The Economic Impact of Coffee and Travel

Highest Public Platform in London

Highest Public Platform in London

I overheard a conversation about coffee the other day. The information being shared was impressive but not quite accurate. One individual was sharing with the group the effect the coffee business had on our economy. While he called it massive, fact is that travel has a much bigger impact and can indeed be considered Massive.
Granted, Coffee is one of the world’s most popular beverages. In the United States, the average coffee drinker drinks more than three cups per day and Worldwide, more than 501 billion cups are consumed every year.

And yes coffee is important to the global economy. Some 25 million small producers depend on coffee for their livelihood. By example more than 5 million people are employed cultivating and harvesting more than 3 billion coffee plants in Brazil alone, the world’s third largest coffee producer. Growing and harvesting coffee is less automated than the sugar or cattle industries, and because it requires constant attention, it is much more labor-intensive.
Coffee is also a financial commodity. On the New York Board of Trade, coffee futures contracts are bought and sold. These contracts are financial instruments involving a the future sale or purchase of a unit of coffee at an agreed price, with contract deliveries occurring every year in March, May, July, September, and December. The world’s largest transfer point for coffee is the port of Hamburg, Germany, primarily because Europeans are the biggest consumers of coffee in the world.
Yet the global financial number pegged to coffee for this year hovers around $70 billion, which corresponds with just 3% of the US tourism receipts in 2013 (domestic and cross border).

The US Travel Department just recently released a 2013 report that backs up this claim with numbers that are so impressive that I am dedicating the next few articles to this subject.

Let’s begin with the U.S. Travel industry as a whole. In 2013, the economic output generated by Domestic and International visitors was $2.1 trillion dollars. When compared to coffee, the numbers are staggering. In 2011, according to a Bloomberg article, retail coffee sales were approximately $4.52 billion.* However, direct spending on leisure travel alone was over $500 billion. According to the 2013 U.S. Travel fact sheet, the direct spending by resident and international travelers in the U.S. averaged $2.4 billion a day. That’s half of the retail coffee revenue for an entire year.

So how important is the travel business to the U.S. economy? The answer is obvious when you read the following facts from the U.S. Travel Association:

•    Travel and Tourism generated $133.9 billion in US tax revenue for 2013
(Each household would pay $1,093 more in taxes without this generated revenue)
•    Travel and Tourism is America’s largest services export industry
•    Travel and Tourism is one of America’s largest employers supporting nearly 15 million jobs, including 7.9 million directly in the travel industry and 7 million in other related industries.

As you can see, we would be in a world of hurt if we did not have the travel business in America. In fact, without travel and tourism, the coffee industry would fall short. The truth is we need every small business owner, every entrepreneur, and every traveling coffee junkie to make it all happen.

Join me next time as we analyze the massive impact of travel in the State of Florida.

Ronnie is co-owner of the American Travelers Club, a start-up Amelia Island tour company specializing in small-group European travel. You can reach him by email at

*Source: Bloomberg


Great Summer Sale on Amelia Island Ends May 10, 2014

Great Summer Sale on Amelia Island Ends May 10, 2014For 10 Days Only, Northeast Florida Destination Offers 15 Percent Discounts on Summer Stays – and May 10th is the last day!

AMELIA ISLAND, FL – From May 1 through May 10, visitors planning travel to northeast Florida’s Amelia Island can enjoy big savings with the Great Summer Sale for 2014. The 10-day sale includes 11 of Amelia Island’s award-winning accommodators, which are all offering a 15 percent discount off rack rates on reservations for travel through September 1. Visitors can choose from a variety of accommodation options, including resorts, bed and breakfast inns, select service properties and vacation home rentals.

“We initiated the Great Summer Sale in 2013 and had such a great response, we wanted to continue it again this year,” said Gil Langley, president and CEO of the Amelia Island Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The sale lasts only 10 days but visitors can choose travel dates through September 1.”

The 11 participating properties include:
-Addison on Amelia – 904-277-1604 –
-Amelia Island Williams House – 904-277-2328 –
-Amelia Hotel at the Beach – 904-206-5600 –
-Blue Heron Inn – 904-445-9034 –
-ERA Fernandina Beach Realty – 904-261-4011 –
-Fairbanks House – 904-277-0500 –
-Hoyt House – 904-277-4300 –
-Residence Inn, Amelia Island – 904-277-2440 –
-Seaside Amelia Inn – 904-206-5300 –
-Summer Beach Resort – 904-277-0905 –
-Villas of Amelia Island Plantation – 800-834-4900 –

To take advantage of the 15 percent off Great Summer Sale, reservations must be made between May 1 and May 10. The sale only applies to reservations on travel between May 1 and September 1. Full details about the Amelia Island Great Summer Sale are available at

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Chikungunya in the Caribbean

Chikungunya in the CaribbeanSince late December, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been reporting the transmission of chikungunya in Saint Martin, and other areas of the Caribbean.

The situation was update on February 27, 2014:
Watch – Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions

What is the current situation?
Mosquitoes in the area have been infected with chikungunya and are spreading it to people.

As of February 5, 2014, the following Caribbean countries have reported cases of chikungunya:
Saint Martin (French)
Sint Maarten (Dutch)
Saint Barthelemy
British Virgin Islands
French Guiana
St. Kitts

What is chikungunya?
Chikungunya is an illness caused by a virus that spreads through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of chikungunya are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash.

According to the Daily Beast, “The symptoms of chikungunya are easily understood by translating the term ‘chikungunya’ from Kimakonde, an East African dialect, it means ‘to become contorted.'” Leaving the victim doubled over in pain for weeks, and residual join pain perhaps months and in some cases years after being infected.

Now that it has reached the Northern Hemisphere, experts predict it is only a matter of time before chikungunya spreads through the rest of the Caribbean and cases will be seen in Florida, Texas and other areas of the United States with high humidity levels.

Who is at risk?
There is currently no vaccine or medicine to prevent chikungunya. Travelers can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites.

The Centers for Disease Controul suggest you prevent mosquito bites:
-Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
-Use an appropriate insect repellent as directed.
-Higher percentages of active ingredient provide longer protection. Use products with the following active ingredients:
DEETExternal Web Site Icon (Products containing DEET include Off!, Cutter, Sawyer, and Ultrathon)
Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin products containing picaridin include Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, and Autan [outside the US])
Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD (Products containing OLE include Repel and Off! Botanicals)
IR3535 (Products containing IR3535 include Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart)

Always follow product directions and reapply as directed:
-If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
-Follow package directions when applying repellent on children. Avoid applying repellent to their hands, eyes, and mouth.
-Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents).
-Stay and sleep in screened or air conditioned rooms.
-Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.

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Republic of Kazantip, Not Just Another Music Festival

Kazantip Trance Festival 2013

Unique Music Festival on the Black Sea

Submitted by Anthony Freeman:

Armin van Buuren, one of the world’s best DJs, called Kazantip “the festival of festivals”.
With the world’s eyes on Sochi and the 2014 Winter Olympics, the Crimea Peninsula comes sharply into focus as a magnificent summer holiday destination and the place to be, especially for the Millennium generation, is Popovka and the Kazantip Techno Music Festival.

Kazantip is one of the largest and most popular electronic music festivals in the world, held annually in the village of Popovka on the Crimean peninsula only a couple of hundred miles west-northwest of Sochi. This small, somewhat remote town is not as widely known as Yalta, Sevastopol and other famous Crimean resorts, even though Popovka offers some of the most beautiful sandy beaches with crystal clear waters. Remoteness and pristine beaches were the main reasons why Popovka was chosen to accommodate this event. Actually the festival  grew out of small scale beach parties held by a group of windsurfers near the Kazantip headland in Crimea during the early 1990s. Later they proclaimed themselves the Republic of Kazantip – a utopian state with its own President, Constitution, laws and traditions. The idea of this event is to bring together young, open-minded people who gather every summer on the northern coast of the Black Sea to listen to music, dance, have fun and enjoy life far away from civilization. Not unlike youth destinations in the sixties and seventies like Matala on the island of Crete and Menorca off Spain in later years, young adults look for a place to learn to be themselves, among themselves.

Of course as with any successful concept, today Kazantip is widely known in Europe and insiders worldwide for its wild techno parties, where most people are dancing scantily clad to the sounds of electronic, trance and house music. The festival occupies a huge area, located directly on the shores of the beautiful Black Sea coastline. Dotted with dozens of dance floors, bars, restaurants the Kazantip Festival takes over the little quiet village. In recent years many special facilities for water sport enthusiasts and extreme sports have been added to the excitement. No surprise that some of the richest Russian oligarchs also found the destination ideal to escape from the prying eyes of the paparazzi, adding a Hollywood like feel to the destination.

Each summer, in early August, Kazantip gets inundated with tens of thousands of party goers aged between 20 and 35 years. Many have come here every summer for years and became part of this breathtaking event. An intriguing detail to become part of it is, that you need to purchase a ticket called “viZa”. The whole concept of the festival is based on the idea of “Republic of Happiness”, a place where dreams come true. During the Festival many parties and special events are organized, including a New Year’s Party always celebrated on July 31st, apotheotic elevations and even wedding ceremonies.

Many of the repeat guests confess that the main reason they return year after year is the heady feeling of freedom you get when you cross the ‘border’ into Kazantip. Really, everything is possible at this place. Beautiful girls in bikinis, world renowned DJs, endless mixes of electronic music and wide range of gourmet offerings and of course alcohol are just a few features of Kazantip.

Over the years Popovka has adjusted to the demand and now offers a great variety of accommodations – from simple rooms and apartments for rent to luxury villas and hotels. Guests of Kazantip are strongly advised to book their accommodation in advance due to the popularity of the event. Unlike other festivals, at Kazantip you don’t have to buy tickets in advance. The so-called “viZas” are available at the door during the festival. A single day pass costs about 80 Euros ($110). A multi-entry viZa valid for the entire festival period costs 160 euros ($220). Due to its special nature, the Republic of Kazantip is only open to persons over 18 years. You can find more details about Kazantip at

There are a lot of videos on youtube showing the unique spirit of this event. Fair warning: Although more than 100,000 people attend Kazantip every year, some may find this event a bit strange or unsavory. And the truth is that KaZantip is not for everybody! But witnessed by 7 million Facebook likes on Dutch Super DJ Armin van Buuren’s Page, it looks like Rave, Dance or House music has a worldwide following that underlines its huge attraction.
Here are some impressions.

The Gypsy and his Wife Go To Italy for their 25th Wedding Anniversary

Ronnie and Julie Stoots plan their 25th Wedding Anniversary in Italy

Ronnie and Julie Stoots will take you on their anniversary trip to Italy

With a planned 25th Wedding Anniversary trip to Italy, Ronnie and Julie Stoots, go in a way back to their roots. Stoots kind of rhymes with Roots, so financial planner, musician, entertainer, singer/songwriter Stoots will probably write a song about this exiting trip to Europe.
Here is Ronnie’s account of how it all started way back when.

“They say opposites attract, and they were right.  She lived in a small community in southern Mississippi and was accustomed to routine.  I came from the city and was used to a more spontaneous lifestyle.  We were excited, in love and from two different worlds. Two worlds that couldn’t be farther apart. She liked to stay home and read, I liked to get dressed and go.

Nothing has changed much over the years except, she’s done quite a bit more traveling and I have read a few more books. Although, I have to admit, there’s been more traveling than reading since I did own a travel agency. Not that I don’t enjoy a good book, but it just always seemed like I could enjoy life more by seeing it, touching it and experiencing it, rather than read about it. I guess I’m a people person at heart.  Through the years I would often tease Julie:  “Just think, if you hadn’t married me, you would still be in Marion County, Mississippi right now.”  Of course her reply was always, “Yeah, well, I had no choice in the matter. After all I’m married to a Gypsy.”

Now, after twenty-five years of marriage, I am about to take her on a trip she will never forget. Better yet, it is a trip she really wants to take. Since she was a little girl, Italy has been her dream destination. And 2014 is the year it’s going to happen. But instead of going just the two of us, we have decided to go back to our roots and take a group with us. In fact, we have decided to start hosting trips all over Europe again.

That’s why I am excited to announce our partnership with one of the industry leaders in travel, Go Ahead Tours . Go Ahead offers some 100+ authentic adventures that open eyes, connect cultures and inspire a deeper love of travel. As part of EF Education First, this company is dedicated to providing exciting and enlightening cultural experiences all over the world.

As part of the EF Education First family, Go Ahead tours is connected to an unmatched network of inspired travelers and dedicated educators. Founded in 1965 with the mission of breaking down barriers of language, culture and geography,  EF Education First is now the world’s largest private education company. Today, they boast an incredible 34,000 employees, teachers and volunteers spread across more than 50 countries and 400 offices. They are leaders in cultural exchange, educational travel, language training and degree programs; and have helped transform the lives of more than 15 million people… and counting.

So if you would like more information about the Anniversary trip to Italy as well as future travel, please call Ronnie at 904.624.5502 or email him at

Japanese Rice Art

Honoring your heroes

Honoring the Heroes of the Past

The dictionaries are not very precise when it comes to formulating a clear description for art and that is probably smart as art is an expression in the eye of the beholder and definitions for the word are as as diverse as the expressions.

Art does not necessarily have to be equated with time or ages. These days and probably for all of human history, Art is often seasonal or even momentary. We cannot question the art of the coffee shop barista when he or she paints a portrait in the foam of your cappuccino. Even though the enjoyment is very personal and consumed in a matter of minutes.

I have admired many artforms over the course of 50 years, and always found it fabulously special when it concerned a fine-tuned study of cooperation between nature and man. A balance of timing, talent and precision.

Look at these Japanese rice fields and how they transform over the period of one harvest season. When the farmers are planting the rice plants, nothing unusual shows. But as the growing season moves forward, an incredible spectacle of beauty unfolds on a magnificent scale, as the fields turn into Rembrandts and van Goghs of Japanese culture and heritage.

But these artists don’t use paint or toners; they use rice plants.

For thousands of years already Japanese Rice farmers plant various rice specimen, carefully adhering to huge scale images, unveiling enormous paintings by the time harvest season comes around.
Nourishment for mind and body, a true human accomplishment.

Les DeMerle Jazz Quartet Booked Again on Celebrity

The Dynamic Les DeMerle Jazz Quartet featuring vocalist Bonnie Eisele, have been booked once again with Celebrity Cruises.

You know their talent will have toes tapping, bodies swaying and guests singing along to the sounds of original arrangements of jazz classics, standards, Latin, Blues, show tunes and more played with passion and expertise aboard two amazing Celebrity vessels on several awe inspiring itineraries.

Are you looking to do something different this winter? Why not consider the warm hospitality of Celebrity cruises and join them aboard the gorgeous Celebrity Solstice and/or Eclipse?

On each cruise, as part of the Celebrity Life Activities® Series, Les will offer his fun and informative Big Band Talk/DVD Presentation highlighting his work of 12 years with the great Harry James Orchestra and his performances accompanying Frank Sinatra and other jazz luminaries.

sydney-melbourneThe quartet will also invite the Celebrity Orchestra horn section to join them for an evening of Big Band music with special Les DeMerle Band arrangements of big band classics including some given to Les by the great Harry James, himself.

November 4, 2013 through February 21, 2014

The Dynamic Les DeMerle Jazz Quartet Featuring Bonnie Eisele has once again joined the amazing Celebrity Solstice.

They are entertaining aboard nine 12-18 night cruises with their swingin’ sounds on an adventurous itinerary in Australia exploring up to 6 Aussie ports with overnights in vibrant Sydney and visiting or cruising through as many as 12 destinations in beautiful, neighboring New Zealand.

many-portsMay 10, 2014 Through September 4, 2014

Joining the beautiful Celebrity Eclipse the Quartet will spend another summer in Europe sailing in the Mediterranean, Scandinavia, Baltic, Iceland, Russia and the Norwegian Fjords on nine 8 -14 night cruises.

They will depart out of Southampton, England, and explore romantic ports in Spain, France, Italy, Gibraltar, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, Poland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Norway while enjoying one overnight in Reykjavik, Iceland and two overnights in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Come for the Jazz, for the fun, the sun, the sights and the adventure!

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A Hundred Years of Cruising

The Titanic being chased by the Allure of the Seas

Like Jonah and the Whale the Allure is ready to swallow the Titanic

Cruising became quite popular around the turn of the 19th century, even though it had been a favorite for nobility and royalty since the 1830s, when nobles, authorities, and royal princes from all over Europe sailed in just over three months the Mediterranean islands, coastlines and famous cities on a ship called the Francisco I, which flew the flag of the Kingdoms of Sicily and Naples. Most ships that operated passenger transportation in those days were called ocean liners. Constructed as ocean liners, they did not meet the requirements of the pleasure-seeking market and offered few amenities aboard.

The first cruise ship built exclusively for the purpose of vacationing on a ship was the Prinzessin Victoria Louise in Hamburg Germany, even though she did quite a few Atlantic immigration crossings in the short 6 years of her existence. In the early days of huge immigration to the US, many shipping companies build transatlantic ocean liners as was the luxurious ‘Titanic’.

The following comparison shows that numbers between the Titanic, the largest ocean liner in 1912 and The Allue of the Seas’, the largest cruise ship in the world today are in most areas such as length, height and speed not that dramatically different. What makes the huge difference however is the width, creating a 5 to 1 gross tonnage difference, which is why on the picture it looks like the Titanic is going to be swallowed by the Allure.

Here are some more numbers and a picture show off the enormous amount of food is prepared in 18 kitchens on the allure.

The Titanic, the world’s largest cruiseship in 1912 had the following specs:

Tonnage:     46,328 GRT
Displacement:     52,310 tons
Length:     882 ft 6 in (269.0 m)
Beam:             92 ft 0 in (28.0 m)
Height:     175 ft (53.3 m) (keel to top of funnels)
Draught:     34 ft 7 in (10.5 m)
Depth:             64 ft 6 in (19.7 m)
Decks:             9 (A–G)
Installed power: 24 double-ended and 5 single-ended boilers feeding two reciprocating steam engines for the wing propellers and a low-pressure turbine for the center propeller;[1] output: 46,000 HP
Propulsion:     Two 3-blade wing propellers and one 4-blade centre propeller
Speed:     Cruising: 21 kn (39 km/h; 24 mph). Max: 24 kn (44 km/h; 28 mph)
Capacity:     Passengers: 2,435, crew: 892. Total: 3,327

In comparison to the latest ‘floating city’, the Allure of the Seas, the differences seem substantial except when you compare
specific statistics such as speed, overall length, height.
This baby holds 6,318 guests & boasts 2,384 crew.
The Allure of the Seas is the largest passenger ship ever constructed and the 
Statistics are simply mind-boggling:

* 225,282 GRT (gross register tonnage)

* 1,187 feet (362 meters) long

* 215 feet (66 meters) wide

* 213 feet (65 meters) high from the water line

* 30 feet (9.1 meters) draft

* 22 knots cruising speed

* 16 passenger decks, 24 passenger elevators

* 4 bow thrusters with 7,500 horse power each

* 5,400 guests (double occupancy), 6,318 guests total, 2,384 crew (from appx. 80 countries)

* 2,706 staterooms

Cooking 3 x a day for 6,318 guests and 2,384 crew in 18 kitchens. Mindblowing!!

The Travel Agency Changed Name to Wallace Pierson Travel

Impressions of the 2013 Test Drive the World Travel Show on Amelia Island

Impressions of the 2013 Test Drive the World Travel Show on Amelia Island

The Travel Agency in Fernandina Beach announced during their 5th Annual Test Dive the World Luxury Travel Show at the Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island last Wednesday, that the agency changed its name to Wallace Pierson Travel, to reflect its progression away from the traditional travel agency to specialist in the art of travel.

Founded in 1974 by Jim and Ange Wallace, who met during their employ at Panamerican World Airways in Miami, in the Old School in Fernandina Beach, the Travel Agency over the years developed a travel philosophy that reached far beyond the status quo of writing plane tickets and handing out brochures for cruises. Even before the introduction of the internet, they started orchestrating imaginative vacations, customized for its clientele, by taking the time to get to know their individual interests and preferences and match them with their growing expertise to design vacations capable of returning the greatest Return on Life. This picture-video shows a nutshell of the agency’s past 40 years.

In the process of becoming the premier agency in the region, they became an invited member of Virtuoso Luxury Travel Specialists, an affiliation of top of the line travel advisors with unprecedented access to the world’s top travel suppliers, cruise companies and hotel-resort properties.

The benefits Virtuoso membership brings hotel travelers is not available to the general public and ranges from spa treatments, room upgrades, candlelit dinners and limousine transfers to complimentary breakfasts, check-in/check-out time flexibilities and preferred rates.

Cruise traveler benefits, especially when reserving a Virtuoso Voyager Club sailing include a dedicated onboard host, welcome receptions, exclusive shore events and much more.

The Wallace Pierson Travel mantra is: “We’re specialized in advising savvy travelers and deliver extraordinary experiences,” says founder Ange Wallace, “adding, “we put our global connections to work to ensure that you receive the best access, upgrades and amenities. Wherever you want to go, whatever you want to do, we can arrange it to the smallest details.”

The 5th Annual Test Drive the World show last Wednesday at the Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island was living proof that Wallace Pierson Travel delivers Return on Life Travel Experiences.

5 Of The Best Bus Tours in the World

5 Of The Best Bus Tours in the WorldBy: Casey Haslem

Although it is not often recognized, bus tours can be the ideal way to explore every interesting thing that a city has to offer in addition to providing insights on its history. It is also one of the most affordable ways to travel. Begin experiencing what the world has to offer in a personal manner by considering these five, must-see bus tours.

Manhattan, New York
A bus tour through this inspirational city takes you to some of the most revered destinations in Manhattan. Skip the subway and see the beauty New York can offer on a bus that takes you from Central Park all the way to Times Square. You will have the opportunity to see Macy’s and the bustling life on West 34th Street. A scenic bus tour also provides the opportunity to see the Empire State Building as you travel to Greenwich Village.

Westminster, London
The double-decker bus tours here give you a perspective that no other form of transportation can. Visitors can travel from Hammersmith to Waterloo, experiencing everything from European football clubs to glamorous shopping. For a small price, a bus tour in London will allow you to see the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.

Paris, France
A location that is stylish and forward-thinking in fashion, Paris offers bus tours filled with beauty. The Champ-Elysee is a favorite stop for visitors before heading towards the Musee D’Orsay. Once you have had your fill of art, you can experience one of the world’s greatest architectural wonders by ascending the Eiffel Tower.

Los Angeles, California
Some of the most popular Los Angeles bus tours have been in operation since 1935, taking you near the homes of movie stars from the past and present. Experience the best shopping on earth on Rodeo Drive in addition to seeing the world’s most luxurious hotels. The bus tours here allow you freedom to explore while guiding you through America’s most star-studded city.

Rome, Italy
From the greatest art treasures to ruins dating back thousands of years, bus tours through Rome offer insights into history that are truly unique. These tours even take visitors right to the door steps of both St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican.

Seeing the world through your own eyes has never been more fun and affordable than when you take advantage of the most spectacular bus tours around. Whether traveling alone or packing up family, the experiences available when traveling by bus are one of a kind.

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5 Things to Take on Your Next Roadtrip

5 Things to Take on Your Next RoadtripContributed by: Casey Haslem

The open road beckons, and you answer its call with a road trip. Whether you’re driving a few short hours over the course of a day or setting out for an extended excursion, be sure to include these five items to ensure optimum fun on your trip.

Cell phone
It may be tempting to leave your cell phone at home during a road trip. Think twice, though, since cell phones are useful for more than just communication. Maps can help you maneuver through detours and the GPS feature in cell phones is often valuable. Apps that help you find hotels, restaurants, and points of interest as well as Streamline Vacation Rental Software may also prove helpful. Beyond that, your camera can serve as your camera to document all the fun. Remember, just because you bring your phone doesn’t mean you have to accept calls and texts.

There’s nothing worse than dead air, and remote areas are notorious as dead spots for radio reception. Even if you find plenty of radio stations in an area, there’s no guarantee that their playlists match your musical tastes. Guard against it with a road trip playlist. Bring your mp3 player or a CDs to make sure you have music that is fitting for any mood that may strike you.

Road trips can make a person hungry, so bring along a stash of food and drinks. A soft-sided cooler takes up little space and is the perfect way to carry bottled drinks. Get your ice from hotels and you’re all set. Healthy snacks and fun treats can help you avoid the cost and calories of fast food. A picnic at a roadside park is always a fun option as well.

Comfie cozies
Road trips are laid back and comfortable, so you should be too. Wear comfortable clothes, and bring along some of the comforts of home. A familiar pillow can assist in a good night’s sleep, and a small blanket can ward off the chill of the air conditioner.

Road trips bring a sense of freedom, but don’t throw caution to the wind. Make sure you pack such essentials as a first aid kit, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, and sunglasses. Jumper cables and a spare set of keys are also great to have on hand.

Whether your road trip is months in the making or spur of the moment, don’t forget the essentials. A little preparedness ensures your trip will be memorable, safe, and fun.

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Beach Talk on Amelia Island

This young Eagle Came to Visit us the Other Day

When renewing our business license for the Inn, the pamphlet below came from the city of Fernandina Beach with the request to post it in all rooms of our Inn. As a reminder I’d like to share the content with you as I walk a stretch of the beach early every morning and notice how much debris and structures are carelessly left behind. This pamphlet focuses on the health and well-being of the endangered turtle population, but includes of course the entire beach eco-environment. Having literally lived on the beach for the past two years I am equally appalled and surprised about what people leave on the beach. I’m not talking about your every day beer can or empty wine bottle. I’m talking about people who have adopted such a spoiled lifestyle that they simply leave pop-up tents, canapes, bicycles, beach chairs, garbage bags, shoes, fishing gear and other debris such as body lotions, left over food. After a day in the sun they don’t feel like cleaning up after themselves and simply leave.

In a nauseating way it sometimes reminds me of that WallStreet yup years ago when I lived in New York, who emptied all his pocket change into a garbage can, and as the coins clanged into the metal can, he grimaced at a homeless guy sitting ten feet away on the sidewalk.

I have no idea why some people leave perfectly good chairs and tents on the beach but it is disturbing. Also disturbing is that beach goers dig holes in the sand (I mean deep holes) and don’t smooth the surface out when they leave. I cannot count the times that guests bruise knees and ankles when taking an evening walk on the beach.

In any case I liked the pamphlet attached and would like to share its contents with you. Still one question left however after reading this: state law requires the lights to be dimmed for turtle season until November 30, but the pamphlet says October 31. Which law prevails?

Traveling to Key West: Seven Things You Must Do and See

Traveling to Key West: Seven Things You Must Do and SeeContributed by: Kandace Heller

Is your family planning a trip to Key West, but needs some inspiration deciding what attractions to visit? Key West is a diverse and exciting city; there are plenty of attractions that will entertain, inform and delight your family during your stay. Here is a list of six things you absolutely must see on your visit to the island.

Ernest Hemingway Home
Ernest Hemingway is one of America’s most beloved writers. He spent more than 10 years of his career in Key West, Florida, living and writing. His former home has been converted to a museum. Come see the exceptionally-preserved house, beautiful gardens, and quirky cats that live there.

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham Maritime Museum
Take a tour of his highly decorated Coast Guard cutter that has seen more than 50 years of action. The USCGC Ingham is one of only two preserved Coast Guard cutters. Visit the museum and learn about the ship’s service during World War II and the Vietnam War.

Red Barn Theatre
If you enjoy live performances, check out the Red Barn Theatre. This historic, quaint little theatre features plays, cabaret shows, spoken work performances, and poetry slams. Originally a carriage house built in 1892, the Red Barn Theatre’s diverse lineup of entertainment offers something for everyone.

Tropic Cinema
If you need to duck in from the Key West heat while on your vacation, catch a movie at the one-of-a-kind Key West theatre. This is one of the highest rated attractions in Key West. It features the hottest new releases as well as classic movie matinees on Saturdays. The Tropic was recently named the best cinema in Florida.

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
To see some of nature’s most beautiful works of art, pay a visit to the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. It features beautiful gardens with hundreds of live butterflies and birds to observe. The conservatory also has a learning center where you can explore the fascinating world of butterflies.

Dry Tortugas National Park
If you’re feeling a little adventurous, check out Dry Tortugas National Park. The park is accessible only by boat or by seaplane. Its seven islands are Florida’s westernmost and most isolated keys. You can observe abundant sea life and Florida’s best-preserved coral reefs.

Tour the City
One of the best things you can do to see the best Key West has to offer is to get a tour like one from the Key West Duck Tours. These tours offer a special land and sea tour. You start on land in a truck type vehicle, visiting some of the best attractions. Then, you drive to the beach and the truck converts to a boat, allowing you to get a great view of the beaches and sea life. If the land and sea combo isn’t your thing, you can find other companies that offer tours of what you are interested in.

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Mike Staver and The Full-Throttle Leadership Tour

Mike Staver and The Full-Throttle Leadership TourAmelia Island business owner, Mike Staver, is riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle around the perimeter of the United States in just 41 days. Staver is a public speaker specializing in leadership skills and will be sharing what riding motorcycles has taught him and how those same lessons apply in the boardroom, too.

Speaking his way around the country, Mike’s goal is to encourage others to lead more courageously.

Topics include:
-How being counter-intuitive is the difference between success and disaster
-The keys to focus and how that impacts your destination
-How pushing your limits has an upside and a downside
-The things that bikers know that most leaders forget
-How to avoid pains in the butt

Opinionated, edgy, and truthful, Mike doesn’t always say what you want to hear, but if you’re ready to grow and be pushed to your potential, he will give you a few hard truths, share some common sense, and add a few metaphorical kicks in the butt to achieve maximum results!

The first stop of the Full Throttle Leadership Tour is in the metro-Washington DC area, then he is off to Boston and Maine before heading west towards Minneapolis/St. Paul, South Dakota, and Seattle. Mike will then enjoy a scenic cruise down the Pacific Coastline. Mike will ride through Arizona, Texas, New Orleans, Tampa and Miami before returning to Fernandina Beach around Labor Day.

Mike will be attaching a GPS to his motorcycle so you can follow his journey at or on; and of course right here on

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Ginnie Springs a Natural Swimming Pool

Ginnie Springs a Natural Swimming PoolOur family loves to go camping at Ginnie Springs‎. Located in High Springs, Florida, Ginnie’s water remains at a refreshing 72 degrees year-round. We camp in tents, but there are cottages and RV spaces, too. We swim, snorkel, kayak, tacke a tube down the river, play volley ball, fish and so much more.

I was delighted to see ranked Ginnie in their recent article, “10 Most Beautiful natural Swimming Pools in the World.”

Ginnie Springs is privately owned and there are seven natural springs making this a perfect location for scuba diving or for lessons. Underwater caves are so vast I’ve heard no one has ever been able to map them all.

We like to go with a large group and fondly refer to it as “Communal living at its finest,” while others prefer to call it “Ecotourism.” Sleeping in a tent at Ginnie is certainly not “roughing it” as the group sites have water and electricity, and their bath houses offer flushing toilets, sinks with hot and cold running water and private shower stalls. Ginnie is about a two hour drive from Amelia Island making it an ideal distance for a weekend getaway.

Each year we discuss camping at Ginnie during the Thanksgiving holiday, mainly to see if the 72 degree water feels warmer when the air is cooler than it does during the summer. We could deep-fry our turkey, make our side dishes a little less traditional while cooking over an open fire and trade our pumpkin pie for s’mores. Imagine waking up on Friday to the scents of fresh brewed coffee, hearing families splashing around in the springs and watching the divers prepare for a day underwater. It certainly sounds a whole lot better than fighting the crowds on Black Friday!

Photo found on the Ginnie Springs facebook page.

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