Crocodile hunting

Have a cow

Last week, we hit the Everglades National Park on our way back from Key West. No, that’s not a deformed Croc. It’s a manatee (aka sea cow) drinking fresh water that was dripping from a drainage pipe into the gulf. (Yes, I’m still working my way through video shot wrong.)

There’s a lot to do and see in the park but I had only one objective. Find a Croc. Best place was supposed to be Flamingo Marina. (There was a computer issue so we lucked into a free day in the park – normally a 25 dollar fee per carload good for 7 days)

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The 30 miles drive beyond the main gate takes you through some prime critter viewing. We moved a tiny tortoise (not sure what kind but he had a round bumpy shell) off the road, watched a pancake toirtose waddle away in a hurry when we stopped, because he was in the middle of the road, and got out of the car to investigate two hit snakes. Another car came sailing along from the opposite direction and we were glad we’d moved the tortoise.

If you go, do not forget the bug spray! I still have welts from the biting flies. Thankfully, some other Croc hunters shared their deep woods off.

 

And on your left…more water

IMG_0458We thought about taking a tour. But I’m cheap and it was something like 35 bucks. I figured we’d look from shore this trip and maybe take a tour next time if we struck out.

Turns out it was manatee breeding season and the sea cows were very excited. And everywhere. Crocs were my priority but I found myself squealing with delight every time I saw a pudgy nose poke up out of the water. We spotted a dozen, along with two dolphins. Most were by themselves, but we did see a pod of five just before they dropped back below the surface. One of the other tourists let me look through his mega lens for a closeup. It was nice but I can’t imagine carrying around a giant camera anymore. (I’m sure my husband is happy those days are long gone too. I was always looking through the lens)

Are you using both those eyes? 

Lots of Vultures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For some reason, wandering through them on the shoreline wasn’t as creepy as seeing them hanging out in this tree. It kinda felt like they were planning something.

As we were heading back to the car, full of regret for not spilling the 35 bucks for the boat tour, I spotted a little Croc in the water next to the sea wall. Success! He was maybe 5 feet, with all of him visible as he floated in the water. Unfortunately, I scared him by jumping around shouting Croc. He sunk from sight before I could get a photo.

Stinker.

Next time, I think I’m going to bite the bullet and spend the cash on the tour. Boats cover a lot more territory than I can on foot. Plus, the folks on that boat seemed to be having fun.

Next time, I’ve got more photos and video from the new Pandora rides at Disneyworld.

Until then, Write On,

Melissa

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Free Summer Reads plus Crappy Video

(As usual, I suck at cell phone videos)

Yesterday, I wrote about our recent trip down to Key West. New book research, mojitos and the Hemingway 5K. You can read about that last part here. (and see more videos shot the wrong way)

We weren’t on the island for long, but I did have time to get in some last minute research on the new book in my June Nash MisAdventure series, followed by a meet up with my editor Lisa. And yeah, I hope to remember to turn my blasted cell phone sideways the next time I try to take video…. 

 

Free books and Previews

Work is progressing nicely on the next June Nash MisAdventure. More fun with Morgan, Cyrano, Dewzers and of course June and her bad decisions. I think it should be ready late fall/early winter. I’ll update that as things come together. In the meantime, how about a few free books for your summer reading lists?

Lose Yourself in Free Books

I’m excited to be a part of this very cool promo.  230 books and previews in 13 genres! You’ll find my first book in the June Nash MisAdventure series in the humor section. You’ve got 6 more days to get it for free, so don’t wait.

Until next time, Good Adventures (as June’s brother Dewey would say) and Write On,

Melissa

P.S.

If you download any of the books, stop back by and leave a note in the comments. What did you get?

 

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Key West 5k

Just got back from Key West and the Hemingway 5k. It’s an evening run, start time 7:30pm. That’s me with my race shirt.

And this is the temperature. Kinda of. It was actually 89 degrees, feels like 89 thousand. I just noticed the song on the radio. We’d been hoping for temps in the 70s.

And this was us at race time.

Mojitos from the Rum Bar on Duval. Life is too short to be that sweaty.

Next time, I’ll share video from the Everglades National Park. (Give me a day to recover)

Until then,

Write on,

Melissa

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Disneyworld’s Pandora

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What is up with my cheeks? I look like I’ve just come from dental surgery

We finally had a chance to run up to Disneyworld to check out the new Pandora land in Animal Kingdom. The word amazing doesn’t do it justice. It’s a huge area, with winding paths, bizarre vegetation, tiny banshees to buy and perch on your shoulder and platforms with performers playing odd looking instruments. Though that could have just been the shadows.

I saw Avatar so long ago, that I can’t tell you if Disney has recreated that world accurately. I just know this place was fun.

Especially at night. If you have to leave before dark, you’ll miss what Pandora is really about.

 

Intense black light in your face color!

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When you arrive at Animal Kingdom, head for Tiffins (Stop and make a reservation. Fantastic food, a patio overlooking the water and very cool art covered walls inside) and then continue over the bridge and follow the path to reach Pandora. There are two new rides, a lazy river ride featuring very nifty animation that makes you think you’re watching the movie unfold just off in the distance…(which I didn’t quite get on video, sorry)

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If I remember correctly, that blue patch in the middle was a video screen

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…and my new favorite Disney ride, Flight of Passage.

As you wait in line, you wind through the interior of a mountain decorated by the natives of Pandora. Eventually, you make it to a research center. (Was there a research center in the movie? I can’t remember why they were wandering around Pandora) The details are worth the time in line. (We were so busy looking at things in the research facility that I forgot to take photos) I’m not sure how much fast pass skips over but do yourself a favor and go through the line at least once.

Once you get to the actual ride, you’re ushered into a long narrow room where you straddle what looks like a motorcycle, pop on goggles and stare at a wall, inches from your face. Once the ride starts, the wall melts into the world of Pandora and all your senses are involved as you ride your banshee over, through and around the lush landscape. I swear I could even smell the other banshees. Wait. It had been like 2089 degrees that day and I was in a little, narrow room with 8 or so people, so there’s probably no smell-o-vision. Still. It’s worth the wait.

I’ll get better photos on my next visit. (maybe next week) Till then, Write One,

Melissa

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Win a signed copy of How to Sex Your Snake

Goodreads Book Giveaway

How to Sex Your Snake by Melissa Banczak

How to Sex Your Snake

by Melissa Banczak

Giveaway ends June 13, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

Are you a member of Goodreads? If not, you should be. I’m giving away some signed copies of my latest book, How to Sex Your Snake this summer and that’s where you’ll find them. The first contest goes live at 12:01 am on June 6 and runs till June 13. (I believe it ends at midnight) 

So follow the link above and get signed up. 

Write On,

Melissa

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Tormented by the Futility of Life

If you saw yesterday’s post you know I had some issues trying to rent a car when I left home without my driver’s license. Thankfully, a friend brought it to me. I was so happy, I gave an impromptu concert to my fellow freeway drivers. So many happy people listening to me sing along to a favorite album as we inched through rush hour traffic. Below is my favorite song from that album. 

Some choice lyrics:

The corpse was dredged from the sea that night.

Hair matted around its body tight.

It was no comfort to identify,

The pallid flesh, the life, deprived.

Turn up the volume and Write On,

Melissa

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Too stupid for words

So I’m sitting at the airport waiting for someone to bring me my driver’s license so I can rent a car. I glanced at my little black Alice in Wonderland purse that I’ve been using all week and then headed out the door, got all the way down here, walked up to the car rental counter and oops- no license. I don’t know how I managed to put my credit cards back in my big purse but not my license. 

On the plus side, I got a latte for half price because I waited so long. So I guess it all works out. 

I’m still dumber than dirt. But I’ll be home soon and will be done traveling. 

Stay mentally alert and Write On,

Melissa

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What’s the weirdest gift you’ve gotten?

We’re finally unpacking some of our zillion and one boxes, many from two or three moves ago, and I found this photo. On the back it reads, Christmas, 1971. Melissa with her new shoe bag. Is it me or it that a odd gift for a child? I look happy but I’ve always been easily amused. What’s the weirdest gift you’ve ever gotten and how old were you?  

Leave a comment below and Write On, 

Melissa

PS – Wanna win a paperback copy of my new book, How to Sex Your Snake? I’ll be giving a few away on Goodreads in June and July. If you’re not already a member, join and friend me. I’ll post a link here when the contests are live. In the meantime, if you’ve already bought a book, follow the links (QR codes in the paperback, clickable in the ebooks) and leave a review. No links to Goodreads but if you’re a member, I’d love reviews there as well. Authors live and die by word of mouth. 

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Snake shoes! 

Today’s my birthday so I’m slacking off. These are a present from my oldest. She based the design on the cover of my book, How to Sex Your Snake! 

Have a great day!

Write on, 

Melissa

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The Ruins of Ephesus

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How did it get to be April? I’ve been away the last few weeks, helping a senior relative move. Biggest tip I can offer, take photos of bookshelves (that house nicknacks) before you pack and then label each box for each bookshelf and include a map of where that piece of furniture sat in its particular room. You’ll get a lot of, where the stuff from that bookshelf that was behind my desk. There was a bookshelf behind your desk? is never the correct answer.

Since it’s mid-week -ish I’ll leave the Key West memories (and new book word count) to Sundays and instead share photos from one of my favorite trips.

Kadefikale on Hillside above Izmir

A view of Izmir, Turkey

Back in 2007, my husband was stationed with NATO in Izmir, Turkey. I was psyched when he got the assignment. Back in college, I’d planned on majoring in history. I’m one of those annoying people read all the notes on museum displays and block most of the exhibit. If I’d taken the time, in college, to see what classes I needed to get that particular degree I would have. (I’m not a big planner. So, after a fun 5.5 years and tons of lovely intersession classes (best way to get an A) I settled for a b.a. in social science with concentrations in History, Geography and something else. Maybe archeology) So let me stress again. I was psyched. Whoo-hoo. Turkey. The divider between Europe and Asia. So much history. So many ruins. So much to keep me busy during his one year tour. And then came the sad news. The US military did not let families accompany the service member to Turkey. Spoil sports. (The US was the only country with this rule as of 2007)

DSCN0374Now I was left with what amounted to a short vacation. And I had to chose wisely. We didn’t have a lot of money, the air fare alone ate up most of my budget, and we’d be leaving two high school aged kids home alone. I’ve seen enough movies to know nothing good ever comes from that.

After many anguishing hours pouring over city guide at the Waldenbooks down the street, I had a plan. A few days in Rome, a few days wandering the Kemerati bazaar in Turkey and because multiple days in Greece were impossible, an afternoon at an appropriate substitute. The ancient Greek city of Ephesus.

 

at Library of Celsus 2

The Celsus Library. All the good scrolls were checked out. 

on Cerastes street near Hercules Gate

That’s the library in the distance. We beat the crowds. For the first hour anyway.

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And then they showed up.  

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Statues. 

 

 

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And Cats

directions to the brothel-sm

And directions to the brothel.

at public latrine

Still nothing to read. Plus a super cold breeze from below. (hence my posture)

entrance to the Great Amphitheater

The entrance to the theater.

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Which felt much larger in person.

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The cheap seats.

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Excavations were in progress. 

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I flipped the photo so you could see the mosaic lion. He’s on the floor. 

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As are these two.

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A better shot of the size. 

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We saw at least a dozen cats as we wandered this field.

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The Domitian temple. First temple built in the name of an Emperor. 

entrance to Odeon

I still miss that antelope jacket. Which I bought in the Kemeralti bazaar. So comfortable. So soft. So well made. So tempting. Someone stole it from the back of my chair in Las Vegas a couple of years later.  

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An angel suggesting we hit the road. The crowds had arrived. 

Melissa and Kellie in the KemeraltiAnd speaking of the Kemeralti bazaar, I’ll save that for another mid week post. Such an amazing place. Think Diagon Alley in Harry Potter. You step in – you’re in another world. A labyrinth of stalls stuffed into every last bit of space, with enough twists and turns to lose all but the veteran shopper. In the meantime, I’ll be back on Sunday with more Key West memories.

Oh, and when I got home from my trip to Turkey, there were no cracks in the egg. Nice to know my kids are so well behaved. A tad disappointed to learn that my kids are so well behaved. Here’s hoping they had a crazy adventure too.

Write on,

Melissa

P.S. this is making me itchy to travel again. Have you got a favorite spot? Leave me a suggestion in the comments.

 

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