Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Biking on the Hollywood Broadwalk

Not only does Hollywood Beach have a "Broadwalk", it has a fairly broad bike path right along the beach. Like much of Hollywood, it's an anything goes activity. If it peddles on one wheel, two, three, or four, you will find it cruising up and down the beach. There are several places along the beach to rent a four wheel surrey, three wheeled low rider, or regular two wheeler. I've seen folding bikes, two seaters, big wheels, racing bikes, bikes with training wheels, baskets for small dog hood ornaments, parrots on the handle bars, and everything in between. I used to live close enough to ride my bike every weekend on the broadwalk but now I need to toss the bike in the car and haul it to the beach. Still one of my favorite Hollywood beach activities.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Organic Brewery - Hollywood Beach

I've been brewing my own beer for quite a while. I don't take it very seriously and the results show that sometimes.  I prefer a nice strong stout to a pilsner or ale and I generally have better luck with the darker beers. I know the difference between an ok beer and a not so ok beer but sometimes I just want a professionally crafted micro brew to dance across my taste buds. 

I've passed by the Organic Brewery on Hollywood Beach for a while now on my weekend walks. I generally hit the beach early but today, I brought my camera and got a much later start to catch some better winter light. 
 My home setup consists of a two gallon plastic container and a few plastic bottles. The mad science lab at the Organic Brewery has multiple stainless steel reactors, miles of pipe, and computer control. The price seemed a little high and I do have eight bottles of fresh brew in the fridge at home but the bartender convinced me to stay and have a stout. While I was there, I ordered lunch too. 
First came the ice cold stout in a frozen mug just the way it should be. Oh yes - This is what fine beer making is supposed to taste like. Next a plate of the best German sausages and authentic, fresh baked soft pretzel I've had in a very long time. A little side of dipping mustard just to make it perfect. My German grandfather would have been in heaven if he was not already there. My visit was at noon but I hear it's getting pretty popular in the evening. I'll be back again with friends next time to check it out.

The Organic Brewery is right on Hollywood Beach Broadwalk. You can see the ocean from the outdoor patio. Great place to take a break, sip a quality beer and, watch the waves.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Jousting Returns to Camelot Days - Hollywood

Stormy Knights Jousting
I have been a huge Renaissance festival fan since first taking my daughter to the local fair well over a decade ago. Her favorite act that day - The jousting. My favorite part of that day - The look of amazement on her little face as two horses came thundering at each other and lances crashed against opposing knights.

Jousting had taken a long hiatus from the Camelot Days fair in Hollywood and so had I in my quest to attend bigger shows in Florida and Georgia. Last year I was in a nostalgic mood and returned to the show that started it all for me. My bad luck to attend on a stormy afternoon turned out to be not so bad after all. I had a chance to take shelter and talk with Larry Rabin, a long time performer better known as the Hopeless Romantic. Until that day a year ago I was just a guy shooting pictures but suddenly I was interacting with the cast. Larry mentioned he was working on a new project. Little did I know he was planning to bring Jousting back to Hollywood with Stormy Knights Jousting.

Larry Rabin - back stage
Hard to believe this year has come full circle already. I have made dozens of friends since then. Writing this blog has been a key to introducing me to all sorts of events and entertainment I had no idea about a year ago. I've gotten to know several of the performers to the point they recognize me before I recognize them. Larry even invited me back stage during the second Joust so I could get better pictures. 

Attending the festivals is a great way to catch up with old friends like Kevin Siegelbaum. Kevin recently became an ordained minister and will perform your ceremony as "The Pirate Pastor". The festival is also a great way to make new friends such as Carolina VonFoxy. I've seen Carolina around the fair grounds for many years but never thought to walk up to her and say hi. Like all the performers at all the Ren Fests I've attended, she was very gracious and we had a wonderful conversation. I'm sure my daughter remembers her as she had me buy her a fox tail of her very own after seeing Carolina's collection.

Old Friend - Kevin Siegelbaum
New Friend - Carolina VonFoxy


Besides the jousting there is plenty of other fair favorites like dancing, music, comedy, and magic. Most of the performers know me by now so I don't get pulled up on stage any more although I was almost included in a dance number. Best I just stick to photography although dancing on stage would be the quickest way to launch my comedy career.

I'm sure you are wondering what the rest of this fair was all about so Click Here for the photos I took today. There is still one more day to enjoy Camelot Days then fairs in Deerfield and Miami if your are local or all across the country if you are not. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Helicopter Ride at the Stuart Air Show

After spending the entire day at the Stuart Air Show, I wanted something a little extra. Jumping out the back of a C-130 at 2,000 feet? No that's not it. Hitch a ride on one of the AreoShell Aerobatic Team stunt planes? Had lunch and dinner so that was out. It was getting late, the last plane had flown and the show was closing down then I noticed the helicopter rides. Oh yeah - that's what I needed to do to make this day over the top.

I walked up right as they were taking the last tickets. There was one seat for the next flight so I plunked down my $35.00 and headed for the front of the line.

The helicopter was a four seater (including the pilot) and smaller up close than it looked from across the field.  I was heading out with an Army wife and her very young daughter both just in from Germany. I drove to the show. They came by military transport plane. Lucky for me and my camera, they decided to take the two back seats. I sat up front with and nearly on top of the pilot. 
The last helicopter I rode in was a monster. Sort of a corporate type, six seater. When it took off, you knew it, you heard it, you felt it in your teeth. After I squeezed into the tiny cockpit, buckled up, and checked my camera settings we were off as gently and smooth as a hot air balloon. I'm not even sure where the engine was. I asked what this particular helicopter was used for. Training, movies, rides, and whatever they could schedule to make a buck. Seemed like the best office in the world and the pilot mentioned a commercial license was a mere $17,000.00. That's actually cheaper than my daughter's college education. If not the full license, I would definitely consider lessons or areal photography.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Stuart Air Show

 I may be needing to change the name of my blog to "The Very North End of South Florida  - Guy" soon. That's right. Back in Stuart. I should have been painting my new house but decided to visit the Stuart Air Show instead. Excellent choice as it turns out.

I'm more familiar with the Fort Lauderdale Air and Sea show. I've never bought a ticket to it as I've had friends in the near vicinity and can usually find a viewing area relatively close.

I saw the Stuart show from a boat once but this time I thought I would get a little closer to the action. I didn't have time to get a discount ticket as I just heard about it on the radio on the way up so I paid $20.00 at the door. Once through the gate, I was pointed to a parking space right on the tarmac about 50 yards from the entrance. Good thing as I went back and forth to the car for my lawn chair and a fresh battery.

The show ground was huge and loaded with planes from military aviation history, stunt planes, and helicopters to a C-130. All accessible and plenty of personal on hand to ask questions and sometimes tell stories.

Some of the vintage planes looked like they just rolled off the showroom floor. After touring the C-130, the Electra passenger plane seemed like a miniature reproduction. Hard to imagine this plane was the luxury travel of the near past.

The shows started around 11:00 with a WWII weapons demonstration which escalated into an elaborately choreographed fire fight. The entertainment continued with no let up till the end of the air show around 5:30. A real bargain for the price of admission.

My favorite show of the day was the School Time Jet Bus. While the planes were loud, none of them shot a fifty foot flame out the back. When the announcer told the crowd this bus was going to race a stunt plane already in the air and traveling over 100 MPH it seemed like a pretty easy bet who was going to win. Wrong!! The bus travels at 300 MPH and left the plane in it's own smoke trail. Oops - did I give it away. Apparently I was the only one surprised. This is something you need to see to believe. From what I could tell, most of the crowd comes back year after year for this show. I know I will be joining them.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Starting a New Blog

Living in two cities is really putting a crimp in my social activities. I don't blog about a fraction of what I normally do but missing events like the Homestead Air Show, Camelot Days, and Florida Cajun Fest makes for a boring blog. Not hanging out with friends makes for a boring life.

One thing I've enjoyed most about blogging is the friends I've made either in person or electronically. This year has been a whirlwind of meeting new people. One who I've not met in person (and likely won't any time soon) is my biggest blog fan RedNomadOz.  A well known Australian blogger.

While I was kicking around some new ideas, I whipped together a new blog.

I've lived and/or worked in Hollywood since 1978 and have a nice little collection of photos. I also have quite a few Flickr friends with huge collections of amazing Hollywood photos. My intention was to showcase my work and maybe have a friend or two contribute a photo now and then. That was a week and a half ago.

I already have two contributors, two more thinking about it, and 430 hits. It didn't hurt that RedNomadOz pointed me to City Daily Photo who picked up my brand new blog with only 5 photos.

If you are new to this blog, all the large text is a link so click away and enjoy some of those events I'm going to miss. Be sure to head over to my new blog as well. If you have an amazing Hollywood photo, send it to HlwdFLPhotos@gmail.com along with a catchy title, photo credit, and maybe a little paragraph and I'll post it for you. An hour after your photo posts, it will be seen around the world.

I am hoping for a photo a day so I'll need a few more contributors.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Butterfly World - Coconut Creek

One of the best places I have found to take my camera is
 Butterfly World
 in Coconut Creek. It's also one of the most expensive at $25.00 for an adult admission so I don't visit very often. They usually have a coupon on the website (above) so start with that when planning your trip.

The first time I visited Butterfly World, my daughter was young. I'm not sure if it was her white shirt or shampoo but several butterflies landed on her. People started taking pictures of the butterfly whisperer. I would like to show you mine but I did not have a camera with me that day. Not even a cell phone camera. That was the very last time I left the house without an image recording device of some sort.

Butterflies do not have a very long lifespan. To make sure there will be some for you to see, Butterfly World has a hatching program. You can even see some emerge from their cocoons and dry their wings if you time your visit just right.

Butterflies are constantly on the move and notice if you get close so the best shots are lucky close up or a bit easier with a long lens.

One of the things that go best with Butterflies and coincidentally photography, are flowers. Hundreds of butterflies can get pretty hungry and flowers sit still a whole lot better for the camera.

If you want to fill your photo album, walls, or website with color, you pretty much can just walk around a while with your finger on the shutter button, it's that easy. I'm more of a casual shooter who will stop and take a few shots of an interesting specimen for my collection. I've seen a some who will spend an hour with a tripod and expensive lighting to get the perfect shot of just one flower.

For me the challenge is the birds. Capturing a humming bird in flight is pretty much like capturing a bullet. Even in the small humming bird exhibit, it's hard to frame a shot. I have some very nice blurry wing and out of frame tail feather photos. I had to stand very still and wait for one to land on a branch to get a shot one I could post. Humming birds take a rest for about two seconds then back to the flowers.

The Lorikeet, a native of Australia, is my favorite and Butterfly World has an enclosure in which you can interact with them. Actually they interact with you. You will find them on your head, nibbling your ear, or standing on your camera. Be sure to bring a friend, buy them some bird food, and stand back with the video setting on. There is a good chance you will have a YouTube video in the making.
The admission price may seem a little high and much more than my typical Free adventures but as I flip through my pictures and the memories of my visits, I would say well worth it.

For more of my photos from Butterfly World. visit my Flickr site. If you have photos online to share, fell free to post them in my comments section.

Friday, October 26, 2012

My New House is a Piece of Work

Have you been missing my posts? Yes - me too. I bought a fixer upper house (3/2 w/ garage 1,500 Sq ft) a month ago and it has consumed my every hour and dollar. I'm taking this weekend off. Not because I want to but because I would have to drive through Hurricane Sandy to get to it.  Ok - we are not getting a full blast but high winds, a high profile vehicle, and a highway do not make good partners. And yes, my new house is 75 miles up the road.  In two and a half years I retire and I should have the place done about a year after that the way I'm going so far.

Since I have not been out and about lately, I'm going to bore you with my progress so far.

Lets start of with the fact that I got an unbelievably fantastic price. Good thing as it needs a new roof, flooring, kitchen, appliances, AC, drywall repairs including and entire bedroom ceiling, some electrical, and plumbing. Did I miss something? I'm sure. I've already been to Home Depot 10 times for the little stuff.

My sister called it a POS but I like to think of it as a blank slate. Enormous potential with nothing to hold back my creativity but cash. Lack of cash actually.

I've been doing demolition since the day I closed. The house is in gated golf club community. The same one my parents live in coincidentally. The previous owners were not the favorite of the neighbors, the home owners association, and likely the police. I have been very well received so far. I'm sure the trash people have a slightly different view as I've already put out 15 loaded contractor bags for pickup. Right now I'm looking at ripping out the remains of the kitchen cabinets and a 13' X 17' bedroom ceiling. Well half. The other half fell due to the roof leak.

I'm sure to some of you.... most of you... Ok all of you - this seems like an overwhelming project. I thought so too the first two times I did this but this is not my first time to the rodeo. The greatest part is I get to lock the door and leave as the dust settles. The last two times I was sleeping in it.

I have made huge progress so far. All the carpet tack strips are up, plumbing done and the water turned back on, garage door replaced, deposit on the roof, drywall in the garage fixed, walls patched, paint cans everywhere. I can get half the house painted at least.

This will be a huge effort but when I'm done, if all goes well, I'll have my retirement dream house at half the cost of the surrounding properties. Check back in about six months and see if I'm still as enthusiastic.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Treasure Coast Pirate Fest 2012 - Stuart

Caribbean Pearl
 I have often stated that I write this blog for my friends and family. Now that my Blogger counter is telling me I have 70,000 hits this year, I think I may be getting a few fans too. Even with that minor success, I still like to try new things and invite my friends and family to do them with me. This weekend's exploration - the 5th annual Treasure Coast Pirate Fest in Stuart Florida.

Captain Hook
I have not been to this festival before but heard it's been growing and needed a new venue this year - the Martin County Fair Grounds. It appeared most visitors were bringing their children but I did the next best thing and brought my parents who live in the area. And my camera.

I have gotten to know a few of the performers this year so to add to my fun, (maybe not theirs) I had Mom and Dad pose with various characters from the South Florida Pirates and Treasure Coast Pirates. If you are not familiar with these groups, click on their links (the bold text) and get to know them. They do various events and festivals, raise money for children's charities, and other good deeds not always mentioned in pirate lore.

Lassie Lyons of Pirates for Sail
I have been going to pirate themed events a long time and two of my favorite pirates,  Caribbean Pearl and Captain Hook were only too happy to make my parents feel like part of the show. Speaking of shows, the Treasure Coast Pirate Fest had several bands playing continuously during the day. My favorite band was one I've never heard before - Pirates for Sail. I'll be enjoying them for a while as I was so impressed with the music, and especially the fiddle playing of Lassie Lyons, I bought their CD. They are not a local band and this show was the farthest south they had been from their home port of Baltimore. I added a video (not mine) so you can get an idea of what the festival music was like.

Larry Rabin up to his new tricks
Mom remembered Larry Rabin, a 20 year veteran of South Florida festivals . She came "this close" to being pulled up on the stage of the Hopeless Romantic show a few years back. What's Larry been up to lately? Well about 10 feet in this picture but he also told me about his latest project. I will be sure to report on it in a future post.

So have you had enough of the family photos? Then click here to head over to my Flickr site and see the rest of my event photos. Great food, continuous shows, shopping under cover out of the blazing hot sun, and fun for the kids including a costume contest. I'm not sure how you make memories with your family and friends but this is how I make them with mine.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse

 Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse
According to the Lighthouse Friends.com website, there are 31 or so lighthouses in Florida. After reviewing the list I'm surprised at how many I've seen over the years from Pensacola, to St Augustine, to Key West. Even more surprised at how many I've climbed. Nearly all the ones available to the public.

One of my favorites is the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse. Beautiful, brick, lighthouses were built for only a short moment in time in this country and will never be built again. The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse was a  technological and logistical wonder for it's time in the 1850's. Falling into disrepair, this lighthouse was rescued and restored in 2000. I visited soon after for the first time but forgot my camera. I promised myself I would return one day and finally kept that promise last weekend - camera in hand.

This is probably the easiest lighthouse to visit in one of the most stunning locations in Florida. It is hard to believe this lighthouse was built in the wilderness as an outpost. Now it's dead center in some of the highest priced real estate in Florida. Not only is the lighthouse fully restored, there is a nice little museum included in the admission price. If you are not interested in that, bring a lawn chair and watch the boats, kayaks, and paddle boarders pass by.

I am pretty proud of my photos from this trip and I have them posted on Flickr. Take a look and let me know what you think. Even better, if your have photos of the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse you are proud of, post a link in the comments.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Full Moon Drum Circle - Hollywood

I have often made the comment that Hollywood needs more regularly scheduled events to revitalize downtown. In true Hollywood style they now have one but it's scheduled randomly each month on the night of the full moon. The Full Moon Drum Circle has been a steadily growing event since it's start about a year ago. This is my first time participating mostly because I think about it usually after I notice the full moon. This month I planned a little better. It didn't hurt that I had a constant reminder of the "Blue Moon" during the week, it was a Friday night, and the weather was perfect after our near miss with Hurricane Issac. 

I work near downtown and live out West so the first stop - Mickey Byrne's Irish Pub to fuel up and meet some friends. I actually didn't plan to meet anyone. They just happened to be there. That happens more often than not and that's why I like to start my evening there. 
The Drum Circle started around 7:30 and there were about 50 or so participants. Ages ranged from baby to advanced years and every age in between. Same with the instruments. Hand drums, snare, box, shakers, bells, spoons, buckets, and even two Australian Didgeridoos. I didn't think to bring a drum but not to be left out, someone loaned me one. That someone happened to be one of the Taiko Drum performers who did a show the week before at the Morikami for the Bon Festival. Pretty exciting considering I missed that event because of bad weather. After the moon popped up I thought the show was about done so I returned my borrowed instrument and headed over to the Arts Park stage for some cool jazz.

I spoke with one of the city staffers and learned they are hosting a wide variety of music now. Jazz, Rock, Reggae, whatever. Just check the  events page to see what's showing. After an hour of Jazz I was ready to head out only to find the drum circle was in full swing and even more drummers had arrived.

I spoke with one of the promoters from Resurrection Drums and he told me there are other full moon drum circles in South Florida but they are loosely organized and don't have a dedicated location. This is the only one sponsored by a city. The city even provides chairs for the participants. All they need is to get the word out to really grow the event. I know some of my regular readers are fellow bloggers so maybe that will happen. 

I realize some of you out there like your regularly scheduled events on a regular schedule. Well Hollywood has a few of those also in and around the Arts Park Downtown. The Miami Food Truck Invasion every Monday from 5:30 to 9:00 and Funtastic Fridays - an activity event for the little ones every Friday 5:00 to 9:00 just to name two. These events are a great excuse to visit Hollywood for the first time or to keep you coming back. Once you walk around downtown a bit, you will no doubt find something else that will bring you back for some random future visit of your own.

Full Moon Drum Circle - Hollywood