St. Pete’s Beach Florida

Michael had talked with us about taking a cruise as kind of a high school graduation present. To be honest I had no desire to take a cruise and I still don’t. However Julie being the voice of reason she usually is promptly stated how inexpensive it would be to feed Michael on a cruise as to a traditional vacation, she now had my attention.

Our trip to Florida began back on November 24th 2017 “Black Friday” as I booked our cruise online with Carnival Cruise Lines. We would fly into Tampa Bay the day before, relax at our resort by the pool with drinks and set sail to Cozumel Mexico the next day.

Fast forward to February 2018 as I received an email from Carnival stating that they had changed our port from Cozumel to Havana Cuba  I re-read the email a dozen times to make sure I was reading it properly and each time I became more upset. I approached Julie about it and she was equally annoyed. We stewed on it for a few days and came to the conclusion that it might not be all that bad. So chatted with the boys and they seemed on board as well. Heck if there are palm trees Michael is all set.

Several days later Julie being the researcher she is began diving into the specifics of traveling to Cuba. First our enhanced drivers license would not work and we would need passports. There is an additional $500. Next she discovered due to the relationship with the United States, Cuba would require us to purchase additional visa’s to even get off the boat, another $300. Then once off the ship we would not be permitted to roam freely and would have to be with a tour group. Even with the tour group you couldn’t breakaway. For example if Tourist A wanted to visit a certain shop or restaurant everyone would have to visit the same place, another $600 for the tour.

So on top of the flights, Cruise, hotel cost we would add another $1,400 to our trip. We were not happy to say the least. So we talked about it and decided to cancel the cruise. We had put a $600 deposit down the day of booking and the remaining was due by June. I contacted Carnival and they returned $400 of the $600 and we decided to just visit Florida instead since we already had the flights paid for and at least the first nights hotel.

I’ve never personally used Air BnB, VRBO or Home Away so I jumped online and began to search places near Tampa to stay. Long story short I found a great condo in St. Pete’s Beach only a 5 minute walk to the beach, two bedrooms, two full baths, kitchen, living room and a back patio. I contacted the owner and our dates were available since it would be August. Let me just say the the cost of the condo for 4 nights and a car rental was just under a $1,000. I didn’t know what to expected when we arrived at the condo since I only saw pictures of it online. We opened the door and the place was awesome, clean and comfortable. Definitely felt like a home away from home.

The goal for this vacation was to have fun and just relax and and not try to cram 4,000 pounds of shit into a 5 pound bag running around here and there. This actually felt like a vacation. We visited the Tampa Aquarium, took a guided kayak tour of Florida’s Shell Key Preserve, enjoyed a lot of food, beer & ice cream, went to a Waterpark with my cousin whom I have not seen in several years and relaxed a bit on the beach. I even read two books. Heck I barely took any photos.

Julie the boys and I had a great time and Michael has expressed possible interest in living in St. Pete’s during next summer.

Cheers!

Along the Gulf of Mexico in Florida’s Shell Key Preserve August 10th 2018, © Joe Geronimo
Exploring the Mangrove tunnels in Florida’s Shell Key Preserve August 10th 2018, © Joe Geronimo
The placid waters of Florida’s Shell Key Preserve before the wind kicked up August 10th 2018, © Joe Geronimo
Julie relaxing on treasure Island Beach St. Pete’s Beach, FL. © Joe Geronimo
Lagoon jellyfish at the Tampa Aquarium, © Joe Geronimo
Getting ready to board our plane in Tampa, FL to return home, © Joe Geronimo
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A Beacon of Light

This past weekend Julie, the boys and I made a quick overnight trip to Long Island to visit family. Every time I visit which isn’t all that much I am quickly reminded as to why I left, the traffic is disgusting. However there is one bright beacon of light we do enjoy, Fire Island Lighthouse and National Seashore.

Cruising the Ocean Parkway is another favorite of ours. It is several miles out of our way but surely makes up for it in beauty and lack of heavy traffic. Pulling into parking field #5 before arriving at my sister’s home we found it surprisingly uncrowded for a Saturday. It was quite windy along the shore making it feel as if we were in a sand blaster. Undeterred we hiked around for about an hour or so taking in the sights, sounds and smell of the ocean, we had a wonderful time. Next visit we hope to alot more time in order to hike to Kismet, Saltaire and Fair Harbor.

Cheers!

Julie & I at Fire Island Light and National Seashore July 21st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
A beacon of light, Fire Island Light stands proud along the Atlantic Ocean July 21st 2018. © Joe Geronimo

Day Tripping

Brown’s Tract Ponds:

On Wednesday June 20th I took a day trip to Raquette Lake, NY area in the Adirondacks to canoe with friends and explore a bit on my own. I met my friends Kathy and Gretchen in Old Forge. After a brief chat session we were headed to the Brown’s Tract Ponds near Raquette Lake.

We would put in on the smaller Upper Pond clinging to the shoreline circumnavigating the pond. There is a small, narrow stream that meanders a good half mile connecting Upper Pond to Brown’s Tract Pond. We entered the stream, the water was low but passible. We zigged and we zagged, encountered three small beaver damns and one foot bridge. We were able to paddle over the first damn but the other two and foot bridge we had to carry over. I enjoyed this very much as it added to the adventure.

Exiting the stream into the larger Brown’s Tract Pond a sizable island with large boulders caught my attention standing proud on the west side. Paddling around and up to the island I noticed two wooden ladders on a large rock. It seems this is a great spot to swim, picnic and jump off into the clear waters on a hot summers afternoon. I personally was a little cold yesterday at this point so I opted not to.

We would take out on the eastern shore at the unoccupied campsite #90 of the Brown’s Tract State Campground. Here we would take time for coffee, some snacks and great conversation. Sadly this is where Kathy, Gretchen and I would part ways for the day.

A little wind along Upper Pond near Raquette Lake NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Gretchen and I on Upper Pond near Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Kathy navigating over a small beaver damn along the connecting stream between Upper Pond & Brown’s Tract Pond near Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
It is Gretchen’s turn to get over one of those beaver damns June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
I’m entering Brown’s Tract Pond near Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Gretchen & Kathy chatting it up on Brown’s Tract Pond near Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Gretchen has just entered Brown’s Tract Pond near Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
One of the wooden ladders I spoke of in my post on Brown’s Tract Pond near Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Kathy & Gretchen on Brown’s Tract Pond near Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Finished with the Upper Pond & Brown’s Tract Pond near Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Coffee O’ Clock along Brown’s Tract Pond near Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, photo by Kathy Corey.

South Inlet:

I still wanted to explore more and thought I would head north 12 miles along Route 28 to Utowana lake scope out the lean-to and then venture into Eagle lake . Rolling along I crossed over South Inlet which feeds into the very large Raquette lake and immediately jammed on my brakes. I had just read about an trip my friend Daniele had done into South Inlet all the way up to the waterfalls. This was my new plan!

I parked along the side of Route 28 and carried my canoe the short distance to the water, packed up my gear and I was off. I quickly bumped into a kayaker returning from the falls and a few minutes later I spotted a woman paddling a super cool Hornbeck and  I stopped to chat with her. She was from New Hampshire’s Lakes Region and oddly enough camping at the Brown’s Tract Campground. After I wouldn’t see another soul as I meandered my way 2 or so miles to the falls. Quickly the road noise of Route 28  disappeared and the whisper of my paddle entering and exiting the water could be heard and the remoteness of my surrounding and solitude of being on the water settled in. The work of a Pileated Woodpecker could be heard as a Red Tail hawk floated high above me like drone surveying the landscape. A chorus of all types of birds chirped their day away where it seemed I had a traveling symphony escorting me.

Arriving at the falls I was treated to a shallow pool of water dotted with rocks and a sandy bottom. This is a great swimming hole! I exited my canoe and waded around a bit cooling off as the days sun warmed the air. I spent about a half hour milling around on the rocks and just taking in my surroundings and a few photos.

Returning back to where I began this adventure I decided to venture out a bit into Raquette lake. Staying close to the shoreline as the wind was making some decent chop, I approached a gentleman in a kayak fishing and he immediately pulled a nice size small mouth bass from the lake. We made quick conversation and I was on my way.

It was around 4:30PM at this point and it was time for my canoeing to come to an end. Packed up I made the 25 mile drive back to Old Forge for a beer and food at Fulton Chain Craft Brewery before my 3 hour ride back home.

This adventure had me on the road at 5:30AM and back home safely by 9:00PM. I traveled a total of 375 miles, paddled approximately 10 miles and spent time with good friends.

Cheers!!

Beginning my adventure on South Inlet in Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
a sizable beaver lodge along South Inlet in Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Approaching South Inlet falls in Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
South Inlet falls in Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Taking a break at South Inlet falls Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Approaching the Route 28 overpass and the entrance to Raquette lake June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
My time on South Inlet has come to an end hear in Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.

Fire Island National Seashore

This past weekend we traveled to Long Island to visit my sister who had been in the hospital, celebrate my brothers birthday and just spend some time with family. It was a nice weekend despite some medical issues my sister is experiencing.

With that said on Friday August 18th Julie, myself and the boys along with their cousin visited the Fire Island National Seashore and the Fire Island lighthouse. The weather was overcast and humid but a nice breeze kept things somewhat tolerable. In all the years I had lived and visited Long Island I never took the time to climb the 182 steps to the top of the light. This has been on my list of things to do for quite sometime now and finally I got it done!

Julie and I hope to return in the near future and do some more exploration along the seashore.

Making our way to the Fire Island Light August 18th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Myself, Michael, Nicholas & Max Fire Island National Seashore August 18th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Looking west from the top of the Fire Island Light August 18th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Looking east from the Fire Island Light August 18th 2017. © Joe Geronimo

 

Max peering down from the top of the Fire Island Light August 18th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Michael atop the Fire Island Light August 18th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
My nephew Nick enjoying the breeze atop of the Fire Island Light August 18th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
The 167 foot Fire Island Lighthouse stands proud along the Atlantic Ocean August 18th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Michael, Nick, Max & Julie walking along the dunes of the Fire Island National Seashore August 18th 2017. © Joe Geronimo

Life on Film & Digital Media: Whitefish Point

Growing up I had the Atlantic Ocean less than twenty miles away and the Long Island Sound a mile away and I’ve never been a beach person. However living so close to these beautiful waters the one thing that has always intrigued me are “Lighthouses”. There is something very romantic yet mysterious about a lighthouse and their keepers.

This past summer we had the opportunity to visit the Upper Peninsula of Michigan along Lake Superior. We found ourselves at Whitefish Point 73 miles northwest of Sault Ste. Marie, MI and the impressive Soo Locks. At Whitefish Point you have the Great Lakes Ship Wreck Museum and the extremely cool Whitefish Point Light Station.

At this point in our trip I was having a camera crisis of Biblical proportion. I had run out of film for one of my cameras and ordered more. The camera shop in New York City did not ship my order promptly and I never received the film. No biggie I thought to myself I have my digital camera so I’m all set. We get all the way to the Soo Locks and I’m just as excited as a kid on Christmas morning. Grabing my camera from the camera bag I turn it on, I compose my very first image of the largest lake freighter to sail the Great Lakes entering the locks. I depress the shutter release and the earth suddenly has come to a screeching halt. There it was in digital text, the dreaded Canon Error 33 message, my shutter had failed! East has now become west, up was now down and to say I was pissed is the understatement of the 21st century. Two cameras and none were functioning. If I had to submit to a blood pressure test at this point they would have admitted me. I resorted to using my cell phone and we eventually we went to lunch. After lunch I calmed down just a tiny bit but was still steaming. Getting ready to leave Sault Ste. Marie and thinking desperate times require desperate measures. As a last ditch effort I ran into one of the gift shops hoping the camera Gods would be merciful on me. Sure enough sitting on the counter of the gift shop was a Polaroid disposable camera. I Forked over the $8.00 feeling like I had just won a major award and literally ran out the door. We were now on our way to Whitefish Point. http://www.shipwreckmuseum.com

Whitefish Point Light Station, Whitefish Point, MI July 19th 2016. © Joe Geronimo
Whitefish Point Light Station, Whitefish Point, MI July 19th 2016. © Joe Geronimo
We invite you to experience a night or two at historic Whitefish Point, home to the oldest active lighthouse on Lake Superior’s Shipwreck Coast. This is the original U.S. Coast Guard barracks building, constructed in 1923 for the Whitefish Point Lifeboat Rescue Station. It has been meticulously restored by the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society with assistance from Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs and the Michigan Department of Transportation. July 19th 2016, © Joe Geronimo
Michael & Max getting their feet wet in the cold waters of Lake Superior. Whitefish Point, MI July 19th 2016. © Joe Geronimo