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Sebring Historical Society

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. It is Day 21 of the closing process of my new retirement / forever home up near Sebring in scenic Highlands County Florida. 3 Thursdays ago I toured 5 condos in my dream 55+ neighborhood, and I selected the 5TH and final one as the best of them all (by far). So far so good with the entire process. I’ve reviewed and signed so many electronic forms over the past several weeks. That process appears to be drawing to a close. I’ll be physically present in Sebring for final closing day, and I’m sure that I’ll be signing even more documents on that day – retro-style – via “wet-ink” (pen-to-paper). Memo To Self: Don’t drink coffee that morning. (I want my signatures to be legible – not scribble.)

It’s no secret that I wish to be a museum docent when I grow up (retire), and I’ll be doing that with the Sebring Historical Society. I met with the Operations Director inside their main building a couple of days after I made that purchase offer on my condo. I actually walked over to their museum, and it was locked shut. I then walked over to the next historic building / house over that they also use (for socials and banquets), and it was also locked shut. So I had no choice but to head over to their main building to ask why.

I didn’t realize it at first, but the guy that greeted me was the same guy that greeted me exactly 2 years earlier during Presidents Day Weekend of 2021. (Read all about that remarkable day here.) It took him a little while longer to remember me. We talked for a good hour about my upcoming relocation and retirement, and my eagerness to become a member of the Sebring Historical Society. I wish to serve and participate in their regularly-scheduled meetings, events, and tours. He actually gave me a copy of the script for the closed museum. (It was closed because he didn’t have a docent available to work that day.) He told me to study it and personalize it to my own liking.

It was another great and impromptu meet-and-(re)greet, and when I walked away I was absolutely certain that I wanted to serve alongside the members of the Sebring Historical Society at my earliest opportunity (right after I start moving up there). I’ve already added some upcoming events to my schedule !

Several days after I returned to my current home I sat down at my computer, and I went “old-school”. I typed an old-fashioned letter to the Sebring Historical Society thanking the Operations Director for talking with me for an hour about everything. I reiterated my eagerness to serve to preserve, protect, and promote Sebring history. I also filled-out the application form to become a member, and I wrote out a check for the first year’s membership dues. It all went into an envelope – addressed and stamped – and placed in my neighborhood’s USPS mailbox. (Just like we used to do it “in the olden days”.) Writing letters is such a lost art form, but I continue to embrace it. Blogging is sort of like writing letters – the modern way.

In addition to regularly-scheduled monthly and quarterly events – the Sebring Historical Society also hosts all-inclusive day-trips around the local South-Central Florida region. Future #TravelThursday editions will highlight these trips, and perhaps my trip highlights may even appear on the Sebring Historical Society Facebook site.

Next #TravelThursday I’ll write about South Florida State College in Avon Park Florida. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2023 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

Blogging Geography Travel

My Carnival Celebration Vacation 2023

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Last week I wrote about the busiest cruise ship port in the world – #PortMiami. This week I begin a multi-part series on my most recent Caribbean cruise from there.

I was on the 7-day sailing of the brand-new Carnival Celebration from Sunday January 08TH 2023 to Sunday January 15TH 2023. It sailed across the Atlantic from Southampton England to Miami Florida from Sunday November 06TH 2022 to Sunday November 20TH 2022. This was its 9TH cruise (with passengers) ever !

The Carnival Celebration is the newest cruise ship that I’ve ever sailed on, and YES – it’s got a subtle “new cruise” smell to it. The previous newest cruise ship I’d ever sailed on was in late-October / early-November 2007 when I sailed on the maiden TransAtlantic voyage of the Carnival Freedom from Rome Italy to Miami Florida. But that cruise ship had already sailed a full inaugural spring and summer season of Mediterranean cruises. I like to say that I helped “deliver” the Carnival Freedom to the U.S.A.

The almost $1 billion Carnival Celebration is Carnival’s biggest ship ever at 183,521 gross tons. There were about 6,000 passengers onboard with a crew of over 1,700 (from some 70 nations). I believe that my cruise was close to capacity (over 90%). It’s the biggest cruise ship that I’ve ever been on, and it’s the most people that I’ve ever been on a cruise with. It was the complete opposite of my Carnival cruise from exactly one year (to the date) earlier when I sailed on the Carnival Liberty – which was less than half-full. That was right after the cruising industry “restart” post-pandemic. You can read all about it here.

This was my 24TH cruise in a little over 31 years – and 16TH on Carnival in a little over 23 years. My 2ND night on this cruise was my 100TH night with Carnival. It’s my favorite cruise line – mostly due to activities onboard. Every cruise line specializes in something, and they do it better than most other cruise lines. For Carnival it’s the sheer number of things that you can do and activities that you can participate in from early in the morning until early the next morning.

My last 3 Carnival cruises have been great. I did not have such a good time on my 13TH in May 2014. After that one I decided to no longer go on cruises and retire from the sea. That “drought” ended almost exactly 4 years later when I went on a short 4-day Disney cruise to Key West and The Bahamas with my brother, sister-in-law, her parents, and my nieces. That turned out to be a surprisingly fun cruise, and it reinvigorated my passion for cruising. After that cruise I went back to Carnival and gave them another chance. I booked my next cruise for 9 months later, and that was the 1ST of 3 great Carnival cruises in a row – all in January – in 2019, 2022, and now 2023.

January is my preferred month for cruising. May is another good option for me, as is September and October. I try to avoid Spring Break (February, March, and April), Summer (June, July, and August), and the holidays of November and December.

Next #TravelThursday I’ll write more about the Carnival Celebration, and in the weeks to follow I’ll write about the 3 ports-of-call on the 7-day cruise – Amber Cove Dominican Republic, San Juan Puerto Rico, and Charlotte Amalie St. Thomas U.S. Virgin Islands. You may be surprised as to which of those 3 ports was – by far – my favorite of them all – at least on this cruise. This will likely be a 6-part series through the end of February, so let’s embark for fun at sea and abroad. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2023 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

Blogging Driving Geography Travel


Welcome back to #TravelThursday. For this 2ND edition of 2023 we visit the busiest cruise ship port in the world – #PortMiami.

It’s one of my favorite places here in South Florida, as many great vacations have started from there. In fact – 16 great vacations have started from there over the past 31 years. 17 have ended from there. I picked-up the Carnival Freedom over in Rome Italy (Civitavecchia), and I sailed on her maiden TransAtlantic voyage for 14 days from Rome to Miami. (That was in late-October / early-November of 2007.)

#PortMiami is about 32 miles from my current home – straight up or down U.S. 1. On a good morning with not a lot of traffic I can get there in about an hour and 15 minutes. It takes a little longer to drive to there than to drive from there – mostly because when I’m driving from there it’s a few hours earlier in the morning. Sometimes I can actually get home from the port in a little less than an hour.

When I move away later this year – I’ll be closer to two other ports on both coasts of Central Florida – #PortTampaBay and #PortCanaveral.

You know all this talk (blogging) about ports and cruises and great vacations has me excited to embark on another fun adventure. Starting next #TravelThursday I’ll begin a multi-part series and share the fun that I experienced on my most recent Caribbean cruise. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2023 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

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35 Years In Homestead Florida

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. After a 1-week hiatus last Thursday for the #Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S.A. – I’m back for an all-new season of travel adventures every Thursday !

I recently spent 10 days with my family over in the Dallas Texas area. It was cold and rainy and dark and dreary for much of that time with 30s and 40s at night and in the mornings, and 40s and 50s in the afternoons. It was a bit unusual to be so cold and dreary for such an extended period of time in mid-to-late-November. I was prepared for the temperatures, as I’m a skilled weather forecaster – by hobby – not by occupation.

I returned back home to Homestead Florida last Friday November 25TH 2022, and the heatwave continues here in South Florida. Temperatures were approaching 90°F (low-30s Celsius) as I drove home from Miami International Airport. It’s been an unusually warm and humid November here, but that likely won’t continue much longer.

My favorite part of South Florida is indeed the weather. I want to live with this weather for the rest of my life. When I move away from here in 2023 I’ll still experience much of this weather – 3 hours north of here in Highlands County along the Lake Wales Ridge (“spine”) of Florida. Winters will be a bit cooler, and summers will be a bit warmer.

So today – the first of December – marks 35 years since I first arrived here during the early-morning hours of Tuesday December 01ST 1987. With the exception of nearly 19 months immediately after the catastrophic destruction caused by Hurricane Andrew on August 24TH 1992 – I’ve been here ever since. I arrived here as a young 20½-year-old USAF Airman, and now I’m a soon-to-be-retired 55½-year old USAF Civil Servant.

I feel like I grew up in this city. During the first 18 years of my life – I lived in 5 homes in 5 towns in 3 states. I have no friends from those years – only memories of what could’ve been. I consider my 20s and my 30s as my “childhood” here in Homestead, and my 40s and my 50s as my “adulthood” here in Homestead. I’ve lived here in Homestead longer than most people have lived here in Homestead. (Most of the growth of the city and the surrounding area has occurred since 2002.)

It’s been a fun 35 years in this town. I’m looking forward to new sights and sounds in the new year. #2023

Next #TravelThursday I’ll hit the ice. Let’s keep traveling together.

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