Archive for June, 2014

What it’s Like to Be a Kid in Punta Gorda—Then & Now

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014


Livin' the easy life in Punta Gorda.

Livin’ the easy life in Punta Gorda.

Arguably, the greatest thing about being a grown up is the ability to dramatize your childhood.

You can tell a kid that you walked miles uphill in the snow every day. You made the trek in your one pair of shoes—which were sandals—and you never complained. You appreciated what you had.

And the kid might doubt you, but they can never quite prove you’re exaggerating.

Unless you grew up in Punta Gorda. Even children know the weather here is perfect and always has been. The downside of spending my childhood in small town Florida is my nieces and nephews think we had it easy.

Well, they’re wrong. They have it easy. Punta Gorda was a rough place in the 1980s. And today, I’m going to tell you why. So, if you happen to run into any small people with the last name Andreae, you can back me up.

5 Reasons Today’s Kids should Respect their Punta Gorda Elders

When I was a kid…

…If we wanted an ice cream cone, we had to convince our mom to drive 25 minutes to Twistee Treat in Port Charlotte. There were no ice cream shops in Punta Gorda. Now, there are two. When I take the kids for ice cream, they have a choice. We never had a choice.

… Gilchrist park had an old rusty slide that almost killed my younger brother, Alex. He attempted to jump from the ladder to the top of the slide. He missed the slide, fell to the ground, and ended up with stitches in his face. To be fair to Gilchrist, this may have been Alex’s fault. It was pretty dumb.

Still, Gilchrist has updated their equipment, and now there are several parks in town.  The Bayshore Live Oak park playground floor has a soft padding. Padding! A kid could fall off that slide and not end up with stitches. What’s the point of a young boy doing something dumb if he doesn’t get stitches? These kids are soft.

… Every Halloween, my mom drove us to PGI. (There was only a smattering of houses in Burnt Store Isles, but we’ll get to that in a minute.) She’d drive around looking for a few homes with lights on and drop us off.


Now, the entire downtown transforms into a giant Haunted House/candy machine. People are practically throwing candy at the kids. A kid could stand in one spot and fill up their bag. These kids don’t know what hard is.

… When we moved to Burnt Store Isles, there were five houses. Everything else was a vacant lot. Cable TV didn’t come to BSI until I was in junior high. We made our own fun. We could see US 41 from the house, and we would count moving vans as they went by. Allied, Mayflower—I knew all the big moving companies.

The kids today would never think up something so interesting. They’re busy playing with their neighborhood friends. We didn’t have other kids and fun. We had vans and counting. And we were happy.

(Ok, some kids moved into the neighborhood early on and having 900 vacant lots and a golf course as your playground can be pretty fun. But that’s not the point. Stay focused.)

… There was no stop sign at the Taylor and Cooper intersection. Notice the angle of the intersection below. The high school is just north of this picture.

tayloreWhen we were first time drivers and wanted to check Taylor for oncoming traffic, my generation contorted our necks like pimply-faced owls. I can only guess how much money back and neck doctors have made from us over the years.

But not anymore. Sorry, docs! Since then they’ve installed those fancy schmancy Stop signs on Taylor. Today Punta Gorda teenagers barely have to move their heads. We just give them safety. They don’t even have to work for it.

Did you grow up in Punta Gorda?

If you did, you know how hard we had it. Please share this post with your friends. We must ban together and let the children of today know how easy they have it.



Quiz time! Which Punta Gorda Celebrity Are You?

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Quiz mania has hit the internet. If you’re on social media, you’ve seen quizzes predicting anything from which 80’s singer you resemble best to which state you should be living in. I already know Florida is the best state, so I created a quiz just for Punta Gorda residents.

You are just 7 simple questions away from knowing which Punta Gorda celebrity you’re most like. Take the quiz now!

Father’s Day: 5 Gifts for Punta Gorda Dads

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014
Punta Gorda Father's day

These girls think their dad rocks!

Father’s day: It’s said to be the hardest holiday to shop for.

You ask him what he wants, and he tells you he wants quiet.

Or a nap. Or a few hours of uninterrupted sports on TV.

But your dad deserves better whether he wants it or not. Finding the perfect Father’s day gift is difficult, especially when he doesn’t seem to have any clue what he should get.

As always, we’re here to help. We’ve put together a list of Father’s day ideas for the Florida dad.

      1. Go tarpon fishing: It’s no coincidence that Father’s day falls at a good time to go tarpon fishing. Well, maybe it’s a coincidence, but it’s one you can use. All over southwest Florida, charters and guides take newbies and experienced anglers for the sport fishing adventure of their lives.
      2. Make a trip to an amusement park: We stole this idea from our Mother’s day post, because it’s a good one. Easy access to amusement parks is a big advantage to Florida life. Yet so many of us think of going, but never do. This Father’s day gather up the kids, grandkids, and take the whole family to Disney.
      3. Buy him a few rounds of golf or golf gear or anything golf related: Florida dads golf. If your dad lives in Florida and doesn’t golf, he will. It’s inevitable. And when he starts, you’ll be able to consistently bring up what a good child you are for getting him started.
      4. Go for the traditional Father’s day gift: Does your dad appreciate a t-shirt announcing his beer drinking habits? Or his beach bum status? You laugh, but remember what he really wanted for Father’s day was a nap. Nothing goes better with a nap than a comfy t-shirt. Check out the shops in Fishermen’s Village to find the perfect dad lounge wear.
      5. Take him out to eat: Dad’s love to eat. Everyone knows it. River City Grill is open from 1:00-8:00 p.m. They’re serving surf ‘n’ turf specials and the regular menu. If you haven’t been to Hurricane Charley’s yet this Sunday is the day to go, they’re serving up bbq.

Know someone who hasn’t gotten their dad a gift yet? Help them out. Email them this post or share it on social media.



Southwest Florida Fishing (part three): Tarpon Fishing Every Local Angler’s Favorite Sport

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Tarpon fishing southwest Florida

It’s the fish every local angler wants to catch.

It’s not just a fish. It’s bragging rights.

Reeling in a Tarpon is an adventure. They’re big and they fight. But if you catch one, you’ve got a great story to tell.

Tarpons are so much a part of life in Southwest Florida, they are the local high school mascot. That’s right, Charlotte High is also the Home of the Fighting Tarpon. So, when you go out to snag one remember who you’re up against!


The tarpon is a thick-bodied fish with a forked tail. It’s green or blue on top and silver on the sides and underneath. They range greatly in size. The world record is 286 pounds and 9 ounces. Typically, they range from 2-8 feet long and weigh between 75 and 200 pounds.


Tarpons are catch and release fish, as they are not good eating. You can buy a tarpon tag allowing you to keep one fish as a trophy. There is a one tag per person per year limit as well as a one tag per vessel limit.

Where to find tarpon:

You can find tarpon in channels, inlets, river mouths, and large passes. Many anglers fish for tarpon from bridges or piers. The tarpon likes warm water, so they stay south for the winter. In summer, they spread to northern Florida.

Here in Southwest Florida, you can find tarpons in shallow flats and anglers use fly and casting tackle to catch them.

How to Catch:

It seems most Florida anglers have their theories on the best way to reel in a big one. But all agree you need a heavy tackle. For the big ones in passes, channels, and deep bays, you’ll need lines of at least 30 pounds.  On shallow flats use heavier gear. You’ll need at least: 15-pound line on your spinning and casting gear, 10-weight fly outfit with a 16-pound tippet.

Live mullet, small crabs, and pinfish seem to work best when catching tarpon. Although, dead bait works for some.

After you hook a tarpon, let them run a bit. They are powerful fish. If you pull to tightly, they’ll break your line.

Eating tarpon:

Don’t even try it. They are not good eating and you can’t keep them. As stated above, tarpon are catch and release only unless you have a tag.

Upcoming tarpon fishing fun:

This Saturday, June 7th is the Suncoast Tarpon Shootout in Bradenton. Proceeds go to All Children’s Hospital and Heroes on the Water. For more information check out their website.