A Grand Weekend

Connor and Kaitlyn at the McLarty Treasure Museum, Sebastian, Fl

By Judy Berman

Gold was within our reach. But we walked away empty-handed.

To some, that would be mighty disappointing. For the grands, Kaitlyn and Connor, it was just one of the adventures we had during their visit in October.

All great excursions involve food. Right? We stopped for lunch at Capt. Hiram’s Restaurant in Sebastian, Florida. While we ate, we sat on an open deck and watched plovers and sea gulls scurry back and forth hunting down their meal.

Mel Fisher Treasure Museum, Sebastian, Florida

Then we went down the street to Mel Fisher’s Treasures Museum.

After searching for 16 years, “a salvage team led by Mel Fisher recovered the mother lode of the Atocha” in 1985. The Atocha, which sank in 1622, met a similar fate as the eleven Spanish vessels that sank in 1715 in a storm near present-day Sebastian.

gold bar at Mel Fisher's Museum, Sebastian, Fl

Seven hundred lives were lost and more than 14 million pesos worth of treasure went down with the eleven Spanish Galleons. No wonder this area is referred to as the Treasure Coast

It’s typical to take the sites and attractions for granted. In our role as tour guides, we discovered the many treasures close to us.

The next day, we were transported from visions of gold, silver and jewels hauled from the depths of the sea to a ride up a seven-story tower overlooking Port Canaveral on the Space Coast in Brevard County.

Exploration Tower, Port Canaveral - Oct. 2014 (24)

What is it like to navigate a boat? The “pilots” made it looks easy, but I bet it’s harder to do than parallel-parking a car.

On the fifth floor, Connor, and then Kaitlyn, safely steered their vessel via a simulator through Canaveral Harbor to greet a cruise ship. Not a dent or a scratch on either boat.

We shifted our course from the present to the past. It was all just a touch screen away.

Where did early native populations live? Where did the first European settlers land? We discovered this and more thru an interactive map.

Exploration Tower, Port Canaveral - Oct. 2014 (44)

When you enter the Exploration Tower, and when you leave, visitors are reminded of our fragile environment via the exhibit, “Embrace,” by Sayaka Ganz.

Vivid blue and white right whales, red jellyfish and stingrays can be seen from the lobby and second floor. It’s remarkable not just by its size, but from the elements used to create it. Ganz recycled items that people toss away: kitchen utensils, plastic toys and bottle caps.

From trash to treasure. That, too, is worth more than gold.

What attraction near your home do you want to see or return to?


COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Video clip: Wallace & Gromit’s “A Grand Day Out” – ‘We Forgot the Crackers.’ (No, we didn’t forget the crackers, but we did have a Wallace & Gromit video marathon … and we had a grand time.)  http://www.spike.com/video-clips/czwml1/wallace-gromit-a-grand-day-out-we-forgot-the-crackers

Music Video: Jimmy Buffet singing “Cheeseburger in Paradise” (with apologies to our vegetarian granddaughter) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBsPZV14I-k 

1.Main Photo: Connor and Kaitlyn outside the McLarty Treasure Museum which is part of the Sebastian Inlet State Park in Florida.

2.Photo: Mel Fisher’s Treasure Museum, Sebastian, Florida – photo taken by Ebyabe on April 25, 2011 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/67/Sebastian_FL_Fisher_msm04.jpg/640px-Sebastian_FL_Fisher_msm04.jpg

3.Photo: Gold bar from Mel Fisher’s Treasure Museum

4.Photo: Exploration Tower – Port Canaveral, Florida – Connor and Kaitlyn piloting and navigating a boat using a simulator thru Canaveral Harbor to greet a cruise ship.

5.Photo: Exploration Tower – “Embrace” exhibit by Sayaka Ganz. She captures the movement of right whales, rays and jellies out of discarded objects such as kitchen utensils, plastic toys and bottle caps.

Links to sites:

Mel Fisher’s Treasures in Sebastian, Florida http://www.melfisher.com/Sebastian/Sebastian_Museum.asp

McLarty Treasure Museum at Sebastian Inlet State Park – http://www.floridastateparks.org/sebastianinlet/activities.cfm

Exploration Tower at Port Canaveral – http://www.explorationtower.com/


  1. What fun for kids those places must be. Adults, too. We have great places around us in NE Ohio and yet it’s a shame how infrequently we visit them. Your post reminds me we should take advantage of them more often. Maybe a trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in order. 🙂

    1. Now, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame sounds like a grand place to visit, Carrie. I’m sure it’s not like the exhibits in the Hard Rock Cafes. Those are enjoyable, too. 😉

      I often think of my Mom telling me how she worked within walking distance of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. But, it wasn’t until she was about to move out of the city that she actually visited this site.

  2. Funny … I followed Mel Fisher for many years and occasionally exchanged letters. He died a couple years after my wife did. I wish I had the letters but so many things got ‘lost’ after she died. Adventures are a much needed part of life along with Hope! Nowadays we definitely need HOPE along with a few small adventures at the very least!

    1. Wow! Rick, it’s a shame you can’t find those letters from Mel Fisher. What a thrill it must have been to get them. I wish I’d had a chance to meet him.

      Right now, our grandkids might be wishing they had one of those metal detectors to search the beaches after a hurricane kicks up some of those loose treasures. 😉 I know I wish I did.

  3. How fun!

    “On the fifth floor, Connor, and then Kaitlyn, safely steered their vessel via a simulator through Canaveral Harbor to greet a cruise ship. Not a dent or a scratch on either boat.”

    Good job. Not sure I’d be able to do the same.

  4. I heartily agree: Grandkids make excursions grand. You know I’ve written more than once about mystery trips with our grand-children. Yours with Kaitlyn and Connor turned out to be a learning experience too – hands on, in fact!

    An attraction near our home to see or return to? I’d like to visit Calloway Gardens in southern Georgia for the first time and Epcot with the grands for their first time.

    1. Marian … Mystery trips are the most fun – especially when we can keep the grands guessing where we’re going.

      I’ve never been to Calloway Gardens. What does it feature? As for Epcot, it’s my very favorite theme park visit. I do feel as if I’m in different countries as I stroll about that Disney World property. 😉

  5. That sounds like a fun place to visit Judy! 🙂 And learning to navigate a boat sounds like something I’d like to try – on a simulator of course, and providing there are no iceberg obstacles along the way! 😀

    When I was about 12 I went on a school trip to the London Maritime Museum and also the famous Cutty Sark ship. Even though there was a lot history in all of that, it was presented as very dull and we all found it incredibly boring, plus the museum staff seemed to have a miserable attitude towards children – not a great day out at all. I’m hoping they’ve changed things a little bit today! 😉

    But this looks a lot more entertaining, so bright and cheerful too. Boats and ships have come a long way, they’re almost like space ships today, I’m surprised they don’t fly! I love the dolphins too, and to think they are made of recycled discarded household tools – brilliant idea! 🙂

    1. Suzy … Any place that doesn’t recognize that little ones grow up to be big ones who might be potential supporters or customers of these places is very short-sighted indeed.

      The two treasure museums were small and the staff was very well informed and gracious to our grands – and, to us, of course. At Exploration Tower, folks were very helpful and knowledgeable. Suzy, I agree – that recycled exhibit was brilliant. I was just captivated by it. 😉

  6. It looks like you had a great time! There are so many near us–we love the Philadelphia Museum of Art–and walking around that whole area. There are also many other museums in Philadelphia (some very unusual ones like the Mutter Museum), and the historical sites. We also finally went to Wheaton Village in NJ a couple of years ago–the area was a center for glass making since the 18th century. I wanted to go walk a new walking/biking in the city that has a great view of the river, but now it might have to wait until it’s warm again. 😉

    1. Now, the Mutter Museum has me curious. Just the name alone is fascinating. Philadelphia is a wonderful city. My Dad was born there and we lived there for a while. Merril, if you haven’t had Indian summer yet, there might still be an opportunity for checking out that new walking/biking trail by the river. 😉

      1. The Mutter museum is a museum of medical history–full of odd and interesting things. It’s attached to the College of Physicians. I didn’t know you were born in Philadelphia. But I’m not going anywhere right now till the book is done!

  7. Wow! You’ve given me more info about my neighbourhood than long time residents here. I know there’s Buffet residence half a mile north of Capt Hirams & I tried metal detecting until Hurricane Frances & Jeane changed the shorelines but time to learn more from your links. Thanks. BTW, you’ve got great looking grandkids. 🙂

    1. Where did you go metal detecting? I’ve seen a few on the beach. Is it an expensive hobby and did you find anything valuable? Thanks for letting me know about the Buffet residence. Another good reason to stop back in at Capt. Hirams. Thank you for the compliment for our grands. My husband and I definitely agree with you. 😉

      1. Drove over Wabasso Bridge to A1A then north to the 2nd public parking area. Reason I went there was because a friend who lived close by, actually found a couple of gold coins along that stretch, but (alas) that gradual sandy beach is gone, now covered by higher sea level. My metal detector was less than $100, a beginner’s model. I did find lots of coins in parks after food fairs, very old beer caps from a demolished bar grounds & some old wire trinklets along Wabasso’s Nature Reserve jungle trail that had early settlers’ huts before H.Francis. 🙂 It was just good fun.
        Oops! I re-read & found a tense error, Buffet HAD a residence near Capt Hirams, he’s moved to Palm Beach area but I think Arlo Guthrie might still have his 2nd home along that road.
        Are you from this part of FL?

      2. Pekebun … I’ll bet that metal detector did provide a lot of fun. From what I read, hurricanes kick up the treasure that was buried on the ocean floor. Sounds like a “golden” opportunity. 😉

        We have lived in Melbourne, Florida since mid-1999. Before that, we lived in Central New York – Syracuse and Liverpool.

  8. This sounds like a place for a good day out. I used to love seeking these sorts of trips when my son was small. I’m now in between times – no small people to entertain…
    If I could choose somewhere nearby to return to it would be our local Sculpture Park in Churt, Surrey. A lovely walk through woodlands where works of art are displayed – everything is for sale so it’s a never ending changing exhibition. Would be a great place to take kids to spark their imagination.

    1. Jenny … “A lovely walk through woodlands where works of art are displayed …” That sounds like a place I’d enjoy going to. I’ll bet our grands would love it, too. We took them to the Orlando Art Museum – such a variety. They even had illustrations by a man who writes books for kids. Great fun!

  9. Great treasure hunting close to home with the grands, Judy. Perfect adventure. Gold, as you say.

    This winter, I plan to discover the comforts of my recliner and flatscreen. Ha! You know what I mean. Karen on the couch beside me. Winter will be here in Syracuse before we know it. We’ll do the great sights the other three seasons … 🙂

    1. The really good thing, Mark, is you won’t have to invest in a metal detector to find your recliner or your flatscreen. I’m guessing, though, that if a fleet of ships with gold and silver on them sank in Onondaga Lake that you’d be ice scuba diving. 😉 “Ice, ice, baby.”

  10. Sounds like fun! It’s always fun to play tour guide and see things we take for granted through new eyes.

    I’d like to go back to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. I’ve been twice and we were actually allowed to walk up to her crown. Now, I think you can only climb to the top of the pedestal – essentially Lady Liberty’s toes. The view from her crown was breathtaking and a worthwhile reward for climbing all those twisty stairs.

    1. Wow! When I was in high school, I was too cool to go up the Statue of Liberty. I hung out in the snack area. Now, I wish I had gone up to the crown. I have climbed up other sites and loved the view after an arduous climb. So I understand. 😉

  11. Hi Judy,

    Good to be back after a while and I loved the post. For me it brought back wonderful visions of Florida from the few times I have been there.

    I loved the opening sentence of yours, it was so intriguing! Indeed, as we go through life, we do realise that the treasures we possess are the wonderful memories we carry from trips like the one you have showcased here. These are the riches which cannot be stolen from us!



    1. Hi Shakti …

      So great hearing from you. I’m glad my story brought back great memories of Florida.

      Thank you for the compliment. There is so much to appreciate wherever we are. It was wonderful to be able to share it with our grands. As you say “these are the riches which cannot be stolen from us!”

      Best wishes,


  12. That sure sounds like a grand expedition Judy! 🙂 Thank you for taking us along. The ’embrace’ sculpture is so beautiful.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the ride, Madhu. 😉 I am glad you liked the “Embrace” sculpture. It is eye-catching. Then, you get up close and see all the plastic utensils that went into making it. Marvelous.

  13. Cool! That Embrace sculpture is exactly the same as the mobile that hung over my crib as a baby. Same size, too. I’ll never forget the time it fell down on me. My folks hung it right back up in the same place. I always slept in the doghouse after that… : )

    Sounds like a great excursion, Judy. A favorite treasure close to home? That would be the Homestead Bookstore in nearby Marlborough, NH. I was just there yesterday for their biannual ‘Round The Mountain book sale. Dusty, cluttered, musty, ancient, rambling, quirky, wunnaful.

    Hey, it sounds a lot like me!! : )

    1. Oh, Mark, that had to be awful … no wonder you shied away from the crib after that. (With your imagination, it’s no surprise that you create such amusing and creative illustrations.) 😉

      The book sale is something my Mom would have loved. She was always looking for – and frequently found – excellent books at deep discounts. Now, that description just doesn’t mesh with the crazy blogger I know – except for the quirky and wunnaful part. 😉

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