Textures and Shadows of Cranes Roost Park

I took some pictures at Cranes Roost Park in Altamonte Springs today before yoga.  I only took pictures around the fountain area.  My focus was on the pretty shadows of mid day light and textures.  All pictures up on Photobucket.

(I could add tons of these hibiscus I love them!)

Beach Weekend Revisiting College Town!

Here is an end to all the wishy washy fluffy bits on personal growth and back into the beautiful photos.  I needed to get away.  I was not writing, no yoga, no photography.  For whatever reason I was in a slump.  However, for Cinco de Mayo I went to the beach with my friend S and her friend C. I went to college in Melbourne and revisited a few places and just enjoyed resetting my clock on the beach.

Last Saturday I left for Melbourne, Florida at a not so early in the morning hour.  I was very nervous because the hotel I had booked was a mom and pop hotel that did not have a lot of information on it.  Plus it was more expensive than I was used to.  I usually can get a nice hotel on Priceline for cheap.  This hotel was not very expensive ($134 after taxes) but was not cheap as I am used to.  It also looked a little old.  But, after being told my five or six other hotels there was NO availability I was a little desperate.  I eventually asked one of the full up motels what was going on.  Apparently there was a country music festival with Alan Jackson.  The lady said Alan Jackson’s name like a teenager girl might say Justin Bieber’s name.

So Ocean Front Paradise Resort it was.  They are actually older one bedroom apartments.  It looked very odd from a street view because on each side were 5-6 story motels or condos.  It was made up of about 8 or 10 one story units total with a main house that the owners lived in.  The woman who owned it is a bit strict about not having any guests other than those registered on the property (cannot invite people to the beach who are not paying customers) and to not open your windows at all.  I actually appreciated the empty beach the most, not a lot of noise or litter and I understand they do not want the humid salty air ruining the apartments.

When you arrive (and check in time is flexible, I showed up at 2) and get checked in there are two side walks, one in front of the two rows of apartments.  We got the unit right next to the beach on the right.  I have no idea what number it is, but ask for it.  The windows overlooked the dunes and it was beautiful. And this might be the most amazing part, instead of having concrete built up to the boardwalk, there was actually a grassy lawn that overlooked the dunes and beach and lots of available chairs and loungers.  There was even a kayak to borrow (we didn’t).

The apartments are fully stocked with silverware and plates and kitchen ware.  The mini fridge did not seem to get things too cold, but that could have been a setting.  I did not pay too much attention since the first thing I did was go sit on the beach.  When I got to warm I got up and splashed around in the surf.  I have not been to the beach in years, it’s a pity, I used to live so close and the expense of gas to get there seems somewhat prohibitive, but I need to balance out costs and benefits.  There was a huge benefit of going. However, after trying to figure out why my sunscreen would not absorb I looked at the bottle and realized it was two years expired.  Oops.

So, I decided I would walk down to the surf shops about three-quarters of a mile away and get sunscreen.  It was a wonderful walk.  I tried to be conservative taking pictures because I only had one fully charged and one partially charged battery.  All the moving around finally caught up with me, I left the charger and 2 spare batteries at the apartment I house sat for the week before which I could not get back until the next week.  I did still get a lot of awesome pictures.

When I walked up to the Indialantic (get it, get it no really it is a town) surf shops I found some sunscreen and a really cute skirt and Coldstone coconut ice cream with almond joy in it.  Then I sat on the beach and sat on the beach some more.  When my friends called me to come get dinner I might have blown them off and sat some more. I was hoping to snap some of the moon rise, but it did not work out, hunger won.

We ate at a little restaurant in historic downtown Melbourne  called Island Pasta Company where I had the seafood coconut curry – yum).  The Mahi and shrimp were perfect and I love coconut curry.  In fact, I have been on a never-ending coconut kick lately.  I love sitting outside at this restaurant because it has a cute out-door corridor with nice lighting and ambiance and a sort of European cafe feel only with Island music.

After a nice night revisiting downtown Melbourne and seeing all the craziness in the clubs down there for Cinco de Mayo (and did not participate), we headed back to the hotel.  When S asked what I did all day other than sit on beach I gave a look that conveyed all I was feeling, “why would I need to do anything else?”  S and C pretty much collapsed onto the pull out couch while I stayed out in a beach chair for most of the night.  After brushing off the third roach (or maybe it was the same roach) from my hair I decided I should get some sleep in the softy comfy bed with springs in it.  You have no idea how much I miss a spring bed.  Sigh…

S and I got up to watch the sunrise and it was amazing.  Dolphins jumping and all.  We went to Blue Berry Muffin Restaurant which happened to be across the road, where we all ate too much and enjoyed some really good muffins.  I had the Chocolate Chip instead of Blueberry but they were both made of a corn muffin base that was so crispy on top but without so much sugar.  It was awesome.  I had corned beef hash which was just ok.  I make much, much better.

Then we all went and cleared out the apartment and laid on the beach while the lady cleaned the apartment for her next guest.  Checkout was a non negotiable 11 AM.  That was okay as by 12 we were already sunburned and dehydrated and C had to leave to go to work.  S and I stayed and walked around downtown Melbourne, I took her to Holmes Park and Promenade Park which are on Cranes Creek near where it meets the intercoastal water way.  S had not seen manatees before.  There were no manatees but there were lots of jumping fish and even another dolphin.

Then we went and windowed shopped and ate lunch at Meg O’Malley’s Irish Pub.  I love this place because it has the best corned beef sandwich I have ever had.  Even better than mine. They use real corned beef roast.  It is amazing.  After being sufficiently stuffed we walked back toward the car and stopped in a new agey sort of store.  S bought a new peacock stone and I bought a fuschite and a couple aquamarines to make a necklace out of.  I am not sure if I believe in crystal power, but I like my stones.

On our way back to the express way we got some frozen yogurt and I tried to stay awake for the drive back.  I was very happy for a bed and shower that night back into the house sitting gig.  I made sure I charged all my camera batteries and put them back in the case.

So here are the pictures (click on the link to see all of them):

Disney World!

When my parents were visiting we went to Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  My mom even posed on Cinderella’s carousel. Then last weekend my friend Helen, almost 7 years old, and I went to Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom.  I learned Magic Kingdom is opened until midnight.  It was a really long day.  There is a lot of construction at Magic Kingdom, sort of takes some of the magic away from it.  But, it should be done soon and then we will have a magic princess land in the back.

It was a great time both days, though seeing all the caged animals sort of makes me feel sad.  Helen had never been to Animal Kingdom so she was really excited.  There is a restaurant called Tuskers in the Africa area that I remember had good food that was somewhat healthy (couscous, tabouli, roasted meats, veggies, curry, salmon, etc).  When we got there though, it was just the end of breakfast so we only had half the lunch items out.  The plus side was that it was a character breakfast so we got to meet Donald and Daisy Duck, Micky, and Goofy.

At Epcot it was Flower and Garden Festival time which meant pretty orchids, flower pots, landscape designs, and the butterfly garden.

Pictures below!

Animal Kingdom

Chris Botti at Ruth Eckerd Hall Clearwater

A couple of months ago I was looking at trying to find things to do with my friends before I leave.  I used to go to several Chris Boitti concerts a year with a group of friends.  Chris Botti plays trumpet and I first saw him opening for Josh Groban in 2004.  There were two good seats in Row G left.  It was fate.

After worrying if Kathy and I were going to be able to make it on time, Kathy was able to move her schedule and have someone cover the end of her class.  We were off for the normally 1.5 hour drive before 4:30.  At 6:30, after a fun detour through Ybor City and a drive by Tropicana Field (where the Tampa Bay Rays play), we were still on the causeway over to Clearwater.  Traffic was crawling and we were starved, starved enough to grab Checkers down the road and scarf it down in the parking lot.

First off, I really loved Ruth Eckerd Hall.  I have been trying to go to a show there for years, it is just so hard to get to Clearwater since there are always tons of people going in the few ways there are to get in.  The place is a little old and outdated in looks, which is a common thing in Florida, especially for nice places near/on the beach. The seats were velvet covered and cushy and most importantly, the sound was AMAZING.  Definitely the best sound I have heard in Florida.  The seats were great.  Not the closest seats I have ever had, great for sound though and overall view.  Pictures were not as good as at the Hard Rock though.  The lighting was not as good either, which is my excuse :).

Best part was probably the fact there was no opening act.  That is right, all Chris, no sitting through another painful opening act.  Makes me happy that the entire time was to Chris.  Only it was not just Chris.  Chris has always had a top-notch band backing him up.  Only this time it was all mixed up.  His long time guitarist was out and the other members were a mash-up of new and old.

Robert Hurst was on bass.  He went to Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp like I did, makes me like him even more, though it is not necessary.  He is awesome and always gets a great groove moving.  Geoffrey Keezer was on keys.  I really loved he and Chris playing my Funny Valentine at the end, very smooth.  On drums is the always there Billy Kilson.  I only think he missed one show I have ever been at.  Billy rocks.  He is always chewing gum and is really a machine. I could not remember the name of the violinist and I believe Mark was replaced on guitar by Leonardo Amued, an amazing guitarist from Brazil.

The most amazing part of the band to me was Lisa Fischer by far (does she have an official page any where I can link to and get info from?).  She might have been the highlight of the whole show.  When she started the look of love she did this vocal playing at the front of the song that was just so amazing.  I cannot explain it.  This does not give it justice, but here is a You tube Video of a performance of her with Chris.  I do believe Billy and Geoffrey are there too.  She has sung with so many great people, Rolling Stones, Sting, Luther Vandross, etc. but she steals the show.  Really, look her up and see her in person.  It was amazing.

Kathy and I decided that this was the best sounding concert we have been to.  It was truly amazing.  Also, before we left her daughter was crying because she thought that was the last time she was going to be able to see me.  However, it was just the last time she was going to be able to see Jack, my dog.  So, I bought a ridiculously priced poster and after the show we had Chris sign it to Helen, don’t cry.  It was cute.

So, since I cannot remember the set list and the funny details of our adventure since I did not write this fast enough, I will let pictures tell the rest of the story…

The many expressions of Mr. Billy Kilson:

And, Kathy, Chris and I after the show!

If there is an easier way to get photos in a slide show or presented neatly let me know please!

More photos here.

It’s Boney James Ya’all!

I love music.  I especially love live music.  I recently went and saw the jazz saxophone player Boney James for the 4thish time.  I love Boney James.  His music is, as my girl Ni likes to say, “baby making music.”  His concerts are a mix of jazz and soul and R&B and he is just amazing.  He blends so many genres it is great for everyone with such a smooth soulful sound you want to groove along.  Did I say I love Boney?

I bought the tickets for my friend Kathy and I to go to for her Birthday.  I much prefer gifts that are trips or experiences.  Because of car problems and a Thursday night show, we could not have dinner together before the show.  So I used my Cheesecake Factory gift certificate I won at my work Christmas party and bought us avocado egg rolls, crab and shrimp dip, and stuffed mushrooms for dinner and a piña colada cake cheesecake for desert.  And the best part?  We ate it off of the trunk of my car.  As I was setting it up waiting for Kathy to arrive, people were slowing down as they drove by.  For a few minutes I wondered if I should go someplace else to set up our picnic, until I realized I had done stranger things and will do even stranger things, so why worry.

After a nice sugar high, we went in to see the concert where there were several empty rows.  The venue was Plaza Live Theater in Orlando.  It is a stage theater converted from an old movie theater.  There are two stages.  There is a bar and food vendors inside but decoration and finish inside is minimalist. Its no frills but smaller, more intimate and has good sound.

Finally a good concert photo!

Before the show started we finally got a good picture of us together at a concert.  Opening act was a guy who pretty much played every sound you would want on his guitar and recorded them into the background and played and sang vocals over the recording.  He recorded it on the stage.  His name is Chris Burns.

Chris Burns February 2012

Right before I the end of intermission is when I found out the Japan results were up but I could not find my application number before the show.  I tried to forget about it, but like that was going to happen.  So here Kathy and I were using my phone to view my ap and hers to record the number in the middle of this concert. I apologize to the concert Gods and Boney and the people around me.  But when I found out I thoroughly enjoyed the concert, even though I did not get in.

Except for the crazy guy.  There was a guy who was telling his wife not to yell out.  it was funny since he went frickin crazy.  CRAZY.  “Boneeeeeyyyyyyy!  OHHHHHH!!!  Ohhh, yeah!!”  We wondered if he wanted a room.

But Boney was hot as ever.  The entire crowd was grooving.  Women were dancing in the aisles and next to the stage.  Boney did his dancing as usual and passed right behind us through the crowd.

It is a great way of spending one of my last weekends in the Central Florida area.  Next up?  March 2 in Clearwater to see Chris Botti!

The pictures kind of suck, but here they are!

Can someone explain to me how to wrap the photos so I can align two photos next to each other?