Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Taste of South Florida

For Winter 2014, Kay and I decided to forego San Diego and visit South Florida, a region that has been in our sights for a number of years. For me, it was also a great opportunity to finally visit Key West and the Everglades National Park, places I had long heard of. Starting in Ft. Lauderdale, we traveled south through Miami, then along the Florida Keys to Key West. We spent 3 nights each in Ft. Lauderdale, Coconut Grove, and Key West. Next, we explored the Everglades National Park spending 3 nights in Florida City. We drove most of the roadways within the national park, the third-largest in the lower states at 1,508,538 acres, visiting all the major visitor centers. We wanted to see alligators and gators we saw, lots of them. Spotting the shy elusive Manatee, a one-time sighting, was an extra treat and I added a number of new birds to my non-existent life list. From there we headed for the west coast of Florida, viewed by some locals as the second west coast of the U.S., spending one night in Ft. Meyers before stopping in Siesta Key, just south of Sarasota, for a week. It was nice to stay put for the week, meeting up with Kay's resident friend, Dean, and to hang with Dennis and Debbie, Californian Friends who joined us during our stay in Siesta Key. We concluded our trip with a night's stay in St. Petersburg visiting their recently built Dali Museum, designed by architect Yann Weymouth, before flying home out of Tampa Bay. We had a great time exploring South Florida despite the less than perfect weather. There is definitely a different feel between Florida's east coast with its higher population density and the wide open development of the west coast, but don't be surprised if you hear a lot of foreign languages on either coast. A playground for the top one percent and a haven for winter snow-birders, both human and avian, South Florida is worth a visit for its coastal beauty and unique watery ecosystem. I didn't do a good job with my pictures showing you the wealth that resides around South Florida with its many grand homes, over-the-top yachts, and exotic cars; but trust me, it's there. My total bird count on this trip is 76 species. To see my photographs from the trip along with some narrative, click on the link below the picture.
From South Florida 2014

Monday, November 4, 2013

Hawaii 2013

While in Hawaii, the phrase "Aloha Spirit" came to mind and stayed in my consciousness for the duration. It can be described as an embodied Hawaiian trait, an enduring native expression from its past personified by people, both old timers and newcomers alike, who call the "islands" home and is emanated in the form of informal charm, warmth, friendliness and sincerity toward others. Now I can't say that I ever found my "Aloha Spirit", but I do feel that people living in Waikiki and Honolulu, as busy and crowded as these places can be, especially on the roadways, do embody a level warmth and friendliness above most larger cities. Kay and I spent three week in Oahu during the latter half of October, renting an apartment on the 31st floor of the Waikiki Banyan, which is located on the east end of Waikiki near Kapiolani Park and within easy walking distance of shops and eateries, the beach, and the Ala Wai canal. This trip turned out to be all about trying new eateries as well as some old favorites and staying active enough, be it walking, hiking, cycling or snorkeling, to keep up with all the dining out which was all good but with some real winners, to name a few, like Helena's for Hawaiian food, "The Alley", a local diner within the Aiea Bowling alley, and Tenkaippan for ramen. To see my photographs from our trip along with some narrative, click on the link below the picture.
From Hawaii 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pictures from Waikiki

Kay and I are here in Hawaii finding our aloha spirit and spending quality time together far from the demands of the home front. Aloha everyone!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

European Bike Tour of 2013: The Complete Photo Journal

During the summer of 2013, nine friends and friends of friends, five from the UK and four from the US which includes me, did a self supported bicycle tour along the Eurovelo 6 route through France and Germany with short jaunts into Switzerland, traveling about 1,400 miles with major segments alongside three of Europe's largest rivers; the Loire, the Rhine and the Danube. The Eurovelo 6 route, which travels from Nantes, France near the Atlantic Ocean to Constanta on the Black Sea, is one of the 14 routes within the European Velo Network created by the European Cyclists’ Federation in 1994. After an overnight ferry across the English Channel from Portsmouth, we started our bicycle tour in St. Malo in northern France on July 16th traveling southward for 3 days until we crossed the Loire River to join the Eurovelo 6 route which travels in a nonlinear but easterly direction alongside countless canals and rivers with short stretches into the adjacent hillsides, where upon we ended in Passau in southern Germany on Aug 19th at the border of Austria. As always, it was a wonderful way to see and experience these countries' food (and drinks), culture, history and natural surroundings. Many thanks to my friends for getting this trip together and for handling all the logistics which included bus shuttles, ferries, trains, cycling schedules, accommodations, and being trail bosses, as such a trip would have been impossible for me without all of them. I divided my photo journal into three groups as represented by each of the three pictures below. To see all of the photographs within each group, click on the link below the pictures.

Portsmouth, UK to Sully Sur Loire, France
From Eurovelo Tour: Portsmouth, UK to Sully Sur Loire, France


Sully Sur Loire, France to Reidlingen, Germany
From Eurovelo Tour: Sully Sur Loire, France to Reidlingen, Germany


Reidlingen, Germany to Market Harborough, UK
From Eurovelo Tour: Reidlingen, Germany to Market Harborough, UK

Monday, August 26, 2013

Home Bound

In the Birmingham International Airport with my last English breakfast which I always enjoy due to the variety of items on the plate: over easy eggs, sausage, thick slice bacon, baked beans, mushrooms, half tomato, and potato paddies. It will be good to be home, but first, I have a three part flight.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Hanging in the UK

Hanging in Market Harborough with Shirl and Lee, and with Veronica in Leicester until my flight home Monday morning. Pictured below, from Veronica, are Scottish Eggs which have chopped hard boiled egg centers surrounded by sausage meat, rolled in crumbs and deep fried. Tasty! Then let there be ice cream in Market Harborough. Thank you so much Shirl and Lee for your hospitality.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Safely Home

After two days of travel, four trains, a train delay, a ferry crossing, and a late evening bus shuttle, seven of us are all back in the comforts of our homes and our wonderful tour of France, a small part of Switzerland, and Germany becomes a memory as we readjust to daily life and all that entails. The adventure for Frank and Eileen continues as they are off to Iceland from Munich for another adventure. Thanks Lee and Adrian for getting us all home. Traveling is also about adjusting as we go since we can't always expect things to go as planned. In the end, we got a few extra hours in Munich and Paris, and we are all safely back home. Job well done and another tour of a lifetime. Pictured below is Lee and the can of tuna he found in his panniers when we got home.  If you ride with Lee, you know there is food around but you have to get it from him.



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