Puffins Amongst the Scenery

Puffins Amongst the Scenery

Puffins Amongst the Scenery

By Kai Rambow

 

“Heading up to see the puffins, are you?” asked the construction worker.  She continued with a strong Newfoundland accent, “I’ve lived all my 61 years in this bay area, never knew about the puffins.  I kept wondering why all these people were coming out here.  I’ve never seen them myself.  Finally going with my boyfriend on Sunday.”

A simple question about directions turned into a funny conversation.  People are the best part of travel in Newfoundland.  While they are proud of their rich traditions, they are incredible welcoming, warm and helpful.

 

Puffins at Elliston

There are a few species of birds that generate excitement even with non-birders.  Atlantic puffins are one of them.  Even when they are just standing around, they look cute.

Puffins come ashore for a few months to breed before returning to the ocean.  Elliston is one of the few locations worldwide with relatively easy access for viewing.  The puffins apparently can be approached very closely here, although they did not the day we visited.  It was still enthralling to watch them.

Close by are traditional root cellars used to store food.  Park your car, check out the cellars, then take a short walk to see the puffins.  There are no charges to see the cellars or puffins.  After watching the puffins there are cafes and gift shops nearby.

 

Bonavista

Ten minutes away from Elliston is Bonavista.  This town of 3,400 is a relaxing place to have a bite, poke around and even stay overnight.

Drive to the lighthouse at the tip of Cape Bonavista.  You’ll see more puffins and even whales in the surrounding waters.  As you head back to Bonavista, stop at Dungeon Provincial Park.  It’s a short, scenic drive.  Rocky shores with clear waters dominate the views throughout the island.  As you drive through Newfoundland, you’ll clearly see how it earned its nickname, “the Rock.”

 

Tips for a Great Trip

Stop for Gas:  There are sizeable stretches of road, even on the Trans-Canada highway, without facilities or gas stations.  Any time there is a stop with gas/facilities, take advantage of it.  We stopped for gas and food at the Tim Horton’s in Clarenville, and topped the tank again in Bonavista. 

Drive Times and Stays:  It will take about 3 hours 30 minutes from St. John’s to Bonavista.  For a more relaxed pace, you might want to stay overnight here.  Remember Bonavista is a small town with a limited number of sleeping accommodations.  Be sure to book in advance.  The drive from Bonavista to the next recommended stop Gander is 2 hours 45 minutes.

If you have a tighter schedule and are more energetic, you can leave St. John’s, drive to Bonavista, do activities and still reach Gander comfortably.  In the summer, the sun rises around 5:30 a.m. and sets around 8:45 p.m.  You’ll have plenty of daylight on good roads.

SCC and KP Amateur Radio Clubs

SCC and KP Amateur Radio ClubsReady to Help in a Community EmergencyBy Paula Lickfeldt Five days a week, Monday through Friday you can find members of the Sun City Center Amateur Radio Club in their "club room," which is in the hurricane resistant...

Bob’s Vets

Bob’s VetsA Breakfast Get Together for All Veterans, Their Spouses and Their FriendsBy Diane M. Loeffler Thursday mornings are special for veterans who are within driving distance of the Ruskin Bob Evans restaurant. A large area is set aside for veterans...

Veterans Pay Tribute to Departed Comrades

Veterans Pay Tribute to Departed Comrades By Frank Kepley, CAPT USN (Ret.), News Military Correspondent   The Military Veterans Organization of Sun City Center sponsored a Memorial Day Tribute to deceased veterans on Monday Morning at 10 a.m. at the...

Celebrating Independence Together

Celebrating Independence TogetherBy E. Adam Porter The first week in July, every year, my extended family gathers at the beach in my hometown for a weeklong reunion. It’s a wonderful, relaxing time of sharing life together, filled with the familiar aromas...

The July NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… SCC honors its veterans, especially those comrades we lost in the past year. We get to know Bob’s Vets, meet the Pickleball players who did SCC proud in international competition, and hang out with puffins in Newfoundland. Find...

Back 2 School Supply Drive

Back 2 School Supply Drive The Boys and Girls Club needs your help!   Supplies Needed Black pens, blue pens, red pens, blunt-tip scissors, bottled glue, glue sticks, colored pencils, disinfectant wipes, dry erase markers, erasers, hand sanitizer,...

Plan to Travel? Read This First      

Plan to Travel? Read This First      

Whether you are a snowbird or a year-round resident, you will probably travel away from your Florida home at some time. Of course, you want to make sure that you, your belongings, and your home are safe during your travels. Recently, a travel consultant offered several important travel safety tips we should all consider before our next trip.

Keeping your home safe while you are gone is the first step. Even if you stop the paper and mail, you should have a neighbor or nearby friend who will keep an eye on your home and pick up any papers or items that are delivered despite your best efforts. Make sure your doors are locked. Pay special attention to sliding doors. You may wish to put something along the bottom track so that the doors cannot slide.

Before you go, contact your credit card company and bank to let them know when you will be gone and where you will be going.

You should also have your doctor’s information with you. If you have a medical condition, make sure you have a letter from your doctor stating you are under medication, especially when traveling abroad.

If you are renting a car, make sure there are no scratches or dents before you leave the parking lot and to take photos of any that already exist… and learn how to operate all equipment of a rental car before leaving the lot.

You may wish to bring along a night light if you are going on a cruise or staying in a motel room. You should also disinfect frequently touched items such as TV remote controls.

Hotels never have employees show up unannounced at your room. If someone knocks on your door, call the front desk before opening the door. Hotel employees will never request credit card or personal information over the phone while you are there.

If you are traveling by plane, consider TSA pre-check. You may also wish to make paper copies of these documents, one to take with you and another to leave with a trusted neighbor or friend. Before you leave, make a list of all of the items in your checked luggage or take a photo of the contents. Use a ribbon, unusual luggage tag or other unique marking of some sort to make sure that no one mistakes your bag for theirs.

When you are at a new location, try not to broadcast that you are a tourist. Looking at maps and wearing baseball hats and tee shirts might make it easier for would-be thieves to identify you as a potential target. It is safer for men to carry their wallets in their front pockets and women to carry a cross-body purse.

SCC and KP Amateur Radio Clubs

SCC and KP Amateur Radio ClubsReady to Help in a Community EmergencyBy Paula Lickfeldt Five days a week, Monday through Friday you can find members of the Sun City Center Amateur Radio Club in their "club room," which is in the hurricane resistant...

Bob’s Vets

Bob’s VetsA Breakfast Get Together for All Veterans, Their Spouses and Their FriendsBy Diane M. Loeffler Thursday mornings are special for veterans who are within driving distance of the Ruskin Bob Evans restaurant. A large area is set aside for veterans...

Veterans Pay Tribute to Departed Comrades

Veterans Pay Tribute to Departed Comrades By Frank Kepley, CAPT USN (Ret.), News Military Correspondent   The Military Veterans Organization of Sun City Center sponsored a Memorial Day Tribute to deceased veterans on Monday Morning at 10 a.m. at the...

Celebrating Independence Together

Celebrating Independence TogetherBy E. Adam Porter The first week in July, every year, my extended family gathers at the beach in my hometown for a weeklong reunion. It’s a wonderful, relaxing time of sharing life together, filled with the familiar aromas...

The July NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… SCC honors its veterans, especially those comrades we lost in the past year. We get to know Bob’s Vets, meet the Pickleball players who did SCC proud in international competition, and hang out with puffins in Newfoundland. Find...

Back 2 School Supply Drive

Back 2 School Supply Drive The Boys and Girls Club needs your help!   Supplies Needed Black pens, blue pens, red pens, blunt-tip scissors, bottled glue, glue sticks, colored pencils, disinfectant wipes, dry erase markers, erasers, hand sanitizer,...

Floating by Fabulous Chicago Buildings

Floating by Fabulous Chicago Buildings

Floating by Fabulous Chicago Buildings

By Kai Rambow

 

The Jewelers’ Building, completed in 1927 and facing the Chicago River, has a distinct look that grabs your attention.  Behind the unique look is an interesting story.  For many years, one elevator transported cars to the first 23 floors, enabling jewelers to safely transfer and transport their valuable merchandise.

The only way to discover this is on an architectural tour.  The best part: you can do this seated comfortably on a large boat with great views. Chicago is considered to be one of the world’s best cities for architecture with a terrific mix of different styles.

JJ, our narrator, provided enthused commentary to help us understand what we were seeing.  Here are a few sneak peeks at what you can expect to discover during a tour.

The Overlooked Streets

You’ll never think about it walking around Chicago, but the streets aren’t actually at “street level.”  When you’re on the boat you’ll repeatedly cross under bridges, which of course, are raised above the river level.  Look more closely, and you’ll notice pedestrians just keep walking at the same level with no ups or downs, but above the water level.  This raised level constitutes street level.

 

The Pencil Building

At the top of this building, which is thinner at the base than at the top, there are 12 water tanks, spring loaded with dampeners.  When the wind blows from one direction, the water automatically shifts and pushes back to counteract the forces.

 

333 West Wacker

Even modern buildings in Chicago are evocative.  Built in 1983, and featured in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the contextual design is fabulous.  Using the location as an inspiration for form, the building is inspired by the green of the river and the curve of the river. The glass panes are green to maximize the reflection.

This is a very enjoyable way to explore Chicago. Unlike a bus tour, everyone has great views throughout the trip. In addition to having a comfortable ride while learning, the boat has snacks and alcoholic drinks available.

 

Sleep Historically

No, you don’t have to sleep on a straw mattress, but in a historic building turned into a hotel.  The Chicago Motor Club opened in 1929.  It’s considered to be one of Chicago’s best Art Deco skyscrapers.  In 2015, it was turned into a Hampton Inn with many of the original Art Deco touches put back in place.

If you love architecture, this is a cool step back in time with modern amenities. You can often snag a really good rate and it’s one short block from the river.

 

Tips for a Great Trip

Weather: Since you’re exposed to the weather elements, check the forecast to ensure a great trip.  Take water to stay hydrated. You may need sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat if it’s sunny.

Location: Whether you’re staying in Chicago, or commuting in for a day trip, boat tours depart from an easy to reach location near the Wrigley building. Give yourself a little extra time to find the ticket booth and get down to boat.

Apple Store: Be sure to check out the new Apple store right near the dock. Built right into the side of river, it has its own smart design.

Architecture River Tours

Shoreline Sightseeing

(312) 222-9328

www.shorelinesightseeing.com

Hampton Inn Chicago Downtown

North Loop / Michigan Ave

68 E Wacker Place

Chicago, IL  606001

(312) 419-9014

SCC and KP Amateur Radio Clubs

SCC and KP Amateur Radio ClubsReady to Help in a Community EmergencyBy Paula Lickfeldt Five days a week, Monday through Friday you can find members of the Sun City Center Amateur Radio Club in their "club room," which is in the hurricane resistant...

Bob’s Vets

Bob’s VetsA Breakfast Get Together for All Veterans, Their Spouses and Their FriendsBy Diane M. Loeffler Thursday mornings are special for veterans who are within driving distance of the Ruskin Bob Evans restaurant. A large area is set aside for veterans...

Veterans Pay Tribute to Departed Comrades

Veterans Pay Tribute to Departed Comrades By Frank Kepley, CAPT USN (Ret.), News Military Correspondent   The Military Veterans Organization of Sun City Center sponsored a Memorial Day Tribute to deceased veterans on Monday Morning at 10 a.m. at the...

Celebrating Independence Together

Celebrating Independence TogetherBy E. Adam Porter The first week in July, every year, my extended family gathers at the beach in my hometown for a weeklong reunion. It’s a wonderful, relaxing time of sharing life together, filled with the familiar aromas...

The July NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… SCC honors its veterans, especially those comrades we lost in the past year. We get to know Bob’s Vets, meet the Pickleball players who did SCC proud in international competition, and hang out with puffins in Newfoundland. Find...

Back 2 School Supply Drive

Back 2 School Supply Drive The Boys and Girls Club needs your help!   Supplies Needed Black pens, blue pens, red pens, blunt-tip scissors, bottled glue, glue sticks, colored pencils, disinfectant wipes, dry erase markers, erasers, hand sanitizer,...

Fascinating Havana

Fascinating Havana

Fascinating Havana

By Kai Rambow

 

Licking a delicious mojito sorbet was just one of many contrasts that make Havana fascinating.  We were snacking at a private ice cream shop, thanks to our tour guide.  To really discover Cuba, learn the story behind the story – it’s fascinating.

Havana is much more than old cars.  Despite major challenges in getting parts and supplies, many classic cars are in beautiful condition.  If all the historic buildings were restored, people all over the world would be flocking to visit Havana.

The contrast between restored buildings and dilapidated buildings next door is stark. After the revolution, people were allowed to keep two properties: one in the city and one in the country.  The rest were confiscated by the state.

One property in the city did not mean an entire building. For example, one home, a three-story building would be divided into three apartments.  Just divided: no additions (think communal bathrooms), no upgrades – nothing, just divided spaces.

Some families would have money for maintenance, others would not, resulting in no maintenance being done at all. It’s ironic that in a socialist system, no HOA and no collective maintenance exists. The result: run-down buildings, many of which require major restoration work.

Socialism vs Capitalism 

There is an absolutely fascinating system in place for small businesses.  There are restaurants throughout Havana. Getting reliable supplies is a challenge. A restaurant may have a menu, but if short on supplies they will simply inform you an item is not available that day.

When the Cuban government allowed some private enterprise, they set things up to the state’s advantage. The state actually owns and operates restaurants at a competitive advantage. State run restaurants are able to buy wholesale and set up in prime locations. Private restaurants must buy supplies at retail prices from state run grocery stores. They cannot even get a discount based on volume. The last challenge: the state-run restaurants pay no taxes; private restaurants pay hefty taxes. Here’s the great news: despite these obstacles, private restaurants are flourishing.

How can you spot the difference? A restaurant in a great corner location, offering comfort food, such as pizza is government owned and operated. A restaurant on a side street with mostly locals will probably be private.

My mojito sorbet was a first-rate product in a little private ice cream shop. Want to really help Cubans?  Let your guide know that you know the difference, and ask for a really good private restaurant.

 

Cuba Again?

This first trip to Cuba was enlightening. The obvious is hundreds of years of history, deep cultural roots and tasty food. Add in being more beautiful than imagined, more fascinating than thought possible with wonderful people and I would not only recommend a cruise here, but will take the opportunity to revisit in the future.

 

Tips for a Great Trip

Invest in Private Tour: In Havana you have three options: Take a cruise ship excursion;  use the hop-on-hop-off bus tour; or hire a private guide.  Havana is a 500-year-old city with narrow streets; a bus tour will drive past major sites.  If you really want to learn about Havana and Cuban life, a private guide is worth the investment.  Develop rapport, ask great questions and gain insights you simply can’t with the other options.

Our private tour involved walking large sections of Old Havana and included two hours touring in a classic convertible. Tip: Maybe you need a stop for a quick bite, but leave any shopping until after your tour.

Booked with Cubaoutings Tours. Payment was in CUCs upon conclusion of tour. Note: Even with tips, this was less expensive than the cruise ship shore excursions.

Water and Snacks: Be sure to take water, you’ll need it. Cuban authorities will let you take water, if they are in unopened bottles.  Snacks, also in sealed packages, are permitted as well.  Both can be helpful.  The walking is not strenuous, but covers quite a bit of ground.  If temperatures are hot, you’ll need the water and snacks.

Special thanks to Jayne Kirse and Teresa Olson at Sun City Center Travelworld, for their invaluable assistance.

 

Cubaoutings Tours Company

www.cubaoutings.com

Helad’oro La Habana

(ice cream / sorbet)

Calle Aguiar No. 206e

Empedrado y Tejadillo

La Habana Vieja

Tel: 56236942

 

SCC and KP Amateur Radio Clubs

SCC and KP Amateur Radio ClubsReady to Help in a Community EmergencyBy Paula Lickfeldt Five days a week, Monday through Friday you can find members of the Sun City Center Amateur Radio Club in their "club room," which is in the hurricane resistant...

Bob’s Vets

Bob’s VetsA Breakfast Get Together for All Veterans, Their Spouses and Their FriendsBy Diane M. Loeffler Thursday mornings are special for veterans who are within driving distance of the Ruskin Bob Evans restaurant. A large area is set aside for veterans...

Veterans Pay Tribute to Departed Comrades

Veterans Pay Tribute to Departed Comrades By Frank Kepley, CAPT USN (Ret.), News Military Correspondent   The Military Veterans Organization of Sun City Center sponsored a Memorial Day Tribute to deceased veterans on Monday Morning at 10 a.m. at the...

Celebrating Independence Together

Celebrating Independence TogetherBy E. Adam Porter The first week in July, every year, my extended family gathers at the beach in my hometown for a weeklong reunion. It’s a wonderful, relaxing time of sharing life together, filled with the familiar aromas...

The July NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… SCC honors its veterans, especially those comrades we lost in the past year. We get to know Bob’s Vets, meet the Pickleball players who did SCC proud in international competition, and hang out with puffins in Newfoundland. Find...

Back 2 School Supply Drive

Back 2 School Supply Drive The Boys and Girls Club needs your help!   Supplies Needed Black pens, blue pens, red pens, blunt-tip scissors, bottled glue, glue sticks, colored pencils, disinfectant wipes, dry erase markers, erasers, hand sanitizer,...

This is Cuba? – See More, Experience More

This is Cuba? – See More, Experience More

This is Cuba? – See More, Experience More

By Kai Rambow

 

The wind whispering through the trees. Water rippling, cascading down the mountain. This is Cuba? It is – if you venture beyond the cities. We opted to explore one of Cuba’s national parks, El Nico.

El Nico showcases Cuba’s natural beauty with a surprising variety of waterfalls and wonderful views.  This tour is not for everyone.  It involved hiking up very steep inclines and slippery conditions, even in some dry places.  If you have the physical ability, it is rewarding.  In an attempt to get a photo, I ended up in the water.  Camera landed safely in a dry spot; I was completely wet and still had a great time.

Note: There are other easier, great tour options to colonial Trinidad or in Cienfuegos itself.

Mention Cuba and people think of Havana. However, there is much more. It’s easy to forget that Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, seventeenth largest in the world and longer than Florida.

Passing through non-tourist towns and the countryside provided a glimpse into more of Cuba.  For example, as we passed through one town we noticed several taxis that were horse drawn carriages. There are 12 million people in Cuba, but only 2 million cars. There is a bus system, but hiring a private car, bicycling or walking are common options. This was much more noticeable driving through the countryside than it was in the city.

Having the opportunity to see beyond the historic sites and experience the natural beauty of Cuba was a captivating adventure.

 

Tips for a Great Trip

Take a Cruise: The easiest way to visit Cuba is by cruise ship. One very adventurous passenger had done a land trip staying at B&Bs. The B&Bs had no air conditioning and communal bathrooms. After sightseeing all day, returning to creature comforts on your ship is probably a preferable travel option.

Cruise options now range from just a few days stopping only in Havana to eight day cruises with three stops in Cuba. One consideration: in some stops tenders are used to transport passengers ashore.

Pack Patience: If you’ve cruised before, you may be used to simply walking off the ship. Every port in Cuba required us to clear customs. This takes some time, so you will need to be patient.

Work with a Travel Agent: Traveling to Cuba is new, and there are several questions you’ll have. For example, when experiencing difficulty booking this excursion, our agent directed us to an alternative.

Cruise Tours vs. Private Tours: Cuban tour companies have adapted quickly to meet American preferences. They now use modern buses complete with air conditioning and a toilet on board.

Private tour companies often use air conditioned cars with a driver and tour guide. This is a more intimate experience, and can be customized to meet your interests. The key on a private tour is to ask good questions about daily life to learn more about Cuba.

Visas: One advantage of cruising is your visa can be easily processed by the cruise line. They’ll provide you with the paperwork and charge the fee to your onboard account.

Money: US dollars are not accepted in Cuba. After clearing customs, there are money exchangers. The rate is fixed and you will be given Cuban convertible pesos or CUCs (CUC$).  These are different than currency used by Cubans. CUCs have pictures of famous monuments or buildings. Local currency has pictures of famous people. Be sure to check you have received the right currency. Tip: Attend the briefing on board ship to know what to expect.

Shore Excursions: Recommend booking well in advance. Was too late booking, so booked private tour with Caribbean Pearl Tours. Tour was paid in advance through website. Only needed CUCs for snacks and tips.

Special thanks to Jayne Kirse, Manager at Sun City Center Travelworld, for her invaluable assistance.

 

Caribbean Pearl Tours

www.caribbeanpearltours.com

Indulge in the South Pacific at Selby Gardens

Indulge in the South Pacific at Selby Gardens

Indulge in the South Pacific at Selby Gardens

By Kai Rambow

 

Your sensory adventure to the South Pacific starts the moment you arrive.  Tikis, tapa cloth and a bamboo ceiling greet visitors at the entrance.  The primitive symbols are an inviting introduction celebrating Selby Gardens’ interdisciplinary exhibit featuring Gauguin.  Lovely surprises await, including seldom seen prints by Gauguin.

Displays are deceivingly simple in appearance; masterfully complex in design.  In the conservatory, dug-out canoes are symbolic of the main transportation for islanders in Tahiti and the Marquesas.  These canoes hold beautiful, tropical flowers and plants – and are the conduit for a waterfall.  If you look at this from different vantage points and distances, you’ll experience the same waterfall a few different ways.

Farther along you’ll spot red plants in a circle.  Use your imagination a little and you’ll see it represents a fire pit.  A giant tiki towards the end gives a different impression depending on where you stand.  Have fun looking at everything in the conservatory from different vantage points.

 

The Gardens

A garden map with tiki symbols will help you locate all the Gauguin related displays.  Some are immediately obvious; others require a little more observation.  The koi pond, one of the most serene places at Selby, at first looks the same but has a sizable canoe with flowers.

The fishing village looks like you’re in the South Pacific.  This iconic display was completely transformed with coconut trees and sugar-white sand.  Take your picture here and tell all your friends you’ve travelled to Tahiti.

 

Gauguin’s Prints

Gauguin paintings are rarely seen in a collective exhibition.  Owners are very reluctant to loan their work(s).  Selby Gardens has managed to pull together a dozen prints by Gauguin.

Sometimes sketches or prints feel like a semi-finished work.  Not so with Gauguin’s prints; many are as evocative as his paintings.  Take some time to really look at each print; spend more time with those that resonate with you.  You’ll find these at the Payne Mansion.

Selby Gardens has once again created an exhibit that is both thoughtful and fun.  Remember good walking shoes, sunscreen, sunglasses and your camera.  Gauguin runs until June 30.  Open 10 to 5 daily.  Plan on arriving early to get a parking spot and walk the grounds in good temperatures.

Michael’s on East has once again created a tasty menu inspired by Gauguin’s life and work.  The Café and a food truck have different selections, so you might want to check both menus before deciding where to refuel.

 

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

900 South Palm Avenue

Sarasota, Florida

(941) 366-5731

www.selby.org