Category Archives: The Florida Spectacular

Florida’s 2024 Hurricane Season: Don’t Panic

Great Miami Hurricane barometer via National Weather Service
As Florida’s 2024 hurricane season begins, let’s remember how far we’ve come with forecasting. Pictured: Barometer from the 1926 hurricane.
Photo courtesy of the National Weather Service.

As Florida’s 2024 hurricane season opens, Rick Kilby and I talked about Florida’s hurricane history, hurricane prep, and — this is clutch — how to prepare without freaking out.

My forthcoming book, Florida Spectacular: Extraordinary Places and Exceptional Lives, has a chapter about how Florida forecasting and experience has made the world better prepared  for a storm. (Hey, if you want to pre-order that, please do so from an indie bookstore like St. Pete’s Tombolo Books. We all love Amazon but we having bookstores in our cities and towns more, right?)

It sounds odd, but I’m a huge fans of hurricanes. I’ve written before about the Hurricane of 1928, and wrote a series about the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in the Everglades and Florida Keys.

Why my fascination? Well, while no one wants to see loss of life, hurricanes are a vital part of the natural order of things. Without them, we’d have devastating forest fires, too many nutrients in our rivers and lakes, and less food production in the ocean. There’s a host of benefits — don’t take my word for it; check out this article — but it’s hard to appreciate those when there’s an oak tree in your living room and you suddenly have waterfront property that may have downed live power lines, right?

So, don’t fear hurricanes. Prepare. Rick and I talk about some ways you can do that on our podcast. Take a listen.

Florida’s 2024 Hurricane Season: Links We Mentioned

Hurricanes.gov

Oranges and Alligators: Sketches of South Florida Life by Iza Duffy Hardy

Stormy Weather by Carl Hiaasen

Hurricane prep suggestions: Turn off your TV and check hurricanes.gov, the least weather-terroristy source for real news. Instead of bottled water, buy five gallon reusable jugs (we suggest glass, but you can get plastic ones, too) and a USB-powered water dispenser (you can recharge it in your car if needed). You can also get a five-galloon cooler with a dispenser built in the bottom.

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Support the podcast! For $5/month, you get premium Florida Keys history and travel tips with Brad Bertelli and Cathy Salustri. (Here’s some info about Florida Keys Spectacular)

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Florida-Splaining and Florida Spectacular

a plate of roast pork, which the author loves Florida-splaining to people
Florida-splaining is a word. Let me tell you about the best Cuban restaurant in the Florida Keys…
Photo by Cathy Salustri

This fall, my next book, Florida Spectacular, gets published.

There’s a lot of moving parts to traditional publishing, and one of the most boring is the part where you review the index and make sure it’s OK.

However.

Today I had a bright moment in a boring slog through the index: Florida-splaining.

It’s a word I’ve made up and it refers to what my friends call my “Florida Facts.” You know what mansplaining is, right? Same idea.

And it’s in the index. This gave me a chuckle, because if it goes in the index, it must be a real word, right?

A screen grab of the Florida Spectacular index, with the word "Florida-splaining" highlighted
Florida-splaining is now officially a word.
Screengrab by Cathy Salustri

When my publisher, UPF, published Backroads of Paradise, someone involved in the process (I can’t remember who) told me my book marked the first time the Press printed the word “fuck” (I referenced one of my professors ordering a drink Miss Kitty’s, the Knock-Me-Down-and-Fuck-Me, a pink libation served in a hurricane glass).

Here I am, first again.

Now, as for the larger question: Should Florida-splaining have a hyphen? Should I spell it Floridasplaining?

Psst — want to know when the book gets published so you can do some Florida-splaining of your own? Subscribe to my newsletter.

Contact Cathy Salustri

You can reach me at cathysalustri@gmail.com, on Instagram (@cathysalustri) or Facebook (@salustricathy), or Twitter (@cathysalustri).

Introducing the Florida Keys Spectacular: A Podcast for Keys Fans

a pickup truck that's been bedazzled, Florida-keys style.
Introducing the Florida Keys Spectacular — bonus podcast content for Florida Keys fans!
Photo by Cathy Salustri

Do you love podcasts? Do you love the Florida Keys? Do you already listen to the Florida Spectacular podcast, co-hosted by me and Rick Kilby?

Well, then, this is your lucky Thursday. Why? Because, as of today, Florida Keys historian Brad Bertelli and I have a biweekly podcast about the Florida Keys.

Introducing the Florida Keys Spectacular podcast.

It’s no secret I love the Florida Keys.

One of the things I struggled with when I started visiting the Florida Keys regularly? Finding non-touristy things to do. Oh, yes, I swam with a sea lion (something I loved, but feel bad about now) and yes, I’ve eaten at Margaritaville. But… those things aren’t really the Florida Keys I love.

The Florida Keys really opened up to me after I met Brad Bertelli in 2015, when a stroke of serendipity sent me to the Florida Keys to get interviewed by a Canadian television station. At the time, Brad worked for a Florida Keys museum, I didn’t have this website, and my book was not-yet published. Brad, already a published author, was really nice to an unknown Florida writer. Throughout the years, we became friends as well as colleagues. (When my book, Florida Spectacular, comes out later this year, you’ll read one of my favorite Brad stories in the introduction.) During the pandemic, Brad and I had virtual cocktails for people playing the Florida Keys home game (which was everyone, really).

Photo of Brad Bertelli, co-host of Florida Keys Spectacular podcast. A bald-ish man with black frame glasses, smiling at the camera. Man is wearing a white tee.
There’s no better co-host for the Florida Keys Spectacular podcast than Brad Bertelli.
Photo courtesy Brad Bertelli.

Today, Brad has a few more books, a column about Florida Keys history in Keys Weekly, and a Facebook group about Florida Keys history that has more followers than a small town.

A few years back, I started the Florida Spectacular podcast.

The show has gone through several iterations. Right now we hit a sweet spot. Rick Kilby (another amazing Florida author) co-hosts. Rick and I have a lot of fun taking listeners across Florida every week. We talk about history, environment, and, of course, things to do in each part of Florida.

While Rick spends a lot of time traveling the state, he doesn’t spend nearly as much time in the Florida Keys as I do. And, honestly, there’s a lot more to the Sunshine State than Key West, Florida Bay, and the upper and middle keys. It’s a different world, honestly.

Which is why it makes sense to have a different podcast. Every Thursday, Brad holds court at Robbie’s in Islamorada. Anyone who wants to talk Florida Keys history can hang out with him, ask history questions, or share memories. I found myself, as I so often do, in the Florida Keys recently, so I found Brad at Robbie’s, bought him a beer, and told him I had a proposition. Why not take his knowledge about the Florida Keys and create an off-shoot of the Florida Spectacular podcast? This one would be only for Keys fans, and we’d cover everything from where to buy sandwiches for a picnic lunch at Windley Key (Episode 1) to the original route of the Oversea Highway (Episode 2).

Brad was all in immediately. While I plowed my way through a piece of fish at the Hungry Tarpon, we planned. Back home, the planning continued. Brad taped a commercial. Brad drafted some scripts. We chose topics. And, finally, today, the Florida Keys Spectacular podcast goes live.

Subscribe to Florida Keys Spectacular today and support us!

Florida Keys Spectacular is bonus content, available to anyone who supports the podcast at the $5/month level. For that $5, you get two episodes a month. Each one will take a deep dive into the Florida Keys. We’ll give you Florida Keys history, suggestions on things to do, and the ability to see the Florida Keys like a local does. No podcast explores the Florida Keys like we do. Take a listen — you won’t be disappointed!

I’d love to do the Sally Struthers thing and say, “for the cost of a cup of coffee” but, well, inflation. Also, aside from Joffrey’s, some of my favorite coffee in Florida is Baby’s Coffee, and since it’s a bit of a drive to Baby’s, it costs me a whole lot more than $5 to get a cup (but so worth it!).