Wish you were here…Rainforest special

Olympic National Park, Washington USA

Morning in the Amazon rainforest

So, first and foremost, I am not a sunshine person. This from someone who has lived almost their whole life in Florida.

Sun? What sun?

Not that I don’t appreciate a beautiful sunrise or sunset, but when it comes to the rest of the time I could just live without a bright, orange orb high in the sky day after day.  And since we have been without rain for longer than I care to mention, with not a great chance of precipitation within the next week either I thought I would devote a day to rain.

Otway National Park, Victoria Australia

Rainforest in Peru

Well at least some lovely pictures of rainforests anyway.

When I think of rainforests, the first thing that comes to my mind is a man in an animal skin loin cloth, a la Tarzan.

Alright, I know Taylor isn't Tarzan, but couldn't resist this picutre of him swinging in a tree

Can you spot the Mossyleaf Tail gecko in this picture?

Unfortunately these lush, beautiful landscapes are endangered; risking the existence of plants, animals and insects that only appear here. Less than a century ago, almost 15% of the earth consisted of rainforests. Today, less than half of that still exist. At this rate of destruction, it is said the Amazon forest could be gone within 50 to 100 years. While the Amazon is only one of many forests that remain, losing even one would be devastating to the world as we know it. Scientists continue to find new medicinal properties of plants that grow only in these tropical paradises, many that treat cancers and other deadly diseases. 

Rainforests across the world are going from this...

Right now, they have only tested one to two percent of the species present in forests across the globe. Think of how much we could fail to

...to this due to man made destruction

discover if the world allows mining, logging and ranching for profit to wipe out the last remaining pure places on earth.

A self sustained village in Finca Bellavista

I may never find my own jungle man hero to swing in on a vine and take me to live in his treetop hideaway. But just so I can temporarilyforget the brilliant, dry, rainless sky outside, I give you some photos of the vivid, colorful, and semi-dim forests across our world.

Flower in Gamboa Rainforest

Harpyeagle from the rainforests in Central and South America

The green areas show where rainforests are still located across the globe

Wish you were here…

Wish you were here…Santo Domingo

In honor of Saturday’s wonderful and informative program by Lois I decided to feature Santo Domingo as today’s wish you were here location. When I came home I took some time to read up on Sanite’ DeDe and her role in history. Like her protégé’ Marie Laveau she brought her skills and knowledge about voodoo from Santo Domingo as a slave and gained her freedom later in New Orleans.

This research then reminded me of a movie I saw many years ago about voodoo and zombies. Long before Bill Pullman stole Sandra Bullock’s heart in While You Were Sleeping, he was a Harvard researcher who travels to Haiti to find a drug that supposedly makes zombies. However, some of The Serpent And The Rainbow was actually filmed in the Dominican Republic and has some beautiful scenery despite the dark subject.

Cemetery on Avenue Independencia

 The Caribbean island was a stopping place for Christopher Columbus in 1492, sharing that year with our own history and is the oldest city in the new world. The culture is a diverse mix of native Taino Indian, European, and African which probably helped introduce the practice of voodoo to the island people.

The historical city is full of wonderful old sites to tour, and most likely run across a departed spirit or two along the way.  While touring the city, visitors can learn all about amber, the stone mentioned by Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park film as well as by Lois in our presentation Saturday.

Amber Musuem

The Amber Museum on Calle Arz. Meriño features exceptional educational exhibits of the semi-precious jewel. Of course this is only one of the many museums and attractions Santo Domingo has to offer.

Renaissance Santo Domingo

I know when it comes to an island getaway, one usually thinks of Bermuda or the Virgin Islands, but after viewing some of the romantic scenery and learning of the rich history, a writer should be able to find some inspiration for any genre.

So until next week, I hope everyone enjoys the pics and wish you were here.

Wish you were here…wish I could upload

I had decided to be really lazy this weekend and take my birthday off. So no real wish you were here this week. Instead I was going to post some pictures from the island of fairies and magic that I have used for inspiration in some of my fantasy stories. However due to technical difficulties, either on my part or the site, I only get a message that none of the photos meet the security requirements. Therefore, my Irish wish you were here will have to wait for another week. Hope all of you ladies have a great week.

Wish you were here…Nova Scotia

View of the Wharf

September 18, 2010 

Dear Sizzle Ladies…

Finally found a minute to drop you a line. You all know how adventurous and outgoing I am, so earlier this week I was watching the old movie If You Could See What I Hear and thought about the beautiful location, hopped into my little sports car, and the next thing I knew I was standing on weather-beaten wharf as a crisp, salty evening breeze caught the brim of my Gator’s ball cap (sorry Arabella-you know my daughter is diehard UF fan) while I watched boats returning to dock filled with fish and tourists alike.

Standing on the Lunenburg Wharf

As much as I wanted to check out some local night life, the long trip drained my tired, old body so I sought rest and relaxation and put exploration on hold until the next day.  One glance at the multitude of local accommodations, I knew there was only one place to call home during my stay. 

The host and hostess at the Greybeard Bed and Breakfast

A Bed and Breakfast called Greybeard’s had to be it!  I found the charming house built in 1887 by a sea captain and now ran by a lovely couple. In true authenticity, the proprietor does sport a hearty grey beard.  There are four guest rooms to choose from, and I was lucky enough to stay in the Captain Hebb room, named after the sea captain who originally owned the manor.

The Captain Hebb room

Just before I retired for the night, I spent time in one of the guest parlors with the only other guest. She was a spunky octogenarian named Helga. Her grandparents emigrated to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia from Germany. Helga regaled me with tales of her courtship long ago with a handsome mariner named Josef, with whom she spent 52 wonderful years with before he passed on just a little over three years ago. Although Helga now lives with her grandson and his family of seven children near Boston, she still returns to Lunenburg every September to celebrate the anniversary of Josef and Helga’s first kiss along the picturesque shores of the tiny town. If I wrote historical romance, Joseh and Helga would make for a charming seaside love story.

Bridgewater Nova Scotia

I woke early this morning, eager to begin my exploration of the area. I had a second or two of shock when the early weather report stated it was a comfortable 15°, until I remembered to convert from Celsius to Fahrenheit. Therefore, at a much more acceptable sixty and sunny, I set out in my t-shirt and jeans. Imagine my surprise to find a salon way up here finding a way to remind me of home. It was by pure chance I wandered into the Sunny Oasis salon in Bridgewater to find that for the past several months they’ve been saving discarded hair and sending it to help with the gulf oil spill.

Staff at Sunny Oasis Salon

If any of you ladies find yourself near this remote north shore town and in need of styling services, be sure to stop in and say hello to stylist Stephanie Williams and thank her for her support.

The Old Fish Factory

By mid afternoon I was starved and stopped by the Old Fish Factory Restaurant and Ice House Bar which is located in a former fish processing plant. While sitting at the bar, I met an elderly man who was quite a character and shared with me some fanciful yarns about his younger days fishing the cold waters of the Atlantic. By the end of my meal, I felt as though I’d known the salty old dog my whole life. Just before I bid him farewell, his handsome son arrived and I had a sudden change in plans for the day.

Mystery surrounds Oak Island

The charming Trevor, a real son of a son of a sailor, took me on a tour of the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic before we snuck onto the mysterious Oak Island and tried our hand at treasure hunting. Although we were unsuccessful, it was still an unforgettable experience to see the legendary site.

After returning to town we hit some local hot spots before I called it a night. A true gentleman, Trevor walked me back to the door of Greybeard’s with the promise of new adventures tomorrow after I watch him participate in the Terry Fox charity run.

Perhaps you can see Trevor in this previous Terry Fox charity event

He is sure to be quite striking in his tank top and running shorts.

Until next week ladies…wish you were here!  

(Yes, this is a work of fiction…sadly I haven’t left the south)

Wish you were here…September 11th edition

This photo of Chris and I was taken in the Summer of 2000, just a little over a year before the towers fell.

Pairing a piece of Pensacola history with New York history.

To honor September 11th I thought I would do a short tribute to the World Trade Center.Nightime sky line

The idea to establish a World Trade Center in New York City actually dates all the way back to 1946 but was put on hold in 1949 to concentrate on development of mid-town Manhattan. It wasn’t until the early 1960s that the idea again began to get attention.

Groundbreaking of orignal towers

In September 1962, selection of Minoru Yamasaki as lead architect and Emery Roth & Sons as associate architects was announced to the public. The original plan called for the towers to be 80 stories but to meet the Port Authority’s requirement for 10 million square feet of office space it was determined the buildings would each have to be 110 stories.

Construction early February 1971

Groundbreaking for the construction began on August 5, 1966. The first tower was completed in December 1970 and the second tower was topped out in July 1971. The official ribbon cutting ceremony was April 4, 1973.

Construction Fall 1971


While most of the office space inside the twin towers complex was off limits to the public, the South tower did feature a pubic deck known as the Top of the World Observation Deck. View from the observation deckThe North Tower was home to a restaurant that occupied both the 106 and 107th floors known as the Windows on the World which opened in April 1976. It closed temporarily after the 1993 bombing to reopen again in 1996.

 A few interesting facts about the World Trade Center…five smaller buildings stood around the 16 acres, including 22-floor hotel, which opened in 1981 as the Vista Hotel and in 1995 became the Marriott World Trade Center.  One of the world’s largest gold depositories was stored underneath the World Trade Center, owned by a group of commercial banks.  On a typical weekday 50,000 people worked in the towers with another 200,000 passing through as visitors. The complex was so large that it had its own zip code

There are plans to rebuild on the site, although not without controversy. Time will tell how these plans turn out and what will ultimately rise from the sacred grounds where so many innocent victims and heroes alike paid the ultimate price for democracy.

The sun sets on the towers

So, humbly speaking for all the family, friends, and loved ones of those lost souls, as well as those lost at the Pentagon and in rural Pennsylvania, on this day after the ninth anniversary….We wish you were still here….

We will never forget. The towers of light

Wish You Were Here…Pikes Peak

One view of Pikes Peak

O Beautiful for spacious skies…for purple mountains majesties…

Welcome to Pikes Peak

Today’s location is a continuation of the patriotic theme for July. What better place to do that than the very spot that inspired “America The Beautiful”. It’s also a tribute to our resident cowgirl. Every year there is the famous Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo to attract the best cowboys on the circuit.

Rider at the Pikes Peak or Bust rodeo

If you appreciate some magnificent western scenery may want to consider a romantic journey to Colorado Springs, home of 14,110-foot Pikes Peak.

Hotel on Pikes Peak

There’s plenty to do on the mountain. Hike 12 miles up the Barr Trail to the summit, hop aboard the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, or drive the 19-mile scenic highway and enjoy the view from the new Summit House.

Pikes Peak Train

Cliff House

Every July 4th, the Pikes Peak Hill Climb attracts top drivers from the motorsports world. Imagine the excitement of riding down the mountain on a bicycle, motorcycle or racecar. There are plenty of bad boys in this sports world to inspire a hero.

At the starting line

In addition to the mythic mountain itself, there’s more to see; The Garden of the Gods Park is known for its massive red sandstone formations, and it has a natural history museum that interprets the surroundings. Royal Gorge is home to the world’s highest suspension bridge. Outdoor adventurers have so many choices that they need to make sure there’s enough time to enjoy all the activities. The majors: river rafting, hiking, play golf, horseback ride, mountain bike, fish, and ski.

Where should you stay? If you believe that a fabulous view is the best setting for an intimate getaway, consider a cabin rental in the Garden of the Gods (http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p212857) , There are also some 30 bed and breakfasts in the area, in addition to lower-priced motels and camping.

When’s the best time to visit? The area boasts a mild, dry climate and sun 300 days a year. The Rockies’ cool and dry mountain air are a great respite to summer humidity elsewhere; temperatures rarely climb above 80 in the summer season. Fall brings a blazing show of foliage, and the best lodging rates. (Off-season is September through May).

Before you book a trip, though, there’s one thing you need to know: Colorado Springs is 6,035 feet above sea level. There’s less oxygen at that elevation. Visitors are advised to give their body time to adjust to the change by drinking lots of fluids, taking it easy the first day, and avoiding alcohol at first (or else you’ll get drunk lots faster, on much less!). Of course, any respectable southern belle wouldn’t miss this excellent excuse to swoon into the arms of one of the bad boys of racing or a chivalrous cowboy.

Driver Micky Dymond

Rider Scott Montague

So on that note, since I’m feeling a little light headed and need to find some strong arms, wish you were here…

Wish You Were Here…Jekyll Island

Edward Earl of Clarendon

“In all conspiracies there must be great secrecy.” Edward Earl of Clarendon.

Being this is the 4th of July, let us celebrate our 234th Independence Day in the historic south. Nestled midway between Savannah and Jacksonville is the pristine island retreat of Jekyll Island, Georgia.  I chose the above quote because there are so many great conspiracies in this nation’s rich history, one involving the island. The setting has a more personal reason, which shall remain my secret.

Welcome to Jekyll Island

Jekyll Island Beaches

You can explore miles of barrier island beaches and dune lines edging unbothered woodlands. As Georgia’s smallest barrier island, Jekyll Island offers a unique combination of rich history and unspoiled natural beauty. Anyone who has read a Nicholas Sparks novel knows, of course, the only place to start a romance is on the beach.

Jekyll Island Club Resort

You can discover the enchanting riverfront National Historic Landmark District. Jekyll Island’s ancient wonders are in harmony with modern amenities.  There are haunted tours of the historic district that can be sure to inspire the historical writer with tales of the elite who once privately owned the island. Perhaps a lesser known Vanderbilt or cousin of J.P Morgan found romance in one of the “cottages” of the Jekyll Island Clubhouse. For views of the island and Clubhouse, check out the movie “The Legend of Bagger Vance” parts of which was filmed right on the island.

Historic tour

Jekyll Island has festivals galore, fireworks, historic exhibits, and more. You can picnic under the shade of moss-draped trees or relax on ocean-view vistas. Great food, music, and family fun will enhance your Independence Day experience while you enjoy all that Jekyll Island has to offer. If you are looking for inspiration on a romantic suspense, a writer might want to take part in the upcoming “Murder Mystery Weekend” scheduled for August. For more information on this sure to be exciting outing, check out http://www.murdermystery.com/asp-bin/weekend_page.asp?idEvent=71

Horton House ...Haunted?

Among the nature-based places you can pursue are marsh eco-tours, dolphin-watching, sea turtle walks, or bird watching. The active visitor can even golf, kayak, play tennis or soccer, bike, and play at the local water Park. The historian in you can learn of Jekyll’s rich gilded era. Even a dedicated writer (which I most certainly am NOT) needs a distraction once in a while. Why not a secluded island where in November 1910, a delegation on the nation’s leading financiers traveled to the then private island to draft what would become the new Federal Reserve System.

Jekyll Club circa 1910

Come celebrate our Independence at Jekyll Island, Georgia;

Happy Independence Day

Wish you were here…

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