Real Florida: gator tales and beyond, told in words and video

Jeff Klinkenberg's Real Florida:

Don't rile Mister Bob. He'll grab his bullhorn and shout at you to quit fooling around NOW. He'll order you out of the water to sit a spell. If he's really mad he'll tell you to stay home for a week. Nobody wants to get kicked out of Florida's best swimming hole. That would stink.

Stories by Jeff Klinkenberg | Videos by Maurice Rivenbark


centuryMirroring Tour de France fits with cyclist's regular 100-mile rides. | Video

honeyRoadside vendor sells tupelo honey, the Scriptures are free. | Video

bouzoukiMaster of the bouzouki finds joy in the pain. | Video

vulturesWhy do vultures prey on cars? | Video

VinoyRenaissance Vinoy Resort marks 85 years of history. | Video

Glenn BergerGolf ball hunter thrives on gaffes. | Video

Dan Rick Cruz' orchidsPhotographer seeks rare beauty in a Florida swamp. | Video

Dan Doubleday's sand castleTreasure Island man is the Michelangelo of sand. | Video

Mack's Fishing CampTwo Florida boys live to tell the tale of Mack's Fishing Camp. | Video

Steinhatchee scallopsWith Steinhatchee scallop queen, you pluck 'em, she'll shuck 'em. | Video

Iguana hunterIguana hunter: We might as well eat them. | Video

Wakulla Springs toursWakulla Springs isn't clear, but musical tour guides carry on. | Video

Earthworm musicSopchoppy man pulls worms from earth using music as bait. | Video


fossilFossil fanatic is a whiz at digging up history. | Video

Ocala National Forest raft dwellingA raft is his Ritz on a creek in Ocala National Forest. | Video

clams300 million clams for research, food. | Video

Orange LakeMan living in seclusion on Orange Lake. | Video

USF professor Tom Hallock co-edited a book on 18th century naturalist William BartramUSF professor relates to William Bartram personally. | Video

Bill Goldschmitt calls himself the SharkmanSarasota shark fisherman, author is crustier than Quint from 'Jaws.' | Video

Florida Audubon's EagleWatch networkWoman keeps a close eye on bald eagles in west-central Florida. | Video

Conrad Yankee's benchFisherman's legacy lives on in one last catch. | Video

Fort Gates FerryFort Gates Ferry still crossing the St. Johns River. | Video

Tallahassee's Bikini BicyclistTallahassee's Bikini Bicyclist loves to ride, with little to hide. | Video

amputee friendsA crusty man becomes mentor for boy dealing with amputation. | Video

Spanish moss blanketsShe spins Spanish moss into beautiful blankets. | Video


oysterIndian Pass Raw Bar worth detour for a few dozen. | Video

GatoramaGatorama lives as old-style attraction. | Video

The remarkable Michael GannonThe remarkable Michael Gannon: His history is Florida's history. | Video

bear with jar on headA cub finds itself in a pickle (jar). | Video

Darrel Smith, Civilian Conservation Corps.jpgFDR's Civilian Conservation Corps comes to life at museum. | Video

EngravingsA 1564 visitor to Florida leaves a trail of mystery. | Video

Clyde ButcherClyde Butcher continues to capture mystique of the Everglades. | Video

Bradley's Country StoreAt Bradley's, the grits are fresh and history keeps turning. | Video

BluebirdsAudubon volunteer on a mission to help bluebirds find a mate. | Video

Gator in B-flatOne musical note, held long and loud. Would the beast call out in return? | Video

  • Jeff Klinkenberg
    writes about Florida culture and the people who make the state unique. He joined the Times in 1977, and his work takes him from Pensacola to Key West.
    Klinkenberg's profile page
  • Maurice "Mo" Rivenbark,
    a third generation Florida native, found his passion for photojournalism by shooting news photos for his hometown weekly newspaper, which he also delivered. Since joining the Times in 1981, he has photographed stories throughout Florida, across the U.S. and abroad. Most recently his focus has been both video and still photo storytelling, including the Real Florida series, which has won national recognition from the Society of Professional Journalists.
    Rivenbark's portfolio

About the writer

Jeff Klinkenberg writes about Florida culture and the people, places and wildlife that makes our state unique. In work that has taken him from Pensacola to Key West, he has written about Florida panthers, key lime pies, grits, worm grunters, smoked mullet, skinny-dippers, fish camps, the Corkscrew Swamp, manatees, ghost orchids, barefooted swamp boys, shark attacks, landscape painters, landscape photographers, orange juice, and Florida icons who include Carl Hiaasen, Bob Graham, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, William Bartram, the Coppertone Girl and the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Klinkenberg's interest in Florida began when he was a small boy growing up in Miami on the edge of the Everglades. He jokes he was a charter member of "the boys without dates" club because of hobbies that included catching snakes. He started working at the Miami News when he was 16, became a journalism graduate at the University of Florida, and has worked at the St. Petersburg Times since 1977. His latest book, which collects favorite columns, is Pilgrim in the Land of Alligators, published by University Press of Florida. A previous anthology, Seasons of Real Florida, recently was issued in paperback. The books are available at retail stores and through

In 2007 and 2009, collections of his stories finished first in the American Association of Sunday Features Editors annual national contest. He is the only two-time winner of the Paul Hansell Distinguished Journalism Award, the highest honor in state journalism, given annually to the writer with the best body of work by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. An adjunct instructor in the University of Florida's College of Journalism, he has written for magazines that include Esquire, Outside, Travel and Leisure, and Audubon. His spoken essays are broadcast frequently on public radio, and he tours the state on behalf of the Florida Humanities Council to talk about Florida literature and other matters.

Says the author Carl Hiaasen: "If Jeff Klinkenberg isn't careful, he might give journalism a good name. He has a rare eye for marvelous detail, and an affectionate ear for those small, wise, bittersweet voices that tell the true story of Florida."

Subscribe to the Times
Click here for daily delivery
of the Tampa Bay Times.

Email Newsletters