April 19-21, 2002: A Visit to San Antonio
February 8-10, 2002: A Trip to San Antonio
Return to the Index for 2002

Page Index

Getting to Fort Lauderdale
Scenes Along the New River
Flamingo Gardens & Zoo
At the Beach
Fort Lauderdale Cat Show
Along the Intracoastal

February 23 - March 3, 2002
A Trip to Florida


Fred and I try to get down to Fort Lauderdale at least once a year, and this year we went towards the end of February, before the greenhouses get busy for Easter. Since Fred doesn't get away from the greenhouses until late in the day, we'll be flying down on Saturday morning.

Sometimes, when we come down here, all we do is futz around and do some things with either Ron and Leroy, who live in northwest Fort Lauderdale, or hang out with Ty and Scott, or go to the beach- stuff like that. This trip was like that, and so for this trip, I'll just organize the pictures by topic.


Getting to Fort Lauderdale

I found us a good fare on American Airlines, and we parked the car at the airport and left in mid-morning; the plane followed the usual flight path down to Florida, and it was a pleasant flight.

We arrived at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport just after two in the afternoon.

I'd reserved a car at one of the airport rental car companies; we picked it up, left the airport and headed up Federal Highway (US 1) towards downtown. After going under the New River through the Kinney Tunnel, we hang a right on Broward Boulevard and then go south on SE 8th Avenue to SE 4th Street.

Then it is just a couple of blocks east on SE 4th Street until we arrive at Riverview Gardens. As you probably know by now, the condominium complex is right on the New River, and our condo is on the second floor at the northwest corner of the main building. The view from the living room window is towards downtown Fort Lauderdale and up the New River; and that view is one of the main reasons why we purchased this condo many years ago.

As we are fond of doing on our first day here, we got our stuff unpacked, did a little cleaning, had a frozen drink down at the dock by the river and later on went to the Floridian Restaurant (a few blocks east on Las Olas) for dinner.

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Along the New River

On every trip down here, both Fred and I take pictures of the boating activity on the New River. Some we take right from the condo or the dock; others we take as we walk along the Riverwalk from the condo to Riverfront Center- a new development just west of the Andrews Avenue Bridge (about a half-mile up the river from the condo).

Click on the thumbnails below to see some of the pictures we took from the condo of the boating activity nearby:

One afternoon, Ron and Leroy came by the condo and we took a walk up the New River along the Riverwalk. We crossed to the south side of the river on the 3rd Avenue Bridge, and I snapped a picture of the other three guys horsing around by an urban sculpture near Government Plaza. Walking further up river, we came to the Andrews Avenue bridge, where Fred got a movie of the Jungle Queen coming by; watch that movie with the player at left. I also got a picture of Ron and Leroy across the river from Riverfront Center.

Walking along the river is always a pleasure, and they continue to develop the Riverwalk and announce new condo buildings.

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Flamingo Gardens and Zoo

On our last Saturday here in Fort Lauderdale, we went with Ron and Leroy to Flamingo Gardens and Zoo.

The Gardens and Zoo are west of the airport, just north of Griffin Road. It took us about a half-hour to get there from the condo.

Established in 1927, Flamingo Gardens is one of the oldest botanical gardens in South Florida. The 60-acre not-for-profit botanical garden contains over 3000 tropical and sub-tropical species of plants and trees and it's Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary is home to the largest collection of Florida native wildlife in the state.

The aerial view of Flamingo Gardens, which, of course, was taken fairly recently and not in 2002, illustrates some of the changes that have come to the Gardens and to South Florida. The Gardens, which in 2002 also housed a small zoo, have had to change as well. Some years ago, the Zoo portion was closed, and the animals farmed out to the Fort Lauderdale Zoo and the Miami Zoo. Some of the land was given over to development to provide funds to keep the Gardens going.

The Gardens now focus exclusively on plants and animals native to, or common in, Florida. With some of the last natural jungle growth in South Florida, the Wray Botanical Collection at Flamingo Gardens includes 21 of the largest trees of their species and a unique hammock of 200 year old Live Oak trees. The Historic Wray Home has been restored and is now a museum which provides a glimpse of life in the 1930s. The Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary gives residence to permanently injured and non-releasable wildlife and is home to 83 species of Florida native birds and animals including alligators, panthers, boars, bobcats, otters, eagles, peacocks, and of course flamingos. The half-acre Free-flight Aviary boasts over 250 birds representing 45 species. In the last 20 years birds in the Aviary have produced over 2000 offspring which have been released into the wild.

As I said, the zoo portion is no longer part of Flamingo Gardens, but it was when we visited. If you will click on the thumbnails below, you can see some of the pictures we took of the flamingos, the other zoo animals (from elephants to tigers) and each other here in this beautiful oasis:

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At the Beach

Of course, one of the main attractions of Fort Lauderdale in particular and Florida in general is the beach, and we spend at least an afternoon or two either sitting on the sand or walking along the shore or both.

On one sunny afternoon we drove the two miles or so from the condo down Las Olas to the beach. We headed north along A1A and parked in the Sebastian Street lot right on the beach. It was a beautiful day, and we took our towels, reading material and the backgammon board with us. We staked out a space on the sand and played backgammon for a while, as you can see if you click on the thumbnails below:

I'm trying to teach Fred how to play, but it's like trying to teach him or any of our other friends how to play bridge- the key is motivation. When I learned both of them, I was motivated. For bridge, I wanted to go with my Mom to the bridge club in Charlotte to play, or be able to sit in when she needed a fourth at one of her bridge gatherings. And it looked like fun. I learned backgammon in Chicago because a number of the people my age in the building played socially and in tournaments all over the city. Again, it was a great deal of fun and the game enjoyable.

But our erstwhile bridge-learning friends don't have that motivation, nor does Fred really have much of an impetus to learn backgammon (since I am the only person he'd be likely to play with and we do so infrequently). So every time we play it's a refresher course, and I suggest his moves more often than not. But it's fun, nevertheless. We played, read, and just gazed out at the ships offshore.

Sometimes it's more convenient to just sit on the seawall and play; we don't have to bring blankets and stuff. We do that on days when we prefer to stay out of the sun.

There are other days when it is cloudy or cool, and not really good for sitting on the beach, and at those times we just walk along the shore. Click on the thumbnails below to see a couple of views of the Fort Lauderdale beach on a cloudy, cool weekday afternoon:

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At the Fort Lauderdale Cat Show

Sometimes when we are here, we find different and interesting things to do. Lately, for example, our trips down here seem to have been coinciding with the weekends during which one of the three Las Olas Art Fairs are going on, and whenever one is happening, it's great just to walk a block from the condo to circle through the Art Fair and look at all the arts and crafts on display and for sale. One of these days, we'll take a lot of pictures so you can see what it is like, but on this trip I just got one picture of Fred at the Art Fair.

One thing we do regularly is to play frisbee in Holiday Park. Holiday park is about a mile north of the condo, and on the afternoons we play, we ride our bikes up there, going pretty much straight north from the condo following Twelfth Street through the Victoria Park neighborhood. This brings us into Holiday Park near the tennis courts and soccer fields.

If our favorite soccer field is occupied, then we continue on to the north side of the War Memorial Auditorium to an empty grassy area that is not set aside for a particular sport. But we happened to be driving up Federal on an errand when we saw that the Fort Lauderdale Cat Show was going on inside the Auditorium, so on one of the days it was on we drove up there to have a look.

The cat show wasn't quite what I expected; after all, I've never seen one in person or on TV, but I have seen snippets of an AKC Dog Show, and I guess I expected something like that. What we found, though, was a large area where exhibitors and fanciers brought all their animals and paraphernalia for their preparation and then a series of smaller areas where judges evaluated cats of different breeds and in different classifications. These areas consisted of a large table and a bunch of chairs for people to watch. Then there was one more larger area where the presentation of ribbons took place.

We spent most of our time wandering through the preparation area where we found that cat owners were usually only too happy to tell us about their pride and joys and allow us to take a few pictures, such as the two almost earless cats at left.

There didn't seem to be a category for your typical house cat; almost all the animals we saw were either purebreds of one breed or another (including the fluffiest Persian cat I think I've ever seen) or cats with odd features. There was one cat with a face that made it look like the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz, and you can have a look at it here. (It also looked angry, as you may have noticed.) There was also a tiny, almost fur-less cat that almost looked like a cross between a cat and a Chihuahua. With its big ears and lack of fur, it was certainly strange-looking, though we were told that similar cats are ideal for people who are allergic, since there is no fur to accumulate the dander that most folks are allergic to. But I couldn't imagine this odd-looking cat curling up in my lap.

In any event, the show was interesting, and I might look for one in Dallas to go to.

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Along the Intracoastal Waterway

Every time we are down here, we have occasion to either walk or ride our bikes east towards the beach, and when we do, we cross over the Intracoastal Waterway at the Las Olas Bridge.

Just after we cross the Las Olas Bridge (seen here from the dock of one of the luxury homes just south of it), we come around underneath the bridge to the Las Olas Marina, and from here we have good views north along the Intracoastal, as well as a view of one of the newest condominium towers that was built recently just northeast of the bridge. It must have excellent views!

From the bridge itself, as well as from either end of it, there are really pretty views that partially explain why so many people (especially wealthy ones) want to live in Fort Lauderdale and, especially, in the beautiful homes that line the Intracoastal and both sides of the Las Olas Isles that extend from Las Olas both north and south. All the canals offer residents the opportunity to dock their boats right behind or alongside their homes (or rent out their docks to people not fortunate enough to actually own property in the Isles). Ty and Scott were renting such a dock when Grant and I first came down to visit them in 1988.

If you would like to see more views of this stretch of the Intracoastal Waterway, just click on the thumbnails below:

I'll finish up this album page with a few pictures that Fred took of the flora and fauna around the condo while we were here. You can click on the thumbnails at left to have a look at them.

On Sunday afternoon, we packed up our stuff and headed back to the airport for our flight home. This was a very relaxing trip, and we missed some bad weather at home.

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April 19-21, 2002: A Visit to San Antonio
February 8-10, 2002: A Trip to San Antonio
Return to the Index for 2002