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Tag Archives: Melinda Gray

Sunshine in Goodland

On the opening night of his exhibit, Donald Sunshine and his wife Joanna greeted every visitor. They are pictured here with Marco Island residents, Judy and Ron Hattendorf.

GOODLAND LIFE Melinda Gray melinda@coastalbreezenews.com It’s no secret that upon my first visit to Goodland, I recognized it to be a very unique place, unmatched in its beauty and rich history. As I left the main road and first arrived on this little island, the feeling of being transported back in time was so overwhelming that it was elemental in my decision to leave Ohio and move here in search of a better life. It’s hard to describe the pride I feel when others get to see my beloved home as I do, but recently I had an opportunity to ... Read More »

Deck the Halls at GCA’s Annual Holiday Bazaar

Marker 8.5 owner Michael Duncan.PHOTOS By Melinda Gray

GOODLAND LIFE Melinda Gray melinda@coastalbreezenews.com It’s hard to believe that another holiday season is just around the corner. It’s almost time for big family gatherings, elaborate meals, decorations and presents; and while I didn’t have the pleasure of being in Florida this time last year, I’m very excited knowing where I will do all of my 2014 Christmas shopping: the Goodland Civic Association (GCA) Annual Holiday Bazaar. Marking its second season at Margood Harbor Park, the annual event will be held on November 15-16, 10 AM-4 PM. Last year, nearly 70 vendors — many from Goodland and Marco — were ... Read More »

Keep Calm and Boat On

Just a few of the 10,000 islands.

GOODLAND LIFE Melinda Gray melinda@coastalbreezenews.com Since moving to Florida almost one year ago, I’ve felt like a stranger in a strange land, a tourist most times, learning the lay of my new homeland with each different excursion. Until now, the various trips I’ve taken have always been structured with a fairly strict itinerary of stops and attractions, but I can honestly say, I’ve never felt more in control of my recreational destiny as when I went exploring with fellow Goodlander and owner and sole operator of Island Boat Trips Captain Mike Hewitt. Born in England and known locally as “English ... Read More »

Together Again

In one final marathon road trip to Ohio, we brought the boys and their toys back home to Goodland. PHOTOS BY MELINDA GRAY

GOODLAND LIFE Melinda Gray melinda@coastalbreezenews.com I have to admit that I wasn’t ready; it seemed like only a few weeks had passed since the original plan was laid. The last six months have flown by, though, and now my family is finally back together again. My two younger brothers, Chris and Tyler, and yet another dog, have joined our already busting-at-the-seams household here in Goodland until further notice. I love my brothers dearly, but this isn’t the first time we’ve lived together and heavily relied on one another. I would be lying if I claimed that it’s ever been easy. ... Read More »

Summer Fun, Island Style

A pelican perches on a post. PHOTOS BY MELINDA GRAY

GOODLAND LIFE Melinda Gray melinda@coastalbreezenews.com It’s September, statistically the slowest month before the inevitable up-swing into another season, and finding fun things to do locally is getting more challenging. Thus, despite last weeks of record-breaking heat, my best friend, Alicia Cameron, and I set out on our first Goodland kayak journey; no small feat for a couple of full-time moms with full-time jobs. A long-term shortage of recreation time has made me an unwilling indoor-girl — something I’ve always fought by taking last-minute adventures, often throwing caution to the wind. I once found myself clinging to the side of a ... Read More »

Goodland Gator

‘Ray the Trapper’ attempts to snag the Goodland gator, who made no appearance that day.  PHOTOS BY MELINDA GRAY

GOODLAND LIFE Melinda Gray melinda@coastalbreezenews.com There’s a new predator in town, and he’s causing quite a stir. An alligator rumored to be at least eight feet long has been trolling the canals and causing unease amongst Goodland residents. Buzz about frequent sightings has been swirling for a few weeks now, but following a recent uncomfortably close encounter, a call notifying the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was placed. On Aug. 4, Ray Simonsen Sr., one of Collier County’s four nuisance alligator trappers, came down to assess the situation. “With the influx of fresh water sheeting, and the end of ... Read More »

Sweet Victory

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GOODLAND LIFE Melinda Gray melinbrya3@yahoo.com In my experience, especially as a writer, learning about any new place always begins with getting to know its people. I love listening to the local stories, and I’m always eager to shine a well-deserved spotlight on the people that make their town great. I’ve written once before about Goodland’s own, Nick Lemke, and his Shima Dojo at the Greater Marco Family YMCA. To this day, it ranks as one of my most favorite stories. So of course, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to do an update on all of the exciting things ... Read More »

Surviving Year-Round in a Seasonal Town

Blue sky to the north and a mean storm rolling in from the south came together to pose for a beautiful picture.

GOODLAND LIFE Melinda Gray melinbrya3@yahoo.com Doldrums – a state of inactivity or stagnation; a dull, listless, depressed mood; low spirits. The term “summer doldrums” is new to me, but apparently it describes what I’ve been experiencing but successfully fighting off. How does a person of modest means ensure survival when home is a place that lives and dies by the season? I admit, I’m no expert, but this Ohio girl is trying to quickly acclimate to her new home, and I’ve learned a few things along the way. When I think of survival, I think of basic necessities: food, clothing ... Read More »

The Anatomy of a Rumor

Collier County water department workers  directed the light flow of traffic in and out of Goodland on June 16. PHOTOS BY MELINDA GRAY

GOODLAND LIFE Melinda Gray melinbrya3@yahoo.com It’s a well-known fact that big news, or any news for that matter, travels fast in a community as small as Goodland. It’s also widely accepted that as news travels farther from its source it tends to lose the original, factual information in favor of a more dramatic, sensationalized version. In short, minor issues feel like major happenings, especially this time of year. I recently experienced this phenomenon first-hand when what eventually proved to be a routine, short-lived inconvenience was all anyone could talk about in the days leading up to the morning of June ... Read More »

The Long Trip Home

One last walk along our private Lake Erie beach.

GOODLAND LIFE Melinda Gray melinbrya3@yahoo.com The mission: a seemingly impossible road trip with the ultimate goal of packing up the last of my worldly possessions. I’ve got to gather what’s left in Ohio and bring it all back home to Goodland. I hear the “Mission Impossible” theme song in my head every time I think about the gravity of the situation, but it’s time to say goodbye to what was and start laying some permanent roots. I will admit, in the weeks leading up to this mission I wasn’t looking forward to seeing Ohio. The daunting 24-hour drive promised to ... Read More »

It’s That Time Again…

Used traps are pulled and stacked. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

GOODLAND LIFE Melinda Gray melinbrya3@yahoo.com The smell of crab traps in the open air — after months of being underwater — is a tell-tale sign of the end of stone crab season in Southwest Florida. “It’s quite pungent over there,” said Pat Kirk, the matriarch of the Kirk family and owner of Kirk’s Fish Company. Anyone living or passing by Kirk’s downwind can confirm that, as over the past month crab traps have been systematically pulled and stacked next to the store in preparation for cleaning and repair. May 15 was the last day to legally collect those delicious stone ... Read More »

If We Build it, Will They Come?

Goodland enjoys 2 county parks inside her very modest amount of land, pictured above is Margood Park. PHOTOS BY MELINDA GRAY

GOODLAND LIFE Melinda Gray melinbrya3@yahoo.com “Water, water, everywhere, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink.” — Samuel Taylor Coleridge “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” Summer is quickly approaching, and with it come the horror stories warning first-timers like me of mutant bugs, face-melting heat and the unbearable boredom to come. Of course, I don’t believe everything I hear, but I do feel a kind of “something wicked this way comes,” and I have started to brace myself accordingly. In my search for ways to keep the family cool this summer, I’ve noticed ... Read More »

The Goodland Good Life

Dub holds up his prize proudly. (left) J.W. "Dub" Abbott will celebrate his 100th birthday next month. (right) SUBMITTED PHOTOS

GOODLAND LIFE Melinda Gray melinbrya3@yahoo.com Life has been good in Goodland for J.W. “Dub” Abbott, who will turn 100 years old this month. The Drop Anchor resident was born May 2, 1914, in Checotah, Oklahoma, to Wayne and Beulah Abbott, who had five other boys and one girl; his youngest brother is only 93 years young. He says his mother gave him his initials because her other sons had all been given nicknames, and she didn’t like that. She thought that her method would prevent him from being nicknamed; he’s been known as “Dub” all his life. Growing up with ... Read More »

Four Month Frenzy

My mom, the 2014  Buzzard Queen, dressed incognito for the Mardi Gras Goodland Boat Parade. (left)
My son and daughter at the Old Marco Lodge on a fun Sunday night. (right) PHOTOS by MELINDA GRAY

GOODLAND LIFE Melinda Gray melinbrya3@yahoo.com As this season, my first here in Goodland, draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on what it means for me. I’ve made so many friends in just a few short months. Some will go north for the summer and come back next season; some I expect to say farewell to permanently as they continue on from here; and some will stay in Goodland, and we will pass the long, hot summer together. I can honestly say I am looking forward to the emptiness of the island, but will also miss all of the ... Read More »

Isle Be Jammin

Billy J and the Big Easy play regularly at Marker 8.5. The duo pack this small venue with a large crowd.

GOODLAND LIFE Melinda Gray melinbrya3@yahoo.com Anyone who knows me knows I love listening to live music and enjoying a cold drink with some friends. Music has always been very close to my heart. I’ll listen to almost any genre, depending on my mood: country for the “nothing else could go wrong” day; metal or punk if I’m angry or a little rebellious; electronic or dubstep if I’m in the dancing mood. Where ever I go, I always check out the local music scene. I’ve known fantastic musicians in every place I’ve lived. I prefer small, unique venues and undiscovered talent. My ... Read More »

My Life in Paradise Begins…

GoodlandSign

GOODLAND LIFE Melinda Gray melinbrya3@yahoo.com The first time I visited Goodland was just a few short months ago. My mother moved here a year earlier, and insisted I visit soon. So I planned to fly down with my two children, stay with my mom for a month and then return to snow-covered Ohio. My plans went out the window from the moment I woke up on my first morning in Goodland. I knew I would move proverbial mountains to make this paradise my home. Over the last few years, my mother would visit Goodland, post beautiful pictures online, and swear ... Read More »