2017 Blogging Goals

Deerfield Beach, Florida.

I was laying on a beach in Florida last week. Water lapping up around me. Sun shining in my eyes. My wife and I drove down there just before the DMV had that snowstorm. I saw pictures of it on Facebook … as my feet played in the sand. We had a little wind a couple days but no snow!

This vacation was perfect timing for me. It’s January, the start of a new year. I’m away from the hustle and bustle. A break from the fog of thinking that comes with my daily routine of work and chores. A chance to let it all go and think about something different (or nothing at all) for a few days. Now the main benefit of this vacation.

dreamstime_xs_80367599-2017-goalsFirst, you should know that 2016 was a crappy year for me. I just need to be honest about that! I won’t go into details but let’s just say I was happy to see that year end. The vacation was a chance to do a mental re-charge and then a mental reset. It’s GAME ON for 2017! The last couple days of the vacation were about playing in the ocean by day and wiping out the flip chart at night. I have a new plan and a new set of goals. Here are my blogging goals for 2017:

Get a camera and learn how to use it – I’ve been using my iPhone for photos. I realize I need to up my game on photos. I’m buying a camera and I’ve signed up for some online classes on Skillshare.com.

Learn to produce video – I can record video on my iPhone and on the camera. It’s learning to produce a good video that will make a big difference for my blog and social media. I’ll have to use baby steps on this one but I want to be posting high quality video content by the end of 2017.

Network with fellow bloggers – I hear this on the Dave Ramsey Show all the time. It’s a quote from motivational speaker Charlie Jones. He said, “You’re the same today as you will be in five years except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read.” I already read books and listen to podcasts. It’s time to meet people beyond groups on Facebook. I will attend at least three blogger, travel writer or social media conferences / meetups this year.

Start interviewing – I’ve been writing posts about places and things but not people. I need to talk to people to tell better stories. (Baby steps here as well.) I will do a post incorporating interviews at least once a quarter for 2017. This will force me to become a better writer.

I’m printing this out and pinning it to my wall as a reminder of my goals. 2017 will be about becoming a better writer and creating better content. 2018 will be about making more money!

Thank you for reading Maryland Travel Stories!

Videos from the Calvert Marine Museum (Solomons, MD)

I took a drive to the Calvert Marine Museum (Solomons, MD / Calvert County). It was a fun trip! This is my first time taking videos on a trip. I’m still working on the post but here are some of the videos. Videos are new for me so I have some learning to do. Above is an edited video of the Otter Habitat. Below is a video of the Sea Nettle (Jellyfish) tank. I’m experimenting. Feedback is welcome.


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A Visit to Prince George’s African American Museum & Cultural Center (North Brentwood, MD)

20161228_165409057_iosDrive along Rhode Island Avenue in North Brentwood, MD and you will come across an island of African-American history & culture in the middle of two small industrial shopping centers. This museum & culture center stands as a testimonial to the town that was the first African-American settlement in Prince George’s County.

The full name of the center is Prince George’s African American Museum & Cultural Center at North Brentwood, Inc but it’s listed on social media as PGAAMCC. The 10,000 square foot center has a permanent exhibition room and rotating exhibitions around the space and along hallways. Quotes from art students are positioned throughout. A very friendly staff is available to answer questions and give you information.

The center is a community meeting space and has several programs covering all ages. An upcoming program is the New Year First Friday on January 6, 2017, from 6 pm to 9 pm. Enjoy live music, food trucks and complimentary cocktails. It’s an opportunity to learn, network and enjoy performances. Check the website for other events or workshops.

20161228_180026705_iosI said the center is in the middle of two industrial shopping centers. Not to worry if food is on your mind when you’re ready to go. Make a right turn out of the parking lot. A short drive down the road and you’re in downtown Hyattsville, MD. There are many places to stop for a bite to eat. I found this map of downtown Hyattsville when I stopped at Shortcake Bakery. It’s just a few blocks from the center.

I visited PGAAMCC because it is one of 14 African-American museums in the state of Maryland. See my post for a list.

Prince George’s African American Museum & Cultural Center at North Brentwood, Inc., 4519 Rhode Island Avenue, North Brentwood, MD (Prince George’s County) | 301-809-0440 | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn | Yelp | Foursquare | free admission | free parking | There is a fee for a private tour by staff | Call or visit the website for hours, event schedule, workshops and volunteer opportunities.

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Cinema Arts Gets New Chairs Thanks to Crowdfunding

20161223_205501890_iosCinema Arts Theatres in Fair City Mall (Fairfax, Va) has brand new chairs in its theatres. This is thanks to a creative crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. The “Save Our Butts The Seat-quel” campaign raised $112,536 from 1,260 supporters. Quite an achievement considering the family owned theatre was only asking for $100,000 at the start of the campaign.

How do you raise $12,500 more than you ask for? By having great pledge awards! This campaign had eighteen different pledge levels. As little as $5 gets your name on the big screen as a thank you. Thirty people gave for this award. The highest level ($1,000) earned you a … “Get an 8 second video/PowerPoint advertisement or message on the Big Screen before our movies play for 2 months.” Three people paid for this award.

20161223_205719520_iosMy wife and I donated at the $25 level. We received 2 tickets and a voucher for a “combo light” (a popcorn & 2 small sodas). We stopped by the theater yesterday to see the new chairs and watch Rogue One (good movie!) The staff have one of the new chairs on display in the lobby by the front entrance for people stopping by to check out the results of the campaign.

This demonstrates the power of crowdfunding as a new source of capital for small businesses and nonprofits. Come up with a creative campaign message. Add a smart or funny video. Attract supporters with interesting award levels. Back it up with savvy social media marketing. Before you know it, an old theater has new chairs, a small museum as a new exhibit or a small town has new tourism revenue. It’s worth exploring.

Congratulations on a successful campaign Cinema Arts Theatres!!!

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The Visitors Center at Frying Pan Farm Park (Herndon, VA)

Frying Pan Farm Park is one of the Fairfax County Park System‘s hidden gems. This 135-acre operation is a working farm and park located in Herndon, VA. I wrote post about Frying Pan Farm Park with a broader view back on December 9th. This is a closer look at the Visitors Center. As I said in my first post, The Visitors Center can get you started on your journal to explore Frying Pan. It has racks of information and a very friendly staff.

Exhibits at the Visitors Center

Indoor Meeting Rooms for Rental: The Auditorium and The Classroom

The auditorium is 1,800 square feet and can handle up to 200 people. The classroom is 600 square feet and can handle up to 50 people.

The Pavilion behind the Visitors Center

Ellmore Farmhouse & The Resident Curator Program

The Fairfax County Park Authority is always looking for help with preservation. The Resident Curator Program was created with this in mind. The program offers long-term leases to qualified tenants who agree to rehabilitate and maintain historic properties within the county. The Ellmore Farmhouse is located across from the Visitors Center and is available for lease by a resident curator.

The Visitors Center at Frying Pan Farm Park, 2709 West Ox Road, Herndon, Va (Fairfax County) | 703-437-9101 | http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/fryingpanpark | free admission | free parking | Call or visit the website for hours, event schedule and volunteer opportunities.

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Where To Travel Based On Your Zodiac Sign (Travel & Leisure)

This caught my attention. Travel advice based on your zodiac sign. “Let the stars guide you to your next vacation” is the opening to this Travel & Leisure Magazine article Melissa Locker. Use personality traits described by your horoscope in travel planning. I’m a Leo. The advice for me is:

Leo (July 23 – August 22)
These lions are known for their fiery energy and flair for the dramatic. Leos love to be where the action is—the biggest party, the most fun, the most drool-worthy setting—and ideally as the center of attention. When it comes to choosing a vacation spot, think FOMO-inspiring trips that will look great on Instagram and sound even better on paper.

Ideal vacation: New York City, yachting in the South of France, hitting the clubs in Los Angeles, or party hopping in Ibiza

What’s your zodiac sign? Read the article – Where To Travel Based On Your Zodiac Sign

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Last-minute travel tips for your Christmas getaways (WP)

The Washington Post has some tips for traveling by car in the DC metro area during high traffic times. From the article:

“The key to your Christmas getaway this week may turn out to be a bit of last minute fine-tuning in your preparations.

Let’s start with the majority of you who will be driving away from the D.C. region.

Public school calendars bind many travelers. At Christmas time, schools in the D.C. region break at different times. Some begin winter break Monday. Others will dismiss students Thursday, and some are open until Friday.”

Check out the article – Last-minute travel tips for your Christmas getaways

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A Visit to Great Falls Creamery

20161214_164847046_iosIf you’re on a visit to Great Falls Park or the Scott’s Run Nature Preserve in Fairfax County, you must stop by Great Falls Creamery in the Great Falls Village Centre. It’s a convenient break after exploring the trails or watching the waterfalls. I stopped by after scouting the Billy Goat Trail in the park.

Enjoy any of 22 different flavors of ice cream! They can turn any flavor into an ice cream sandwich, shake, float, sundae or banana split if you need something more interesting than your standard scoop on a cone. Turn your ice cream into a work of art with the 11 available toppings. Don’t forget to get your loyalty card stamped! Buy 10 cones, get 1 free.

It’s a creamery so they carry a small selection of dairy, baked products, drinks and snacks.

One note about finding this place. It’s located on the back end of the shopping center and has a small sign in front. You’ll miss it if you blink at the wrong time while driving by. Also, they’re happy to take your credit card as long as it’s not American Express.

Great Falls Creamery / 766 Walker Rd, Great Falls, VA 22066 / (703) 272-7609 / Facebook / Twitter / Yelp Reviews

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Frying Pan Farm Park Loop (Live and Let Hike)

Here’s a great post from the Live and Let Hike Blog. It covers a walking/hiking trial around Frying Pan Farm Park. From the article:

“Frying Pan Farm Park in western Fairfax County, Virginia serves mostly as a destination for equestrians, school trips, and tractor rides, a family-friendly outing at a semi-rural farmstead. There is also a decent nature trail, however, featuring a handful of obscure historic landmarks and a pretty stream and waterfall. The following hike traces a 2.2-mile loop around the park, including two minor detours on the Meeting House Trail and a spur route through the boggy woods.”

Check out the blog post – Frying Pan Farm Park Loop (Fairfax County Parks, VA)

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