by Berl Colley

It's time to climb on the ACB tour bus once again for more convention fun!

We've already told you about the pre-convention tour to St. Augustine, about the baseball game, city tour and deep-sea fishing. Now let's explore tours during the rest of the week.

Monday: Coffee and Beer

Enjoy a small group tour through the Martin Coffee Company on Monday afternoon. Martin is a regional coffee producer that is highly thought of by Jacksonville residents. Learn about the plant, observe some of the processing and, of course, purchase some coffee if you wish. Limited to 20 people; repeated on Wednesday.

Also visit the Anheuser-Busch plant in north Jacksonville on Monday. Explore the brewing of beer in one of the company's largest breweries with a knowledgeable docent. Sample the products at the end of the tour; there's a two-beer limit. Buy reminders of your great day at the gift shop next to the sampling room. Repeated on Wednesday.

Tuesday: Blind Services and Okefenokee Swamp Tours

Our services tour is on Tuesday afternoon. Travel to St. Augustine and visit the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. This large, 75-acre campus houses both schools, but in separate locations. There will be a light snack, a brief tour of the west campus (the home of activities for the blind and visually impaired students), and informational presentations from other Florida service providers in the Ray Charles Auditorium. The school is proud to claim Ray Charles as its most famous graduate.

Do you love nature's exotic beauty? Make plans to take our tour to Georgia's Okefenokee Swamp. The sounds and sites of the swamp can be found in very few other locations in the United States. Board small boats with suntops and travel through several waterways of this world-famous swamp. See and hear a variety of birds, insects and water animals. When I visited this park there were two alligators sunning themselves outside the visitors' center. There is a small gift shop and food service above the dock area. Please keep in mind that in July the swamp will be hot and humid; dress appropriately. Wear a hat, long-sleeved light-colored shirt, long pants, socks, shoes that cover your feet (not sandals), and sunscreen. Dress inappropriately, and some of the residents of Okefenokee will really bug you.

Wednesday: Arts, Sciences and the Beach

Visit Jacksonville's Arts and Science Museum on Wednesday. There are some interactive exhibits as well as touchable art. The museum is within walking distance of the convention hotel; take a boat and shuttle across the St. John's River.

There won't be a dinner cruise this year because we cannot find one that will accommodate ACB's needs. Never fear! Our local host committee in Jacksonville is helping us throw a good old Florida beach party. More details about this fun-filled oceanside experience coming next month.

Thursday: Ghost Hunting & More

Are you into ghosts, unknown spirits and hauntings? Thursday afternoon it's back to St. Augustine for a repeat of the spooky portion of the pre-convention all-day tour. There are rumored to be over 300 ghosts that haunt St. Augustine's dwellings. With nearly 450 years of history, the unknown spirits of the area have had lots of time to work out ways of catching you off guard. Visit the Florida Museum to learn about the lives of the people who have lived in our nation's oldest community. Then spend some time shopping on St. George Street, where there are restored buildings with shops offering lots of memorabilia.

Do you like art? Especially art that can be felt as well as seen? Take the Cummer Museum tour. This internationally recognized museum is setting up a special tour for ACB so you can touch many of the pieces of art. There is also a botanical garden for you to enjoy.

Saturday: Gambling and Dinner Theater

Didn't get your gambling fix on the Saturday before convention? Or you couldn't make the tour because of meeting commitments or travel plans? ACB tours is working on a second gambling cruise on Saturday, July 15, which may include the second annual Texas Hold-'Em poker tournament for the visually impaired. Look for more information next month.

Do you like classic plays? Wind up a great convention week on Saturday, July 15 at the Alhambra Dinner Theater. Enjoy the presentation of "Beauty and the Beast" and an all-you-can-eat buffet; there will be plenty of volunteers to help.

Want to know more? See "Incredible Jacksonville" elsewhere in this issue for hotel and convention details. Check out next month's Forum for more information and be ready to fill out your pre-registration form when it arrives in May.

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