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, HuntsvilleNorth AlabamaAlabama, 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…

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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?

Share Your World: 2016- Week 23

I’ve got a semi-workable computer today, so I’m joining in Cee’s Share Your World challenge for this week (week 23-2016). She always has really great challenges and in this one she’ll just ask a few simple questions. It’s always interesting to see all the different ways people answer.

What was one of your first moneymaking jobs (other than babysitting or newspaper delivery)? My first moneymaking jobs (other than working for my father painting, plumbing and pulling weeds for $3/hr) were working on a party fishing boat as a galley hand/deckhand on the weekends, and working as a dishwasher at a little family owned Greek restaurant down the street after school.

What is your favorite month of the year? I’ve never really thought about it, but I would probably choose March. It’s not too hot yet, and the weather is usually pretty nice. Not so gloomy/cloudy/rainy and temps are decent- in the 70’s still. The wildflowers are in bloom and here in Texas, they are really amazing. Just acres and acres of bluebonnets, or driving along the roads with indian paintbrush, bluebonnets, buttercups and the rest. It’s stunningly beautiful. It’s also the month for St Patricks Day parties and parades and one of my favorite holidays. 🙂

What three things in nature do you find most beautiful? The sea, the sky, mountains. So many aspects of all three of those things, too many to describe, I find beautiful. Sunsets, sunrises, rainbows, the way the clouds form and shift, the STARS in a clear night sky! The rolling waves, crystal clear turquoise waters lapping a sugar sand beach, the amazing diversity of sea life on a coral reef. Tall peaks against the sky, flowery alpine meadows, majestic glaciers. SO much beauty all around just those 3 things.

List at least five of your favorite spices? (excluding salt and pepper) I like garlic salt, onion salt, Mrs Dash, Nature’s Seasonings, cinnamon, cloves, dried chopped onions, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and some mustards. Those are about the only ones I use.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to attend the TBEX (blogging conference) in Minnesota. I met a lot of cool people and learned a lot. I’m looking forward to having 3 days of paid work next week.

Songs of the Sea: Rolling on the River

Here’s a classic for my Songs of the Sea series. Ike and Tina Turner with “Rolling on the River’ (Proud Mary). Back in the days! Love this stuff!

I was recently ‘rolling down the river’ myself, complements to the great people of Minnesota. They put on a great party for the attendees of the TBEX, with great food, drinks, music and even a ride on a riverboat! I couldn’t help thinking of this song. 😉

Tina Turner – Rolling On De River Lyrics

 Send “Rolling On De River” Ringtone to your Cell 

Y’ know, every now and then

I think you might like to hear something from us

Nice and easy

But there’s just one thing

You see we never ever do nothing

Nice and easy

We always do it nice and rough

So we’re gonna take the beginning of this song

And do it easy

Then we’re gonna do the finish rough

This is the way we do proud mary

And we’re rolling, rolling, rolling on the river

Listen to the story

I left a good job in the city

Working for the man every night and day

And I never lost one minute of sleeping

Worrying ’bout the way things might have been

Big wheel keep on turning

Proud mary keep on burning

And we’re rolling, rolling

Rolling on the river

Cleaned a lot of plates in memphis

Pumped a lot of tane down in new orleans

But I never saw the good side of the city

Till I hitched a ride on a riverboat queen

Big wheel keep on turning

Proud mary keep on burning

And we’re rolling, rolling

Rolling on the river

If you come down to the river

I bet you gonna find some people who live

You don’t have to worry if you got no money

People on the river are happy to give

Another Party!

Attending the travel bloggers exchange (TBEX) has been a real eye opener. I’ve been busy since the moment I arrived at MSP (airport). I’ve been learning a lot, meeting tons of interesting people, going places, seeing things and attending dinners and parties every day!

TBEX actually started on Monday, with a full day of conferencing. It was held at the Radisson Blu at the Mall of America (a great location). Afterwards, we headed downtown to a party planned for us at the First Avenue. This is a famous Minneapolis club, where many great musicians have played. For the first hour or so, they played music by Prince (who used to play there) as we mingled over munchies provided by Common Roots Catering (thanks!).

 

Live bands played in another part of the place. Ness NiteLydia Liza and Joey Joey Michael were scheduled to play. As the drinks went down, the dance floor filled up and things got more lively. I had a  nice view from above of dancers showing their stuff. The big screen behind them showed scenes of Minnesota. I heard more than 1 complaint of sore muscles the next morning.

 

Remembering that I had another full day of TBEX and an early wakeup call, I left by midnight. It was easy to find our way back to the METRO, even tho the guides who helped us find our way earlier were gone. Comparing notes on the ride home with a dozen other bloggers was fun. We all agreed it was a great way to spend an evening out in Minneapolis. Thanks to all who made it happen! 🙂

Great Party

Opening Night Party was held inside the Mall of America at Nickelodeon Universe. It’s an amusement park! Woo hoo!

  

Rides, rides, rides! There are all kinds of fun rides. Roller coasters, water flumes, carousels, slides, and the latest “Fly Over America”. That was really cool! You go inside, sit on tiers of benches, take off anything loose, strap yourself in and then the ‘theatre’ goes totally dark for a minute.

 

When the lights come back on, you’re flying in the air high up above the scenery as you fly across the USA. You feel the wind as you swoop and soar, high over the snowy mountains to check out a couple of skiers, then sweeping down to follow a few cowboys round up the herd. You pass through the clouds, feeling their mist on your face and another scene opens up before you.

It was a fantastic experience and the beautiful landscapes would inspire anyone to take a cross country road trip. I wish I was driving home!

Wandering around the park, meeting up with characters like Sponge Bob Square Pants, the Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the bearded lady and her man was pretty cool. Plenty of people had their pictures taken to show the kids back home (me too). 😉

Playing games is always fun, it’s never been so easy to win before. Everyone was happy to play and take home a prize.

The food was great too, Minnesota specialties like walleye sandwiches, wild rice soup and tater-tot pie. A S’mores bar was a great idea. You can book them to come to your party and roast your own specialty marshmallows and ‘fancy’ chocolates. Yum! 🙂

Red Wing

It’s been another crazy day here in Minneapolis. Up early and busy all day attending presentations, meeting people from all over the country, speed networking, and picking up information from various travel related businesses. I’ve been running non-stop since I got here.

Yesterday, I was treated to a tour of the historic town of Red Wing by Erica from Explore Minnesota, along with 3 fellow bloggers. It was a great way to spend the day. A nice drive through rolling hills, farms, lakes and rivers. It took about an hour or so to get to get there. We crossed the Mississippi River, drove through town and headed to Memorial Park atop the bluffs.

We had about an hour to enjoy the view overlooking the town of Red Wing and the Mississippi River. I spent my time wandering through the park, enjoying the cool fresh air. I learned some interesting Minnesota history (first ski jumping in America began here), by reading the ‘interpretive signs’ while following the path of the ‘disc golf course’. This park would be a great place for a picnic. 🙂

We were on a ‘schedule’ so we headed back down to town. The historic downtown was very pretty. Lots of old stone buildings, flower baskets and American flags hanging from the lampposts and shady trees fronting quirky little shops. Our first stop was the Fair Trade Books store.

They have a great ‘marketing strategy’. On your first visit to their store, they give you a free book. 🙂

They pick it out for you (they ask first what kind of books you like). The only catch is, you have to say “books make great gifts’- loud enough for everyone to hear. 😉

My free book was “Lieutenant Hornblower” by C.S. Forester. A very popular series featuring naval hero Horatio Hornblower. I haven’t read any of this series yet, but it’s right up my alley. I bought “Dead Wake” by Erik Larson (about the Lusitania) while I was browsing around. I can hardly wait to start it.

really liked this little bookstore. It’s right downtown, in an interesting old building with architectural details like high, patterned metal ceilings. There are cozy chairs and tables where you can linger a little longer making up your mind on the reading material.

They were very knowledgeable about all kinds of books, helpful and friendly (even to dogs). It’s an independent bookstore, but more than just a bookstore. They’re very community focused, they have all kinds of other things going on. Not only the ‘usual’ book signing events, but ‘open read’ where you can come share your writing with others, game nights, and open mike nights. They share other local events and even have an ‘arts and entertainment auction’ coming up on July 1. 🙂

From the bookstore, we headed to the shoe store. The Red Wing store, home of the “World’s Largest Boot“. I wear Red Wing (steel toed) boots all the time for work, but I didn’t know anything about this giant boot- or the shoe museum upstairs– until this visit. Since I already have a half dozen pairs of Red Wings in my closet, I passed on the shopping and spent my time in the museum- which actually was pretty interesting. If you’re into that kind of thing. 😉

 

We were all ready for lunch so we headed across the construction zone* on the main drag to the St James Hotel.

It’s located in a historic building (1874-1875) next to a pretty little park with a fountain right downtown and convenient to everything. We sat at the rooftop patio to enjoy the view over the park, train depot, and glimpses of the river.

 

Sunday brunch was tempting. The buffet was loaded with fresh strawberries and cream, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, apples, bananas, and pineapple slices. There were fresh cinnamon buns, french toast sticks, blueberry muffins, waffles, biscuits and gravy, cold cuts and cheeses. Cereals, yogurt and oatmeal were out if you didn’t want to splurge. There were chocolate cakes and dainty little squares of petit fours if you did. There was an omelet bar, with eggs cooked to order with your choice of ham, cheese, onions, or peppers added. Next to that was a ham sliced to order. Yum!

If you could eat your way through all of that, you were welcome to go back for more. 🙂

We all enjoyed our meal there. The food was great, the service was fast and friendly, and the prices were reasonable. It’s worth a try if you’re in the area.

On the way back to the car, I just had to stop in the chocolate shop I had noticed on the way over. The Red Wing Confectionary makes the cutest little chocolate critters.

They also had a great selection of other sweets, including taffy, jelly beans, chocolate covered cherries, gift boxes, ice cream and a large menu of coffees and other hot (and cold) drinks.

After tasting a free sample, I made up my mind and bought a few things- sea salted caramels, chocolate covered cherries to share, and a small gift box.

Next stop was the “Uffda” Shop– full of Scandinavian stuff. Enough to make you think you somehow landed in small town Sweden instead of Minnesota. They had everything from sweaters to socks, snacks to snowmen. Lots of beautiful decorated china, crystal and jewelry. A great place for Christmas shopping.

 

We headed back to the city before we spent too much money. The drive back was just as pretty. Rolling farmlands, green fields, and hills passed by quickly. We got back just in time for a quick nap before the ‘Opening Night Party” at the Nickelodeon Universe. 🙂

I’ll have to tell you about that tomorrow. Stay tuned. 😉

In the meantime, check out what my fellow bloggers had to say about our journey through small town Minnesota (and other things).

www.travelwithsara.com, https://twitter.com/TravelWithSara

https://twitter.com/PrairieStylFile, http://prairiestylefile.com

https://twitter.com/SheilaShttp://www.sheilasguide.com

* to ease the pain of the construction, the town has been promoting Hard Hat Thursdays.

Off to the TBEX

I’m heading to Minneapolis this morning to the travel blog exchange (TBEX). My flight leaves at 10:30, so I plan to leave the house by 6. That should get me there by 8 (hoping not too much traffic in Houston).

I’ve been reading all week about how slow the lines are with the TSA. I want to be there early so I don’t miss the flight.

What a WASTE! They used to tell people to be at the airport at least 3 hours early for international flights. Can’t you think of all the things you could be doing with those 2.5 extra hours, rather than hanging around the airport being gouged for everything you do ($3++ water for example).

I saw somewhere that just one airline claims it’s already caused over 70,000 passengers to miss their flights. That’s just ONE airline! It’s still not even halfway through the year and that was reported a few days ago (at least).

Extrapolate that to all the other airlines domestically and we’re talking about at LEAST a half million people seriously screwed on their travel plans. We still haven’t even started the ‘travel season’ yet!

And don’t even start about how it’s all for safety. It’s NOT. It’s not about anything but CONTROL. Power and CONTROL. It’s about forcing the people to SUBMIT. To bow down and accept without question any idiotic, stupid ‘rule’ someone in a uniform choses to spout for the day. It’s about getting the people to unquestionably follow the orders of anyone in a position of ‘authority’.

Yeah, I say the HELL with all that! Wake up and stand up for yourself as a human being. We ALL have the right to travel freely. That means not being harassed for our papers or forced to strip for the government. No matter WHAT excuse they come up with!

Americans are MUCH more likely to die at the hands of the police than through terrorism. And let’s face it, if a terrorist wanted to do some damage, they wouldn’t waste their time bothering with a plane! There are thousands of much easier targets.

Let the airlines handle security. It’s their responsibility to take care of their passengers.

Personally, I would MUCH rather fly on any airline that treated me with the plain good manners and respect of even 20 years ago. Hell, I would even pay extra!

Ben Franklin said it over 200 years ago and it’s just as true today…

“Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”

― Benjamin Franklin

Blogging Events

So. Has anybody out there ever been to the TBEX? Or anything similar? Or any blogging event?

I’m going to the TBEX coming up this weekend (in Minneapolis-St Paul) and I really have no idea of what to expect. I wrote a post about it the other day and asked for information, but didn’t get the response I was hoping for (thanks to those who did respond).

I don’t want to go all the way up there and then waste my time being totally clueless. 😦

I’m sure with all the bloggers out there around the world, someone must be going to these things.

Will someone give me some feedback please. 🙂

TBEX

I know some of you are fellow bloggers. Can I get a show of hands? Click ‘like’ if you blog too. Feel free to comment too (even if you’re not a blogger). 🙂

How many are ‘travel bloggers’? I consider myself a travel blogger, even tho I blog about a lot of different things. I love to travel, love to take pictures of everything I see and do, love to try new foods/drinks/music/culture, and love to share all about it.

So, I decided to head up to Minneapolis for the TBEX next weekend. The “Travel Blog Exchange”. It bills itself as the “world’s largest gathering of travel bloggers, writers, new media content creators, and social media savvy travel industry professionals”.

Is anybody out there going to be at the TBEX (Memorial Day Weekend in Minneapolis/St Paul)? If you are, let’s connect!

I’m really looking forward to this as an opportunity to meet some great people and learn more about blogging and how to improve mine.

Have any of you ever been to a blogging event like this? I’m wondering how it all works. What did you like about it? Not like about it? What did you get out of it? Was it helpful? Can you give me any feedback?

Is anybody from around that area? Have any suggestions for things I really should see/do while I’m there?