Trop-Rockin’ with Balmy Palms

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Balmy, breezy palms are my photo obsession.

You don’t have to read very many of my posts to figure out what an island girl I am.  I mean, really, I named my blog “Somewhere in the Sand.”  How much more of a clue do you need? Give me a swaying hammock, a shady palm tree and some nice, soft sand beneath my (bare) feet and I’m all set.

You’ll probably also notice what a big Jimmy Buffett fan I am (islands … Buffett … palm trees and soft sand … I’m noticing a pattern here).  The sound of steel drums and island tunes is, well, music to my ears.

Besides being a writer and promoter of prose, I’ve always had a secret desire to be a songwriter…not necessarily a singer, per se.  I’ve been told by my wise nine-year-old that I was not “made for singing” so we will just leave it at that.  But the writing, now that would interest me.

That brings me to the topic of this post (you’ll also notice I can be a bit long-winded…).  I just received a very cool press release from the tropical lifestyle brand Balmy Palms.  If you’ve never heard of them, you should really check them out.  They’re right here on the good old world wide web-o-sphere at BalmyPalms.com.

The "pop of trop rock" Jimmy Buffett - Jiffy Lube Live, Bristow, Virginia, 2010

The “pop of trop rock” Jimmy Buffett – Jiffy Lube Live, Bristow, Virginia, 2010

The fine folks at Balmy Palms are on the search for an original trop-rock song to represent the brand on its website, radio and other media outlets.  Balmy Palms is inviting up-and-coming singers/songwriters to submit an original song for consideration.  The ideal song will give off the laid-back image of a stress-free island lifestyle as well as the company’s tagline “No worries, no qualms … just Balmy Palms.”  They want to put listeners into a “Balmy Palms state of mind.”  Hey, I like that philosophy.

With roots in the ‘60s, trop rock, or tropical rock, is a blend of country, Caribbean, reggae and rock with the use of island instruments and tropical themes.  Jimmy Buffett, Jack Johnson, the Zac Brown Band and Kenny Chesney (all favorites of mine) are a few of the big-time trop rock crossover artists.  Buffett is often called the “pop of trop rock.”  Other trop rock singers/songwriters include John Frinzi, Sunny Jim White, Dave McKenney and Keith Sykes, as well as the Jimmy Buffett tribute band, A1A.

The selected song will receive airplay on the trop rock internet radio station, BeachFront Radio.  BeachFront Radio has won the number one “Trop Rock Station of the Year” title several times at the annual Trop Rock Music Awards.  I have recently started listening to BeachFront Radio and it is quite good.  I go back and forth between it and Radio Margaritaville.

In addition to radio play, the artist of the winning song will receive $400 and select Balmy Palms apparel.  They will also receive publicity by way of the Balmy Palms website and press releases.

Balmy Palms plans to enlist the public’s help in the song selection process (Yippeee!), but the final selection will be made by the staff at Stratosphere Media Group, along with input from the DJs at BeachFront Radio.  Even if a song is not selected, this is an excellent opportunity for exposure (radio exposure that is, not…other kinds of exposure), as all of the songs will be listened to and considered for eligibility.

Kara Benson, Balmy Palms Marketing Director, says

“This is a great opportunity for an aspiring musician to receive valuable publicity for his/her talents.”

All music and lyrics must be original as well as written and performed by the submitting artist.  Songs must be submitted in an MP3 audio file format, and be ready for radio play.  The date for songs to be submitted in the Balmy Palms songwriting contest is June 30, 2013.  Submissions can be made at BalmyPalms.com.

Please visit BalmyPalms.com for a complete list of rules and regulations.  I wouldn’t want to waste any virtual ink by posting them all here since you have to hop on over there anyway.

So, all of you talented trop rockers out there, pull out those steel drums, congas and marimbas and get the inspiration rolling.  I’m expecting some great things.

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Photo: Balmy Palms

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Happy Wholidays from Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Seuss Landing is easily the most festively decorated spot in all of the Universe (Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida, that is).  Sure, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is always snow-covered and stocked with snowmen and steam engines, but all of the greenery and red-trimmed wreaths just add a special sparkle to the Seussical air of Seuss Landing.

The Grinchmas Wholiday Spectacular at Islands of Adventure is a magical journey of music by Mannheim Steamroller, singing and dancing courtesy of the Whos of Whoville, and gallons of  Grinchy-ness that should not be missed.  I have to admit that I am not generally one for shows – I like to get right to the ride action – however, I’m grinchishly glad I made time for this one.  Yes, there will be a lot of “Grinchisms” sprinkled throughout this post.  It’s just fun.

As you enter Seuss Landing, this is the scene you will see.  Bear to the right and get in line for the Grinchmas Wholiday Spectacular, featuring everybody’s favorite green-skinned grouch and a whole bunch of happy Whos.

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Seuss Landing in all of its festive finery.

As I’m sure you already know the story, I’ll let you experience the show through the following photos.

The Whos.

The Whos.

The Whos.

The Whos.

The Whos.

The Whos.

The Grinch.

The Grinch.

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Enter Cindy-Lou Who.

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Peek-a-boo Mr. Who.

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The Grinch looks down on the Whos of Who-Ville.

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Mr. Grinch

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Mr. Grinch.

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…and the Grinch thought up a lie…

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Mr. Grinch

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…and the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes that day.

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Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.

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Happy Wholidays!

And, yes, Max is a real dog.

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The Whos.

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Merry Grinchmas!

And we, we ourselves, got to meet the grouchy, green one himself.  F.Y.I., this Grinch is very much in character.  Think Jim Carrey.  This was the funniest meet-n-greet I’ve ever had.

Everybody is a Who in Seuss Landing.

Meeting and greeting the Grinch. Everybody is a Who in Seuss Landing.

More Seussical scenes.

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Seuss Landing

The Cat in the Hat.

The Cat in the Hat.

Along with character breakfasts and meet-and-greets, Islands of Adventure is the place to be for Christmas cheer.  Come on over.  The weather is fine.

Merry Grinchmas to Whos everywhere.

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Far-Out and Fab on Florida’s Gulf Coast – Frenchy’s Oasis Motel

Groovy, cool, neat-o and any other ‘60s saying you might surmise aptly describe the space that makes up Frenchy’s Oasis Motel.  A classic motor lodge with a courtyard-style pool and back “yard” marina, Frenchy’s is located just a walk away … Continue reading

Mmmmmm…..motorboating…

Little Big Town had me at “Boondocks” and they’ll be keeping me for a long time with their latest song “Pontoon.”  We owned a pontoon boat for several years.  As a matter of fact, here it is…..

“Who said anything about skiing?’ – Little Big Town
That would be my dad holding the lines. Handsome fellow, isn’t he?

As fun and convenient as they are, they do not go fast.  And that’s okay.  But when you have an eight-year-old that likes to go fast, you sometimes need to upgrade.  Or side-grade, whichever the case may be.

Thank you Little Big Town for renewing my memories of my “crawling condo” and giving me the inspiration to get this written up and all of my favorite boat photos posted.  Some are way more extravagant than ours. Some might even be ours.  Most are not.

Boats really are a floating form of magic carpet, gliding and glistening across the water (pontoons even have that extra astro-turf to them).  Just like the commercials, everybody waves and wants to follow in your wake. Well, maybe not the wake of a pontoon boat but you get the idea.

Following the Wake

This serene scene was taken on a sightseeing boat ride aboard the Crystal Dawn, which leaves out of Pirate’s Cove Marina.  Oh, and I will be posting some of the yachts found in Pirate’s Cove.  I like to think that the people in the boat are waving.  I can’t really tell.  So, yeah, they are waving.

Sunset ride across Roanoke Sound in Manteo, NC.

Pirate’s Cove is full of beautiful boats and mega-yachts like this.  This shot is a favorite of mine.  I just love when those clouds cooperate.

Pirate’s Cove Marina, Manteo, NC.  This is the place to go for charter fishing trips and mega-yacht oogling.

Ta-daaaaa!  Here is one of my favorite boat scenes.  This was taken in Clearwater, Florida at Frenchy’s Oasis Motel (which I will definitely be blogging about at some point).  We spent three wonderfully fun and sunny days with this as our “backyard” view.  Pelicans and seabirds converged on the dock every morning to check out the stash of goodies and handouts at the restaurant next door.

The backyard view at Frency’s Oasis Motel in Clearwater, Florida.

This is another one of my “always-take-a-photo-no-matter-how-many-I-already-have” locations.  I just love the sparkly look of the water and the line-up of docked boats.  This is at Sturgeon Creek Marina on Lake Anna, Virginia.  The jet-ski in the foreground is ours.

Sturgeon Creek Marina at Lake Anna, Virginia.

Okay, so kayaks and canoes are not technically “motor” boats.  But these are cool and colorful and offer a peaceful glide across the water.  Both of the following photos were taken in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Colorful canoes in Roanoke Sound, Manteo, North Carolina.

And the kayaks…..

Colorful kayaks in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

You’ll notice that a lot of my photos are from the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  My camera pretty much never leaves my side.  Here is another one from the harbor in Manteo.

Boats in the harbor – Manteo, North Carolina.

My favorite time of day to snap photos is all day early evening.  The light is usually softer and gives off nice shadows and reflections.  I particularly like the moss on the post in this one.

Jordan Point Yacht Haven, on the lower James River – Hopewell, Virginia.

A few years ago, some good friends of ours decided to get married on the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.  It was also the year of our tenth anniversary.  What better way to celebrate two wonderful occasions than with a tropical trip.

Sailboat, Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

This was also taken in Tortola.  The island is simply amazing.  I love the way the mountains come straight down to hug the water.

Small marina in Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

This is what our friends sailed off on after the wedding.  I’m sorry to say that Barefoot Cruises is no longer in business.  This was an amazing boat….errr….”ship.”  Funny story….we had an opportunity to go on board and look around (and I will say that the interior is just as gorgeous as the exterior).  My husband inadvertently called the vessel a boat and was kindly reprimanded by one of the shipmates, “It’s a Ship.”  We still laugh about that.

Barefoot Cruises – Tortola, BVI.

The front…

Barefoot Cruises aboard the Mandalay – Tortola, BVI.

…and the back….

Mandalay – Tortola, BVI

Key West always offers great boat photos.

Sunset under sail – Key West, Florida.

In Florida, both birds and clouds cooperate.  How great is that?

Key West, Florida.

That concludes the Boats section of my favorite tag-line…..”boats, beaches, bridges and the islands they inhabit.”  I made it up myself.  Cool, huh?  I have written a previous post on the Bridges section and hope to soon get with it on the rest of group.

Celebrity Cetaceans and Marine Miracles

Winter the dolphin

Winter at her home in Clearwater, Florida – Clearwater Marine Aquarium

The Warner Bros. movie Dolphin Tale hits theaters on September 23, 2011.  Sure to be the feel good movie of the year, it’s based on the true story of a bottlenose dolphin named Winter.  The movie was filmed on location at her home at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) in Clearwater Beach, Florida.  I have had the pleasure of visiting this aquarium several times.

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The Clearwater Marine Aquarium specializes in the rescue, rehabilitation and release of stranded and injured animals.

Winter was caught in a crab net when she was three months old.  She was found stranded on the beach in Mosquito Lagoon, near Cape Canaveral, by a fisherman (the movie version features a troubled boy named Sawyer Nelson as her rescuer … gotta have a good story-line for a movie).

Marine rescue experts from the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were called in.  Winter was taken to the CMA where she eventually lost her entire tail fin and two vertebrae.  Without a tail fin, it is virtually impossible for a regular dolphin to swim.  Winter, however, is not a regular dolphin.

Winter under water

Winter has learned to swim quite well without a tail fin.

With the hope, hard work and determination of marine biologists, volunteers and trainers at CMA, Winter was given a prosthetic tail fin and re-learned to swim.  Hanger Prosthetics, which makes prosthetic limbs for human amputees, made Winter’s tail.  Winter has also learned to swim beautifully without the prosthesis, by swaying her body from side to side rather than up and down.

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The Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater, Florida.

The CMA is a working aquarium and specializes in the rescue, rehabilitation and release of stranded and injured animals.  Dolphins, sea turtles, otters, sharks and manatees are nursed back to health and released back into the wild.  If any are considered unable to return to the wild (like Winter), they become permanent residents of the aquarium.  Several dolphins reside with Winter at CMA, including Panama, Nicholas and Hope.

Winter and her aquatic friends, which includes the ever-adorable river otters, give daily shows to educate visitors about marine animals and explain how the aquarium works to rehabilitate and return injured animals to the wild.

Winter giving her show and demonstration at the CMa

Winter’s show at the CMA – Look behind the cameraman and you’ll see the prosthetic tail fin.

It’s really interesting to visit the aquarium and watch how the prosthetic fluke is put on.  A “sock-like” piece is first put on.  This reduces friction on her skin and makes the prosthesis fit better.  Next, on goes a stretchy plastic sleeve, which is attached to the artificial tail fin.

Winter’s story doesn’t end with her miraculous accomplishments.  She has given hope and inspiration to the many disabled children, adults and wounded Army soldiers that have visited her at the aquarium.  She has been visited by Scott Rigsby, the first double amputee to complete the Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon, and numerous school groups.

Dolphin Tale was filmed on location at the CMA in Clearwater, Florida.  Several new tanks were built just for the movie and are now used by the aquarium.

Houseboat set for the movie

Houseboat set for the movie – Harry Connick, Jr’s character lives here. It is quite cool!

From the producers of The Blind Side, Dolphin Tale stars Morgan Freeman, Harry Connick, Jr., Ashley Judd and Kris Kristofferson.  Nathan Gamble portrays Sawyer Nelson, the fictional boy who rescued Winter.