How to Pack and Ship Art Yourself

When you stay at a Bluegreen Resorts vacation property in any of its dozens of locations, chances are you might purchase more souvenirs than you can comfortably fit into your car or suitcase. Whether you’ve acquired a cowboy painting from one of the numerous Western-themed galleries in Big Sky, Montana, fragile Native American handcrafted items in Peoria, Arizona, or a reproduction of a piece in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, you’ll want to know that it reaches its ultimate destination safely.

Many galleries and retailers will pack and ship the art for you. This alternative offers an inherent convenience. However, if you find that you need to take care of the chore yourself, here are a few tips based on professionals’ recommendations:

– Remember that any rare or highly valuable piece should only be entrusted to professional specialty art shippers. However, you can opt for a slower and cheaper shipping method for personal art items that aren’t extremely valuable, including pieces valued at $10,000 or less. Items that are neither extremely fragile nor very large are usually good candidates for standard shipping. Remember to insure the items in case they are damaged in transit.

– The structure, size, and dimensions of the art are very important: You will, of course, package an unframed canvas very differently than a piece of pottery. For example, many professionals who pack paintings wrap them in sturdy plastic bags to protect the finish. They measure the painting, then use a long-handled knife to cut two pieces of Styrofoam to fit one below and one above, leaving 2 inches of Styrofoam on each side. After placing the painting on the bottom Styrofoam layer, they surround it with cut strips of sufficient depth to completely rise above its face, put the top layer of Styrofoam on top, and then seal the entire piece with tape. They may use a corrugated cardboard box into which the Styrofoam-covered painting can easily slip into, or they can fill in the gaps with bubble wrap.

– A number of websites, such as those sponsored on HubPages.com, are specifically directed to working artists and offer excellent information for anyone on how to ship a variety of media. In addition, your fellow collectors on Pinterest have pinned numerous pages describing their own preferred methods.

Visit “The Little Zoo That Could” Along Alabama’s Gulf Coast

Stay with Bluegreen Resorts in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and you’ll be in the midst of stunning stretches of some of the world’s softest white sand beaches. You’ll also be within arm’s length of Civil War history at Fort Morgan, near the site of the Battle of Mobile Bay, and close to plenty of outdoor sports opportunities and family-friendly activities. Bluegreen’s two Emerald Coast locations, Paradise Isle Resort and Shoreline Towers, offer quiet luxury at an attractive price point, as well as proximity to all these tourist attractions and more.

At the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, formerly known as Zooland Animal Park, kids, teens, and adults can enjoy viewing more than 500 fascinating species of animals: come meet tigers, leopards, wolves, primates, and bears, as well as reptiles and birds. There’s a petting zoo for the youngest vacationers and seasonal programs that include keeper lectures, animal entertainment shows, and more.

Visit the Reptile Garden to hang out with lizards, turtles, alligators, and snakes. The Kangaroo and Lemur Encounters give you the chance to meet some of your favorite happy-go-lucky mammals, and in the Tiger Encounter, you can bounce around the yard with playful Bengal cubs. The zoo is also home to three gray wolves, a native species hunted to near extinction in many parts of North America. From a lynx cub to a family of ferrets to a great horned owl and a kookaburra, your family will find a variety of new friends and plenty of picture-taking opportunities.

Proudly calling itself “The Little Zoo That Could,” the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is located at 1204 Gulf Shores Parkway in Gulf Shores, and is open every day of the year, with the exceptions of Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Day. The grounds are wheelchair-accessible, and the zoo provides wheelchairs as needed, on a first-come, first-served basis.

Commemorate Your Travels with Souvenir Quarters

In 1999, the United States Mint began its now popular 50 State Quarters Program as a decade-long project commemorating each state in the order that it ratified the Constitution or gained admittance to the union. Each state’s design on the reverse side of the quarter bears images associated with its history, culture, scenery, and natural features.

The quarters are a great way to spark family conversations about the nation’s heritage. The next time you travel to a Bluegreen Resorts destination, why not see if you can drop the matching quarter into your collector’s souvenir book? Bluegreen offers family-friendly vacation destinations in almost half of the states in the country, in addition to its Caribbean resorts.

When you stay with Bluegreen in Hershey, Pennsylvania, you’ll have a chance to not only enjoy delicious chocolate at Hershey’s Chocolate World, but you can also add Pennsylvania’s quarter to your collection. The second quarter in the series incorporates the state’s motto, “Virtue, Liberty, and Independence,” as part of its design. Visit the Bluegreen property in Savannah, Georgia, and collect the state’s quarter with its prominent peach symbol.

Moreover, Bluegreen has resorts strategically placed in major tourist cities in Florida, so it will be easy to add the quarter showing the Sunshine State’s symbols of palm trees, a treasure ship, and the NASA Space Shuttle. In addition, Wisconsin’s commemorative quarter is inscribed with the motto “Forward.” The quarter’s design also honors the state’s agriculture and dairy industries. After you’ve enjoyed the many water parks that surround Bluegreen Resorts’ two properties in Wisconsin Dells, there’s another quarter for your collection.

When you travel west with Bluegreen, you will be sure to enjoy the wide-ranging summer and winter sports offered around Big Bear Lake, California. You can add the quarter honoring conservationist John Muir and his beloved Yosemite Valley. When you stay at Bluegreen’s Peoria, Arizona, resort, you’ll be close to the Grand Canyon, and the Arizona quarter presents the majestic vista of the canyon in its design. In addition, if you want to add the last of the quarters honoring the states, visit Bluegreen’s Hawaiian resort on the “Garden Isle” of Kaua’i.

Hobby retailers and online shopping sites such as Amazon.com offer a variety of souvenir 50 State Quarters Program books that can add to your family’s enjoyment of this rich history.

White Sand Beaches and Other Coastal Alabama Treasures

Come visit Paradise Isle Resort or Shoreline Towers, Bluegreen Resorts’ two fun, family-friendly vacation resort properties in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Here, along the state’s Emerald Coast, it’s easy to relax in solitude or enjoy some of the best water sports around.

The Gulf region of Alabama has some of the finest white sandy beaches in the country, a fact that escapes many people when they think of the Yellowhammer State. When you stroll along the coast in Gulf Shores or nearby Orange Beach, you’ll find yourself sinking into a 32-mile stretch of soft sand set against diamond-clear waters. The quartz grains of this very special sand drifted down from the Appalachian Mountains thousands of years ago with the melting of glacial waters. And see if you can verify what the locals say about these sands: that they are so velvety soft, they will squeak under the pressure of your feet. Come here to make a sandcastle, drink in the sun’s rays, and later fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves and seagulls’ cries.

If you are more in the mood for adventure, head to Orange Beach to take advantage of the largest system of artificial fishing reefs in the United States. The Orange Beach Fishing Association’s website recommends a number of chartered fishing trips that include six-passenger excursions to deep-sea waters, or bayou, bay, and nearshore trips. Multi-passenger deep-sea boats cater to parties of seven or more.

If you’d like to soak up some history instead, visit nearby Fort Morgan and you just may hear an echo of Admiral David Farragut’s famous phrase, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” The Union hero spoke these words during the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864, while leading the operation that led to the Union’s capture of the Confederate Forts Morgan and Gaines, as well as the closure of the bay to blockade running. A ferry transports tourists from Fort Morgan out to Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island to give the full flavor of the history of the battle’s events.

Visit the Fern Grotto to See Why Kaua’i is Hawaii’s “Garden Isle”

The Fern Grotto, once forbidden to all but Hawaiian royalty, is one of the most lushly beautiful and popular attractions on Kaua’i, Hawaii’s “Garden Isle.” When you stay at Pono Kai Resort on the island’s Coconut Coast, your Bluegreen Resorts accommodations put you within easy reach of the grotto, since both are situated on Kaua’i’s eastern side.

To reach the Fern Grotto, situated two miles inland from Wailua River State Park, visitors take a boat ride up the Wailua River. Tour companies such as the generations-old Smith’s Kaua’i offer trip packages that include performances of songs and stories about the island and its cultural heritage. Smith’s open-air boats are known for their ability to provide stunning views of the river and its surroundings. Individual travel to the grotto by kayak is also permitted, as long as kayakers do not interfere with arriving and departing tour boats.

The fresh water of the Wailua River pours down from the heights of Mount Waialeale, among the Earth’s wettest places. The river’s shores are said to have been the birthplace of Kaua’i’s royalty and to have served as the sacred capital of the island. The area near the grotto also has a Hollywood past, in that it served as the location of the 1961 Elvis Presley film Blue Hawaii.

When you disembark from the boat, you’ll travel through a rainforest to the entrance of the Fern Grotto. Formed from lava rock, the grotto presents a lush world of tropical ferns hanging from its roof and other greenery shrouded in the mists of a waterfall. The acoustics in the grotto make it a natural spot for musical performances, and its beauty has served as the backdrop for many weddings. A typical visit and tour also includes a performance of traditional Hawaiian music and a hula dance. While visitors can no longer access the grotto’s cave, an observation desk offers a way to catch a glimpse of it.