store carries all sorts of island shirts, as well as “Margaritaville” merchandise, and even “grandma loves me best” clothing for the grandkids. There are also beach tote bags and island-living wall signs. Shot glasses, stuffed animals, key chains and cards can all be found here as well. Before heading back to the Sanibel Island Hotels you may also want to check out the store called Island Style. Here you will find unique art that will remind you of your island vacation. Also available are island themed furniture, jewelry and even pottery items.

There is no end to the Sanibel Island restaurants or Sanibel events, and now you know there is also no end to the island shopping! Bring all your friends and family a little piece of your vacation by way of the perfect island themed gift.

Florida Golf Vacation Packages – Finding The Right One

Florida has some of the most beautiful golf courses in the country and a temperate climate that allows you to play all year round. There are numerous courses and accommodations to choose from, depending on which region of Florida you want to visit. Fortunately, there are companies that make their living by finding travelers just the right Florida golf vacation packages, so you don’t have to sift through the information on your own. It is best to go into it with a basic idea of what you want, where you want to be and about how much you can afford to spend.

A Par-72 Rating Fit for a Champion Golfer

The Panhandle of Florida is the Northwest portion that sits just below Alabama. No matter where you are in the Panhandle, you are minutes away from the beach. Tallahassee, Fort Walton Beach, Panama City and Pensacola offer a great number of golf courses and hotels to choose from. Bay Point Resort Meadows in Panama City offers two 18-hole golf courses. One is named for golfing great Jack Nicklaus and was recently redesigned to a par-72 rating fit for a champion golfer.

Amelia Island is one of Florida’s most beautiful areas, and is within driving distance of downtown Jacksonville. Several packages can be found for Amelia Island, beginning at about $400 per person per night for two nights and two rounds of golf each. If you don’t mind being closer to the city, golf packages in the Jacksonville area are substantially less expensive, starting at about $200 per night for two nights and two rounds. You can choose from courses like Cimarrone Golf Club, The Champions Club, Queen’s Harbor, St. Johns Golf and Country Club or Windsor Parke.

The World Golf Village in Florida

St. Augustine is home to one of the most popular golf destinations in Florida, World Golf Village. Hall of Fame golf legends have designed the greens and fairways of this course. It is truly a haven for the golf lover. There are several accommodation options offered at the World Golf Village, such as the Renaissance Resort, Laterra Resort & Spa, Grande Villas and Comfort Suites. Packages at the World Golf Village begin at just $138 per person per night, but can range into the thousands depending on what you plan to do. A two week vacation with a round of golf at each course can be around $4,000 per person depending on which hotel you stay.

Put Together Your Own Florida Golf Vacation Package

To find just the right golf vacation packages for you and your family, you can try to put one together on your own or get some assistance from any number of travel agencies specializing in golf getaways. There are internet travel websites that will allow you to select an area of Florida, like West Palm Beach, Naples, Sarasota, Orlando, Daytona and others. From there, you can choose which golf course or courses you would like to play.

You can research each course depending on what features you like. If you are fairly new to the game, you may not want a course that is rated for PGA Championship Par-72 or you could be there awhile. Once you have your courses picked out, just find a nearby hotel or resort with enough to do to occupy the rest of your family while you spend your vacation on the back nine.

3 Florida Island Vacations Off the Beaten Path

If you’re planning an upcoming island vacation, but want to visit somewhere just a little different, it’s easy to find Florida beaches that are off the beaten path. Finding a unique spot to spend a vacation means that crowds will be smaller and you’ll get to visit a place you’d never know existed otherwise. Some great places to visit are the islands of Anna Maria, Sanibel and Amelia.

Enjoying An Anna Maria Vacation

The island is located just 40 miles south of Tampa and the island is surrounded by Tampa Bay. You can access your Anna Maria vacation via the Cortez or Manatee bridges or you can even take a cruise to start your visit.

An Anna Maria vacation is perfect for relaxing on the beach. If you visit May through October, though, Florida beaches are filled with sea turtles coming to the beach to lay their eggs. If you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a nesting sea turtle, leave it alone. Bright lights, including the flash from a camera can scare the turtle, endangering the lives of the baby sea turtles. If you’re staying in an Anna Maria vacation rental right off the beach, try to turn off outside lights at night because the lights can misguide the turtles, endangering the adult turtle and her eggs.

If you’re an avid fisherman, you’ll love fishing while on your vacation. You’ll be able to fish off of one of three fishing piers, rent a boat or even take a chartered boat fishing cruise. Kids under 16 don’t need to worry about a Florida fishing license so it’s a perfect family activity. If you do need a license, it can be purchased at tackle shops, hardware stores or Florida’s tax collector’s office.

Taking Sanibel Island Vacations

A vacation on Sanibel Island is just 40 minutes from the city of Fort Myers, Florida and the Southwest Florida International airport. The surf off of the beaches is gentle, making Sanibel Island a great place for families with young children.

The island also boasts 25 miles of bike paths, so parking the car and biking around the island is a must. If your children are too young to ride themselves, many local companies offer tandem bikes and trailers. Another must see attraction is the hidden bird aviary in Periwinkle Park. Here you’ll find lovebirds, toucans and flamingos. The park has many machines that dispense food for the birds so don’t forget to bring a pocketful of change.

Making The Most Of An Amelia Island Vacation

Amelia Island is located just 22 miles from Jacksonville, Florida and has 13 miles of beautiful beaches. While the beaches are a great draw, you’ll also find companies that offer aerial tours of the island and flying lessons for anyone dreaming of becoming a pilot.

If you’d rather keep a better view of the ground, consider riding horses along the beach at sunset or window shop in the many specialty shops and boutiques along Centre Street.

Whether you’re planning an Amelia, Sanibel or Anna Maria vacation, you’ll find plenty to do without the large beach crowds that come with a better known Florida vacation spot. Once you’ve spent a quiet vacation off the beaten path, you may never want to fight the crowds again.

The Strange Letters of Amelia – From Nantucket, 1852 (Part II of II) The Confession

The Confession

((End Chapters) (not a letter))

“Now I must tell you face to face the hardest truth you will ever endure, and likewise, myself, one I did not write in the book, one I was not going to tell you.

“One afternoon, when the sun was going down, I saw your father, Gideon Asa Scott, standing drunk outside a door of an Inn, in Nantucket; it was in October, of 1853. He had but to lift his eyes, and there I was plainly to be seen, though for him in his drunken stupor, miles away, perhaps with the sunshine brightening on some tropical island.

“And what did he have to say, “Where is the Amoral-Mather,” a ship he was waiting for, the captain’s name being Amoral, and he, like myself, adored Cotton Mather and his works, so he named his ship that. You see he had been on Nantucket for three months; and was only at sea for three months. Some of my good friends, such as Dorothea, a long time friend, was seeing him, he was staying with her. He thought I was her at first, after he called out the name of the ship. Then he recognized me, and was quite uncomfortable, we walked up the hill past the church, to the old meeting house, along the hillside, I love those long and gentle slopes.

“The night was not populous, no one congregated at the meeting house-it was built in the late 1600s, I leaned against the fence, and it broke, and so we moved farther down and leaned on a different section-I had picked up a piece of wood to fiddle with, almost unconsciously. In short, we were having a moderate conversation; his face seemed like always, to be made of stone. He listened, but didn’t hear, he was more a work of nature, than a human being, I dare to say.

(Judith looks at her mother puzzled, as if to say, what is all this, where is she going with all this; her mother is starting to tremble.)

“For a while-within the perfectly still night, not a neighbour about, he was in a good mood, there appeared a short lived majestic playfulness in him, then abruptly, he wanted to leave, and I knew where to, Dorthea’s house, and when the Amoral-Mather came in, then back out to sea.

“His back was to me, I remembered now, I had picked up a thin piece of wood from the broken part of the fence, it was old dried up wood, sharp at the tip like a knife, a small harpoon to my mind at the time, grey with age, about five inches long, he was just the proper distance, precisely to stab, as if he was the whale himself, he seemed to me as an enormous giant standing in front of me with his back-a human Moby Dick, as if shunning me, overlooking me as being insufficient. The reason he did not want to make love to me was that I was showing with child, you Judith. I was the talk of Nantucket, that was one reason, I did not want to leave the island, and why I did not want to go to Stockbridge until you got older, so I could tell them my husband was a sailor, and died in the course of his duties on a ship. Matter of fact, I knew the story so well of how he swam for hours in the open sea, that I was going to tell that story, with a few amendments.

“In any case, he and I were no longer a happy lot, I said to myself at that moment: it seemed unfair, positively unfair for him to be alive and do what he felt like doing and having no regard for anyone else’s feelings, that he could hurt at will, and have no penance to pay; he was guilt free: his whole being, just illuminated the clouds over my head with black vapour, I could only think of retribution, and not allow him to glorify the devil and his works any longer, infusing no more tenderness into my life, or anyone’s life for that matter. So I leaped forward, and with all my force, plunged the danger like object through the midsection of his back, I thrust the piece of wood into him, like Abraham was going to do to Isaac, but I did it.”

“Mother,” said Judith, with an even toned voice, while her mother let out a great long sigh of relief, “what did he cry out to the authorities?”

“My dear, you’re not dreadfully angry with me, your countenance says you’re not?” asked Amelia.

Eagerly inquired Judith the second time, “Please tell me what his words were, his last words?”

“Well, ok, the authorities said it sounded like the “Amoral-Mather,” but I was there, I had left and someone found him, and on his dying bed, I had to return, caught or not, and he said, ‘Amelia, murderer!’ but the words were slurred, they came out distorted, and the authorities could not believe such words would come out of his mouth I suppose so it was overlooked, but Dorothea knew what he had said, she was there before me, but she did not disclose my name, in fear of whatever, perhaps, shame for her, or our old friendship, to be mended-I mean dead is dead, and he was no more to her, than she was to him, a think to be used, they both complimented each other’s needs. Whatever the case, it was affirmed and documented as a matter of a deadly assault, and the weapon was gone, I took the piece of wood, and no one was the wiser, they figured he may even have fallen down drunk against the fence, and staggered to and fro, and the fence unintentionally killed him. So there were a few theories, but they went along with the first because he was a short distance away from the cracked part of the fence. But the case was never persuaded beyond that”

Judith’s Curiosity

“What did you think mother, after you killed him?” asked Judith.

“By the time I came to, out of some hasty fog, I found myself looking at a poor almost dead old man, much older looking than the time he spent earth, and who was going buried him once he did die, because he hadn’t died yet; perhaps the church or state: and the strangest part of the whole thing was, that his mammon, or his means to survival, which interwoven into his body and spirit, his very existence, had disappeared before me, his death was leaving nothing of him but residue on the walk, as I said, he was old before his time, wrinkled with yellow skin. Melting away in front of me, there was no longer a striking resemblance of the heroic man I thought I knew, betwixt, the ignoble features of this sailor and that majestic glow that was under his eyelid, when he first saw me, was gone, I was although magnificently curious about his face, a mountain of a face, the longer I looked at it, it ceased to honour himself. Who will now honour him in our lifetime I asked me, not me, nor you, nor Dorothea, nor the sailors on the ship, they will drink a toast to him, and say once and for all, farewell. And quietly be consigned to forgetfulness. I will be the only one, and perhaps you Judith, that once in a while will think of him,

“Whatever he was noted for in life, history will not remember him or it, that is what I thought, when I stood over this war-worn veteran, infirmed with age, weary of life’s turmoil, no purpose of returning to life once expired, even if given a chance. As I approached him, looked over him, bent to see his hands and back and neck and profile, beseeching a blessing on the good things he did, so maybe he will be sent to limbo, to right his wrongs, I felt next to anxiousness to get away. I knew soon after, people would congregate about this happening, call it a grand and awful thing…
“He never stepped aside for anyone or from his own path for anyone, but I still wanted my blessing to reach him.”

“In answer to your question mother: it’s a good story, but so very old though, that even the Indians, who formerly inhabited the island, the forefathers, you might say, would never take it seriously. I’d rather believe he was the noblest personage of his time, who got lost at sea, doing his duty-thus, this concludes mother my curiosity, so let’s finish tea.”

Afterward (Narrator): Of her (Miss Amelia Cleland) selected collection of strange, rare letters she saved for twenty years, forbidding her daughter to see them, on subjects of her relationship with Gideon Asa Scott, I’d be glad to share more, enough to have you hate them both, but I have a responsibility to a certain sense, not to drag a bundle of nerves like they both had down to a madness, although I shall slip in a few things that took place after the letters were read, and a few years passed.

I tell you, you can’t imagine what the feeling was for good ole Gideon, laying on the ground half drunk, with a five inch knife, an item sharp as a knife, a piece of wood stuck in you, puncturing a lung. I promised my wife to keep you informed over the letters, but to only share the necessary ones, ‘…enough is enough,’ she said, we don’t have to reach the center of the earth you know, with gore. Because in truth, she stuck him several times in the back, she had no remorse, and as you know, her daughter, is much like the mother, to a certain degree. Therefore if I seemed desperately anxious to close this case, it is because my wife when it comes to gory things, she can be inflexible, obdurate.

As this can be remembered, for what it is, though I no longer know exactly, I pieced this story together when I was in Stockbridge, and Nantucket, in 1999, and rewrote it recently, did some research, heard the beginnings of a story, and had to imagine how it ended, and had to fill in the gaps. Oh it is all mine, don’t get me wrong, but much truth interwoven in it.

The story was all discolored from age, and the gravestone that bears Gideon’s name was likewise.
In the lone silence of those long nights after Amelia told her daughter the true story, Judith’s mind conceived the most ghastly fantasies and illusions, nightmares, and even in her room made a grotesque shrine to her father. It was all too much for her, consequently she lived in a shadowy world thereafter, lurking in the dark halls at night; constantly consulting her time piece.
“What are you hearing Judith?” asked Amelia one evening, as she noticed her daughter talking to herself (1875); she said “I’m hearing a voice; it seems to be my father’s.”

“And…” Amelia asked “what did the voice inquire?”

“To be left in alone, in peace, that you were back down to the cemetery, and you pulled back the slab of concrete over his tomb, he said, there was nothing else you could do to him, that he did not want to talk to you so he came to me, to tell you to leave him be.”

She kept on hearing that voice, it was deep and hollow, awakening, remote and unearthly, inhuman, what more can I say, it was a dead man’s voice. And Amelia would not listen to Judith’s request, made via Gideon, and Judith, was experiencing a petrified life, and the haunting voice of her father. Thus, one evening she committed suicide, I need not say how, that is the gory part, the part my wife doesn’t care to see in this story. Perhaps it was Gideon’s revenge on Amelia. And all I know beyond that is she lived to a very old age, and alone, some times screaming for Gideon to talk to her, and sometimes pleading Judith to do the same, but all she got was silence.

Written in Lima, Peru, 4, 5 and 6 of February, 2009