March 20, 2007

Spring Break in the Sunshine State

Hello! Sarah and I got back a couple days ago from a wonderful spring break vacation in Florida. Our main reason for making the trip was to visit her grandparents in Vero Beach but we had plenty of time for birding, swimming, drinking orange juice, eating grapefruits, and all the other wonderful things Florida specializes in.
This photo of us was taken in Syracuse, before we got on the plane. We had some pretty negative experiences with airports and planes on this trip. More about that later. Anyway, we stayed Monday night with Sarah's aunt and uncle (Jennine and John) in their home near Jupiter and the next morning I got to meet Sarah's cousins Heather and Hunter. That morning I finally had my very first Sandhill Cranes! I've been chasing that bird for years. John let us take his enormous, gas-guzzling Ford F-250 white pickup truck for the week (Sarah did all the driving). Then we headed up towards Vero Beach to see Grandma and Grandpa Ziegler. They live in The Indian River Estates and that afternoon there was a special dinner for all the people who had a birthday that month. Turns out Grandpa Ziegler turns 84 sometime soon so we got all dressed up and had a very nice time. On Wednesday morning Sarah and I went on an airboat ride! It was really cool. You go so fast, practically running right over hundreds of moorhens and gallinules. We saw some very cool birds (including great looks at Black-necked Stilt and a single SNAIL KITE) and... alligators! Later that afternoon we went to the beach. I don't think I'd ever really been in the ocean before. Saw my first jellyfish and my first dolphins (I think I'm beginning to screw up the time line but it all happened at some point during the trip). It was great to spend time with her grandparents. Really got to relax and enjoy the vacation - no gigs, no papers to write, no lessons, classes or schedules. On Thursday Sarah and I got up early and headed out to do some inland birding. We went to the St. Sabastian River Buffer Preserve (that's a mouthful) in search of, among other things, Red-cockaded Woodpecker. While we struck out on the woodpecker, we had much better luck with the 'other things.' Almost the first bird we saw as we got out of the truck was a beautiful SWALLOW-TAILED KITE. That may very well have been the coolest bird I've ever seen. I did manage some crappy photos-thru-binoculars: swkite1, swkite2, swkite3 if you're interested. The kite gave us two or three good looks and disappeared. However, the next bird we saw was a bit more cooperative. This is a FLORIDA SCRUB-JAY and there were several of them that followed us as we walked along the trail, probably hoping for hand outs. The whole trip was amazing but on Friday we started to have some trouble. Heading south we were stuck for an hour in traffic on Florida's Turnpike (not The Florida Turnpike). We got in one last swim before Jennine took us to the airport at 6:30 PM. We then waited in line for four hours because the airport in Philadelphia was closed due to weather. Originally they told us that we wouldn't be able to make it back to Syracuse until Tuesday but sometime around 10:30 PM we finally got to talk to a lady who was able to get us as far as Philadelphia the next day. So we stayed overnight in the airport so we could get back in line at 4:00 AM (tried to nap a bit but there was this incessant touristy reggae-pop coming from somewhere over our heads that made you want to jump out of the nearest window). Every flight we took was late. Once the pilots didn't show up. Once we were stuck on the runway for two hours. Our last flight was delayed five hours! We had to wait in line for another four hours in Philadelphia but we were finally able to get back to Syracuse early Sunday morning. All told we spent 32 hours in various airports with little food and virtually no sleep. It was pretty tough but still well worth it. Here's a couple more pics from the trip...

March 08, 2007

King of the Blues

Hello. Just a quick update on what I've been up to the past few weeks. Mostly booking stuff. GBT has some potential gigs in the works that I'm pretty excited about. It's really cool that we're beginning to travel more. Just last night I finished Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. What an awesome book! The characters, the plot; it's all so full, vivid and meaningful. Now I'm thinking about diving back into Lord of the Rings which I haven't read in years. Last weekend Sarah and I went to see "The Unquestionable King of the Blues... B.B. KING!!!!!" That was amazing. The opening act was very good. Great lead guitar player; pulled out some blazing wild licks. But man, B.B. sits down and plays one freakin' note and makes you want to jump off the balcony! The guy is eighty-one years old! Absolutely amazing. Anyway, Sarah and I are going to Florida (on Monday) for spring break to visit some of her family. Probably won't see us on MTV but I'm really looking forward to a vacation. So that's the jist of things. More when we get back for sure. Take care everybody.