"BlueCollar's Travels" BlueCollar's Profile

I live in Florida. Ocoee(oh-koh-ee), Florida to be more precise. Although it was a geographically separate and distinct municipality not too long ago, because of rapid growth throughout the region, it is now just a cozy little suburb of Orlando's west side.

While visiting here you need to be cautious as we have all sorts of dangers that many do not usually give much consideration. Yes, there are dangers in paradise! And they are applicable to residents and tourists alike.

Those are Florida's high heat/humidity, tornadoes, lightning, mosquitoes (carrying West Nile virus), tourists driving down the wrong side of the highway, poisonous plants, poisonous snakes, alligators, and sharks.

Yes, these can all be deadly little aspects that you want to make sure are NOT part of your Florida vacation.

The most notorious aspect is that we are the lightning capitol of the USA. There are more lightning strikes here than any other state and it is usually responsible for killing more people than tornadoes and hurricanes combined on a state-wide yearly average.

However, lightning was over-shadowed in 2004 by the four hurricanes and one tropical storm that struck our State. This storm count was way beyond normal with a death toll and reconstruction bill to match. Luckily, the '04 season was just a freakish occurrence since it's been real quiet ever since.

If you are planning a trip here, keep in mind that hurricane season only lasts from the begining of June until end of November. You will save yourself some headache by planning around that.

Click here for some history on hurricanes in Florida.

Here's a recap of the '04 hurricane season: Tropical Storm Bonnie crashed into the crux of the panhandle. Then Hurricane Charley smashed into Punta Gorda and drove north-northeasterly through the state and exited near Daytona Beach. Then Hurricane Frances came ashore near Vero Beach and smashed northwesterly exiting north of Tampa. Then Hurricane Ivan smashed the western end of the panhandle. Then Hurricane Jeanne closely followed Frances' path.

All of these destructive storms within 6 weeks of one another. That was a record number in the recorded history of these storms. The total damage was into the billions of dollars in Florida alone. People killed, homes and businesses ripped apart by the winds, massive flooding, crops destroyed, tourism hampered; the list goes on.

For those directly affected by these storms, all you can do is pick up what's left of your life and forge ahead. For those lucky enough to have avoided any of the destructive aspects of these storms, you are left hoping that you will have the same next time. Such is life on this peninsula I call home.

Hawai‘i: Our Favorite Place to Vacation

March 2010 Update: Just returned home from another great trip to these Sandwich Isles. We had 6 nights on Maui and eight nights on the Big Isle! New pictures and tips will be posted on VT in the coming weeks as I have time. In the mean time, I do have a complete photo set posted online here. You can see high resolution shots there.

We are not seasoned travelers, but my wife and I have been to many places on our "list" of things to see. As the years go by we hope to check more places off that list.

We have traveled to the State of Hawai‘i nine times for a total of 113 days on-island and have explored five of the eight major islands in this archipeligo. This does not make us experts on the Aloha State by any stretch of the imagination. But it does give us some experience on what can be expected and, as a fellow tourist, that experience can provide at the very least some valuable foresight for anyone in the planning stage of a trip to this tropical paradise.

I have constructed these pages in the hope that they can save you some anguish while planning your Hawaiian vacation. Since a vacation can be a dream-come-true or a total nightmare, I can only hope that my pages might help make your trip to Hawai‘i more memorable for all the right reasons. Hopefully you will be able to explore, experience, and enjoy the feeling of Aloha as we have. But be forewarned: Once it catches hold of you, it will draw you back for more.

If you have a question and do not feel like posting it in a forum, please feel free to use the internal VT email to send me a note directly. Just an FYI: It may take several days for me to respond.

 hui hou aku!


For all of my general tips and things to consider while in the planning stage of a trip to the Aloha State:

Start Here.


Or, if you just want island-specific info:

Hawai‘i (aka: The Big Island)





California was fun. From San Francisco down to Monterey and Big Sur and then over to Yosemite National Park, we caught a good glimpse of what the Golden State had to offer.

Alaska was nice. We went to Anchorage for a few days. Then boarded a train for a ride to Denali National Park. After a few days there, we headed back to Anchorage via bus and rented a car for our drive down to Seward on the Kenai peninsula. Did the fjords boat tour and then drove to Soldotna on the other side of the Kenai to do some king salmon fishing with the Salmon Herder. We got our limit (1 king per person per day) and shipped them home.

We've been to Jamaica a couple times. However, I doubt that we shall ever return since it is too depressing to see the way most of the people live here. Tourist dollars line but a few of the wealthiest people's pockets on this island nation.

We've been on a couple cruises to the Caribbean. Princess was the best. But we really do not like being trapped in a tin can for so many days at a time. Cruises are too confining for us.

Whitewater rafting in West Virginia cannot be beat.

I took this photo while we surfed one of the rapids on the New River. The water comes rolling over the sidewall of the raft tugging it downward but not sinking it because of the self-bailing mechanism. However, my wife (in the blue helmet) was sucked overboard by the flow and sudden movement of the raft just after this photo was taken.

Just up the road is the Gaulley River. It's the best whitewater action east of the great Mississippi River with many Class V rapids along its run.

Who travels all the way to Hawai‘i, the most remote islands in the world, for vacation yet does NOT go the few extra miles to the Big Island to see the red hot glowing and flowing lava coming from Pu‘u O‘o? Answer: The majority of visitors. The Big Island is third most popular island in this chain. A smaller percentage of visitors even consider coming to the Big Island than those who choose O‘ahu or Maui and of those that do, an even smaller percentage care to venture out on the lava fields to see Pele's gift of new land at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

Click here for more info.

  • Intro Updated Apr 12, 2014
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Comments (15)

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Nov 2, 2008 at 2:02 PM

    We often wonder how people can live in Florida with all those storms happening, they are so much worse than the ones we have here.

  • kzapanta's Profile Photo
    Mar 24, 2008 at 5:26 PM

    Thanks for the bday wishes Tim. Hope you and yours are doing great!

  • rmdw's Profile Photo
    Feb 28, 2008 at 9:51 AM

    Nice to hear some positive words about your military. Too many Americans, I find, are questioning everything about their country these days. Not healthy. Bravo to you!

  • spitball's Profile Photo
    Nov 19, 2007 at 5:21 PM

    You can find those Polaroid SX-70's for cheap or next to nothing at Yard sales, keep your eyes open. Your ultralight trip had me considering taking a flight myself. Let's you know you're alive doesn't it.

  • Summer33's Profile Photo
    Jul 31, 2007 at 9:42 AM

    Absolutely gorgeous pics and great words of wisdom! Keep it up!

  • Fullmoonfever's Profile Photo
    Nov 26, 2006 at 5:10 PM

    Thanks for leaving your comment. we are moving to florida soon.

  • Homanded's Profile Photo
    Nov 26, 2006 at 6:06 AM

    I cannot take the credit for struggles, I was but a kid going along for the ride. Parents deserve all the admiration (in my book). Aloha!

  • dl3424's Profile Photo
    Jul 8, 2006 at 5:17 PM

    Your response to my Forum question (Hawaii helicopter safety) was extremely helpful! Thank you and enjoy your future travels.

  • ronaldbarr's Profile Photo
    Apr 2, 2005 at 12:09 AM

    Greetings from Ireland in Springtime! I have enjoyed finding your pages here on VT. Finding out about other parts of the world is my passion. Best wishes ronaldbarr (rookie)

  • damaris05's Profile Photo
    Dec 31, 2004 at 10:42 PM

    Happy New Year!

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