Monday, September 27, 2010


It’s not every day …
    ...that you see a Motel that advertises “Color TV”! Just across the street from the Tampa Taco Bus, we discovered this motel that not only has color TV, but offers clean rooms, weekly rates, and a pool!
And should you have poor cell reception in your room, notice the pay phone located under the motel's sign for your convenience. 

Obviously guest safety is a priority as the safety cover over the swimming pool is one of the sturdiest I have ever seen - it's framed with 2x4s and covered with plywood and rolls of asphalt roofing.  Gotta LOVE IT! :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Outdoor Laundromat

It’s not every day…
    …that you see an outdoor laundromat. Who wants to be all cooped up while waiting on their laundry? May as well get a little fresh air. 

Though this is an outdoor establishment, this laundromat adheres to building codes and providing customers with an emergency side exit. 

In case you get any bright ideas about leaving your two-year-old at the laundromat while you go shopping, take note of the sign on the inside wall that says “We are not responsible for children.”

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Tampa Taco Bus

You probably won’t find it in any of the tourists brochures but the Tampa Taco Bus in Tampa, FL is a MUST!!

The Taco Bus is an old school bus converted into a kitchen that prepares incredible, fresh, authentic Mexican cuisine. The food was so good, I dove right in and ate it all before I remembered to take a picture.

They are open 24/7, and as the sign says, “Broken English Perfectly Spoken.”  
 Indoor and outdoor dining is available, or you can just step up to the window and place your order to go.  
The only problem is the bus doesn’t actually go anywhere - you have to go to it, but it’s definitely worth a detour. Dining at the Taco Bus is not just great food, it’s an experience.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Duck Farts & Saddle Sores

There was no shortage of entertainment on the Alaska Twitter trip sponsored by Princess Cruises.  After returning from an incredible helicopter ride and glacier landing, we attended a fun filled dinner theatre.  The same wait staff who served our BBQ, were
the cast members in the musical, “The Music of Denali”. 

Somehow the cast coaxed me up on stage - thankfully for the audience they didn’t ask me to sing anything. I just had to sit there and look good:)
 After the show, the entourage of twitteratti walked across the street and was treated to a round of Duck Farts an Alaskan favorite consisting of Crown Royal, Kalula, and Baileys Irish Creme.

 We also learned the international sign for "I saw a moose today"

As we headed back to our rooms around 2 a.m., I snapped this picture of this signpost to kinda explain why Alaska is known as “the land of the midnight sun.” This was as about as dark as it got.

The next morning we took about a three hour bus from the Denali Princess Lodge to the McKinley Princess Lodge.  where we saddled up and road through the trails taking in the beautiful Alaskan landscape.
I didn’t actually get saddle sores from the adventure, but I did walk like a bow-legged cowboy for the next two days. If you take a horseback excursion and you're over 40, I highly recommend that you stretch before mounting up.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Helicopter Glacier Landing

I thoroughly enjoyed every excursion I took on the Twitter trip sponsored by Princess Cruises, but I think that the glacier helicopter landing may have been my favorite. This was only time I EVER got to check two adventures off my Bucket List in the same day! (ride in a helicopter and walk on a glacier).

Hopefully this video will give you a little feel for the awesomeness of this adventure!

We took off from a helipad located just across the river from the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge. The flight was much smoother than I had anticipated. The Beaver plane that we took to the summit of Mt. McKinley flew over the range of mountains. On the helicopter, we got to fly in between the mountains. It was amazing to watch as the landscape below us changed from green hills to snow covered mountains.

I took a piece of the glacier for a souvenir but I couldn't seem to find it when I got back to the lodge.
Good thing I got this picture:)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Moose, Drugs and Toilets

Our third day in Alaska began with a bus ride deep into the Denali National Forest.  Our guides were very informative as they explained the terrain and vegetation growing on the permafrost.

Before we got off the bus, we were instructed what to do if we encountered dangerous wildlife.  In a nutshell, you’re supposed to talk to a bear and run from a moose.  It's impossible to out run a bear, so it's best to just try to rationalize with him - just don't look him in the eye. You can't really outrun a moose either, but they have a wide turning radius and if you zig zag around trees and whatnot, you stand a pretty good chance of getting away.

Our guides seem particularly proud of the park’s SST’s  (Sweet Smelling Toilets) which employ some of the latest and greatest toilet technology on earth to maintain a virtually odor free restroom experience. Naturally, since I was walking around with a video camera, I had to get some footage of this modern marvel in the Alaskan wilderness

We learned of the many uses for some of the plants growing wild in the park - plants used for salads, tooth paste, dish soap, hallucinogens and laxatives grew in abundance as did plants to make Vallium, and Absinthe. I'm reluctant to identify which plant are used for which purpose, lest some of my frog-licking and mushroom-eating type friends rape the Alaskan landscape of it's vegetation.

At the turn around point we were treated to stories from an Athabascan guide who interrupted his presentation to chastise me for video taping him. I was actually just gettin’ a shot of the crowd watching him. After his presentation I apologized to him and he explained that someone had once video taped him and put it on youtube and called him an Eskimo. I think Eskimos are cool (literally!), but this guy is rightfully proud of his Athabascan heritage and found it offensive.

It's a long standing Alaskan tourists tradition that if you saw a moose at some point during the day, you have to take a shot of a drink called a "Duck Fart" and flash the international sign for "I saw a moose today."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I Have Been to the Mountaintop!

I've always wanted to go to the summit of Mt. Mckinley. Thanks to an invitation by Princess Cruises to participate in a Twitter Press trip to Alaska, I got to check another item off my bucket list! Shortly after we settled into the Denali Princess Lodge, we took a short ride to the airfield where several of the Twitteratti and our escorts from Princess Cruises hopped on a 1966 Beaver Plane and headed towards the summit!

Here we are pictured with Canada's Adventure Couple, the famous Dave & Deb, along with Karen, Nicole, and Guy (from Princess Cruises) and of course our pilot, Jim Andie (we kinda needed him.)

Sure, Mt. Everest is the highest point on earth, but the  Mount McKinley's vertical rise is nearly 6000 feet higher than Mount Everest from base to summit (Everest sits on the Tibetan Plateau which is17,000 feet above sea level to begin with)

For most of the flight everyone was quiet, taking in the beauty of the scenery. It was almost a spiritual experience.

At one point it looked as though we were going to fly right into the mountain. Someone asked the pilot, "shouldn't you like be turning or something about now?"  The pilot replied "Naw, we're still about five miles away."

After we landed, I got to interview Jim Andie, a man who has traveled all over the world and is living his bucket list.  When asked where he'd like to go, Jim said, "anywhere I haven't been."  Man,  I LOVE that!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Destination Denali

Day two of the Twitter trip sponsored by Princess Cruises began with a train ride from Fairbanks to Denali. After a wonderful breakfast aboard the train, we adjourned upstairs in the glass covered rail car where we took in the breathtaking scenery. The reindeer sausage and salmon breakfast burrito were yummy!

Our tour guides were incredibly knowledgeable of Alaskan history and geography. They always seemed to know exactly where we were as they give us notice of various photo opportunities in advance.  These are just a fraction of the photos I took on the 4 hour trip that didn't nearly seem that long.

  We saw a HUGE beaver dam, lots of cool looking bridges, rafters on the river and of course snow capped mountains as we wound our way across miles of perma-frost tundra, mountains, hills and canyons.
The ever changing scenery, good food, informative guides and clean restrooms made this a terrific way to experience Alaska. I'm now adding a train rides across the USA and Europe to my Bucket List!