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Last updated: December 05. 2013 6:07PM - 1251 Views
By Melanie Yingst



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Shew! I just flew in from Fort Myers Beach, Fla. and man are my arms tired.


I know, I know. I’m not going to get any sympathy for my fun in the sun on a cold, Ohio wintry day like today.


Yet, with the holidays quickly approaching, I hope you find more happiness in your travels this holiday.


Needing to get out of town for awhile, Mr. Obvious and I headed to the sunny beaches for a few days of rest and relaxation on the Florida Gulf.


Mother Nature must have caught wind of my first vacation that didn’t consist of me herding animals to the county fair or harassing my sisters in their homes in their exotic locations of Cleveland and Alexandria, Virginia.


When I travel, I love watching the local news stations and hear what’s plaguing other parts of our nation.


Down in Florida, sink holes are swallowing up homes in neighborhoods like a scene out of Tremors (the best movie performance from country music star Reba McEntire).


I also like knowing what the weather forecast will be during my stay.


Their five-day forecast was shocking and alarming snow birds last week: Highs in the mid-60s and unseasonable cold temperatures …wait for it…of 45 degrees.


Florida please.


But Mother Nature cranked up the heat down there 24-hours after we returned to our respective places in Miami County.


It happens to me way more than it should.


More than three years ago, I went to Florida panhandle and wouldn’t you know it? Record breaking freezing temperature threatened orange and citrus crops. I had to stop in at Target to buy a fleece sweatshirt since I failed to take the weather man’s forecast seriously.


While on vacation, I also love reading local newspapers and see if there are communities similar to ours in respect to local issues and complaints. I also like read about their events and see how their town’s festivals and claims to fame compare to our stellar parties.


So the first day out on the town, I picked up a copy of the “Sand Paper.”


I can not make that up. They get really creative out there. It must be due to salty beach air and palm trees.


But I found a really neat competition going on along the beaches of Fort Myers Beach to which I immediately dragged Mr. Obvious to attend.


This area of Florida is known for its “sugary” sand so I just had to go and check out sand sculptures and the artists who were competing American Sand Sculpting Championships.


I really know how to party don’t I?


It was really cool and this year’s theme was “Home for the Holidays” and featured typical festive sand castles and even an “Sandman” with shell eyes and palm leave arms and sand dollar buttons.


My favorite was a life size Santa lounging on his sand couch after a long night of dolling out presents around the world.


We overheard artists talking about how they traveled from Ohio (yes!), Texas, California and even Canada to compete during the week long competition.


The whole time they were speaking, all I could think about was how they spend their vacation playing in the sand and water to create pieces that would never last longer than 48 hours.


Now that is love of the arts right there.


All in all, we enjoyed the back bay cruise on the boat. I refused to let Mr. Obvious take me out in the Gulf. I’ve watched the movie “Jaws” a few too many times.


I know, I know. Wrong coast and body of water. But my imagination gets the better of me when I can’t see the shoreline and I start to panic at the thought of being a sinking ship.


I just can’t seem to get away from headlines even when I travel and I sure didn’t want to become one while I was on vacation.


Sand sculpting on the sea shore is safe and sound for this land lover. But I’ll take making a snowman out of the cold white wet stuff any day of the week than the sticky, sugary sand this holiday.


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