Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Frugal travels, Costa Rica

October 10, 2015

Dear Readers, I am in the planning stage of my next frugal adventure.  I am planning a month long excursion  on a comfortable shoe string in Costa Rica.   I am working on my itinerary, now.  If you have any suggestions on any not to miss destinations, please share.  Happy travels, from Rene, the happy adventurous, travel frugalista.

Found this Great Article I Want to Share

June 7, 2012

http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Wild-things-on-Florida-s-nature-trail-3617347.php#photo-3014039

Wild things on Florida’s nature trail

Christine Negroni
Published 05:07 p.m., Thursday, June 7, 2012

17 of 20

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  • Manatees are fed by an observation window at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in Homosassa, Fla. Photo: Christine Negroni / Connecticut Post Freelance
    Manatees are fed by an observation window at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in Homosassa, Fla. Photo: Christine Negroni / Connecticut Post Freelance


Mention Florida as a vacation destination and most Connecticut families are likely to think of Mickey Mouse. But the Sunshine state has hundreds of out-of-the-way places where the tourists are sparse and wildlife is abundant. Travel tastes are changing and tourism bureaus on the Gulf of Mexico are actively courting eco-tourists to the Nature Coast, a 200-mile stretch of land from Tampa to the Florida Panhandle.

The No. 1 ambassador for nature tourism in the state has to be the manatee, a prehistoric-looking mammal found in Florida’s ubiquitous waterways. Within minutes of boarding a pontoon boat at Crystal River marina 80 miles north of Tampa, I saw one. Our captain, Jeff Sandman, had provided wet suits and snorkel equipment so we could get into the water and have a look.

He described the target of our interest as an adolescent and indeed it was behaving like one, in that it was fast asleep. After five minutes it slowly rose to the surface grabbed a slobbering gulp of air and returned to the bottom, still snoozing.

Viewing manatees in their natural habitat is excellent preparation for the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, where manatees that have been injured are brought for rehabilitation under the care of park manager Art Yerian. They are fed in front of a glass-walled observation area that allows visitors a dentist-like view of the highly-effective prehensile lips that make this animal such an efficient eater.

The park houses dozens of other animals native to the state and is combination zoo, wildlife refuge and museum. For the rest of my time in Florida, I found myself referring to things I learned there. Jeffrey Cordulack, events manager at the Audubon Center in Greenwich, said this is to be expected.

Visiting a nature center “helps you understand what you are seeing,” he said.

Viewing wild Florida means spending a lot of time on the water. One morning, I rented a kayak on the Weeki Wachee River in Hernando County and paddled downstream. The Weeki Wachee River, like many others in this part of the state, is dotted with underground springs that burble up creating brilliant turquoise colored pools Turtles sun themselves on logs and shore birds fish along the bank. After quietly rounding a bend, I surprised a heron who made a noisy display of pummeling wings as it beat a hasty exit.

Exploring this stretch of waterway is a true back-to-nature experience, but it is worth noting that Florida’s present-day reputation as theme park land got its start at Weeki Watchee Springs.

In 1947, Navy diving instructor Newton Perry devised a system so women could swim underwater using small air hoses. Then, in a feat of engineering, he submerged a window-lined theater into the spring and a roadside attraction was born. Today, the swimmers still dazzle visitors as fish and turtles dart around them.

I was hoping the show would include a redux of something I’d seen while snorkeling — a fish being chased by an anhinga, a long-necked bird that swims underwater at breakneck speed and looks like something from the Roadrunner cartoons. The possibility that something like that could actually happen around women costumed as mermaids makes an afternoon at this unique state park, a legitimate stop on a tour of wild Florida.

Venues to snorkel, fish, paddle or swim pop up everywhere, but there are equal opportunities to find nature on land. “More people come to Florida than any other state for wildlife viewing,” said Anne Glick of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission during a bird-watching walk at the state’s Chinsegut Center in Brooksville. To encourage the hobby among younger visitors, the state offers downloadable spotting guides so kids can check off what they’ve seen and apply for an official bird spotting certificate.

(Page 2 of 2)

Not all the wildlife on Florida’s Nature Coast is indigenous. Twenty miles east of the Withlacoochee State Park, in Dade City, Lex Salisbury and his wife, Elena Sheppa, have opened their private game farm to the public. Visitors are shuttled around in safari-like vehicles coming within spitting distance of non-native species, such as llamas and giraffes.

The day I visited, Ann Greenberg, a retired researcher from New York, was feeding grapes to lemurs. “I like the natural aspect of this,” she said of Giraffe Ranch. “It’s an experience you don’t usually get.”

Visiting a nature center or aquarium before leaving home not only enhances an eco adventure, it can provide useful tips for using gear correctly. Cordulack said many people go to the Audubon Center to learn how to use cameras and binoculars. “Believe me, when an alligator is eating a fish, that is not the time for you to be wondering if you have a rapid speed mode on your camera.”

I knew exactly what he meant when I went for a bike ride along the 47-mile Withlacoochee trail, the state’s longest paved bike path. I was told a three-wheeled recumbent bike would be more comfortable and position my head to look out rather than down as on conventional bikes. What I really appreciated was how it freed my hands to take pictures so I was able to capture the moment when a gopher tortoise — a threatened species — ambled up to my bike and took a long look at me — the strange creature it had encountered on Florida’s nature trail.

Christine Negroni writes about travel at www.gohowknowhow.com.

If you go

Florida’s Nature Coast begins an hour’s drive north of Tampa International Airport and a two-hour drive west from Orlando International.

 

Places to stay:

A number of moderately priced hotel chains, like Holiday Inn Express and Days Inn can be found but high end resorts are few.

Saddlebrook Resort in Pasco County offers large suites with kitchens and living areas, golf, tennis, a spa and activities for children. www.saddlebrook.com/

Plantation on Crystal River in Citrus County has spa facilities and a marina with kayak and pontoon boat rentals. Manatee-viewing trips can be chartered here. www.plantationinn.com/

Many of the state parks have camping facilities. http://www.floridastateparks.org/staythenight/camping.cfm

Wild Florida places of interest

Wildlife Education at the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park 352 628-5343 www.homosassasprings.org

Bird and butterfly watching and archery at the Chinsegut Conservation Center 352 754-6722 www.myfwc.com/chinsegut

Performing mermaids, swimming and kayaking at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park www.weekiwachee.com 352 592-5656

Wildlife viewing and animal feeding at Giraffe Ranch http://girafferanch.com 813-482-3400

Bike riding on the Withlacoochee Trail http://www.railstotrailsonline.com/

Read more: http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Wild-things-on-Florida-s-nature-trail-3617347.php#ixzz1x9PoBhGg

 

Read more: http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Wild-things-on-Florida-s-nature-trail-3617347.php#ixzz1x9Opr0h1

http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Wild-things-on-Florida-s-nature-trail-3617347.php#photo-3014038

A gopher tortoise approaches a guest riding on the Withlacoochee Trail in Fla. At 46 miles in length, the Withlacoochee State Trail is presently the longest paved rail trail in Florida. The trail corridor runs through small towns, ranches, and natural areas as it makes its way south from Citrus Springs to Trilby. Photo: Christine Negroni / Connecticut Post Freelance

(Page 2 of 2)

Not all the wildlife on Florida’s Nature Coast is indigenous. Twenty miles east of the Withlacoochee State Park, in Dade City, Lex Salisbury and his wife, Elena Sheppa, have opened their private game farm to the public. Visitors are shuttled around in safari-like vehicles coming within spitting distance of non-native species, such as llamas and giraffes.

The day I visited, Ann Greenberg, a retired researcher from New York, was feeding grapes to lemurs. “I like the natural aspect of this,” she said of Giraffe Ranch. “It’s an experience you don’t usually get.”

Visiting a nature center or aquarium before leaving home not only enhances an eco adventure, it can provide useful tips for using gear correctly. Cordulack said many people go to the Audubon Center to learn how to use cameras and binoculars. “Believe me, when an alligator is eating a fish, that is not the time for you to be wondering if you have a rapid speed mode on your camera.”

I knew exactly what he meant when I went for a bike ride along the 47-mile Withlacoochee trail, the state’s longest paved bike path. I was told a three-wheeled recumbent bike would be more comfortable and position my head to look out rather than down as on conventional bikes. What I really appreciated was how it freed my hands to take pictures so I was able to capture the moment when a gopher tortoise — a threatened species — ambled up to my bike and took a long look at me — the strange creature it had encountered on Florida’s nature trail.

Christine Negroni writes about travel at www.gohowknowhow.com.

If you go

Florida’s Nature Coast begins an hour’s drive north of Tampa International Airport and a two-hour drive west from Orlando International.

Places to stay:

A number of moderately priced hotel chains, like Holiday Inn Express and Days Inn can be found but high end resorts are few.

Saddlebrook Resort in Pasco County offers large suites with kitchens and living areas, golf, tennis, a spa and activities for children. www.saddlebrook.com/

Plantation on Crystal River in Citrus County has spa facilities and a marina with kayak and pontoon boat rentals. Manatee-viewing trips can be chartered here. www.plantationinn.com/

Many of the state parks have camping facilities. http://www.floridastateparks.org/staythenight/camping.cfm

Wild Florida places of interest

Wildlife Education at the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park 352 628-5343 www.homosassasprings.org

Bird and butterfly watching and archery at the Chinsegut Conservation Center 352 754-6722 www.myfwc.com/chinsegut

Performing mermaids, swimming and kayaking at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park www.weekiwachee.com 352 592-5656

Wildlife viewing and animal feeding at Giraffe Ranch http://girafferanch.com 813-482-3400

Bike riding on the Withlacoochee Trail http://www.railstotrailsonline.com/

Read more: http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Wild-things-on-Florida-s-nature-trail-3617347.php#ixzz1x9PoBhGg

I love Bayport for Sunset

June 7, 2012

Fisherman1.jpg

Don’t Stay in a Hotel/Motel by the Interstate, use VRBO

June 6, 2012

Why pay more for a musty room.  A place where you are lulled to sleep by the sounds of the interstate,  where you awaken to a special treat of fake OJ, stale cereal, powdered eggs, and stand in line to gain your bounty.   You could rent a place on VRBO or a similar site and have a whole house instead of a road side trap.   With listings like this

http://www.vrbo.com/420476  you can have a whole house, with cooking both cooking and laundry, a home-like feeling and complete privacy.  Get 5 rooms instead of one, sleep 6 or more for the same price or less.   This is a smart way to travel, frugal, comfortable and fun.    Check out some reviews of local hotels on tripadvisor.com.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g34105-d1130511-Reviews-Microtel_Inn_Suites-Brooksville_Florida.html#REVIEWS

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g34105-d80639-Reviews-Days_Inn_Brooksville-Brooksville_Florida.html#REVIEWS

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g34105-d86240-Reviews-Quality_Inn_Suites_and_Conference_Center-Brooksville_Florida.html

Check Out This Great Golf Deal….. Wow!

June 1, 2012

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g34105-d212007-Reviews-World_Woods_Golf_Club-Brooksville_Florida.html

ww-mb6.jpg
June 4th thru the 8th
 1st round – $32 +tax, includes Hot Dog Lunch
  2nd replay round same day – $20 + tax14 hour days are here….Sunset 8:40; plenty of time for 36 holes

This offer is good for any time Monday June 4th through Friday June 8th

Must print and present this offer at time of checkin.
Offer good for up to 8 golfers.

World Woods Golf Club has a new Facebook page. We will be uploading all of our Golf In The Woods TV shows over the next few months. Pro’s lessons and how to play each hole on the Barrens and the Oaks. To start, we put the first two shows Pine Barrens 1 and 2 Like us here….
 World Woods Facebook

© 2012 World Woods Golf Club
17590 Ponce De Leon Blvd | Brooksville, FL 34614 | (352) 796-5500
www.worldwoods.com | info@worldwoods.com

Affordable Comfort, Base Station for Florida Adventure

May 31, 2012

Never sit in traffic.  Be in the center of everything but so far away at the same time.  Have the security of a quiet neighborhood but the privacy of being sheltered in an oak hammock.  See birds of prey nesting in your yard, get visits from sandhill cranes, wood storks and gopher tortoise.  Rest in the comfort of your screened lanai while hummingbirds sip from the shrimp plant off the back deck.  Stay for a month.  30 golf courses within 30 miles, golf a different course every day.   Join Golf Now to get exceptional rates and check the local newspapers for coupons and specials. http://www.golfnow.com/tampa   Stay for a week or maybe two.  Make this home your base station for the many adventures that the Nature Coast, Florida Gulf, and Central Florida have to offer.  This home is mere minutes from I-75,  Hwy 301, Hwy 98 and Hwy 50 making for easy access to so many Florida adventures.  Hike, bike or roller blade the Withlacoochee Trail.  http://wahoohiker.com/2008/05/12/withlacoochee-state-forest-silver-lake-recreation-area/  Visit the eastern side of  Silver Lake and see fantastic sunsets while experiencing the eerie roosting rituals of thousands of turkey and black vultures as they start their fly in 2 hours before sunset.  Drive the sandy trails to this adventure and don’t forget to bring your camera.  Canoe Silver Lake and the Withlacoochee River.  See an abundance of wildlife, deer visiting the edge for a sip, raccoons washing their food, otters cruising along playfully and alligator giants basking on the banks.   There is also the Croom Wildlife Area that is a prime spot for Florida hunters and for those who crave a motorized adventure, motorcycle trails and ATV rental. http://www.floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/withlacoochee_croom.html          http://www.croomatvrental.com/

This is a wonderful rental available through VRBO  http://www.vrbo.com/420476     see more below

Ridge Manor, Florida, 2 bedrooms, VRBO, FRBO, VHBO, VBO, House rental by owner, Ridge Manor rental House, guestbook

Location: Ridge Manor, Central-Disney-Orlando Area, Florida, USA (35 – 40 minutes to Tampa) View Map

Accommodations:  House, 2 Bedrooms + Convertible Bed(s), 2 Baths (Sleeps 6-7)

2 BR, 1 with Queen, 1 with Twins, 1 Queen sofa bed, Sleeps 6, 2 Bath ,Central A/C and heat, W/D ,WIFI, Cable,Phone, 3 TV’s, Screened and furnished Lanai ,Fireplace, Carport, 1960’s ranch, Tile and Terrazzo, Twisty oak trees, backyard wildlife includes sandhill cranes, nesting birds of prey, and endangered gopher tortoise, clean and well equipped for all of you needs. Lovely neighborhood to walk or bike. Community Center with bingo and activities a short stroll away. Peace and simplicity in a residential setting. This is a great place to stay if you are thinking of moving to Florida and just want to try before you buy.

Refrigerator, Ice Maker, Coffee Pot, Blender, Microwave, Convection Oven, Range, Cooking
utensils provided, Linens provided, Washer, Dryer, Plenty of
Parking,  Fireplace, Screened Lanai, Central Air, Ceiling Fans

Kayaking, Canoeing, Boating, Fishing,
Swimming, Hiking, Biking, Golfing, Amusement Parks (Orlando Parks and Tampa 50 mins)
Bird watching and Wildlife viewing, Snorkeling & Rafting.
Shopping and nightlife in Orlando and Tampa. (Don’t missTampa’s
Ybor City and Channelside districts.)
Small nearby towns all within 10 minutes drive:
Brooksville, Webster (famous for its large rural flea market),
Dade City ( stroll through its many quaint antique stores while
planning lunch at Limoges) and Bushnell.
Visit the horse farms in Ocala, lovely Inverness, and the mermaids
in Weeki Wachee Springs.

Weeki Wachee, Cool Clear Water

May 30, 2012

http://www.naturallyhernando.org/

I was so fortunate to spend the month of March in this lovely cottage. This hideaway on Hushpuppy Lane was the perfect location for those looking for many things to do all with in 10 miles. The cottage was clean, comfortable and well equipped, it even had an ice machine to fill your cooler. We fished, saw manatee, turtles, herons and ibis all on the floating dock in the backyard. It was so easy to drop the canoe in that we paddled either out toward the gulf or upstream toward the spring twice per day. The water of the Weeki Wachee is crystal clear and a perfect 72 degrees. We loved swimming in the spring water it made our skin feel so soft and clean. As we paddled we had so many close encounters with wildlife everyday was a new adventure. We swam with the manatee, saw otters, and saw gar as large as our paddles. The schools of mullet were bountiful, we were entertained by their leaps that seemed simply for the joy of it. We enjoyed all of the near by parks, we visited 8 all with in 10 miles. We know why they call this the Nature Coast. The cottage is nicer than the photos reflect, we would return again and again. I would recommend this rental to those who enjoy, swimming, hiking, boating, fishing, seeing wildlife, photography, paddling, diving and adventure. Shopping was convenient. Inexpensive and pleasant restaurants near by. The owner was pleasant and helpful. The neighbors were friendly and quiet.

This and other fine vacation properties can be found at  http://www.vrbo.com/

Waterfront Home on the Beautiful Weeki Wachee

 Florida Vacation Rental by Owner Listing 261673

Weeki Wachee, Florida, 2 bedrooms, VRBO, FRBO, VHBO, VBO, House rental by owner, Weeki Wachee rental House, guestbook, Weeki Wachee

Weeki Wachee, Florida, 2 bedrooms, VRBO, FRBO, VHBO, VBO, House rental by owner, Weeki Wachee rental House, guestbook, Weeki Wachee

Location: Weeki Wachee, Florida Central West, Florida, USA (Just an Hour North of Tampa)

Accommodations:  House, 2 Bedrooms + Convertible Bed(s), 1 Bath (Sleeps 4-6)

This is the perfect spot for the fishing enthusiast or just to sit back and relax, you have found the right place! The house, right on the water, is on one level with no stairs to climb. Just an hour north of Tampa and St. Petersburg and minutes from Hernando Beach, restaurants, and shopping, this vacation rental is secluded but convenient. Only 20 minutes by boat to the Gulf of Mexico down the winding waters of the beautiful Weeki Wachee River. A jon boat and two (2) canoes are available for guest’s use at no additional charge. Our home is just minutes from Weeki Wachee Springs State Park.

http://vacationfunflorida.wordpress.com/

Time to start posting again

May 30, 2012

I’ve been so busy since the birth of my new grand-daughter and my focus has been far away from both travel and blogs.

sweet baby june

Over the past months l have traveled.  I went to Portland, OR.   It was frugal because we stayed with family.  There are two important rules when staying with family while traveling, don’t stay too long and always rent a car.

The trip was too short for my liking we only stayed for a week.  It was gloomy almost every day and we experienced a rare Portland snow.  The city had many choices for food and brew and we enjoyed both.

The city of Portland was much like many other cities and really not the kind of vacation adventure I enjoy.  The highlight of our trip was family and we spent as much time as possible with them as Mount Hood stood in the distance on constant vigil.

the family

We had the best time when exploring rural Oregon.  Now that’s an adventure.  We explored along the Columbia River and found ethereal forests draped in green fern and moss.    Waterfalls gushed from mountain crevasses filling our ears with a deafening roar and anointed us with an enlivening mist. http://traveltips.usatoday.com/waterfalls-nearest-portland-oregon-64056.html

We also drove through a mountain pass and took a ride down the coast.  Rough waters carved the coast line, crashing waves and tempting tidal pools abound.

The following photographs of the Oregon coast are courtesy of   seantaylorphotography.com

There was also a treacherous ride in a snow storm through the pass on our return to Portland, driving a rented Crown Victoria.  I can’t believe they don’t use road salt in Oregon.  Their cars don’t rust,  but if there is snow and ice you just might better not go out.

Some day we’ll return for and explore more of what the real Oregon has to offer.

2010 in review

January 2, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2010. That’s about 31 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 32 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 80 posts. There were 294 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 241mb. That’s about 6 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was July 9th with 267 views. The most popular post that day was Birthday Indulgence.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, honolulu.craigslist.org, en.wordpress.com, mail.yahoo.com, and wedding.ebonito.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for pretty feet, beautiful scenery, pedicure, avocado, and red dirt.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Birthday Indulgence November 2009
1 comment

2

Just Another Day In Paradise November 2009

3

Fruit for Free in Kauai December 2009
3 comments

4

The good old fashioned swimming hole, in Kauai March 2010

5

Poipu Bay Golf Course, Where Champions Play November 2009

Who says golf in Hawaii is too expensive.

November 20, 2010

If you are travelling to Kauai and you enjoy a round of golf, please make sure you play while your here because the Hawaiian golf experience is exceptional and affordable.  I have never experienced views quite like these at any golf course outside of Hawaii.

 

views at kukuiolono

 

If you are planning and extended stay in Kauai.  Then membership has it’s privileges at Kukuiolono Golf Course.  This course is always a bargain but if your staying here long enough to play golf more than 18 times.  Membership at $160.00 entitles you to unlimited golf for a year.  January 1st thru December 31st.

 

taking it all in after the sixth hole

 

We arrived in October, bought a membership, and we are already enjoying free golf.  Life is good.  Now Kukuiolono is a bargain even if you pay full price at $9.00 per day for unlimited walking golf but the membership makes it the ultimate bargain.  Practice makes perfect and we are honing our golf skills on a daily basis.  Chris is consistently playing in the 80’s and I am pleased to bogeying most rounds.

 

approach to the 8th hole par 3

 

To use a cart at Kukuiolono the  charge is $9.00 f0r 9 holes.  Right now the fairways are lush and greens flush and fast.  Frequent rains have made natural improvements here.

 

sparkling waters at kukuiolono

 

If you didn’t bring clubs, the course has mixed matched inexpensive rental clubs or you can buy inexpensive clubs of similar quality at garage sales, on Craigslist or at the local thrift store.  The course only requires that you have a putter and a golf bag.  Chris and I carried our clubs on the plane, then purchased golf bags and pull carts at the thrift stores at a very modest cost.  We love to play and when we do it for free, we play every day.