Detroit Hotel in St. Petersburg Uncovers Treasures from the Past.
The old Detroit Hotel in Saint Petersburg Florida has been undergoing renovations recently with the intent of turning it into a Steam-Punk Club & Pizzeria. I personally can't wait for it's opening and opportunity to visit. The Detroit Hotel was St. Petersburg's first building and has undergone a number of alterations since 1888.
While undergoing renovations the developers took down sheetrock to find an elevator from 1912, hand carved posts, a telephone switchboard, antique wallpaper and much more. This type of discovery excites me personally because of the changes that have occurred in Florida over the years where we have lost much of its history. If you'd like to read more about the story and check out a video provided by Bay News 9 click here: https://bit.ly/3k2SGBF
My XO Adventures Departs for Costa Rica Oct 19th!
It's been a long time coming, and the day is finally here. Adventures Across America has provided the most educational and enjoyable experience in travel that I've ever known, and I'm grateful for all those I've met along the way and especially tho those of you that followed, commented and shared my posts. Grazie! It's most certainly going to help in 2021 and beyond.
Back in April before hitting the road, I purchased 3 tickets to foreign countries at rock bottom prices. It was a gamble, knowing that any one of the airlines could go out of business, but I felt it was worth the risk. The countries are: Peru, Chile, Costa Rica and Ecuador. Costa Rica and Ecuador have opened their doors, but I'm not comfortable yet with Ecuador so I plan on waiting a bit.
I leave for Costa Rica on October 19th out of Miami, and will return on October 27th. The trip is exploratory, educational and I'll be treating it just as I did with Adventures Across America by documenting every step of the way. Posts and videos of the Adventure can be found at www.facebook.com/myxoadventures by liking the page.
Before I leave, I'd like to provide some valuable Information on the status, and advisories of countries you can visit as of this moment. This list changes daily, but the links take you right to the Embassy, and if there are any changes the website should reflect it there.
News from Cuba is that Havana is opening at the end of November, and we will be traveling in March on Havana Heartbeat. A second date has been opened up as the March 11th departure is full. If you'd like more information click here for Havana Heartbeat or here for Costa Rica Exotica
The countries available for US citizens to Travel are:
1.) Albania - Level 3 - Click here for the U.S. Embassy Information on Travel to Albania
2.) Anguilla - Level 3 - Click here for more information about Anguilla Travel
3.) Antigua and Barbuda - Level 3 - Click here for the US Department of State info on Travel to Antigua and Barbuda
4.) Armenia - Level 3 - U.S. Embassy in Armenia
5.) Aruba - Level 3 - Aruba visitation Requirements
6.) Bahamas - Level 4 - Protocols For Entry To the Bahamas
7.) Belarus (umm no) - Level 3 - U.S. Embassy in Belarus (Please, not a good time to travel for a variety of reasons)
8.) Belize - Level 4 - U.S. Embassy in Belize
9.) Bermuda - Level 3 - Bermuda Tourism Authority
10.) Cambodia - Level 2 - U.S. Department of State Advisories for Cambodia
11.) Costa Rica - Level 3 - Embassy of Costa Rica Travel Restrictions
12.) Croatia - Level 3 - U.S. Embassy in Croatia
13.) Dominica - Level 3 - U.S. Embassy Advisories for Dominica
14.) Dominican Republic - Level 4 - U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic Travel Advisories
15.) Ecuador - Level 3 - U.S. Embassy in Ecuador Travel Advisories
16.) Egypt - Level 3 - U.S. Embassy in Egypt Travel Advisories
17.) Ethiopia - Level 3 - U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia Travel Advisories
18.) French Polynesia - Level 2 - U.S. Embassy in French Polynesia Travel Advisories
19.) Ghana - Level 3 - U.S. Embassy in Ghana Travel Advisories
20.) Grenada - Level 2 - U.S. Embassy in Grenada Travel Advisories
21.) Haiti - Level 4 - U.S. Embassy in Haiti Travel Advisories
22.) Honduras - Level 4 - U.S. Embassy in Honduras Travel Advisories
23.) Ireland - Level 3 - U.S. Embassy in Ireland Travel Advisories
24.) Jamaica - Level 3 - U.S. Embassy in Jamaica Travel Advisories and Entry Requirements
25) Kenya - Level 3- U.S. Embassy in Kenya Travel Advisories and Entry Requirements
26.) Maldives - Level 3 - U.S. Mission to Maldives Travel Advisories and Entry Requirements
27.) Mexico - Level 4 - U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Mexico Travel Advisories and Entry Requirements
28.) Montenegro - Level 3 - U.S. Embassy in Montenegro Travel Advisories and Entry Requirements
29.) Namibia - Level 4 - U.S. Embassy in Namibia Travel Advisories and Entry Requirements
30.) Rwanda - Level 3 - U.S. Embassy in Rwanda Travel Advisories and Entry Requirements
31.) St. Bart's - Level 3 - U.S. Embassy in Barbados, Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS
32.) St. Lucia - Level 3 - U.S. Embassy in Barbados, Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS
33.) St. Maarten/St. Martin - Level 3 - U.S. Embassy in Barbados, Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS
34.) Serbia - Level 3 - U.S. Embassy in Serbia Travel Advisories and Entry Requirements
35.) South Korea - Level 3 - U.S. Embassy & Consulate in the Republic of Korea Travel and Entry Requirements
36.) Tanzania - Level 3 - U.S. Embassy in Tanzania Travel Advisory and Entry Requirements
37.) Turks and Caicos - Level 3 - U.S. Consular Agency Travel Advisory and Entry Requirements
38.) United Arab Emirates - Level 3 - U.S. Embassy in United Arab Emirates Travel Advisor and Entry Requirements
39.) United Kingdom - Level 3 - U.S. Embassy in the United Kingdom Travel Advisory and Entry Requirements
40.) Zambia - Level 3 - U.S. Embassy in Zambia Travel Advisory and Entry Requirements
Whew! So the above mentioned countries can change levels and requirements day to day. The Key for the levels are:
Level 1 - COVID 19 Exercise Normal Precautions
Level 2 - COVID 19 Exercise Increased Caution
Level 3 - COVID 19 Reconsider Travel
Level 4 - COVID 19 Do Not Travel
Here is a link that will take you The State Department Map showing Worldwide Consulates and Embassies as well as a legend of Travel Advisories - Click Here
I hope you find this information useful and follow along my journey to Costa Rica which starts this coming Monday!
I never realized how much I miss the Fall colors. Fortunate would be an understatement of how I feel about having circle Colorado on the second part of Adventures Across America. Simple things have meant a lot. Aspen trees run through the pine forests like rivers of gold, their spade shaped leaves fluttering in the wind as if greeting you along the path. It's truly astounding.
As I write this, I'm preparing for my departure from Pagosa Springs, Colorado and entering New Mexico. My goal is to further research the itinerary put together for the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in October of 2020. Before arriving, I'll have to get a PCR test later today, and comply with stricter rules than in South Dakota! It's definitely trivial when compared to the places I plan to go like Chama, Abiquiu, Santa Fe, Albuquerque and many more National Monuments.
I mentioned that as a part of the adventure I'll be using the Couchsurfing App along the way, and so far, it's been great. in Gunnison and Crested Butte my host was Lee, and he proved to be warm, welcoming, and a great guide to the area. Crested Butte left me wanting more, and I intend to come back for wildflower season, of which they claim to be the wildflower capital of the world!
On another subject, Costa Rica just announced they are opening their borders for tourism. I had a flight moved several times due to COVID, and the last move was for October 19th, which means I'll be picking up the pace on this journey. I'd like to visit Costa Rica before myXOadventures.com scheduled trip COSTA RICA EXOTICA on February 6th, and this is my window of opportunity. I hope you stay with me along the way through New Mexico and Costa Rica! In the meantime, stay safe, be kind and enjoy the great outdoors!
I'm writing to you from the past, a place that often times we wish we could go. In the present we don't have a time machine not matter, so that leaves now.... but it also leaves us a future. Our decisions today have a direct effect on the shape of our lives tomorrow and into the years ahead. Some of those future outcomes we have control of, and others are yet to be discovered. Quite a few emotions come along prior to taking the first steps. I can feel hesitation, indecisiveness, fear and doubt. At the same time and mixed in with those feelings are excitement, curiosity, wonder, eagerness, joy and happiness. It's the latter that wins the day. Always, and I don't use that word often.
As I write these words, I've just finished packing the van. With each passage through the front door and out towards the vehicle I wonder how it's all going to work out. Some of the questions I have are: Will I arrive safely? Will I learn about myself and others along the way? Will I be given opportunities to help others? Will I end up at my planned destination or is there something that could alter my course forever? What beauty lies ahead? What new relationships will be formed? Will Florida be a place I can thrive in or will it be a destination desert?
All of those questions will be answered in a relatively short period of time. I do know that throughout my feelings and questions one thing is true. It's going to be ok. It's the way things are when you apply faith in life. I've been incredibly blessed to have met Carrie and Andy Gerlach with Black Hills Adventure Tours. They are my new friends, and ones that made an extremely positive impact on my life this year. I learned, and grew, and laughed. I've been invited back, and I accepted graciously.
Helen Keller was quoted as saying "A bend in the road is not the end of the road... unless you fail to make the turn." There's quite a few bends in the road ahead for me, and for all of us. I encourage you and take to heart this.... When your mind and emotions are being pulled in a direction that is not of your own making, you're likely being pulled off course. Stop, breath, remember your friends and family. Look around at the things you've been given in this life. Perhaps quite literally stop and breath the air, use your eyes and ears to acclimate yourself to the abundance and beauty that surrounds you. Look at what has been provided freely for us all to enjoy. One another, the outdoors, and the power of knowing we are all in this together, and never truly alone.
These words I'll be repeating to myself as I set off on the new leg of a journey that started in April of this year. Five months... Five months of what used to be the unknown manifested into this very moment as my fingers type the words. I am grateful. I am blessed. I have had and incredible journey. I love what I do. I will carry on. I will make plans. I hope that you will too. Thank you for reading my thoughts before I set sail. I look forward to seeing your comments along the way. Have a great day, and a great night. I'll be thinking of you, and maybe sometime our paths will cross.
I'm feeling a little bit of angst at the moment, but it's a familiar feeling. It's been a challenging year. One of letting go, being stretched to the limits, one that required change of perspective and one that brought growth. I thought at times about giving up, but it seems in those moments come the boldest ideas. I feel most uncomfortable when I don't have a solution to a problem. It eats at me, and keeps me up at nights, until I come to a realization that I just need to breath and maybe do nothing at all.
When I set out to travel back in April on Adventures Across America, I had a lot of self-doubt that came to me about 500 miles or so into the drive. I never shared that; I just didn't write about it until now. Many of you may be feeling the same thing. Each time I had to confront the fear, overcome it and then move to the next step. It brought me as far as I am now, which is on the precipice of another journey. I mean this sincerely when I say, had I not been out in nature for most of those 3 months I would have broken down, given up and thrown it the towel. Being out in some of the most beautiful places provided me time to connect and reflect. It gave me time to better understand who I am and how I fit into this world.
I miss travel the way it was, and I'm eagerly anticipating the time when it returns. In the meantime, there is a big back yard that you and I share called the U.S.A. Get out in it! You may have noticed recently friends on Facebook posting their road trips and I find it heartwarming to see people beginning to go out and have fun. Many of them are visiting National or State parks and breathing in the wide-open spaces that offer exposure and safety at the same time. There are a lot of people out there in the travel world affected by all the instability that’s going on right now, but we still have the ground under our feet. (knock on wood)
If you follow my Facebook page www.facebook.com/myxoadventures then you know I like to have fun on all my travels and can be a bit of a goofball in the process. I assure you I am a true professional but a kid at heart too! If you have any questions related on how to travel or where, please reach out. Whether it's with me, on your own or even with another company I'm happy to help with what I know. As I leave Rapid City on the 29th of September and head to Florida, I'll be stopping at approximately 68 places along the way. My newsletter timing may be a little off, so I apologize in advance. Please take care, and come along with me virtually through Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana!
Yes, there is a butt facing you in this image, but isn't there always? Let's go there.
For sure It's been a long year, for all of us. We look forward to the days beyond election time, maybe beyond the end of the year, certainly beyond a pandemic, and to happier times ahead. When you think about it, so many of those things I just listed are BIG BUTTS in our decision-making process, but they don't have to be.
As the season winds down here In South Dakota, I'm planning my route back home to Sarasota. It's the planning that's the exciting part. Hmmmm, well I haven't been to New Mexico yet, and it's been a while since my eyes have been graced by the striking colors of autumn. Colorado? Tennessee? Yup, for sure I'll be backpacking through those areas when I depart near the end of September because I'd like to make the most of my journey. In reaching Louisiana, I have a few friends that I'll visit, but also study and seek out the secrets of Zydeco, Creole, Jazz, Gumbo and the rich African American history that runs through it all. My GOD, the excitement and planning I need to do!
In that there can be anxiety, but it's the excitement that gets me off my BUTTS and on the road. Planning can be one of the best and most exiting parts of an adventure, and I hope you feel the similarly. Like Adventures Across America this month-long road trip has a few reasons. I'm educating myself, rekindling old friendships, making new friendships, and finding out ways to get you off your BUTTS in the process! This October ended up being a little too soon for many of you to travel, and I understand, BUTT I have a few new ideas in the works and a couple out now that you can explore.
First, for my Florida friends In particular there is the Key West Kerfuffle. It's caused a stir, so I think the name fits. To check out why it would be very cool to come along and stay on a luxury yacht, click here. Next is something I've always wanted to do, and thats the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta! It bases out of Albuquerque at the Hyatt Regency and not only witnesses the Mass Ascension, but I also take you on day trips to intriguing places throughout New Mexico. On my way home, I'll be meeting with vendors and exploring the route myself. Two dates are available as well, check out the day by day by clicking here.
I hope your BUTT feels lighter, and more apt to start the exciting path towards planning. Next up is the Louisiana Purchase, and I can't wait to tell you all about it. In the meantime, stay safe and thank you for taking time to read the newsletter!
It's a question a lot of people want to know, and the answer can change daily. There's no doubt a lot of pent up desire to travel, but the decision process can be complicated without some guidance. Fortunately, you've made it here and I hope to bring some clarity to the question.
The first and most obvious answer is anywhere in the US, and I have to say from recent travel experience, it's much appreciated. All states are open, but ordinances can and do vary. Generally speaking, the western part of the country has seen a big uptick in domestic travel, with most arrivals by RV or air. Taking a back seat are the large 50 passenger busses that once roamed the parks like the buffalo of years past. They still operate, just not in large numbers.
Likely, your one of the many people looking to visit wide open spaces and avoid a lot of crowds, but the question is where and how? For starters try in your own backyard. Likely there are many places you haven't explored, or it's been a long time. Take a second look at what is in a 100 mile radius of your own home. If you're looking a little further, nothing beats the State and National Parks. For a list of National Parks by state visit the National Park Service website by clicking here.
My advice on National Parks Is two fold. 1.) Find out where you can get the best bang for your buck. (Utah has five that are famous) and 2.) Look for parks that are less visited, like the Badlands of South Dakota or Acadia National Park in Maine. I've fallen in love with the Southwest, so Arizona and New Mexico would be great places to visit during the winter, and are packed with parks for all kinds of sightseeing and activities. Last on the State and National Parks.... give hiking consideration and plan for it. Most of us haven't been out in nature and staying inside the car most of the time can sterilize the experience.
Now on to International trips. At the moment this is the trickiest of options, but it's not stopping some from exploring. For a list of countries that are currently open, click here. My advice is if you're desire is to travel internationally, or begin to plan for future international trips, consult with a travel professional. It won't cost you a penny more. The advice you get can be invaluable. At the moment there are so many requirements, whether it be a negative COVID test within the past 3 days, or a self quarantine upon arrival you'll need to know what each requirement entails.
What would I do If I were you? Well, travel is going to open, and I believe it's actually going to be a better experience moving ahead. Companies, like mine, have had to innovate, implement protocols and rethink travel in a brand new way. This has required, and at times forced creativity and for the well being of the traveler. What I'm seeing most is what I call "bubble groups", which are friends or family that travel together on a private trip. These trips tend to be more costly to operate, and therefore more expensive to the consumer, but they provide not only a better experience but also give peace of mind. Who really wants to do the 50 passenger bus tour now anyway? Not me.
If you'd like to see the tours we offer that can be customized and private check out our USA and Day Trips on our web page: www.myxoadventures.com . What you'll find here might surprise you. You'll see private trips with quite a few inclusions at about half the price of the big boys. Remember, the outdoors provides places and experiences that feed the soul, and heal the mind. It's ok to travel right now, just be responsible and use common sense!
It's time to start living, so let's make plans together. If you've been dreaming about traveling safely, and having a great time doing it, let me tell you how to do it and not break the bank. First, now is a great time to travel and deals can be had with the airlines. Not only that, but never in their existence have the operated in such a clean and pristine way. Are you a germaphobe? I can be too, and I've literally researched and watched the ways they clean the planes and it's impressive.
Second, you're wondering what you can do that's amazing. I can help with that. I've visited, and now created a new getaway that's called "Unrivaled Utah". In it we visit Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, Kodachrome State Park, Kanab, Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyons with included UTV tour (that's me doing it above), Vermillion Cliffs and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We move only once, from an airport hotel in Vegas to Mount Carmel Junction which serves as our base. We see the million dollar highway in Utah, by far the most amazing road trip I've done in all of North America. Not only that, but we have guides, audio narrations as we travel, the choice to stop anywhere outdoors for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Not only that, but Its all done In myXOadventures.com 15 passenger van. On this journey I bring an Ozone machine, which Is left running in the van each evening for 30 minutes to any living thing. In addition, it gets sprayed with a non-toxic 3% Hydrogen Peroxide solution on every surface. THEN, there is a Hepa Filter running in the van at all times. Trust me, it's safe, but if you want to be in a blow up bubble too I can arrange that for an additional charge. You just have to sign a waiver for me to be able to take photographs and post the pictures anywhere I want! :)
Seriously, lets go. Give yourself a mental break, get out there safely and enjoy yourself doing it. I'll make it a great experience, and you might make a friend or two. Lastly, if you want this to be a private event, all you have to do it let me know, and the van is yours to travel with whom you choose. Just contact me with your request at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don't just survive, LIVE!
As I find out more and more about the Black Hills of South Dakota, I find that there's always more to know! Truly, it's a beautiful place to be, and has a rich history of Native American culture, Settlers, the Wild West, stunning natural wonders and memorials. I've done a fair amount of reading out here, with The Journey of Crazy horse being my favorite. Next up is the The Sioux and it looks like its going to turn out to be a great read.
I have to say I've enjoyed the wide open spaces out here, and the blossoming relationship with Black Hills Adventure Tours
It's true, even in challenging times, if you're able to let go and open yourself up to the opportunities to present themselves, its guaranteed they will. GUARANTEED! I've been broken, bent, put over the coals, frustrated and more, but I always kept my eye on what felt right, and what I've always wanted. I had to change, and I could do it kicking and screaming, or I could do it with gratitude. I don't mean to say it was easy, or even complete, but it was one hell of a ride that by in large part I relished in.
I can say that myXOadventures.com has gone through the first set of growing pains, and is ready for the next chapter, which starts in one of the most beautiful parts of OUR country, the Black Hills and Badlands. Pictured above, Carrie (I say an accidental friend) and I stand at an overlook on Sheep Mountain Table Overlook. We've become great friends, and I'll be out in the area through the end of September this year guiding for her company. It's a great opportunity to learn, grow, broaden my perspective and do what I love. All of this happened because of faith, and flying in the face of fear, worry and anxiety of taking a leap that seemed insane at the time. Friendships are invaluable.
On the business side of things, I've begun to update the website. Here's what you can expect. I've loaded individual tours that I'm able to personally guide you on, and will be loading different packages based on experience level and price. You'll see that shortly. I highly encourage you to get out, see what you can in a safe environment and live. Live life like there is no tomorrow. I'll be ready for you. I am ready for you today!
Lastly, we're going to do this safely. This is on everyones mind so lets talk about it. Each tour will be handled in the following way:
1.) You will receive a complimentary mask.
2.) The vehicle will be treated with an Ozone machine 12 hours prior to the tour. All tours are private, none will be with the public or anyone you don't know. After safely ozonating the vehicle, it will be treated with CleanzoZone, a non-toxic solution containing hydrogen peroxide. These methods are proven to kill viruses, mold spores and bacteria. You will literally be on the cleanest tour you've ever been on!
3.) Activities will be based on your comfort zone and avoiding crowds as much as possible.
4.) Outdoors, fun and education will be the focus.
5.) All activity levels will be offered. If you want to push your limits, I've got you covered. If you want to relax more, I have what you need.
Flights are cheap and life Is short. Reach out to me with when you are able to come, and we'll make this happen!