Saturday, May 26, 2007

Kitesurfing : Day 4/5

Due to loads of work and lots of other stuff going on at the minute, its one of those times where there is no "leisure" time. Not ideal.

Yesterday we managed to spend part of the afternoon at Benone, getting the kitesurfing kites out again to do some static flying. The wind was strong and steady, giving good practice time. I really think I should have had the 12m instead of the 8m, but the 8 was going well.
Today we headed back to the beach, but the wind wasn't just as steady, or strong, and I think the 8m was really too small - it didn't fly well at all. And then the rain came on. Good thing we've got a reasonable length of washing line :)
It is still going to take a few more outings before it'll be time to take to the water!!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

White Park Bay in a storm

Tonight we tried to organise a coastal walk for the "young adults" of the church. Unfortunately only a few of the committee types turned up, but we still went ahead anyway, and it turned out great.

We were about 15 minutes late of getting started, which meant we missed a huge rain shower before we started out from White Park Bay. The waves were massive, most rolling up close to the sandhills, so we had to dodge them!

We proceeded around the coast, enjoying the stormy sea, and the wind in our backs, until we arrived safely at Ballintoy Harbour, where another car, and a hot flask was waiting for us. As we arrived the rain came on, and again persisted for some time, so we took cover in a small shed and had a wee cup of tea.

Overall what could have been a wet and miserable evening turned out to be one of the best walks I've had in a long time!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Shopping, and then off

Great. So, imagine you have one morning left in Orlando, what could you fit in? Maybe a quick tour? Maybe another drive? Maybe just go early to the airport and sit for hours waiting on your plane?

All of these options sound tempting, but I chose another, I chose to go shopping. I had promised several non-specific presents to several members of my household, and so I spent the morning shopping for these gifts.

After walking around the entire Florida Mall twice, I had managed to load my credit card sufficient, and it was time to leave for the airport. Got the car filled, and returned to what seemed like the busiest rental return facility in the world.

After that I managed to bypass the American Airlines waiting lines, which seemed to be longest waiting lines in the world, to my Continental check in, where there was one person ahead of me.

After getting my boarding pass I proceeded to walk around the airport passing the 2 hour wait (walking round more shops ;) I really wouldn't like to do this a lot. Once in a while is fine.
The flight to Newark was on time, and we arrived into the airport as the sun was setting.
Parts of the ride home were very bumpy, I woke at one stage, thinking we were landing, but we were still at 35000 ft.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Friday Adventure

Today was the last day of work, meetings booked for the morning and afternoon. Fortunately the host decided that he would prefer if we squeezed everything into the morning, so we stretched the morning session a little, meaning I was on my way by 1pm.

I had decided that if I got away early rather than driving directly to Orlando I would take a detour through the country, maybe through part of the Everglades.

So after work I headed West, into the country, nowhere particular in mind, just going West before turning North to avoid the huge roads. On the outskirts of the urban area driving through the edge of the Everglades I stumbled on a small outfit that does Air boat tours, and I went in to see if they were open. To my surprise I was told the next tour was in twenty minutes, so I booked my $20 seat.

The air boat set off, engines roaring, into the middle of nowhere, and after a few minutes we came to a stop and were told to look in a particular direction. After a few moments I spotted what we were supposed to be looking at - an alligator! It was about 9ft long, right by the boat, pretty cool, to be honest this is exactly what I was after for my "tourist" experience.

After that tour, I headed North through the smaller roads of the country. It was about 93 degrees (about 34 in Celsius) thankfully the air-con was working 100%, but that blistering temperature dropped quickly when clouds filled the sky, and the sky started to empty. It was one of the coolest storms I've seen for some time, rain so thick the wipers were no good, massive, clear fork lightening straight in front, and flooded roads.

This persisted for many miles, I was wondering if I would see rain in Orlando too, but all of a sudden the sky brightened, the road was dry instantly as I came out of the other side of the storm.

I made my way on up through the small roads and small towns, around Lake Okeechobee, before joining the turnpike toll road again at Cypress Creek.

The remaining hundred or so miles went by relatively quickly, bringing me to check in at the hotel at about 8pm, as predicted by my GPS system.

In the evening I decided to see if I could see any of the local features quickly and cheaply, so I took a drive, and ended up in the car park for Universal Studios' "City Walk" - which is a "City" - more like a normal town with a great pedestrian area. Ironically this manufactured "town" was the place that felt most normal to me, looked like a real town, albeit relatively small.

Pretty cool place, 10pm and still roasting, outdoor concert and hiving with people. It was a pretty cool experience. Then it was back to the hotel room where I caught up with the latest episode of 'Lost' using the online viewing service I am normally barred from because of my non-USA ip address.

All-in-all a great day!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Coastal Drive

Living near the coast I tend to have a fascination with all things coastal, and I like to see stuff, whatever "stuff" is. When I heard I was travelling to Florida I realised that the prospect of getting to see a lot of "stuff" was slim. Today was a busy day at work, between visiting sites, and working in the hotel room where I have real internet connectivity.

From about 7:30 tonight I took the chance to have a drive around the coastal area, I only had time for a short drive, as I had some work to get through, but it was good to get a quick tour.

The inland area is highly urbanised, you would hardly know you were ten minutes from hundreds of miles of beach. Tonight I headed East, just aiming my GPS randomly at the coast to get somewhere, and then I drove North along the shoreline.
Got a couple of pictures, not that great, it was a little too dark, and I have no stand.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I'm surrounded by Disney

This morning when I woke up in my 17th floor hotel room, in Orlando, I got to see just what was outside. From my room I could see the rides in a part of the Disney "World". (you can just about see them in the picture if you squint! - see the hotel here: and scroll left for the huge Disney carparks, then the center).

I put World in inverted commas because, while it's not quite a "World" it's not far off it! I had to check out of my hotel today a couple of hours before my first meeting, so as well as grabbing lunch I decided to go for a drive. I aimed to go slightly out into the countryside, but managed to find myself rounding the edge of Disney world. It is absolutely huge, you can drive for miles (like 10's of miles) around it, taking various exits off the Disney branded freeway into the various attractions.

The sheer scale would kind of put me off ever really going.

Had to drive back down to Boca Raton tonight, and did it all in one go this time, that's a long drive :(

On the upside, there was another cool sunset before I left :)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A long drive

Today was the first day at work in Boca Raton, and we decided that tomorrow we would meet in the facility in Orlando.

This is a fairly straightforward journey, with only a little complexity at either end, the middle part being all on one road. When I got onto that one road, my sat nav told me in its best American accent : "Continue for one hundred eighty two miles"

When I got less than 1/3 of that distance I decided it was time for a detour, so I headed out to Jensen Beach, which took me through some great Florida scenary. It is generally very urbanised, but in a strange way, that it's all flat, with a lot of waterways. See my detour here :

I also got to catch a nice sunset on the way.

P.S. It isn't nearly as nice as this everywhere, I did a lot of miles to see these nice sights. More often its just cars and buildings.