Celebrating the Sunshine State's Unique Treasures


Celebrating the Old, New and Beloved

Category: Gratitude
Posted by: Robin Draper on Monday, July 4, 2016

Celebrating the Old, New and Beloved

Authentic Florida has a lot to celebrate: the founding of our country, old friends, a new website, the 200th newsletter and beloved readers, family and supporters

Let’s celebrate!

Pasco County Stilt House

Happy Birthday America! I wish you an enjoyable and safe holiday while celebrating the freedoms and blessings we enjoy here in the U.S.A!

Today also marks a banner day as I release this 200th Authentic Florida E-NEWs. Few words can describe the joy this weekly column gives me while I explore and share amazing Florida discoveries with you.

My favorite walkway to the beach

More than five years ago, Authentic Florida was born of passion, and with every step along this epic journey it has been a privilege and delight. Thank you for following my travels and recipes.

Authentic Florida's new website goes live August 1, artist, Brendan Coudal

And I am excited to report that Authentic Florida’s website is going through an update and facelift. Expect to see the new site August 1.  You’ll find that the new Authentic Florida website has an improved user-friendly interface with more navigable resources for your travel and living needs. Among the new features, it will have a Florida map providing easier access for places to go, things to do and what to eat – all of which will be mobile friendly.

So, let me take this opportunity to thank the many who have helped make Authentic Florida a reality:

Robin Draper, Alex Gazio, and Dalia Colon, Solomon's Castle 

You, the Authentic Florida Reader

It’s all for you. You are the reason I do what I do. Your enthusiasm, comments and input guide me each and every day. Your steady support inspires me through my authentic Florida travels. I rely on Authentic Florida reader recommendations and as a result of your direction and input, I have visited and personally experienced many adventures now followed by thousands of subscribers and social media fans.

Ready for the Zip Line at Treehoppers, Dade City

Authentic Florida Partners

I am so honored to be working with businesses and media outlets that are the ideal partners for Authentic Florida. They include Authentic Florida destinations, magazines, newspapers, charming bed & breakfast inns, Florida gardens, booksellers and gift sellers. I am proud to report that every partner enthusiastically supports the mission of Authentic Florida enabling me to share topics that fit the “authentic” mission.

My husband, Mike

Family & Friends

Let’s face it, family and friends make all the difference between a good life and a terrific one. Without unyielding family support, Authentic Florida would not be possible. Major kudos and love go to my husband Mike who has been on almost every Authentic Florida trek: kayaking mangrove tunnels, hiking pine forests, zip lining through oak trees, visiting honey farmers, picking strawberries, blueberries and tomatoes, hiking through the Everglades, fishing our way through the Florida Keys. He has tried every recipe I have posted and has suffered through every “tested” key lime pie! Also, my son James, who is off in college, is a big supporter of his mom’s adventures and travels and I am grateful for his support. And then there’s my own mom, brother and extended family - all have cheered me on.

My niece, mother and brother enjoying an Authentic Florida meal

And special thanks to my friend and“ bestie” Nancy who has read every post I have written; I am so grateful for her loyal support – always cheering me on – from the very day I launched. I also want to thank many others who have supported me, readers I haven’t met (but feel like I know them well), fellow bloggers, photographers and like-minded Florida fanatics. I want to also add my thanks to Authentic Florida guest bloggers Laura Albritton (MiamiforFamilies), Joyce Sparrow (Florida Library Association), Rick Kilby (Old Florida) and Ann Burch (writer), Tamara Armstrong (TamaraScharf) for their contributions.

Authentic Florida editor, Jay Davis

My Editor

Not many know that Authentic Florida’s true “secret sauce” is my editor, Jay Davis. Jay possesses many amazing virtues as an astute researcher, mind reader, intuitive writer and Florida-phile - like me - and we have enjoyed a wonderful friendship. Anyone who writes and doesn’t have an editor, has my sympathy, because an editor is essential – one that supports and understands your mission and true passion! And the day I met Jay was a blessed day as he is a native Floridian, former PR executive, passionate “techie” and photographer who takes my draft writing and fashions it into a much more interesting story every week. Thank you Jay!

Artist Brendan Coudal working on an Authentic Florida painting (unfinished)

Collaborative Art With A Friend: Artist Brendan Coudal

Thanks also to my artist friend Brendan Coudal. This talented local Florida artist and I have formed a collaborative effort. In addition to creating the artwork on the new website (above), he is creating an Authentic Florida painting and I get to share my ideas with him. It’s a “retro” painting that will resemble a vintage postcard. The state will be illustrated with beautiful icons (pelicans, key lime pies, pine forests) representing the Florida we love. I plan to promote the painting - it will be for sale - and then give readers the opportunity later to purchase posters, postcards and other items that illustrate the work.

If you don’t know Brendan’s work, head to his website and check out his art with retro gals, marine life work, and even his cats, Max & Phoebe. He is an avid fisherman and his work reflects the best of coastal living. His wife Nicole Coudal happens to be one of the finest Florida chefs I know, and her "coastal inspired" recipes and work can be found on her site, My Delicious Blog.

New Website Features

When the new website launches on August 1, expect to see not only the new look, but also a resource that will help you explore authentic Florida’s back roads. Much thanks goes to Lee Gaines and Matt Anderson of Milestone Marketing for their talented direction and design of the website’s look, feel and updated functionality.

Wow! I have a lot to celebrate this holiday. And I hope you do too. Thank you for being part of my many blessings! Happy 4th of July!

Branford, Florida

Bradley's Country Store, Tallahassee

To receive Authentic Florida's free ENEWs, featuring travel and living updates, delivered weekly, sign up on the home page Authentic Florida, voted Blog of the Year and Best Travel Blog at the Orlando Sunshine Awards.  

Talk About This Post on Authentic Florida

13 comments on "Celebrating the Old, New and Beloved"

Allan Hill on February 10, 2017 said:
I can never say enough about Florida and how much I love it there. I lived in Gainesville during junior high and visited Crescent Beach many times. Also lived in Orlando many years later for about four years and Daytona Beach was a favorite place to go. But over the past twenty years, St. Augustine has been my passion for vacations... and the inspiration for my website, http://staugustineadventure.com. Thanks for your blog. It is an inspiration!
Nancy Jackson-Wesley on July 5, 2016 said:
Congratulations BFF on 200th Newsletter! It is true what they say 'follow your passion' and you have shared it with so many of us grateful readers! Thank you for the shout-out, I've loved being part of your journey!
Kurt Schroeder on July 4, 2016 said:
Wishing you the best relaunch of a website that we all love now. Can't wait! All the best! Kurt xoxo
Robin Draper on July 4, 2016 said:
Thank you so much everyone! I am humbled by these heartfelt comments. More coming for your Authentic Florida's bucket list!
Gwen Mulliniks Lancaster on July 4, 2016 said:
Thanks so much for an authentic old Florida blog! I enjoyed seeing all the helpers you introduced in this post. I was born in Gainesville, 1945, grew up in Inverness, college in DeLand, Sterson Univ., and have lived in Ft. Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Hawthorne, Gainesville, Marianna, and adore the Forgotten Coast, especially St. George Island and Apalachicola. My graduate work brought me to Atlanta where I have lived since 1966, but my heart is in the old towns, gulf coast, and places like Crystal River, Apalachicola, and Wakulla Springs. I get back there 2-3 times a year. Thanks again for your site and all the local color you provide!!
Maryann Dunn on July 4, 2016 said:
Thanks for all the interesting information in your blog. There really is more to Florida than Disney. Please keep your stories, etc., coming!!
Diane Bedard on July 4, 2016 said:
This column is my favorite. Congratulations on 200 newsletters. WOW!
Your friendship and mentoring are a blessing to me and your blog just keeps getting better! Keep up the great work. I LOVE the art creation idea. It is great and so are you, my friend.
Diane Schertzer on July 4, 2016 said:
Congratulations, Robin! I'm so elated to receive Authentic Florida, with each new, publication. I love the topic choices for leisure, adventure, and the roads less traveled. I'm honored to know you, and can't wait for your new website embellishments... wishing you continued success.
Jamie Sildar on July 4, 2016 said:
Thanks for introducing me to a Florida I didnt know existed. My impressions had always been strip malls, highrises along beautiful A1A and scub pine where there was no landscaping. When I lived in Ft.bLaud in the early 70's there was only a small part of A1A (Hillsborough?) that had that mature FL growth I loved. I drove to Sarasota because Id read that it was charming...and in the 70's it was. I Admit not to being much of an outdoors person but loved staying in country inns for 45 years now. I like real....AUTHENTIC! Thanks for giving this ex NYer places to visit or just to know they exist...BTW I moved to Sarasota based on that memory from long ago....of course it now has high rises and lots of strip malls, but still has lots of old growth mature green...even right outside the back of my house. Happy Fourth and thanks again for keeping it real.
Penny Thomas on July 4, 2016 said:
After living in Florida since 1971 I finally found you. So glad to read and see some really interesting places and people. I have fallen in love with the Florida Highway Men. I would see them sometimes back in the late 70's early 80's. Always good reading. Keep up the good work.
Lisa Coleman on July 4, 2016 said:
Thank you, Robin, for turning your love of Florida into an adventure for all of us! My "bucket list" keeps getting longer and longer as you discover and share your journeys with us. I can see, taste, smell, hear and feel ...all things Florida, through you....and am so grateful for this living connection to my native state (especially during the times when I cannot physically be there!). I didn't think AF could get any better, but here you go again. : ) I, too, love your new logo/ artwork! Thanks to all of you behind the scenes and congratulations! Happy 4th
Nancy Long on July 4, 2016 said:
Congratulations and thank you Robin for such a wonderful guide to Florida living as well as delicious recipes. I love your new logo and wish you all the best. Happy 4th.
Danielle on July 4, 2016 said:
Happy 4th to you, Robin! I'm so excited to see your new web design. I love Brendan Coudal's work!

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