Lessons in Traveling

I think that if I did not have kids and dogs I would love to have a job that involved a lot of travel.  I had to go out of town last week for the whole week; it was the first time I’ve gone anywhere out of state by myself at all let alone for a week. I was a wee bit nervous.  I loaded my Kindle with books, packed a backpack with clothes and my all important GPS and was off. 

First important lesson- if you can get away with just a backpack when you are flying it is IDEAL.  No luggage to check in and pick up and nothing to shove in the overhead compartments on the plane.  Just pushed it under the seat and was on and off the planes ( 4 of them!) easily.  Of course not even most guys are as lazy and light a packer as I am.

Second lesson – pack light but bring an extra t-shirt.  I had to wear but the tank tops I had for under my work blouses when I went out in the evenings, good thing the weather was perfect!

Third lesson I actually learned last time I went out of town – always try the local beer!  I don’t really drink much beer, but I made the rule and I must stand by it.  Oh, the trials and tribulations.

My first night there I drove through down town then went back to the hotel for pizza and merlot, the second night I went to to park then stopped at an Italian restaurant for pizza and merlot, and my third night I went to The Lazy Goat for pizza and a beer. and merlot.  Is there a theme there?  The Lazy Goat is very nice, but I have to admit I wasn’t thrilled with the pizza, just because it had a pesto sauce and I don’t really care for pesto.  For some reason I still try it about once a year.  Seems 2013 is not the year I suddenly realize I love pesto.  Oh well.

The company was good, the service was great, and the view was awesome.

After dinner we walked around downtown a bit, I even saw one of the mice on Main.  I hadn’t heard of them before or I would have gone mouse hunting!

Oh, and by the way, my last night there I had hummus and pinot noir.  Branching out!

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Paddling 3 Sister Springs!

I’m about an hour from Crystal River, but I’ve only been there once. I took my mom to swim with the manatees, and that was beyond awesome. There weren’t a lot of manatees but one baby kept coming up to everyone to check us out. His (her?) mom hung out a bit away from us, I guess just indulging his curiosity without actually wanting to be around us herself.

I’ve also been to Rainbow River (same area) twice tubing and that was a lot of fun too. Lots of fish and great scenery. I thought at the time it would be a great place to paddleboard; the water is smooth and clear.

Then as part of the Tampa Bay Blogger group I was invited to paddleboard with Manatee Paddle, a company that will be officially opening their doors June 1st in exchange for writing a review about the experience. Who’s going to say no to that? We toured 3 Sister Springs on Crystal River. They also have a tour on Rainbow River which I think would be pretty nice too, offer lessons and a even sell boards and accessories.

Manatee Paddle offers two boards for the tour/rentals. The first one I tried was the Surf Imaging board, which is aimed towards the beginner paddler. It’s nice and wide. Lots of us had a child that would be sitting in front, and that’s the board they suggested. It was great, very stable even with my daughter sitting on the front.

After paddling around near where we put the boards in for about 15 minutes my daughter decided she could handle her own board, so I gave her that one and tried their SUPLove boards. Loved it! It’s narrower than the beginner board I bought so it is SO easy to steer and paddle! When I have the money put away for a second board this is definitely one I’ll look at.

Anyways, back to the tour. The gentleman who owns the business has his sons guide the tours. They started out with a quick lesson – how to hold the paddle, how to get on the board, just the very basics. After paddling around the immediate area long enough for everyone to get comfortable we headed to Three Sister Springs in hope of seeing some manatees. We toured 2 of the three springs, but no luck with manatees. The springs themselves were well worth the trip though. Absolutely beautiful! People were swimming in the springs, but I am way too much of a cold wimp so I just chilled on the board and enjoyed the scenery.

We headed back after checking out 2 of the 3 springs. The group spread out pretty far as we paddled back. My daughter and I were lucky enough to see a group of manatees on our way back. There were at least 5 of them, since it was in the bay instead of the springs it was hard to tell how many. Unfortunately we were pretty close to the end of the group and the wind had picked up enough to make staying in one spot a challenge so we didn’t get any pictures or stay to watch them too long. It was a little frustrating finally seeing them and being too far from the group to let anyone else know!

I would definitely go back and do this again. Some friends and I am planning a camping trip in the area, if it’s after Manatee Paddle opens in June we will most likely head over to rent some boards from them! We were told that the best time to see manatees in the area is in the winter months when they like to go to the springs because they are warmer than the bay. Seeing the manatees is obviously a plus, but Manatee Paddle is worth the trip even when they are not there, just for the fun and the incredible scenery.

No more excuses!

It’s painfully apparent reading this blog I am horrible at keeping a schedule. I have lots of things to blame it on – I’m tired, the kids, the dogs, the lightning outside, the list go on and on. But the number one thing that honestly messes me up is my work schedule. It can be anywhere from 8-5 to 11-8pm depending on the week.

Plus, work is an hour and a half from my house. That’s 3 hours a day, 15 hours a week just spent sitting in my car. Geez, seeing it in writing is just sad.

In a couple of weeks that will be all over! I start a new job less than 40 minutes from the house, and it will mostly be 8-5 every week! That is over an hour a day gained plus the same schedule every week! That’s a lot of exclamation points, but I’m pretty excited to be gaining all that time. I’m going to have to get in the habit of actually cooking dinner and eating it with my kids. What a concept!

I’m really excited about this but I am also a little nervous. I’ve blamed my changing schedule for my lack of structure the last few years, so now that it is no longer an excuse I’m going to have to step it up.

So, I start the new job in a week, but then in two weeks go out of town for some training. No way I’m sticking to a running schedule in a strange town by myself. But after that it’s all bets off and no more excuses. Time to sign up for a half marathon and get to it!