February 3, 2014 Lago de Atitlan

What a view of the lago!

What a view of the lago!

 

 

Our second night in Casa del Mundo is in room #17. After room #10’s coziness, this room feels so open. The private terrace is also bigger.

 

 

The casa has picturesque balconies and trailing greenery

The casa has picturesque balconies and trailing greenery

 

Views from all levels of the property are breathtaking!

In the hotel’s drive to reach self-sustainability, a high tech solar-heater system harnesses Lago de Atitlan’s sunshine to provide all the hot water for the property.

 

 

We go hiking. I’m fussed at because I stop to capture so many moments! In the Ben Stiller movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a photographer pauses in shooting the rare sighting of a big feline. I’m sorry, if I can get the shot, I will. Sharing is a good thing. And … my memories will fade, so it’s always nice to have a reminder!

Casa 5Casa 3

Casa 2Casa 2

Casa 6

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Three Blog Tips

I just read a comment from one of my posts. The blogger mentioned that she is an “aspiring blog writer” and asked for suggestions. I thought about it and decided to share some basic steps for newbies.

1.   Bloggers are learning all the time. Check out sites like Dear Blogger, greg@dearblogger.org. I follow Greg as he’s generous with his advice. Anyone can ask him anything, whether they are a beginning blogger or well established. He started a YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/user/narayguy/videos, with tutorials on how to start a blog, different costs of hosted sites, how to make your site more attractive, etc. I started with WordPress.com before following him, but he uses WordPress.org to be able to do some beautiful enhancements to sites using plugins, etc.

If you’re hoping to profit from your blog, there are several big guys out there, but I like Nate Smith, nate@nathanialsmith.com. He is encouraging with good tips and spiritual inspiration. You can search around and follow many others, but look for sites that fit your needs as a blogger.

2.   This is very, very important! Please remember to pull from your passion. Post articles that you are truly interested in, not those that are just current topics that you hope people will link to. Cover subjects you know or that you researched and have a working knowledge of, that might be of value to others.

3.   Mix it up! Some entries I will post describe just what happened and photos. Others, I will add some background about the area we visited, photos and a video or two. Sometimes an opportunity arises that I can’t let go by, like when I learned about The Internet of Things, https://soosoosees.com/2013/10/14/day-30-new-york/. It’s fascinating to me how everything is moving at warp speed!

Experiment with tones and textures. I posted a video of a Savannah, Georgia Trolley Tour in sepia. “Johnny Mercer” came aboard and gave a spiel of his life in music. It begged for that treatment, https://soosoosees.com/2013/10/02/day-16-savannah/.

And, here’s a photo I took of actors in a Tombstone, Arizona re-enactment of the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral. (p.s.: The gunfight wasn’t really in the corral!) Thought it would look more striking with texture and a feel of the Old West. Edited it on my iPhone in Snapseed, blurring present day shoppers and vehicles in the background with TouchReTouch. Both are free apps. It could have been nice in black and white, but I do like tints!

Doc Holliday and the Earp Brothers are ready

Doc Holliday and the Earp Brothers are ready

There are plenty more tips I could give, but off the top of my head, these three simple steps will help you on your way!

Ashton Villa in Galveston, Texas

Saturday,  October 26, 2013

At least we get bagels and biscuits with gravy for breakfast! Other friends are getting powdered donuts and milk!

At least we get bagels and biscuits with gravy for breakfast! Other friends are getting powdered donuts and milk!

Yesterday was our first day back in seven weeks! We only had time to change out clothes for others and spend the night with relatives. Today, we take care of some business before driving an hour to Galveston. A good friend’s daughter is getting married this evening and we just made it home in time for the event. It’s the weekend before Halloween and hotels are packed. There are ghost tours and all sorts of activities during this time. When my husband made the Priceline online reservation, he wasn’t using the mouse. Somehow, scrolling down, a one star hotel in an adjoining city was confirmed. It’s the first time we have ever hit a one star. Eeek! What are we in for?!? After talking to a friend who also couldn’t get the room they wanted, we don’t feel so bad. They wound up with a one star in Galveston because everything else was booked. 

Perfect day for a wedding

Perfect day for a wedding

 

The wedding is a beautiful affair! It’s held in the circular garden next to the 1859 Ashton Villa, an elegantly restored Victorian home.

Victorian style and gold filigree touches enhance this Texas Historic Landmark

Victorian style and gold filigree touches enhance this Texas Historic Landmark

 

 

 

 

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, nowadays the villa’s only available for private events.

Day 41: Quebec City, Montreal

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mapping out Quebec City

Mapping out Quebec City

 

We head for Old Quebec City, a designated United Nations World Heritage Site. By foot is the best way to see what is purported to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We park at Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac and take a short walk through the lovely historic hotel. My early-to-rise husband is right. We always get out of the hotel too late to make the tours. Our son and I say it’s vacation and we shouldn’t have to get up at 7am. So, we wander the streets with maps in hand, drinking in the atmosphere of days gone by.

Quebec style Crusty Cheese sandwich!

Quebec style Crusty Cheese sandwich!

 

Lunch at Le Petit Coin Latin is a simple, yet quite enjoyable experience. My spinach lasagna is good, but Baby Boy’s deliciously Crusty Cheese (with thinly sliced mushrooms) sandwich is better!

 French is a beautiful, melodic language. Everywhere, we are greeted with a delightful “Bonjour.”

The narrow cobbled streets with their colorful shops are so inviting. The city draws me in to discover a quaint gift shop or the perfect chocolate bite!

There are wonderful art galleries to explore. Along Dufferin Terrace you can see so many parts of the city.

Picturesque Old Quebec

Picturesque Old Quebec

 

On a drizzly afternoon, staring out across the St. Lawrence River is calming. It’s like an old French village painting. Striding along, we check off the Fortification of Quebec, Dufferin Terrace, Place Royal and a little urban park, presumably the Plains of Abraham. There are more on the list we don’t get to, but I don’t mind.

On watch over the St. Lawrence River

On watch over the St. Lawrence River

 

 

 

No need to rush around like crazy people so we can say we saw all those things. We can see more on the next trip here. More important is the time we have with our son, enjoying the moment.

 

 

 

Montreal foliage

Montreal foliage

 

 

 

We’re off to Montreal! There seems to be more fall foliage here than in Maine.

 

 

We have diinner at a Portuguese restaurant with nice white tablecloths and a quiet atmosphere. Should have Yelp’d and Tripadvisor’d it. The complimentary olives were a nice appetizer, but the paella was mediocre and the pork dish was a little tough. Just shows that a presentable full service restaurant does not always equate good food. Should have gone to the casual poutine place that had high marks and roasted chicken. Still, we’re here in Montreal and lovin’ it!

Day 30: New York – Mobile Marketing Trends, BonChon, The Metropolitan Museum

Thursday,  October 3, 2013

"Thank you, Ryan and Stephanie!!!"

“Thank you, Ryan and Stephanie!!!”

 

 

We visit our son’s office. His very sweet co-workers present me with flowers that remind me of Texas!

 

 

We also meet our son’s boss, a mobile marketing guru.  I can’t let the opportunity pass without asking for an interview!  Twelve years ago, he brought music libraries (ringtones) to America.  In last month’s Mobile Media Summit in New York, he sat on several panels.  He shares his views on the omnichannel, his top three apps, The Internet of Things, tips for marketing students and more:

BonChon crispy goodness!

BonChon crispy goodness!

 

Afterward, we have lunch with a cousin at BonChon, a restaurant specializing in Korean fried chicken.  BonChon is Korean for “My hometown” and has become a very successful international franchise.  The chicken is deliciously crispy and flavorful!

                                                                                                                    We walk off the lunch by visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Massive displays and fabulous collections make for an enriching experience.

Art 3

Funery items of a wife of Thutmose III

Funery items of a wife of Thutmose III

Art1Art

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking back, I see the wide entrance to a period building.  It’s the Ukrainian Institute.  It seems familiar.  I believe I’ve seen a write-up about the building.  There’s a 20th Century Art Collection on display until October 18.  By now, I’m dying to see the inside and tell my husband we can squeeze in another exhibit.  It is eye-catching and has a beautiully preserve quiet beauty.  Oh, the stories I can imagine it could tell!

Ukrainian InstituteUkrainian Institute 1Ukrainian Institute 2

Day 6: Ocala, Tampa

Monday,  September 9, 2013

The Lunchbox is a cozy diner just off the square in Ocala.

The Lunchbox is a cozy diner just off the square in Ocala.

We go back to the square in Ocala to wander the shops before leaving.  Just off the main street, we see a little diner called the Lunchbox.  Kids’ metal lunchboxes are displayed and locals fill the tables.  The wait staff is friendly and give good recommendations.  My fish sandwich is delicious.  The broccoli is buttery and gently seasoned.  Haleigh, our server, says that customers tell her if they had had Lunchbox’s broccoli when they were growing up, they’d have eaten it.  Haleigh says, “Eat your broccoli!”

After lunch, we drive down the street to the Ocala Stud Farm.  We had wanted to visit a horse farm or ranch that gave carriage rides or guided horse rides.  When I ran across this listing, it sounded interesting.

Leon holds on to a playful nipper

Leon holds on to a playful nipper

So down the road we go! We find a groom, Leon, who makes time to take us around. Petting the velvety soft muzzle of young thoroughbreds is a memorable experience. To me, horses are the most beautiful of animals.

We get into Tampa in time for dinner.  The Sheraton East Tampa is nice and spacious.  It’s a conference center and the staff is efficient and friendly.  Two complimentary bottles of water greet us as we step into the room.  When asked for the name of a good local restaurant, the hotel front desk says that Jesse’s Steak & Seafood in Brandon has been around for years and that’s where locals go for good steaks and seafood.  The décor is somewhat dated, but it’s been there a long time and seems to do well.  Our waitress is friendly and helpful.  When we say we’d like to share the 16 oz. prime rib, she suggests that for $5 more, a second baked potato and salad could be served.  The prime rib comes au jus and with mushrooms.  The chef was kind enough to cut the steak in half.  It’s tender and flavorful.  We agree and later realize that we should have split the 12 oz. portion as there would have been plenty to eat!

Day 5: Tallahassee, Ocala

Sunday,  September 8, 2013

We enjoy a complimentary breakfast at LaQuinta before leaving Panama City Beach at 11am. (I try to balance 2 biscuits & sausage gravy with rice krispies, low fat milk and apple juice.)

This squirrel pauses to stare back!

This squirrel pauses to stare back!

 We arrive in Tallahassee and head to the Tallahassee Museum of History & Natural Science.  What a nice outdoor venue!  The museum covers 52 acres and has many outdoor exhibits, lots of water (or is it considered a swamp?), zip lines and an obstacle course.  Shady trees keep it from being unbearable and areas such as the science lab and art gallery are in air-conditioned buildings.

This torn web reflects the fierce struggles of the spider's victims

This torn web reflects the fierce struggles of the spider’s victims

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Big Bend farm building

This tiger eyes an intruder

This tiger eyes an intruder

Relaxed feline contemplates its day

Relaxed feline contemplates its day

Is the sea otter hiccuping?

Today, the John Spohrer wildlife exhibition opens in the museum’s art gallery. Mr. Spohrer has his photography book available and takes time to give us a tour of the photographs.

Dinner at Harry's on the Square

Dinner at Harry’s on the Square

Dinner found us at the Ocala town square. We were told that Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grill has good food with a New Orleans flair. The dishes we had were quite good! And the gumbo is how I like it – with celery and bits of other vegetables in the thick broth.