Comparing Local Preserves

For those who live in Manatee County, this is for you.

Many people know about the wonderful Robinson Preserve. Lots of space, something for everybody, including your four-legged friends. But I’m going to guess that fewer people know about two other preserves very close to Robinson that are pretty wonderful in their own way. They are both located on Manatee Avenue before you get to the bridge crossing over to Anna Marie.

Perico Preserve is first, on your right immediately passed Perico Bay. Here’s what I like about this preserve:

  • It feels the most natural of all three preserves. There are fewer signs of development such as pavement and wooden walkways.
  • The entire pathway can be walked in about 30 minutes, depending on your leisure.
  • There is a walkway leading you to a lookout across the bay to Robinson.
  • Much of the path circles around a rookery island.
  • Bikes are not allowed on portions of the pathways, and dogs are not allowed.


Neal Preserve is about a half mile west of Perico on the left. It is the smallest of the three with probably less than a mile of walkways. Here’s what I like about Neal:

  • I’ve been there twice and both times I’ve been the only person there. You may have the place to yourself.
  • There’s a tower overlooking the bay with the bridge to your right. It is a great place for sunset viewing.
  • There’s a nice mixture of natural and wooden walkways.
  • I believe it has the best photography and video opportunities of the three preserves.
  • Bikes not present either time I’ve been there; pets aren’t allowed.


If Robinson doesn’t quite suit you, these two just may. The weekend isn’t over..give them a look.

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Dude…You’re in the Restroom…at the rest stop

(An “Own It” series for Dudes)

This month I’ve been doing quite a bit of driving. Trips have been anywhere from three to nine hours in length. Therefore, I’ve had reason to make a few pitstops. One such stop was memorable. It was a rest area in PA.

Frankly, PA has nothing to do with it. I’ve experienced the same scenario before, but in a different way. In the other scenarios I wasn’t actually in the room, so not the same experience. I’ll get back to that.

The experience has to do with dudes and their phones. Before you go there, no dude’s phone got dunked…not this time. Water wasn’t involved. 

When I walked in, there was a dude in the first stall. While a couple others of us “rested,” the dude in the stall’s phone rang. And, you guessed it, he answered it. Not only answered it, but he was still carrying on the conversation when I walked out.

Dude, you’re in a stall…using the restroom…at the rest stop. Doing business while doing business isn’t something the rest of us need to hear, see, or filter through any of our senses. For us other dudes, please observe the following manly restroom and phone pointers:

  • If your phone is your business line, consider yourself out of the office for a few minutes when you enter this “not private” office. For that matter, for your customer’s sake go ahead and declare that for all restrooms.
  • If you know that the ringing of your phone is simply irresistible for you to ignore, leave the phone in your vehicle. Most likely, you’ll get finished faster as well as get back to your phone and the highway more timely.
  • If the restroom becomes somewhat of a man cave for reading or playing games on your phone at your actual office or home, keep it that way. Get in and out at the rest area. Here’s a suggestion: pretend you’re at the stadium and it’s halftime. There’s a reason why reading materials aren’t provided.
  • If you must carry your phone with you for reasons for which you probably need to see a counselor, let all calls go to voice mail. People really don’t expect you to answer 24/7. They get it. They most likely won’t get it when they hear flushing and other noises from the other business guys in the room.
  • And back to that other thing, don’t be that guy…the guy that has to answer, “In the restroom,” when asked by your caller, “Where are you?” Your caller doesn’t need that visual. Again, senses.
  • Finally and seriously, own your phone. Don’t let your phone own you.

Sabbatical: Week 2 Project

This morning I headed out from TN where I’ve spent the week in Nashville. The weekend will take me to Indiana and Kentucky to run two races, and I’ll end up in Ohio to visit a friend for a few days before heading to NY on Tuesday.

A few weeks ago I posted a video teaser about my sabbatical activities. You were probably smart enough to figure out that the video footage was from a recording studio. If not, here’s the scoop. 

Over the years, people have encouraged me to do a recording. I’ve always dismissed the idea for lots of reasons, the main one being time. So when I was given the opportunity to take a month’s sabbatical, that excuse was no longer valid. Back in the spring, I connected with a producer, and we’ve been working on this project since then with the target of being prepared to do the recording this week. Target met.

I could write a lot about this process, but for now I’ll just relay what we did this week.

  • Monday was a full day at The Library Studio in Joelton where 18 string and brass players added their talents to seven of the songs. In the picture above is Dave Bechtel, producer, and Robert Nugent, arranger and pianist.
  • Tuesday and Wednesday the woodwinds were added, and we got vocals for nine of the songs recorded.
  • So yesterday was the final day, getting the last song recorded and some final tweaking.

The project is by no means complete. But you are now “in the know.” I’ll share more as we move along.

Sabbatical: Week 1 Roadtrip

Last week was a step back in time. My mom and sister Debra joined me on a roadtrip to Illinois. Final stop, Beecher City, population 500. This was a delayed 80th birthday trip for my mom to visit her twin sister and brother-in-law. 

Last time I was in Beecher City was probably before I started kindergarten. What would I know, but it appears not much has changed. For instance, to our surprise at the gas station, we received full service. I can’t remember ever receiving that. Anywhere.

We enjoyed the disconnect from the rest of the world for a few days. My mom and aunt enjoyed seeing the home they grew up in (cover photo above) and their high school and even catching up with classmates from their elementary one-room school classmates. A taste of yesterday. In this place. A meaningful week to start a sabbatical month.