Sunday, November 30, 2008

Videos from Mexico: White Pelicans and Leaf Cutter Ants

So here we go, two videos from last week's trip to Mexico.

Here's the first, "Feast of the American White Pelicans on Lake Chapala, Mexico"

and the second, "Leaf Cutter Ants at Roca Azul, Lake Chapala, Mexico"

I'm having trouble getting the videos to play but maybe they just need a little patience.

Back from Mexico

I made it back from my trip to Guadalaraja, specifically the Lake Chapala area and the towns of El Chante, Jocotepec, Ajijic, and Tlaquepaque. As mentioned in another post, Barb was a great hostess and guide. I got to see and do many things ordinary travelers wouldn't have experienced. Having someone drive me through the small villages was a treat enough!I spent today catching up on emails (and still doing that) and doing a bit of writing for Suite101. I need to collect my thoughts about Mexico but I post any more about it. Am I selfish for loving (and appreciating) my American life?

I can see why so many gringos retire there, life is a slower pace and definitely cheaper. But there are some things I can't live without. Like clean water from the sink and being able to understand the language. I knew enough Spanish to get by but when I'm tired, I don't want to think too hard on what to say or what's being said. I'll work on posting photos and won't make promises as to when they'll be up. I realized photos from my Lafayette, La., trip haven't been organized yet!

Enjoy these two photos from Petatan on the south side of Lake Chapala. Hundreds, if not thousands, of American white pelicans spend the winter there. I'm working on uploading a couple of videos on YouTube - when complete, I'll post links.

As for tonight, I'm mentally preparing for the workday and trying not to get stressed. I had a minor panic attack over what I need to do this week while in Mexico but wished it away. Maybe I'll be able to stay on Mexican time this week. I'm also looking forward to returning to the gym - hope there's enough time in the day to do so.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mexico Happenings

Is it Wednesday? I'm losing track of time but yes, it's Wednesday, my fourth day in Mexico. This will be a brief post to let everyone I'm okay, I'm not drinking the water, driving at night, or talking to (most) strangers.

Barb's been a great hostess driving me around the Lake Chapala region and driving through rural Mexico. Can tell many Mexicans haven't seen a "gringo," just by their reaction. It's fun to see how their look of suspicion turns to happiness when I utter the simple word, "hola."

Yesterday was a trip to see the majestic white pelicans. We think we have white pelicans in Florida and I must admit, the ones I saw on Lake Chapala just blew the Florida ones away. It was incredible to see them feeding - with help from the local fishermen.

There may be another post before I fly home on Saturday, maybe not. But so far, I can say my stress level is melting and I'm learning to forget what I should.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Look Out Mexico, Here I Come

The last 10 days have been a whirlwind. Yesterday I thought my head was going to explode. Hosted seven members of the media last weekend and showed off Charlotte County. As soon as I said goodbye to them, I headed up north to Ponte Vedra Beach for Florida Encounter, a meeting planner show, to encourage planners to host meetings in the area. Meanwhile, I've been working on another itinerary for another media group visiting the weekend of Dec. 5, yes, the same weekend I'm going to the Keys for the Ladies Let's Go Fishing Seminar. And, found out this week I'll be assisting with a press conference the Tuesday I'm back in town for a big community announcement.

Rather than totally canceling the fishing weekend, I'm only participating in the educational day and will miss out on the actual fishing. I was hoping to sell a story about the experience but looks like I'll throw it up either on Associated Content or Suite101 (I do get paid via revenue share vs. upfront). *sigh* Reducing the trip sucks, but work calls, and in these times, I'm thankful to have a job.

My head has been overwhelmed with details, details, and more details. And lack of sleep.But yesterday at 5:30 when I left the office, I forgot about work and truly began getting excited for Mexico. I leave tomorrow at o'dark-thirty and land in Guadalajara before noon (that's if I don't get the red light).

I'm looking forward to seeing Barb, catching up with her, and seeing what adventures we can get into. I'm bringing her a few goodies, as you can see from the photo. Apparently, regular flavored Frito's aren't available in Mexico.

I'm feeling bad for my cat, I'm pretty sure she knows I'm going away (again) because the suitcase is packed and I've been trying to get things in order. She's been more "talkative" and needy today, wanting to be held. Yes, she's high maintenance but I still love her :) My friend Kashi will be looking after her and I know she'll be in good hands.

I'll try to post but will most likely be Twittering. Happy Thanksgiving! Perhaps my Turkey Day will be tequila and tacos.

By the way, have I told you how I'm heading to D.C. in January for Obama's Inauguration? I don't have tickets but travel is booked. Stay tuned as the trip develops. It'll be just me and five million of my new friends (at least that's what the media's reporting).

Airstream Ranch - If Only I Had the Guts to Tow One

I finally made it to Airstream Ranch on I-4 in Dover, Fla.! If you've driven along I-4 and noticed silver Airstreams lined up in a field, that's Airstream Ranch at Bates RV, an Airstream dealer.

I'm not sure why I have a fascination with them, but I just love Airstreams. Maybe because it reminds me of an almost perfect time in history, the 1950s and 1960s. I know it wasn't perfect but that's the perception. When I stopped by earlier in the week, I asked to walk out to the display of upright RVs but was told I couldn't. Bummer. But, I grabbed a photo while whizzing by earlier this fall. I did get to walk in the display area of vintage Airstreams.

There's debate as to whether the display of RVs can stay. Is it art or an eyesore? I say art. What do you think?

Save Money, Send an E-Card with Month2Month.com this Thanksgiving

I'm a self-proclaimed card snob. I usually only purchase my greeting cards at Hallmark but have you checked out the cost of cards these days? Oy! Free e-cards are the way to go during this economic climate, especially when throwing in the cost of stamps and how time depraved we are. Can't get any better than FREE and instant access to send out that Thanksgiving card you may have forgotten. Ironically, to avoid the long lines at the post office, I ordered stamps online earlier this month from the United States Postal Service and guess what, they lost them! Who needs the hassle of buying stamps, sending a card via snail mail with no proof of delivery and wondering if it ever arrived when free e-cards are available?

My friends at Month2Month.com have the online card business right by offering absolutely free e-cards on a Web site sans advertising. Users don't need to subscribe or register (you can if you want to save your address book), or download any tool bars.

The free e-cards on Month2Month.com are adorable, animated, have great sound, and a personal message can be added. You can even replace the Month2Month logo with your own - like I did below with my blog address.This is a great site for free Thanksgiving cards for your friends and family, and they offer other free e-cards for special occasions and other holidays. Spread the love, spread the word, and spread the holiday spirit the most economical way at http://www.month2month.com/.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dinner in the Sky at the Seminole Casino Coconut Creek

You've seen the photo of dinner table suspended in the sky with happy diners enjoying a fabulous gourmet meal with the organization called Dinner in the Sky. It's not for everyone but dining in the sky is something I'd do, I mean, talk about bragging rights!Saturday, Dec. 6, 2008, the Seminole Casino Coconut Creek (over on Florida's east coast) will host a $500 per person dinner with seatings at 6:30 and 8 p.m. Call (954) 977-6700 for details. This would make a cool early Christmas gift, especially for the person who has everything.

As a member of Florida's tourism industry, I received an invitation for a gourmet brunch with Dinner in the Sky. I'm sure the response will be great but hope I'm one of the lucky industry folks selected for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Stay tuned!

Photo credit: Dinner in the Sky

Monday, November 17, 2008

Skintastic Off! Feels Comfortable

For some reason, the phrase, "Feels Comfortable" on the bottle of Skintastic Off! just tickles me. Do non-Skintastic bottles of Off! feel "uncomfortable"? Or perhaps, "sticky"?

After trying the product, I admit, it does feel comfortable.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Stone Crabs are in Season, Yum!

It's been a great weekend. I escorted seven travel writers were exploring the community this weekend and now shifting gears by attending Florida Encounter, a meeting planner conference. My evenings have been brief so here's another photo to tell the story.

Friday night was dinner at Peace River Seafood where we feasted on stone crab claws, blue crabs, shrimp and other fresh seafood. Below is a photo of stone crab claws. Look at the size of them. They're huge!

I have other cool pix to share and will try to post them throughout the week.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Palm Island Beach Treasure

Short post tonight (this morning). I love this photo. I found this coquina shell on Palm Island Resort this week while walking along the beach. I've never seen one such a vibrant shade of orange. So enjoy this little treasure from Palm Island.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Photos from the 2008 American Sandsculpting Championship Festival on Fort Myers Beach

I told you about last Saturday and venturing out to the American Sandsculpting Championship Festival on Fort Myers Beach here. I've posted some photos so for those of you who couldn't attend, enjoy. I tried to get all of the sculptors' names and titles of the sand sculptures but didn't quite get everyone.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gators Don't Wear Stinkin' Leashes!

Last month I teased you with this post about wanting to stage what I'd consider a pretty funny scene - walking an alligator, on a leash, in a Florida rest area in front of one of those signs which read, "pets must be on a leash" or "pet walking area."

Well, ST from Babcock Wilderness Adventures along with a gator, rode up with me to an event at the northern part of the state. The alligator proved to be popular and drew a lot of people to our booth and kept them at the booth longer.

Afterwards, we tried to implement my plan. A coworker had given me a cat collar and cat leash. ST slipped the collar around the gator's neck, all the while the little guy snapped. Once around his body and placed on the grass, in front of a sign, the gator sensed freedom and made a dash to the bushes.

In the meantime, one traveler was walking his two corgis and stopped. "I haven't seen anyone walk one of those around here," was his response.

Another woman walked up with her fuzzy little dog and said, "I've driven cross country with my lizard on a dashboard but never saw anyone traveling with one of those."

In the meantime, a couple of cars saw what we were doing and stopped to watch the spectacle, of ST trying to loop a collar on a gator. I attempted to put the collar on it and got a little nervous when it snapped at me a couple of times. I mean, look at its razor teeth in the photos!

Well, we didn't get video but a couple of snapshots, which you can see on Picasa.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Playing in the Sand on Fort Myers Beach

I'm about ready to call it a night but before I do, here's an image from the American Sandsculpting Championship Festival going on through tomorrow on Fort Myers Beach. The champion will be named tomorrow evening and although the sand sculptures are amazingly incredible, it's one heck of an ordeal to get out there, so I won't be there for the big announcement.

The Festival encourages people to take a trolley. Public transportation is all fine and good but between waiting for the trolley and riding it , I probably spent 3.5 hours doing that and one hour at the event.

Oh well, what else did I have to do today? Below is a photo of my favorite sculpture called "Jack's View Above the Clouds and Over the Moon," by John Gowdy. Can you see Jack? He's Jack in the Beanstalk. There really were some impressive sand sculptures and I hope to post some more photos soon.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Smile!

Until I have time to write up the story about an alligator and a leash, enjoy this happy bloke. And yes, he's alive.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

No Longer a Grasshopper, I’m Planning Ahead, at Least Trying

Life insurance. It’s necessary and www.financialone.com helps you find it. Why am I talking about life insurance? Well, it’s finally clicked with me that my spontaneous habits and refusing to exorcise the gypsy from me. (Although, being a gypsy isn’t necessarily a bad thing.) I’m a grasshopper. You know, that story about the grasshopper who played all summer while the ants were busy bees preparing for winter. Come winter, the grasshopper didn’t have anything.

This year has opened my eyes to many things, including life insurance. It’s never too soon to plan but where to begin? Some employers make it easy to purchase life insurance (or some include it as their package). The other option is to find an insurance provider, which is where my friends over at www.financialone.com come into play.

Rather than searching the Web looking and visiting individual life insurance sites, www.financialone.com is an aggregate site where users input their basic stats and request a quote. What turns up is a list with monthly premium prices. If you like what you see, request a quote and the respective insurance company gets back in touch with you. How simple is that?Enclosed is a screen shot from www.financialone.com. I filled out the form, sans my contact info – which is not required – but with my smoking habits, height, weight (ugh), age and where I live. It took less than 10 seconds to do this. Everyone has 10 seconds! Okay, back to research…

Monday, November 03, 2008

Vote and Get a Free Chicken Sandwich and Free Coffee

Tomorrow will be my party day - the day I go off the diet and eat what I want, within reason (although, traveling for work last week resulted in multiple party days). You know I love me some Chick-fil-A and tomorrow will be one more reason I love them, a free chicken sandwich for doing my American duty, voting.

Many Chick-fil-A restaurants around the country are offering a free chicken sandwich in exchange for your "I Voted" sticker on Nov. 4 & Nov. 5. Check with your local Chick-fil-A and see if they'll trade your sticker for a sandwich.

By the way, I see they have a new Peppermint Chocolate Chip Milkshake. Yum! It's only available through January 3, 2009. Think I'll be sampling one of those tomorrow, too.

Oh, and if you're looking for stocking stuffers for your favorite Chick-fil-A fan, checkout the PEZ dispenser I picked up at the restaurant in Port Charlotte, Fla. It's lemonade flavored!

For you coffee drinkers, Starbucks is giving away a free tall cup of coffee on Nov. 4 when you let the barista know you voted. They don't ask for the sticker, just your word that you did your American duty.

Updated, 10:16 p.m.: Somewhat Frank found some other freebies for Election Day, check them out.

Don't forget to check out my brush with politics this year.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Election Day's Around the Corner, Who Ya Gonna Vote For?


Well, Election Day is about here and if you don't live in one of the early voting states, you have a big choice to make. (Those of us in early voting states probably already voted.) Living in a swing state has been fun with all the campaigning that's been going on. I just wish I lived in a more populated city so I could have seen all of the candidates.

But, I did pretty good by seeing Gov. Sarah Palin in Tampa last weekend. Read more about it here and view the slideshow here.

Yesterday was Sen. Hillary Clinton stumping for Barack Obama in Winter Park, Fla. Read more about it here and view the slideshow here.

Last month was Gov. Bill Richardson (whom I think is the most qualified to be President of the United States) campaigned for Barack Obama in Port Charlotte. Read about my perspective of the event here (no slideshow).

It's been interesting and I'm glad I took in "both" sides to form my own opinion on who to cast my ballot for. I'd like to write up an opinion piece on my perspectives on the differences (and similarities) between the Democratic and Republican parties based on attending these rallies. Some bits may be politically incorrect. We'll see. I have a couple of other articles in mind ahead of that, including a post about gators don't wear stinkin' leashes.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Hillary Clinton in Winter Park, Fla. Today Campaigning for Obama

Senator Hillary Clinton was in Winter Park this afternoon to campaign for the Obama-Biden ticket.

Edited Nov. 2: mini-slideshow up, check it out here.
Summary of the event is posted here.