Tuesday, April 29, 2008

George - Where's My Money?

The economic stimulus funds went out four days earlier than originally planned. Last two digits of the social security number determines when a taxpayer receives their funds. My digits are "00," meaning I'm suppose to be in the first batch of taxpayers receiving the funds.

I've been obsessively checking my bank account over the past couple of days to find "nothing." My parents received their's and their social security numbers are higher than mine.

George, have you forgotten about me? I'm willing to do my duty to stimulate the economy, don't just show me the money, give it to me.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Catching Up: Atlanta, New Orleans and Oh, Yeah...

Alright, I know, I know. I've been a bit absent lately. I have good reason, really! Beginning of the month I was in Asheville (LOVE the place) and am still working on a restaurant article summarizing the yummy places my palate indulged.

Next up was Atlanta to attend the Atlanta Travel Expo. I was able to sneak off and listen to Arthur Frommer and Pauline Frommer share their 2008 travel bargains, check out my recap.

Then, was New Orleans for the Tourism Cares project. I absolutely loved it! I mean, I was sore the next day but it was such a great feeling bringing everyone together to do good. Check out my recap about the trip.

And the big news is, I've accepted another position in Southwest Florida and start in less than three weeks.


I have loads of ends to tie, need to find a place to live and move. *sigh* It'll all get done.

Photos: Top one is Pauline and Arthur Frommer at the Atlanta Travel Expo.

To the right is Chef Paul Prudhomme. You have to read my article about the event to see why I have a photo of him. Very cool!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Doing Good in New Orleans

It's the day after and my body is tired but I mentally feel good. Spots of green paint still dot my body, have no idea how I got so much paint on me. Yesterday was the restoration project with Tourism Cares.

I joined at least 300 other members of the tourism industry to make Louis Armstrong Park in New Orleans look a little better. My group was tasked at painting a portion of the fence surrounding the 33-acre park. It was a lot of work but a lot of fun!

Photos and more to be posted when I get home.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Where've I Been? In Atlanta

Spent the weekend in Atlanta for the Atlanta Travel Expo for work. Luckily, I was able to squeeze in a little personal time and catch up with friends and family in the area.

First was a visit to the Flying Biscuit Cafe in the funk-a-licious neighborhood of Candler Park (think Bohemian meets Dixie) with my Yellowstone pal Meg and her friend Patricia. We met 18 years ago in the park. Eighteen years! Where'd the time go???

I had the Love Cakes - black beans and cornmeal cakes topped with a green tomatilla salsa and sour cream. Of course a biscuit with cinnamon apple butter accompanies the dish. Yum! Love Cakes are served with a huge house salad. Dinner started off with friend green tomatoes and I enjoyed a mango mimosa - why not?

Breakfast is served all day and the menu has a healthy offering of vegetarian entrées. Coffee (well, an iced chai tea for me) followed a couple doors down at Dr. Bombay's Underwater Tea Party. We chatted and watched the world go by.

Friday and Saturday was the show. There were all sorts of fabulous seminars and I was able to squeeze one in, Aurthur and Pauline Frommer discussed bargain travel options (more on that another time).

Saturday night following the show was a trip out to Stone Mountain Park for the laser light show. My buddy Rob (from my Sarasota days) was at the travel show and he suggested we head out there. We timed it perfectly and arrived just before the show.

Have you been? It was pretty cool. I've never been to a laser show and wasn't sure what to expect. I captured a few images, as you can see.

Sunday night I caught up with my cousin Tim. I suppose it's been four years since we've seen each other.

I'm back home until Wednesday when I head out to New Orleans to volunteer with Tourism Cares. We're cleaning up Louis Armstrong Park. Not quite sure what exactly I'll be doing, I'm just amazed that after three years, New Orleans still needs to clean up from a hurricane.

I hope to reporting from there later in the week. I'm planning to find a voodoo priestess...

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

She'd Be 118 This Week: Marjory Stoneman Douglas

Being 118 is pretty old. It's almost like calculating how old Elvis would be today or JFK. Marjory Stoneman Douglas who's book The Everglades: River of Grass is the primary catalyst for saving the Everglades, was 108 years old when she passed in 1998. Yesterday would have been her 118th birthday.

I never met the woman but my ex did. He recalled how she was in the Everglades for the park's 50th Anniversary. She sat in her wheelchair, sunglasses on and wide-brimmed straw hat tilted over her face. Someone gave a speech and afterwards, Peter approached her and asked what she thought of it. Turns out, she had fallen asleep.

To celebrate and rejoice her and the Everglades, enjoy this little piece about things to see along U.S. 41 when drivign across the Everglades.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Delta Doesn't Think I'm Special Anymore

Peeps in my office made it but not I. I didn't make Medallion status with Delta this year, bummer. Rather than finding a shiny silver card in my mailbox I found a blue and red SkyMiles card.

My reduction in flying Delta Air Lines has been a mix of reduction in my work travel schedule and flying other airlines to gain status. (It can't have anything to do with this post.) I'm sure if I flew on Delta or a SkyTeam Airline Alliance partner to Italy in November I'd have my status.

But no, I didn't plan like that and now have to board in Zone 8 (vs. Zone 1 or Zone 2), as I did when flying to Asheville last weekend. Zone 8! It means I have to pray there's overhead space available, no priority seating, no reserving a premium seat when booking my flight and no longer checking THREE bags on for free (in fact, come May, I'll only be able to check ONE bag on and pay $25 for a second). I have to wait in the gate area longer while my colleagues board ahead of me and no longer will I be eligible for first class upgrades.


Speaking of not being able to choose groovy seating in advance, last Sunday I was smack-dab in the middle of 50+ high schoolers heading to San Francisco...who've never flown...at 6:30 a.m. I usually sleep on those 38-minute flights to Atlanta but no. I had to listen to kids yelling behind me how the plane was going to crash, explode and we'd all die. Not cool, kids. Not cool.

When my eyes did drift shut, I jumped to find the girl sitting next to me leaning on me so she could take a photo of the sunrise. Precious, I know. But not when I had a 4-hour nap and had the stress of going through airport security, wondering if I'm long over due for a molestation by TSA. Luckily not me this time but my laptop.

Maybe I should write an etiquette guide for the first-time flier. Hmm....in the meantime, I'll keep telling myself I'm trying to keep grounded when I'm boarding in Zone 8.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Asheville: Weird is Normal

I was in Asheville for the first part of the week attending a tourism conference at the Grove Park Inn. It wasn't exactly my visit to this Western North Carolina town. I made sales calls on the AAA office many moons ago and remember it was basically getting off the interstate, running into the office, chatting with the counselors and hitting the road for my next destination.

I called a friend prior to trip who used to call Asheville home. He gave me a list of must-do and must-avoid things. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough time to do all he suggested, the conference got in the way! (The conference was very good, I came home with a lot of new ideas and concepts.)

I know Asheville is a big artist and cultural hub but had no idea until I saw it and saw the people. It reminded me a bit of Portland, Ore. where individuality is celebrated and embraced.

While art in various mediums and culture are important, so is nature and the environment. There are walking trails downtown, like the self-guided Urban Trail. Some restaurants serve locally grown and raised foods, some organic and many offering vegetarian and vegan options (and vegan options extended beyond steamed veggies). You'll have to wait for me to write an article about where I ate. [The article is here! Travel Dining Guide to Asheville] I ate too much excellent food and could have kept going if I had a day or two.

Also had the opportunity to see the new (opened in Dec. 2007) Blue Ridge Parkway Destination Center, a green building welcoming and educating visitors to the Blue Ridge Mountains. (Another article is forthcoming.)

Although a bit chilly on my arrival day, I loved inhaling the fresh mountain air (it made for good hair days, too). The vistas from the hotel were incredible, too, and I took my friend's advice to sit in the hotel bar and watch the skies turn to shades of pink and orange for a stunning sunset. Yup, there were some clouds but that added a dimension to the scenery.

Ah, Asheville. When will I visit again?