Starting 2014 Off With A Win!

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Somehow, I placed 1st for my category in a race I did over the weekend. I don’t know how it happened, I’m just excited that I got a medal.

The Dolphin Dash is a cute little race out on Anna Maria Island, with the proceeds going to the local elementary school. Around the halfway point, I ended up running next to a little girl who was by herself and seemed on the verge of giving up. She slowed down to a walk so I said, “Come on. You’re over halfway through. You can’t stop now!” And just like that, I had a new best friend. The second half of the race was spent talking about movies and music, instead of thinking about running and how much distance was left. It was a nice change. As hard as it is to talk while you’re running, it actually makes the time go by pretty quickly.

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I learned two things from this race:

1) If you need a confidence boost, sign up for a small race. Even if your time isn’t any faster than normal, you might place, which is always fun.

2) If you’re considering saying something encouraging to someone, you should just go ahead and say it. You don’t know how much the person needs it, you might make a new best friend and, lastly, you might get an awesome finish line photo out of it. 🙂

So did anyone make any New Years resolutions? The Dolphin Dash was the start of mine. I’m hoping to run one 5k per month with the two friends who ran this race with me. They also placed! Great start for a resolution!

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In other news:

23 Days to Austin

69 Days until Nashville

72 Days until the Music City Marathon

Happy New Year!!!

Non-Beach, Beach Sunsets

While I love watching the sunset ( or sunrise ) on the regular beach like every other person…

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…there are some great places around the Bradenton/Anna Maria area that have some pretty spectacular alternatives, and they’re pet friendly too! Skip the crowds and watch the clouds change colors with views that stretch all the way from Anna Maria to St. Pete and the Skyway Bridge.

First there is De Soto National Memorial Park. I go here all the time with Keen…

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There are often other dogs running around, so he gets a little social time (Not that he really cares for it. He’s kind of a snob.) It’s much safer than the causeway, because you are nowhere near any roads, just the bay! Plus there’s a lovely boardwalk…

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And plenty of places to catch a beautiful sunset..

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Best sunset watching spot in De Soto goes to the built up embankment near the visitors center. There are several benches so you can comfortably watch the show….

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The major perk that this park has over the others: History. There are several monuments, a visitors center and events/reenactments, from various time periods, held here all year.

Next up is Robinson Preserve. Robinson is surprisingly large. You wouldn’t think there was enough space in Northwest Bradenton for a park this big, but apparently there is since it totals 637 acres. You can rent kayaks or a canoe and there are extensive running and biking trails…

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Boardwalks…

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… and some of the best birdwatching in Bradenton. I’ve seen everything from Spoonbills to Bald Eagles…

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Best spot to watch the sunset in Robinson goes to the watch tower…

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Robinsons best perk is it’s size. You can spend hours walking and not cover the same trail twice.

Lastly, is a tiny park on Anna Maria called “Leffis Key.” I’ve lived in this area my entire life, but I didn’t know this place existed until I signed up for a beach cleaning group. This park is definitely the smallest of the three, but still has a boardwalk…

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and great bird watching…

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(I know it’s just a pigeon, but I still love that picture)

What really makes this place special is the hill in the center of the park. By Florida standards it could almost be a mountain..

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From this spot, and a second peak on the same hill, you can get a 360 degree panoramic view of the best sunsets and sunrises that Florida has to offer. Definitely the best spot in the park.

6X0A5331This park is easy to miss, so what little Leffis Key holds over the others, is privacy. You will almost always be the only one taking advantage of the views that the hill baby Florida mountain provides.

I couldn’t pick a favorite, because they all have their perks, so you should really just check them all out. Let me know what you think!

Key West: Where To Stay

There are so many options for accommodations in Key West. My recommendation, if you’re going to be there more than a day or two, is to do a vacation rental. Hotels are so expensive! Houses are more comfortable, about the same price and you’ll have a full kitchen which saves you on food costs. I’ve done vacation rentals in the Keys 4 times, and every time I’ve used Bone Island Vacation Rentals. Each stay was fantastic! They have several house options for all group sizes. This last time, we had ten people so we used the Seaport Suit which sleeps up to 12. (Take a closer look at it in my video) The house has three huge bedrooms with comfy king size beds. This makes for easy bunking with a friend, without having to spoon them all night to keep from falling off the bed.

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There’s a fourth bedroom that’s a bit smaller, but that just makes it cozy!

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The living room is huge! The pictures don’t do it justice. It’s got 2 couches and at least one is a foldout. The TV is great too, but c’mon… you’re in Key West! Don’t watch TV!

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I absolutely love the decor, perfect beach house feel. Other amenities include two bathrooms, hot tub, all stainless steal kitchen, a balcony that has a great view of Simonton and finally…

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A table in the hallway that’s perfect for a round of beer (or juice!) pong…

6X0A5149My interaction with the company has been nothing but positive. They have great specials in the off seasons and will give a decent discount for repeat customers. You should check them out!

‘Merica’s Birthday Celebrations

The U.S. of A. is about to have another birthday which means family time, fireworks and BBQ. Here are a few events happening in the Bradenton/Sarasota/Beaches area that look like they would be pretty fun.

First there’s the Independence Day Celebration at McKechnie Field. Take in a baseball game complete with fan giveaways, fireworks and a post game concert by David Nail.

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If baseball isn’t your thing, there are extravagant (and FREE) fireworks shows at Sarasota Bay, Siesta Key, Bradenton and Palmetto. There is plenty of seating in the nearby parks, but get there early because spaces fill up fast! Unless of course you want to take your boat, or a friend’s, and have a little viewing party from the water!

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Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key really know how to throw a birthday party. First the city comes together to celebrate with a fantastic parade, followed by music, food and fireworks!

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Take your pick and enjoy the holiday! Happy birthday ‘Merica!

Trash pick-up in Paradise

For one of my business classes, we were given the option of picking up trash on Anna Maria for extra credit. I have to tell you, being outside in perfect weather on a gorgeous Island is not really a bad deal for anyone.

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Sunshine, Exercise AND extra credit. I’d say that’s a good Saturday morning.