Sunday, January 25, 2009

a weekend getaway: Disney World

one of the many benefit to being a Floridian, aside from all the natural beauties, is the theme parks. not only are there many close at hand, but fortunately if you are from here there are discounts and special offers. this past weekend, i took advantage of one of these: Disney's Florida residents pass. and as WDW is just a quick 2 hour drive from SRQ, it is totally doable for a fun weekend getaway. Disney is one of those magical places that can bring out the kid in me (though it is hard for some to get past the crowds). to me, it is magical in the sense that most people are happy to be there and tend to act just a little 'goofy' themselves: i like to buy character ears and/or hats whenever i go to wear for the day (this time i chose a pirate gooft bandanna for MK and a safari hat for AK ~ too fun!). even if you are not planning to fully give yourself over to the idea of the Disney celebration, it is hard to avoid the excitement upon entering a park (especially if you have kids in tow). and i was lucky enough to go with my 2 nephews on their very FIRST trip to Disney (their joy was palpable). tlak about feeling the magic!

T-Rex Cafe @ downtown Disney

awesome fireworks display @ the Magic Kingdom

the entrance to the Animal Kingdom

for more photos of Disney World, go to Strawberry Moon.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

appreciating what you have (part 2)

Sarasota, Florida
in a recent day trip around sarasota i really got the sense of reconnecting myself with areas of my community that seemed to have been previously placed on the back burner of my mind. i set out that day with purpose: to rediscover some of the things i enjoyed as a child and to avoid tourists (if at all possible). well, i guess one out of two ain't bad. ;)

i started the day with a trip to the local grove store. it's funny, you know it's only about a block away from where i work but i couldn't tell you when was the last time i visited. but, to my joy, it had not changed. same green shingle roof, same smell, same free orange juice samples. mmm... there is nothing like fresh orange juice during season, so good. so i sampled my orange juice while i explored the store and topped off my visit with a orange/vanilla swirl cone (a childhood favorite to be sure). after taking a moment to reflect and swing on the porch swing outside, i was on my way.

my next destination was downtown to the park on the bay, where i took in the fabulous scenery and admired the art pieces along the bayfront. these art pieces change from time to time, but this year a previous piece was brought back (supposedly under controversy, if you
talk to the locals - however, the interim statue looked like a huge tooth to me, so i personally was pleased to have the previous piece back in place). the piece was a recreation of the famous photograph of a couple kissing on V-J day, which was built into a larger than life statue and placed again at the north end of the row. while taking some fun photo shots around the statue, i ran across a few interesting characters, one of whom was an artist painting the statue (talk about remembering a moment in time: a painting [shown right] of a statue of a photograph of an actual event from over 60 years ago). another man (whom i took to be a semi-local, or a snowbird), was very friendly and starting giving me the complete background of the statue and the controversy behind it. he was so into giving his tutorial that i never had a chance to tell him that i wasn't a tourist, but he enjoyed the telling and i was pleased to hear him. after a while, i walked back towards island park, making sure to read the names on the boats parked along the row as i went (some were pretty amusing). at island park i took brief respite on a bench by the bay where i watched a few kids make some humorous attempts at sailing.

from there i headed to the north end of siesta key, as there are a few secluded beach access areas (ie. less tourists). i only stayed about a half an hour or so, and i didn't even walk all the way down to the water, but i truly appreciated it while i was there. i took my shoes off, walked in the powdery white sand, and people watched. unfortunately, i had to head out and ended up leaving before the beautiful sunset. but i was able to catch the sunset a few days later, because here beautiful sunsets on the beach happen almost daily. and for that i am most appreciative. :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

on a more serious note...

another hiccup in my travel postings. i cut my sarasota blog into parts because i unexpectedly had to go out of town. i traveled with my entire family up to south georgia to attend my uncle's funeral. it has been a very sad time, but having blogs has actually been a good outlet that has allowed me to remember him well.

a beautiful pecan orchard
i will try and start posting again soon.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

appreciating what you have (part 1)

Sarasota, Florida
i think it would be fitting that my first blog post dedicated to an experience in traveling be about the beautiful place in which i live. far too often i forget what a wonderful and beautiful town i live in. perhaps i'm too busy plotting and planning other places i want to immerse myself in. but for whatever reason, every now and again (usually when family and/or friends visit) i stop and appreciate what i have. white sandy beaches, an artistically and culturally diverse community, parks full of lush vegetation and green marshes, water all around us in every shape and size (gulfs, rivers, creeks, lakes, ponds, the intercoastal water way), and citrus groves (which comes with one of the best aromas in the world: oranges). all of this, yet i never fail to find new discoveries with each exploration of this fabulous city.

a few pix to give you a feel of the area:
the myakka riversarasota bay
marsh landsnatural floridasunset off north siesta keysmall inlet surrounded by mangrovesstatue downtown