2008 March : Oh Fair New Mexico

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by Karen Fayeth

Head out for the highway

Yes, Monday finds me back at my same gray walled office. Back to work, slogging through emails and working up my expense report.

All in all, the trip to Florida was a good one.

I’m glad to be home. It was a long haul on Saturday, hopping a couple planes and ultimately arriving almost two hours later than I was supposed to. But I made it and a really cute boy was waiting for me when I came down the stairs to baggage claim.

I didn’t sleep well on the trip, so was glad to sleep in my own little bed, and sleep I did. Woke up Sunday morning MUCH refreshed. The Good Man fussed over me and that helped get me right, too.

Back to “regular” work today. While making the drive in this morning, I was thinking about what made the Florida trip fun, and I hit on a thought.

I got to drive.

Now, don’t gave me that doggy head tilt look. Let me explain.

“Back in the day” living in New Mexico, one of my best stress relievers was to get in the car and drive. Not always with a destination, sometimes just driving, watching the white lines roll by.

Since I went to school in Las Cruces and my folks lived in Carlsbad, I had a LOT of hours in the middle of NOWHERE, hum of the tires as my companion.

I got a LOT of good thinking done during those drives.

Meditation. That’s really what it is.

Well now living here in a densely populated area, just getting in the car and going isn’t all that meditative. With all the traffic, it is stress inducing.

When I lived in Albuquerque, I could drive for a half hour in pretty much any direction and be OUT of the city, humming along at 75 mph, and letting the stress float away.

Here, I can drive a half hour and be ever more mired in humanity.

So I enjoyed the fact that, last week, I got some road time. The ride on I-4W to Clearwater Beach took about two and a half hours all in. It was a little densely populated around Tampa Bay and that stressed me, but had moments of a peaceful ride. It got really good when I got off I-4 and into the small roads winding through Clearwater and over all the causeways.

The trip to Cocoa Beach was only about an hour and was PERFECT for highway meditation. (see, I still can find NOTHING wrong with Cocoa Beach). SR-528E is pretty rural, away from people, not heavily trafficked on a weekday. The tolls do take a bit away from that trip, but even they are manageable. You get a rhythm of hitting the various toll plazas and you know they’ll be there (kind of like having to stop at a Border Patrol station…so it’s all good).

And during those two drives a lot of thinking got done. Some useful (i.e. where should I emphasize success criteria for my team this year), some not (i.e. why do so called “80’s” radio stations only play the cheesy “hits” like “Jump” (both Van Halen and Pointer sisters), and not the deeper cuts from bands like Depeche Mode or The Cure?).

Getting all that thinking done is healing. I find I’m in a better mood today than when I left. Like I’ve grown from my journey.

I sure wish I could more easily hit the open road from where I live to think things out.

Oh well, just another reason to miss my fair New Mexico.

If still water runs the deepest…

March 28, 2008 by · Comments Off on If still water runs the deepest…
Filed under: boat drinks, Florida, gratitude, homesick, latent childhood, life, Opinions, pondering, the feline, The Good Man, travel, Turistas, work 

…then what does Clearwater do?

Sits there and shimmers like the jewel of the Gulf that it is…

(This is not my photo but this is right where I was)

Gorgeous!

I was astounded that the white sand at Sand Key Beach was literally FILLED with seashells, mostly tiny scallop shells. Now, the bottoms of my feet are pretty well beat up from walking on all the jagged edges, but the effect, running hands through sand and finding shell after shell after shell was so very cool.

That’s the kick about warm, fairly calm water. Not only shells, INTACT shells.

If you’ll excuse the crappy quality of this iPhone photo…look at THESE little beauties! I personally snagged them from the floor of the ocean.

I think my eyes bugged out of my head when I saw them bouncing around in the sand. My cheap but effective goggles kept my eyes in my head as I paddled down to the bottom of the shallow sea floor and scooped them up. There were thousands of them down there!

These are coming home with me, a love gift for a certain wonderful man.

I’ll say this, the Gulf wasn’t as warm as I remember from my last visit at South Padre Island. It was pretty cold, actually. Much colder than the Atlantic. Though nowhere near as cold as the Pacific.

Oh, which reminds me…in the course of less than one week, I’ve visited three oceans.

Sunday, I was at Half Moon Bay, gazing at the beautiful but tumultuous Pacific. Tuesday I was at Cocoa Beach, at peace with the Atlantic and today, Friday, it was Clearwater Beach and the Gulf.

Cool, huh?

Clearwater was recommended to me by four separate locals, so that’s why I chose to run out there today. The choice of Sand Key Beach was because it was public and it was away from the main drag of hotels and restaurants. There were a LOT of Spring Breakers out, so that wasn’t fun.

All said, I prefer Cocoa Beach. It is just a lot more mellow and easy. But today’s journey to the west coast of Florida was truly amazing. A day to remember.

I didn’t end up taking many photos, sorry. This one will live on in my mind. Another happy place to escape to when work meetings drag on too long.

And now, to pack. While I had fun, I’m glad the week is over. I miss The Good Man and I miss the cranky feline too.

So tomorrow, with noise cancelling headphones in place, I hop a westbound plane and go back to the life I love. I’ll be happy to snuggle down in my own bed and sleep contentedly with those I love the most.

Multi-tasking!

March 27, 2008 by · Comments Off on Multi-tasking!
Filed under: bebidas, books, dessert, Florida, good eats, gratitude, homesick, iPhone, life, manners, Opinions, relationships, The Good Man, w00t, work 

I ended up taking this business trip to Florida on my own, and as such, I have been cooped up in this hotel for two solid days (literally….I jogged outside on a break during the conference today because I hadn’t seen the sun in two days).

So tonight, I decided to venture out. On my own.

I have a good friend at work who grew up near Orlando and she recommended a local restaurant. With the grace of dog and a Google map, I headed out.

It’s a place called Hemingway’s. I was a little non-plussed given that it’s part of the local Hyatt.

But this friend of mine has impeccable taste, so I trusted.

I made a reservation under the name “Smith” for one little me.

When I got to the place (after getting PROFOUNDLY lost on some Florida byways), I realized that I had forgotten to bring my book with me. I wondered what I’d do to entertain my lonely self.

There was no need to worry. My reservation was for 7:00pm which is just 4:00pm back at work.

So I checked email. Let me tell you, yes, I was one of those obnoxious people tapping at my iPhone over dinner.

But over the course of one and one half hours, here is what I was able to accomplish:

1) Lengthy email conversation with my boss to figure out bonus amounts for my team this quarter.

2) Email conversation with our team’s admin to set up seating chart for our group office move in three weeks.

3) Also via email, set up this year’s baseball bet for the season. Another $20 wager with that bum Dodger’s fan friend of mine that the Giants will finish above his suck team in the final standings. Year one, I won. Year 2, he won. Year three, he won. My team is so lame this year I should just put away the $20 now…

4) Did SMS love to my work friend because that dinner was really top notch, she was spot on.

5) Assigned a project to one of my employees.

and most importantly…

6) Exchanged love words with The Good Man because I miss him so terribly much.

Not a bad day’s work over a glass of Pinot Noir and some really delicious scallops.

With belly full, I’m back in my hotel room, bloaty, happy and ready to sleep well tonight.

W00t!

Time Zone Zombie

March 26, 2008 by · Comments Off on Time Zone Zombie
Filed under: drama, Florida, grumptacular, irritated, life, Opinions, travel, work 

I got approximately three hours of restless sleep last night. See, while it was midnight on the right coast of the country, over there on the left coast, it was still early evening. Prime time for me!

So there wasn’t much sleeping. And then there was getting up early to make a 7:00am breakfast-slash-meet-‘n-greet for this meeting. The meetin’ and greetin’ is useful, very useful, but I’m afraid I wasn’t *quite* on my game today. God bless Starbucks for getting me through.

Now I’m sitting in a stuffy hotel conference room, breathing stale air and the odor of drying, toughening “hotel chicken” wafting in from the kitchen.

But hey, a hard day hotel conferencing still beats a good day toiling at my desk at work. And we will actually finish at 5:00pm today. Go figure! I can’t complain…or rather, I can, but I shouldn’t.

I think it will be early to bed tonight. Right around the point I’m used to living la vida Eastern Time Zone, I’ll hop a west-bound plane.

Good times…

There is nothing wrong with Cocoa Beach

If you’ve known me for a while, you’ve heard me say this phrase.

A lot.

If you are new to the obsessive compulsive wonders that are Karen, then let me explain.

About ten years ago, I was sent to Orlando on business. I worked for Lockheed back then and we were sent out to have a love fest with the Orlando folks. We were all supposed to be getting along like one big happy corporate family, but we weren’t. The Lockheed and Martin merger was…tricky, to say the least.

So on that last trip, me a timid little New Mexico girl, I had some spare time on my hands and I quaveringly looked at the Florida map and planned a drive. An easy drive out of Orlando. About an hour all on one road. Albeit a toll road, which added to the stress.

So I went to Cocoa Beach. Yes, it’s all very I Dream of Jeannie, but it had a familiar ring and it was coastal.

While there, I stumbled onto something great. Well, first I went to Ron Jon Surf Shop. As a NM girl, surfing isn’t exactly something I know much about. But one day at work I’d found a coffee mug that looked cool and it was from Ron Jon in Cocoa Beach. So I was happy to explore this strange place.

I was stunned by how utterly cool the store was. I timidly tried on bathing suits (two piece, ooh la la) from their endless racks of suits. I ended up boldly purchasing an orange two piece, put it on, then sashayed down the block from the shop and out onto the beach.

It. Was. Awesome. As soon as I got over my timidity, that is. That was the first two piece I’d ever owned. I felt…naked.

Soon enough I was splashing in the warm Atlantic and having one hell of a good time. The people were nice. The people watching was fun and that was one of those days that lives in my memory. A happy place, if you will.

And upon my return, I told anyone who would listen: “There is *nothing* wrong with Cocoa Beach. It is perfect!”

So here I am, once again sent on business to Orlando. And today I got a chance to go once more eastbound on SR-528. I was no less nervous this time, but more prepared. I had a film canister full of quarters for the toll-booths and I knew where I was going. I drove a little more confidently as I have ten extra years of livin’ to go along for the ride.

Upon rolling into Cocoa Beach, I was disappointed. It’s grown a LOT in ten years. What I liked about it back then was that there wasn’t much to the town. Mostly locals and a few tourists. This time there are A LOT of tourists and stores everywhere. The upside, they built a parking structure. Parking was a bear last time.

I went to Ron Jon again. And once again, I shopped for swimming suits. Yes, two pieces, but the more modest tankini’s this time. They still have endless racks of really cool suits. And I still had great success there, purchasing not one but two. Yay!

I didn’t put one on, tho, it was actually not all that warm today (low sixties with a cool wind). But I still hauled my cookies down the block and out onto the beach.

And as this photo will show, I found everything to be juuuuuuust fine:

Yes, those are my toes in the foreground. And that is the Atlantic ocean in the background.

It’s still warm. Or at least one hell of a lot warmer (and calmer) than the Pacific. I picked at shells on the beach, not taking any, just looking. The Pacific is so rough no shell makes it to the shore intact.

Once again, I found NOTHING wrong with Cocoa Beach. It is a little slice of heaven.

Except for this Portuguese little fella. A Man O’ War they call it.

And these two yahoolios.

Think the friend will pee on the guy who will soon have stinging hands? (as they say uric acid will help the burn…I don’t know if that’s actually true……)

But even with stinging fish and brainiacs on Spring Break, it was still a perfect day.

Tomorrow, it’s game face. Start at 7:00 and sit all day in a hotel conference room. But that’s ok…when the attention span wanders, I’ll go again to my happy place. This time I have photos!

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