Thursday, March 18, 2010

St Patrick's Day in Savannah, Georgia

Hope your St Patrick's Day was full of fun and good cheer!

We had no idea how big the St Patrick's Day celebration is until we cruised into Savannah, Georgia one lovely spring. We had stopped at Palmer Johnson Marina in Thunderbolt to get some work done on the boat. Upon checking out, the marina manager told us about Savannah's biggest annual celebration, and enticed us to stay by throwing in 2 free nights. If it weren't for him, we would never have known that St Patrick's Day is Savannah's largest celebration (it draws the second-largest crowd in the U.S., after New York City), with over 400,000 people attending.

Savannah is a beautiful city. Every few blocks is a square filled with palms, crape myrtle and stately live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss. It was spring and azaleas were in full bloom. Savannah was saved from the ravages of the civil war, thanks to its residents who had the foresight to surrender the city. Most homes and buildings in the downtown area have been restored to their former glory; you can see their intriguing architecture as you walk along the parade route.

Thousands of revelers lined the streets and waited eagerly for the colorful floats, and marching and pipe bands to pass by. Irish music wafted in the air. City fountains were dyed green. Many people not only colored their hair, they colored their dogs too! After the parade, revelers flocked to City Market and River Street to continue the celebration. Great times indeed.
The captain was here.

These people go all out for St Patrick's Day in Savannah, Georgia.

This post has been entered into the Grantourismo and HomeAway travel blogging competition for July

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Friday, March 12, 2010

About blogging and Sandhill Cranes

When I left my IT job to go cruising end of year 2000, the tech bubble was beginning to burst. That was the same year I learned about Google as the upcoming search engine. How times have changed in nine years! Today, we are faced with another bubble, the housing bubble, that has almost brought the US economy to a standstill. Google is now a household name, the new standard for search and advertising. The internet has taken a new life of its own. From email to chat and Skype and now blogging and social networking, the world continues to get smaller and smaller. The last couple of years have seen the blogging scene exploded. I had kept my cruising log on Yahoo Geocities, but when it closed last year, I too jumped on the blogging band wagon. I am very late to the game, and there is much to learn.

What I didn't know is that there are so many bloggers out there, blogging about everything from food, writing, photography to career coaching and leadership. What's even more amazing is that many of these bloggers excel in their crafts. One such blogger whose work I highly admire is Jen Yu of Use Real Butter. In her own words, she is "an engineer, scientist, programmer, web designer, photographer, cook, outdoor enthusiast, smartass, and proficient noodler." Wow! After reading her blog, you'd be uttering the same. Not only is she a prolific writer, she is a fabulous cook (her husband is one lucky dude) and an incredible photographer. And I always learn something from her postings.

Recently, Jen posted about a trip she took to the San Luis Valley in Mosca, Co to see the Sandhill Cranes migration and The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. I knew about the Sandhill cranes, but never heard about The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. It sounds like an awesome place to visit! Jen's photography of both locations are absolutely stunning. It inspired me to post about the Florida Sandhill cranes that frequent our yard. Yep, even in overdeveloped Tampa, these gentle birds are often seen grazing our land. I believe they are permanent residents here. You can read more about Sandhill Cranes on Wikipedia.

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Things to do in the Florida Keys

A couple of days ago, I published Vacation Guide 2010: The Florida Keys to AssociatedContent, an online writing website where I am a Featured Travel Contributor. Writing the article brought back sweet memories of our trips to the Florida Keys over the years.
Looking at Mallory Square from our anchorage
Scenes of Key West
the incredible Key West sunset

Especially memorable was our cruise from Key Largo to Key West in January 2002. It was a time when diesel fuel was cheap (about $1.30 a gallon), and the entrance to Boot Key Harbor in Marathon was littered with sunken or almost sunken boats (it has since been cleaned up).

Marathon remains to be a cruiser's paradise, with boatyards and marine stores galore and easy access to grocery stores, restaurants and library. You can find boaters from all over the world here as they stop over on their way to Cuba, the Caribbean or Central America. Over 300 boats are docked, anchored or moored in the protected Boot Key Harbor alone. To secure one of the 225 moorings managed by Boot Key Harbor City Marina, you will need to make your reservations months in advance, so plan ahead.

Arriving in Marathon by land, you will find that the city is nothing more than a laid back fishing village. Its beautiful azure waters, and the wonderful fishing are what attracts people to its pristine shores. Take a dinghy ride or kayak around to see an area teeming with an abundance of wildlife which include dolphins, sting rays, manatees, and a variety of birds (the ubiquitous pelicans, cormorants and anhingas, egrets, herons, woodstorks, and many more).
Up close and personal with manatee in Marathon
Key Deer at the National Key Deer Refuge in Big Pine Key
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