Florida Rocks: Part Deux – Ft Lauderdale and St. Augustine

Yesterday, you read all about my time in LBK and Orlando, Florida.  But since what is vacation for but to criss-cross an entire state, that’s not the end of it.

I was lucky enough to have AT&T sponsor me for SheStreams, the fabulous Social Media beyond the blog conference held by Maria Bailey of BSM Media at the Doubletree Hotel in Ft Lauderdale, FL.  I have not been to Ft Lauderdale in nearly 20 years — since my grandma died.  And, man, has it changed!(There’s even a water taxi now – take a look!)

First, the conference: first of all, it was weird to be there without my other half.  Oh, my husband was there – and my kids – I mean with Rebecca Levey, my KidzVuz co-founder. Second of all, I have known Maria Bailey for several years, professionally, and I never knew before this that she led a secret life as a (mildly raunchy) stand up comedian.  I mean, the woman stood up in a room full of more than 250 women (and a few men) and cracked some penis jokes!  Who knew?

Seriously, Maria gave a keynote that really was a keynote not just a commercial for a brand or person, like so many of them are.  Her keynote was warm, funny, dotted with personal yet relevant anecdotes, broad ranging in its ideas, relatable, and most of all inspiring.  She really knocked it out of the park.

Not that I was all that surprised.  I mean, last year, she pulled the first SheStreams together in no time, and created a different interesting, informative two days of sessions unlike any I’d seen at other conferences.

I like that SheStreams is about the profession of blogging.  Not that personal blogging isn’t wonderful, but professional blogging hasn’t had its own conference.  And SheStreams focuses on going beyond the blog – with sessions on legal issues (a terrific @CharChronicles), podcasting (yay @SelfishMom), making sponsored videos (from the lovely @MyGoMom), and even one on monetizing your Twitter presence from none other than the inventor of the Twitter Party, Amy Lupold Bair – @ResourcefulMom.

The conference was small enough that I got real, hands on time with the HP eprinter the HP folks were showing off.  I love mine.  I love that I can print something by emailing it to myself at my HP eprint address, but I didn’t really understand what all of the apps for the printer could do until SheStreams: now, I get a week’s worth of  Bon Appetit recipes printed out automatically every week.  I love that.

AT&T was showing off the new and truly gorgeous Nokia 900 .  I know everybody loves the iPhone — but I’m a Windows Phone kind of gal, and I have a feeling that phones like this one are finally going to get everyone else on board.  I mean, not to sound uber-nerdy – but the OS rocks. (You can read about Why I love my Windows Phone here.)

Now on to the place itself: Ft Lauderdale.  In my mind, it’s where old Jews go when their children are sick of them and their grandchildren no longer think they’re the greatest people on Earth.  Oh, and where they can drive really, really, slowly in the left lane and no one will care.

Maybe those Old Jewish Grandparents are still there (I didn’t check out Rascals and Pumpernicks) but where I was, near Los Olas, there were chic hotels and rockin’ nightlife, and the Hotel W where I had what was quite possibly the best steak I’ve ever eaten. (pricey – but oh so worth it)

So maybe I’ll need to give Ft Lauderdale another shot – between the great surfing lessons the kids took, and the fabulous meal, and the great shopping, the miles of waterway, and the Atlantic, it’s pretty appealing.

So , in addition to my annual trek to Long Boat Key, I may have to add Ft. Lauderdale.

Now, I find out that Forbes magazine, one of the world’s leading sources of business news and financial information, has named St. Augustine, Florida as one of the ten prettiest towns in America. Experts at National Geographic, the Travel Channel and Fodor’s made the list, so you know these people know what they’re talking about. They love the town’s history, and  walkability.  They call it charming and fun.

Bummer.  Looks like I’ll be criss-crossing Florida again!

Other than my AT&T conference sponsorship, this post was completely uncompensated.

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