Songs of the Sea: Some Beach

I’m still here in Huntsville (Alabama- NOT the prison in Texas!). The TBEX is over now, but I’m not flying home til tonight. Checkout time is noon and the art museum across the street doesn’t open til then, so I figured I’d try to catch up a little and post. 🙂

This song by Blake fits my mood pretty good this morning. There were lots of representatives from the Gulf Coast states (and their beautiful beaches) at the TBEX, Blake is from Oklahoma and they were there too.

The TBEX has been great. I met tons of really interesting people. Everyone has a story and so many are bloggers.

The breakout sessions were full of great information. I hated to miss any of them, I appreciate that some of the presenters gave out links to their slide shows so I’m hoping I can go back later to see the ones I missed and review some things I didn’t really catch.

I’ve been blogging for a couple of years now, but I still don’t really know what I’m doing here. 😉

Our destination hosts here were fantastic. The Von Braun Center, Huntsville, North Alabama, Alabama, and the US Space & Rocket Center really went all out to show us a great time here in their city. We spent the days learning how to blog better and networking with destinations. Nights were spent at special events held for us around town.

I arrived on Thursday (10 mins late for my scheduled tour to the Redstone Arsenal to taste the craft beers). I spent the afternoon at the hotel catching up on emails while chatting with other bloggers waiting for our rooms to be ready. The hotel made the waiting much easier to bear by offering free massages and blackberry mojitos. 🙂

Check out my instagram pic, I’ve got to run and check out, will have to finish this later…

Having a Great Time in Huntsville

It’s been a whirlwind of activity since arriving in Huntsville Thursday afternoon. Keynote speakers, breakout sessions and amazing parties every night.

I’ll write more later, getting ready now for another party at a place called Campus 805. It looks like an amazing venue, but I doubt it can beat the US Space & Rocket Center last night. 🙂

Huntsville CVB has really done a fantastic job of hosting the TBEX and all of us travel bloggers. 🙂

Stronger

I’ve spent the last week, plus so far this week, getting by on less than 4 hours of sleep per night. I was in the “Train the Trainer” course last week and then taught Basic Fire Fighting this week. It’s been killing me! I spent most of the weekend catching up on sleep. Not much time to spend on blogging or anything else.

Tomorrow I have the day off and will try to catch up on sleeping again since I am leaving early Thursday morning for the TBEX in Huntsville, AL. I doubt I will get much sleep while I’m there either.

I’m looking forward to finding ways to improve my blog, meeting interesting people, and exploring the area around Huntsville. Are any of you going to be there? Anybody know of ‘don’t miss’ things to do/see in Huntsville?

Z is for Zanzibar- #AtoZChallenge

Z” is for Zanzibar. And the last post in this year’s A to Z Challenge! I can’t believe I managed to finish and post for every letter. Usually, in these long challenges, I get so far behind I just give up. I’m glad it’s over tho. It’s hard to find time to post every day.

I have to say I loved Zanzibar! I was there on vacation last November. I took a long trip for a photography safari with Great Escape Publishing. I really enjoyed the safari. We went all over the Northwest area of Tanzania. From Arusha to Lake Eyasi, the Ngorongoro Crater, the Serengeti…

It was fantastic! We got to see all kinds of animals from our jeeps. The drivers were great at finding the game. We would sit quietly and watch them do their thing while we furiously took thousands of photos. 🙂

It was a week of amazing experiences, but a week of early mornings and late nights. I was exhausted at the end of it. I was glad to have scheduled some extra time before flying all the way home to Texas.

I had thought about climbing Mt Kilimanjaro. It is on my bucket list. I just didn’t think I was up to it at that point. I wanted some rest and relaxation. I decided to head over to the nearby island of Zanzibar for a few days.

Wow! Such a gorgeous island. Stone Town is intriguing. It has an interesting history, it’s easy to imagine yourself back in the days of the Sultans as you wander the winding lanes of the old town. The people were friendly and eager to show you around town, or entice you to buy their specialty spices or colorful paintings.

The food was cooked with exotic local spices and served with a smile. The night market near the docks and the fort was a great place to hang out. I liked to grab a fruity drink and watch the sun go down before wandering around and choosing a cook for my dinner.

After a couple of days in the city, I headed up North to relax on the beautiful white sand beaches. I spent a few blissful days relaxing under the casuarina trees, wading in the ocean, sailing on sunset cruises and SCUBA diving around the area.

The diving was excellent! Best I’ve seen in quite a while. I saw lots of colorful coral and all kinds of sea life. I brought my camera, but only one dive was shallow enough for me to use it. 🙁

#sea cucumber #Zanzibar

It’s a long, long way from Texas, but if I ever get the chance to visit Zanzibar again, I will definitely take it!

X is for Xcaret- #AtoZChallenge

 

X” is for Xcaret. Xcaret is a pretty cool attraction on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Not too far from Cancun. They call it an “eco-archaeological park”. It’s one of those tourist attractions your hotel will try to set you up with, which was how I found out about it.

I was on vacation with a friend in Cancun a few years ago. I’m past the point of spending my vacations just drinking and partying. I like to explore the place I’m in. My friend is older than I am. She likes to learn about new places too, but at a much more relaxed pace.

We decided to check out Xcaret since it looked like it had enough things to do so that we could both do different things and neither would get bored.

I was really into the whole idea of drifting down the underground rivers, snorkeling with dolphins (extra $$$), and checking out the Mayan ruins. She was more into watching the local dancers and talking to the other tourists while drinking a few cold ones. 🙂

We met up when I took a break at the end of a river run. I went quite a few times before I was ready to try snorkeling. I was disappointed with the snorkeling tho, it was really nothing special. At least not where I was. I saw lots of rocky limestone lagoons, I don’t remember seeing coral. Plenty of fish, but not a lot of variety or color. Maybe I just missed the good stuff?

Neither of us did much exploring of the terrain. I did take a walk around the lagoon, but it was very hot and I couldn’t wait to get back in the water. The landscape was just not that interesting to me. I saw a lot of iguanas and a few brightly colored birds (but I couldn’t ID them). We both really enjoyed watching the shows. The dancers were fantastic.

V is for Vegas- #AtoZChallenge

V” is for Vegas! “Las Vegas” technically, but what the heck. I figure I can play a little fast and loose with the technicalities, right?

So, I actually made (most of) this post a couple of years ago. The last time I went to Vegas.  It was for a challenge using the word “dreamy”. But I figured, it never really changes much there. So, why not do it again. 🙂

Here goes…

I already posted one photo from my trip to Las Vegas, but it’s such a dreamy kind of place. I thought about it and came up with some more ideas.

I posted another one about an Elvis impersonator who was performing right outside my hotel. Lots of women thought Elvis was pretty ‘dreamy’. Then I posted some dreamy girls for the guys. 🙂

Las Vegas really is a dreamy kind of place. I think it’s one of those places that’s built on dreams. All kinds of dreams going on there. People go there dreaming to hit the jackpot and get rich. They go there hoping to hit it big and make a name for themselves as a singer or a dancer or chef or…

I love to hang out in old downtown. It’s not like the Strip (which is interesting in a different way), where things are spread out and isolated. Every casino has it’s own attractions and you pretty much stick to one since it’s a pain to move on to the next.

Downtown is different. Everything is close together. There’s lots to do (Mob Museum, Container Park, Neon Museum), and all kinds of things going on. Fremont Street is the hub of all the action. There are at least a dozen different casinos all within easy walking distance. It’s easy to hit one for drinks, another to eat, try the poker at one, blackjack at another…

Fremont Street is really pretty cool. They have a light show projected on a huge blocks-long overhead screen. You can go zip-lining right over the top of all the crowds. There are artists at work, lots of little shops along the street. They have all kinds of bands and performers scheduled to play on the various stages. And then there are all the unscheduled ‘performers’. People who just like to come out and play. 🙂

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA               

U is for Underground City- #AtoZChallenge

U” Is for the underground city of Derinkuyu in Turkey. It’s only one of the most famous of them, there are quite a few others in the area (200+). They are very old. Derinkuyu is supposed to be at least 2000 years old. I was impressed with the amount of work it took to carve out the huge labyrinths of rooms, tunnels, wells, and even defensive falling stones. All underground. All done without electric lights, or power tools.

The people lived their lives down there. Their whole families, even their animals (sheep, goats, donkeys, chickens, etc). I kept wondering how much smaller than us they must have been. I barely made it through some of those tunnels, and was really glad to get to one of the larger spaces.

It’s hard to imagine how someone could spend so much of their lives below ground like that. No wind, no sun, no rain. I don’t think they lived like that all the time. Just for especially dangerous times. But it must have been pretty dangerous a lot of the time to make it worth all that effort, right?

I think I would go stir crazy cooped up like that (and we had the benefit of electric lights while we were visiting). Imagine without that- uuuuughhhhh!