Ontario, Canada’s Wasaga Beach is Dog Friendly Again!

Wasaga Beach in Canada

Since 2008, Ontario’s formerly dog-friendly Wasaga Beach has been closed during the summers in order to protect some endangered birds. However, as of this summer, Beach #3 is now open to dogs, so bring your pooch to play in the water while the warm weather lasts! (Those of you living in Ontario know that the warm weather is definitely on its way out soon.) Wasaga Beach is on Georgian Bay and is part of Lake Huron. The beach is over 14 kilometers (8.6 miles), and it’s apparently the longest freshwater beach in the world. Wasagha is only about a thirty minute drive from Toronto, so it’s an easy day trip.

If you’re a dog-lover in Canada, you might be interested in this list of dog-friendly beaches and parks in Canada. Here’s a short list:

Sunset Beach – Vancouver

Rainbow Park – Whistler

Chelton Beach Provinvial Park – Prince Edward Island

Pinery Provincial Park – Ontario

Photo: Anutkak43

Three Lovely Florida Beach Camping Spots

Imagine if this was the view you woke up to every morning…

Beach camping is the best. What could possibly better than sleeping right on the sand and having the ocean be the first thing you see every morning? Summer’s are a bit humid, of course, but as fall approaches, the weather cools off you can fall asleep listening to the waves in cooler air. Too rustic for you? Many campsites offer cabins, too. And most are pet-friendly, so bring the pooch for some fresh ocean air.

If all that wasn’t enough to convince you to try beach camping, just think about the cost – it’s very low! At all the sites listed below, you can camp for less than $40/night! Those rates are for the site, not for the person.

1. Grayton Beach State Park – Santa Rosa Beach

Book really early if you can – this is one of the most popular beach campsites in all of Florida. Gorgeous emerald waters, soft white sands and forests which go on and on. You can stay in cabins for about $110/night or in a tent/TV for about $30/night.

2. Fort De Soto County Park – Tierra Verde

You won’t have to rough it here. Washers and dryers are available as are showers, real restrooms and even play areas for the kids. The campsites at Fort de Soto have only recently been reopened after a period of rehabilitation. All the sites here are less than $40, even the waterfront ones. Can’t beat that!

Bahia Honda State Park

3. Bahia Honda State Park – Big Pine Key

I got married in Key West a little over a year ago, and we visited Bahia Honda on our last day – I wish we had gone sooner! What an absolutely gorgeous beach. The water is crystal clear and the sands are so soft. You can rough it in a tent or reserve one of the full-facility campsites or cabins. Sites are $36/night and cabins are $120-$160/night depending on the time of year. Key West is a 40 minute drive away if you get the touristy itch during your stay.

Photos: Mark A. Vargas, Lisa Sanderson

Why You Should Be a Sand Castle Consultant When You Grow Up

Not your ordinary sand castles.

If you were told that you could get paid $6,000 a WEEK to play in the sand, stay in fancy hotels, eat amazing meals and get lots of publicity, would you do it? Ok, ok, so maybe play in the sand isn’t the correct word – but it feels funny saying “work” when I’m talking about sand. In any case, it appears that some people actually do make $6,000 a week to build sand castles. And that’s just not fair.

Or maybe it is. Ok, it definitely is. These aren’t just people playing with buckets – they’re educated mechanical engineers and teachers who happen to be really good at building stuff in sand. And apparently, people are paying them to do so.

I’m not knocking this at all – I actually think it’s fantastic that some artists can make a great living doing what they love. I’m just surprised by the numbers, that’s all. But then again, anyone who has visited a sand castle building competition has an idea that the sculptures truly are works of art.

So, as summer winds down, perhaps you should think about taking some sand castle building classes. Then, come next summer, you can charge upwards of $75/hour to give other people classes – it’s a fun, pretty low-stress way to make a living. Kind of like the kayak rental guy I met in Seagrove Beach who charged $30/hour per kayak to rent them out. He had 10 kayaks to rent, and I watched him rent out all of them every hour for a good three hours. That was nearly $1,000 in one day, for three hours worth of sitting on the beach and chatting with beach goers. Amazing.

Here’s to skilled artists and entrepreneurs. They’re an inspiration to follow our hearts and do what we love in life – and the money will likely follow.

Photo: Jug Jones

It’s Turtle Hatching Season on Florida Beaches!

A baby Loggerhead turtle starts to crawl out of the sand on Kiawah Island

A friend of mine visited Kiawah Island, South Carolina a couple of weeks ago, and she was extremely lucky to be able to witness some baby Loggerhead turtles hatching on the beach! These turtles usually hatch at night, so being able to witness the event during the day must have been amazing. There were dozens of them hatching at the same time, and the Turtle Patrol was there to make sure visitors didn’t handle the babies improperly and to ensure the babies made their way to the ocean safely. Turtle hatching season takes place on Florida beaches from early May to very late October, so if you haven’t had a chance to witness this miraculous event, there’s still time!

Sea Turtle Volunteers help out some baby turtles on Kiawah Island

Kiawah Island’s Turtle Watch website is called the Turtle Nest, and it reports that as of July 31, there were 246 nests on the beach! That’s incredible. This list shows all of the different nests and their hatch dates – it looks like less than 20 nests have hatched so far. Turtles begin laying their eggs at the end of May, and hatching begins in July and ends at the end of October. At this time, special conditions exist on the beach — there can be no bright lights at night and there will be plenty of volunteers walking around the beach keeping an eye on the nests.

Here are some rules to live by if you plan to be on Florida beaches:

  • If you see turtles hatching on the beach and/or trying to get to the water, don’t touch them! Find a volunteer.
  • Don’t scoop them out of their nests and put them directly in the water — they need to imprint the beach on their brains so that they know how to get back to the beach the following year
  • It’s fine to shoo away birds or crabs to keep the baby turtles safe on their way to the water, but again – don’t touch them. Let a volutneer handle them with gloves.

Baby Loggerhead turtles start their journey to the ocean on Kiawah Island

Kiawah Island isn’t the only place you can go to see sea turtles lay their eggs and watch hatching scramble for the shoreline, but Florida beaches pretty much are – over 80% of US Loggerhead turtles make their nests on Florida beaches. You can try beaches in Fort Meyers, Key Biscayne Naples and Miami, for example. I think that this experience is just as cool as swimming with turtles in the ocean!

For more information about this remarkable time of year, please visit the following websites:

The Turtle Nest

Turtle Time

Sea Turtle Preservation Society

A baby Loggerhead turtle reaches the water, Kiawah Island

Photos: Thank you to Kristen Digman for the photos!!

International Coastal Cleanup Day – September 17

Coastal Cleanup Day

Hopefully, your summer has been full of trips to some beautiful beaches. The weather is some parts of the country will be warm enough to swimin the ocean for at least another month, so there’s still time left to squeeze in one more trip! As summer winds down, though, it’s time to start thinking about how you can give back to a beach or coastline near you. Let’s clean up our beaches and oceans!

California Coastal Cleanup Day is taking place on Saturday, September 17. In 2010, over 82,000 volunteers removed 1.2 million pounds of trash and recyclables from California’s lakes, beaches and waterways – that’s an amazing effort! Let’s see if we can beat that record this year. California Coastal Cleanup Day is part of the larger International Coastal Cleanup Day that takes place ever year on the third Saturday in September. According to Ocean Conservancy, in 2010, 7.4 million pounds of trash were removed from our world’s waterways by volunteers. Incredible!

This goes to show you that yes, you can make a difference! Grab a group of friends and sign up for a cleanup in your area, or join one that’s already been organized.

Don’t worry if you don’t live near a big body of water, you can still help! You can pick up trash around small lakes and streams, or work inland — so much of our trash in inland areas makes its way into lakes and streams via gutters — clean up the trash at the source before it has a chance to reach our oceans. Or, get involved in an educational campaign. There are so many things you can do to help.

Some of the statistics from these cleanup efforts are really mind blowing, and hopefully they’ll inspire you to get involved. For example, last year, volunteers all over the worlds picked up over one million plastic bottles — in one day. Let’s get out there and clean up our waters!

New York Coastal Cleanup

California Coastal Cleanup

Florida Coastal Cleanup

Washington Coastal Cleanup

Mississippi Coastal Cleanup

Yucky Beach Trash

Photos: Mikebaird, mesaba

A Day on Clearwater Beach

A Day at the Beach from Buffer Boesch on Vimeo. This is the most awesome beach video EVER!!!!! Best watched full screen. From the creator: “Shot over a two-day period at Clearwater Beach Florida using a Nikon D7000. Pics were then edited in Photoshop and Final Cut Express.”  

Surf’s Up in Florida

Friday morning has revealed better conditions for surfing Irene’s swell on the Florida Atlantic coast. This photo from the Tw0 Palms cam in Cape Canaveral. For surf photos from Wednesday and Thursday on Gulfster. Expect better photos later today. And naturally, there have been some unfortunate storm surf injuries among those who underestimate the power […]

Anclote Key Lighthouse Open to Public September 10, 2011

What: Climb the lighthouse! Anclote Key State Park is having an Open House and the lighthouse is open to visitors. This only happens twice each year! When: Saturday September 10, 2011. 9 a.m. ferry departure. Lighthouse open 9 a.m. til 2 p.m. Where: Sun Line Cruises out of Tarpon Springs provides ferry service to Anclote […]

Hurricane Irene Surf Arrives on Florida’s Atlantic Coast

I just spent some time last weekend on the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk (pictured above). The weather was beautiful when I was there, but Hurricane Irene is bringing rain, strong winds and big surf to the beaches of Florida’s Atlantic coast. The image above is from the web cam at the Sugar Reef Tropical Grill, right […]

It’s a Moon Jelly Summer

Jellyfish look a lot different in the water than they do when washed up on the beach. Their bodies don’t have a skeleton or shell for support, so they are totally reliant on the water. Air just isn’t a “thick”enough medium for them too look their best. Last week there were thousands of moon jellies […]

Hollywood Beach Panoramic Photo

Here is a panoramic image of Hollywood Beach, Florida that I created with my iphone. It is a series of 5 or 6 photos that were combined into one. This is quite a large photo. Click on it to see it full size. You will need to use the horizontal scroll bar at the bottom […]

Never mess with a Fulmar…

A Fulmar chick ready to fledge (Ciaran Hatsell)

Fulmar saved by warden Will Scott (Anne Wilson)

Saturday 27th August comments: After the last few days excitement, the islands have gone quiet again, as the winds have switched to the north-west and yesterday’s Wrynecks have moved on. However we’ve still got plenty to do and that includes helping our birds.

The Fulmar population is at record levels (almost 300 pairs nesting on here) and their chicks are now just fledging (yes, it takes a long time for them to fledge!). Yesterday the team spotted one such newly fledged bird, struggling out at sea and soon the bedraggled bird was rescued and placed in a box to allow it to dry. Although it never really thanked us for this act (it just tried to oil us), the bird was soon recovering and was returned to its nesting area, to try again. This time, try not get waterlogged Mr Fulmar!

New A-wry-vals

Little Egret on Longstone (Graeme Duncan)

3rd for the Farnes (Graeme Duncan)

Stunning in flight (Graeme Duncan)

Inner Farne’s Wryneck (Andy Denton)

Friday 26th August comments: The Farnes…it’s a crazy place. The seabirds have gone, the islands are quiet but a switch in wind direction at this time of year can result in an arrival of migrant birds. The last 24hours has been no different, as the wind has blown from the east and sure enough, the islands have not disappointed.

First the radios crackled as the team had discovered a Little Egret below the lighthouse on Longstone. Little Egrets have gone though an amazing change in the past decade on a national scale, as good numbers now breed throughout the UK, but on the Farnes, they remain rare. Soon after the news broke, all nine wardens were assembled on the Longstone and were enjoying the Farnes third ever Little Egret and the first since 2003.

More was to follow today as two stunning Wrynecks arrived, as individuals performed well on Inner Farne and Brownsman, with a light scattering of common migrants. It’s been a good spell and hopefully this is just the start of things to come…

Snaps & Blabs

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Geri and her husband consider themselves vagabonds who are traveling around the world on a shoestring budget. Oh, let’s not forget – with their three young children right there with them. The website is a mix of home life and travel experiences rolled into one big package with little peanut butter fingerprints all over the outside.

© Gretchen for TravelBlogs, 2011. |
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Taking Your Blog to the Next Level

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The newly-renovated green-credential packed Vancouver Convention Centre

It’s been a while since Travel Blog Exchange ‘11 in Vancouver this past June so I’m a bit late on the guest-post writing bandwagon. However, I know many TravelBlogs readers will be interested in some of the take-away items from the event. This post is mainly for those wanting to take their blog to the next level – be it audience, revenue, marketing, tech and so forth. You might have been blogging for a while and are now considering ways to monetise. Or you might want to promote your freelance writing abilities through your blog. It could be that you just want to focus on better content. So, without further ado, here are some tips straight from some of the TBEX speakers.

Gary Arndt of Everything Everywhere delivers the final keynote

Well-known travel blogger and industry commentator, Gary Arndt from Everything Everywhere, got straight into it and said: “Advertising doesn’t work” in relation to travel blogs. He suggested looking at sponsorship opportunities from the beginning and focusing on developing your own product and personality. He even stated: “Content is not king, personality is king”. If you take this approach, you can leverage your blog to make money elsewhere instead of having to make money directly from it. For instance, Gary does a lot of public speaking engagements and believes companies sponsor him for who he is and his broader communication channels – not his site. Other tidbits included the recommendation to start an email list right away and to not forget travel is a trillion-dollar industry so there are lots of opportunities to go around.

Amanda Pressner from The Lost Girls spoke about knowledge as a value construct. She, along with her cofounders, wrote a book that was inspired by their travel blog and then went on to sell the movie rights. She thinks publications are a great way to establish oneself as a writer and editor. Like Gary, she also stressed the importance of growing yourself as a personality first while looking at sponsorship and consulting deals with companies. Amanda has gone on to join an internet start-up and recommends all travel writers take web programming classes to help navigate the digital landscape.

He holds voice, sense of humour, niches and personality (yet, another mention) as the main contenders for success.

Things got a little more philosophical when Mike Barish of Gadling, Cruzerati and freelance fame got to the crux of it by saying: “You need to figure out who you are”. He believes there is no simple way to unlock the path to monetisation but differentiation from other travel bloggers helps. He holds voice, sense of humour, niches and personality (yet, another mention) as the main contenders for success. He also pulled out the oft-quoted jokes of: “If you want to make one million dollars in travel writing, start with two million dollars” and “If you want to make it in travel writing, marry rich”. This aside, he suggested partnering with other people and taking a collaborative outlook. After all, as John F. Kennedy said, “A rising tide lifts all boats”.

Group travel blog brainstorming

Other quick tips for growth from a plethora of too-many-to-mention bloggers included gathering research using Google Surveys, Facebook Polls, Bit.ly analytics, BuzzFeed dashboards, social media outreach and more. Use the data to look at what time of the day people are sharing your stuff, and adapt to suit. Run competitions to engage your community. Above all, be aware of what you’re trying to achieve at the end of the day. You don’t have to be all things to all people, and can occupy a niche within a niche.

There might come a time when you want to take your blog content to the broader travel media. When dealing with the press, popular travel journalists and writers dished out their fair share of tips to the eager TBEX crowd. Michael Yessis from World Hum highlighted the significance of personalisation and professionalism when doing an email pitch. “Don’t scrape all of the email addresses and send through to every address at a masthead – the same journalist often receives it again and again.” He suggested sending through items that are really targeted and mention something specific. Formulaic press releases are less likely to be used than quotes from another blogger or writer.

“Converse rather than just listening”…

Jen Leo from the Los Angeles Times, who authors the Web Buzz column, recommends reading the work of the people you’re pitching too before sending something through. If you’re trying to get press for your brand, product or site – build a relationship with the journalist first and follow what they’re up too via their writings and social media updates. “Converse rather than just listening”, she affirmed. When sending files through to journalists, try using a file-sharing program or storage service like Dropbox so you don’t clog inboxes up.

Anne Taylor-Hartzell likes to search for something new, that hasn’t been covered before or of a certain angle, to feature on her luxury and family travel site Hip Travel Mama. She looks for unique items and exclusives. She suggests telling journalists why their readers should care (about what is being pitched) and to put yourself in the consumer’s shoes. Include factual information – such as links and stats in succinct paragraphs and bullet points. Don’t say: “Can you cover this?”

“When you’re on the ground, you want to document as much as you can…”

To finish, Robert Reid from Lonely Planet went through some of his travel writing tips. He always researches well and believes travel writing isn’t the same as travelling. He composes his posts and guide pieces using research about a place, quotes from locals, descriptive observations and what you do during a visit somewhere. “When you’re on the ground, you want to document as much as you can,” Reid mused. He also spoke about making cubicle travel pieces better by including people in them.

Overall, there were many gold nuggets to come out of TBEX – and only a few snippets included here. If you’d like to hear what the travel blogging industry has to say next year in Keystone, Colorado, visit: http://www.travelblogexchange.com/

About the Author:
Kate Kendall is a digital marketing and community strategist who’s currently travelling around the world. She works with Travellerspoint and also on The Fetch – what’s on city guides for the business, creative and digital communities. You can follow her on Twitter or <a href="email her here.

Editor’s Note: All photographs used for this piece are the property of the author.

© Gretchen for TravelBlogs, 2011. |
Taking Your Blog to the Next Level |
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Former UCLA Medical School Dean Outlines Valuable Leadership Lessons in New Book – PR Newswire (press release)

Former UCLA Medical School Dean Outlines Valuable Leadership Lessons in New Book
PR Newswire (press release)
Levey stepped down nearly 16 years later, having amassed an extraordinary record of accomplishments, including unprecedented fundraising, elite rankings for UCLA's medical school and hospital, and the building of five new state-of-the-art facilities

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Is the UT System Preparing for a New Medical School? – Texas Tribune

Austin American-Statesman
Is the UT System Preparing for a New Medical School?
Texas Tribune
Lawmakers and local leaders are hopeful a plan unanimously adopted at Thursday's University of Texas System Board of Regents meeting means they could finally get what they've long been waiting for: a new medical school.
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