Bioluminescent Kayak Tour

IMGP0915cLast month I was invited* to do something I had heard about, but had not yet tried. As a Florida native, it’s kind of astonishing that I hadn’t tried it at least once, but this sort of thing depends on weather, moon cycles… and is a definite step off the beaten path. What on earth is it? Well, it’s kind of “other-worldly” if you ask me: a Bioluminescent Kayak Tour in the waters of Florida’s Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon.

The first step in our adventure was learning all the right moves for safety and skill The top one on my list to master was The Hula. This move would help counteract swells and other obstacles that “could” lead to going overboard. And while I’ve been canoeing since I was in junior high, kayaking is slightly different and I wanted to have that maneuver down solid!

Kayaks w glow sticksNext up after donning our vests and glow sticks we set out in our kayaks charged with going “straight out” to a particular point before making a hard turn starboard. (Is it even called starboard on a kayak?) My partner Meghan (On The Move) and I ventured out as described then waited for the entire group before heading down the river toward what would appear to be magic!

IMGP0930cDuring the warm summer months the waters of Florida’s Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon come alive with Bioluminescence. Bioluminescence is caused by a chemical reaction producing light energy within an organism’s body. (If you want to know more, here’s an excellent resource.)

So what does that look like when a mullet swims past you, or a manatee glides past you in the water? My first thought was Tinkerbell! If you’ve ever seen a Disney movie, you’ve probably seen the intro where she can be seen swirling through the sky leaving a swath of light behind her.

IMGP0931bFor the entire tour, grown people could be heard giggling like little kids. Squeals of delight ushered a new, yet fleeting, sighting of some creature stirring up the waters and giving us our own mini light show from beneath. On our particular outing we “saw” manatees, fish and even a dolphin!

bio from paddle

The bioluminescent waters proved hard to photograph…

I wish that our cameras could have adequately captured the pretty swirls and glowing affectations. I must have taken 50 pictures of my hands making splashes that looked like radioactive blue milk that night, yet sadly mysterious-looking glow kept its secrets from outsiders, except to those there in person.

If you’d like an adventure like no other, make a reservation with A Day Away Kayak Tours at Haulover Canal Launch and make it soon. The cycle ends as the temperatures drop, which for us means through October.

*I was invited to attend a Biolumiescent Kayak Tour with
A Day Away Kayak Tours at no charge in exchange for my honest review.

Monster Jam Rolls Into Orlando This Weekend

Monster Jam for blogHeart-pounding excitement awaits you at Monster Jam® at the Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium for a show at 7 p.m. this Saturday, January 24, 2015. Drivers compete in a timed qualifying round, the obstacle course, and the ever-wild freestyle event.

I’m not going to lie. I’m a “girly” girl. I like to get gussied up to go to the Orlando Philharmonic and could spend hours watching the dolphins swim gently by at SeaWorld. With the exception of attending a Magic game, or when my son is too far ahead of me on his bike, you’ll be hard-pressed to ever find me screaming at the top of my lungs…until you get me at a Monster Jam event, that is! Then “the voice” kicks in, and I don’t mean my singing pipes!

The first round is where drivers vie for the quickest qualifying time. Monster Jam events happen concurrently around the country, so there are drivers aiming for the shortest times and those all-important points. It’s kind of like compulsory figures in ice skating, that athletes have to do well to be in good standing. (Showing my “usual” interest and my *cough* age.) In the Tampa Monster Jam event we attended, Monster Energy “skated” through the course in 25.173 seconds with El Toro Loco “gliding” in at 25.492.

In between the events, young ATV drivers show their stuff as they race around the track. Color me impressed with the skill and determination of the young racers!

Monster Jam Obstacle Course was next where Monster Mutt won with Hooked right on his heels. In Freestyle, however, I did my most shouting. Some of it was willing the behemoth vehicles NOT to flip over (and if they did, to flip BACK to their wheels-on-the-ground position). At other times, it was “at” the judges (who did not—IMHO— give Madusa and  Monster Mutt their due after being the only two drivers to attempt the huge ramp backflips).

Suffice it to say, if you “think” Monster Jam isn’t your thing, give it a try. If you have kids who love racing excitement (and Hot Wheels!)… take them. And if you have a husband or partner who wants some loud racing, truck flipping, dirt flying excitement…. Well, you get the picture!

Trucks appearing in the all-new Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium are:

  • Grave Digger® driven by Chad Tingler
  • Scooby-Doo™ driven by Brianna Mahon
  • Max-D℠ driven by Tom Meents
  • Son-uva Digger® driven by Ryan Anderson
  • Monster Mutt® Rottweiler driven by Rod Schmidt

    Monster Mutt Rotty in air

    Monster Mutt® Rottweiler

  • Grave Digger the Legend® driven by Adam Anderson
  • Soldier Fortune driven by Chad Fortune
  • Gunslinger® driven by Scott Hartsock
  • Black Stallion® driven by Mike Vaters
  • Overkill Evolution driven by Mike Vaters Jr.
  • Higher Education driven by Jim Tracey
  • Iron Warrior® driven by Matt Cody
  • The Xtermigator driven by JR McNeal
  • Razin Kane driven by Buddy Thompkins
  • Ice Cream Man driven by Roy Pridgeon
  • Jester driven by Matt Pagliarulo
    Subject to change without notice.

Ticket Information
Tickets start at $15 and are on sale now at all Ticketmaster outlets, the Citrus Bowl Stadium Box Office, charge by phone at 800-745-3000, or online at For more information visit

Party In The PitsSaturday 1:30 PM – 5:00 PM
ford dealersBefore the event is the ever-popular Party In The Pits. The Pit Party is a HUGE attraction for kids and families. You can score FREE Pit Passes at your Orlando area Southern Ford Dealers from 12/29/14 – 1/24/15! While supplies last.

Pit Passes are also available at the Orlando Citrus Bowl Box Office, online at or Charge by Phone at 800-745-3000.

Saturday, January 24 – 7:00 PM event ticket along with Pit Pass required for entry.

Can’t wait until the weekend?
Four of the Orlando show’s biggest stars will be on display in this week. Take pictures with the enormous trucks and meet the drivers, before the show in the newly renovated Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium on Saturday, January 24. Best part, it’s free to the public.

Trucks will be on display Thursday, January 22 and Friday, January 23 at these times and locations:

Overkill Evolution | Thursday, Jan. 22 |  3-7 p.m.
Circle K | 190 N. Hwy 27 | Clermont, FL 34711

Son Uva Digger | Thursday, Jan. 22 | 3-7 p.m.
Metro PCS | 1453 Sand Lake Road | Orlando, FL 32809

Max D | Thursday, Jan. 22 | 3-7 p.m.
Circle K | 700 S. Kirkman Road | Orlando, FL 32811

Grave Digger Legend | Friday, Jan. 23 | 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Universal Technical Institute | 2202 West Taft-Vineland Road | Orlando, FL 32837

*Trucks listed above are subject to change.

Monster Jam Orlando Trivia:

A crew of eight works 18-20 hours a day for three straight days to construct a monster truck course!

For the Orlando show, work begins tomorrow morning at 11 a.m.

The entire surface of turf at the Orlando Citrus Bowl will be covered with a wall-to-wall protective polyurethane product. Each sheet of product is 20’ long, 5’ wide and ¼”
thick, and weighs 130 pounds. The work team uses a carpet-pulling device to make a tight seal above the turf.

Dump trucks make more than 200 trips to deliver the dirt

Stadium officials and architects consulted Monster Jam in the development of the $3 million+ Orlando Citrus Bowl’s all-new South End tunnel, which provides Monster Jam with easier access in and out of the stadium.

Each year 700,000 cubic yards of dirt are used to put on Monster Jam events.

The Orlando Citrus Bowl track is approximately 230’ wide by 360’ long.

Once the event ends, the dirt move-out process starts immediately.  All dirt and field protection product is generally completely removed within 20 hours after the Monster Jam event concludes.

Disclosure: Our family received complimentary tickets to attend the
Tampa Monster Jam show in exchange for this honest review.

American Girl Store Opens in Orlando

American Girl opens their 18th store this weekend in Orlando at the Florida Mall, and little (and big!) girls everywhere are squealing with delight. Their 15,000 square foot store features not only every type of doll imaginable, but a doll hair salon, a Bistro, T-shirt design studio, and bookstore.

Here’s what you’ll find inside:

The Dolls
Bitty Baby dolls come in singles, or as Bitty Twins. They look so much like a real baby, and can be customized with different skin tones, hair, etc.
BeForever is the historical line of American Girl dolls. Dressed in period-style clothing (and with incredible accessories!), girls can even have coordinated fashions! (Did you see the Project Runway episode where the contestants were tasked to come up with outfits inspired by the BeForever dolls?) Too bad there’s an adult version of the Kaya-inspired outfit. Totally cute!
Girl Of The Year for 2014 is Isabel Palmer, a dancer. She has her own section of the store, and is available (as are all Girl Of The Year dolls) until the end of the calendar year.
My American Girl dolls can be customized to look just like the little girl who will own her, or configured in any way she desires. Hair color and style, eye color, and skin color can be chosen, as clothing, accessories, furniture and, new this year, pets!

AmericanGirlBistroAmerican Girl Bistro
Make your reservations to dine in the Bistro. Dolls get their own special clip on seats, so little girls can have tea (and food suitable for both children and adults), with both their dolls and parents. A private dining room is perfect for birthday parties or other celebrations.

Hair Salon
Is your American Doll looking a little… well loved? For $25 (and up depending on service), she can be combed, coiffed, and given a whole new look, including having their ears pierced if she so desires.

T-Shirt Design Studio
Make a custom tee for the doll, and the special little girl who owns her. It costs about $34 to make the two.

Book Store
American Girl was started by a teacher, so it’s no surprise that there are books that follow some of the most popular characters, as well as activity books, and more.

Celebrate their grand opening this weekend both in the store, outside the store, and throughout the Florida Mall.



Saturday, November 15, 2014

  • 8:50 a.m. – Ribbon cutting ceremony
  • 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. – American Girl arts & crafts stations (exterior)
  • 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. – Family-friendly activity stations throughout the mall, live entertainment (interior)
  • 6 p.m. – American Girl movie showings (interior, exterior)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

  • 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. – American Girl arts & crafts stations (exterior)
  • Noon – 5 p.m. – Family-friendly activity stations throughout the mall, live entertainment
  • 6 p.m. – American Girl movie showings (interior, exterior)

WHERE: The Florida Mall, 8001 S. Orange Blossom Trail, Suite 420, Orlando, FL 32809





On The Road Family Fun

Road Trip Games artwork smLots of families, like mine, hit the road in the summer. Whether it’s a two-hour hop to the beach or a 20-hour trek across a couple of states, “Are we there yet?!” is bound to be heard from the back seat. If you’ve heard that query before (a hundred times or more!) and don’t want to plug your kids into technology for the duration, consider playing some fun road trip games together instead. Here are a few we’ve come up with or adapted from games we played when my husband and I were kids.

Pick a Point
Everyone in the vehicle gets to pick two things that are “point worthy.” (If you have a large family, you may want to do one apiece.) Some choices we’ve made include: lawn maintenance trucks, signs for fast food, theme park buses (we see a lot of those here in Central Florida), Smart cars, boats on trailers, double trucks, emergency vehicles, a tire piece on the side of the road, etc. Once the “pointable” things are chosen, select a game range time such as “Starting when we get on the major interstate, and ending when we get to exit 150.”

If a person sees something on the list, they point at it and say “Vaccuum truck (or whatever) point!” Someone else (besides the one who sees it) has to confirm each point, and points are deducted when you mis-identify something (like an RV for a Big Rig). Play continues simultaneously among all players, with other car-mates probably having to step in once in a while to referee who correctly pointed and named the point first.

Decide ahead of time what point value goes to a vehicle sales lot! (It’s downright impossible to count ALL motorcycles, RVs, etc., so pre-determine if there’s a bonus for a sales lot, or decide sales lots won’t count at all.)

We usually keep a running total mentally, but a tally sheet works, too.

The Guessing Game
One person thinks of something the other members take turns trying to figure out what “it” is. Questions usually are asked in order of general to specific. (Our first question is usually: Is it man-made, or nature-made?) Guessers take turns asking 3 “yes or no” questions, asked in either a clockwise pattern, or according to age (though in the car, just going round robin is way easier!).

Some helpful questions include:

(For man made)  Is it related to transportation? Can you eat it? Is it found in our neighborhood? Is it larger than this vehicle? (Tip: Don’t ask “Is it large?” Large is a relative term. Is it larger than a ______ or heavier than a _______ works much better.)

(For nature made) Does it live in water? Is it covered in fur? Is it a mammal? Is it weather-related? Can you eat it? (Note: This question works for both nature and man-made since a processed strawberry candy can be eaten as well as a nature-made strawberry.)

How Many Homonyms?
I like to sneak in education games without anyone “catching on.” Thus the “How Many Homonyms” game was born to keep riders from being bored (not board, LOL). Players take turn naming homonyms and using each in a sentence. There are usually no points given, but the person who gets one right is cheered, while a stumped player gets a loud “aww man!”

road trip single carDie Cast Match
Every trip we take (with a duration of 2 hours +) includes the “Box of Cars.” You know the die cast cars I’m talking about! Whether Matchbox or Hot Wheels (or off brands, or WHATEVER), you have a box, too, I’m guessing.

The kid or kids in the back must correctly retrieve the die cast vehicle that corresponds to the real life version seen on the road. Front seat passengers might have a tiny bit of trouble reaching back, so this one is for rear passengers only. The first one to get their hands on it, get a point.

Alphabet License Plate
Take turns finding each alphabet letter, in order, on license plates. Youngest goes first. Others in the car must confirm a find. Each person gets 1-5 minutes to find one, or their turn is forfeited. (You determine how long you’re willing to wait between letters, LOL.) If you pass, you get a demerit, and the next person must repeat the un-found letter. Like in golf, in this game you want the lowest score.

Someone needs to watch a timer, and someone needs to tally demerits. Set a specific game time duration, or go through the alphabet “X” numbers of times.

What games do you play in the car to while away the hours? I’d love to hear your ideas!