Haslam’s Book Store Has Beach Reads – And a Lot More

Visit Florida’s sun-drenched Gulf Coast in the company of Bluegreen Resorts, and you’ll find all the state’s opportunities for outdoor fun within easy reach of your Bluegreen at TradeWinds resort in St. Pete Beach. Take a day trip to enjoy the spirit of Africa at Busch Gardens in nearby Tampa, drive up to Orlando for a magical experience at Walt Disney World, or go swimming, sailing, or water-skiing at any of the area’s sparkling beaches. The Tampa Bay area also offers you numerous one-of-a-kind shops and stores. One that you may not have heard about will be a favorite destination for any bookworm in your family: Haslam’s Book Store in St. Petersburg.

Haslam’s is Florida’s biggest bookstore, with hundreds of thousands of titles lining its avenues of brightly lit shelves. New and used books include both popular and esoteric works, as well as rare books and collectible editions. Children’s books get plenty of shelf space, as do titles about Florida and those by Florida writers. The store, which invites hours – or even an entire day – of browsing, sprawls over most of a city block in St. Petersburg’s downtown.

Haslam’s got its start during the Great Depression, when John and Mary Haslam opened it as a magazine exchange and rental library. Still family-owned and operated, the store has become a beloved community institution and a hang-out for local book lovers of all ages.

Book-signings and other events have brought a wide range of Florida authors, educators, and political figures to the store, including former governor Charlie Crist, and local historians, travel writers, and writers on the state’s natural history. Nationally popular authors who have visited Haslam’s include Diana Gabaldon, James W. Hall, and Robert Macomber.

Perhaps the most famous author associated with Haslam’s is Beat poet and novelist Jack Kerouac, who grew up in Central Florida and was a frequent visitor. Kerouac’s ghost is reputed to still haunt the store, regularly shifting his own books to more prominent locations.

The Lodge Alley Inn Exemplifies Old Charleston

When you spend your vacation with Bluegreen Resorts in Charleston, South Carolina, it’s easy to immerse yourself in the elegance and beauty characteristic of the Old South. The interior of Bluegreen’s luxuriously appointed vacation property, The Lodge Alley Inn, is filled with classic European refinement: soft Oriental carpeting, walls of red brick, pinewood floors, and cozy fireplaces that set the mood for curling up and relaxing after a day spent sightseeing in this charming city.

Among the stunning examples of historic architecture you can see on your trip to Charleston are the Revolutionary War-era Heyward-Washington House, the 1820s Aiken-Rhett House, and Drayton Hall, the oldest publicly accessible unrestored plantation home in the United States. However, did you know that your home-away-from-home, The Lodge Alley Inn, has a fascinating history of its own?

In the 1700s, Lodge Alley, within the French Quarter inside the old city walls, was near the center of Charleston’s hub of shipping, warehousing, and mercantile activities. Businessmen liked the area, because it afforded them the ability to observe the progress of their shipments from their own homes.

Named after the Masonic lodge only a short distance away on East Bay Street, The Lodge Alley Inn is constructed from a series of restored warehouse buildings that were saved from demolition by historically minded Charlestonians in the 1970s. Today, the resort’s exteriors and interiors reflect a subtle melding of past elegance and contemporary comfort. Each guest room has its individual character and décor, with spiral staircases and four-poster beds among the distinguishing features.

Thanks to the far-seeing and courageous efforts of the Save Historic Charleston group, not only The Lodge Alley Inn, but also numerous other treasured historic buildings in its East Bay Street and French Quarter neighborhoods, have been preserved for the enjoyment of future generations of South Carolina vacationers.

Aiken-Rhett House Showcases Charleston’s Elegant Past

Only about a 20-minute walk from the luxurious accommodations at Bluegreen Resorts’ The Lodge Alley Inn, the Aiken-Rhett House Museum gives visitors a peek into Charleston, South Carolina’s historic past. The house, originally built in the 1820s, is among the city’s most well-preserved buildings.

This house is a definite must see for those who want to get a true feel of what life was really like in mid-19th century Charleston. Many of the objects purchased by the Aiken family remain in their original condition in the rooms in which the family actually used them. The house has not undergone restoration, but remains in an “as found” state as near to that of its first residents as possible.

In the 1830s, William Aiken, Jr., who would later become a South Carolina governor, and his wife, Harriet, embarked on an extensive project of rebuilding and enhancing the home bequeathed to them by William’s late father, an Irish immigrant and merchant. To the original classic “double house” with two rooms on either side of a central hall, the couple added much additional floor space. They also renovated the first floor. The elegance of the home was maintained by a large cadre of enslaved African-Americans, who lived within the several outbuildings located behind the house. Those outbuildings, containing a kitchen, a laundry, a carriage house, and a stable, have also been preserved so that visitors can envision the world of the highly skilled cooks, carriage drivers, gardeners, and seamstresses who lived their lives in service to the Aiken family.

In the years just before the Civil War, the Aikens constructed an art gallery to house the many fine pieces they had collected on their extensive travels in Europe. William and Harriet Aiken were particularly interested in acquiring paintings attributed to Old Masters such as Raphael. While today’s evaluators have pronounced many of the works in the Aiken collection to be of dubious authenticity, the collection remains the only example of a private fine art gallery of the period to survive with its contents nearly intact. The gallery has undergone a small degree of restoration, and curators use a climate control system to protect the beauty of the works on display.

The Aiken-Rhett House, situated at 48 Elizabeth Street, is open seven days a week, with adult general admission only $12.

Navajo Creation Myth Shows Beauty and Power of Ancient Storytelling

When you choose to spend your vacation with Bluegreen Resorts at the Cibola Vista Resort and Spa in Peoria, Arizona, you’ll find it easy to explore the rich history and culture of the Navajo people who live today in the northeastern part of Arizona and in the adjacent corners of New Mexico and Utah. The Navajo are renowned for their skill as silversmiths and for their work with turquoise and a variety of gemstones. They also create stunning woven goods and pottery.

Like most of the world’s other distinct cultural groups, the Navajo continue to re-tell the stories told to them by their ancestors in order to make sense of the world and their place in it. The Navajo legends having to do with the creation of the earth and its people are especially engaging.

According to Navajo mythology, the first of the “Diné” (meaning the Navajo people) originated in a primeval world of darkness, called Nihodilhil. In this world of darkness, there were four corners, and each corner held a colored cloud—one black, one white, one yellow, and one blue.

In the early times, only Holy People and four varieties of insects lived in the First World of Nihodilhil. The black and white clouds met and formed the first man, and with him the first white corn. The yellow and blue clouds met and formed the first woman, and with her the first yellow corn. In addition, the first woman brought with her a piece of turquoise, a white shell, and a yucca plant.

First Man burned a crystal to make a fire, and First Woman burned her turquoise, and by seeing each other’s light they found one another. They were joined by a coyote, who knew the secrets under the water, and by a second coyote, called First Angry, then by groups of spider ants, black ants, wasps, and many other creatures. Through a series of adventures, these original beings rose up through a series of later worlds, colored blue, yellow, and finally white. On these journeys, they met many other creatures, birds, holy people, and gods.

In the Fourth World, the man and woman built the first hogans and learned to use flint and wood to make fire. The four seasons came to this world, and so did monsters and tricksters. The hero Monster Slayer went out to vanquish the forces of Cold Woman, Hunger Man, Poverty, and Old Age. But when they all convinced him that without them life on earth could not proceed, he spared them, and that decision led to the world we know today.

Egmont Key in Tampa Bay Combines Nature and History

Bluegreen at TradeWinds, Bluegreen Resorts’ beautifully appointed vacation destination in St. Pete Beach, Florida, will serve as your entrée to Gulf Coast fun for the entire family. At Bluegreen, you’ll find multiple entertainment possibilities as you explore the rich history and theme park excitement of Tampa, the laid-back charm of St. Petersburg, and the natural beauty of the surrounding area.

Lovers of the outdoors won’t want to miss a trip to the national wildlife refuge at Egmont Key State Park, home to roseate spoonbills and a variety of other seabirds, as well as gopher tortoises, box turtles, and nesting loggerhead sea turtles. Plant life includes sea grasses, sea oats, and the strangler fig, a tropical and sub-tropical species that grows in a sprawling pattern across its host tree. On Egmont Key, at the mouth of Tampa Bay, you can also see the famous lighthouse, built before the Civil War and still in use today, as well as Fort Dade, built to forestall attack during the Spanish-American War.

Egmont Key offers you the opportunity to go snorkeling, enjoy a picnic, or just clamber around the functional lighthouse or the ruins of the fort. Offshore, there are even the remains of a sea mine, while a secluded beach near the fort is a perfect place to explore for shells.

You can get to Egmont Key in one of two ways: Take a private charter boat from the mainland, or take the public ferry, certified by the United States Coast Guard, that makes daily runs from Fort De Soto County Park. Once you’re on the island, be prepared to do plenty of walking. Wear comfortable shoes that are suitable for uneven ground, and bring a supply of water. The sand in the island’s interior can become very hot; because of the climate, make sure to cover up with sunscreen, a hat, and light, loose clothing.

Remember that alcohol is prohibited in Florida’s state parks, and that you should not attempt to disturb the wildlife – particularly the turtles – or remove any of the artifacts from the historic fort.