Go Fish

Fishing has got to be the greatest and most misunderstood sport of all time. It is fiercely loved those who have done it (and done it right), and completely judged by those who have not. Critics say that it is boring, consisting only of sitting around and staring blankly at the water, waiting for it to (maybe) ripple. But as we fishing enthusiasts know, this simply is not the case. As is the case with everything, it may not be for everyone. But more often than not, these critics have merely been done a disservice – taken out onto the water by someone who either did not know what they were doing or were too busy being awesome at it to share the wealth.

I’m going to assume most (if not all) of you reading this are already keen on fishing. However, if you’re not, or if you’re looking to get a friend, family member or reluctant significant other to give fishing a shot (or a second chance), here are some tried and true tips to take to heart to make your outing a success. Because as we all know, there need to be more “Gone Fishin’” signs hanging up in the world. It’d be a happier place.

  • Imagine You’re Stranded on a Desert Island

    We all know the old “what if” question – If you were stranded on a desert island, who or what would you bring? Not that going out fishing is quite so dramatic, but you’re going to be out in a generally serene environment with the person(s) you’re going with. So if you don’t think you’ll have a good time in their company, regardless of how many fish you do or don’t catch, you should probably go with somebody else. Find a good fishing buddy, and you’ve got a good foundation.

  • Do a Little Research

    So you’ve found the perfect friend. Now focus on the best part of fishing: catching a fish. Figure out where you’re going to go, and then find out what kind of fish are actually there. Is it well-populated? Do people generally have good luck? Is it saltwater or fresh water? Are you trying to hook bass or marlin? If you try to go out with the wrong bait, lures, pole, line, etc, you’re not going to catch anything, and you’ll probably have a lousy time.

  • Bring the Right Stuff

    Aside from the equipment we just mentioned, make sure you have everything else you need. If you’re planning to catch and release, great. If not, make sure you have coolers, knives, buckets, ice, etc. If you catch something great, you’ll want to keep it that way. And don’t forget to plan for yourself, too. Think you’ll want some chips, sandwiches, beer or sodas? Bring them! No one likes a road trip without the radio.

  • Learn to Adapt

    You may think live bait is disgusting or unsettling. But the fact is it works (in many situations, anyway) a lot better than the fake stuff. Like we said before, catching a fish is the best part of fishing. Increase your odds.

  • Enjoy Your Catch

    Don’t shy away or go to the nearest dockside restaurant that offers to cook your catch for you. Learn how to scale, gut, clean and cook your fish yourself. That might make you cringe, but get over it. That feeling you had when you caught it will be multiplied by 50 when you taste the satisfaction. Besides, plenty of fishermen have pictures of their catch in hand. Why not have that plus one of it on a plate and in your mouth?

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Why I Had to Stop Biting My Tongue

So, we’re going to break a huge business no-no and (kinda) talk about politics. But before you click away from here for fear of a heated party-based debate and anger placed one way or the other, it’s not like that. I promise. No, what I have decided I cannot hold back on any more are the military budget cuts being proposed, and what they mean. I might be a little ranty at first, but I have a really important point to make, so just stick with me here.

Today, it dawned on me that it seemed every day I was receiving a new email in my inbox talking about one cut or another proposed to the commissary or the DoD budget. So, today I went and checked. And as it turns out, it didn’t just seem that way. I’m not becoming crazy with how busy I am (well, at least on this… overall is really another story). That thought I had is really, truly, depressingly the case. And when that became apparent, I decided I was done biting my tongue. Sure, I’ve posted articles on the company Facebook and Twitter pages about what’s going on from time to time, but I’ve tried extremely hard to state the facts and nothing more. Every time I saw something wonderfully opinionated, calling out someone or another for what they’re proposing, I basically sat on my hands to stop myself from re-tweeting it. Really, guys… I’ve been good.

But I’m done. And thankfully, my computer is keeping me from yelling. Because I’m much more calm and reasonable when I have a keyboard.

Now trust me, I obsessively budget my own finances and have for years, so I get it. If you need to make cuts, it has to come from somewhere. Money, as much as we like to hope it would, just doesn’t appear out of thin air. But why, WHY, does it seem the FIRST PLACES looked at are the DoD budget and military benefits? That’s like me deciding to cut my rent payments out of my budget to save money, but choosing to keep my wine budget in tact. Because after all, I spend a LOT more money on rent than wine, so that totally makes sense right?

Honestly, these men and women are putting their lives on the line every day, whether they’re deployed or not. Because the truth is, that could change at any second, and they signed up for that. Their families are thrown for a loop either dealing with deployments and/or moving way more than anyone should ever be asked to, all because they’ve decided their country, their loved ones, and the service is worth it. The retirees and vets have been there and done that, too, and guess what? They deserve a break. So, why does the government think that the commissaries, one of the few great day-to-day benefits provided to service members, are an easy place to start the slashing? Or that the already horrendous Tricare system should be battered even more? Oh, because it costs the taxpayers a lot of money? Is that it?

Well, last time I checked, government salaries and insane pensions and benefits cost the taxpayers a lot of money, too. And all those random projects that aren’t doing any hardworking American any good sure cost a lot of money. But those are being rolled out like donuts at a Krispy Creme.

What I’m trying to say here is we, as a country and individuals, need to appreciate our military way more than the bulk of us do. It’s not enough to simply have the valiant supporters go to events, wear the t-shirts and protest what is wrongly being done. We need a cultural shift. Our freedom to act and be any way we want to has been taken for granted, and our country isn’t even that old. We need to think back, and I mean really think back to how awful it must have been to not have it. Because if the whole military went on strike tomorrow, we’d be in a LOT of trouble. Unimaginable, almost inconceivable trouble.

Now most people and business owners I run into, especially around here, are very pro-military and supportive. But I do run into the occasional person who is almost anti-military… and it’s quite disturbing. It’s something I just don’t understand. As far as I’m concerned, if you want to be against war and violence, fine. Whatever. That’s your opinion and that’s alright. But when you cross the line to being anti-military, I just can’t handle it. How can you be actively against the group of people who have stepped up to defend you when they don’t even know you? That takes character, and heart, and bravery.

So, let’s ramp up. Let’s show these men and women just how much we support them. Let’s show them that there’s no end to our appreciation of their service and sacrifice. And let’s show them that we’re willing to make some sacrifices for them, too. Because at the end of the day, our lives would be a lot more terrible without them.

 

If you’d like more information on how you or your business can show your support or would like information on upcoming charity events, please leave us a comment here. Thank you all!

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Taking “Long Distance” Off the Bad Rep List

For any of you who have ever planned a wedding, you know it is a LONG process filled with dozens of appointments, more email and phone correspondences than you probably want to count, and decisions on details you never even thought actually mattered (or existed). Now don’t get me wrong, all the planning and time is definitely worth it (if you can keep your sanity), but it is extremely and painfully understandable that the whole idea makes some couples want to just run off to Vegas and never look at another fabric swatch again. But before you go to that extreme, there’s another option: Destination Wedding.

You might think I’m crazy for having just said that, because it honestly makes zero sense that planning a huge, life-changing event like a wedding would be less stressful long distance. But hear me out. You’ve got tons of friends and family at home that want nothing more than to come to your wedding and support you. And while that’s wonderful, that’s also the cause of a lot of stress. The more people in attendance = the more planning you need to do, and on a larger scale. A destination wedding makes it very easy to say that it’s just going to be the two of you and immediate family (and maybe a couple of particularly close friends). And what’s more, when it’s completely impractical for you to go meet with a bunch of vendors and be physically present for every single detail, you can relax. Skype and picture messages suddenly become perfectly acceptable means of communication and approval.

And I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet. Florida business people and wedding planners have actually realized that coming here from all over for a simple, beautiful wedding is not a trend – it’s here to stay. So, it’s quite easy to find full-service wedding planners and coordinators who will take care of darn near everything for you. They find and book the venue, reserve a block of rooms at a reputable and near-by hotel, take care of all the decorations and flowers, find you an officiant or justice of the peace, take care of the music, cake and food… you name it, they do it. You might think just anyone can do this back where you’re from. But that’s unfortunately just not the case. If you’re working with a company and/or an individual who is used to working face-to-face with their clients and taking them around to places, they are going to find it quite trying and difficult to give you the same results when you’re hundreds or thousands of miles away. It’s just the way it is. On the other hand, many of the companies here deal mostly with destination weddings, and have found their niche in how to get you just what you’re looking for without ever physically meeting you (until the big day, at least).

Now, let’s talk budget. Another thing in favor of this Florida destination wedding idea. Like I said before, less people = less stress. But it also means less MONEY. It’s not unusual for a wedding to cost a couple hundred dollars per person in attendance. But aside from that, how fancy you want your venue and decorations to be will determine a lot of the rest. I know I’ve probably said this a hundred times on this blog, but the military is a good thing for you. Given the shear number of bases we have here, most wedding planners have worked with their fair share of military couples. Sometimes, they go the extravagant wedding route with the typical length of engagement (like my parent’s checking account will tell you I did), but more often that not, small and simple is the way they go. And on a limited budget. Which means that these wedding companies are quite experienced in pulling off beautiful events on budgets of literally all sizes. All you have to do is tell them what you have in mind, and how much money you have to do it with. It’s amazing what they’re able to come up with.

You don’t even have to stick to just getting married on the beach (although our beaches here are phenomenal and you really can’t go wrong). You can do a yacht wedding – think about how amazing it would be to actually be on the water; pick a theme park – yep, your chance to take a walk in the shoes of a Disney princess; or pick one of the countless really cool historical sites – the Sundy House in Delray Beach, for example, is crazy charming and has everything you could ever want.

So, de-stress, enjoy your moment, and don’t let the planning overwhelm you. Have input from your own Florida destination wedding? What more ideas of specific beaches or places to go? Need to know how to find a great planner? Comment away or catch us on Facebook (facebook.com/explorefl) or Twitter (twitter.com/explore_fl)!

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Who Cares About a Wedding?

First of all, I’d like to apologize for not posting anything for the last couple of weeks. As it turns out, almost single-handedly planning a parade with over 4,500 trinkets and beads to attach stickers to is WAY more time consuming than I could have imagined. Go figure. But, I am happy to say it was a TON of fun and there was a phenomenal turnout. Thanks to everyone who came on Saturday; we hope you had fun!

 

Now, on to the next thing!

 

So, it’s now March. And before any of you ask, I have NO idea how that happened. I’m still trying to process the fact that it’s 2014. Just like I’m pretty positive I only started complaining about it getting dark early like two weeks ago… only to have my calendar tell me that THIS coming Sunday is time to “spring ahead” already. Seriously? I mean, I’m excited, but I feel like the calendar in my head is about six months behind where it should be.

Anyway, what March means is that we are now dangerously close to wedding season. And especially here in Florida – where the scenery is beautiful, the weather is generally gorgeous, and there is seemingly no end to the miles of insane coastline – our destination wedding traffic is way higher than average. Now I understand a lot of you are probably not planning on getting married and are wondering why this is relevant to you. Don’t worry, I’m getting there.

Whether you’re the bride, groom, family member, friend, or completely unrelated in any way to anyone getting married right now, wedding season affects you. Maybe you’re a photographer, florist, decorator, dress or suit shop owner/employee, etc. Maybe you like the beach. Or maybe you just live here and go places and/or work somewhere. Any way you look at it, the people involved in these weddings will either be visiting your business for something related or unrelated, dining at the same restaurants you work or eat at, taking over the beaches and hotels you enjoy, and increasing traffic. Basically, at the very least, they’re bringing their dollars into your local economy and their presence into your world.

Now let me clarify: it’s hard to convey tone in a blog, so please know I did not mean any of that negatively. The end of the “winter” slump and the beckoning in of lively towns is a great thing, even if you don’t like the added traffic. And weddings are great! They bring lots of (generally) happy people into one place – something we have an unfortunate shortage of more times than we’d like to admit.

So why am I telling you all of this? Well.. this might sound bad, but I’m prepping you. I’m using this blog post to tell you about tomorrow’s blog post. And before I start writing that, I want you all to weigh in. How do you feel about wedding season? Have you ever been to or planned a destination wedding? Did you get married in Florida, or have you been to a wedding here? And finally… if you have experience with any of the former, who was your all-time favorite, saved the day, couldn’t have done it without them, vendor? Because if they’re that awesome, we want to to tell people about them.

So put on your dancing shoes (or flip flops), folks. Explore Florida is walking down the aisle (or beach sand made into a make-shift aisle), and we’d love to see you all at the end of it.

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