We’re in Vegas!

1 Nov

Okay, so let’s catch up on our travels through Florida.

What a beautiful place! We all just loved Florida. We had gorgeous weather all of the time (a few short rainstorms, but nothing to disrupt any plans) and we got to see some really amazing places.

We landed in Miami (see previous post) and did the Jewelers International Showcase show in Miami Beach. I’m glad we got to see Miami Beach, even though the show itself was horribly disappointing and the town itself was very expensive. I don’t know if it was related, but that weekend was right during the government shut-down, and there were very, very few buyers walking around. We only had two small sales the whole weekend (which was even more disappointing since we’d had to borrow money to get in).

From there we drove across Alligator Alley. That was very interesting, although we didn’t spot any actual alligators (more on that later). I was really hoping to see some in the wild. We drove through the Fort Myers/Sarasota/Longboat (?) area and I fell in love with it. The beaches were beautiful, the water was perfect, the people were very nice, we found some great hotel deals, and we discovered a new favorite cheap restaurant – Steak n Shake. 🙂 Seriously, if you haven’t eaten at a Steak n Shake, you should! The food is very good, cheap, and their shakes are to die for.

We spent about a week in Tampa, which was also very nice. Very friendly place, easy to navigate (at least the parts that we were in), and again, beautiful weather. The bead show there was also a little disappointing, but I’d love to go spend some time at the nudist resort just north of Tampa (Paradise something). It looked like a really fun place. The highlight of that part of the trip, though, was getting to have lunch with Alison Oburia and Lara Valentine. Such sweet ladies!

From there we went to Panama City Beach for a tattoo convention. Okay, I admit to my geographic ignorance: I had never heard of Panama City Beach before, but now I’m enlightened. It was a great place. A couple of our best beach days occurred there, and we saw the most interesting ocean life there (dolphins, cow-nosed rays, puffer fish, a sea turtle, what I called “ballet fish” but I think are really mullet or something, and a few other things I can’t remember at the moment). It was a beautiful resort with a really interesting tourist town. I was actually quite sorry to leave the area.

Then we drove all the way down the east coast to Key West. Key West was a really cool place. It had a great atmosphere, good food, and the best show we’ve had in a very long time. Fantasy Fest was an experience I’d definitely recommend for anyone (over the age of 18). Body paint artists were everywhere, and some of their work was absolutely gorgeous. The people were friendly, there were cruise ships going in and out, it was fairly easy to get around if you don’t mind narrow streets, and the seafood dinner we had on our last night was fabulous. I could very easily live there for awhile.

Okay, back to the gators. I finally did get to see some (tons, actually!) when we stopped at a gator farm in the Everglades. It was a great experience. We took a short airboat ride (fun!) and got to see the gators at different growth stages, from a few inches to HUGE. The coolest part was the feeding desmonstration, though. There must have been a hundred gators climbing over each other trying to get close to the guy who was tossing out chicken pieces. Interestingly, he said that feeding them that way actually makes them more dangerous than wild ones, since they basically considered him as a walking meal with chunks falling off him into their mouths. (Shiver) But they were fascinating to me, for some reason. I’m not sure I’d really like to encounter one in person without a heavy-duty fence between us, but it was really fun watching them swim around in the pools.

But now we’re back in Vegas for an intensive writing weekend with Anna Riviera, Marla Monroe, and several other Siren authors. We’re finalizing the first book of our co-written series with Anna Riviera (it features cops!) and laying out the next couple of books while we catch up with old friends and meet some new ones. Looking forward to a fun and productive weekend! We’ll be home next Wednesday – not sure how I feel about that. I miss Daisy and will be really happy to see her again, but I know Florida is going to be in my thoughts a lot until I get to go back! It’s been a good six weeks. Not without its problems, of course, and not nearly as lucrative as we’d have liked it to be, but very educational and motivational. We need to sit down now and crank out some books! The next Clifftop book is about 60% done, by the way, and I’m hoping to get much closer to 100% over the next week. Time to put our noses to the grindstone!

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