Thursday, January 01, 2009

Oh! The Places I've Been in 2008 and What's Ahead for 2009

The New Year’s begun yet I’m already looking ahead to travel in 2010. The first half of 2008 and a little bit beyond was challenging for me and each passing day is less of a struggle as I learn to let go and move forward. I won’t dwell on the negative in this post but recap my 2008 travels.

January – Grapevine, Texas; tied a business trip (and stayed at the Gaylord Texan) with a personal visit to see my friend Madge in New Braunfels. I gave an informal presentation about my March 2006 Afghanistan trip to about 20 of Madge’s friends. The evening was topped with yoga class.

February – Spent five days in Virginia Beach, Va., and I actually enjoyed the place. Since it was February, it wasn’t overcrowded with visitors. I attended a conference and in between sessions, I was able to explore, took a hike and bike, and ate at some groovy “green” restaurants.

This is the month I made the painful trip back to Flamingo in the Everglades to attend Peter’s memorial and close a significant chapter in my life. To this day, I still can’t believe he’s gone, it doesn’t seem real. During this time, many emotions were at play. As a result, I had to take care of paying for and selling a boat, reclaimed my cat, become virtually debt free (by the end of 2009 I should be 100% debt free), and was almost arrested. You’ll have to wait for my book to learn all the details, of course, I need to be more diligent in penning it.

March – Found myself in the East Coast version of Portland, Ore., Asheville, N.C. I absolutely love that bohemian, mountain town. It wasn’t what I expected, it was better. I know a lot of Sarasota folks spend their summers up there and have heard how artistic it is. I was expecting refined, stuffy arts and culture with snooty people but what I found was almost the opposite. There was a bohemian vibe and look to the young folks and individuality is celebrated. There’s fine art along with modern and folk art. And the food was incredible!

Did I tell you how much I love Asheville? If you go, head to the city’s main visitor’s center and take a trolley tour. And if the budget can afford it, stay at the Grove Park Inn. It reminded me of the Old Faithful Inn, sans a view of Old Faithful. Instead, the hotel has a fantastic view of the sunset over the mountains and fabulous lobby to cozy around the grand fireplace.

Over Easter I ended up in the Everglades again and not sure when I’ll return again, if ever. Flamingo wasn’t the same. Not only because Peter’s gone but because Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma destroyed Flamingo in 2005. Flamingo’s cabins have been torn down and at the time, the Lodge had been condemned, scheduled to be torn down. The restaurant and gift shop were abandoned, too. What a shame. It’s a beautiful setting right there on Florida Bay. I hope the National Park Service and some management company come to terms and build something magnificent there.

April – Spent a weekend in Atlanta for business and was able to meet up with my friend Mary Etta. I also spent a weekend in New Orleans as part of the Tourism Cares project at Louis Armstrong Park. I’d love to join TC in 2009 as they head to Gettysburg but don’t think my work schedule will allow it. *sigh*

May– I said goodbye to Tallahassee (it was time) and hello to Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands. I’m enjoying living back on Florida’s Southwest Gulf coast, maybe I’ll buy a house later this year, especially if it continues to be a buyer’s market.

June – Vegas, baby! Less than a month in my new position (I think maybe 3 weeks after) I was in Las Vegas for a very quick trip (2 nights) for a conference. The best part about the trip was spending time with my friend Shep and meeting Ambrose.

Another business trip took me to Gainesville where I enjoyed the night scene. Yes, I was on the dance floor ‘til 2 a.m. dancing with the college kids and was up ‘til 4 or so after enjoying the best pizza ever.

For pleasure it was Savannah and since it’s a trip I’d like to forget, I’ll say no more about it.

July – I almost died this month from drowning while attempting to cross the Peace River during the Freedom Swim. My sister Liz from Buffalo came to visit later that month and we spent a girl weekend in Key West, which happened to be the same weekend as Hemingway Days. Good times had by all.

August – Up to Buffalo for my 20 year high school reunion. I know, I can’t be THAT old but I am. It was a quick trip and glad I attended.

September – It was off to Gatlinburg for an almost week-long business trip. As usual, I did manage to work in some play time and found the Dukes of Hazzard Museum and Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum.

BlogOrlando 3 Unconference
was one of my favorite trips this year and certainly hope another one will be held in 2009. As the name implies, it was a gathering of geeks and was in my element.

October – Business trips were made to Jennings, Fla., and St. Augustine. For my pleasure it was Lafayette, La., to explore and eat my way through Cajun Country. Also, since Florida was a swing state for the presidential election, the candidates made several appearances here in the Sunshine State. I caught Gov. Sarah Palin in Tampa and Hillary Clinton campaigning for Obama near Orlando.

November – The work road led me to Ponte Vedra Beach and less than a week later I was in Mexico visiting barb over Thanksgiving week. We packed a lot in that short week and the trip left me wanting more to explore.

December - While I write this it seems like it was years ago, but this is when I had the Dinner in the Sky experience at Seminole Casino Coconut Creek on Florida’s East Coast. That night I was in Islamorada for a Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing! seminar. Christmas was spent in Buffalo with the family and New Year’s was rung in quietly.

2009 - The Road Ahead
Which leads me to 2009. What’s in store? I don’t have a crystal ball to predict what will happen. I hope to still be employed and at the same time, hope to expand my writing, blogging, and learn more about social media.

In January, I’ll be attending Obama’s Inauguration in Washington, D.C., (purchased Uggs today to keep my toes warm); February it’s off to Miami for the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, I have a ticket for the Barilla Interactive Cooking Lunch with Guy Fieri and have a business trip planned for Ohio. The folks will also be visiting sometime that month, too. July I’m planning to attend the BlogHer Conference in Chicago.

As for the rest of the year, my travel will have to be planned around what’s happening in the office and since a lot of it has been last minute, it’s difficult for me to plan. Not sure if any international travel will be scheduled.

I’m looking ahead to 2010 and thinking of something to celebrate my 40th birthday. Perhaps a long February or March weekend in Anchorage, Alaska, to see the Aurora Borealis or a week-long trip to Wyoming to spend some time at a guest ranch, like Wyoming High Country.

I can only wish the travel path ahead leads to the best year yet.

5 comments:

Dora said...

"February it’s off to Miami for the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, I have a ticket for the Barilla Interactive Cooking Lunch with Guy Fieri"

How fun! If you think of it, write me back after the SOBE fest and let me know how it went?
dorablenights at yahoo.
:-)

Matthew said...

Sounds like some nice plans. I hope to have enough money in the next year to travel a bit...but that all depends on my wife and me getting jobs in the US.

JA Huber said...

Hi Dora. Thanks for dropping by. I'll definitely drop you a line afterwards, and I hope to have photos and maybe video :)

JA Huber said...

Hi Matthew. I'm sure things will work for the best for you when you return to the States. Maybe she can get a job in a the tourism industry, major destinations are pursuing that market.

Shep said...

Jenn! You are amazing. What a wonderful attitude you have on life. And we know that life is a hard job.
Keep up the great thoughts and wisdom you have.
I love you.
Shep