March 11, 1995: Lowery Evans' Birthday Party
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February 18-26, 1995
A Winter Trip to Fort Lauderdale

 

For some time, I have wanted to take Fred down to Fort Lauderdale to see the little place that Grant and I had purchased in 1989 and that Grant had spent the better part of a year renovating. Up until this year, however, our limited vacation time has been spent on hiking trips- mostly out west. This year, I've convinced Fred to eschew the hiking for one of our trips and come down to Florida with me. I, myself, have not been there for some time, as Ty and Scott have been using the condo in between apartment and boat residences. They have their own apartment now, so the condo is vacant.

We made plans to leave for Fort Lauderdale on Friday evening, February 17th. Fred had decided to take just three vacation days, and return from Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday evening, February 22nd. My next assignment for Ernst & Young is to attend a focus group for the development of teaching materials for the Navigator Methodology; it begins on February 27th in Cleveland. So after coordinating with Fred, I've decided to stay in Fort Lauderdale until Sunday morning, the 22nd. I'll fly home to Dallas and then drop by home, repack my duffel and head right on up to Cleveland.

 

Getting to Fort Lauderdale

As soon as we agreed on the Florida trip, I started right away trying to get space on American by using some of the many miles I have accumulated. I could only find one coach seat and one first class seat on the flight we had to take, so I decided to give Fred a treat and put him in the first class seat and myself in coach. Fred came down right after work and we left immediately for DFW airport.


When Fred and I arrived at the gate I went right to the agent, flashed my gold card, and asked her if she could see what she could do to get us both in coach on that flight. I had already had to pay the first class upgrade at the ticket counter, and I wanted to save the $251 if I could. We went and sat down and ate the subway sandwiches that I had bought up on Lover's Lane and brought with us, since we did not have time to eat dinner.

A few minutes later, the gate agent paged me up to the counter. She said that she was having trouble because the flight was so full, but that she would be looking for volunteers to go the next morning instead. Since the 8:00 p.m. flight didn't get in to Ft. Lauderdale until midnight anyway, I told her we'd be happy to volunteer, so she put us at the head of the volunteer list.

Not long after that, she called me back up again and said that yes, she would like our seats, so I checked with Fred and we decided to go the next morning. I had told Fred about all this; he had assumed that we'd have to get back in the truck and go home, get up very early the next morning, and drive back out to the airport.


What I didn't tell him was that American was going to put us up for the night right at the Hyatt at the airport! Not only that, but each of us got a $200 travel voucher from American, and I got my $251 back that I had paid for the upgrade. Fred was surprised about the hotel, but I told him that was pretty much standard in these situations. We had each checked a bag, but each of us was carrying what we needed for the night. Even so, I got American to give each of us one of their travel kits that they give to first class overseas passengers. We got taken over to the Hyatt and checked into a very nice room (impressive next to the budget motels we usually stay at). We went down to the restaurant and shared a chicken sandwich and some dessert and then went up to bed.

The next morning, the hotel van took us back to the gate, and we boarded our flight to Ft. Lauderdale. The flight down was normal, and we arrived just before lunch. I had reserved a car over at Value Rent-a-Car, so we picked that up, and headed over to the condo. As I always do, I stopped at the Publix on 17th street to get some drinks and a key lime pie.

I'd like to be a bit more specific about where the condo in Fort Lauderdale is located, for you will undoubtedly encounter many more pages in this photo album that involve trips down to it.


Grant and I bought the little condo at Riverview Gardens back in 1989. There were a number of factors that entered into its being selection as a vacation home. Primary was its location. Riverview Gardens, one of the first condominium conversions/developments on the New River (aka Tarpon River), was actually built in the early 1960s. Originally, it was an apartment complex, populated by adults who either lived there year-round (the majority) or used the units as winter homes. Over the years, two things happened.

First, the percentage of year-round residents declined; many of those residents moved to larger places either elsewhere downtown or out into the suburbs. So more and more units were hardly used at all save for the winters and for vacations. The other trend was the aging of the resident population. By 1989, the average age of a Riverview Gardens owner had passed 65 and, as a result, the units started becoming available when aging residents either died or moved to more retirement-oriented places in Florida or elsewhere.

We bought our unit when a daughter put it on the market after moving her mother to an assisted-living facility; as a matter of fact, the unit had just become available when we visited the realty office we chose to help us find a place. As you might expect, the unit was sorely in need of updating, and Grant embarked on doing that shortly after we bought it.

Riverview Gardens is located just one block south of the major upscale shopping street of Fort Lauderdale- Las Olas Boulevard. This divided street runs all the way from the center of downtown Fort Lauderdale over to the beach a mile and a half to the east. The entire area both north and south of that street as it heads to the ocean is, to put it mildly, upper-middle-class; the Las Olas Isles area, about six or eight blocks east of us, has homes whose price range is from a million bucks (today) on up. Those that border the Intracoastal or the New River can cost many times that.


Riverview Gardens is also right on the New River (which is actually as much of a tidal estuary as it is an actual river. (As you would expect for an area like South Florida that is so flat, the river barely flows at all.) The New River flows right through downtown Fort Lauderdale, and now, in 1995, we are beginning to see new construction being planned for very tall high-rise residences which, in the next decade, will undoubtedly transform the area. Because the river is so placid, there are innumerable boats of all size and description that go up and down the river all day. Upriver, there are residential areas with canals and docks and these are full of small (20-30 ft.) craft. There are also a couple of major marinas and boat maintenance facilities that serve larger boats and even mega-yachts. So if you watch the traffic on the river, you are as likely to see a little runabout as you are a nice sailboat as you are a 50-foot cabin cruiser as you are to see a $20 million mega-yacht.

This is what drew Grant to this particular condo. Riverview Gardens also had its own 4-place dock, and Grant wanted to buy a small boat (which he did) to put there and use to cruise up and down the river and out to the Intracoastal Waterway near the coast. I still have that boat, although I am seriously considering selling it because it isn't used all that often these days. While we used to keep it at the Riverview Gardens dock, we moved it in 1991 to Shirttail Charlie's Marina a mile upriver. This is a place where boats our size can be kept in "dry storage"- on huge high racks in huge enclosed building. When you want to use your boat, you just call the marina and by the time you get there, they will have lifted your boat out of its slot and put it in the water for you. Keeping the boat this way means that the bottom stays clean and there is less wear-and-tear as boats kept at open docks are rocked back and forth by the (gentle) wakes of passing craft.

The condo we bought is a one-bedroom unit on the second floor at the northwest corner of the complex, and there are numerous sets of stairs around the complex; Fred got a picture of me on the landing of the set just outside my condo:

This particular unit is larger than most one-bedroom units, because a redesign some years ago that eliminated a little-used interior walkway than ran just south of our unit. The space reclaimed became part of our unit- about 150 additional square feet. Our unit is also nice because it is on the second floor and so has nice view- upriver and downtown. We can sit in the living room and look out the picture window and watch the boat traffic or view the downtown skyline. I can also keep an eye on my parking space, which very few residents can do.

Since I've segued from describing our trip down into describing the condo itself, let me include in this section the two pictures we took during this trip that illustrate the condo itself:


This view of Riverview Gardens was taken from the middle of the New River and from somewhat upstream; it looks generally northeast. I've marked the location of the condo on the picture itself.

Here I am standing on the walkway just outside the front door of the condo on the second floor of Riverview Gardens. You can see the old-style jalousie windows; these will have to be replaced at some point.

All in all the place makes a wonderful getaway home, although living here year-round would begin to seem cramped after a while. If I every contemplate doing that, either I'd find a new place altogether or move to one of the two-bedroom units here. In either case, it will be hard to match all the good points about our unit (and the one immediately above us).

Now for the pictures we took on this trip down here. I'll organize them by activity, and organize the activities generally in order time-wise.

 

A Boat Cruise on the New River

When we arrived in Ft. Lauderdale on Saturday, Ty and Scott were waiting for us at the condo. Since I use it so infrequently, I have rented it to them (since renting is not actually allowed at Riverview Gardens I have listed them on the deed as fractional owners, and we have a side agreement that defines this ownership as a tiny fraction of one-percent). Part of the rental agreement is the understanding that whenever I want to use the place myself, they will vacate temporarily, and either stay with friends or rent a guesthouse room for a week. For this flexibility, they get a somewhat below-market rental rate. It works out well, particularly since I am only here two or three times a year. Ty and Scott are very thoughtful about us and the condo; they keep it looking very nice and seem happy to see me come down, even if it means they are temporarily uprooted. I got a laugh when I went to put the pie in the fridge; Ty and Scott had already bought one for us!


We spent a little time at the condo where Fred got acquainted with Ty and Scott; this was the first time he had met them. As you may already know if you have viewed earlier album pages, Ty and Scott were good friends with Grant and I in Dallas. In 1988, they moved to Fort Lauderdale to live on a boat and start up an interior design business. Grant and I came down to visit them a few times, and Grant fell in love with Fort Lauderdale (which we had actually visited once a couple of years earlier).

When Grant went on disability from work, he came down more frequently when I was traveling, and often stayed with Ty and Scott on their boat. They were very kind to him (and to me) during Grant's illness. On a visit in 1989, Grant and I talked about whether we might buy our own small place so that Grant could stop imposing on our friends, and on that trip we found the little condo at Riverview Gardens. We bought it and immediately made a few car trips down here to bring a lot of stuff from Dallas; when we combined households in 1985, we had duplicates of everything.

During those trips, Grant embarked on cleaning and renovating the little condo, and he turned it from a dark, little apartment in some disrepair into a bright, clean, airy getaway. In the early part of 1991, the year he died, Grant moved down here pretty much full time, and all his medical support followed him. I visited fairly often, but I wanted him to enjoy himself as much as possible as his illness progressed. We did not return to Dallas until the conclusion of the cruise we took with his brother and his brother's fiancee in the fall of that year. By that time, the condo was all done; buying it has turned out to be one of the best decisions we made.


Ty, Scott and Myself Aboard "Obsession IV"

After chatting for a while, we got some lunch and then headed up to Shirttail Charlie's to have a ride on the boat. The weather was beautiful and I didn't want to wast a minute of it. Ty called the marina and had them get the boat out; it was, indeed, in the water and waiting for us when we got there.

I wondered how Fred would react to the condo; even though the condo is small, I think Fred was impressed. But I think what really impressed him (and continued to impress him on subsequent trips down there) were all the plants and flowers that grow wild in Florida but have to be carefully nurtured in greenhouses in Texas. Even on this first trip down here, he began a practice of taking some cuttings home with him.

At the marina, we got into the boat and headed off upriver. In the picture at right, we have just left Shirttail Charlie's which is right behind the boat on the far side (south side) of the river. Fred was up in the bow of the boat with his camera.

This was the first time in quite a while that Fred has been out on a boat- and I don't think he'd ever been on one in such a confined space- the New River. And I was spending a few minutes getting reacquainted with the little boat and its controls as well.


Fred and I on My Boat in Ft. Lauderdale

It was getting progressively warmer as the afternoon wore on, and it was also getting cloudier. I think Fred was having a really good time on the boat, as the picture at left (taken by Ty) shows. By this time, we are about a mile upriver from the marina.

I must admit that every time I go to Florida, memories of Grant come back very strongly because I associate the condo and the boat with him. If he had not been the one to suggest it, we never would have purchased a place here or had a boat. He certainly got a lot of pleasure from both of them while he was alive, and I have always appreciated his wisdom each and every time I have returned. But still, even with Fred along, and even considering how attached I am becoming to him, I can still imagine Grant in the condo and on the boat- even more than I can imagine him at home in Dallas. Ft. Lauderdale will forever be tightly bound to my memories of him.

Here are two other pictures Fred took as I was piloting the boat upriver; just click on the thumbnail images to have a look at each of the pictures:


The weather was just perfect, and showed Ft. Lauderdale off to great advantage. It had been in the 50's when we left Dallas, and now it was about 80 degrees with nice, gentle winds. Fred, of course, was taking pictures of the rest of us- like the ones above. In the first of those, you can see Shirttail Charlie's in the background. We headed upriver around River Bend and past the new Broward County Performing Arts Center.


A Canal Off the New River

We moved further upriver, and Fred was enjoying all the scenery. We have just passed under the Davie Boulevard bridge, at which point we turned around to head back downriver. I was really enjoying showing off Ft. Lauderdale to Fred; this was a part of the country he has not seen before, so everything was new to him. I, of course, feel like a long-time resident, even though I am there only infrequently.

As I mentioned, there are many canals in this area of the city and they are filled with boats. Just downriver from Davie Boulevard, there is a particularly large condominium complex, and it is bordered on all sides by these canals- like the one you can see at right. Grant and I had seen these particular condos on a previous visit, and I think if we had not got the place we did, he might have looked here.

You can trace our progress on the aerial view a bit above, if you wish, and you can see where abouts we turned around to head back down through downtown.


The Jungle Queen Heading Upriver

As we were idling around by that condominium complex, I could see the Jungle Queen coming upriver towards us, and so we moved over to the side of the river to let it pass. As it was going under the Davie Boulevard bridge, Fred snapped the picture at left.

The Jungle Queen is another of those fond memories that I have of Ft. Lauderdale. It is a simulated paddle-wheel steamer (actually run by diesel engines with the paddle wheel just for effect) that makes trips up and down the river from its home base down at Bahia Mar Marina on the ocean side of the Intracoastal Waterway. Grant and I rode on it the first time we were here, back in the 1980s. In all the times we have been down here, and particularly since we got the condo, the horn of the Jungle Queen has a familiar sound on the river. It always blew that horn at bends in the river, and since there is one right by the condo, we could depend on knowing when it was coming upriver or down, and we would often go out on the balcony to watch it go by. The horn of the Jungle Queen one of those sounds I am so familiar with that I can reproduce it in my mind whenever I wish.

Upriver, where the Jungle Queen is heading, there is another mile or two of river such as we have been cruising, and then the New River goes underneath Interstate 95. Just before it does, there are a couple of boatyards that handle the really big yachts, and many of those that pass the condo are headed there. Beyond I-95 is the Yacht Haven Marina, and, here again, there are hundreds of boats of all different sizes.


At the Andrews Avenue Bridge

Traffic on the New River is more like a parade. The river is not wide enough for most boats to routinely pass each other, and, in any event, the entire river is a "no wake" zone, which means that boats must go slow enough so as not to generate much of a wake. The river itself is lined with boats at their docks, and the waves generated by boats going fast would eventually damage the boats that are tied up- no matter how many bumpers their owners might dangle over the side.

So, since everyone is going at approximately the same speed (oddly enough, the larger a boat is the less wake it creates at a given speed) cruisers may often follow a boat all the way down the river. When we left the Davie bridge, we fell in behind the 40+-foot Halcyon Days and were behind it almost all the way back past Shirttail Charlie's and to Riverview Gardens.

The Andrews Avenue bridge is one of two bridges downtown, the other being the 3rd Avenue bridge. (There are actually only four drawbridges between the Intracoastal Waterway and Yacht Haven- and none beyond Yacht Haven. Most boats, like mine, can make it under the bridges with no problem, but larger boats- like the Halcyon Days and Jungle Queen and many others- have to wait until the bridge is raised for them. During the week, these bridges operate on a schedule- opening about every quarter hour or so. On weekends, they open whenever the bridge tender sees a large boat approaching. (There are LOTS of large boats on weekends, so the bridge operator has to strike a balance between making boats wait (letting vehicle traffic over the bridge) or making cars wait. The theory is that there are fewer cars and more boats on weekends, although the bridge operator doesn't want to be raising the bridge every few minutes. It seems like a simple job, but it's actually kinda complicated.

You might be interested to know that Fort Lauderdale has ten or fifteen drawbridges, like the Andrews Avenue bridge, and innumerable other bridges that cross various canals and side branches of the New River and other waterways that crisscross the city. Those other bridges, most of which are fairly low, don't open. Consequently, only boats about the size of mine, which I'd guess only requires eight feet of clearance when someone is standing up and even less when everyone is sitting down, can go under them. When you look at real estate for sale in the city, if the house or condo complex is on a canal or waterway, you might see the legend "no fixed bridges" somewhere on the For Sale sign. This means that there is some route between the boat dock of that house or complex that you can take to get to the Intracoastal Waterway (and hence out to the ocean) where you will not encounter a bridge that cannot be raised. These houses command a premium price, because it means that their owners can keep large boats there and not worry about being "landlocked".


At Riverview Gardens

What's neat about the condo is that all those boats we saw today, and many, many more, must pass by the condo on their way to the Intracoastal and the ocean. There is one other way they can go, but it is a long way around the airport and it is through canals that only very small boats can navigate safely.

We have followed the Halcyon Days all the way down to the condo, and Fred took this picture of Riverview Gardens from the river (duplicating many that I already have, but then this is his record as well as mine). We went a short way past the condo and then turned around to head back to Shirttail Charlie's. Ty, who is a Realtor as well as an Interior Designer, had a showing that he had to do just before dinner.

After a couple of hours on the water, we headed back upriver. As we passed through downtown Fort Lauderdale, Fred took this panoramic picture of the boat traffic on the river:

We then took the boat back to Shirttail Charlie's Marina, where the staff take it out of the water and put it back into the dry storage. Fred took a panoramic picture of part of this process:

We then drove back to the condo where Ty and Scott picked up their car and head off to take care of business. That night, we met them at Acapulco Lindo, our favorite Mexican restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale, and we had a great dinner. Then the four of us went to one of the local bars to introduce Fred to Ft. Lauderdale night life. This, of course, was after stopping by the condo for a slice of key lime pie.

This was a long day, what with the flight to Fort Lauderdale and all. It was Fred's first day in South Florida, and it was certainly a full one. From every indication, he thoroughly enjoyed himself.

 

A Visit to Dania Beach State Park

On Sunday, Fred and I planned to go to the "gay" beach at Dania State Park. It was overcast and a bit cool, but we decided to go anyway as both Ty and Scott were occupied for the first part of the day.


Getting to Dania Beach State Park is pretty easy. From the condo, we just went over to Federal Highway (US 1) and took that south- through the Kinney Tunnel under the New River and then south past the airport to the town of Dania. In the center of town, we turned east to take one of the roads to the beach; this road connected up to A1A, which is the coast road in Florida. Instead of continuing south, though, we turned north on the park road and into the state park proper.

There are a number of parking areas, but by tacit agreement the gay part of the beach uses a particular one. We parked and took one of the two footbridges across a long, narrow lagoon to get to the beach itself.

When we got there, there weren't too many people because of the weather, but we decided to stay awhile and just lie in the weak sunshine and read. We didn't take many pictures; it wasn't a particular nice day and there wasn't a lot to take pictures of. The pictures we did take are below:


We had brought a lunch, and here I am feeding one of the many seagulls that wander around the area. Behind me, you can see some of the other occupants of the beach, obviously taking an interest in what Fred and I were doing. Of course, Fred is so good-looking that he attracts glances wherever he is.

We lay on the beach for as long as there was any sun at all, but when the weather grew more dismal, we decided to call it a morning. Had there been much people scenery, we might have stayed longer. Just up from where we were laying on the beach, Fred found this interesting palm tree, and used his tripod to take this picture of the two of us.


This shot looks north back towards Ft. Lauderdale, and you can see the same condos and apartments that you have seen in previous pictures (notably those from the cruise that Grant and I took in 1991). Those buildings are right at the inlet south of 17th Street and the 17th Street bridge. You can also see how dark and dismal it is becoming.

The parking area for the beach is on the other side of a small canal from the beach itself, and we stopped on the footbridge that crosses it to take a couple of pictures. This sea bird happened along. I'm pretty sure that Fred found all the different wildlife very interesting, as he did the new plants and plant varieties.


It was beginning to drizzle a bit, so we decided to leave and head back to the condo. As I said, to get back to the parking area from the beach, there are two footbridges you can take. As we were leaving, we stopped on the bridge so Fred could set up the tripod and take one last picture of the two of us.

I know Fred had hoped that the beach would be busier, but then I have been there two or three times and could have told him that there isn't much "going on" even on very nice days.

On the way back to Ft. Lauderdale, it was raining hard, and we stopped to offer a woman walking along the road a lift into Dania, but she brushed us off, possibly out of fear that we might have motives other than charity in mind. I suspect that she got thoroughly soaked.

Back at the condo, we relaxed for a while as the rain wound down and then stopped. We went out walking along Las Olas, and I went and did my jogging, and then we met Ty and Scott for drinks at one of their favorite watering holes. There was some scenery to look at there, although still not much. The four of us had dinner at Peter Pan, and then we split up, with Ty and Scott going to one bar and Fred and I visiting the Eagle.

 

At Sebastian Beach

Monday dawned bright and sunny. We slept in, and went out to get some breakfast at the Original Pancake House up on Federal. Then we took our cameras and swimming gear and went to the beach. Since this was the first time Fred had been to the beach from the condo, I wanted him to see how far it was, so we took the car. It's a nice walk along Las Olas, though, and subsequently that is what we usually did.

We drove over the Las Olas Bridge that spans the Intracoastal Waterway and connects the mainland to the barrier island; just on the other side is a large public parking lot, so for this first trip, that's where we left the car. The parking area is bordered on the Intracoastal side with public docks that can be rented long-term, and Fred took a panoramic picture of me beside these docks:

Then we walked two more blocks over to the beach, turned north and walked about six blocks to Sebastian Street.


When I first started coming down to Fort Lauderdale, the broad walk along the beach side of A1A was basically level with the beach itself, and because of that, the City had a problem with sand blowing up onto the street and, on rare occasions, high waves washing onto A1A. Along about 1992, the City built a serpentine, curved wall between the walk and the sandy area of the beach. The white wall is about two feet high and about two feet wide. It effectively shield the street from blown sand and the occasional high water.

To make an artistic statement, there is embedded in the wall on both sides and about four inches down from the top of the wall, a fibre-optic line that comes on at night. It is computer-controlled, and changes colors. This line is in sections, as there are numerous breaks where there are a couple of steps down to the sand from the walk. The way the lights work, it appears as if a particular color moves along the wall. It is quite nice and adds a lot to the appearance of the beach. That is the wall that Fred is sitting on in the picture at left.

The new seawall actually extends all the way from the beginning of Fort Lauderdale beach on the south (a few blocks south of where Las Olas Boulevard dead-ends into A1A) to the north end of the beach about a half-mile north of Sunrise Boulevard- about two miles in all. Here I am about halfway between Las Olas and Sunrise, just past one of the pedestrian bridges that have been built to minimize pedestrian traffic across busy A1A:

I suppose this may be true in many beach communities, but the Fort Lauderdale has "areas" that cater to one style or another beach goer. Think about the section of Atlantic City beach that is supposedly "topless", or the beaches in Europe that are "clothing-optional". There is even a section of the cliffs along Lake Travis in Austin that is not only clothing-optional but pretty much populated by gays. There is no clothing-optional beach here in Fort Lauderdale (although there is one south of here in Hollywood, Florida), but the stretch of beach right around Sebastian Street is where gay men and women congregate, and that is where we headed.

We sat on the wall there, played some backgammon, people-watched, and took a walk on the beach by the water. For me, it was a bit cool for laying out on the beach, but there were certainly people doing that. Here are some of the pictures we took at Sebastian Street Beach:


You can see one of the airplanes that fly along the beach on nice days, advertising various bars and restaurants. The day was bright and sunny, if a trifle cool for simply laying on the beach.

This shot looks south towards the point where Las Olas intersects A1A. Ty and Scott's apartment building is off to the right and two blocks away from the beach (on the Intracoastal).


We carried our shoes and socks and walked along the beach (this view looks north), enjoying the scenery (both natural and human).

You can see some of the human scenery in the background. The day was just perfect for walking along and picture-taking.

After we spent some time at Sebastian Beach, we took a walk all the way down the beach, right by the water, and all the way south of the Las Olas intersection. Here, the high-rises have been replaced by public beach buildings, and, ahead of me, you can see all the way south to Everglades Inlet (near the high-rises in the distance):

We were going to meet Ty and Scott later, so we headed back to the car, which we had left just on the beach side of the Las Olas bridge over the Intracoastal. There is very little parking available at the beach since they redid it, so you have to park a couple of blocks away. When we got back to the car, we had some time and so we went up onto the Las Olas Bridge over the Intracoastal to let Fred get some pictures. He used his panoramic camera for them. The first looks southwest from the bridge, out over one of the city's most exclusive neighborhoods:

The second picture was taken from the other side of the bridge and looks northeast out over the barrier island between the Intracoastal Waterway and the ocean:

The panoramics certainly give a better impression of the vast sweep of scenery from any point in Fort Lauderdale higher than a couple of stories.


Fred on the Las Olas Bridge

Fred was a little nervous when we walked out on the part of the bridge that is essentially a grating so that you can see the water below; his fear of heights kicked in a bit. Nor would he get too near the edge of the bridge and look over, but then I'm used to that idiosyncrasy. This shot looks south past Bahia Mar and down towards 17th Street.

We drove back to the condo, parked the car, and then walked around near Riverview Gardens for a while. Fort Lauderdale has a great many Norfolk Island pine trees, a variety that Fred doesn't see very often. At home, they only grow in far South Texas, and even there they are not nearly so tall as they are here. Fred wanted me to take his picture with it.

The pine was just one of the many examples of flora that grow wild all over South Florida but which either don't grow at all in Dallas or have to be grown in greenhouses and which, as a result, are much smaller. Fred was continually impressed at the variety of stuff that could be found here, and he was continually taking cuttings from the plants he liked. (We carried these home on the plane in plastic bags laid carefully in our carry-ons.) This was a practice that Fred would continue on subsequent trips, and indeed he brought home a couple of plants that the Crumps decided to grow commercially in the greenhouses. At least the "starts" didn't cost them anything!

That building in the background of the picture of Fred and the Norfolk Island pine is the new one that you have seen going up in previous pictures taken from my balcony at Riverview Gardens (on my previous trips down here).

 

At Ty and Scott's Design Shop

When Grant and I first came down to visit Ty and Scott, they had started a small interior design firm. After a year or two, they realized that they were at very much a disadvantage when compared to larger firms with degreed designers on their staff. So Scott concentrated on his skills at drapery design and construction, and Ty worked to bring in jobs within that niche. Eventually, Scott joined a drapery firm for a while, while Ty moved into property management and became a Realtor.


Early this year, Scott left his job at the drapery workroom where he has been for three years, and he has decided to open his own shop. They are using some savings and some of the income Ty generates to get the shop off the ground.

Scott and Ty are in their element when they are planning a new enterprise, and I had the distinct feeling of "deja vu"; the original design firm effort didn't make it, but this drapery workroom was much more specialized, and Scott already has something of a local reputation for the inventiveness and beauty of his designs.

Ty and Scott are emphatic that this particular venture will be successful, and if anyone can make it so, Scott, with his style, and Ty, with his business sense, can do it. They have leased a small office warehouse space in a strip of such spaces in one of the many buildings that can be found in this part of town, about four miles north and a mile west of my condo and theirs.

The space has a small office in the front, that is enclosed and air-conditioned, a regular door at the front, and a large, drive-in door at either end. Scott still has some sewing machines in storage, and they plan to move them in here as soon as the space is finished. Ty will be doing his real estate work out of the small office in front, and helping Scott when necessary. They are both very excited about their prospects, and I wish them the best.


Ty and Scott have built their own work tables, like the one in the picture at right. These will be padded and covered and will then be the work surfaces for putting the draperies together.

There will be shelving along the walls for supplies and materials, and of course some desks and chairs for the necessary paperwork generated within the business. I have helped Ty and Scott with their first flyer that will be going out to all the decorators in the area; they hope that word of mouth recommendations will bring business their way. As with any business, the first such recommendations will probably take a while, but when they start generating significant business they will be off and running.

Their enthusiasm shows through in all that they do, and I hope that their prospective customers recognize that quality as well. Seeing the workroom and listening to their plans for getting the business going was interesting, and we spent most of the afternoon with them.

That evening Ty and Scott they had us over for a very nice dinner. I brought the makings for frozen margaritas and Fred brought one of the key lime pies for dessert. Afterwards, Fred and I went out to the Eagle for a while. We planned to go out on the boat again the next day, while Ty and Scott waited at the workroom for the electricians and the telephone people to do their thing.

 

A Boat Trip to Everglades Inlet

Ty and Scott were going to be occupied on Tuesday with getting the utilities at their new workroom arranged the way you want them, so since Fred had seemed to enjoy our first boat trip, I thought we should take it out again.


We got to the marina fairly early, and had them put the boat in the water. Instead of going upriver, I thought that I would take Fred downriver to the Intracoastal Waterway, and then perhaps south to show him Lake Mabel- where the cruise ships dock. When we left the marina and turned downriver, we found ourselves having to wait for the railroad bridge to be raised:


Looking Downriver (East) from Shirttail Charlie's

On the previous trip, we had a bit of a problem with the oil pressure; we kept getting a warning that it was low, but there was plenty of oil in the reservoir. I hoped that the same thing wouldn't happen again. We did get the buzzing alarm a few times, but nothing seemed to be really wrong with the engine or the boat. When the railroad bridge was raised, we headed downriver. The next bridge was at Andrews Avenue, and it was up when we got there.


Going Under the Andrews Ave. Bridge

As you can see, it is up to let the Jungle Queen pass under it. Of course, our boat is much too low to require any bridge to be raised. The Jungle Queen is one of the most familiar sights in Ft. Lauderdale- almost a symbol of the city. I recall that many times Grant and I would be in the condo and hear its distinctive horn, and we would drop what we were doing to go outside and watch her pass. She is quite a sight, especially at night, when she is all lit up and usually full of people. It's odd how the tourists will wave at just about anybody or anything; many times we have just been sitting in front of the condo when she goes by, and invariably the tourists will wave to us as if we are some indigenous life form to the area that they have never seen before.


Passing Riverview Gardens

We have cruised downriver, going underneath the 3rd Avenue bridge and over the Kinney Tunnel and are now passing Riverview Gardens, where Fred took the pictures at left. As I have pointed out before, my unit is the one on the second floor whose living room window is just to the right of the top of the tree at the leftmost corner of the building.

Grant certainly made an excellent choice when he advised that we buy that particular unit; it gave him a lot of pleasure to fix it up and stay in it, and since he died it has given me a refuge too. It takes almost no maintenance, and one can come back to it six months and more after leaving, and there will be hardly any dust or anything to be cleaned inside. Ty tells me that it has also been a good investment financially, as similar units are going for half again what we paid for ours. That's nice to know, but I don't think I'd ever want to sell it.

There have been some rumors that the Association may allow owners to rent their units, and, if so, I might consider that for a few months at a time, but I like knowing that it is there and than I can go there when I want and always have my own place to stay.


Me with the MS Ryndam in the Background

We took the boat down the New River to where it opens out into the Intracoastal Waterway, and then turned south. This took us under the 17th street bridge and into Lake Mabel- which is the cruise ship port here in Fort Lauderdale. The busy times for the port are on Saturday and Wednesday, with the week-long cruises sailing on Saturday and the three-day excursions on Wednesday.

We went across Lake Mabel to the south, past the opening of Everglades Inlet, and then were again in the sheltered Intracoastal Waterway. Here, we were able to slow down and idle, and that is when Fred took the picture at left. In the background, you can see the Holland America Line's MS Ryndam in the background. I piloted the boat quite close to the Ryndam, but being so close the pictures were not worth taking, for you could get very little of the ship in them. This ship is about three times the size of the Costa Riviera, the ship that Grant and I cruised on four years ago.

Fred took his turns piloting the boat; he liked the fact that once you got to the Inlet, you could go fast in the boat; up to that point, we had just been going through no wake zones where idle speed is about the best you can do.


People Fishing in Dania State Park

South of Lake Mabel, the Intracoastal Waterway continues as a sheltered, 150-foot-wide channel that leads all the way down the coast (with a couple of inlets on the way) to Miami. On the ocean side of the Intracoastal, there is a small harbor for Dania Beach, and it is part of Dania Beach State Park (where we were the other day).

Boaters can take their craft into this protected space and literally beach them. They can be anchored or tied to a tree, but you can just hop off and go over to the beach and spend as much time as you like. As you enter the harbor, you pass through an outer portion, that has a seawall, places for fishing, and a boat ramp for launching boats and taking them out. This land can only be reached by boat or by going in to the Dania Beach State Park entrance that we did on Sunday. It is certainly a lot shorter to go by boat. The inner harbor, where you can beach your boat, is under the bridge you can see to the left in the picture at left. There wasn't a beaching space available, so we just went into the harbor and turned around.

This is also the kind of area that manatees like, and during this time of the year, boaters have to take special precautions not to allow their boats to injure these animals, who sometimes float just beneath the surface of the water. There are more idle speed zones at this time of the year than in the Summer and Fall, since at those times of the year the manatees stay in the deeper water. There were two signs here about the manatees, and you might want to have a look at them:

(Picture at left)
Fred wanted to record the information on this sign, so he took this picture. I won't bother to retype what I can read of the sign; hopefully, anyone looking at this picture has better reading eyesight than I have and can read it for themselves.

 

 

 

(Picture at right)
Here is another sign that Fred wanted to record with a picture. It tells how boaters can injure the animals, and outlines the precautions that must be taken during manatee season, which is basically the late winter, spring, and early summer.

We went a short ways down the Intracoastal Waterway, just so Fred could pilot the boat a bit more, and then back across Lake Mabel where Fred again enjoyed opening up and zipping across. As we crossed Lake Mabel, Fred took a couple of panoramic pictures. The first was when we passed the MS Ryndam:

Fred took another after we passed the cruise ship and could see the 17th Street Bridge ahead of us:

In the picture above, you can see a large yacht docked on the right-hand (ocean) side of the Intracoastal; as we passed it, Fred thought it was also worth a picture:

We went underneath the 17th Street Bridge and headed further north through the Intracoastal Waterway.


At left is my picture of Fred at the controls of the boat as we head north back to the New River. Fred was a little unsure of the boat at the beginning, but then I was also. But once he got the hang of it, he liked piloting it. He certainly makes a attractive captain.

Incidentally, he wearing a gimme cap that he got when he ordered his new GMC truck at Frank Woods GMC up in Denton. Fred has needed a new truck for a while, his red B2000, which we have taken on a number of camping trips, beginning to show its age and need more repairs. Fred had done a lot of researching of new trucks, and settled on a GMC Sonoma. He then looked at all the dealer ads and found the best price at a dealer relatively close to him to be the dealer in Denton.

We drove up there last week so that Fred could finalize the purchase and order his new truck; he should get his truck in six to eight weeks; they did not have one equipped exactly as he wanted it and so he had to order it. He has been keeping me guessing about what color he has chosen. He has been talking about either red (the color of his current truck) and white- either of which are good choices, although I prefer red perhaps because I am used to his current truck. He hasn't told Prudence, either.

NOTE:
I may forget to mention it later on this year, but Fred was pulling a fast one on both Prudence and myself. As it turned out, when we went to pick up the truck in late March, I found out that he had ordered the truck in black. I'd always thought that a bad color for the Texas summers, but then it is air-conditioned and certainly does look good.


The oil alarm went off again on the way back to the marina, but we got back OK. I asked at the marina and learned that the oil reservoir simply needed to be kept almost full of oil; we filled it and no damage was done. The marina was quite crowded so getting the boat into the dock took some finagling. Fred is standing beside it in the picture at right, and behind him is the entrance to the storage bays where the huge forklift trucks put the boats when they are taken out of the water. Fred took a picture of me on the dock, looking across and down the river:


Behind me are the city of Ft. Lauderdale and the New River; add in the palm trees and the beautiful weather and you have a very good picture. But all this is typical of South Florida at this time of the year, which is why so many people visit here. I might also say that while the boat has certainly been fun to own, it is hard to justify the cost of its storage and upkeep for just the few times that I or Ty and Scott have taken it out. Ty and I have talked it over, and since they have little time to use it and I am there so infrequently, I have decided to advertise it for sale. Boats move fairly quickly around here, and Ty will put an ad in the paper right away and see what responses we get.

When the boat was put away (a process that Fred wanted to watch), we headed back to the condo.

 

At Riverview Gardens

We were planning dinner with Ty and Scott after a while, so before I went for a short jog, we took advantage of the beautiful afternoon to take some pictures around the condo complex. This first one was taken just outside the front door to the condo.


Right at the corner near my unit, there is a huge shefflera tree; here in Dallas, they don't grow nearly so big and are an indoor plant. We have new security lights; because this is an older concrete-block building, any new wiring (like cable TV or these lights) has to be run in channels attached to the outside of the walls:

We walked down to the dock, where the next few pictures were taken- including the one at left. For a while, I kept the boat here, which was certainly cheaper than at the marina, but the problem with keeping boats in the water around here is that there is a lot of algae and other plants and creatures that attach themselves to the boat bottoms. This means that they have to be professionally cleaned about every year.

Another problem at our particular dock is that the boats take a pounding from the wakes of the boats going up and down the river- particularly when they go faster than they should. This can put small cracks in the fiberglas hull of a boat; while these might not be serious, it is something else that has to be repaired eventually. Considering these repairs, keeping the boat in the marina is only a bit more expensive than keeping it at the condo, and it is more convenient for those of us who are only here infrequently.

Here are the other two pictures that we took at the dock this afternoon:


Those whips keep the boats from banging into the dock, and they work pretty well unless a small boat going too fast comes by. Boat owners are liable for the damages that their wakes cause, but there is not usually anyone around to nab the idiots who are going too fast.

This picture is neat, with all the greenery behind us and the setting sun in front of us. (There are city police boats to nab speeders, but there aren't enough of them to catch everyone who goes too fast. Often people sitting at the dock will yell at other boaters to slow down.)

Those were the last pictures we took before we headed off to Club Caribbean for drinks with Ty and Scott, and dinner at Acapulco Lindo on Fred's last night here in Ft. Lauderdale.

 

Flamingo Gardens in Davie, FL

On Fred's last day in Florida, we went off to this attraction west of Ft. Lauderdale. Fred had seen an ad for it in one of the local publications, and we figured it would be a good way to see a lot more of the local flora than just wandering around the city. It is out beyond the airport way on the west side of the city, about fifteen miles out.

Flamingo Gardens is a 60-acre, not-for-profit wildlife sanctuary, aviary, and botanical garden located just west of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport on South Flamingo Road; it is open to the public for a small admission fee.


The Gardens were originally the property of Floyd L. and Jane Wray, who in 1933 built a home and citrus grove on what was then the edge of the Everglades, where they started a botanical collection of tropical and subtropical fruit trees and shrubs. The Wray Home is now a museum illustrating a country home in the early 1930s. Guided tours are provided daily.

Today, Flamingo Gardens is divided into a number of different areas, although when we were there I recall it being much smaller. The Wray Botanical Collection and Arboretum occupies 15 acres with over 3000 tropical and sub-topical plants and trees. The Arboretum is home to 18 "Champion" trees, the largest trees of their species as designated by the Florida Forest Service, including the largest single-trunk tree in the Florida. Specialty gardens include the Croton Garden, Butterfly Garden, Hummingbird Garden, Florida Wildflower Garden, Bromeliad Garden, and Children's Garden.

The Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary provides residence to permanently injured and non-releasable birds and animals. It has the distinction of being the largest collection of Florida native wildlife in the State with over 85 native species including alligators, bobcats, panthers, otters, eagles, peacocks and, of course flamingos. It also contains one of the largest free-flight aviaries in the country and one of the premiere River Otter breeding programs.


Here is Fred at one of the many "Photo Opportunity" spots that we encountered. There were guided tours of the gardens that come with the price of admission, so we had someone take us (and about three or four other folks) around. Flamingo Gardens is a touch of history, with 60 acres of lush botanical gardens.

We also took a two-mile narrated tram tour through citrus groves, a tropical rainforest, wetland areas and a native hammock including some of the last natural jungle growth in South Florida. The tour was fully narrated, and took about half an hour.

The centerpiece of the gardens is a natural hammock of 200 year-old Live Oak trees dripping with species orchids and epiphytes. Amid the trees is the historic Wray Home Museum. It is the oldest residence in Broward County west of University Drive. The building was restored in 1991 to depict a typical South Florida country home of the 1930s and is open to the public. We did go in to have a look around, but didn't take any pictures (photography being discouraged inside).

Being a horticulturist, Fred was certainly in his element here at Flamingo Gardens, and we wandered around for quite a while. We probably should have taken more pictures, but both of us were getting close to the end of our film rolls. But here are the other two pictures we took:

(Picture at left)
You could get quite close to some of the birds as this picture attests. The tour was interesting, and Fred got a chance to see lots of plants he hadn't seen before. There was a "free flight" aviary, a bird of prey center, butterfly and hummingbird gardens, alligators, crocodiles, river otters and pink flamingos. It was quite a place.

 

 

 

(Picture at right)
A great horned owl, taken at the Flamingo Gardens & Arboretum in Davie, Florida. I was able to stop one of the bird handlers and get this close-up picture of the owl for my own enjoyment and also to get a copy for Larry, who is very much "into" owls.

After we toured for a while, the Arboreturm was closing at 3:00, so we took a quick spin through the gift shop and then headed back to the condo to pack Fred's things. His flight was to be at 7:00 p.m. back to Dallas, so there was time to go by and say good-bye to Ty and Scott.


Here are Scott and Ty outside their new establishment as we bid farewell to them and headed off to the airport.

I think Fred really enjoyed his visit to Florida, and I hated to see him go back and leave me by myself, but I had decided to stay and take two more days of vacation. On the way to the airport, Fred and I had dinner at Miami Subs, and then I took him to the American terminal and waited with him until he boarded his plane to Dallas.

I spent the evening by myself, watched some TV and went out to the Eagle to play pool.

On Thursday morning, I awoke with a sore throat, a sure sign that I was going to get a cold, and by Friday it was upon me in earnest. Although the weather was nice, and Ty and Scott did a lot with me, and although they had me over again for dinner and we went out to the flea market on Saturday and did some other interesting things, the cold made me feel bad for the rest of the weekend.

I did put in some time studying the course materials for the course that I would attend on Monday and Tuesday, but still, when I got on the plane back to Dallas on Sunday night, I felt pretty bad. Fred had been to his mother's that weekend, and he was kind enough to stop by the airport and pick me up.

Fred stayed Sunday night as usual, and when he headed off to work the next morning I left for the airport and my own flight for Cleveland.

I felt pretty lousy at the class; not only did I have a cold and a headache, but my contact lenses were irritating me and I had to take them out and wear my glasses instead. I am afraid that I didn't make a very good impression at the class, but I was just feeling terrible.

You can use the links below to continue to another photo album page.


March 11, 1995: Lowery Evans' Birthday Party
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