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Ocean City Maryland

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Exactly 7 years ago this morning on Tuesday July 28TH 2015 me, my mom, my brother, my sister-in-law, and my 2 nieces drove westbound across the 4.3-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge (U.S. 50 / U.S. 301) after spending 3 fun days and nights on Ocean City Maryland.

It was me and my brother’s idea to return to Ocean City. It was our first visit since we were kids in the early-1980s. As a family – me, my dad, my mom, and my brother visited Ocean City for up to a week at a time about every 2 or 3 summers from the mid-1970s through the early-1980s. We usually stayed at a neighbor friend’s condo bayside. I think they still own it today !

For my mom it was one final opportunity to visit Ocean City, relatives, and friends. For my sister-in-law and my 2 nieces it was just another beach. But for me and my brother it was remembering and reliving our childhoods.

While “the girls” were sunbathing on the beach – me and my brother got to hang out for a little while together doing what we would have done together some 30 years earlier – eating the best french fries on the planet, and visiting tourist attractions along the 2.25-mile boardwalk. I also got some “me” time alone doing what I tend to do today when I’m out on vacation – capturing photographic memories.

YES – Those beautiful sand sculptures were actually on the beach. I was completely awestruck. God bless Mr. Randy Hofman for creating them and proclaiming God’s Good News surfside.

Me and my brother vowed to not wait 30+ years to visit Ocean City again. So far it’s been 7 years. What are we waiting for Danny ?

Next #TravelThursday we’ll visit a new location. I’m not sure where yet. Usually I know what I plan to write about for next Thursday, but this time I’m not so sure. Shall I remain stateside, or shall I go abroad – either to a place I’ve been, or to a place I want to visit ? I’ll figure it out before then. Let’s keep traveling together.

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

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Animals Blogging Nature Photography Travel

Zoo Miami

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. A couple of weeks ago on the Friday leading-in to Memorial Day Weekend here in the U.S.A. I visited the Miami-Dade Zoological Park And Gardens – also known as Zoo Miami. It’s about 18 miles from my home.

This was my 6TH visit over the past 11 years – but first in over 5 years. I usually like to visit once every 2 or 3 years on a cool day during the wintertime (dry season). On this occasion I visited on a sunny and hot day at the end of May (rainy season). I actually took advantage of free admission for all military and veterans during the holiday weekend.

Zoo Miami is huge. It sits on about 750 acres of land – of which less than half is actually developed for animals, employees, and visitors. Over 3,000 animals and 500 species call Zoo Miami home.

This place holds a very special place in my heart, as it’s the first zoo that I ever visited in my life – as a 20 or 21-year-old in 1988. (I never got the zoo experience as a kid.) So I consider it my “childhood” zoo that I’ve now been visiting every few years for the past 34 years. I usually spend a little over 3 hours with each visit. I also don’t see everything during those 3 hours, so I try to visit the exhibits that are new, or that I didn’t get to experience on my previous visit.

On this Friday before the Memorial Day holiday the zoo was absolutely packed with hundreds (maybe over a thousand) elementary, middle, and high school students – roaming in packs large and small – counterclockwise around the park (4 miles around). So I followed the few adults and families that traversed the park clockwise – to mostly avoid the packs of school kids.

That would’ve been nice to visit the National Zoo in Washington D.C. as a school kid in the area back in the late-1970s and early-1980s.

I took 40 photos during my 3-hour trip around the zoo. Here are a few:

Next #TravelThursday we’ll visit my future retirement area of Highlands County Florida. Let’s keep traveling together.

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

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Blogging Driving Food Music Nature Photography Shopping Travel

My Spring Break Vacation 2022

And now – Week 3 of my 4-week series on my 6-day / 626-mile road-trip adventure here in South Florida and also up in Central Florida.

So my family flew in to South Florida (from North Texas) on a Thursday evening, and they arrived at their hotel at around Midnight. The next day – Friday – they did their own thing, as did I. (See my blog from last #TravelThursday.)

On Saturday March 05TH 2022 we spent the entire day together in Fort Lauderdale and adjacent Dania Beach. We enjoyed Breakfast at TooJay’s (one of my favorites). After that we went shopping at Five Below. (My nieces love that store.) From there we all proceeded over to the Broward County Convention Center where gymnasts from South Florida and beyond competed in various tournaments. My (almost) 12-year-old niece was one of the competitors from beyond – representing Allen Texas (near Dallas) – and she won awards. We were at the tournament for over 4 hours, and it was actually very interesting to watch. (I had never been to one before.)

That night we ate dinner at Lime Fresh Mexican Grill, and then we went shopping at T.J. Maxx. I had no idea that my sister-in-law absolutely loves that store. I think we spent over an hour there. I was bored after the first 10 minutes, but I was with my family, so that beats any other normal Saturday night for me.

The next day – Sunday – they did their own thing, as did I.

On Monday March 07TH we all cruised-up U.S. 27 (in 3 separate vehicles), and we all met at – LEGOLAND !

I’ve wanted to visit Legoland for the past decade, and just after opening time at 10 AM on that day I finally made it. (My family arrived about an hour later.)

Legoland greatly exceeded my expectations. I thought that I would just enjoy watching my nieces have lots of fun, but I had fun too. I even rode some rides including a scary rollercoaster !

My favorite part of Legoland is Miniland U.S.A. which features realistic Lego displays of various U.S. cities and their famous landmarks underneath several MASSIVE white canopy shade covers. You can walk around in this giant centerpiece of the park for a couple of hours enjoying it all and snapping photos all around.

I also appreciated the tribute to Cypress Gardens which was the original tourist attraction (and later theme park) at this location for almost 75 years starting in 1936 and peaking during the 1950s and 1960s. A portion of the original park has been preserved exactly as it used to be, and you can walk around and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. Me and my brother actually visited Cypress Gardens on April 02ND 2005 when they had already converted over to a theme park (adjacent to the botanical gardens). We enjoyed the park during the day, and then we attended a Switchfoot concert that night at the park. The concert was quite memorable for us in that Switchfoot were at their mainstream peak back then, so a good crowd came to see them. Also a strong cold front had swept through the region during the day, so it turned cold just in time for the concert after dark. There were swarms of bugs flying around in the cold. It was quite eerie.

It was a fun day at Legoland. We were there from opening to almost closing. I would actually consider purchasing a limited annual pass to the park after I retire and relocate close to that local area. (It’s about an hour up the road from Sebring.)

Next #TravelThursday I’ll conclude my recap of this fun road-trip, and I’ll reveal the location of my next vacation (and series of blog posts).

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

Categories
Animals Blogging Driving Food Music Nature Photography Shopping Travel

My Spring Break Vacation 2022

And now – Week 2 of my 4-week series on my 6-day / 626-mile road-trip adventure here in South Florida and also up in Central Florida.

I blogged about The Beach Boys concert in Fort Lauderdale last #TravelThursday. Original members Mike Love and Brian Johnston fronted the band backed-up by talented touring musicians who looked and sounded great together – bringing back that unique Southern California surf pop and rock sound of the 1960s.

Brian Wilson and Al Jardine co-founded The Beach Boys (along with Mike Love) 61 years ago. Brian (80 this June) and Al (80 this September) are also touring together alongside another Beach Boy from the early-1970s – Blondie Chaplin. They are co-headlining (without The Beach Boys name) with Chicago for 25 dates this June and July. I may see them in Tampa (not sure yet). I checked tickets, and good seats were running between $206 and $436 (not including fees) with not that many of those seats left. I don’t really wish to spend that much money on that concert – as much as I really want to go to it.

OK it’s now Friday March 04TH 2022, and I’m spending the morning at Flamingo Gardens – one of Broward County’s top tourist attractions that’s not a MASSIVE shopping mall or a beach. Flamingo Gardens is a longtime botanical gardens and now Everglades wildlife sanctuary and aviary in Davie Florida (a South Florida suburb near Fort Lauderdale). I’ve been visiting this fun place since 2012, and this was my 5TH visit – and 1ST since December 2017. This is the type of place that I would work at after I retire if I were to move to that local area, but there’s no chance in that occurring. Broward County is a fun place to visit for the day or for a vacation, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

That night I saw The Bee Gees – LIVE in concert. Well – sort of.

Instead of me trying to capture the experience of this concert in my own words – allow me to share this promo with you:

Some tribute bands sound good. Some look good. Some move and dance like the originals. Every once in a while you get this powerhouse combination of sounds GREAT, looks GREAT, stage presence is GREAT, show is GREAT, light show is GREAT !

You’ll have a night like this with this Bee Gees tribute band – “Stayin Alive”. The vocal match of Tony Mattina, Todd Sharman, and Joseph Janisse to the Gibb Brothers – Barry, Robin, and Maurice – creates an eerie sense of seeing The Bee Gees LIVE in concert. The performance captures a full history of The Bee Gees music beginning with the 1967 breakout album “Bee Gees First”.

Stayin Alive offers songs and sights of a full Bee Gees playlist – singing blockbuster hits such as “Night Fever”, “Jive Talkin’”, “How Deep Is Your Love”, “You Should Be Dancing”, “Nights On Broadway”, and “Stayin’ Alive”.  In addition – they perform softer poetic ballads – “I Started a Joke”, “Massachusetts”, “Fanny Be Tender”, and “To Love Somebody” – among other great hits.

Close your eyes, and The Bee Gees are THERE in the theater. The band and their show bring back an unforgettable era of great music !  If you’re looking for a concert that will take you back in time this is it ! You might want to break out the white bell-bottoms, low-neck shirt (for the guys) with the 8-inch collars, or perhaps a leisure suit. Then again – maybe just jeans or shorts and a ’70s-looking’ tee-shirt. Oh – and maybe watch “Saturday Night Fever” before you come – just to set the mood.

I fully concur with that description of the concert. I never got to see the real Bee Gees in concert, but this was definitely the next best thing.

One final note: They performed an unknown song to me early in the show that I immediately loved and started singing along to with the 1,400+ in attendance. “I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You” was actually their first Top 10 hit here in the U.S. in 1968, but I had never heard it before. It rocked the Coral Springs Center For The Arts. #HOLDON #HOLDON

Next #TravelThursday I’ll share my fun adventures with my family (and extended family) in Fort Lauderdale – and 3½ hours away up in Central Florida at a popular theme park that’s not near Orlando.

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