Paul Bates on March 4th, 2009

Over the weekend the entertainment website for the Daytona Beach News-Journal,, held an awesome night bonfire beach party in New Smyrna.  This was the second time I had gone to one of these events and I can tell you it’s an experience worth remembering.  There was a local drum organization there who brought a large amount of drums on the beach for everyone to play around the bonfire.

Drumming to the Bonfire on the Beach

Just as the sun started setting, I was in charge of lighting the fire and keeping it going throughout the night.  More and more people showed up and at first you’d think it would almost be a hippie sort of event, but it turned out to be much more than that.  The beats were almost like an African tribal rhythm that captivated and connected everyone around the fire.


Beach Bonfire in Full Swing

Drummers and Dancers at the Bonfire

They had previously held a beach bonfire at night in Flagler where you can legally drink on the beach, but in New Smyrna it’s actually illegal.  If I had a choice between the drinking or the drumming though, I’d have to say that the drums take it!  The sound of the ocean, the bright moon, the breeze, and the blazing bonfire flaring embers into the night all to a steady drum beat make for a great time to remember!

Chrissy, Kelly, and Sarah at the Bonfire

Paul and Sarah Drumming With the Beat

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Paul Bates on February 26th, 2009

Over the holidays there was a terrible coughing cold going around and unfortunately me and Sarah ended up catching it.  With all of the varieties of potions and remedies you can buy at the store today, I got to thinking and wondered if there were any old fashioned homemade cough syrup remedies that were natural that you could just make at home.  I mean, what did people do before there were drug stores?  Just tough it out?  Well, to my surprise, there are a few things that you can try!  I ran across a few cough cures on the internet and tried making my own.  Of the homemade cough remedies that I found that were natural, there were cough syrups that had to do with honey and lemon, others that dealt with honey and onion, and also some that were more of a hot “tea” like brew of different things.  For me, I think that the hot “tea” seemed to work the best.

You might think to yourself, how can you call this tea if there are no tea leaves?  I had the same question while watching Survivorman when he boiled pine needles in a can and voila!  Hot pine needle tea.  Anyways, I tried to think of all of the natural items that would be a boost to the immune system, that could break up mucus, and also soothe your throat and these are the items I came up with that seems to work the best.

Hot Homemade Lemon Cough Remedy “Tea”

3 cups water

1 medium sliced lemon, with rind

2 medium sliced oranges, with rind

4 gloves garlic, smashed

1/4 onion, chopped

2 inch sliced fresh ginger root

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

agave nectar (instead of honey since it’s vegan)


1)  Bring water to a boil.

2)  Add all ingredients except agave nectar, turn heat to medium and boil for 15-20 minutes.

3)  Strain through a fine mesh strainer.  I also take a spoon and smash pulp to extract as much juice as possible from all ingredients.

4)  Add 1 cup of the hot tea to a mug and add agave nectar to taste.

With all of the thousands of phytochemicals and amazing substances found in plants, there’s no doubt that this brew will help to some extent.  I’ve found that this mixture of ingredients clears congestion very well, soothes a sore throat, and actually suppresses coughs to a minimum.  Garlic is a strong antimicrobial, lemon and oranges have a large amount of antioxidants as well as other strong chemicals, fresh ginger and cinnamon are thought to boost the immune system and aid in digestion, and the agave nectar (honey substitute), well it makes the brew taste good and covers some of the stronger flavors.

If you want a homemade cough remedy that has worked for me time and time again then this is the recipe I always use at the first sign of a sore throat or cough.  Good luck!


Paul Bates on February 5th, 2009

I had been wanting to go to Animal Kingdom for a good while with Sarah.  The funny thing was that we were both extremely sore from playing football a couple days before and I still had my fractured finger that I was dealing with in a splint.  It was probably the coldest birthday I could ever remember in the high 50’s all day long.  The one thing I’ve always thought though is if you’re going to go to Disney World, go in the winter when it’s cold and even slightly rainy.  It’s amazing!  There’s not as many people so the lines aren’t as long and it also keeps going all day long to keep warm.  You won’t regret it!

Sarah and Paul With Tarzan's Terk

It had been a long time since I’d been to Animal Kingdom so there were a lot of things that had changed.  We navigated through the park using our park map and planned our route of attack.  First on the agenda was the Kilimanjaro Safari in Africa.  Being on that bus out in the open is such a cool experience.  The animals are just roaming around and are pretty easy to get some good shots of.  The one thing I like about the safari is that it’s always different every time you go.

Kilimanjaro Safari Plain

Elephant and Child

Giraffe and Mother On African Plain

It actually does feel like you’re in Africa when you look around.  There’s a large variety of animals in this section of the park including elephants, lions, giraffes, rhinos, and hippos.  There’s even these crazy looking African trees called the baobab or “upside down” tree that goes most of the year without leaves so it looks like a giant upside down tree root.

Africa's Baobob Tree

After that we headed over to the Tree of Life in the middle of the park to see the very good 3D show “It’s Tough To Be A Bug”.  This show brings in all of your senses making you feel like you’re actually there.  Disney definitely knows how to put on a show.

Sarah and Paul Before "It's Tought to be a Bug"

Expedition Everest

I had forgotten that it was at Animal Kingdom that they had just added the “Expedition Everest” roller coaster so we had to check that out!  While waiting to get in, they lead you through the process of putting together an expedition and hint all throughout about the legendary Yeti that has supposedly been seen in those parts.  If you haven’t been on this ride then I don’t want to spoil it for you but I was not expecting the beginning part.  You start off climbing a massive ascent and then it lets you go through the mountain.  We reached a climb and then the coaster suddenly stops and you see the Yeti tear up the track.  Then all of a sudden, BACKWARDS!  It was very exciting although also making me a little queasy, but well worth it.

Expedition Everest Coaster Pic

At this point we were pretty hungry and there’s not a lot of vegan friendly food stops unless you only wanted to have expensive fruit or boring salads.  When you’re vegan at a theme park you always have to plan ahead so we had brought a good amount of snacks to last us until dinner time.  We got out the sandwiches, crackers, pistachios, bananas, apples (and let’s not forget the chocolate!) but I felt even more snacky than that so I caved in and got a Super Pretzel accompanied by several packets of mustard.  Not the healthiest I know but every great once in a while isn’t going to kill you.  I was saving up a large appetite for a nice dinner at the Rainforest Cafe because I knew they had a good veggie burger!

The Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom

All the while of criss crossing by Animal Kingdom’s Tree of Life on the way to all the park’s rides we were submitting our tickets for fast passes.  These let you get on the best rides over and over with practically no wait time.  Like I said before though, go to Disney when it’s cold and winter!  We practically didn’t even need the fast passes!


There were also many other areas worth noting at Animal Kingdom.  Two of which that really struck me were the massive apes and the playful tigers, but the apes especially.  There was a very large ape just lying on the ground looking up into the sky and blinking every so often as if it were truly thinking hard about something.  I swear when you looked into its eyes, it was just as if you were looking into any human’s.  The resemblance that apes have to our species is so shocking, it really gave us a moment to revel over what it means to be an animal.  Biologically we are so close to most other animals, it should stop to make people think about how humans treat other species.  It would be absolutely unheard of to treat humans the way we treat “food animals”.  I guess that’s one reason I feel it’s so great to be vegan.  With being vegan, there’s no worry about where our food comes from!

Great Ape

Great Ape

As the day began to wind down, we were getting tired so we decided to relax and see a few shows.  “The Festival of the Lion King” was much better than I thought it would be.  It actually reminded me of La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil with the incredible trampoline gymnasts posing as monkies and a flying dancer soaring through the air on silky cloth.  The final show of the night was the very unique live showing of “Finding Nemo” where many actors brought puppet-like marine creatures to life.

After an entire day of exploring Animal Kingdom we were tired and very hungry.  This had been one of the best birthdays that I can remember with everyone at the park telling me happy birthday and just being far away and spending it with Sarah was better than any present I could have received.  I guess that’s one thing about me.  I’d rather have adventurous and exciting experiences rather than getting something in a box.  I leave the box presents to me 😉

On to Rainforest Cafe to grab some dinner!

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Paul Bates on February 4th, 2009

If you want to be treated like a VIP this year then go to Walt Disney World!  Why?  They have a special deal where you can get into any one of the four Walt Disney World parks for free on your birthday!  All you have to do is go online and register your birthday on their website, print out the certificate, and show up on the day of your birthday to get in free!

Disney Free On Your Birthday!

I have to say, this is one company that truly knows what service means.  It all started when I showed up at the park.  Sarah and I arrived at Animal Kingdom at the time the park opened and I brought my printed birthday admission certificate from their website to the Will Call booth.  The lady there greeted me very cheerfully, explained everything, and the key to this VIP day was that she gave me a birthday button with my name on it.  I didn’t think too much of it at first but as I went throughout the park, all Disney cast members that I came across excited told me “Happy Birthday!” or “Happy Birthday Paul!”  Haha!  It was great.  The entire day I really felt like a celebrity and from 9am to 5pm we probably counted from 30 to 40 birthday wishes.

Being vegan, I had to use this to my advantage.  At the Rainforest Cafe, when I talked to the waitress, Sarah and I kept asking the ingredients in this and that and finally she says “Oh!  Well just to make sure I’ll bring out the chef!”  I’ve never had that happen in any restaurant before.  So if you’re vegan and it’s your birthday, go to Disney and wield some power for a day!

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Paul Bates on February 2nd, 2009

While growing up, I never got into football too much passed flag football or simple touch football when we played in gym class.  I was always into those “other” activities like aggressive street skating and mountain biking.  So when Sarah asked me if I wanted to play some touch football with friends on Superbowl Sunday, I figured what the heck.  I’m up to do just about anything at least once.  If you don’t try something, then you might not ever know if you might really enjoy it.  I can definitely say that at least for Indian food being my all time favorites that if I had never tried, I would have never known the joy I was missing out on.

Well now that I’ve tried it again, it is NOT for me.  Lol.  Just about my entire life even when I wasn’t vegan, I weighed at most upwards in the mid 140 lbs range.  That’s even when I had extra fat on me from all the ice cream, steak, and junk food.  Now I’d say I hover a little over a lean 130 lbs.  One thing that I pride myself in is that I can run pretty fast, but when you have a 220 lb. guy barreling over you, there’s not much you can do from getting hurt.

Swelled Pinky

I can now see why some professionals like Sarah’s dad stray away from anything that might harm the tools they use (their hands) in their careers like dentistry.  Mine on the other hand (get it.. on the other hand.. ha ha ha :-P) is using the computer.  I ended up jamming my little finger and now I have to put up with the pain while typing.  I’m just hoping it’s not a fracture, but I can still somewhat bend it.  I had it in a splint the first night (a lollipop stick and bandaids.. thank you Sarah) and now I’ve taken it off to see how it does.

Out of the Splint

Comparing Pinky Fingers Side By Side

Anyways, I think I’ll leave football to the real vegan pros like Tony Gonzalez.  At least he’s 247 lbs so he can take a lot more of a beating than I can!

****** UPDATE ******

Yep.  It’s broken.  I went all night with the homemade splint and finally took it off this morning to see what it’d be like.  All day it had some pain and even looked bent!  So I went to an Urgent Care and got an x-ray and found out it’s a 50% fracture that might need surgery.  The tendon is most likely not connected anymore causing it to droop and the fracture was making it look bent.  I now have it in a normal splint until I can get a recommendation from a specialist on whether it needs surgery.  Touch football, yeah right!  😛

(the dark part above my joint is the 50% fracture of the bone)


***** ANOTHER UPDATE *****

I was so nervous to go to the hand surgeon.  I’ve never had actual surgery for anything except stitches so I didn’t want to start now.  I went in, he took a look at my finger and the x-ray and said “What we’re going to do is put it in a splint for 6-8 weeks and it should heal up just fine.”  I was so relieved!  He slipped my finger into a much nicer fitting splint and I got my choice of blue and green so I picked the brighter of the two.  Hopefully in a couple months this will all be over with and I can take it off.  Stay tuned!