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December 2016 Travels in Review

Lash - Pia - Brad at Xmas 2016DECEMBER 2016 TRAVELS IN REVIEW

On December 3rd, 2016 I left Mexico, having used up my entire 6-month visa exploring that vast, intriguing country. I returned to Florida to visit family over the Christmas & New Year’s holidays.

Once I landed in the Sunshine State, I quickly jumped into cycling, gardening, visiting St Pete’s gorgeous local beaches, catching up with friends & family and…preparing for Christmas. I sent out Christmas cards, helped decorate the house and baked my favorite childhood Christmas cookies.

Spending Christmas with family was quite a novelty for me. During the past 18 years of solo world travel I’ve only celebrated the holidays with family 2 or 3 times. Usually I enjoy Christmas day on my own, making a fun, adventurous holiday of it by eating special meals at more expensive restaurants, joining some sort of special activity and buying myself a present or two. I often stay at a more upscale hotel/resort for 1-2 nights to indulge myself.

Christmas table & tree 2016But this Christmas I had great fun dining with family at my mom’s house and opening presents together in the living room. I made out like a bandit with gifts! My generous family members managed to buy me everything on my Wish List… and then some. Heck, maybe I should return for Christmas more often. Lol.

We also celebrated New Year’s Eve together – sipping my homemade mojitos, watching fireworks and joining the annual public count-down at St Pete’s vast waterside park. I’ve done this before here twice, last time being 2011/2012 New Year’s Eve. That year it was freezing! But this year we enjoyed the super warm 60F night-time temps. Such a mild winter this year! I hope it continues through January and February.

Because I was in Florida all month, I featured a series of articles and photo galleries about St Petersburg and Florida at large that I had written at various times while visiting. Following are a list of those articles and photos, which I posted on FB. After that list are all the FB updates about my days and holidays in St Pete during December.

If you’re curious about Florida, St Pete and/or daily living in the Sunshine State, check out my articles and updates. It’s all here!

FEATURED ARTICLES AND PHOTO GALLERIES ON LASHWORLDTOUR

IN DECEMBER

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FEATURED POST: St Petersburg – Jewel in the Muck of ‘Vacation-land’ Florida

Since I just returned to lovely St Pete, FL to visit family over the holidays, it’s a great time to bring up this article I wrote about all this small city’s many charms.

Luckily for me, my mom and stepdad moved here 5 years ago! My brother & his wife live here too.

Now every time I return to the US, I get to enjoy Florida’s great climate, visit beaches, cycle, attend art gallery functions and performances

…and, of course, visit friends and family.

Florida sure beats visits to West Virginia or Pennsylvania! That’s for sure.

Thanks mom & Bill for your fantastic home-base!

READ POST HERE

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yachts at St Pete marina

yachts at St Pete marina

Featured Article: 10 Free Things to do in St Pete, FLORIDA

St Pete is one of Florida’s first towns and part of the big health retreats craze of the early 1900s! So there’s lots of interesting history here – old neighborhoods, gorgeous historic buildings…

St Pete is also fun of art galleries, museums, parks, water, marinas, even a small airport IN downtown!

Dec-March is high season in Florida…So if you’re heading down this way, or already here, find out all these great FREE things to do in charming St PEte

READ POST

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FEATURED POST: 10 Outdoor Adventures in Florida

Known as the Sunshine State, Florida is one of America’s warmest states, perfect for year-round outdoor activities.

With hundreds of miles of coastlines on both the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, lakes, rivers, natural springs, The Everglades and many state parks…there are great activities for everyone here.

Cycling, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, sailing, snorkeling, diving, swimming, suntanning, camping…the list goes on.

In this post I detail several major outdoor activities and where to do them in my favorite US state…

READ POST

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Featured Article: Unique Scuba Diving Adventures in Florida

Florida has long coastlines along both the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico as well as dozens of islands in the Keys, inland lakes and fresh water springs.

All provide great scuba diving opportunities. Besides the usual coral reef and wreck dive sites, though, Florida offers some truly unique dive opps.

If you’re ready for more unusual under water adventures, check out these…

READ POST 

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FEATURED PHOTO GALLERY: Charming St Petersburg – Florida

Marinas, art galleries, world-class museums, weekend markets, beaches and more…

…come see why St Pete is so wonderful!

SEE PHOTOS

FEATURED PHOTO GALLERY: Florida Water Birds

Florida is flush with water: Atlantic Ocean coast, Gulf of Mexico, The Keyes, The Everglades, lakes, rivers, ponds, natural springs.

All this water attracts hundreds of bird species. Some live here, others are just passing through.

I spent some time photographing these wonderful, beautiful, silly, wild water birds in the St Pete area…If you love birds, too, check out my pics…

SEE PHOTOS OF WATER BIRDS

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Weekly Featured Photo Gallery: Sunsets of Florida

St Pete lies on the Gulf of Mexico, facing west towards Texas and Mexico…

That means lots of gorgeous sunsets at the miles and miles of beaches here!

Come take a look & further brighten up (and maybe warm up) this hectic Christmas week…

SEE PHOTOS OF SUNSETS

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FB UPDATES IN DECEMBER

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Lash with mojito at Kentucky DerbyTRAVEL UPDATE: I am in Florida!

In case you missed last week’s announcements, I’ve just left Mexico (expired visa) to spend the holidays with family in wonderful St Petersburg.

It’s great being back in the ‘Sunshine State’ again!

I’ll be cycling, strolling on beaches, gardening, going to art galleries & museums, attending events & performances…

…and, of course, visiting with friends and family.

So more on St Pete and December in Florida coming soon!

TRAVEL UPDATE FLORIDA:

St Pete has many gorgeous beaches and dramatic sunsets…

Situated on the Gulf Coast of Florida, St Pete is close to several long, sweeping beaches with powdery white sands, all backed by grassy sand dunes.

These beaches are all facing west, so we’re treated to different, gorgeous sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico every night.

On the other hand, downtown St Pete faces Tampa Bay and eastward towards Tampa. Beautiful sunsets illuminate the city’s buildings from across the bay… (like when sailing)

great architecture in St PeteTRAVEL UPDATE FLORIDA:

St Pete has some very cool & diverse architecture!

As one of Florida’s first towns, St Pete has several historic neighborhoods, mansions and iconic old hotels built in the early 1900s.

Unique modern architecture like the Salvadore Dali Museum, various condos & other buildings are also scattered around the city.

Great & diverse architecture is one of the many reasons I love St Pete.

pelicanTRAVEL UPDATE FLORIDA: Pelicans!

St Pete is surrounded by water…

On the west is the Gulf of Mexico, to the east Tampa Bay, along the Gulf the Intercoastal Waterway, and everywhere are mangrove-lined streams & bayous and hundreds of small ponds & lakes.

Not surprisingly, hundreds of water birds live here or migrate through…

Pelicans are one of the most interesting, amusing and easily-spotted birds here. I always enjoy their antics.

Who else likes pelicans?

TRAVEL UPDATE FLORIDA: My mom & I attended the Xmas Concert at Mahafey Theater, performed by the fantastic Florida Orchestra…

Florida Orchestra’s annual Xmas Concert takes place at the early hour of 11 am. Called ‘coffee concerts’, they provide free coffee and donuts.

This year’s theme was Famous Ballet Music – a selection of ballet pieces by various international composers, from Russians to Americans and European composers.

Since I grew up as a ballet dancer, it was great fun to hear all the great ballet music again…only some of which I actually knew, to be honest.

Fun, fun Xmas happenings!

sushi!TRAVEL UPDATE FLORIDA:

Yippie- delicious sushi dinner!

Yummmm, my mom & step-dad just took me out for this fantastic sushi dinner!

It was sort of a celebration for me finally completing a big job project I’ve been working on for the past month. (really just an excuse to eat sushi) It sure feels good to have that project completed! And very nice to get a special treat, too.

Thanks guys! Deeelicious!

Who else here loves sushi? Which fish is best?

St Pete waterside park and Snell IslandTRAVEL UPDATE FLORIDA: Wow, St Pete waterside is incredibly pretty!

Saturday in St Pete was an absolutely gorgeous blue-sky, warm-weather day. And what mild weather for December! Midday temps of 80F + and sunny…

Big bicycling, outside all day kind of day for me!

I pedaled to downtown St Pete and rode along the stunning Tampa Bay parklands for miles and miles…over to the Old NE Quarter and Snell Isle (full of huge mansions with landscaped lawns fronting the water)

Here’s what St Pete’s waterfront parks look like! Simply gorgeous!

No wonder I’m always happy to come back & visit my family in Florida!

tour boat at Passe Grille pierTRAVEL UPDATE FLORIDA:

Cycling around wonderful Passe-A-Grille beach town

Passe-A-Grille is one of my favorite places in the St Pete area…

It’s a little community of charming wooden beach houses, boutiques, restaurants and cafes set along the Gulf of Mexico.

Actually, it’s on a long narrow peninsula that’s wedged between the Gulf and the Intercoastal Waterway. On the inland side are some fishing & boating businesses, pretty wooden piers, lots of sea birds and many boats.

The Gulf side boasts the best beach in the region, with super fluffy, powdery white sand that runs for miles and miles, backed just by low dunes and grasses…and some stunning private beach homes.

Wish we lived out there! But at least I can cycle there in just 30 minutes any time I want. That’s ok too.

Tree of Life Yoga TRAVEL UPDATE FLORIDA:

I just visited my fav yoga studio here in St Pete – Tree of Life Yoga

To be honest, this time I just stopped by to say HI to my friends there. I knew I’d be too busy just before Xmas to go take regular classes, so holding out until January…

But it sure was nice to say HI and to see this gorgeous studio again! Good to be part of your lovely world there.

Christmas presents under treeTRAVEL UPDATE FLORIDA:

We’re almost ready for Xmas! And you?

Christmas tree trimmed – check!
Cards on display – check!
Presents wrapped and under the tree – check!
House decorated – check!
Cards mailed – check!
Christmas cookies getting made- check!

…now just a few more cookies to bake and Xmas dinner to plan & prepare…

How are you coming along with your Xmas preparations?

Got a photo? Share it here!

Merry Merry Christmas from Florida Everyone!

Do you celebrate more on Xmas Eve or Xmas Day?

I know my European friends usually celebrate on Xmas Eve in the evening – 24th. But we Americans generally celebrate on Xmas Day

How about you?

Either way, have a wonderful time with family, relatives, friends wherever you are in the world!

Christmas cookiesTRAVEL UPDATE FLORIDA:

I had a wonderful Christmas here in Florida…

all with family, enjoying delicious food & Xmas cookies, Christmas music and heaps of great gifts…

How about you? How was your Xmas this year?

Got photos? Share them here!

my Xmas presents 2016 TRAVEL UPDATE FLORIDA: Here’s my Christmas horde…

I made out like a bandit here this year! My family spoiled me with everything on my wish list, and even more!

Mainly I requested cycling accessories and specific travel gear like a mini-mag headlamp and a watch…

Very luckily for me, my brother and step-dad are both into the latest high-tech gear, so I got some truly cool, top of the line high-tech stuff! Cool!

Some of it is so cool and unique that I’m going to feature them here in the next couple days. Wait til you see!

Meanwhile, here’s the full horde…

What great gifts did you get this year? Got a photo? Share it here!

solar lightTRAVEL UPDATE FLORIDA:

Check out this truly cool & amazing travel solar light…

Made of very durable plastic, 10 tiny LED lamps and a solar panel. And collapsible into a very thin, light-weight disc.

You simply inflate it by blowing in the hole then set it in the sun to charge…

At night, voila! A cool light ‘bubble’ ! It has 3 brightness settings plus a flashing setting.

Too cool for school! Thanks brother!

pink watch for XmasTRAVEL UPDATE FLORIDA: My prized possession Christmas gift: A PINK watch!

But not just ANY pink watch…

It’s a dive watch (!) waterproof to 20 atmospheres / over 100 M

..and unbelievable as it sounds, the watch band actually smells like VANILLA! Say WHAT?!! I kid you not!

(vanilla just happens to be one of my favorite fragrances for perfumes, oils and body products)

TRAVEL UPDATE FLORIDA: Check out this slick high-tech portable tire pump…

Is this a beauty or what?!

Black with silver and anodized red metal parts. Gorgeous!

It arrived along with a super high-tech gel bike seat, inner tube repair kit, solid lock and chain lube…

…everything I requested to upgrade my bike!

Thanks step-dad! You’re the best.

special teaTRAVEL UPDATE FLORIDA:

More Xmas great presents..that I hadn’t even asked for…

1. Delicious custom-blend tea in a pink container!

Full of spices, several different teas and some fruit notes. It’s very tasty!

2. E G American Vodka –

I never heard of it! Have you?
It’s distilled by a small distillery in Portland, using top quality products for discerning customers, it says.
All I know is that it’s very good and very strong.

Thanks mom! Thanks brother!

Fireworks in Gulfport 2015Happy New Year 2017 from Florida Everyone!

Wow, I can remember when the year 2000 seemed impossibly far into the distant future, as if we would never actually reach it…

Then came the year, the day when the BIG Millenium 2000 New Year’s Eve actually arrived. We ticked over into the 21st century.

Probably everyone remembers exactly where they were, who they were with and what they were doing on that memorial night. I was on Phuket Island, Thailand hanging out with Thai biker gang friends, dancing at a late-night disco and walking on beautiful Kata Beach. Where were you?

Lash sailing in Boca Ciega BayBut wait! …Amazingly, that was already 17 years ago! Say What?!!! Already 17 years? Unbelievable. But true.

Yep, here we are already 17 years into the 21st century…and now only 3 years away from the big 2020. Wow. Bizarre how life just keeps rolling along…

Ok, enough reverie, let’s snap back to today’s reality…

Where are you celebrating New Year 2017?

Here in St Pete, Florida, I’ll be watching fireworks and joining the count down at St Pete’s municipal marina-side park along with family. Last time we did that, back in 2011/2012, it was absolutely freezing cold. Yikes! But this year promises to be an extremely mild 60F that night. Let’s see!

In any event, wherever you are in the world have a wonderful, exciting or chilled-out New Year’s Eve. See you in 2017!

cheers, Lash

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SUMMARY

This year December was all about celebrating the holidays with family and enjoying Florida’s incredibly-mild winter weather. Aside from Christmas and New Year’s Eve preparations & festivities I plunged into cycling, gardening and other outdoor activities.

I’ll be here all of January, featuring more helpful articles about St Pete & Florida as well as other travel posts and photo galleries from destinations around the globe that I’ve visited.

In early February I’ll head out for another full year of world travels. Stay tuned for heaps more travel tips, stories and photos from new destinations I’ll be exploring. I’ll announce my 2017 travel agenda later in January. Come follow along!

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