An Early Morning Stroll Along Pass-a-Grille Beach.

The gulf coast in Florida, especially St. Pete Beach, is well-known for their beautiful sunsets. Waking up right after sunrise one summer morning, I found the area to be just as scenic during the early morning hours.

I approached Pass-a-Grille Beach and the historic district alongside near St. Pete Beach’s southern most point. Some small dunes were all that separated Gulf Way and myself from the sugar-soft sands and the Gulf of Mexico. It was time to walk the short wooden bridge and see more of the gulf with every step.

St. Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico, Florida

St. Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico, Florida

The early morning sun, some blue skies, a calmness to the water and not a sole around, I had this part of the beach all to myself.

St. Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico, Florida

St. Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico, Florida

St. Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico, Florida

Well almost! Some people were hanging out on the pier off in the distance and I hope that other person wasn’t taking a bath haha. :)

St. Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico, Florida

It wouldn’t be a morning along the beach in these parts without a bunch of seaweed that washed ashore overnight.

St. Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico, Florida

The romantic park bench was just hanging out waiting for someone to sit. A beautiful place to just hang out and stare off into the vast, turquoise waters of the gulf. The sun continued overhead, but off in the distance storm clouds were forming over the water. Just par for the course in Florida. :)

St. Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico, Florida

Who is that guy checking out the “Welcome To” sign? :)

St. Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico, Florida

Pass-a-Grille and this part of St. Pete Beach is off the beaten path, a mile or two south off the main highway. It’s a recommended stop. You’ll find shopping, ice cream, restaurants and fishing opportunities to go with the beach. Merry Pier is definitely worth a look.

Checkout the beauty of a St. Pete Beach area sunset. Are there any off the beaten path beach spots you would recommend along the Florida Gulf Coast?

Some Random Roadtripping in Atlanta Thoughts.

Driving through, around and from A to B in any big city can be challenging. Atlanta is no different, offering the driver its own unique challenges. Spending a lot of time driving and observing in the ATL, these random thoughts about being out on the open road immediately came to mind.

Where are you? I’m on Peachtree! The city alone has 71 streets that contain the word Peachtree, countless others in suburbia. Avenues, boulevards, drives, lanes, streets, you name it, you will probably be on a Peachtree something at some point. Peachtree Street, the main street of Atlanta, confuses people all by itself. Giving the answer of “I’m on Peachtree!” will definitely mask where you are at.

Peachtree St. in the heart of Midtown, Atlanta, Georgia

Peachtree Street in the heart of Midtown.

Peachtree Industrial Blvd, Gwinnett County, Georgia

Peachtree Industrial Blvd in suburban Gwinnett County.

Where is the skyline? Atlanta is known, especially on the north side, for lots of hills and greenery. While driving in parts of Georgia’s state capital you’ll think you are in the middle of a forest or the woods versus a big city. You are very close to the Midtown skyline, but you just don’t know it. Then wallah it is right in front of you!

Once it does come into view, the skyline might look foreign even if you have visited before. If you’re in town say once a year, you will notice buildings that were not there before or new ones going up. The skyline from just a decade ago is nothing like what it is today. Atlantic Station, a modern neighborhood with lots of shopping and entertainment options and various tall buildings, popped up out of nowhere in the 2000’s.

Atlanta Midtown & Atlantic Station skylines from The Sun Dial Restaurant Bar & View

Atlantic Station & Midtown skylines from up-top The Sun Dial Restaurant Bar & View.

You will hear “the Perimeter” phrase frequently. When stopping to ask for directions there is a good chance the answer will include something in relation to “the Perimeter”. “The Perimeter” refers to I-285 an interstate which circles the city. You’ll hear place x is just inside the perimeter, it’s 20 miles northeast of the perimeter, etc.

Are there really speed limits? People do seem to drive faster on average around the ATL. At the top end of “the Perimeter”, where most of the heavy traffic is, the speed limit is posted at 55 m.p.h. Really? It seems like you’ll get run off the road if you aren’t doing at least 70-75.

How high in the air can I get while driving?! When driving into Spaghetti Junction where the east end of the “The Perimeter” and I-85 meet you will find five decks/levels of ramps, the highest being 90 feet tall. I guess that is one spot to get nervous at during rush hour and gridlock. On the bright side you might as well get the camera out to capture the views up-top. :)

What direction am I going in? Once off the interstate, with all the hills and trees you’d be hard pressed to find a long, straight stretch of road. One minute the road your on is going north, then east, then you have no idea. Better have that GPS or compass handy.

Sixteen Lanes of Madness. Your driving on I-75 or I-85 on the far outskirts of town and the interstate is four lanes, then it becomes six, then eight and that is still manageable. Then all of a sudden it becomes a sixteen lane free for all around Midtown and Downtown, known as the Downtown Connector. I wonder if that stretch of real estate is part of local drivers education driving? That would be the ultimate test.

The Atlanta Downtown Connector from the 17th Street Bridge.

The Downtown Connector from the 17th Street Bridge.

Atlanta Downtown Connector from The Varsity

The Downtown Connector from The Varsity.

The Atlanta Downtown Connector from the 17th Street Bridge.

The Downtown Connector from the 17th Street Bridge.

Atlanta Downtown Connector from up-top The Sun Dial Restaurant Bar & View.

The Downtown Connector from The Sun Dial Restaurant Bar & View

What state am I in? Between all the northern transplants and everyone else passing through, if you just woke up and got on the road, you could have no idea what state you are in. You’ll see a lot less Georgia license plates then you might think while driving.

Is Waffle House the only dining option? You might think that if your on the interstate in suburbia. There seems to be one at every exit. Up until not to long ago there was one on each side of I-85 in Suwanee. One can only experience so much loaded hash browns! :)

Road tripping in the ATL, like any big city, can be an adventure. Checkout my previous post, Atlanta: Driving Through the Heart, on what a city interstate drive is like.

What unique characteristics or random thoughts come to mind in the city you live in or drive around frequently? Any additional Atlanta tidbits?

The “Magical” Place in New Zealand for me is…

When a lot of people think of New Zealand they think of Lord of the Rings, which showcases one magical scene after another. Road tripping around the country in real life gives off that same feeling.

While driving the North Island, an off the beaten path spot instantly became the “magical” place in New Zealand for me. That place is the Kerosene Creek hot springs.

Kerosene Creek, Rotorua, New Zealand, hot springs

The Kerosene Creek hot spring is a place that makes me dream. It’s a place that makes you put all your worries aside. It’s a place that makes the body feel relaxed sitting in a hot thermal pool alongside a waterfall. It’s a place I got to experience with my best friend.

Kerosene Creek, Rotorua, New Zealand, hot springs, waterfall

Kerosene Creek, Rotorua, New Zealand, hot springs

To get to Kerosene Creek drive along State Highway 5 in-between Rotorua (30 kilometers from) and Taupo (55 kilometers from) and turn onto Old Waiotapu Road. Go about two kilometers, on gravel not in the best condition, and park alongside the road. There will be minimal signage. Once on foot it will be a ten minute or less walk along some lush native bush.

There is the elATLboy! :)

Kerosene Creek, Rotorua, New Zealand, hot springs

Kerosene Creek, Rotorua, New Zealand, hot springs

Kerosene Creek, Rotorua, New Zealand, hot springs

You feel like you are in a fairy tale, a million miles from nowhere.

Kerosene Creek, Rotorua, New Zealand, hot springs

The great thing about Kerosene Creek is that it is free! Because you are in the middle of nature you won’t find a restroom or a place to change. When you are ready to hop in it’s very easy to sit in the pool as it is shallow all around. The water temperature was perfect for us, though I hear it can vary depending on how much rain it gets. Also, the creek does have a bit of a smell, hence the Kerosene name. :)

Kerosene Creek, Rotorua, New Zealand, hot springs

Kerosene Creek, Rotorua, New Zealand, hot springs

It was a great place to soak in (literally) with my best friend. I hope to get back to the “magical” place for me in New Zealand again soon. It is definitely classified as a #NZMustDo!

What is the “magical” place for you in New Zealand? What other hot springs would you recommend around Rotorua?

Trying the Cappuccino Flavored Potato Chip.

Those that follow me know about my love affair with coffee. Whether at home, a local coffee shop or on the road I’m usually drinking coffee in all of its forms. By forms I mean a pour over, drip, Chemex, as part of a latte, etc.

The taste and smell of java deliciousness has made me try things like coffee flavored ice cream, but one day I was roaming a store and saw these…

Lay's Cappuccino Potato Chips

…cappuccino flavored Lay’s Potato Chips. I did a double take. While seeing a delicious cappuccino on a product definitely drew my eye and a smile, I was also thinking to myself, “Huh?”. Potato chips and coffee, really?

This flavor was the result of Lay’s Do us a Flavor? competition. Lay’s ran a contest taking potato chip flavor ideas from everyone, before picking four flavors to produce. One flavor will be saved via a website and social media vote, with the winning contest contributor receiving a one million dollar prize!

I didn’t buy them at first, but after posting about it on Facebook a couple of friends, who I’m sure know of my coffee love, suggested I try them out. So the next the Lay’s Cappuccino Potato Chips were secured and opened right away.

Lay's Cappuccino Potato Chips

Yep, it smelled just like a cappuccino. If you closed your eyes and someone put the bag in front of you, you might actually think there was a caffeinated beverage up close, not a potato chip snack.

I proceeded to taste a few of the chips and was kind of indifferent. You could definitely taste the flavor of cappuccino, but in no ways did it feel like I was eating a potato chip. It wasn’t like anything I had tasted before. The chips contain no caffeine, so naturally I had a cappuccino in liquid form alongside for the ride.

Lay's Cappuccino Potato Chips

Lay's Cappuccino Potato Chips

Lay's Cappuccino Potato Chips

Afterwards, walking around having a dozen or so random others try the chips, the responsive was more on the negative side. One person actually liked them a lot. The rest of the bag was consumed since I bought it, but I probably won’t by it again for that next road trip. Hmmm probably not. :)

Thinking back to the contest, if I had submitted an entry it might very well have been coffee based. Latte potato chips anyone? :) You gotta give Lay’s props for being innovative and letting it’s fans help shape the products it creates. Next time I go to the store I might snag one of those other contest flavors just to try. Who knows unless you try!

Lay's Cappuccino Potato Chips

Have you tried the Lay’s Cappuccino Flavored Potato Chips? Any of Lay’s other “Do us a Flavor” flavors? If so, you can go to DoUsAFlavor.com to vote for your favorite. What were your thoughts?

Standing alongside Owharoa Falls in New Zealand.

New Zealand is home to countless scenic waterfalls, one such being Owharoa Falls on the North Island.

Owharoa Falls, Waihi, New Zealand, waterfall, North Island

Owharoa Falls sits on the Taieri Stream and within the Karangahake Gorge right off State Highway 2 about half-way between Paeroa and Waihi.

It’s actually made up of three waterfalls with the most accessible being only a five minute walk away from the main parking area. You can also see the falls as part of a walk/hike along the seven kilometer Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway.

Owharoa Falls, Waihi, New Zealand, waterfall, North Island

Owharoa Falls is a staircase waterfall with a trapezoidal shape and stands is six meters tall.

Owharoa Falls, Waihi, New Zealand, waterfall, North Island

Owharoa Falls, Waihi, New Zealand, waterfall, North Island

Owharoa Falls, Waihi, New Zealand, waterfall, North Island

Owharoa Falls, Waihi, New Zealand, waterfall, North Island

Owharoa Falls, Waihi, New Zealand, waterfall, North Island

Owharoa Falls, Waihi, New Zealand, waterfall, North Island

Owharoa Falls, Waihi, New Zealand, waterfall, North Island

It was a 90-120 minute drive from Auckland, making it a great day trip option. A fun experience standing alongside Owharoa Falls, with swimming next to being another plausible option.

Owharoa Falls, Waihi, New Zealand, waterfall, North Island

What waterfalls would you recommend checking out in New Zealand?

An Ann Arbor Morning Stroll Along the Huron.

Just north of downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan, a little bit off the beaten path, is Barton Park. Here along Barton Pond and the Huron River you’ll see the calmness of the blue water and all the lily pads and greenery that surrounds. It’s a place close by, yet away from all the interstate and city noise. It makes for a great place to walk, run and get away in the early morning.

Barton Pond,, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Huron River

Barton Pond,, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Huron River

Barton Park, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Huron River

Barton Park, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Huron River

Barton Park, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Huron River

Barton Park, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Huron River

Well it’s time to continue out on the open path. :) Stay tuned for when I roam across the Huron River into the Barton Nature Area.

Barton Park, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Huron River

Any other parks, trails or sights that you would recommend checking out along the Huron River around Ann Arbor?

Finding that Pure Michigan Sunrise Spot.

Dawn was fast approaching along the Lake Huron coastline in Michigan. I was out on the open road in the wee hours of the morning looking for a place to capture the sunrise over the waters of the second biggest Great Lake. Driving along Heritage Route U.S. 23 between Au Gres and Tawas City, I randomly spotted the Singing Bridge Public Access Point. With not a soul around, I parked, walked a few steps and below is what I saw.

Lake Huron, sunrise, Michigan

Lake Huron, sunrise, Michigan

Lake Huron, sunrise, Michigan

Lake Huron, sunrise, Michigan

Lake Huron, sunrise, Michigan

Lake Huron, sunrise, Michigan

Lake Huron, sunrise, Michigan

Lake Huron, sunrise, Michigan

Lake Huron, sunrise, Michigan

Lake Huron, sunrise, Michigan

I can now see why the Lake Huron coastline in this part of Michigan is known as the Sunrise Coast. Beautiful colors and scenes await those who live or travel along here every day. In fact, I went back to the same spot on another road trip to experience the romantic scenery all over again. :) Gotta love random finds!

Where have you captured a sunrise around home or in your travels that you’d like to go back to over-and-over again?