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Welcome back to #TravelThursday. I was going to write about something different this week, but then I decided to wait until next week to write about that. Such is life as a blogger. Those of you who blog know what I mean. It’s always best to write about what is fresh on your mind in the moment rather than what you were planning to write about.

So last Thursday morning I did a Target run here in my hometown for the first time ever. That’s because we actually have a Target store here in Homestead Florida for the first time ever. It’s the southernmost Target in the contiguous 48 states. It just opened last month.

The next nearest Target is over 30 minutes away in normal traffic. It’s physically located in an awkward location. It’s a regular-sized Target of 124,794 square feet (not a Super Target) – built 25 years ago.

Our brand-new Target is just 3 miles away from my home. It’s also physically located in an awkward location, and people unfamiliar with our local area may have a difficult time trying to find it.

We got a smaller Target. At 72,301 square feet it’s about half the size of a typical Target. When you walk in – it’s noticeable small. You can easily see all 4 walls of the building. Many people are complaining about that in online reviews of the store. Target is actually building more smaller stores than larger ones. In fact – they even build stores that are half the size of the one that we got !

To me our store seems packed merchandise-wise, but it’s laid-out in a weird way – particularly with the smaller grocery and toiletry area. I believe that a major flaw with that area is the signage that’s hanging from the ceiling and facing the wrong way. You actually can’t read any of it if you’re looking down the aisles to see what’s there, as the signs don’t face outward. You actually have to go to the middle of an adjacent aisle to read what’s on the signs on either of the next aisles !

Nevertheless – I’m glad that we finally got a Target here in my hometown – even if it’s a half-Target. It’s also got a little Starbucks inside of it. That makes it even better. I’ll be visiting both on a fairly-regular basis – now that I’m in the Target Circle !

Next #TravelThursday I’ll go the distance. At least that’s what I’m planning to write about. That’s subject to change. Such is life as a blogger. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

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Fort Myers Beach Florida

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. On Wednesday September 28TH 2022 Fort Myers Beach Florida changed forever as Category-4 Hurricane Ian made landfall just a few miles north of the area. The Southwest Florida Gulf coast from Flamingo northward to the Tampa Bay area experienced widespread damage. The area from Marco Island to Venice was especially hard hit, and Fort Myers Beach – “Ground Zero” – was virtually destroyed. The photos online have been heartbreaking. They have brought tears to my eyes.

The Southwest Florida coast is my favorite part of the state. Over the past 35 years I’ve enjoyed numerous short visits over there (about 2 to 3 hours away from home). My last visit was a daytrip to and from Naples 3 months ago. I wrote about it on a 2-part #TravelThursday this past July.

From 2011 to 2020 I visited Fort Myers Beach on 9 separate occasions. I spent a combined 17 nights on (or just off) the island at several different hotels on 7 of those 9 visits – both on the north-end and the south-end. I walked in the surf, drove on the streets, rode on the trolleys, shopped at the stores, and ate at the restaurants. I took 366 photos of the island. 122 of them are featured within my Fort Myers Beach album on my Flickr site. They are presented in chronological order from oldest to newest starting with April 28TH 2011. That was my very first day / night ever on the island, and I instantly fell in love with it. I soon decided that not only had I found my brand-new weekend vacation paradise getaway, but I had also found my eventual retirement landing spot.

After the first 6 visits – all between 2011 and 2013 – the idea of eventually moving to the island upon retirement had waned. But I would still visit on a regular basis. I became concerned during those early visits that if (when) a major hurricane makes landfall on the island or very near it – there would be catastrophic destruction similar to what I experienced here in Homestead after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. I thought that it would be the Gulf Of Mexico destroying the vulnerable island via storm surge rather than wind. That was one of the main reasons to change my mind about retiring there.

I’ve captured some of the most beautiful sunsets of my life on that island. One of my favorite things to do during those 17 nights was to exit my hotel room, walk directly onto the beach with my bare feet, head for the surf, and join the dozens of others just like me who had the same idea to prepare their smart phones and cameras to be aimed up the beach at the setting sun on the WNW horizon.

I was originally scheduled to drive to Fort Myers tomorrow (Friday) morning – and spend 2 nights there – and attend a concert at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. The hotel was damaged, the concert hall was damaged, and the show was moved to next March. The entire area is a disaster zone, so the last thing they need right now is tourists. I canceled my trip to Fort Myers. (It would not have included a beach visit.)

It will take many years to rebuild Fort Myers Beach. It will never be the way that I knew it during those 9 visits and 17 nights on the island. I have my fond memories and 366 photos to look back on my former paradise on the Gulf Of Mexico.

Next #TravelThursday I’ll visit Fort Lauderdale Florida. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

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No More Vacations

And now on #TravelThursday – something a bit different. For the past 19 weeks in a row I’ve been writing about 4 vacations that I experienced in November, January, March, and April. Well – I have no more vacations to write about. As I told some coworkers of mine last week – I am all vacationed out. This is the time of the year where I just need to settle in, relax at home, go to work, relax at home, go to work, etc., and accumulate new vacation time. Oh – and also write blog posts and sermons. I’ll be here for the long run. I’m not going anywhere for about 5½ months.

I was actually planning yet another vacation for early-June starting with my birthday. I considered another Carnival cruise to the Caribbean, and I also considered various short road-trips here in South Florida and over to Southwest Florida (Gulf Coast). Hotel rates are running much higher than normal – even for low season which we’re getting ready to enter. I think a lot of hotels are charging up to double (or more) what they’ve charged during previous low seasons (pre-COVID) – mostly because they can – because demand is high. Hotels lost a lot of money in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID, and now they are making their money back.

So #TravelThursday returns to its original format where I write about places I’ve been to before – not necessarily while on vacation. I’ll also write about places I’d like to visit – either again or for the first time. I’ll also write about some potential visits to some of our own local tourist attractions here in South Florida. I realized that I haven’t been to ZooMiami in 5 years, and Biscayne National Park in 6 years, and Vizcaya in 10 years.

Maybe I’ll take a quick day trip or two down into the Florida Keys – perhaps Marathon (about 70 to 75 miles from where I live). I already have a potential schedule of places to visit for 2 days of fun and food in Marathon including an overnight stay at a hotel.

Well – whatever happens – either virtually or physically – we’ll have some fun here on #TravelThursday. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

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Saturday Night Retro

Saturday October 16TH 2010
Volume 3 / Number 6 / Edition 103

11 years ago back in October and November of 1999:
The Shops At Sunset Place was the hottest new joint to hang out.
AOL released Version 5.0, and the entire free nation celebrated.
– Moviegoers were blown away by “American Beauty”.
– The population of the world reached 6 billion.
– The Yankees swept the Braves 4 games to 0 to win the World Series again.
– EgyptAir Flight 990 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean killing all 217 on board.
– “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” skyrocketed to the top of the TV ratings.
– Exxon and Mobil combined to become ExxonMobil.
– The world prepared for the upcoming uncertainty that was Y2K.

1999 was certainly a party year as we ushered the end of a year, a decade, a century, and even a millennium. Even Prince made a big deal out of 1999 some 17 years earlier. He knew that it was gonna be big – and memorable. A lot of great party music came out in 1999. It was certainly a year to get up and dance !

Here’s the 1999 techno dance remix of the classic 1968 Steppenwolf track “Magic Carpet Ride”: