Tuesday Traveler - What is ‘The Florida Life?’ - November 29, 2016

I’ve often been asked and pondered this very question; ‘What is the Florida Life’.  After talking with lifelong and longtime Florida residents, as well as visitors to our state, here’s my conclusion.


Tuesday Traveler - The Migration Has Started - November 22, 2016

What do you think of when you hear ‘The migration has started’?  By definition, migration is the seasonal movement of animals from one region to another.

Maybe you think of; migratory birds flying from the north to the south,or wildlife moving from the mountaintops to the valleys.




For those of us in warm weather states like Arizona, Florida, Texas, and others along the US Sun Belt, we often think the snowbirds (defined by WikiPedia) are coming.  These migratory creatures, mainly retirees, temporarily relocate from their permanent ‘home’ to their ‘winter home’.  


House/Pet Sitting in Retrospect - Puerto Rico, Vieques - September 2016

This is my third consecutive year of house/pet sitting on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico; does this make me an ‘island boy’?
When I tell people I’m going to Puerto Rico, they usually ask where and I tell them, Vieques or Isla Nena.  That’s only draws more questions like, some of which I’ll answer now.

Wikipedia – Vieques, Puerto Rico

Population: 9301 (2010)

Size:  21 miles (east to west) by 5 miles (north to south); 52 squares miles of land

Economy:  The island is attempting to redevelop the agricultural and tourism industry.  Since the US Navy closed the bombing range and departed the island in 2003, their clearance of unexploded ordinance has been the largest employer.

Geography:  About two-thirds of Vieques is comprised of a decommissioned US Naval bombing range which has been designated as the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge.  The wildlife reserves are on the east and west ends of the island, with communities in the middle.  There are two major municipalities, Isabel Segunda on the north coast and Esperanza to the south.  The island is surrounded by beautiful, secluded, and not so secluded beaches.  Some of the beaches, along with hiking and four-wheel trails are located within the wildlife reserves. 

A WORD OF CAUTION; within the wildlife reserves the trails and beaches are marked with warning signs, PAY ATTENTION TO THE SIGNS and STAY ON THE MARKED TRAILS.

Okay, if you’re interested in visiting Vieques, and I do recommend it, those facts should at least get you started in finding out more.



Now Let’s GO, and Travel Thru My Eyes to Vieques, Isla Nena, Puerto Rico.

HOUSE/PET SITTING in RETROSPECT - NAPLES FLORIDA – September 2016

Recently I completed another house/pet sitting assignment in Naples Florida for Jim and Cynthia, clients turned friends.  This is the third or fourth time I’ve cared for their pets and home, yet it was like visiting Napes for the first time.  Yes, I ‘revisited’ a couple places, but with so much to do in the area, there was are also many new places to explore.

 

ICELAND - 2016 June - Chapter 4 - A review with recommendations and videos



The final blog postings about my trip to Iceland are complete and now it’s time to review.  In this posting, I’ll talk about the arrival and departure process, and the attractions we visited.  I’ll preface this by saying, on this trip I was accompanied by Debbie and Bill and while I’m not speaking for them, we all agree, overall this was an excellent trip.



Iceland is an island located between the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.  Its location being just outside the Arctic Circle and close proximity to the Gulf Stream keep summer temperatures cool.

A couple of things worth noting are that most Icelanders, 90%+ speak English fluently, and they are largely a cashless society; they would much rather be paid with a credit or debt card.  If you’re a cash spender while on vacation, get Iceland Korna.

 The landscape ranges from sand and lava fields to mountains and glaciers with many of the glacier rivers flowing directly in the North Atlantic.  As we drove from one location to another, it was astounding how fast the landscape went from lava rock to green pastureland, and from coastal flats to snow covered mountaintops. 

The weather was great for us, but many of the locals commented it was already ‘hot’; average temperatures ranged from about 45⁰ to around 50⁰ Fahrenheit. 

A final note before getting into my review.  At the end of the review you'll find links to videos containing aerial drone videos provided by Bill of Yellow Bird Aerials and still photos taken as we invite you to "Travel Thru My Eyes".

ICELAND - 2016 June - Chapter 3 - The Final Days

As I was going through my notes, I noticed that our snorkeling excursion in a glacial river was missing.  So that’s where we’ll start
.
For those that don’t already know, I (along with my travel partners Debbie and Bill) live in Florida.  That being said, while waiting for our snorkeling suits, she laughingly told the group, “We’re from Florida, and we only get in water that’s above 80⁰F”.  Well this water sure as hell wasn’t 80⁰F, according to Val, our guide it was only about 36⁰F


ICELAND - 2016 June - Chapter 2 - The Journey Continues - REVISED



After a good night sleep (even with light from the never darkening sky), we continue our journey to the Oxarafoss waterfall.

According to the website World of Waterfalls, It’s been rumored that this particular waterfall may be man-made.  None the less, I found this place to be tranquil and invigorating at the same time.  The fall are located at the eastern end of volcanic fault dividing the European and North American Plates.

The base of the waterfall

ICELAND - 2016 June - Chapter 1 - We Have Arrived - REVISED

As I mentioned in an earlier post, it’s too difficult to blog on a daily basis while I’m actually enjoying the expedition.  Now at home, I can truly share the adventures myself, and my travel partners Debbie and Bill experienced.  So let’s get started as we “Travel Thru My Eyes”.

Tuesday Traveler - Guest Posting from Rohit - "5 Amazing Migratory Birds on a Sojourn to India" - 26 April 2016

Todays Tuesday Traveler is from a guest writer featuring 5 migratory birds of India.  No, I haven't been there, yet, but Rohit is from India so he'll share some info and photos.  Thanks Rohit
 
5 Amazing Migratory Birds on a Sojourn to India

Remember when you got one of those dreams where you felt like you were flying? Isn’t that a wonderful feeling? To let go of everything and just fly like those birds zooming about in the sky in a carefree nature. Watching birds fly, or chirp, or sing ... it’s so fascinating. The tropical condition of India is a haven for different species of birds found all over the country, and migratory birds are found in an array of species everywhere. Here’s a compiled list of few of the most interesting migratory birds in India. 

Tuesday Traveler - Mike's Rum Review - 12 April 2016


Let’s Talk About Rum

This posting is very different from those normally found here.  It’s one I’ve been studying for quite a few years now, and those that know me personally will vouch for the results.  I must preface this with a few disclaimers.  First, all the testing was done by me, there were no controlled or scientific methods applied, and it was all done responsibly (to an extent) in confines of my home or that of friends.

If you elect to conduct a test similar in nature, do so responsibly, don’t drink and drive.



Tuesday Traveler - Safety Harbor, FL; Chalk Art Festival – March 2016


It was the first day of spring and the early morning rain had been swept away by a 10mph northeasterly breeze.  The sky was a mix of sunshine and a few cumulus, as I drove to the quaint small town of Safety Harbor.

What a great day for some sidewalk chalk art, local vendors selling their craft, and street food; welcome to the annual 2016 “Bloom N Chalk Fest”.

 

FLORIDA - 2016, January - House/Pet Sitting - Chapter 3 - The End

Sunrise at the Hillsboro Lighthouse
Over the past week the weather has been unusually cold down here.  At night, our low temps were in the low to mid 40’s with wind chills knocking them down into the 30’s.  Daytime highs ranged from the mid to high 60’s.  For those of you reading this in the northern latitudes, these temps would just fine in February; not here in South Florida.  In February the average low here is 60 and the high is 70.
With that said, I still spent some time fishing, but didn’t catch a damn thing.  With the temps being below average, the waters choppy, and more often than not the sky cloudy, nothing was biting.  And it wasn’t just me, other fishermen out there also.
 

FLORIDA - 2016, January - House/Pet Sitting - Chapter 2 - The middle



Last week I told you about Robert, a local fisherman who invited me to go fishing on his boat.  Well, the weather has been and is forecasted to be unfavorable so we’ve scratched the plans for a while.  We planned a couple different days, both of which had small craft warnings issued due to strong winds and rough seas.
With the unusual barrage of clouds, rain, and wind there wasn’t many outdoor activities I wanted to participate in.  While eating lunch one afternoon I decided to go see the movie “13 Hours”.  It’s a film about what happened during the hours surrounding the killing of a US Ambassador in Benghazi Libya.  Good film, but I don’t expect it to get any awards; but I’m not a big movie viewer and have no idea how the awards are decided.

FLORIDA - 2016, January - House/Pet Sitting - Chapter 1 - The First Week



Recently I started of my second house/pet sitting assignment of the year.  I was here in December 2015 to keep an eye on the home of Liz, Guido, and Chaussettes the cat.  It’s located in the small coastal town of Lighthouse Point, Florida, which is part of the greater Miami area.  This part of Florida is commonly referred to as ‘South Florida’, encompassing several medium to small towns/cities, incorporated, and unincorporated communities along the Atlantic coast.


South Florida covers almost the entire southeast coast of Florida so there is something for everyone.  Normally this time of year the temperatures are comfortable and it’s usually dry.  It’s perfect weather for visiting outdoor attractions or enjoying the great outdoors.

Surprise Birthday Trip to North Dakota - For my middle daughters birthday

For those of you that know me, and my lifestyle, WOW, that's about the best way to explain this.  Yes, this Florida boy made his way to Grand Forks, North Dakota in late January; usually the coldest time of the year.

And yes, it was cold, the wind blew, and there was snow on the ground.  I'm used to wind and a little chill in the air, but the only white stuff I'm accustomed to, is sand on the beach.

 

FLORIDA - Clearwater - 2016 - House Sitting - Another assignment with friends / clients

I received an email from a house/pet sitting client asking if I was available to watch their home and furry family as they had to leave on a family matter.  Without question, I said yes

It all started a couple of years ago, when I received an email asking if I was available to house/pet sit for a family living close to my home.  Due to prior arrangements, I was not available at that time, nor the second time they contacted me.  But, I was available and anxious to meet with potential clients.

Taken with my dash-cam
Finally, on the third attempt our dates coincided.  Why did Jerry and Marcia continue contacting me to care for their home and furry family?  I like to think it was because prior to sitting, we had the chance to meet each other.  That meeting was not only an 'interview' between homeowner and house sitter, it was the foundation of a friendship.

Since then, I've watched Jerry's and Marcia's home a few times.  Yes, there are still times our travel dates don't workout, but we work through it.

TUESDAY TRAVELER - Christmas 2015 With Family


Oh, the joy of spending Christmas with toddlers.  Christmas 2015 was another special day; it would be the first Christmas for Weston, the youngest of my three grandsons.  Grayson, his older brother, and their cousin, Oliver would have grandpa's undivided attention.