It’s only 117 miles of a footpath that runs the length of the entire state, but the Big Bend portion of the Florida Trail holds some of the gems people lace up their boots for. Stretching from the Suwannee River west to Apalachicola, the section of the 1,100-mile trail winds through pastureland, upland pine forests and ancient old-growth stands of trees. It touches the saltmarsh shores of the Gulf of Mexico, traverses old rail lines, passes the mysterious disappearing Aucilla River and pristine sinkholes. “Our trail is divided into four sections. Every one has its unique and special beauty,” said Dawn Brown, chair of the Apalachee Chapter of the Florida Trail Association. The sections include upland, marshland, limestone river terrain and lowland hammocks. “It has geologic significance; it has an archeological significance; it has historical significance. It’s a beautiful piece of trail,” added Brown, who has hiked roughly 1,000 miles of the Florida National Scenic Trail.
When Juan Ponce de León sailed into the mouth of the Miami River in 1513, he encountered a large Tequesta Indian village. Pedro Menéndez de Avilés attempted to convert the Tequesta to Christianity, establishing a short-lived mission at the village in 1567. Another failed mission was established there in 1743. But the Spanish could not persuade the Tequesta to abandon their ancient belief system. The native people of Florida were almost completely wiped out by unfamiliar diseases brought by the Europeans. “With weakened tribes, the Spanish borders of Florida were fully breached by the English who instigated Creek raids as far south as Key West, enslaving thousands of Indians for the plantations of the Carolinas and Georgia,” said archaeologist Robert S. Carr. “By 1763, when the Spanish ceded Florida to England, the Tequesta and the Keys Indians had migrated to Cuba and become extinct as a culture. The last of the Tequesta moved to villages outside of Havana.”
Brooksville-based Florida Cracker Kitchen is coming to Jacksonville. The breakfast and lunch spot will feature a store with apparel, home goods and accessories, as well as a tap room and a Bloody Mary bar, which will be housed in a 1956 milk truck. Florida Cracker Kitchen is expected to open within the next three months at 14329 Beach Blvd., next to the Pablo Station shopping center. The 3,600-square-foot location will have 150 seats, including an outdoor patio.
In Miami, a thawing of relations with the Cuban government has been met with both widespread criticism and praise. Older generations of Cuban exiles scorned the administration’s decision to reengage Cuba despite a persistently authoritarian regime. Meanwhile, younger generations, “American-born Cubans,” as coined by author and playwright Vanessa Garcia, have embraced the change, curious to learn more about the island’s twisted fate. Miami’s cultural institutions have rarely shied away from exploring the Cuban diaspora and experience, but three local institutions this summer are homing in on Cuban art and culture. Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), the Sagamore Hotel in Miami Beach, and the Pompano Beach Cultural Center (PBCC), are imploring South Floridians to reckon with the remarkable social impacts of the Cuban revolution and exodus, not only off the island but also on it.
Any piece of fruit has a story inside. You could say the seed is the beginning, the plant that grows is the middle, and the fruit that falls is the happy ending. Plant another seed and you can tell it all over again. These are lies of course. Stories never turn out that way. Lives don’t neatly fit into three parts. The structure won’t ever follow a straight line. You have to ignore a world of context to pretend a story is that simple. Take an orange. We know that the orange is in fact green. The fruit changes to its namesake color when exposed to cool air. Yet, when the temperature drops below 28 degrees for longer than four hours, ice will form within an orange. The peel will show no injury, but the frozen flesh will turn mushy and the orange will fall from the tree, inedible. When the force that makes us can also ruin us, when a lethal irony is at play, we call the story a comedy or a tragedy, depending on the ending. Even if it is just an orange.
Jenny Adler’s journey through graduate school has closely resembled the winding limestone caves of the Floridan Aquifer that she photographs from the inside out. Adler is a doctoral student in the School of Natural Resources and Environment, and her dissertation research straddles the nexus of the science, education and communication of conserving Florida’s springs—a path that took time to define and develop because of its innovative and interdisciplinary nature. Adler first came to Florida in 2011 to pursue a job with United States Geological Survey tagging sturgeon for a research project on the Suwannee River. It was the combination of heat and sturgeon slime that made her first experiences of jumping into the Florida springs after fieldwork so sweet. “On the weekends, I started to get really into snorkeling and diving in the springs because I was just completely fascinated by them,” she said. “I had never been in a place with water that clear before.” She made it her goal to swim in every first magnitude spring—defined as springs that discharge water at a rate of more than 65 million gallons per day—in Florida. She started photographing the crystal clear waters of the springs as a way to share their beauty with her family back home in Massachusetts.
Florida is either just home or an entertaining destination for travelers. The following books will guide you through the state’s swamplands, retirement communities and cultural enclaves, offering outright or de facto defenses of Florida.