26th Annual American Sand Sculpting Championship at Fort Myers Beach

This year’s Fort Myers Beach Sand Sculpting Championship was amazing!  I’ve never attended a competition and it was exciting to see them up close.  Their site online said it started at 9:00am…so I arrived there about 8:45am…wanting to get early morning light for good photos.  Once there I found out it didn’t start until 10:00am…so I had an English muffin at the Holiday Inn (where the competition was) and took a walk on the beach…

There was a fence with black netting around the sculptures so you couldn’t see them…until you paid the $5.00 entrance fee.  Since I’m tall…I snuck one…

I was the first one through the entrance and was able to get some photos without people in them…

The event is for 10 days and began on Friday the 16th.  The judging took place on the 18th and I attended on Monday, the 19th.

This is the sculpture that won…

Although I really liked that one, it wasn’t my favorite.

I met one of the sculptors and he informed me that the theme was winter wonderland, so I’m surprised they awarded first place to one that wasn’t within that theme.

Love this one…

This is my second favorite…I think the detail is amazing!

Jack Frost was my favorite!  The eyes look so real…I love everything about it!

This is Bill (one of the competitors).  He’s on the road a lot for competitions, and home is Montana.

This is a partial view of one of Rod Green’s chain saw wood carvings.  I lucked out with the position of the fish and the sun.  Twice a day he makes a sculpture for the audience.

Here’s Rod at work…

This one took about 30 minutes to make.  Very cool!!

I had packed a sandwich that was in the car for lunch…so I ate that while I drove the 30 minutes to my condo.  I took an afternoon jog and had salad for dinner.  See you tomorrow for the sunset at the Yacht Club that’s less than 10 minutes away!

Bicycling through Alys Beach, Florida

The stretch of pavement that extends 18 miles from Rosemary Beach to the West is perfect for walking and/or bicycling!  After jogging a couple of miles on the beach and having a healthy lunch, I set off to explore the area.

One of the areas you pass is Alys Beach…

Everything is white, blue or green!  Except for the yellow lines in the road!

I like the aura around the entry gates…

This home wasn’t in Alys Beach.  I’m not sure what development it was in, but I love the color!

I passed Camp Creek Lake and Deer Lake on the ride.  I think this is Camp Creek.

Rusty bridge and shadows love!

The day’s not over yet.  Tomorrow I have photos from an Art Festival and another fun sunset photo!

 

Bicycling through Rosemary Beach, Florida

Hopping on my bike, I set off to explore the Rosemary Beach area located four blocks east of my condo.  With over 500 homesites and a town center with shops, restaurants, and activities, you never need to leave home!

The town is a master-planned community and with its cobblestone streets and gas lanterns, has a definite European vibe.  I began to imagine the perfect couples with their perfect children, living their perfect lives in their perfect homes (kind of like The Stepford Wives), but then remembered no one is perfect!  Even on the beach you feel a bit out of place…me in my bikini…them in their one piece with a little skirt bathing suit!  Oh gad….what must they think of me…the interloper!

Rosemary is also known for its Bocce ball tournaments and the popular candy store, The Sugar Shak.

They have plenty of bicycles for hire…

The Town Hall and Post Office are charming!

A partial view of some of the shops…cafes…

The homes and condos varied in design.  This is one of the more modern homes…

The community has some beautiful common use areas…

No code…No Access!

This is another community two blocks from Rosemary…

I worked up an appetite.  Salad–Bread with Cheese–Vino!  On the balcony.  Life is grand!

After lunch…time to soak up some sun at the pool!  I think it made it to 70 degrees…just barely warm enough.

Tomorrow we’ll finish up my day with some absolutely gorgeous photos from my walk on the beach!!

I’m in Love!

I’m in love!  The colors in the gulf are surreal!  As promised in yesterday’s post, here are some images I captured walking to the beach and then with my zoom lens from the balcony of my condo…

Symmetry appeals to me…

Standing at the top of the steps…

These are from the balcony…

I have a Mac laptop with iPhoto and that’s what I use to tweek photos if necessary.  Most of these are the true colors that were captured.  I can’t believe how beautiful our world is!!

I’m a lucky girl!!

It was still early so I drove 4 blocks down the road to Rosemary beach, which is the cutest planned beach side development I’ve ever seen!  It’s upscale and trendy.  Not much of a night life…but there were a few places.  There was a musician singing and playing the guitar at one of the restaurant/bars that offered outside seating.

I stopped a lady walking by and asked her for suggestions.  Her name was Paige and as we were going over the options, she said I could come with her.  She was going to pick up pizzas and salad from one of the restaurants and taking it back to a friend’s home around the corner, where there were about 10 women celebrating one of them turning 50!  We had a glass of wine and then walked around the corner to the home/condo.  I really enjoyed talking with them.  I think they were surprised that Paige had picked up a visitor to bring back.  The condo was gorgeous and the women were well traveled and interesting!  Paige had attended the prestigious Vanderbilt University.  I love meeting new people and solo travel definitely encourages you to expand beyond your comfort zone!

Historic Pensacola, Florida

Pensacola, Florida has a lovely historic area contained within a few blocks, consisting of 27 properties, 11 of which are open to the public (for a fee).  I packed a lunch and drove the hour and 45 minutes to Pensacola from Seacrest, with no agenda or knowledge of the area.   Along the way, I passed through a variety of beach towns–Santa Rosa, Miramar, Destin, and Fort Walton.  Destin reminded me of Myrtle Beach…very commercialized with shops, restaurants, putt-putt golf…and lots more!

A stop at the Visitor’s Center and I had information about the historic area.  The Old Christ Church is located there…

I’ve never seen a green wooden fence…

I LOVE brightly colored homes with porches…

This looks to be a nice area to sit and relax…

Not sure what this is…I parked momentarily in a pay lot (but didn’t pay)…so I had to hurry.

I have a big treat for you tomorrow!  After I drove back home…I walked to the beach and have some extra special photos!

Couchsurfing Cape Town

If you’ve never heard of Couchsurfing before… based on my first experience… it’s a wonderful way to learn about a new place.  I stayed with a couple named Odette and Neal in Cape Town, Africa and they were so hospitable!

Neal and Odette

They picked me up at the airport and I even had my own bedroom in their lovely home!

Odette and Neal’s place

They enlisted their neighbor…Keith…to take me hiking to the top of Table Mountain—Amazing!

Indiavestner Trail–Table Mountain, Cape Town

Taking Cable Car down from top of Table Mountain

I ate wonderful home cooked meals with them and they even took me shopping!  I took them out to dine at a sushi restaurant as a token for their kindness.

A fellow blogger, Rory Alexander, met up with us while we were dining.  He has three blogs and I would link to them, but my link isn’t working correctly right now.  He’s an unbelievable photographer!

I’m definitely a fan of Couchsurfing now!

10 Reasons to Travel Solo

 

Solo Trip to California

Many people don’t feel comfortable traveling solo.   Usually the fears of being lonely, unsafe, and vulnerable are factors.   Some of the reasons to embark upon a solo trip are:

  1. You can go where you want.  Sometimes it’s difficult to agree upon a destination.  If your companion prefers all-inclusive beach resorts, and you yearn for an exotic spot in India, someone will be disappointed.
  2. You can do what you want.   Whether you’re traveling with an elderly parent, a child or a couch potato, when traveling with others, activity preferences are frequently dissimilar.
  3. You can eat where you want.  Some palettes tend to be very liberal and experimental and others lean towards meat and potatoes.
  4. You don’t have to listen to others complain.  If your traveling companion wants his eggs cooked to perfection and detests long lines at attractions, you’re bound to hear complaints.
  5. It’s easier to meet people.  If you tend to speak to strangers and enjoy meeting locals, then solo travel is magic.
  6. There’s no one snoring in your ear or making a mess in the bathroom.  We all have quirks and/or traits that others find irritating, but when on your own, you avoid these irritations.
  7. You can travel and walk at your speed.  Constantly adjusting your pace to match someone else’s is no fun.
  8. You can sleep late or get up early.  An early bird and a night owl traveling together don’t mix.
  9. You can travel last minute.  Some of the best deals can be found when your plans are flexible.
  10. The feeling of accomplishment you gain during and after a solo trip is very rewarding.

Start out small by going out to eat by yourself, followed by a weekend trip to build up your confidence!

Solo Cruise with Carnival

In 2007, when I still had brown hair, I went on my 3rd cruise, but my first solo cruise for a week and visited Belize, Roatan Island, Honduras, Grand Cayman Island and Cozumel, Mexico.  I booked it last minute (about two weeks in advance), so instead of paying double…it only cost a third more for the single supplement.  I met a group of guys/girls from New Mexico, a lady from somewhere…can’t remember where now…and a college student and her parents.  I ended up hanging with the college student a lot of the time.

This is a photo of them…

I’ve always fit in with younger people…they have lots of energy like me.  It was fun fixing her up with guys…there was a cute Brazilian guy that I introduced her to.  I was married at the time, so only “looking” allowed for me.  One night after a few drinks I got the idea for us to push each other on a luggage rack through the hallways at 2am…followed by turning the signs around on people’s doors…if they had it positioned to say, “Do Not Disturb”, we switched it to “Please Clean My Room” and vice versa…I know…pretty immature…but it was fun! Continue reading

California Angels

My first solo trip was to California in 2006′.  I planned my itinerary to spend two nights in each spot…San Francisco…Napa ValleyYosemiteSan Diego.  It was only $125 total to travel by Amtrak trains and buses to each destination.

DSCN0407

I had a few hours to explore San Fran when I arrived…so of course I took the famous trolley…went to the pier…walked through China town, etc. etc.  The next morning I was on a tour bus to see John Muir Woods, and needed to throw a coffee cup away.  The bus driver said I could run across the street to a garbage can.  I didn’t even see the car that hit me.  I flew onto the hood of the car, bounced onto the ground and remember thinking my hand and behind hurt.  Immediately I stood up and looked at the driver of the car.  His eyes were bulging with shock and people started flocking around me.  A woman with a cell phone was trying to get me to sit down…I kept saying I was O.K.  Within a couple of minutes an ambulance appeared and they asked who the accident victim was!

After spending four hours in San Fran General…where they wanted to cut my clothes off…no way…I was famished.  I had a taxi driver take me to a restaurant and phoned my husband with the news.  In a distressed voice, he said, “Come home now” to which I replied, “No way, this is the beginning of my trip!”    The only sign that I had been hit was a red mark on my forearm the size of a pea!   I do believe in Angels! Continue reading