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Here & Now

Stoop ... Blam... Vroom ... Slog (JUDY STEAD)This is embarrassing to tell, but here it is: The Guinness World Record for group shelling is not held by Sanibel Island. It’s beyond embarrassing. It’s an outrage. Sanibel Island is considered to be the most spectacular shelling beach in the known universe. Okay, this is perhaps a tiny magnification of the facts, but just barely. When shell-seeking is so revered in a place that there’s even a socially correct posture for carrying it out, we’re talking something close to religion. On Sanibel, that posture is called the Sanibel Stoop.

To assume the posture, one stands with feet slightly less than shoulder width apart and bends from the waist to retrieve the treasure. The angles may range from a modest 90-degree curve to the ultimate: a perfect hairpin shape, in which the posterior is the highest point between sand and sky.

Nobody does the Sanibel Stoop the way we locals do. Which is why it’s crucial that I personally show up on Feb. 17 to do my part in the valiant attempt to bring this vital Guinness World Record home.

Everyone will be there, I hear, from city officials and former CIA operatives (I can’t reveal who), to starving artists and quite prosperous ones. A notary public will document participants (I.D. required). The paparazzi are sure to be swarming all over the place. A helicopter buzzing overhead will secure the aerial evidence. 

The first 500 participants get official Sanibel Stoop T-shirts. Parking and free trolley transportation is plentiful.

The Sanibel Stoop event will rev up the excitement for the 75th Annual Sanibel Shell Show and Fair, Feb. 26 to March 4. The week-long Shellabration 2012 includes a gala, fashion, theater and arts events, themed shopping and dining, and museum and library exhibits, including Thomas Edison’s personal shell collection.


There are also some big goings on down at the Seminole reservation Feb. 24-26. The annual Big Cypress Shootout is a weekend-long reenactment of the 1800s Second Seminole Wars. There will be Seminole and soldier encampments, tomahawk throws, swamp music, snake handling and tribal dances. They’ll be serving up traditional Seminole fare, including Indian Fry Bread and fried gator tail. If you’ve ever tasted alligator, you might seriously disagree with the first person on record to have used the term “tastes like chicken.” In my personal opinion, if it does taste like chicken, it’s the most grizzly old codger in the barnyard.

Anyway, maybe it’s true and maybe it’s not, because the guy who uttered that immortal phrase lied about a bunch of things. Most notably, he told the Pope that Cuba is off the east coast of Asia, and told the King of Spain that he personally “discovered” America.

Someone who will lie to the king—and the pope, for heaven’s sake—simply cannot be trusted. But here it is, an alligator tale straight from p. 89 of The Log of Christopher Columbus: 

“While going around one of the lagoons I saw a serpent which we killed with lances, and I am bringing Your Highness the skin. This serpent is about 6 feet long… there are many such serpents in these lagoons. The people here eat them and the meat is white and tastes like chicken.”

My favorite part of the Big Cypress Shootout weekend is an actual battle in which Seminole warriors charge out of the bush on horseback and on foot to ward off the ragtag band of U.S. militiamen attacking with rifles and cannons. It’s smoky, noisy and impressive.


Spectators whose weapon of choice runs more to clubs than cannons should mark Feb. 13-19 on their calendars, for the 25th Annual Ace Group Classic PGA Champions Tour at TwinEagles. Why be an ordinary spectator, though, when a $75 fee will get you official volunteer status and a chance to hang out with Langer, Trevino, Couples, Roberts, Irwin, Player and the rest? You also get a golf shirt, headwear, a badge, two grounds tickets, meals and beverages, and schmooze time with the players at the celebration party.

Call right away to grab one of those 800 volunteer slots, or score tickets for the tournament.


Ferrari. You know you want one. If you do own one of these magnificent machines from Maranello, you’ll most likely be in Naples, on Feb. 11 to share the love at the Naples Ferrari Club’s Seventh Annual Cars on Fifth Show. The street will be closed for strolling and drooling (but not on the stunning mirror finish, please).

Competing for the oohs and aahs will also be Lamborghinis, Maseratis, Cobras, Porsches, Corvettes, Rolls Royces, Bentleys, Jaguars, MGs, Packards, Duesenbergs and Alfa Romeos. You’ve got your muscle cars, your custom cars, your racers, your vintage autos and your collectibles. Dealers are standing by. Bring your checkbook, or just enjoy the music, food and fantasies.


Twice a year, legendary Everglades-based photographer Clyde Butcher invites ordinary shooters to muck about in his favorite swamp, accompanied by a naturalist guide, followed by a meet-and-greet with Clyde and his artist-wife, Nikki, in their rustic Big Cypress Gallery. President’s Day Weekend, Feb. 18-19, is the winter date. Plan to get muddy, laugh, be awed and have the time of your life. Dress code is long pants, really old sneakers and a hat. Bottled water and walking sticks provided. Your $50 fee includes a $25 credit toward a gallery purchase. The 90-minute slog-abouts start every hour on the hour from
9 a.m. to 2 p.m. both days.


…And just a hint of a Splash! 
 “I’ll take the ’glades, but hold the muck,” you say? Then opt for the Eighth Annual Everglades Paddle-In, Feb. 9-11. Let the wild dolphins and ospreys do the splashing as you glide out from Everglades National Park to an uninhabited barrier island. Awaiting your arrival on the white sandy beach will be a huge pot of Vickie Wright’s famous conch chowder (does not taste like chicken) and other hearty provisions.

It’s not exactly Maserati- and Lamborghini-land, but some of those state-of-the-art, sleek and colorful kayaks lined up on shore can bring tears to a paddler’s eyes. The Paddle-In is free, courtesy of Everglades Area Tours and Everglades Kayak Fishing, to promote awareness of the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve and membership in the nonprofit Friends of Fakahatchee preservation group. 

Let the rest of the world shiver under the polar ice cap. It’s February in Paradise: time to go out and play!









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