Our freelancer Monika Mitchell Randall recently returned from a trip to Florida. Here's a post from her about an area of the state which remains unaffected by the oil spill:
Months after booking the family vacation to Clearwater, Fla., news of the BP disaster filled the airwaves. Images of oil drenched Louisiana marshes soon gave way to clumps of oil on Pensacola, Fla.'s white-sand beaches. Concerned, I called my hotel, The Hilton Clearwater Beach Resort and was assured an oil-free visit. What greeted my family was all the heat and humidity we could handle and pristine, powdery white sand for as far as the eye could see and the warm, clear waves of the Gulf.
Joanne Patterson, director of sales and marketing at the Hilton Clearwater laments that the images that have run across major media sources are hurting business. "People don't understand where we are in relation to the truly affected areas (nearly 400 miles south)," she says, adding that given the loop current or Gulf Stream, many "experts" don't foresee the oil reaching their shores.
Our journey took us along miles of beautiful Gulf shoreline, meeting not only the odd pelican and curious dolphin, but many grateful Clearwater/St. Petersburg merchants and locals. While devastated for and supportive of their Gulf neighbors, they say, keep Florida on the list, cause BP hasn't crashed this party yet.