Negril, Jamaica

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“Mi come soon!”

Decided to activate my Walk into the Future and make my way back down to Negril, Jamaica in July.

I made a point to visit Negril on an annual basis prior to COVID-19 and this was my first trip back down since May 2019.  I felt comfortable when I traveled out to Portland, Oregon for the NACE2022 conference back in June and got the urge to get down to Jamaica since COVID restrictions were scaled back.

I went back and forth on when to travel to Jamaica but decided to just look at hotel and air prices to determine the best time for me to travel.  Found dates that were compatible with my work and life schedules and booked a trip to my favorite spot, Samsara, which sits on the cliffs on the West End of Negril.  I found Samsara years ago and always stay at this resort when I’m in Jamaica.  The location is great for snorkeling, catching sunsets and experiencing Jamaica in a more authentic manner than staying at a large resort and never leaving the property.

The staff at Samsara is great and most remember me when I return which makes me feel like a family member.

My overarching goal for this trip was to get down to Negril and relax.  Yes, I could have found a spot closer to home to relax but the Irie vibes in Jamaica kept calling me.  I made sure to pack my snorkel gear since I wanted to spend as much time in the water as possible on this trip—mission accomplished.

Arrived at Sanger International Airport after my 2-hour JetBlue flight from Orlando.  Made my way through customs, got my luggage, and headed to the Jamaica Tours counter to catch my shuttle to Samsara.  The airport is about an hour and a half away from Samsara, so I got a Red Stripe beer at the airport and got on the shuttle for my ride over to Negril.

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Samsara has gone through a remodel since my last time down there.  They added a couple new buildings, a new infinity pool and deck overlooking the water.  These additions were a complete hit with me as they brought a new level of adventure to the resort.

My room was in the newest guest building and was steps away from the infinity pool.  This view created some unique pictures for me with the sunsets bouncing off the pool and the ocean.  I did not get in the pool but appreciated the addition and several other guests were regulars.  Guess not everyone goes to Jamaica to get in the ocean. 😊

I did not book the all-inclusive packages since I wanted to explore and not have to be at the resort at a determined time for a meal.  Also, there are other options close by and I like to experience different venues for my meals.

One of my regular spots on this trip was the 3 Dives Jerk Centre on the West End.  This spot has some of the best jerk chicken on the island and the price is fantastic.  I’m not a huge fan of spicy foods but the seasoning they use is great and they provide the jerk sauce on the side so I can add more or not.  Mostly, I don’t add sauce and just eat the jerk chicken with rice and peas.

I made another stop at the Rock House to get lunch and had the grilled snapper, peas and rice and plantain.  The chef at the Rock House has an international reputation for great Jamaican dishes and I’m never disappointed when I dine there.  The rum punch is pretty good too!

There was not as much live reggae available as past trips but believe this is because the island is still adjusting to having tourist back.  Legends on 7 Mile Beach is a sister resort to Samsara and they host a live reggae band on Sunday nights.  This is a new music spot from the last time I was in Negril and the band was good.  The larger venues had DJ music which was fine but I’m a huge fan of live music so gravitated more to the bands/groups that were playing.  Hoping the live music continues to come back since I’m already planning my next Negril trip.

This song was a surprise request for the band:

I was able to snorkel daily in the morning before leaving the resort for my food and music excursions.  The water off the cliffs is calm in the mornings and provide a perfect place to float and see a wide variety of fish.  There were no jelly fish this time, so this allowed me to stay in the water for extended periods of time.  There were only a few other folks in the water, so it felt like I had the ocean to myself.  😊 Plan to get out to the reefs my next time down to explore a bit more.

I was able to get 4 full days during this trip and enjoyed every minute I was back in Negril.  Hope the become a regular visitor again so I can enjoy the irie vibes, food, and great views. 

Continue readingNegril, Jamaica

2022 Treasure Coast Half Marathon

TCHM1

“Running a marathon takes balls, other sports just play with them”.

(Anonymous)

I created an aggressive (for me) 2022 running schedule to make up for lost races in 2020 and 2021.  Not trying to recapture those miles but wanted to get back to running races in multiple locations and get this running tourist thing going again.

Targeted a monthly half marathon for the first 5 months of 2022 with the intent to get better mentally and physically with each passing race.  The full goal is to run as fast as possible when I get to Atlantic City for the 2022 Atlantic City Rock N Roll Half Marathon.  I have never been to Atlantic City and thought it would be a great place to visit, run and take a shot at a personal record.  I still need to put in the training work for the PR to occur but the flat course there is enticing for me.  A bonus is the opportunity to see my friend, Lauren Apgar while in town. 😊

The 2022 Treasure Coast Half Marathon is a local race for me in Stuart, Florida.  The race location is only a quick 30-minute drive down the Florida Turnpike and I thought this would be a great race to test myself and see a new city in the process.

The EXPO was held in a local middle school gymnasium and had several interesting vendors selling gear.  My focus for the EXPO was to pick up my race packet and then get a sneak peek at the course I would be running the following day.  Got my customary photo op at the EXPO and tried a few of the energy drinks the vendors made available to runners.  Did not spend a lot of time at the EXPO since I was interested in getting a view of the bridge, I would have to cross during the half marathon.  There are multiple bridges in Stuart, but I was happy to discover the bridge half marathoners had to cross was not one of the steep one.  Left with the knowledge this bridge crossing and location would not be as diabolical as what I experienced during the 2022 Florida Marathon in Melbourne.

Went to bed early with the knowledge I would face a challenging course but one that was manageable with good effort.

Drove back to Stuart at 5 am the next morning to ensure I got parking and could warm up before the 6:15 am race start time.  There was plenty of parking near the start/finish line and I made my way over to the race village to get prepared for the race.  Got some stretching in and made one last bathroom stop before heading to the start line.

This was not a large race so there were no corral assignments for the runners.  I settled into the middle of the half marathon pack to ensure there was separation between myself and the other runners.

We were still bunched tight, so I decided to hold back a bit, so I did not get caught up in traffic and possibly bump into anyone. 

Surprisingly, I clocked 9:18 for Mile 1 and felt good doing it considering the amount of traffic I had to avoid.  Miles 1 – 4 all were run with a 9 out front (9:18, 9:38, 9:39, 9:45).  Mile 5 is where we crossed over the bridge for the first time, and I still clocked a 10:52 which is not bad for me with a bridge ascent.  Miles 5 – 8 all were run with a 10 out front (10:52, 10:46, 10:37, 10:41).

The temperature at race time was 74 degrees and it got progressively warmer as the race unfolded.  What’s my point?  Happy you asked!

My race pace, strategy, and energy all took a hit once the temperatures climbed into the mid-80s.  You could say I fell off a cliff or hit the wall after Mile 8.  You pick the race metaphor and it applied after Mile 8. 

Most of the course was run in direct sunlight and the higher the temperatures got the more the sun beamed down.  I am happy with my efforts during the latter part of the race because I was able to bear down and keep moving forward.  My pace slowed but I was making positive progress towards the finish line and found an extra gear to cross the finish line with a smile on my face.  This was not my fastest half marathon but that was not the point of signing up for this race.  My January, February, and March races are laying the foundation for my April and May races.  I have a hard time making myself run fast on my solo training runs so decided to leverage races as my long runs and help me get faster in the process. 

My next race is the Winter Park 10k on March 12, 2022.  I set a 10k PR last year and look to repeat this feat in 2022.  The speed I generate in the 10k will allow me to gauge my fitness levels for the 2022 Nashville Rock N Roll Half Marathon in April and the 2022 Atlantic City Rock N Roll Half Marathon in May.  I will use the summer months to build mental and physical fitness to launch into the next running season in October.

Still got goals and races to conquer!

What goals do you have to accomplish in 2022?

“My doctor told me that running could add years to my life. I think he was right. I feel ten years older already”.

(Milton Berle)

Why I continue to blog

Blog

(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

“Blogging is like work, but without coworkers thwarting you at every turn”.

(Scott Adams)

I never imagined three years ago I would still be blogging about my life, thoughts, and adventures. 

The need for me to document things via the Walk into the Future blog continues to grow as my views and voice get stronger daily.  COVID-19 slowed down the adventures, but I still write to share my ideas with my followers and the occasional new reader around the world.  I also write as a form of therapy for me to release energy into the world—sounds poetic, huh?

It still amazes me when I see a reader from France, India or Spain checking out one of my articles.  Never thought my idea for this blog would travel so well but travel it does. 

I make a point to write about things that speak directly to me and adventures I have decided to tackle.  Some of my best content comes from friends and family who send me topics they would like to read about.  This process is exciting to me because I get to conduct research to bring the topic to my followers.  It is a bit more complicated than just hearing a topic and then I sit down and write.  There are times when the words just flow for me but other times, I must come back to a potential topics multiple times just to get it production ready.  I do not think I have ever experienced writer’s block but there are days where writing just does not flow for me.  I find I just need to clear my mind and let my fingers do the walking—that is an old telephone book reference! 😊

I have had a few articles I wrote but never published on the Walk into the Future blog.  Never thought I would have canned articles but not share them on the blog.  This does not happen too often but the articles I hold back do not fit what I want the blog to represent.  Yes, this is my blog, but it is also open access and I owe it to myself and my readers to put my best work forward daily. 

2020 saw so much turmoil in America and the way black people are treated caused a lot of frustration for me.  My ability to channel these frustrations provided some of my best work (my opinion) but needed to ensure my words match the intended purpose.  I revisit the articles I put on ice to see if I can salvage them, but they remain on ice—I am sure I will share directly with my tree branches but some of these will never be blog worthy (Seinfeld reference).

I find joy in putting words down to see if I can develop into something others would want to read.  The challenge to keep generating articles is with me daily.  I find inspiration to write in multiple settings but me sitting down on my laptop and just hammering out content is the norm for me now.  COVID-19 took away my coffee shop vibes, so I sit at my dining room table with my laptop, beer, and Bob Marley music as I lay down these tracks.

Plan to keep writing as long as it is fun to me and people continue to read what I am laying down. 

My hope is to get back to a certain level of travel again so I can write about my exploits in exotic locales.  Negril, Jamaica is my first stop once it is safe to head back down.

So, I have listed some reasons why I continue to blog.  Why do YOU continue to read?  I welcome your thoughts! 

Irie!

“The currency of blogging is authenticity and trust”.

(Jason Calacanis)

Walking and exploring Lake Okeechobee

Lake O me

“Don’t die without embracing the daring adventure your life was meant to be”.

(Steve Pavlina)

My Walk into the Future has allowed me to experience some great adventures. 

My adventures prior to COVID-19 took me to places that required a bit of planning.  Planes, trains, and automobile (not really the train) got me from place to place so I could enjoy new places.  We are slowly getting back to being able to travel again with more and more people getting vaccinated.  I am excited about the possibilities of becoming a running tourist again.  Please note, I signed up for the early bird special to run the 2022 New Orleans Rock n Roll Running Series Half Marathon next February.  Yes, the Rock n Roll folks changed their name!

The newest adventure for me only took me 35 miles from Fort Pierce.  I have traveled to the town of Okeechobee multiple times because we have a campus there.  I drive over and take care of my work and then drive back to the main campus in Fort Pierce.  A very routine process but realized I had never taken the time to go to Lake Okeechobee.  Imagine being about 10 miles away from the largest freshwater lake in Florida but never visiting.  Decided to fix this issue and get over to the lake for a little adventure.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Okeechobee

My day started with the prospect of severe thunderstorms approaching the area.  Luckily, I did not let this deter me from my adventure. The skies remained sunny and clear, so I took a chance (Walk into the Future) and packed a backpack and headed over to see the big lake.  The drive over was around 40 minutes, so it did not take long to begin the adventure.  There was not much traffic on the road, so the drive was easy.  It is a farming community so not many sights to see on the drive except orange groves, farms, and cows.

I did not create a travel plan for my visit so just decided to make it up as I went.  Parked at the Welcome Center and took in Lake Okeechobee from the walking bridge.  This was my first view of the lake and it did not disappoint.  The massiveness of Lake Okeechobee is probably the most impressive part of being there.  I knew going over it was going to be a large body of water but being there and not seeing a bank on the other side was amazing.  Finally got a chance to break out my new camera with my 80x zoom lens for this trip—it was needed to zoom in on objects in the distance.

I decided to go further down the road and see what other adventures Lake Okeechobee had for me.   Pulled over when I saw a sign for the Lake Okeechobee Historic Trail—seemed like a great place to explore a bit more.  The trail is paved so made my way east and took in the sights.  There were several people at this point fishing, and they were pulling them in.  Guess I will return to this spot IF I ever get into fishing—never been high on my list of hobbies to pick up. Got a 3 mile walk in on this portion of the trip and got more pictures of the lake and surrounding area.  A couple riding their bikes shared they saw bald eagles a little further down the trail so decided to get back in the vehicle and drive down more to where they mentioned seeing eagles.  Would love to get pictures of bald eagles in the wild!  I was also racing time because the skies were getting dark—the rain was coming!

Drove another 5 miles or so down the road and pulled into another segment of the Lake Okeechobee Historic Trail.  There were more people fishing here so the theme of the day is Lake Okeechobee is great if you like to fish. 😊 Again, walked on the trail heading east looking for perches eagles would populate—funny to read that last sentence—how would I know where eagles hang out???

Got a good walk in on this portion of the trail.  I saw birds but nothing as interesting as bald eagle so took more pictures of the lake.  I got lucky and spotted an alligator swimming in water close to Lake Okeechobee.  This allowed me to utilize my zoom lens to get a good shot of a 6-foot alligator—my camera on my phone would not have allowed me to get this shot so happy to have the zoom available now.  Cannot wait to take some pictures in Negril, Jamaica with a real zoom lens!

The skies got extremely dark because of the incoming bad weather so decided to cut my losses and get back on the road to head home.  No need to get caught in a thunderstorm on Lake Okeechobee.  This was a short trip but worth the time to drive over and explore Lake Okeechobee.  May venture back over soon and experience the lake via an airboat ride.  The adventures continue! 😊

“I thought it was an adventure but actually, it was life”.

(www.ecogentleman.com)

 

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas

(Image by Satheesh Sankaran from Pixabay)

2020 has been a tough year for us all!

The good folks from the Walk into the Future blog wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2021 New Year!

The challenges we endured in 2020 will lead to a stronger mentality as we get ready to have a FANTASTIC 2021!

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another”.

(Proverbs 27:17)

I hope the Walk into the Future blog has sharpened you in 2020.  Looking forward to another great year enjoying life to the fullest and sharing my experiences, thoughts, and adventures with you in 2021!

Thanks for walking with me!  Irie!

Merry Christmas!

Calvin

The happy spot: Negril, Jamaica

Curry Goats

Made my annual pilgrimage back down to Negril, Jamaica in May.  Decided a few years back I would travel yearly to Jamaica to enjoy the sun, rum and reggae.  I’ve missed a year here and there but have been consistent getting my Jamaica passport stamp.

The Jamaican Tourist Board (JTB) created the ‘Once you go, you know’ slogan in 2003 to generate tourism interest and get more people to visit the island.  I always thought about the slogan because I wanted to ‘know’ what Jamaica was about but thought it was beyond my price point.  A simple check on Expedia highlighted how affordable a trip to Jamaica can be—prices vary based on brand names (Sandals, Beaches, Palladium) to more economic options (Samsara, Legends, Rock House).  You can spend as much or little as you want based on resort brand, location and all-inclusive food/drink options.

Samsara

My preferred resort is Samsara which is situated on the west end of the island.  The unique feature for Samsara is the resort is located on a cliff.  The cliffs provide unique experiences for guest to ‘cliff dive’ while enjoying the water.  I don’t cliff dive but use the access to put my snorkel gear to good use.  I spend about 3 hours daily exploring underwater caves, following fish and watching Jamaican spear fishermen catch barracuda.

 

Samsara is close to other west end resorts, so I have made a point to visit some of them while on the island.  This allows me to experience additional waterfront views, menu options and drink specials.  My favorite lunch spot on the island is the Rock House.  The Rock House has an expanded menu with a lot of traditional Jamaican food options.  Steamed snapper, peas and rice and callaloo is my go-to meal ‘every’ time I’m there.  Callaloo has a look and feel of collard greens but I will warn you, the Scotch bonnet peppers are smoking hot.  I spend more time pulling them out, but they do add flavor to the dish.

Rock House

I got a bit adventurous and decided to stop at a new spot on this trip.  I pass the Kool Vybes Bar and Jerk Centre every time I’m in Negril but never stopped.  Just assumed everything on the menu would be smothered in Jamaican jerk sauce but they provide the option to have the sauce on the side.  The food at the Jerk Centre was great and may be the best food bargain in Negril.  I will ensure to make it back to the Jerk Centre—recommend getting the jerk sauce on the side if you’re not into spicy food—Jamaicans like food with a kick!

http://realnegril.com/koolvybes/

Jerk Centre

Samsara has a sister resort (Legends) on Seven Mile beach.  Guests have full privileges at both resorts which provides additional options while in Negril.  I can spend time snorkeling off the cliffs at Samsara and then trade for beach activities to include jet skis, catamaran excursions, shopping and dining.  This 2 for 1 resort option is a ‘hidden’ gem to enhance the overall enjoyment while in Negril.

7 mile beach

Reggae

My go to spots to listen to live reggae in Negril are Alfred’s and Bourbon Beach.  I always ask the locals for places to visit and they all agree Alfred’s Ocean Place and Bourbon Beach are the best places to hear live music and catch the Irie vibe.  I’ve never been disappointed with the music or the vibes while at either place.  Both locations are right on 7 Mile beach so you can kick back with a cold drink, listen to the bands and hear waves crashing at the same time.  Very enjoyable experience!

A new place I added to the rotation this trip was Roots Bamboo Beach resort.  Large stage with an impressive sound system with live reggae on Monday and Wednesday nights.  Roots Bamboo Beach is extremely close to Alfred’s and Bourbon Beach—went back and forth between venues when a band had to take a break.

Negril’s uniqueness with cliff and beach access keeps people like me coming back year after year.  It’s always great to meet someone from Europe or Canada and hear they are on their eight trip to Negril—most are like me and stay at the same place every time.  They are in the ‘know’ about Negril.

So, now you know—Negril is my happy spot and I plan to visit as often as possible.  Already looking forward to my next trip down.

What is your happy spot to visit?  When’s the last time you were there?

Sunset 1

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