Thursday, September 12, 2013

Signing Off - Moving On

I've had a great time writing this blog. It has really pushed me to explore my world and meet interesting people. I am off trying something new now. South Florida is were I live but not always were I experience life.

If you would like to continue to follow my adventures, visit me at:
Just a blog about me and the things that move me. I'll be starting off with a few photos from my archives. Once I get a few hits I'll be taking new photos on new adventures. There are a lot of places in this world that go un-noticed. I will be seeking them out and bringing them to you and hopefully bringing them to life for you.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

South Florida Pirates - World Ocean day at the Museum of Discovery and Science

It appears I have been concentrating a lot on pirates recently. There are two reasons for that. One, they keep turning up at events I want to photograph and two... well that one is a bit more personal.
South Florida Pirates
These photos are from World Ocean Day at the Museum of Discover and Science. I have taken notice of the South Florida Pirates for many years at the Florida Renaissance Festival. How can you not in their elaborate garb. 


I knew little about them except they were very gracious in front of my camera. I went to this event last year and while I was waiting for my friends to arrive, I spent some time getting to know them. I discovered they make appearances all throughout the year for a variety of events and charities.  I have been a follower of the South Florida Pirates ever since. So much so that I will be attending the Cocoa Beach Pirate Fest with the crew this very weekend. 
Mia the Mermaid

There has been a new addition to the cast of characters - Mia the Mermaid, who heads up the South Florida Pirate Sirens. The mermaids are available for events in the water or on the shore. 

One pirate in particular has caught my eye in more ways than just through the lens of my camera. 

Captain Katerina Ravenholme and I will be sailing to Cocoa Beach together. There I will make my debut in pirate garb. I'm hoping for fair weather ahead and many ports of call for us in the future. If not, then I will be fed to the sharks as I understand it. This is a tough crew to get into but a wonderful and generous group of people that I've been fortunate to know this year. 

Captain Katarina Ravenholme

So who are the South Florida Pirates really? I have been trying to figure it out for years. I think I'll just let Captain Arabella Drummond describe her crew in her own words:

The South Florida Pirates are a well established charity organization made up of some of the most wonderful people on the planet. They came together 7 years ago and little by little began doing Charity events for special needs children, make a wish, march of dimes, Vital Flight, Joe Di Maggio Children s hospital and several others.  Besides raising money to help cover final costs for a dear friend and for another to help pay bills while he fights TB.  This crew of dedicated folks work tirelessly to give back to the community and to children.  
The SFP started out with 6 members and began to grow and change adding many to the group, watching some leave and move into other crews but always welcoming new members and welcoming back those who choose to return.  Now the South Florida Pirates have added a new group to the fray.....The South Florida Pirate Sirens!!  Yes there be mermaids here!!  Not only are the SFP savvy in pirates but they have helped the Museum of Science and Discovery salute several movies,  Harry Potter, The Hobbit and of course Pirates of the Caribbean.  The Crew can change their spots from Pirates to Victorian Steam punk characters as well embracing the newest ideas for reenactment costuming this makes them versatile for all types of events.  Be sure to watch for them around the South Florida Area  and be sure to come out and meet them!!  A finer group of folks you will never find!!  HOIST THE COLORS FOR THE SOUTH FLORIDA PIRATES AND THE SOUTH FLORIDA PIRATE SIRENS!! 

Respectfully submitted this day
Capt Arabella Drummond 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Bluefoot Pirate Adventures - Fort Lauderdale.

DSC_2750A friend of mine told me about the Bluefoot Pirate Adventures over a year ago. I even mentioned them in an earlier post but this past weekend was the first time I had visited. The plan was to take a few photos and move on. Instead, I struck up a conversation with Captain Kyle, owner of the ship, just before he began checking in passengers for the first trip of the day.

DSC_2852The Bluefoot Pirates Adventure is primarily a children's adventure complete with water cannons. They will cast off with a group of full grown pirates for special events when called upon. I watched while the children got the full makeup, scarf, eye patch, sash and sword and were ready to board. I was heading out when the captain mentioned there was a last minute cancellation and I could book my accommodations for a very reasonable fee. We reached an accord as pirates say. Besides, what kind of blogger would I be if I passed  up an opportunity to bring you the full story.

DSC_2760As soon as we weighed anchor, I realized this was going to be no pleasure cruise for the little ones. While the adults sat back in the shade, the kids were put to work. First to hoist the colors, next to check the cannons, and always to draw swords and yell ARRGG! to passing ships at sea. At first timidly but after the mate announced they were to use their outside voices, loud enough to scare off the pelicans.

Mid way though the voyage, there was a treasure map discovered on board but all that shouting got us the attention of Barnacle Bill. Everyone back to the cannons!! Suddenly there was water flying everywhere. A few of the parents even jumped in to help out the little ones - so they said.


DSC_2967There is no doubt every child on the boat was going home with great pirate tales to share. Probably for weeks. Even a little treasure.  The adults, I'm sure, were more interested in the yachts, cruise ships, and mansions we passed by. I know that's what I'll be dreaming about for while.


In the end I had a really great time. Now I just need to see who I know with small children so I can conveniently forget my camera and do the cruise again. You know - to 'help out" with the water cannon.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Dragons and Drums - Hollywood ArtsPark

DSC_3061One of the great things about making so many friends in entertainment business this past year is I never need to check the newspapers for events. They just pop up in my Facebook. Way too many for my limited free time these days. There has been one group I have been wanting to see for over a year. The Ronin Taiko Drummers. I have either been too busy or they have been performing too far away. When I got the word they were performing 10 minutes from my house, I rearranged my entire schedule to attend.

You would think now that I am a nearly noticed blogger, I could score a few free tickets to events. Yeah - not quite. But no need. The Ronin Taiko Drummers were the opening and closing act of Dragons and Drums at the Hollywood ArtsPark celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The performance included Chinese Lion Dancers and Samoan Fire Dancers. Ronin Taiko was joined by the students of the Wadaiko Academy. And everyone scored free tickets. That's right, Hollywood put this high energy event on free of charge.

DSC_3097 My photos are not all that great but the show was fantastic and easily the best attended event I have seen yet at the ArtsPark. The huge stage was filled wall to wall all night, lighting and sound were perfect, and the show started right on time. Just after the drumming began, there was not a patch of grass to be found in the amphitheater. Some folks brought chairs but many just had blankets or sat right on the grass.

Besides one of the best shows I've seen in a while, one thing really caught my attention. The amount of children in the audience. At one point, the Chinese Lion Dancers took the stage and children came streaming down from the hillside to get a closer look. When was the last time you saw that in Florida and not been in Disney. Then they headed back to their parents and grand parents. This was truly a family show for all ages. The type of event I would go to, way back when I was a kid, with my family and seeming lost to time in this modern, grownups only world. Congratulations to Hollywood for bringing back true family entertainment and making it cool enough for all ages to enjoy.


This was the first year for Dragons and Drums. After an hour and a half, the audience called out for one more dance, and no one left till they turned off the stage lights. Looks like Hollywood may have hit upon yet another signature, annual event.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Bahia Mar Marina - Fort Lauderdale

DSC_2963 I have been truly neglecting my blog. Nine months of working on my new house has really taken it's toll on my fun time. To remedy that I have decided to cram this weekend full starting off with a visit to the Bahia Mar Marina in Fort Lauderdale

The goal was to take a few quick pics of a replica 1526 Spanish Galleon in town and head home. I got a bit more adventurous than I planned.

When I moved to Florida in 1978 from Philadelphia, the first tourist attraction my parents took us on was the Jungle Queen. I started my appreciation for odd Florida attractions right then and there. For many years the relatives would come down from the cold, white north and we would entertain them by taking this cruise up the New River. Probably 20 times, the last time probably 20 years ago. I think it's way past time to do it again.

After shooting a few pictures of the Jungle Queen, I spotted distant pirate flags blowing in the wind. Being the easily distracted type, I took a stroll over to see what was going on and found the
Bluefoot Pirate AdventuresStay tuned. I'll have a lot more to say about this ship next week.
As I turned to head over to the Spanish Galleon, yet another blast from my past - Flamingo Deep Sea Fishing. How many times did Dad take me out deep sea fishing? How many times did I bring in the bigger fish? I don't even like fishing. I do like the memories though. Eventually we bought our own tiny boat. Most of those memories involved poor seamanship. That and Dad always made me bait my own hook. Best to leave all that to the professionals.

After an hour or two crossing the parking lot and an as of yet undisclosed detour, I finally reached my destination, complete with a ridiculously long line. Right in front of the ship I spotted my new best friends - The South Florida Pirates. I may have even captured a few of the Pirates of the Treasure Coast. These groups have been turning up in my photos for some time now. I'll have more to say about them later this week as well.

South Florida Pirates

With all the running around then spending time with the South Florida Pirates, I ran out of time and got way too much sun to tour the ship. Last day in port is tomorrow so I will give it one more try, maybe a little more focused this time around. Assuming I'm not already too crispy.

There was one additional ship hovering high above. Not sure how to secure passage but if anyone knows, drop me a line.

How do I get a ticket for this ship?
This concludes my first cliff hanger blog. Be sure and tune in tomorrow and the whole rest of the week for a recap of this weekends adventures.  

Saturday, May 4, 2013

March of Dimes - March for Babies - NSU 05/04/2013

75th Anniversary
A March of Dimes walk-a-thon is not the typical subject matter for my blog. So how did I find my way to this event? It's a long story of one thing leading to another, one friend leading to a new one, and one event leading to the next. Once upon a time I walked and raised money for the March of Dimes several years in a row but that was literally decades ago. A small amount of time really considering this event started 75 years ago as a fight to cure polio. So what brought me back?

My friend Christine,  twelve year veteran of the March of Dimes event and long time member of the
South Florida Pirates, who I met quite by accident at a concert event a year ago, who recognized me from my photos of the
Florida Renaissance Festival. She invited me to shoot this event as a guest photographer. Not my first request as a blogger but the first one I have accepted. How could I not. Christine and I have gone from Facebook friends to real friends over the year and I live close enough to have ridden my bike to this event. I had to do it.

DSC_2498Upon my arrival I was presented with an official photographer badge and a long list of items to shoot. Christine knows me well enough to know I would be pretty much the only photographer to walk the entire route, climb to the top of the garage to do some areal shots (who knew there was an elevator), and instead of picking and choosing from the list I was given, shoot everything on it. Not to mention have the days shoot posted before dinner.

Click on any photo on this page and you will find all my photos of the day. I did my very best to include everyone who attended.... but there was just so many.

There were several who stood out. I met children who came into this world at only a few pounds, adults who were polio survivors, and a college student and fellow photographer who walked the entire route even with severe difficulties of mobility. I was walking pretty quickly  to line up my shots and she caught up to me all along the way until she crossed the finish line, huge smile and hands in the air. I was so proud to have met someone with that kind of determination. The kind of spirit that will go a long way chasing the dream of being a professional photographer.

The Finish Line

Nova Southeastern University was the perfect place to hold this event. Parking was easy, the grounds are beautiful, and the green space easily held the enormous crowd. The weather could not have been better. It was great to see so many groups participating. Wave after wave of colorful, matching T-shirts. Decades ago when I last attended this event, I never dreamed I would be speaking to a little girl born 28 weeks premature. Well today I did just that and I can tell you it was an emotional moment. So many have contributed to this worthy event over the years and that support has paid off in lives saved. I fully expect to return for the 100th anniversary of this event to marvel at the miracles yet to be accomplished. 
South Florida Pirates

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Key Lime Cafe - Stuart

Iphone5 050
The house project has been coming along so well, I decided it was time to take a little break. What better way than to enjoy my soon to be home town. Mom and Dad have been a huge help so I thought I would take them to one of my favorite Downtown Stuart restaurants. 

Iphone5 040There are almost too many great eateries to choose from downtown and I am fairly certain I have tried them all. I found the Key Lime Cafe years ago when I was exploring for something a little different. It's safe to say I've eaten here more than any other establishment downtown. 
On my first visit years ago, I was not sure it was even a restaurant. It looked a lot more like someone's tropical, back yard patio. Outdoor, extremely bright, and sparsely appointed. In fact on one of my visits, they were installing the bar. I've been watching this restaurant grow and improve every step of the way. 

Iphone5 042But first - thanks to a posting on the Downtown Stuart Facebook page, I found out there was a craft fair. Downtown Stuart has plenty of free parking which was pretty much filled up this weekend. A little patience and we found a spot close to the action. We managed to tour the whole fair. Plenty of great crafts to see, a farmers market, and a band. I could have gone on for hours but my parents were wilting in the heat. 
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Mom and Dad - so cute

My first visit to the Key Lime Cafe several years ago was a total accident. I just wanted to take a picture of the river and walked right by the place. On the way back I noticed someone holding menus and decided to give it a try.

There were only a handful of fellow patrons but the staff was pleasant and friendly and the food even better.  

On this latest visit, for the first time ever, there was a wait. Our hostess, who was very obviously with child, made sure Mom had a comfortable seat in the shade while we waited, a glass of water, and a fan. I was very tempted to ask her to join us as she likely needed all those things as well.
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Mom and Dad - so hungry. 
The band (guy with a keyboard and mic) entertained us with a few songs and even more by joking with us. After about 10 minutes we were seated under an awning and a fan. 

One thing I've noticed, if you are looking for a place to rush in and out of, this may not be for you. Also the seating is outside so if that's a problem you may want to pass. 

If you are more interested in shutting off your phone, taking your time with friends or family, having a drink and some clever and tasty food, in a place you wish you could transport portions of to your own back yard, then this is for you. Now that most of the seating and bar are under awnings, or Chickee tops, the beating sun and quick showers are not much of a problem.

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Oh look - directions
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Please be seated

On the way out, our server flashed us a big smile and asked us to come back soon. I will and many more years to come I hope. 

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The Band

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Money Pit Update

The painting is finally done and as I write this, the tile guys are getting ready to put the finishing touches on my roof to floor renovation.

Yes - from a new roof, new ceilings, new walls, new A/C, 23 gallons of new paint, new lighting, and now a new tile floor. It's been a busy 7 months. Except for two full weeks, all the inside work was done on weekends and mostly by me. The outside of the house was painted by the home owners association last week and when I get back this weekend, the tile will be done. It's like I have magic elves working even when I'm away making money to pay them.

Um... Where's the kitchen
So does this mean I'm now done. Not hardly. I have no appliances, no kitchen and now no money. I will be able to at least start moving in the furniture, eat take out, and take a hot shower. Considering the state of things when I bought the place, that is a major advancement. I'm about 75% done at this point with just enough left in the bank for the appliances. The kitchen will be an old counter top salvaged from another house and two saw horses for the next year.

Oh  - so you noticed that my paint scheme is a bit....well pretty much like the inside of a sugar cube. Am I really that unimaginative? Well actually - NO!

DSCN0601This new house and my new life are blank canvases in the most literal way. I made the conscious effort to have the color of the walls not define the space. If you look closely at the blinds, they are the temporary paper kind from Home Depot. About $20.00 to do the whole house. Even the picture frames, a gift from my sister, are empty.

DSCN0594 This is the moment I will remember as the starting point of the next phase of my life. I have wood and leather furniture to ground the space with earth tones.  I have a few canvas prints and a few large photos I'm fairly proud of. I'll hang those then spend the next few years traveling, shooting, and printing.

It has been a dream of mine to live in my own art gallery. Since I don't have anyone to stop me, that is exactly what I will be doing. I may need advice on new blinds but I am pretty set on wood, the kitchen, when it arrives will be hickory, and the counters granite.

I still have plenty of small projects like renting a moving truck, repairing the front door, replacing the patio screens, yard work, and touching up the paint after the tile guys leave. Four weekends tops. You may have noticed there are no bathroom photos. They will have to wait till I sell my condo. It will be very tempting to spend some quality sledge hammer time with the master bath but I will just have to live with it a bit longer.

I have two kayaks sitting in my new garage just begging to hit the water. It will be great to actually explore my new surroundings then kick back with a cold beer from the fridge (I have yet to buy) and relax in my new back yard till the stars come out. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

So You Want to Write a Blog

Bergen Norway
As my new house is quickly becoming habitable, I have suddenly become aware I will no longer be the South Florida Guy. I won't be living here. I spent a lot of years just plugging away but recently I've used my blog to open doors and make some amazing friends, locally and around the world. A few people I know have expressed interest in starting a blog so I thought it would be fun to take a minute and reminisce about how I got started and figure out where I go from here..

The best bloggers write about things they know well. I don't know anything well. I go through life like it's a sample platter, taking a little taste and moving on. I like doing cheap, obscure things then telling my family and friends about my mini adventures. One day I happened upon Google's Blogger and thought instead of just telling a few people, it would be more fun to write about what I was doing and tell the world.

Arenal, Costa Rica
Arenal Volcano - Costa Rica
Like almost everything in my life, this blog pretty much started out as a joke. One of my friends once said to me "Who do you think your are -  South Florida Guy". That's as good a name as any.  I once dated a fine art photographer who told me I took great tourist shots. Not exactly a compliment but it made for a silly tag line so I threw it in. Boom - I was a blogger in five minutes.

I've never taken this blog very seriously but recently I've had reason to reconsider. I just passed 100,000 hits, 95% of which came in the last year. A show promoter friend of mine told me I should write a travel blog. I am no threat to my pro photographer friends but I've gotten some pretty impressive compliments on my captures recently.

I do not promote this blog in any way so what changed? The South Florida Daily Blogger and Groupon picked up my blog. I went from tens of hits a month to hundreds. Then I started writing about one of the few events I've had a long term passion for - The Florida Ren Fest. Suddenly I'm getting thousands of hits a month. I really had to step up my game with all the new attention. Then I bought a house and had no time to dedicate to my new found fame.
Hot Air Ballooning

My life is nothing like what I write about here.

I once met a woman on an online dating site and three weeks later we shared a glass of wine in a little French cafe... in Paris. I flew in a hot air balloon exactly one year after I was told I had an hour to live. I took my father on a trip, the highlight of which was to stand on the dock in Bergen Norway. The same one his mother stood on as a 14 year old girl with a one way ticket to Ellis Island. I took the most dangerous trip in my life to Costa Rica which included sleeping next to an active volcano and zip lining through the jungle. I made it back without a scratch then slipped in the tub and crashed through the shower door. I have plenty of stories loaded with passion, adventure, emotion, and stupidity. I may be at the point in my blog writing I could do them some justice. To get the most out of my next blog I will consider the following.

1) Take some time and figure out what I want my blog to be. I limited myself with this one. A clever name and tag line would have not taken very long to come up with. Something easy to remember is a great way to get repeat visitors.

2) Make sure the Google email I set my blogger account up with has the same or similar name to my blog. Mine does not and has always been a problem. I opened a new email later and forwarded the mail. Too confusing.

3) Once I have the perfect email account and blog name, lock down all the social media I care to use. So many people ask if the South Florida Guy is on Flickr, FaceBook, Twitter, etc. If it is, its not me.

4) Post on a regular basis.  Most of my blogger friends have 100 - 300 followers and those followers like regular postings. I was posting more regularly and now that people are looking, not hardly at all. The best way to gain an audience is to make comments on fellow bloggers with similar interests. Since a lot of my postings are travel related, I let the places I visit know when I post about them. Many times they add my blog to their website.

5) Keep learning - I recently learned how to attach my Flickr photos directly to my blog from a fellow blogger. Now if you click on them you go right to my photostream. I also learn about an abundance of places in this world I never knew about and hope to visit one day.

I'll be the South Florida Guy for a while yet but I look forward to starting something new.  

Monday, March 4, 2013

South Florida Steampunk

South Florida and Steampunk are nearly a contraction in terms. The fine look of well tailored Victorian fashion and South Florida's laid back, anything goes, shorts and a T-shirt standard are worlds apart.

In this country, rigid high fashion has given way to sloppy comfort. High standards of social etiquette have crumbled to the level of the Simpson's. Our dress and manners may fallen to an all time low but what of our wondrous technology.

Not very long ago, our highest technological advances were wrapped in cathedral quality industrial art. Now we bling and bedazzel it. The materials used to create the tech miracles of that age were steel, brass, glass, wood, and leather. Today it's plastic, plastic, plastic and plastic. A few hundred years ago, technological necessities were built to last for centuries and  meant to be passed down through the generations. Now we cry if our cell phones are over two years old.

Enter Steampunk. A genre dedicated to asking the question - What if we kept all the good parts of the Victorian age and moved them forward along with our technology? The Florida Renaissance Festival took the bold step of adding a Time Travel and Steampunk event this past weekend. I took the bold step of asking a few of the participants what they thought about it.

Some of the hard core rennies seemed a little confused but when I mentioned it was Steampunk weekend they at least seemed to know the concept. Most liked the look and more than a few thought it should be a regular event. A couple mentioned they missed "bring your pet" weekend.

I asked several of the garbed participants how difficult and costly it was to create a little Steampunk fashion. The answer was the same every time. Not very expensive and not very time consuming. It was immediately obvious to me that time travelers have all the time in the world and a lot of inside trading info. I had one of them give me an item by item price check and I stopped her when I couldn't count that high any more. Bottom line, many of these folks put in a tremendous amount of effort for a two day event. I can only imagine if they had all spent serious time and money manufacturing their look. The sad fact is there are not many other Steampunk events in the area. There are parts of the country that take their Steampunking to extraordinary levels.  I know of at least one family who cut their vacation on the Titanic short and came directly to the faire. By so doing they not only saved themselves a cold swim, they also won the Steampunk Garb contest. Most of the rest of the folks I spoke with were a bit more local in time and space. I would really like to see Steampunk take off in South Florida but someone will need to invent a corset as cool and comfortable as a bikini first I would imagine.
The Time Collectors - Steampunk Garb competition winners.  

Click Here for my photos from the event.
 I would like to thank the South Florida Pirates for giving me some insight into the Steampunk genre. They will be returning as their normal pirate selves the final two weekends.