3/161: Lover’s Key State Park

I’m pretty sure we’re list freaks.. We find a list of places  and decide to do it. (48 contiguous states? Check. Every country in the world? Wellll, that will take a little longer, but we’ll get there eventually…)  Thinking a little bit closer to home, we decided to go visit every state park in Florida. Good news! There’s 161 of them. 

Living in Miami wed never known there’s that much land to make state parks OUT of. Here we are, though, at #3: Lover’s Key State Park. It’s about two hours to drive across the state to Ft. Myers, and it’s well worth a visit. A $2 donation will get you in (honor’s system!). Park your car, no fees, no frills, just a really good beach.

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Let’s describe the sand. Oh, the sand is like baby powder. So gentle and fine and so beautiful you don’t mind it creeping in your shoes or between your toes. Even when it’s hot the sand remains cool. (This is not so on the East Coast, where the sand from the Atlantic Ocean will burn your toes right off!). OK. Enough about the sand. The water. Crystal clear. Even after a storm it’s clear. It’s got this turquoise almost island tint to it. It’s beautiful. Refreshing and clear. You can see every speck of baby powder sand.

Then there’s the things to look at. Seashells. Sand dollars. Sponges. Real live sponges. Coral. Crabs (not the bad kind, the scurrying across the sand kind). Most importantly, the beautiful lack of people. Though the parking is right off the main road, it really  feels like you have the place to yourself.

Close up of a sponge
Close up of a sponge
Sponges vary from a beige to orange to a bright red
Sponges vary from a beige to orange to a bright red
We wandered to the back of the park to have the sun right in front of us. No matter where you are on the Gulf Coast of Florida, you can’t go wrong with the sunset. This is a great place if you are the kind of person that likes long walks on the beach. Here’s our favorite sunset shots: Let us know which view you like more! 
 
To the west, a big orange ball sinks quickly into the Gulf.
To the west, a big orange ball sinks quickly into the Gulf.
To the east, cotton candy clouds  of pink, blue and purple cover the sky.
To the east, cotton candy clouds of pink, blue and purple cover the sky.

#5: Depart, Connect or Land at 10 New International Airports

The Day Zero Project is a platform where people everywhere create a list of 101 things they would like to do in 1001 days. It’s just shy of three years and can be anything from learning a skill to completing an old goal or something like finishing the Krispy Kreme Challenge (eating a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts and then running a mile!)

One of the things on my list is the title and purpose of this blog: depart, connect or land at 10 international airports that I have never been to. As of today, 10/15/2014, I have been to the following:

Louisville: 07/07/2013
Denver: 09/02/2013
Baltimore: 09/22/2013
Houston Hobby: 01/31/2014
Austin: 01/31/2014
Nashville: 02/02/2014
Seattle: 05/21/2014
Chicago O’Hare: 09/06/2014

There is something very magical that happens at airports; I frequently get odd looks when I mention this to someone as, for the average Joe, an airport brings about a lot of stress: waiting in line after line, sitting in uncomfortable airport seats, paying $12 for a pack of Twizzlers, sick people everywhere, and the jostling and general annoyance when people begin to board the plane and insist on sitting in their designated seat even though it makes absolutely no difference where you sit. This is why I like Southwest’s style of “sit wherever the hell you want. We just have to get this plane in the air.”

I digress. A life of a person reads much like a chapter book. Some chapters are better than others, but an airport is a platform for a serendipitous moment, an exchange, an opportunity to meet someone who resides thousands of miles away from you but is a kindred spirit. It’s a platform where sharing the armrest and asking someone “Are you visiting or going home?” establishes a long-forgotten human connection. It’s almost liberating. The odds of seeing that person again are slim. Something is weighing heavily on your conscience, and here you are in a plane with infinite non-biased third party perspectives. Each story a person tells me is akin to ripping out a page from his or her book and handing it to me.

Here you are. I won’t see you again. Here’s where I am right now. Here’s what I’m thinking. What I’m worried about.

How beautiful that is. You’re now in that person’s book. A guest star. 5 minutes. 5 seconds.

So many things happen before you get to an airport. You pack. There’s feelings of enormous intensity both good and bad. Some people are leaving home; some people are in search of it. Some people are reuniting with their beloved. Some are running away. Some are pursuing an opportunity. Others are leaving one behind. Some are moving away. Some are moving back. Some are ending relationships. Others are trying to fix them.

All beautiful stories. All honest scripts of the human condition. Together in a stew that is an airport.

I wanted to depart, connect or land at 10 international airports for this reason. Seattle passengers were more outdoorsy, down to earth, and more liberal than the people in Miami. People in Austin were fun-loving, food-loving, beer-loving people. Nashville was rife with that famous southern hospitality and amazing sweet tea.

A follow up to this blog, Airport Moments, will be crafted shortly after I post this.

Maybe this makes sense. Maybe it’s poetic. Maybe it’s far out and I’m seeing a disaster area through rose colored glasses. I won’t deny any of these sentiments. But an airport is one of the places that excites me: a raw hive of half-written stories.

MM.

A Step, a Mile, Thousands of Miles

When describing our travels and adventures to others, the most common response received from friends, coworkers, and random strangers alike is something akin to “Really?! Are you crazy?”

Melody and I enjoy a challenge.

Whether it be to visit 48 States and take a picture of ourselves next to each “Welcome to ______” sign, or to get from Portland, ME to Baltimore, MD in 6 1/2 hours (not a favorite memory for Melody)…we welcome the challenge.

Our first ‘real’ outing was many many moons before our relationship began, but from the moment I met her – amid the deafening roar of the first top-fuel dragster event at Palm Beach International Raceway (formerly known as Morosso) – I knew that this was the person I wanted to get to know better and a person whom I would take great pleasure in having the company of. The only problem was…I was in a relationship, and so was she. This would prove to be the greatest test of my patience to date.

After a series of trials and tribulations with other people, I decided to take a year off of the ‘dating’ scene. What I found within this year was that I am much stronger than I gave myself credit for, and that if I wanted to…I could do great things. I focused on work, developing my business, and thought about the future and where I wanted it to take me. This was also when I began traveling and spending more time with friends, developing stronger relationships with my friends.

In March of 2012, having worked as a Valet attendant at a condo in Boca Raton, FL for the previous 2 years, I realized that I was living a stagnant life and needed to make a change. I decided to pursue my business full-time. The first few months were a little tight, but with the insight from other young professionals and my mentor Dr. Kerensky, I soon began to build my client list and develop my specialization into Efficiency Consulting.

Seven months later, I secured the job which I am still at today, implementing policy and procedures at a construction company based out of Miami, FL as a Special Projects Manager.

One late night in February, after a long day at work, the decision was made that I would take a random trip up to Jacksonville – final destination unknown. I had been speaking with Melody off and on since October of the previous year, and I invited her to join me for a road trip. To my delight, she agreed – sparking our non-stop travel since.

Our first trip totaled 1700 miles in 3 days, driving nearly non-stop. We left from Boca Raton and drove to Jacksonville, FL through the night. We watched the sun rise at the Jacksonville Beach Pier, snapping beautiful photos along the way.

Sunrise at Jacksonville Beach

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Melody on Boardwalk

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Exhausted and weary from our travels, we got breakfast and coffee, then visited the local Walgreen’s. We procured a map and four quarters, dropped the quarters, and drove to the intersection of the coins – which happened to be Fitzgerald, GA.

Along the way, we had a cotton – pickin’ time!

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Built some Snowmen!

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Made Snow Angels!

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We drove across Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina, talking and laughing, with only one night of sleep in Georgia.

This trip marked the first real time that we had ever spent together alone, and was a true test of endurance for us. We spent nearly 40 hours in the car together, and what’s more…we didn’t kill each other.

Since then, we have logged about 12k miles driving around the United States. We have taken pictures of ourselves next to 46 of the State Welcome signs (we managed to miss Massachusetts somehow after driving through it 4 times and it was raining when we went through New York), and have been on many amazing journeys, with many many more planned.