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"vacation destinations"

Stop. Look. Listen.

Before you cross the street, stop, look and listen. This advice was drilled into my head as a child. Before you cross the busy street - which for me was often traffic crammed Ocean Boulevard in the heat of the Summer tourist season in Myrtle Beach, SC - you should stop, look both ways and listen for traffic coming as well as look. Stop. Look. Listen.

One of our kids, at preschool age, learned this phrase incorrectly and would utter "Stop. Look and Licken," when we would prepare to cross a street. In loving and nurturing parental fashion, we never corrected her and soon we all had a new phrase for practicing safe crossings.

There are all kinds of crossings in life.

The saying stays with me. Stop, look and listen. My life is busy. I plan each day for a busy life. I enjoy it. Living is a lot like showing up at the Sunday buffet and having to chose what you are not going to taste. I'm not particularly good at saying no. I want the entire feast!

Last weekend I spent some time in Asheville, NC. I had two wonderful days with nothing planned. I went for a hike in the mountain woods, visited the Folk Art Center, took a long sit at a Blue Ridge Parkway overlook, and tarried for hours in a local coffee shop writing, reading and relaxing. I stopped, slowed down, looked at the world I was in and savored, listened, to the details and nuances of my living - that one day. It was a beautiful day. I think I'll do it some more.

When is the last time you followed the simple direction: Stop, look and listen?

I'll Be Back...

Vacation NOW!

Vacation California - The "First Times" Trip

If you know someone who knows the way, you can find a deserted, private beach in Malibu, CA. If you are fortunate, you will enjoy not only warming sunshine and hypnotic seas, but visits from seals and dolphins.

Led by my daughter, we drove to a popular beach in Malibu and found the crowds, complete with a crew preparing to film a ESPN Football Summer promo.

NFL on ESPN does Malibu

We also found a very high rock wall, adorned with rock climbers, that terminated the beach on it's South end.

Then, we were led to a hidden path that took us over the rocks and to what would be our private beach for the afternoon.

Enjoy the video below. Drop back next week for another "California First Times Trip" post.

Vacation California - the "First Times" TRIP!

I promise not to dump hundreds of photos (although I DO have them) and countless meanderings upon you from my recent trip to California. I will however share a post each week for some time on my 'first time' experiences and a few stories.

First up... my first time - hike up to the famous Hollywood sign. Originally, the sign read Hollywood Land and was intended to promote the availability of land as a new and somewhat risky real-estate opportunity.

I found it much smaller than I imagined and after several balancing tricks, we moved on to other adventures.

Sea - I Love You

I do love you for it is your simple and methodical rhythms, the rise and fall of me, a dance mated eternal, a connection to the source. You are my beginning, my mark, my destination and all that comes between is but fragile wants, washed away, mistook for something of importance, a myth of substance, now dissolved or polished and tossed away. There is no distance, no transgressing terrain, to separate us you are to and out off me, returning and drawing but to sway...sway...away with me. Still, it is best to see you and feel your pace so closely, like today.

All that I am, loves the sea.

20+ Pinterest Pins for You!

For those of you on Pinterest, here's some photos you might enjoy sharing. They're mine -so no worries about copyrights. Take and use as you wish!

Sunday Coffee Cup - Tallahassee

A few years back, while searching out possible retirement locations, my wife (bless her heart) and I were considering Tallahassee, Florida. Not anymore.

Florida, the often selected retirement destination for northerners who woke up one day from a Winter slumber and realized, “Hey – snow, ice, heating bills and fast paced talking is optional,” was never high on my list of retirement destinations. I’ve enjoyed visiting the glass bottom boats, reptiles shows, Flipper aquariums and sipping “all the orange juice you can drink for a dime,” but always felt that Florida was – well, not really the South.  Let’s face it, you can throw a case of darts in Miami and the closest thing to a Southern you’ll hit is a South American. Don’t get me wrong, I like diversity, but I prefer the slow drawl and sweet tea of a Southern lifestyle.

Enter my wife. Although she’s not a Southerner, she married me and that makes her – well, smart and acceptable. She also grew up (read 'went through adolescence') in Florida (read 'Fort Lauderdale') and to college at Florida State University – which is in Tallahassee – which isn’t really in Florida even though it is the capital of the state. Tallahassee is located in the Florida panhandle and is very close to Georgia and Alabama. My wife suggested that it was a possible retirement location, in Florida, in the South. Today’s Sunday Coffee Cup is a souvenir of our Tallahassee considerations.

Sunday Coffee Cup

Here is what I learned about Tallahassee:

1. It is a great city with lots to do – including worshiping regularly at the Florida State University shrine of Bobby Bowden.
2. Once you leave the city – there is really nothing else. Pine and palm forests, humidity you can bath in, heat that only makes you sweat more, an abundance of biting and stinging insects and pencil thin ‘beaches’ and ocean that looks like the froth of a day old latté.
3. Hiking consists of walking across level ground for miles, dodging spider webs and large spiders between pine trees.
4. The tea isn’t sweet enough.
5. You can’t get anywhere from Tallahassee. You have to go somewhere else first (read off the beaten track).
6. There are some very nice people who live there.

So, I don’t think we will be moving to Tallahassee for retirement. You know the old saying “It’s a great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.” Well, the latter is true.

Go Seminoles! Heh.

Sunday Coffee Cup – Tropical Reminder

I love the tropics. Give me 90 degree heat and 70% humidity, clear skies, crystal waters to relax in and I’m good – for a very long time. Lucky for my wife, she understands this and when we talk about vacations, the options never include heading north unless it is the peak of summer – and even then – I need a very good reason to not head to an island.

I love places like these: Bermuda, The Virgin Islands, Cozumel Mexico, The Bahamas, The Florida Keys, South Florida and in a pinch, I’ll even settle for the Carolina coast. Today’s Sunday Coffee Cup is for when I’m not at any of those places.

My mother gave us four mugs and matching saucers set for Christmas one year. They’re tropical. They make me smile and remind me of hot sun and bright sand. It isn’t anywhere near like being there, but it serves up a sizable cup of coffee and the occasion to remember and plan for tropical these.

Bermuda - Marley Beach


Bermuda - Witch's Island


Maho Bay Camps - US Virgin Islands

Cozumel 1976

Ahhhhh.... i remember them all!

Sunday Coffee Cup - Brookgreen Gardens

There is stillness in the marsh as winter begins to yield to the caresses of spring and the low country creatures begin to stir, to tilt sedated attention to the tasks of advancing life. The ancient oaks drip with creativity and Spanish moss. Water runs deep and slow connecting statuary fountains to rice fields. Nowhere am I more at home than in the space of land that rests between the low country swamps and the sand of the shore. No place better represents that ancestral space than Brookgreen Gardens. 

Today’s Sunday Coffee Cup is from my favorite place in South Carolina. Brookgreen Gardens and Huntington Beach State park rest now on what was once the South Carolina plantation home of Anna Hyatt and Archer Milton Huntington. The Huntingtons were amazing artists of word and form.

The Brookgreen Gardens website describes them:  “Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington. The Huntingtons first visited the property in 1929. They were captivated by the Carolina Lowcountry with its undulating rivers and shadowy swamplands, sandy pine forests, sweeping marsh vistas and stately moss-draped oaks. So, the philanthropist and his beloved sculptor wife bought Brookgreen Plantation and the three adjoining properties, amassing 9,127 acres of forest, swamp, rice fields and beachfront.

Originally, their plan was to establish a winter home overlooking the wide, blue Atlantic, but the beauty and history of the land quickly transformed their modest intention into something more grand. In 1931, they organized a non-profit institution with a lofty mission: providing a showcase for American figurative sculpture within a refuge for native plants and animals. A year later, they opened Brookgreen to the public. It is the first sculpture garden in the United States and designated as a National Historic Landmark.”

Brookgreen Gardens - here you will find towering statuary, bold flowers and courageous creatures – all demanding the art from within you. One sip of this place will capture you and I’m sipping the South today and stirring in a spoonful of artistic passion for this Sunday morning.  Care to join me?

Sunday Coffee Cup - Bermuda

If I could find a way to live in the sea, I would. Swimming, snorkeling or diving in tropical waters is one of my deepest pleasures in life. There is something marvelous about being in the sea. I’ve thought about the experience and why it attracts me so: In part it is being suspended, held aloft in the thickness of the sea’s insulating waters. Perhaps it is the way the world – up there – seems to be left behind and a whole new world of colors, muffled sounds and elusive creatures appears. Maybe it is even the impending danger of surrendering to the risks of the wide open ocean. I love being in and around the sea.

There is one vacation destination I’ve traveled to more than any other - Bermuda. Bermuda is a British colony that sits alone in the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean. About 400 miles due east of North Carolina, Bermuda is an island less than 4 miles wide and about 24 miles long.  It is a great place for enjoying the ocean’s sights and sounds. Snorkeling and diving are easily accessible, and the aquatic adventurer is never disappointed.

Today’s Sunday Coffee cup is from The Lobster Pot, one of the local bar and restaurant spots. Every time I reach for this playful mug it brings with it serene memories of many hours spent basking in the salt, sun and scenes of Bermuda’s seas.