eBella_ExtraLogo_2021_Chartruese_first issue of month.jpg

Summertime, Summertime, Sum-Sum Summertime

Presenting SWFL ponderances and peculiarities, even if this isn’t the most wonderful time of the year

Those of us who endure the full cycle of “seasons” in Southwest Florida know that summer presents suffocatingly steamy and scorching conditions.

But we’re looking on the bright side of things that get us through sum-sum-summertime, much as our friends in North Dakota get through w-w-w-w-winter.

We follow the journey of boat captain Kristina Voigt, who reinvented herself in the early months of the pandemic — something one New York couple is entirely grateful for.

Floridians tend to gravitate north in the summer for a few days or a few weeks. World traveler and Southwest Florida artist David Acevedo gives us plenty of reasons to get way out of town this summer, and for those who want to stay closer to home, we provide reasons why a day trip up the road to Punta Gorda is worthwhile.

To the surprise of many Southwest Florida newcomers, summer vegetable gardening presents many challenges. University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences shares abundant resources for navigating our unique growing climate.

And, lest we forget, Southwest Floridians still love the outdoors, even as the UV rays beat down mercilessly. We provide information about a new product that might just help you avoid the sun’s damaging rays.

Summer here can be brutal, as it can be in every other state in the nation. We’re grateful that Florida has basically ubiquitous air conditioning that keeps us cooler than in other hot-hot-hot states in the country.

Literally and figuratively, life is easier when you keep your cool.

 

CHAPTER 91

 
 
 

DAY TRIPPING

Ease on Up the Road

Discover Punta Gorda, the little city that doesn’t sleep

by Kathy Grey

It’s only an hour’s drive from 5th Avenue South in Naples to the city of Punta Gorda, situated between Fort Myers and Sarasota. Located on Charlotte Harbor, Punta Gorda is defined by its quiet sophistication, historic ambiance, bricked streets, fine cuisine and impenetrable sense of community.

We’ve amassed a collection of experiences day-trippers might enjoy in Punta Gorda, the quaintest little city in Southwest Florida.

ATTRACTIONS

Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens

5827 Riverside Drive, Punta Gorda

More Information

This 30-acre waterfront oasis encompasses the diversity of five ecosystems, including marshlands, wetlands, mangroves, uplands and tidal basin. Flowering trees and plants bloom throughout the year, and more than 15,000-square-feet of boardwalks and docks provide optimum viewing of the garden’s vast sculptures.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial 

Laishley Park, 200 Harbor Walk Drive, Punta Gorda

More Information

It stands as a symbol of America’s honor and recognition of the men and women who served and sacrificed their lives in the Vietnam War. Inscribed on the black granite walls are the names of more than 58,000 men and women who gave their lives or remain missing. The Punta Gorda replica is approximately 50% of the size of the original memorial wall in Washington, D.C.

Vietnam Wall of Southwest Florida_WEB.jpg

Vietnam Wall of Southwest Florida at Laishley Park

Military Heritage Museum

900 W. Marion Ave., Punta Gorda

More Information

The Military Heritage Museum honors veterans from all branches and eras of U.S. military service to help the public better understand the contributions and various experiences of American servicemen and women through authentic artifacts and individual stories. View the Museum’s Gulf Theater schedule here.

 

Fishermen’s Village

1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda

More Information

Widely known throughout the region, Fishermen's Village is a waterfront shopping, entertainment and resort complex situated along Charlotte Harbor. Visitors can spend a full day exploring its offerings of more than 30 shops and restaurants, a full-service marina and a resort with 47 timeshare villas on the second floor.

 

Visual Arts Center

210 Maud St., Punta Gorda

More Information

The Visual Arts Center, located across from Fishermen’s Village, offers ever-changing exhibits that are free to explore. Its gift shop is filled with curated items created by local artists, and fine art supplies are available in its art and supply store.

Punta Gorda Historic Murals

Mural Map

More Information

Guided and self-guided tours are available to explore the area’s history as told through striking murals created by area artists.

iStock-484345623.jpg

The bridge walk from Punta Gorda to Port Charlotte provides breathtaking views of sky and harbor.

DINING

The Perfect Caper

121 E. Marion Ave., Punta Gorda

More Information

Jeanie Roland is the chef/owner of the city’s flagship gourmet restaurant. She “Beat Bobby Flay” at his own Food Network game a few years back and has authored two cookbooks. Since 2002, The Perfect Caper has been a favorite destination for Gulf Coast diners everywhere.

 

F.M. Don’s

201 W. Marion Ave., Punta Gorda

More Information

This upscale/casual eatery specializes in seafood and other Florida fare, masterfully created by Chef Keith Meyer. F.M. Don’s, with its lively bar and live music, is owned by hometown restaurateur Chris Evans, who has seen his share of successful dining establishments in the city.

 

Hemingway’s Grille

139 W. Marion Ave., Punta Gorda

More Information

This historic red-brick tavern in the heart of Punta Gorda’s dining district unites gracious hospitality with friends and good food. The restaurant’s singular architecture draws diners in for a singular experience.

 

 

The Celtic Ray Public House

145 E. Marion Ave., Punta Gorda

More Information

Known locally as “The C-Ray,” this traditional Irish pub features quality imported beers and freshly made family recipes, including its famous fish and chips. With its entertainment vibe and undeniably Irish flair, this place is unique not only to Punta Gorda but to the Southwest Florida region.

 

Perch 360° at the Wyvern

101 E. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda

More Information

Located on the rooftop of the Wyvern Hotel, this beautifully landscaped bar and restaurant overlooks downtown Punta Gorda and Charlotte Harbor. Its tapas menu is extensive, as are its signature cocktails, craft beers and boutique wines.

 

 

Carmelo’s Italian Ristorante

321 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda

More Information

Chef Carmelo prides himself in authentic Italian cuisine, including some old family Sicilian recipes. Considered one of the most romantic restaurants in Charlotte County, Carmelo’s also accommodates special group events.

SUN LOVER ALERT

Ban the Burn

This sticker might have the potential of saving your skin

by Kathy Grey

As this chapter focuses on summertime, we’re giving a nod to a product we recently learned about: a sticker that works as a sunscreen ticker, or timer.

It’s called SPOTMYUV (“spot my UV”), a wearable sticker that alerts the wearer to reapply sunscreen.

Aside from sunscreen, we can’t think of a more practical necessity for your beach bag.

SPOTMYUV features Dermatrue, which, manufacturers say, is proven to absorb sunscreen and wear off at the same rate as your last application of sunscreen protection does. The sticker’s color-changing layer warns you that it’s time to reapply sunscreen.

SPOTMYUV (1).jpeg
SMU_rippledSand_1500PX_WEB.jpg

Each time you cover the sticker with sunscreen, the sticker “SPOT” turns clear, indicating you’re protected from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

When your sunscreen wears off, SPOTMYUV turns purple to remind you to reapply, and each “SPOT” lasts up to one day.

Although èBella has not tested the product’s efficacy, the technology suggests SPOTMYUV has the potential to literally save your skin.

To learn more, visit SPOTMYUV.com. The product is available there and on Amazon.

 
 

TRAVEL

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! 

Sharing the how and why of my artistic wanderlust

by David Acevedo

Let me tell you why I travel.

I travel because every time I visit a new city, interact with the locals, drink the local beer and eat their cuisine, I grow.

There is nothing more inspiring to me than the process of discovery. I have a legitimate desire to learn about the history of an old city and explore other cultures, visit their museums and see how they live. The art and architecture of these old cities feed my soul, and I am fascinated by the various forms of public transportation and infrastructure.

I return home eager to work really hard, get all my ducks in a row again and start planning to hop back on a plane as soon as possible.

As an artist, I use some of these experiences in my work, as well.

That’s why I travel.

If you are unsure or hesitant about traveling, don’t be. It’s nothing but a flight and a hotel or Airbnb stay away. It’s nothing out of the ordinary in terms of planning and financing.

 

Don’t know the place and worry about getting lost? Almost every country I visit has a city card/pass and hop-on/off buses, which are very affordable and provide you with maps and other tools to navigate the city. Plus, you always save money and have express queue into many of the main attractions, museums and monuments. Transportation in the city is usually included with these passes, making it super easy to get around.

Worried about the language? Not only do all these countries use English as a second language, but there’s always Google Translator.

All other details? Google and research, friends! For travelers, YouTube is a good source for videos, both amateur and professional.

Worried about the costs? Traveling internationally is not as expensive as you may think. If you can use a computer, you can book your own flights and make your own schedule. You want to do what the locals do. Talk to them and find out what they enjoy about their city rather than just going to the touristy areas.

Local travel is just as enriching. Road trips? Oh, yes.

Get out and explore. I guess what I’m trying to say is, travel, dammit!

Acevedo at Lumen Bar, Budapest_WEB.jpg

David Acevedo is a mixed media artist who currently manages The Union Artist Studios on the Alliance for the Arts campus in Fort Myers. He is a founding member of the Downtown Fort Myers Art Walk, and his artwork has been exhibited and collected in the U.S., Scotland, Germany, Canada and Puerto Rico. www.acevedostudio.com

TLT_fullVert_eXtra__05_18.jpg
eXtraAd_fULLVertVersion.jpg

FEATURE

She’s the Captain of Her Own Ship

Life led Kristina Voigt to chart her own course

by Kathy Grey

Readers might recall these Southwest Florida news headlines from a year ago: “Boat captain rescues two swimmers from strong current near Keewaydin Island,” “Naples boat captain rescues two tourists swept away by current” and others like them

In brief, the incident involved two New York tourists — one who could not swim — at risk of being swept away by a strong current and possibly drowning in the waters around Keewaydin Island. A boat captain and a registered nurse hopped on a boat, took to the water and lowered the boat’s ladder, saving both people in the process.

That life-saving boat captain was Kristina Voigt.

Naples Beginnings

Voigt was born in Boston and moved with her family to Naples when she was 4. She and her family have lived here more than 30 years.

Voigt married at age 20, and at 21, she became a first-time mom. Her children are daughter Riley and son Chase, now ages 13 and 11, respectively.

A devoted stay-at-home mom, Voigt helped her husband in his business and enjoyed recreational boating on their boats in Royal Harbor.

In late 2019, the couple split. Voigt needed to find work to support her children. After the divorce, Voigt sold goods on Facebook Marketplace, cleaned houses and bartended.

And then there was the pandemic.

“I was really unhappy,” she says. “I was in a dark place.”

IMG-9541-Facetune-24-04-2022-19-07-35_WEB.jpg

Voigt with her children, Chase and Riley

The Next Step

A friend suggested Voigt get her captain’s license as an operator of a passenger vessel. Voigt was further inspired by her friend, Julie, owner of In The Pink!, an ice cream boat that caters to boaters at Keewaydin Island and beyond.

“I got my license during quarantine,” Voigt says. “I realized I could have a fun boating life and make money at the same time.”

She selected the perfect vessel, a 12-passenger Hurricane deck boat that would comfortably accommodate six customers on each tour. Borrowing a boat trailer from Naples, she drove to Miami and brought her “dream boat” home.  

In September 2020, six months into the pandemic, she launched SunDazed Boat Tours, taking small groups of people to Keewaydin Island’s miles of sandy beach. Because of the pandemic, people were looking for outdoor activities, and the business took off quickly.

“I am the first female boat tour captain in Naples whose business is independently owned … and my office is an island every day.”

IMG-0744_WEB.jpg

Kristina Voigt (pink headband) surrounded by family Ralph Gogliormella, Theresa Lorenzo (aunt), Riley Voigt (daughter), Sharon Gogliormella (mother), Michael Gogliormella (brother), Gizmo (dog), Chase Voigt (son), Courtney Gogliormella (sister)

Diving In

Voigt takes passengers on four- and six-hour tours and provides her guests with beach chairs, towels, umbrellas and plenty of water from the cooler.

“I wait on them and give them a great experience,” she says.

One would think this would be a “chill” career, but if there’s down time while her passengers revel in the sand, Voigt works, responding to inquiries, promoting her business and attending to anything that needs attending to.

Her first mate is her shih tzu named Gizmo, who enjoys running around on the island. (Her other dog, a chocolate Lab named Huckleberry, prefers to hang at home.)

When her children are with their father, Voigt works as much as she can. But when they’re with her, she finishes work at 2 p.m. to pick them up from school and shuttle them to their afterschool activities.

To Voigt, family is everything. That includes her parents, brother and sister who moved as a family to Naples when she was 4. Her parents each live about 4 miles away, and her sister and brother still live in the area.

Manifesting the Dream

In season, she often takes twice-daily tours.

She protects herself from the Florida sun, eats well, works out every day and, of course, her dogs and kids keep her busy.

“I take care of myself. If I didn’t, I’m no good for anybody,” she says.

Her future plans include just what she’s doing now.

“I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing. My business has done so well because I put so much focus on that and my kids so we can do fun things together.”

She carries a quote, a mantra of sorts, which resonates with her every day: The richest person is not the one who has the most, but who needs the least.

“I’m happy and content with growing my business,” Voigt says, “and just having a nice life.”

Primary Election Important Dates & Deadlines

Vote-by-Mail Ballot Request Deadline

5 p.m.

on August 13, 2022

Voter Registration/Political Party Affiliation Deadline

 

July 25, 2022

Early
Voting

August 13-20

10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Election
Day

August 23

7 a.m.-7 p.m. 

A TASTE OF SWFL

Digging into Summer Vegetable Gardening

University of Florida shares expert insight

Used with permission from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS)

Florida gardens are unique in that many growers have their off-season in the summer. Florida’s summer sun takes a toll on traditional crops familiar in more northern gardens.

New gardeners in Florida are often frustrated by garden failures in the summer. Good summer vegetables in Florida have to produce and thrive in muggy heat. Choosing appropriate crops and adapted varieties is the first step in ensuring a successful harvest.

For summer gardens to be successful, summer vegetables in Florida need a good start that enables them to stand up to disease and insect pressure in the humid, hot weather. To learn how to prepare and care for your garden, see our information on vegetable gardening.

Some of the following crops can withstand the heat and keep your vegetable garden productive. Some of these crops require earlier planting but will keep producing in summer heat. Others can be planted and established right in the middle of hot weather. The dates listed are outdoor planting dates for the South Florida region.

LIMA BEANS

Recommended varieties: Fordhook 242, Henderson, Jackson Wonder, Dixie (Speckled) Butterpea, Early Thorogreen

When to plant: Until May

EGGPLANT

Recommended varieties: Black Beauty, Dusky, Long, Ichiban, Cloud Nine

When to plant: Until March

OKRA

Recommended varieties: Clemson Spineless, Emerald, Annie Oakley II, Cajun Delight

When to plant: Starting in August

SOUTHERN PEAS (FIELD PEAS, COW PEAS)

Recommended varieties: California Blackeye No. 5, Pinkeye Purple Hull, Texas Cream

When to plant: Starting in August

PEPPERS

Recommended varieties: Bell: California Wonder, Red Knight; Sweet: Sweet Banana, Mariachi, Cubanelle; Hot: Jalapeño M, Cherry Bomb, Hungarian Hot Wax, Long Cayenne, Habañero

When to plant: Starting in August

SWEET POTATOES

Recommended varieties: Centennial, Beauregard, Vardaman

When to plant: Until July. Their roots enrich the soil as a cover crop.

WATERMELON

Recommended varieties: Jubilee (Florida Giant), Crimson Sweet, Sugar Baby, Mickey Lee

When to plant: Until April

NEW OUTLOOKS

If you are looking for new or alternative ideas, generally, crops and varieties from Southeast Asia, another humid subtropical zone, will do well in Florida’s climate. Also look to tropical varieties from Caribbean countries to the south.

One hurdle gardeners face is the desire for the summertime tomato. Tomatoes are not considered a summer crop in Florida, mainly because of physiological limitations — tomatoes will not set fruit if nighttime temperatures are above 70°F. The exception is the Everglades variety, and cherry tomatoes will sometimes keep producing in the summer.

iStock-1141571139.jpg

Everglades Tomatoes

If you would prefer to not grow a garden during the summer, take advantage of the heat by solarizing your garden soil to kill weeds, pathogens and nematodes in preparation for fall planting.

If you have questions about vegetable varieties for your area or cultural recommendations for different crops, contact your local Extension agent.

Adapted and excerpted from “The Summer Vegetable Garden,” UF/IFAS Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology; S. Park Brown, et al, "Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide" (SP 103), Horticultural Sciences Department

UF/IFAS Collier Points of View

by Kathy Grey

We spoke with Tom Becker, Collier County UF/IFSA specialist in residential horticulture, who advocates solarizing your garden soil. If you have two garden beds, one can be used for this resting period and another for planting.

Container gardening, of course, is year-round in Southwest Florida, and it’s effective at keeping nematodes away from plants and herbs.

Becker is particularly fond of Everglades tomatoes that grow well in Southwest Florida’s summer swelter. “These tiny, delicious beauties are the only tomatoes that are resistant to the heat and humidity of Southwest Florida summers, and, he says, “The taste is unforgettable.”

The quality of soil and its organic matter are, of course, the basis for a successful garden. For example, Becker says, soil in Pennsylvania typically contains 6-8% organic matter, giving them a good start.

In contrast, sandy Florida soil contains around 1% organic matter — something Becker refers to as “moon dust.” Fill soil in construction shaves off the nutrients, resulting in alkaline soil that thwarts the release of nutrients. Click here to learn more about the care and feeding of your Florida vegetable garden. Also, UF/IFAS has a soil testing lab to test your soil and provide a detailed analysis with recommendations.

To learn more about the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), visit https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu.

EMPOWERED LIVING

Exercising Your Freedom to Vote

Collier County Supervisor of Elections office presents upcoming timelines

As we’ve just celebrated Independence Day 2022, this is a good time to remind Americans of one of their most fundamental rights: the right to vote.

 

In order for our government to function and respond to the needs of our people, citizens must play a role in shaping it. The elections in 2022 are of great importance, and the Collier County Supervisor of Elections office has made it its mission to remind voters how crucial their voices are this year.

 

The Primary Election on Aug. 23 will not only help shape the November general election, but there are also several contests that will be decided after the primary election day.

 

Florida is a closed primary state. This means that only voters who are registered members of a political party may vote for their respective party’s candidate during a primary election. However, all voters, regardless of political party affiliation, are eligible to vote in nonpartisan contests such as school board and judicial races.

iStock-1383121930.jpg

Visit www.CollierVotes.gov to register to vote, update your voter information and to learn more about important dates and deadlines for this year’s elections.

 

The leaders in 2022 will be our decision-makers in our community and our voice in Tallahassee and in Washington, D.C. In 2022, the Collier County Supervisor of Elections urges you to vote and voice what is important to you.