TGIF: Artists Explore and Paint Nation’s Oldest City 

Artists converge on the coastal town of St. Augustine, April 21-29. The Plein Air event features outdoor painting at historic sites, brunch, closing reception, demonstration, exhibit and more. 

Artists will begin checking in on April 21. The day follows with an orientation brunch and quick drawn on April 22. Celebrity artist Roger Bansemer gives a painting demo on April 26. He is one of the hosts of the PBS seies, “Painting and Traveling with Roger and Sarah Bansemer.” Roger was the show winner in last year’s event. The Plein Air Paint Out concludes on April 29 with a reception and Nocturne painting session. Following the Plein Air event, there will be a juried exhibit, May 4-27 at the St. Augustine Art Association on 22 Marine Street. 
There is a fee to participate as an artist in this event. For more information, call 904-824-2310. 


TGIF: Florida Lighthouse Day Getaway

Enjoy a day of fun in the sun. This lighthouse getaway features a day of celebration at two of Florida’s evocative lighthouses and much more. Experience snorkeling, shellings, swimming and exploring nature. You’ll discover shaded pavilions along unspoiled pristine beaches. 

Don’t miss this special opportunity. Limited spaces are available for climbing Port Boca Grande Lighthouse and the historic Gasparilla Lighthouse on April 21. Only 108 people will be permitted to climb the Gasparilla Lighthouse and the Port Boca Grande lantern room is open only on this one day a year. 

Savor cake and lemonade and join in on a host of festivities. Children nine and under are free but must be 44 inches. The cost to climb each lighthouse is only $5 per person. Cost for parking at Gasparilla Island at Florida State Park is only $3. 
For more information visit

TGIF: Florida Lighthouse Celebration begins April 7

You will pristine beaches and swaying palms at this idyllic island. Explore the Sunshine state’s scenic shores and magical beaches while visiting lighthouses. The remote locations of lighthouses have been transformed into idyllic  getaways. From coast to coast, Florida’s 29 evocative lighthouses offer intimate encounters. 

 Gasparilla, Boca Grande and Ponce de Leon lighthouses host festivities in recognition of Florida Lighthouse Day in April.

Celebrate Ponce de Leon Inlet’s Florida Lighthouse Day on April 7 from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm. Discover Florida’s rich maritime and lighthouse history through family friendly activities and workshops. 
Ponce de Leon Inlet Light is the tallest lighthouse in Florida and the second tallest on the east coast. It stands head and shoulders above Florida’s other lighthouses in statue and possibly in what it offers the casual visitor. This large campus has so much to explore. Step into the world of lighthouses and the lives of lightkeepers. 
Enjoy a delightful introduction to the lighthouse at the Woodshed Video Theater. Firewood and other supplies were once kept in this building by the Second Assistant Keeper’s family. 
Explore the original Keepers dwellings. See exhibits on the lives of keepers and their families. Race fans will revel in the exhibits on the history of Beach racing.

 View an amazing collection of lighthouse lens. The magnificent rotating first order Fresnel lens from Cape Canaveral Lighthouse is on display here.

Brace yourself for a spectacular view as you scale Florida’s tallest lighthouse. 
For more information, visit Ponce Inlet Lighthouse.

Visit my Lighthouse Art Gallery to see more of my art. 

TGIF: You won’t need a pot of gold when visiting Ireland

I am not sure what I like best about Ireland; the kind people, good food, spectacular sights or low prices. The accommodations and restaurants are extremely affordable or down right cheap. I really can’t say enough good things about Ireland. Whether exploring the Wild Atlantic Way, or visiting castles, you’ll find much to explore in Ireland. You can climb the highest peak in Europe at Slieve Leage. Splash in Ireland’s pristine turquoise waters. Along the way, you’ll witness seals and puffins on the scenic shores. You can also enjoy an expedition to a upside down lighthouse and escape to a quiet island. 

Evocative cliffs encapsulate this fairly land island.Tory Island has the distinction of having a resident, King. Besides greeting visitors, I’m not sure what his official duties are. The King of Tory rules over a small and quaint island kingdom. Tory Island lighthouse, a monk’s tower recall local history. There’s a hostel and hotel, grocery store, some shops and a post office within walking distance. Tory Island offers a quiet retreat and a taste of the past.

Rathlin Island is a popular destination. You can scale an upside down lighthouse. Catch a bus to the lighthouse and enjoy nature. West Light builders ingeniously came up with a way to avoid clouds that could obscure the light. Watch puffins, skylarks and other birds at the West Light Seabird Center. It’s largest seabird colony in the United Kingdom. Over 250,00 seabirds return to breed on Rathlin Island each year. 

Stop by Dublin and don’t miss Trinity College. It is the oldest university in Ireland. Its stunning architecture transports you to another era and dimension. Venture to the Long Room, one of Europe’s most impressive libraries. Beautiful marble busts adorn the aisles of the library. Star Wars used the library for inspiration. Walk through the pages of history and see the Book of Kells. It is a medieval manuscript of the four Gospels that is considered to be Ireland’s finest treasure. 

Whether you’re a history buff, beach goer, nature lover or lighthouse enthusiastic, Ireland offers a lot for your money as well as fun for everyone.

TGIF: Travel beyond the ordinary 

When most people think of Florida, they think of its stellar attractions. With the cost of inflation, the average family could sink a cool $1,000 for a vacation. Florida offers more than attractions. I stopped by the coastal town of Tarpon Springs before a cruise to an island where Anclote Key Lighthouse is located. I arrived early in the day and found all-day parking for only $3. Tarpon Springs Historic District is adorned with quaint shops and Greek restaurants. The prices at the restaurants are modest and the dining varies from simple wraps to full course meals.

 I was impressed that the area wasn’t a tourist trap but seemed authentic. It’s a great place to stroll and spend a few hours without getting ripped off. There are monuments to guide you through local history and boating tours for more in depth tidbits on the local culture and folklore.

I caught Odyssey Cruise Lines from Tarpon Springs with a group for the reopening of Anclote Key Lighthouse.  The tour guide navigated through calm seas and narrated located history. We learned about the once thriving sponging industry and saw locations where movies were filmed.

After a short boat ride, we arrived at Anclote Key State Preserve and debarked at a pristine beach. A scenic nature trail led us to Anclote Key Lighthouse. I drew several sketches and took photographs of the area and fuel house before scaling the 102 ft. lighthouse.  The steel framed lighthouse built in 1887 offered a panoramic view of the tiny island. I was delighted to be able visit during the reopening. The lighthouse had been closed a few years and was restored through funds from the Florida Lighthouse Association and Friends of Anclote Key Lighthouse. It was money well spent. 

TGIF: Life Decoded at South Beach 

Celebrating the ease with which I found a parking space at the Miami Beach garage, I was hopeful for a great day. Tourists laughing and chattering against a backdrop of palm trees, were signs of good things to come. This is the South Beach that advertisers promote. Life at its best. But having lived there for 4 years I knew there was a darker side. Skyrocketing homelessness and rampart crime. But just for today, I held those thoughts at bay. 

On the way from the garage, I found myself spellbound by H&Ms window display: Denim Decoded. Using a few bare essentials of clothing they had put together an astonishing look. How clever I thought. If only my life could be so genuine and simple. Life Decoded. Stripped away of all the complexities with only the bare necessities remaining. Simplicity at its best. 

As I stepped into H&M a transformation took place. I was no longer weighed down by the troubles of this world but carefree. Leaving the store my purse was $30 dollars lighter. But it was worth the investment in this new way of being. 

With a new sense of calm and joy, I strolled along a walkway beside the beach. Tents for the wine and food festival blocked the view. But it didn’t matter I knew a few minutes later the ocean would appear. 

At the Bass, I laughed and marveled at the exhibits. The sculptures of “Vocabulary of Solitude” by the Ugo Rondinone brought back to mind my fascination with mannequins on display at H&M. How could these lifeless characters inspire me and an artist? Like Michelangelo releasing the soul of his sculptures from stone, Rondinone had endeavored to do this with polystyrene foam. While at the museum, I met with a friend and asked about the expanded education center. I was excited to hear how the community had embraced the new programs and exhibits.

After I left the museum I headed to the Art Deco District. I was hoping to find a building I had once drawn. No luck. So I decided to sketched the Royal Palm Hotel. 

Now it was time to leave. I placed an order at Pizza Rustica and braced myself for the drive home. Surrounded by a sea of cars I withdrew to a reservoir from my peaceful day. When traffic became a parking lot, my serenity began to dissipate. A few minutes later I got a call about the sudden death of my cousin. Saddened, I thought about my day and all the things I relished. I was glad God had given me a day to enjoy the simple things in my life: art, friends, shopping, dining and the beach. Life decoded. 

TGIF: Down to earth prices at Cape Canaveral 

I stayed at the Fairfield Marriott in Titusville during an overnight stay for the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse 150 year festival. I checked in one hour early and was promptly given a wonderful room. The staff is friendly and very helpful. 

While the hotel is 30 minutes away from Cape Kennedy and the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse, it is perfect for a leisurely visit. The Fairfield is located near the highway and the first street after exiting I-95. There is a Cracker Barrel Restaurant next door. Fast food restaurants and a shopping area is about 5 minutes away. 

Despite being near the freeway, the hotel is relatively quiet. My room was very clean although there was a strand of hair in the bathtub. Small oversight but worth mentioning. The queen-sized room is equipped with two beds, a mini fridge and microwave. There is a flat screen TV with cable, local channels and more. I loved the charging station for my electronic devices. 

The hotel offers a free buffet with modest but varied food options. There are a several cold drinks and limited hot beverages. You won’t find an abundance of fruit but the breakfast buffet offers waffles, cereal and more. 

There is a small business center for those who want to combine business with pleasure on the Space Coast. The hotel overall is modern, well furnished and well kept.