A Bit Of History In Ocala, Florida

Fort King, Ocala, Florida

It’s unusual to come across an early nineteenth century stockade fort in the middle of a Florida town. Not something you expect outside of Disney World. But on a recent drive through central Florida that is what we found in Ocala.

It’s a historically accurate replica of Fort King at its original site. Designated a National Historic Landmark the site is being developed into a park that includes an interesting museum. For the state of Florida this is almost ancient history. Early settlers, Seminole Wars, Andrew Jackson.

There’s history all around us if we just take the time to look and understanding it is important for our future. Here’s a peek into Florida’s history and what happened around Fort King.

Every state in America is noted for its tribes of American Indians that include Comanches, Blackfoot, Algonquin, Shaenee, Shoshone, Sioux and almost a hundred additional tribes. In Florida we recognize the Seminoles as our major Indian tribe, but who are they historically?

It seems Seminole history in Florida starts with bands of Creek Indians from Georgia and Alabama migrating to the state in the 1700s. Wars with other tribes along with conflict with the arriving Europeans caused them to move south seeking new lands. At the time Spain controlled Florida and encouraged these Indian migrations hoping to provide a buffer between them and the British colonies to the north.

A fort exhibit

It was at this time that these Florida Indians became known as the Seminole, a name that meant “wild people” or “runaways.”

Florida has long been considered an inhospitable place filled with swamps, and scrub land, cursed with hot weather, high humidity, mosquitoes and alligators. Even so by the late eighteenth century settlers began to look for land to settle in Florida and in 1819 Spain saw the inevitable and agreed to sell Florida to the United States.

Soon these new settlers were coming in conflict with the Seminoles and the government decided the situation needed a solution. In 1823 the Treaty of Moultrie Creek was signed between the United States and leaders of the Seminole Nation. That treaty had the Seminoles relocate to a large tract of land in what is now Central Florida. The treaty also prohibited white persons from entering or settling on those Seminole lands. The Ocala area was central to the Indian towns and the army built Fort King to assure that both sides kept the treaty.

In a reversal of policy Congress passed The Indian Removal Act in 1830 at the urging of President Andrew Jackson who had fought the Seminoles in Florida and defeated the Creek Indians in 1814. This resulted in the forced negotiation of the controversial Treaty of Payne’s Landing requiring that the Seminoles be removed to new lands in what is now Oklahoma.

Engraving from Seminole Wars

A core group of Seminoles, led by the warrior Osceola fiercely opposed the treaty forcing the government to reoccupy Fort King and the associated U.S. Indian Agency. General Wiley Thompson, the U.S. Agent assigned to Fort King and Osceola engaged in a number of confrontations. This resulted in General Thompson ordering Osceola chained and thrown into the guardhouse at the.

Inside the fort

Released several days later, Osceola declared that war was the only option left. On December 28, 1835, he attacked Fort King when Wiley Thompson and Lieutenant Constantine Smith went for a walk outside the post. Thompson was shot numerous times and scalped. Six others were also killed but Fort King was too strong to take. That same day a larger force of Seminole warriors attacked troops on their way to Fort King in a fight known as Dade’s Battle, leaving over 100 soldiers dead. This would become the start of the Second Seminole War.

Fort King was abandoned in May of 1836 in favor of Fort Drane built nearer the swamps where the Seminoles were hold up. Fort King was reoccupied in April of 1837. It served as a base for raids and in 1840 Captain Gabriel Rains of the 7th U.S. Infantry led 16 soldiers on a recon but were attacked by a Seminole war party. They managed to fight their way back to Fort King, with three men killed.

After defeating the army in early battles of the Second Seminole War, Seminole leader Osceola was captured in 1837, when U.S. agents invited him under a truce to talk peace.

Ft. King Historic Marker

Five years later the Second Seminole War was declared over on August 14, 1842. Fort King was evacuated for good the following year. By 1858, when the United States declared a formal end to the Third Seminole War over 3,000 Seminoles were moved west of the Mississippi River leaving only 200 to 300 Seminoles in Florida swamps.

As a footnote, Florida is proud to call the Seminoles our tribe and the Noles are happy to be a part of Florida. back a few years ago when there was a movement to strip sports teams of their Indian names the Seminoles made it very clear that they were thrilled with their name being attached to Florida State. The Noles have done very well in Florida recently with the Hard Rock Cafe International (USA), Inc. being sold to the Seminole Tribe of Florida in 2007 with headquarters at the reservation in Davie, Florida.

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Port of Call Tenerife

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands

West of southern Morocco in the Atlantic Ocean sits a cluster of volcanic islands called The Canaries. The Canary Islands feature a rugged volcanic landscape known for the black and white sand beaches. Tenerife, the largest island, is dominated by an active volcano Mt. Teide, which has its own astronomical observatory and is part of Teide National Park. Tenerife hosts a huge pre-Lent Carnival each year in the capital of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Where Your Ship Docks

Most cruise ships will dock at the piers in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. There are no cruise terminals or readily available public facilities at the pier. While docked in the city it is still a good walk to reach the central business district. At times there can be shuttles available to get out of the port area.

Transportation

The island does have a good bus system (CLICK HERE) that uses a pass card, the Ten+ Travel Card. It can be used on most all bus routes. The plastic card itself can be purchased at various outlets around the island for €2 plus a €5 minimum charge amount. The island of Tenerife is  large covering almost 100 square miles with a trip from one end to the other being about fifty miles.

Because of the distances that you need to cover to see the island on a short visit it’s recommended that you rent a car or take a tour.

Currency

The Canary Islands, like Spain are part of the EU making the local currency the Euro. Credit cards are widely accepted but you will need to use the Euro for cash transactions.

Attractions

The Canary Islands are a favorite holiday destination for Europeans, particularly the British. It features a good selection of fine restaurants along with a thriving wine industry with a number of vineyards of note.

Because of the volcanic nature of the island there are a number of interesting sights focused on the geology. The Cueva De Los Verdes, lava-formed tunnel with guided tours. Also the Jameos del Agua, a volcanic cave system with dining & music that opens each day at 10 am.

The Cristo de La Laguna

Blessed with a near perfect climate, Tenerife has a number of good beaches like Playa de Amadores, a busy beach for swimming & sunbathing. There is also Palmitos Park, a botanic park with an aviary & dolphinarium or Siam Park a Thai-themed adventure water park.

A good location to book independent tours while in Tenerife is a tour operator called TravelOn.

Pickpockets and Purse Snatchers Oh My!

Getting pickpocketed is a terrible thing. If you travel often, the chances are that it’s going to happen. Even if you don’t travel it can happen. If you take precautions and stay alert the risk is greatly reduced but the fact is no one is immune.

Some steps you can take to make you less likely to be the victim:

Pickpockets

There are three proven ways to avoid being the victim of a pickpocket

  1. Keep your valuables secure in a money belt. There are a number of styles and sizes available but the common design is a pouch that secures to a belt and is tucked under your clothes. If you find it awkward to access the pouch, a pickpocket will find it near impossible. If you have to carry a passport, cash or credit cards they really should be in a money belt.
  2. If you won’t need something, don’t carry it. If you are staying in a hotel most now provide in-room safes where things are much more secure than carried with you.
  3. Stay aware. The best thing you can do is avoid getting into crowds. That is the favorite environment for pickpockets. If you do end up in tight quarters be aware that pickpockets are masters of disguise. Most choose to look just like other tourists or well-dressed professionals or a young mother carrying a baby so don’t let down your guard because of hoe someone looks.

Purse Snatchers

There are also some things you can do to foil a purse snatcher

  1. Always expect the worse and keep a firm grip on you purse. Don’t expect a strap hung over your shoulder to prevent a snatching. Often the thieves carry a knife to cut the strap. If you get into crowded areas keep an arm wrapped around the purse.
  2. Never walk around or sit in a public space with your purse wide open. It only takes a second to reach in and run.
  3. There are purses available with a wire inserted into the strap and there are also accessory straps from companies like Pacsafe that prevent cutting.
  4. You should also realize that backpacks have also become popular targets for thieves. Use those same precautions with backpacks and don’t walk with a backpack slung loosely over one shoulder. Wear it over both shoulders. Lately you will also see many people wearing their backpacks on their front. That is not a new fashion look but an additional way to protect a backpack especially on the crowded streets of an unfamiliar city.

If you are traveling internationally, normally you don’t need to carry a drivers license unless you are going to rent a car. Likewise you usually don’t need to carry your passport. Our recommendation is to leave those in your hotel along with credit and debit cards you won’t be needing. You should still have some forms of identification and a copy of your divers license will usually suffice. Another strong recommendation is to have and carry an emergency identification card that includes contact information and any medical needs (a great source of a downloadable card is HERE).

Keep any money and cards you’ll need in that money belt and carry a small card case for that license copy and emergency ID in your pocket along with important information like key phrases, hotel address, and local emergency numbers.

Beating Jet Lag

Dealing With Jet Lag

In the last dozen or two years we have made a number of international trips. There have been times when we hardly experienced jet lag at all, but a few trips took days to recover. Our experience has taught us a few things including what causes the worst jet lag. It seems that traveling east causes more problems with jet lag than traveling west. We also believe that what time the flight starts can have a big impact on how serious jet lag will be. Generally late evening flights are the better than morning flights especially on long trips. Our biggest issue is usually insomnia with the worst being a Singapore to Florida trip that literally took a few days to readjust from.

The most serious issue is flying across time zones where your body times evening becomes the destinations morning (or other way round). In addition to insomnia there is often gastrointestinal issues, and difficulty concentrating.

Instead of just letting it happen you can reduce jet lag by preparing for your flight and making sure during your flight you get as much sleep as possible. After the flight spend as much time as you can out in the sunshine and quickly adjust to the local time.

Here’s what the experts suggest:

Before Your Flight

Adjust Your Schedule

A few days before the trip adjust sleeping and eating schedule. Depending on the trip start a couple of days to up to a week before the flight. Traveling east, go to bed between one and two hours earlier each night. Traveling west, go to bed one or two hours later in the days before the flight. This gives your body a chance to adjust to new time zones ahead of time.

The same applies to your eating a few days before your flight. Change meal times closer to when people eat at the destination so your body gets used to the new meal times. If dinner time is several hours behind in your destination, have your dinner an hour or two earlier than usual.

Stay Hydrated

To reduce stress on your system avoid coffee and alcohol a day before your flight. Studies have shown that drinking coffee and alcohol before you fly can make your jet lag worse. Try to stay away from coffee and alcohol before you are set to fly. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water leading up to your flight.

Carry a water bottle and fill it in the daparture area. You can also have the bottle filled on the plane so you can stay hydrated while in the air.

Book Flights At The Right Times

Whenever possible book an overnight flight. This allows you to have dinner at a normal time in the evening making it easier to sleep on the flight during the night. Depending on your destination, you then arrive in the morning after an overnight flight having gotten some sleep. This makes adjusting to the new time zone once you land becomes much easier. Try to avoid flights where you land in the evening as these can aggravate jet lag.

Change your watch to the timezone of your destination when you board your flight. If you wear a watch, change the time so it matches the timezone of your destination. You can also adjust the clock on your cellphone. Doing this will help you get accustomed to the new timezone and ready for a new sleeping and eating schedule.

Get Rest During Your Flight

Airlines seem to want to distract passengers during a flight and often provide food, snacks and drinks and often show movies in flight. Even if it’s a movie you wanted to see, is it worth suffering serious jet lag for a day or two afterwords? Travel with a pillow and eye mask. It’s really important that you get some sleep on the plane. You could also pack headphones or earplugs to block out noise or distractions on the flight.

Taking Sleeping Pills

Only take sleeping pills during the flight if you are used to using them. If you are not used to them or taking too many can make you feel groggy when you land, and could end up making your jet lag even worse. Discuss this with your doctor before taking sleeping pill during your flight.

Try and Get Some Exercise

Get out of your seat some and walk in the aisle of the plane, especially during a long flight. Doing light exercise and moving your body can help improve your blood circulation on the flight. It can also help you get to sleep more easily.

Avoiding Jet Lag Once You Land

Get Outside Once You Reach Your Destination*

It’s important to get some exposure to natural sunlight. Light exposure regulates your body’s circadian rhythm and helps you adjust to your new location. If you traveled westward, go outside in the evening so your system realizes it’s late. If you traveled eastward, in the morning get exposed to sunlight early in the day.

*Avoid going outside if you’ve traveled more than eight time zones. If you’ve traveled more than eight time zones to the east, wear sunglasses and stay away from bright light in the morning. Then, try to get as much sunlight as possible in the afternoon.

If you traveled more than eight time zones to the west, avoid outdoor light a few hours before dark for the first few days so you system can adjust to the local time.

Eat At The Local Time

Once at your destination, try to have meals at the local time so your system can adjust. If you land at night, for example, have dinner at the local time. If you land in the morning, have breakfast at the local time.

If you find yourself getting hungry between meals times, have snacks to keep you satisfied. Only have large meals at the local time so you can adjust better to the new time. Keep hydrated. Make sure you have a lot of water with your meals. Dehydration can make your jet lag much worse.

Adjust Your Sleep Schedule.

You should sleep based on the local time and stick to a “normal” sleep schedule. This will make your jet lag less intense and help your body better adjust to the new time zone. If you land in the early evening, stay awake until the late evening so you can go to sleep at the new appropriate time. If you get in early in the day, stay awake until the evening so again your sleep time matches the local time.

Take Melatonin To Help You Sleep

If you struggle with going to sleep in the new time zone, consider taking melatonin. Melatonin is a nonprescription drug that has been shown to help set your internal clock and make going to sleep much easier. Having 3 milligrams of melatonin before bed for several days after arrival can help regulate your sleep schedule. Again talk to your doctor about taking melatonin before you go on your trip.

The Increasing Use of Stencils In Graffiti

Graffiti making a statement about graffiti, Lisbon

As we travel I am drawn to taking photographs of graffiti. I believe that graffiti can tell you a lot about a place or perhaps about attitudes of residents and the authorities. It shows how people feel about the place where they live, sometimes showing pride but often displaying disrespect and even contempt. A lot of graffiti is nothing more than visual pollution, downgrading a neighborhood’s environment and reflecting a community in decline. By actions or inaction local authorities can create an environment where it can become malignant and out of control.

The eternal Chi in Italy

Not sure why the Azores want independence?

In Crete there are a lot of objections to the Nato base, perhaps anti -war.

Another major use of graffiti is supporting a political movement or a cause and oddly the most common form of this seems to be making use of the stencil. Perhaps that is because it requires less talent or is less expensive than political handbills or maybe it’s just more difficult to remove. While communist, socialist  and anarchists used to be the most active users, recently we have come to recognize social causes more and more to be represented in this stencil graffiti. I believe this relates to the adoption by the younger generation of social causes or movements that are amplified through todays social media.

It didn’t seem like racism was a problem in Wurzberg, Germany

 

 

 

 

Recently we visited a community working to overcome graffiti in Bamberg, Germany. This is a beautiful town popular as a tourist destination. It features winding cobblestone streets, a picturesque riverfront, a famous cathedral and an unusual smokey beer. Initially we were impressed with the lack of graffiti but after a while we started noticing subtle blotches of paint that didn’t perfectly match the surroundings. It became obvious that locals were actively painting over graffiti as quickly as possible in an effort to maintain the character of their town. It was encouraging to see push back against this pollution.

Montevideo -Best translation is Double Standard. Animal rights seems to be a big issue.

Another from Montevideo. Free the Animals

Another measure about a community as a place can be seen in graffiti that is often described as street art and it can at times actually elevate the areas environment. Often I have thought about where a line should be drawn in prohibiting graffiti while allowing street art and admit I can’t find a clear line. As the old saw goes – I may not know what it is but I know it when I see it.

Graffiti on graffiti Dublin. Ireland is always ready to resist.

Not sure what this is saying. Cologne, Germany

 

 

 

 

 

 

More thoughts on graffiti HERE.

 

Love Locks – A Pledge of Undying Love

love lock Wurzburg, Germany
Wurzburg, Germany

Love Locks – Statement of Love or Vandalism?

A SHORT STORY

As we travel we have at times noticed collections of padlocks attached to bridges and other public structures. It wasn’t difficult to figure out what was going on by all the couples names engraved on the locks. But in the last five years or so it is becoming difficult to not notice these collections, they’re popping up everywhere.

The practice isn’t new but in the twenty-first century it has exploded worldwide. A love lock is a padlock which lovers lock to a bridge, fence, gate or monument to symbolize their eternal love. Recently the lovers’ names or initials, and the date, are inscribed on the padlock, and its key is thrown away usually into the river under the bridge to symbolize unbreakable love.

Dublin, Ireland

This simple and romantic practice seems innocent but more and more being treated by authorities as litter or vandalism, and there is becoming serious cost associated with damage and their removal. We’ve been told that there are places where authorities are embracing them as a tourist attractions.

A little research will show that love padlocks date back at least 100 years to a Serbian tale of World War I, about the bridge Most Ljubavi or the Bridge of Love in the town of Vrnjačka Banja. A local schoolmistress named Nada, who was from Vrnjačka Banja, fell in love with a Serbian officer named Relja.

Ha’penny Bridge, Dublin

In Dublin there is a famous pedestrian bridge called the Ha’penny Bridge. It is one of the more famous symbols of Dublin. Nearly 200 years old (1816) it is a protected structure, but in recent years Dublin City Council have had to remove thousands of padlocks from the bridge. They are considered unsightly and are causing damage by chipping paint and adding considerable weight to the historic bridge.

While the key to many a heart now lies at the bottom of the River Liffey where couples in love have thrown them after securing their love locks to Dublin’s historic Ha’penny Bridge, a group is dedicated to breaking that bond. Almost as soon as the lovers have left, an expert lock-picking group arrives to tear these bonds of love apart and stop the locks from making the bridge structurally unsafe.

love lock Wurzburg, Germany

“It’s a fairly constant churn,” said Seán Nicholls, who set up the group when he was on his way to a professional lock-picking meeting. “I was heading to the meeting one day and I walked over the bridge and noticed all the locks. That’s kind of where the idea came from,” he said.

Love locks River walk Wurzburg, Germany
River walk Wurzburg, Germany

Dublin City Council made the group official in the aftermath of a love-lock situation in Paris where the locks caused a section of the Pont des Arts bridge to collapse.