Sunday, November 30, 2008

Turkey Stats

I recently picked up a publication that glossed over the stats of holiday economics. It's hard to believe we're in a "down" economy when you read these sales projections ... 30 million live Christmas trees sold ... over $5 billion spent on games and toys ... over 100 million pounds of eggnog consumed. These big numbers sound fascinating and surreal to me. I thought, wouldn't it be interesting to get some of these types of facts locally from our Innkeepers?

One local Innkeeper, Tamara at the Captain's Inn, not only had a house full of guests, but a house full of relatives as well! A total of 10 guests, 8 relatives and two neighbors came over for Thanksgiving dinner. So what does it take to prepare Thanksgiving dinner for a party of 20? Considering that I'm an only child and my holiday dinner parties typically never exceed 6 people ... inquiring minds want to know ...

Let's see ...

144 eggs

20 loads of laundry ... (and as of today) 8 more to go ... 3 washers and 3 dryers running

30 lb turkey

25 lb ham

40 potatoes

4 gallons of milk

2 gallons of orange juice

2 gallons half & half

2 home baked apple pies

2 home baked pumpkin pies

6 cases of soda

over 500 ornaments decorating 7 Christmas trees throughout the house

and too many bottles of wine to count!

Although she's practically been living in the kitchen for the past 3 days, Tamara says she loves entertaining. "I've really enjoyed spending time with my family. Especially my 12 year old granddaughter. Everybody pitches in and helps out." And isn't that what the holidays are really about!

--Rachelle

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Light Lure

Edward Johnson created the first string of electric Christmas lights in the late 1800's and it seems we have been in awe of the luminescence of the season ever since! You can't help but smile while driving by homes and businesses decorated with strands of lights, illuminating the night during the darkest month of the year.

Even before we donned trees with candles and then electric lights, Innkeepers used to place a candle in a window to show that the room was vacant and this tradition later evolved into a universal sign of "welcome."

Last night we enjoyed that warm and fuzzy "welcome" feeling as we watched our city flip a switch for Light Up Mount Dora. This festival kicked off the holiday season turning on a display of over 2 million lights that will sparkle throughout Donnelly Park during the season.

If you happened to miss it, don't despair. The lights will be on every night through the end of January and there are several other events of merriment with entertainment, carolers, late shopping and even Santa Clause. Mount Dora's Christmas Walk will be taking place this coming Friday in downtown from 6 to 9 pm.

Later this month, there will be an old fashioned Christmas parade and a lighted boat parade, snow in the park for the kids, a Movie In The Park (Polar Express), and the Innkeepers 2nd Annual March of Wines benefiting Toys for Tots. For more specific information about these events, please visit www.WhatToDoInMountDora.com.

Come and see us! Enjoy the season.

--Rachelle

It's a Wonderful Life


It is a wonderful life to be an Innkeeper ... during the season especially! The month of December is bringing with it a ton of fun ways to celebrate. In addition to the March of Wines event, Christmas Walk next Friday and our local community theater performing It's A Wonderful Life, several of our local Innkeepers are also offering packages to make it a wonderful life for our guests as well.

I've included a brief description of season specials below. Please click through to each Inn's website for more information and availability.

Adora Inn
Tis The Season Package --
Enjoy two nights in a wonderful room and receive a complimentary culinary gift to take home with you.

New Years Eve at Adora Inn -- Book a one night stay on New Years Eve or the following weekend and include a wonderful candle lit "Dinner at the Inn" for two.


Farnsworth House
Special Christmas themed room, movie nights & horse drawn carriage rides.

Mount Dora Historic Inn
Gift Certificate specials great for gifts and stocking stuffers.


Captain's Inn
Winter Weekday Getaway Package -- 3 Day/2 Night package includes
breakfast in bed for two, Saturday afternoon boating on Lake Dora exploring the Dora Canal and a private candlelight romantic dinner for two.


New Years Eve with The Captains -- 4 Day/3 Night package includes Historic Lakeside Inn Gala New Years Eve Party, late day breakfast in bed and exploring the Dora Canal with Captain Barry aboard the "Mount Dorable."


Tremain Street Cottages
5-Night Seasonal Special, boat tours, and horse drawn carriage rides available to view Lights of Mount Dora only 1 block away.





Blogs In Motion

Doing a little experiment this week with blogs in motion. Remember the story I posted called "By The Wayside?"

Below is a video I was able to create on that trip. I hope to post more videos about our local Inns soon. Let us know what you think!



video

Saturday, November 29, 2008

March of Wines


One of the things I enjoy the most about the holidays are the drinking and merriment. Great wine and great friends. The warm and fuzzy feeling of joy you get when you participate in something fun that is simultaneously helping others. Such is the March of Wines event presented by the Mount Dora Lodging Association.

To raise funds for the Marine Corps' Toys for Tots campaign, the Mount Dora Lodging Association will present the Second Annual March of Wines on Sunday, December 14, 2008 from 5 to 9 pm, in downtown Mount Dora. The progressive holiday wine tasting will tour five festively-adorned inns, including the Heron Cay, Farnsworth House, Captain's Inn, Adora Inn, and Tremain Street Cottages.

The spirit of the holidays begins as Christmas carolers from the Warren Acting Company greet guests boarding an old-fashioned trolley. Arriving at the inns, guests will sample a selection of regional wines provided by The Wine Den, The Cellars at Maggie's Attic, and Wine Cellars of Mount Dora. Showcased wines will be paired with select finger foods and desserts prepared by the Goblin Market, Frosty Mug, 5th Avenue Café, One Flight Up, and Saucy Spoon Catering. Wrapping up the tour, Victorian-costumed carolers from the First Presbyterian Church will entertain with songs of the season.

Many guests will leave for home carrying their own Christmas gifts courtesy of Mount Dora merchants, restaurateurs, and innkeepers who are donating exclusive raffle items such as bed and breakfast gift certificates, decorated gift baskets, complimentary dinners, wine packages, salon treatments and more.

"Last year's event was a big hit," says John Cataldo, president of the Mount Dora Lodging Association. “Not only was it a sellout, we filled two SUV's with toys and donated a $1,000 in cash. This year with more Inns participating we're hoping to contribute even more to Toys for Tots.”

Tickets for the 'March of Wines' holiday tour are $50 per person and limited seating is available. Attendees are encouraged to bring a new unwrapped toy donation for Toys for Tots. For more information and to reserve your seat now, contact the Adora Inn at (352) 735-3110.

Chow Chow

If you love to travel with your pets, then gather up your furry pals and come visit us in Mount Dora. Perhaps one of the most pet friendly towns in Florida, Mount Dora has a number of pet friendly lodging establishments for your travel needs. For longer term stays and larger breeds try Tremain Street Cottages or Mount Dora Cottages in the Historic Downtown. If you want a cozy Bed & Breakfast atmosphere you will find pet friendly accommodations at the Grandview Bed & Breakfast, The Farnsworth House, The Captain's Inn and the Heron Cay Lakeview. For a complete list of pet friendly lodging establishments please visit the Pet Friendly section of the WhatToDoInMountDora.com website.

Mount Dora even has it's own website dedicated to showcasing each pet that resides in Mount Dora at The Dogs of Mount Dora.com . Here you can find out about each pet that lives in our town along with their heartwarming stories and photos to make you smile.

We have our own Mount Dora Dog Park, Mount D.O.R.A. (Dog Off-leash Recreation Area). The City of Mount Dora along with private citizens built this park last year and kicked the whole thing off with the first annual BarkFest. They raised enough money for future expansion of the Dog Park.

Downtown on the corner of 4th and Donnelly you will find Piglet's Pantry, Mount Dora's only dog bakery, and in fact one of the only dog bakeries anywhere in the country. Here you will find an assortment of treats that are sure to please the canine pallet.

We also have Hobscott Pet Supplies which is a holistically minded pet store specializing in natural pet foods. The owners are true pet lovers and have over 40 years experience to share in the trade. Be sure and take your pet for a visit.

Also, a number of eateries and restaurants in town allow pets in the outdoor seating areas. Pets are welcome outside at 5th Avenue Cafe, Chew Chew Express, Cecile's French Corner, One Flight Up Coffee Bar, The Mount Dora Coffee House and Pisces Rising on the deck. Some of these establishments will provide fresh water and treats for the furry visitors.

Plan your next trip to Mount Dora with your pet in mind.

Chow Chow for now,

Rachelle

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Easy As Pie

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Last year, I remember slaving in the kitchen for an entire day making a spiced pumpkin cheesecake with bourbon cream. Straining the pumpkin ... folding the pumpkin ... making the ginger graham cracker crust from scratch. All-in-all it took me about 6 hours to make. Then I find out that there are more people coming to our dinner party than planned and I thought, "oh crap! There's not going to be enough cheesecake!" So, knowing that I didn't have another 6 hours to whip up another one of these babies, I made a simple pumpkin pie from the recipe off the can. And would you believe, everyone loved the PIE more than the CHEESECAKE!?!?! The pumpkin pie was gone as soon as I put it down on the table, but I had leftovers of cheesecake for the entire week (not very good for my girlish figure).


Maybe it is the tradition of the dessert that gives us comfort and a little sentimental nostalgia, but pumpkin pie is always a Thanksgiving favorite. In case you need to whip one up last minute this Thanksgiving Day, here is the recipe to show you how quick and easy it is. Enjoy the holiday! Don't stress over dessert.

INGREDIENTS


1 Can Pumpkin (15 oz)

1 Can Evaporated Milk

1 Unbaked 9" Pie Shell

3/4 Cup Sugar

1 Tsp Salt

1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon

1/2 Tsp Ground Cloves

2 Eggs


1) Mix all of your dry ingredients together ...
sugar, salt, cinnamon, & cloves. Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.


2) Beat eggs in a separate bowl. Like my action shot?
I'll call it my egg blob. Yeah, it's not really a high-tech sports camera. Ha!


3) Add pumpkin to sugar and spice mixture.
Then slowly add in eggs and evaporated milk.



4) Pour mixture into pie shell. Then, take one beaten egg white
and gloss the pie crust for that browning effect.
In the absence of a pastry brush, it's just as easy to use your fingers.


5) Cover just the edge of the crust in tin foil (to prevent burning)
and bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for 45 minutes.

Voila! Easy As Pie!




Happy Thanksgiving!
--Rachelle

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Cornbread Stuffing

Here is another Thanksgiving recipe courtesy of Coconut Cottage Bed & Breakfast. Nancy says, "I don't generally write things down when I cook , whatever I accomplish is pure luck and happenstance." I am the same way in the kitchen. A dollop of this ... a pinch of that ... let's try a little of this ... it is experimental and fun. Enjoy!


MAMA’S CORNBREAD STUFFING
(serves four-six)


INGREDIENTS

2 boxes of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
9 eggs
2/3 cup milk
A dollop of mayonnaise
3 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 medium onion
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons of butter
parsley, sage, salt & pepper (to taste)


DIRECTIONS

Prepared 2 boxes of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix by adding 3 eggs and 2/3 cup milk and mix.
Add a dollop of mayonnaise .
Add 3 tablespoons of sugar.
Stir until blended, batter may be lumpy.
Pour mix into two round cake pans
Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

While cornbread is baking:
- Finely chop 1/2 cup celery
- Finely chop one small – medium onion
- Coarsely chop 1/2 cup pecans

Boil turkey or chicken livers and finely chop.

Boil remaining 6 eggs and slice.

Will need turkey or chicken stock to blend.

In a large round pan, melt two tablespoons of butter and remove from stove. Crumble both pans of bread, add celery and onion, livers and turkey or chicken stock and mix.

If stuffing is too thick add a touch of water and extra butter, until you achieve desired texture. Add salt, pepper, sage and parsley to taste. Mix together and cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes, until celery is soft.

Fold in the pecans and boiled eggs and let settle.

Enjoy!

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

By The Wayside

Ever have the opportunity to thank someone that inspired you to make a big change in your life? This past week, I had such an opportunity.

I was in the DC area for training and I had two interesting moments of looking back at my past through a lens.

The first of those moments was when I pulled off the interstate at the exit of the town I grew up in. I had no plans. I didn't know where I was going. I didn't remember my exact address since I was only 7 when we moved, so this was going to be one of those adventures of getting lost. Don't you just love those!? It's my favorite kind of trip. Anyway, after about 15 minutes of wrong turns, I found the house I grew up in. Absolutely surreal. Sometimes I think our past plays in our head like some movie we once watched ... but this type of moment validates that "yes, it really happened. I really did live here!"

My second moment was visiting the bed & breakfast that inspired Brian and I to become Innkeepers. It's the Wayside Inn, in Ellicot City, Maryland. David's hospitality was the inspiration for me to get out of the corporate world, trade-in my high heels for flip flops, and get into tourism and entertainment.

The Wayside Inn is over 200 years old, which appeals to my inner-history buff. I pretty much just stand there silently in awe. There is a tree on the property that has been there since the Declaration of Independence was signed and local lore states that famous guests included General George Washington and John Quincy Adams. The exterior brick is 22" think solid granite, enveloping modern renovations and amenities sophisticatedly done with comfort in mind.

David's finesse made being an Innkeeper look so easy! And as I have learned later from operating our own lodging establishment, that is not always so. But even on the days where it seems like we're working really hard, the perks more than make up for it. I'm definitely enjoying this chapter of my life of Innkeeping.

--Rachelle
Tremain Street Cottages

Friday, November 21, 2008

Holiday Feast & Fixin's

I feel like I just gained a whole week of my life back. For the longest time I thought THIS past week was Thanksgiving. Thank goodness I was set straight before putting a turkey in the oven!

If you haven't done your T-day shopping or if you are just browsing for some more holiday cooking ideas, I've wrapped up our best holiday recipes below and included one new one that will probably blow your mind.


STARTERS & APPETIZERS






MAIN DISHES


Peanut Butter Turkey Baste
by Magnolia Inn

Now, this one was the WOW-BLOW-MY-MIND turkey tip for me and one that we have not yet previously posted. Betty, Innkeeper at the Magnolia Inn, shared that they always smother their turkey in peanut butter. Yes, I said peanut butter. I love peanut butter. I'm even a big fan of Elvis' PB & Banana sandwich, but I would have never thought to baste a turkey with it! According to Betty, the peanut butter seals in all the juices making the turkey extremely moist. I'll have to try this one!



SIDE DISHES



Crazy Easy Cranberry Sauce
by Tremain Street Cottages



BREAKFAST THE NEXT MORNING

If you have family over and are planning to make breakfast too,
then definitely take a look at these pancake recipes.


Apple-Puffed Pancakes
by The Captain's Inn

Leander Pancake Wraps
by The Farnsworth House

Sweet Potato Pancakes
by Mount Dora Historic Inn

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Confessions of a Wino

How did your wine journey begin? Mine started in college with a fruity, fizzy, wine "cooler" that actually had no wine in it at all. But I thought I was cool.

I then graduated to a Blue Nun Riesling. (That makes me wince and grit my teeth just thinking about it.) I tried to impress a boy in my class by telling him my favorite wine was a "Riesling." Yeah. He was a wine rep. Not cool. But what did my young inexperienced pallet know?

What happened next I'm ashamed to admit. Boxed wine at camp-outs and pink wines that came in a jug. Wooooow. It's about that time that winemakers started jazzing up their labels with catchy names and graphics. Then I started picking my wine based on whether or not I liked the picture on the bottle. A label snob in all the wrong ways. I became a fan of Yellow Tail and had to try one of each "color." From the yellow label, to the blue label, to the hot pink label ... I drank them all. But at least it introduced me to reds.

One wine I picked up entirely because I liked the label was a bottle of Tango Malbec. The label lured me in with a hologram where the dancers feet moved when the bottle was rolled from side to side. Malbec. Boy, oh, boy, did I think I was pretty smart because NOW I could order something that wasn't a usual choice on most house wine lists. But at this point wine was becoming more than just a way to get a buzz with my friends on a Friday night, it was becoming a pleasurable experience of discovery.

I finally learned the only real rule about wine ... you either like it ... or you don't like it ... and either way, it's okay. I'm currently at a great place in my wine tasting journey. I'm not afraid of tasting something new. I can openly admit when I don't know about a certain wine ... and yet I know just enough to be dangerous. But I have to admit, I still do feel silly sticking my nose in a glass of wine and snorting a big whiff the way the "experts" do.

Which brings me to the monthly wine tastings at the Adora Inn. Their wine-pairing dinners have given me plenty of tasting practice to get me out of my old bad habits. Luckily, they're our neighbors, so I can taste all I want and then walk home.

This past month's wine tasting featured Dutch Henry, a small family owned vineyard winery in California. We were fortunate enough to have one of the wine makers from Dutch Henry sitting at our table. He was quite the entertainer, not only through his knowledge of wine, but through music as well. He talked about the same evolution of "cool" of wine drinkers. I guess we've all experienced that journey at one point or another.

The first wine poured was a Rose. Hmm. I had flashbacks to the pink wine in a jug that I used to drink and wrinkled my nose at the thought. However, I trusted the pairing expertise of my neighbors and since the wine maker was actually sitting right there in front of me, I gave it a whirl and was sweetly surprised! Well I'll be darn, I discovered I like Rose. And it was not a fruity little light wine like I expected. It stood well on it's own and was even better when paired with the first course of Arthur's savory pumpkin soup. I could go into great detail about how deliciousness of the food and wine ... but then you'd just get drool and get saliva all over your keyboard. So, to spare you the clean up I'll just invite you to attend the next wine tasting dinner at Adora Inn. Where are you in your wine tasting journey? Tantalize your senses with a traditional Italian-style Christmas including wines perfectly paired at the Adora Inn's next wine tasting on December 13th.

--Rachelle

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Autumn Sangria

A group of girlfriends of mine used to all get together on a monthly basis and gather for some gabbing, gossip and good wine. I miss those days! It seems children, careers and out-of-state moves have put some miles between us.

We all still keep in touch through online social networks. Which is why I know the world will hear a loud excited squeal when the girls all open their inboxes and find this recipe. My dear friend, Maranda, brought this with her to one of our holiday gatherings and we all crowned her wine-goblet-goddess for creating such a fancy looking, great tasting holiday brew. Enjoy!


Autumn Sangria


Ingredients

2 Bottles Merlot
1 Cup sugar
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
½ Tsp Ground Nutmeg
½ Tsp Ground Clove
6-10 Apples
3-6 Cinnamon sticks
2 Liters Ginger Ale

1) In a medium pot, combine Merlot, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Let simmer for ten minutes on low to medium heat, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved.

2) Pour immediately into a sealed pitcher or other container. Chop apples into thin slices and add them along with the cinnamon sticks to the mixture. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

3) To serve: pour contents into large punch bowl and add ice and 2 liters of Ginger Ale. Serve chilled.

*** For Winter Sangria, try trading out the apples for oranges and cranberries to give it a Christmas kind of feeling. Its been suggested to me to substitute Cream Soda for the Ginger Ale to give it a creamier taste, but I've never tried it. Feel free to experiment!

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Featured Inn: Farnsworth House

Sometimes, when you are traveling, you just want to have the comforts of home. A soft bed, a hot shower, a warm cup of tea and a friendly smile. A place where you can let your hair down, kick off your shoes, relax and just be yourself. That’s what you’ll find at the Farnsworth House Bed & Breakfast. A late 1800’s farm-style home tucked away on one and a half acres in the quiet side of Mount Dora. A meandering driveway lures you into a step back in time with mature oaks, green gardens and a camphor tree over 200 years old. If trees could talk, this one would probably have many stories to tell. The Farnsworth House is surrounded by history, but with the modern comforts of a hot tub, screened-in gazebo, and plenty of outdoor seating to get lost in book … or a nap.

After a corporate career and an artist’s life in Miami, this was just the escape that Innkeepers Vivian & Bob were looking for. While spending nights and weekends fixing up the home with their tender loving care, Vivian and Bob named her like a captain would name his ship. Abigail. And she’s quite a beauty for her ripe old age of 122. Originally the Farnsworth family home, the estate became a boarding house in the 1920’s. On the front porch you can still find the multiple door bells and mail slots from the era. The home is decorated with period antiques and some of the Innkeeper’s original artwork. When I asked Vivian and Bob what their favorite part was about Innkeeping, she answered,
“We really enjoy spending time with our guests, just sitting around the dining room table talking and laughing over breakfast and coffee. It’s our favorite part. It’s amazing the connections you find and the people you meet.”

Breakfast at the Farnsworth House is a belly-filling feast. I joined Vivian, Bob and their guests during the Bike Festival to partake in the morning festivities. We started with fresh fruit and homemade crumb cakes. I have quite a sweet tooth, so I love dessert first! I begged Vivian to let me post the recipe, but she says you have to come stay with her to taste it. Next, Bob served their Leander Pancake Wraps with Vermont maple syrup and breakfast steaks. This has all the goodness of breakfast wrapped up into one. Eggs, potatoes, cheese, and pancakes. A little sweet and a little salty.

The most unique thing that Vivian is known for is her juice mixes. We all played a little guessing game before she would reveal her secret ingredients. Our juice cocktail blend contained cranberry, orange, lime, pineapple and blueberry. Vivian’s watermelon cooler was such a popular treat that over the years she inadvertently started a collection of watermelon themed gifts.

If you're looking for a home away from home, a peaceful escape, and a scrumptious breakfast ... then the Farnsworth House Bed & Breakfast is the place to be.

--Rachelle

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Posh Plush

Going "green" last year has solicited a lot of junk mail with various salesmen trying to promote their latest and greatest greenwashed project. Samples of trash bags that are made of "recycled" material at the bargain price of $4 a piece. Expensive energy converters that would take 10 years to pay for themselves ... but they save energy! I do admit, some samples have been pleasent surprises ... such as the soaps, lotions and shampoos. What girl doesn't like to receive bath and body stuff?

However, you'll never believe was was in my pile of junk mail today. Toilet paper. Yes, I said Toilet Paper. TP. Three little squares folded up nicely in a little plasic sample pouch. Seriously folks!?!? Do we Innkeepers really need to receive toilet paper samples in the mail? Is there some marketing guru out there that thinks this is an excellent idea? Are there really connoisseurs of plushness?

When I was in high school, the best use of tp was to decorate the outside of our dance teacher's house with it at 2:00 in the morning as a way to celebrate winning a competition. As I got older, it became a way to embarrass future brides at their shower by wrapping them up in tissue bridal gowns under the guise of a "contest."

Today's junk mail let curiosity get the best of me and so I Googled unusual uses for toilet paper. Surprisingly, I found a million different crafts for the actual toilet paper roll. Puppets, totem poles, cardboard candles, bowling pins, pretend binoculars, new years poppers, etc. I guess if you have children at home, crafts are the best way to reduce/reuse/recycle.

But what made me laugh the most was discovering some surveys on whether it is a better method to "crumple" or "fold." You can see it for yourself at MentalFloss.com.

Ha! What will they come up with next?!

--Rachelle
Tremain Street Cottages

Meet Your Innkeepers: Coconut Cottage Inn

I've been posting "Meet Your Innkeepers" surveys so that you can get to know your Mount Dora Innkeepers. What they love about Innkeeping ... how they got into it ... their history, hobbies and other fun facts. Here's the Innside scoop from the Coconut Cottage Inn.



INNKEEPERS AT HOME AND ON THE ROAD
BY NANCY HOWELL AND GARY MCKECHNIE

The best thing about greeting our guests is serving breakfast the next morning. Not because we are gourmet cooks, but because we enjoy the camaraderie and conversation shared at our dining table. Of the hundreds of guests we have welcomed over the past eight years, we have heard thousands of entertaining, adventurous and humorous travel stories about them, their families, and friends.

As travel writers (our other dream job) these stories inspire us to continue exploring and writing about the great American landscape and the people, places, and things we've seen.

Our first cross-country adventure began in 1998 and resulted in the book,
Great American Motorcycle Tours. Twenty rides and seven motorcycles later, the book hit the stands in 2000. To celebrate - and to stay home after a year on the road -- we opened the Coconut Cottage Inn here in beautiful Mount Dora and began welcoming our special guests. This had been a ten-year quest, so it was very exciting to have a book published and a bed and breakfast open all in the same year.

The book became the best-selling motorcycle guidebook ever, aided perhaps by the foreword written by Peter Fonda and an endorsement by the American Motorcyclist Association. In 2001, the book earned a Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award - known as the "Pulitzer Prize of Travel Writing" - presented by the Society of American Travel Writers. In 2002, we challenged the backroads of America again to add five new rides to the book, which continues to make news with articles in
USA Today, Washington Post, Miami Herald, Austin Statesman, and numerous motorcycle magazines. In October 2008, Gary earned a second Lowell Thomas Award for 'Prairie Hog', an article written for Harley-Davidson's magazine, Hog Tales. In 2009 we expect to hit the road again as GAMT goes into its fourth edition with even more rides.

From Florida to Washington, from Maine to California, we have been thrilled by the beautiful and stunning sights this country has to offer. We have seen buffalo, bears, moose, elk, antelope and prairie dogs, as well as geysers, canyons, caves, deserts, mountains and waterfalls. We've met Indians, farmers, fishermen, ranchers, musicians, astronauts, artists, storytellers, prospectors and other interesting people all across America.

As we embraced this great country, we decided to write yet another book,
USA 101. Scheduled for release in 2009, this National Geographic travel book will highlight 101 American icons, events, and festivals including the Statue of Liberty, Little League Baseball World Series, Indianapolis 500, Custer's Last Stand, Golden Gate Bridge, The Alamo, Colonial Boston, and beyond. We've experienced the best of America and have the honor of writing about its treasured landmarks.

But returning home to the Coconut Cottage to meet and greet our guests is an indulgence we appreciate equally as much. We look forward to welcoming you and enjoying your company over breakfast and we hope you bring along some travel stories to share. See you soon!

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