Boating Around - Key West Adventures

Back in Miami for a day Andy and I got into more fun by hopping on a fan boat looking for dead bodies with CSI Miami!

No, not really. But we did go on a fan boat ride. They told us we were looking for gators, but I really didn't care and doubted we'd see any. I just wanted the experience of riding on one. Which was a lot of fun. Our ride was cut a little short because there was a storm coming through and it started raining. It wouldn't have been so bad, but going so fast in a fan boat we both got drenched. I couldn't stop laughing. There were so many people in the boat all huddled together trying to stay dry that it was just comical to me. I laughed the whole way back to the dock and was drenched.

While we were waiting for the fan boat they have a animal rescue shelter and a gator park. Loving animals I was more excited about seeing caged gators then wild ones. We were even allowed to hold a baby gator! That is something you can't do with a wild one.

Some of the above photos were taken by Andy Bussell

Key West & other Florida Adventures

Aunt Cynthia's Wedding

Swim Around Key West

Adventures Around Key West

Animal Rescue Shelter

Everglades National Park

Biscayn National Park

Fan Boat & another Animal Rescue Shelter - Current Post

Biscayne Bay National Park - Key West Adventures

Wanting to fill our day with as much as possible we zipped over to Biscayne Bay National Park. Sadly we were too late to go into the gift shop and get out patch, but we could still walk around a bit. Again the weather wasn't in our favor so the photos don't look like typical Florida, but it did create a really cool mood and feel that was fun to photograph.

We walked out on this board walk that led out out to some rocks where some guys were fishing. There were some birds hanging out fishing as well. When the locals were done fishing they threw their left over bait to the pelican so I could get some cool shots of him. I was thrilled with how those images turned out. The images of me were taken by Andy. It's fun to occasionally see what I look like when I'm in 'photography' mode. 

Key West & other Florida Adventures

Aunt Cynthia's Wedding
Swim Around Key West
Adventures Around Key West
Animal Rescue Shelter
Everglades National Park
Biscayn National Park - Current Post
Fan Boat & another Animal Rescue Shelter

Everglades National Park - Key West Adventures

After the Animal Rescue Shelter we drove into Everglades National Park. The had turned overcast because of storms coming up through the gulf so there really wasn't much to do or see. We hung out on the dock for a while watching manitee's surface and play in the water, but you really couldn't see much. The park was really cool, but would have been more fun if it was a better weather and not visiting during it's off season.

Key West & other Florida Adventures

Aunt Cynthia's Wedding
Swim Around Key West
Adventures Around Key West
Animal Rescue Shelter
Everglades National Park - Current Post
Biscayn National Park
Fan Boat & another Animal Rescue Shelter

Everglades Out Post - Key West Adventures

Skip forward or backward which ever way you like. Rather then try and catch up I'll just post what I feel like posting right now. Tonight I'm taking you back to June 6, 2016 when I left Key West and went to explore more of southern Florida. Frist stop was an animal rescue outside of the Everglandes National Park.

This animal rescue shelter, Everglades Outpost is better then any zoo. We were the only people there and got to talk personally with the volunteers that take care of the animals. Some of the photos may look a bit sad, but realizing that at one time all of these animals were in far worse living conditions and being abused made me happy that they are now living in a more natural and less stressful environment. For their stories and more information about the Outpost go to their website: www.evergladesoutpost.org

If you'd like more information just email me!

Key West & other Florida Adventures

Aunt Cynthia's Wedding
Swim Around Key West
Adventures Around Key West
Animal Rescue Shelter - Current Post
Everglades National Park
Biscayn National Park
Fan Boat & another Animal Rescue Shelter

Key West Adventures

Sunday - the day after the race was dedicated to relaxing. I spent most of the day on my computer editing wedding photos and resting. Mom and Aunt Cynthia went for a walk and shopping, Steve hung out reading and working on a puzzle and Andy ran around the island. Andy had told me how he ran past the Ernest Hemingway House and a few other cool spots. So after dinner we headed out, via car, to see the sites.

When Andy ran past Ernest Hemingway's house he just jumped up to look over the wall to see the house. Well, with my bumm shoulder I couldn't really jump up to see over the wall. I tried climbing up onto Andy's back, but realized my shoulder couldn't handle it so I tried climbing on his back a different way so my right arm was free to take photos. Bad idea, because of my shoulder I couldn't lift my right arm up high enough to take a photo. I was also trying to stay modest because I was in a dress and sliding down Andy's back. While all of this was going on there was a guy at the ticket booth that saw us.

He called out to us "What are you guys doing?", sigh, "come here" - he let us into the Ernest Hemingway grounds for free! So we quite happily walked through the grounds and took lots of photos. Great Times!

A couple blocks away is the Southernmost Point in the US, a beautiful light house and pier

Finishing our self-guided-tour of the Hemingway house we excited through the back garden gate and onto Olivia Street! Yes, that is correct Ernest Hemingway's house is on Olivia Street, proof is in the mail box. We finished the day with visiting the "Southernmost Point in the Continental U.S.A" and pina colada's.

Key West & other Florida Adventures

Aunt Cynthia's Wedding
Swim Around Key West
Adventures Around Key West - Current Post
Animal Rescue Shelter
Everglades National Park
Biscayn National Park
Fan Boat & another Animal Rescue Shelter

Swimming Around Key West - 2016

Swim Around Key West, how do I start to describe this race?

It was a lot of planning and even more training and the most amount of hours in the pool I have ever spent. The race is a swim clockwise around Key West which is a total distance of 20k/12.5miles long. I actually can't even remember what time it started in the morning of June 4, 2016, must have been around 6:30 or 7am. Any ways, below are some pre-race photos.

The Swim - Mile by Mile

Mile #1 - was a blur, the water was choppy and you were being tossed every where. I was suppose to be spotting a pier, but I never saw it.

Mile #2 - same choppy water conditions

Mile #3 - the water changed and it was super smooth. The race director said "You'll start to feel like Michael Phelps" Well I did to the point that I don't remember Mile #4 or #5.

Mile #6 - I was trying to remember the map and the mile markers while swimming. I thought I had just started mile #5 when Andy held up 6 fingers to tell me that I was now on mile #6. I was super surprised. I had just swam a 10k and felt really really good."

Andy filmed some sections of the race and yes there were times while swimming that I had no idea where I was, what to spot or which way to swim... hence the video below

Mile #7 - was fine, I could see more things under water and I was on the Gulf side of the island.

Mile #8 - was awful, you were a mile away from land so spotting was difficult, super choppy rough water, wind was bad, you were just being tossed around left and right. At the end of mile 8 you go underneath a bridge and they do a swimmer check in. That just means your kayaker yells out the swimmers name so they can keep track of who is where. Mom and Aunt Cynthia and Steve were all there to watch, but I could only here Mom cheering me on.

Mile #9 - you are swimming in-between Key West and another Key. The water was finally calm and it felt wonderful.

Mile #10 - can't think of anything unique about it

Mile #11 - my right should started hurting me a lot a lot. Andy gave me some ibuprofen which took the pain down a little bit but it was still killing me. So I would swim with my left arm most of the time. It was around now that I kept telling myself only 2 miles left so just an hour of swim practice at the East Rec Center in Boulder and I'll be done.

Last Mile - I was siting off of some some huge logs in the water wanting the finish line to come sooner rather then later. There was a blue kayak in front of me that was all over the place. I stopped to see what was going on and realized he was following his swimmer and the swimmer was zig zagging left and right. Totally wasting time and energy... but left the door wide open for me to go straight and get ahead of him. I did this, passed him and swam as hard as I could towards the finish line.

So Happy to be done.

Thank You:
• Steve and Cynthia for hosting and taking care of room and board
• Mom for all the support, encouragement, applying sunscreen and washing it off
• Andy for kayaking, taking care of all my needs, videos and keeping me safe
• Stacey for coaching me, complaining with me about training, tips, and just being there
• Jane Scott for coaching me and for the tube of zinc oxide sunscreen
• Jane Fettig for the mermaid good luck charm
• and all of my swim friends that kept on encouraging me

Key West & other Florida Adventures

Aunt Cynthia's Wedding
Swim Around Key West - Current Post
Adventures Around Key West
Animal Rescue Shelter
Everglades National Park
Biscayn National Park
Fan Boat & another Animal Rescue Shelter

Wedding - Key West Adventures

The part of this trip that was a surprise and a blessing to be apart of was my Aunt's wedding. She has met an amazing man whom she has known since childhood. They are crazy in love and decided to just tie the know while we're all in Key West. 

Key West & other Florida Adventures

Aunt Cynthia's Wedding - Current Post
Swim Around Key West
Adventures Around Key West
Animal Rescue Shelter
Everglades National Park
Biscayn National Park
Fan Boat & another Animal Rescue Shelter

desert Botanical Garden - before sunset

Last night I accompanied my Aunt and Uncle to the Butte Botanical Gardens. We were meeting some of there firends there to see the Bruce Munro: Sanoran Light art exhibt displayed through out the gardens. My aunt had sown me photos of the event in a magazine, but actually being there was amazing.

Arriving around 5:45, just before sunset we were able to walk among the gardens before the sunset. These are the photos I took before sunset and the lights came on.

We started the evening with wine and I got a Prickly Pear Margarita, super tasty, and walked around. The Gardens architecture and layout were beautiful. The colors and variety of catus were fun to capture while there was till light.

I'll be posting more photos of the actual lighted art exhibts soon. To learn more about the artist you can go to: www.brucemunro.co.uk

To learn more about the Dessert Botanical Garden go to their website: www.dbg.org

 

 

In & out of Utah & Arizona

After Monument Valley I continued on and entered Arizona and headed towards Page, AZ which is south of Powell Lake and right where the dam is for the Colorado rivier continuing through to the Grand Caynon. Before I got to Page, AZ I stopped at Lower Antelope Canyon. By just hearing the name of this canyon it probably doens't do anything for you, but I garuentee you that you've seen photos of this canyon in magazines, calendars, and with inspirational quotes. It is a gorgeous canyon and when the sun is just right beams of light come flooding in (that is about at 10am this time of year).

Antelope Canyon property is owned by local family for several generations. They have put together a company with tours for $28 a person. It isn't something most people want to pay, but once you are in the canyon you totally forget about it. I high suggest going during winter times and during the week. I was lucky and had a small group of only 4 of us, inculding the tour guide. I never got her name, but her grandmother and grandfather own the property. She knew were all the best photo spots were. She would even have us stand in certain sections and take our photos for us, give us tips on best settings for a cameras (yes for iphone, android, canon and nikon). I was with 3 other german people and the group before us were all Eruopean or Asian. I believe I was the only one who was an american tourist, which was really cool. The tour was about an hour, but felt way shorter. 

The history, before the Lake Powell dam, which i think it is called Glenn dam, was built the antelope would come from the mesa's and hung out in and around the canyon all the time. The antelope would jump over the top of the cave and climb and chill through out the canyon. That is how it got the name "Antelope Canyon". 

I was throughly impressed and was so happy I went and did the tour. This would be a must do trip for anyone. I high recommend doing this the canyon during the winter when the weather is cooler and there are fewer tourist. Our tour guide told us that during the summer is is stiffling hot and there are so many tourist that they just have to rush people through. Meaning that you'll get people in your photos and you won't get individual shots of yourself in awesome spots.

Do you see the Eagle in the photo above?

Next stop was THE WAVE! An amazing spot, just google The Wave, AZ and you'll be amazed. But to get there you need to take 89 over the dam and back up into Utah. After you cross the county line you clock 25 miles and turn left on to House Rock Road. If the road is impassable when wet, and thankfully it was bone dry, but that didn't matter. The 8.3 miles of dirt road was a bit rough, but my RAV4 made it no problem. Parked at the trailhead and started at down the trail. Ok, there is no map, no directions and the directions I got from online were using gps half the time. I got turned around twice and by the time I figured out which way I should be going it was already 4pm. I had missed the best time of day for photos at The Wave and being so far away from civilization as the day was getting later just didn't seem smart. So I turned around, but not defeated. I will go there again and find it!

Doing my best to not feel disappointed I hike out of AZ, drove through Utah and then go back down into AZ and make a beelined towards Horseshoe Bend which was only 2 or 3 miles south of Page, AZ. Orginally I wanted to see horseshoe Bend during the day, but my tour guide at Antelope Canyon said she liked it best at sunset. I hiked as fast as I could and then sat at the very edge and played around with my camera until the sunset and I got some awesome photos. Watching the sunset and just sitting there relaxing with about 30 other poeple scattered all over was amazing. It was the perfect ending to a beautiful and adventrous day.

The orginaly plan was to camp at The Wave, but since I was back south of Page and wasn't tired I drove another 125 miles to Flagstaff, AZ. Once in Flagstaff I went to a coffee shop and started working on photos, then found a safe place to sleep and went to bed.  Awwww life is good :)

 

A camera, an Audiobook and the open Road

I am so excited about this post and the next post to come. Today has been awesome and I've seen and done so many things that it all won't fit in one place. This is Part 1 of my monday drive down to AZ. Leaving Moab, I went south on 191 then continued right on 163. Where I saw this awesome place called Mexican Hat! Seriously there is a whole one stop sign town named Mexican Hat.

The rest of the drive was amazing and took me through Monument Valley. It was like going back into an old western movie and I swore any moment some wild buffaloo or Indians or Cowboys were going to appear. Well, sadly I didn't even see a covered wagon, but no regrets, because the views were stunning.

Highway 163 connected back up with Highway 191, but I jumped off of 191 and on to 98 towards Page AZ. Yes that is a bit out of the way if you are planning on going to Phoneix, but there is this amazing place called Antelope Canyon that I have dreamed of going for years. That will be my next blog post, but mean while enjoy the photos below of my trip through southern Utah. The landscape and geography is amazing. 

Take a look at the landscape in the background. You can tell it's along a fault line where the fault shifted and part of the land goes town underneath the other one. Geography is much more entertaining in nature then in a classroom.

I couldn't decide if I liked this photo in black and white or in color. What are your thoughts?

Road Trip to Arizona - 1st stop Moab

Every winter I take a little road trip down to Arizona for some warm weather. Also, just getting out of Boulder County is really good for me as well. Here are some photos from my trip down to Moab. 

Photo below: Is it just more or is he smiling at me?

 


Now at my hotel room enjoying a tasty dinner and watching House!

A Swimming Challenge - Who is with Me?

Every year people come up with a resolution for the next year. That is great, but I've never been great at committing to those, but give me a challenge and I am hooked. My challenge came to me in the early winter of 2015 while sitting on the edge of the pool. My swim coach, Stacey, challenged me with the Swim Around Key West in a 2 person relay team. The distance around Key West is a 20k (12 miles) so we would each swim a 10k. For the rest of 2015 I thought long and hard about this. 

After a lot of thought I realized this swim is something I need to do. I talked with my swim friends and long story short my friend wasn't able to commit to the swim. This left me with my last option: Swim Around Key West MYSELF.

I would like to tell you that it was an easy decision to just say “oh, I’ll just swim the whole thing”, but it wasn’t. Swimming a 20k – 12.4 miles – wasn’t the tough part. The furthest I've ever swam was 11 miles (Portland Bridge Swim) so the distance didn't worry me. The tough part was all the details of getting to Key West, room and board, how to train, rental car, kayaker and can I afford it. Registration wasn’t until Feb 16th, phew I had time to figure everything out. Talking with friends, possible kayakers, my coach, relatives, research on hotels, airb&b’s, rental cars, and so much more. I then made my decision to go for it!

Starting the 2nd week of January I started training. Swimming 4 to 5 days a week, going to the gym twice a week and doing lots of research so when February 16th came along I was ready. I registered. It is done and I am on the road to training for the 40th Annual Swimming Around Key West June 4th 2016!

The training has stepped up. More to come soon about training and details, but with any ultra sport you can't do it alone. It takes a team even a community to make these things happen. I'd love your help in supporting me through this swim. Click the "Donate" button to help me raise $2,500 that goes toward getting myself and my kayaker to Key West, hotel or Air B&B and rental car.

All I need are 50 people to donate $50 and I'll have it made be one of the frist!

More details about training, nutrition, the race, swimming and much more!

 

English Details

Whenever we travel there are differences and just because i'm in an English speaking country doesn't mean I understood everything that was being said. I enjoyed listening to coversations (yes eavesdropping) at coffee shops and on the train to pick up new words. Every where you turn there is something that is very different from living in the United States and I loved it. 

Hen do - bachelorette party
Stag - bachelor party
Pram - baby stroller
Abergene - eggplant 
Courgette - zucchini
Wold - rolling hills, rolling farmlands, fields
Wellies - rubber boots
I had a much longer list, but I lost it somewhere :(
Hymn Books at Lincoln Cathedral
Through the Gate Peephole in Lincoln
Latin Text at the Cathedral in Lincoln
Catching up to the days of Christmas

Ros
Roses in Avebury

 Vines in the winter at Bradley House

 

England Highlights

England overall was amazing. Wonderfully full of time with friends, meeting new friends, art and adventures. This post mostly just has highlights of what I loved most about my trip and cool photos of those places.  

Stonehenge:

By far the best #1 day of trip. Took the train from south London to Salisbury, found the Stonehenge tour bus right out side the train station and hopped on. The fare for the Stonehenge bus included transportation to Stonehenge, the entrance fee, little radio headset, access to Salibury Cathedral and Old Sarum (ruins from a castle). But focusing on Stonehenge the weather was perfect that day. I know it looks cloudy and in the black and white photo below it looks stormy and crazy, but that clouds were beautiful, blue sky, sun and a touch of wind. Wonderful!


My Over all thoughts of Stonehenge was that it is quite small. All the photos I've seen of it made me think it was huge. Now they are huge I'm not discrediting that, but bigger then life sort of thing. I did love how it's just out in a field with surrounding fenced off fields full of sheep. Wasn't expecting that at all. The ride there was really fun, because we passed so many fields of horses, sheep, pigs and farmlands. Made me wish it was a summer afternoon and I had a road bike to enjoy more of the country side.

Old Sarum:

Next stop on the trip was Old Sarum, which I had no idea what it was, where it was or if I even wanted to go, but went along any ways. The bus driving told me to follow the guy in a blue coat. Long story short the guy in the blue coat and his wife were on their honeymoon. We were all around the same age and kept running into each other so decided to spend the rest of the day together. 

Back to Old Sarum. It use to be a castle that over the years was used less and less and then became to costly to repair. So the King sold it off to some lord who had it disassembled and used the rocks for other purposes. Some of the walls, and areas were left. But the view from up there was amazing. Loved this place.

Salisbury Cathedral:

The one thing I loved at this Cathedral was the water fountain they had at one end of the building. It was all decorated for Christmas and just had a great feel about it.

Best thing I ever ate:

Was after the Salisbury Cathedral we walked around high street and found a fun looking inn and decided to have an early dinner. I ordered this pumpkin salad and was worried it wasn't going to be good, but OMG it was one of the best things I have ever eaten.

Bradley National Trust:

Road trip with my UK Aunties! We stopped by this National Trust Mansion and got a whole tour of the gorgeous house, with a draw bridge and a moat. We even had lunch there with scones and clotted cream and made Christmas ordaments with manderian oranges and cloves and string!

Avebury:

I wanted to jump on a bus from Salisbury to get to Avebury and see their stonehenge, but I got to Salisbury too late in the day to make that happen. My lovely UK Aunties adjusted our trip home and took me there. It was amazing to walk and touch and atempt to boulder on some of the rocks of the henges. It is set up differently from the famous Stonehenge. But even the town of Avebury was beautiful and quaint.

After walking around the whole stonehenge I went through the National Trust of the house, gardens and the stables, museums and everything!