April 24-26, 2007: A Visit with Ron and Prudence
April 1, 2007: A Trip to the Arboretum with Tom and John
Return to Index for 2007

April 4-12, 2007
A Trip to Fort Lauderdale



My First Few Days Here


Well, it seems as if I've developed a pattern- coming down here to Fort Lauderdale across those weekends when Fred would be at his mother's anyway. Since the upcoming weekend is one of those times, I've come down here midweek before and will return midweek after. Flying in the middle of the week is good too, since there are fewer travelers and hence lower fares. Next month, I will actually get to use some of my airline miles, if you can believe it.

The trip down was quite pleasant and uneventful, and I found the condo in great shape as usual. Jack does a good job looking out for it, and I will miss him when and if he moves to John Knox Village, which he is planning to do because of his health.

I came down on Wednesday, arriving in the early evening. I took the bus into town and walked to the condo from there. Dinner was stuff from the freezer. I won't pick up my rental car until Thursday afternoon.

So it is Thursday now, and I have spent most of the day at the condo futzing around and hanging some pictures. Now, I've taken a bike ride over to the beach just to see what's going on. For the last few months, the city has been rebuilding the intersection of Las Olas and A1A, and, as you can see here on this cloudy afternoon, the intersection is almost done. This is THE prime intersection for beachgoers in Fort Lauderdale, and I guess now I wonder why they didn't do this a long time ago. Anyway, traffic should flow better now.


A Ride to Hillsboro Inlet


I had a good time out Friday night with Ty and Scott, and got quite lucky playing pool at Bill's Filling Station and at George's Alibi. Sunday was a beautiful day, and I got my bike out and took a ride up to Hillsboro Inlet, which is about a twelve-mile one-way trip from the condo. It is a ride that both Fred and I have taken quite a number of times. The distance is just about perfect for a morning or afternoon ride.

Earlier in this album you have probably come across a detailed description of this particular bike ride (as part of the description of the longest bike ride I have taken while down here last year), so I won't repeat all that narrative here. But I thought I might go ahead and show you the strip aerial views that cover this ride. The first two views below cover the first ten miles of this ride. The left-hand view shows the route from my condo over to the beach and then north to the five-mile mark. The right-hand view shows the next five miles which takes you into Pompano Beach.

The view at the left actually shows the next five mile stretch of my 50-mile bike ride last year, but today I am only going as far as Hillsboro Inlet. Below is an enlarged aerial view of the inlet itself:

The ride to Hillsboro Inlet is one that I do frequently, and which Fred and I have done together quite a few times as well. It is a good distance for a 2 or 3-hour ride, and there is a nice little park to relax in once you get there.

Basically, I go east to the beach on Las Olas, and then up A1A along the beach, past Sunrise Blvd. and then through an area known as the Galt Ocean Mile. I am on A1A for part of that, and on less-traveled beach roads for the rest. This takes me to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, which is the intersection of Commercial Avenue and the beach.

From there, I continue north along A1A (all or most of this with a bike lane) to Pompano, and then over to the shore again to arrive at Pompano Beach. Finally, there is another few miles up A1A to the border of Pompano Beach and Hillsboro- and that's where Hillsboro Inlet and the Hillsboro Inlet bridge are. The distance from the condo is just over 12 miles, so it is a 25-mile round trip.

It was a wonderful afternoon, so I just stayed at the park that has recently been completed here and enjoyed the scenery. You might be interested in taking a look around the inlet and the park, so watch the movie of Hillsboro Inlet Park using the player at left.


A Trip to Markham Park


On Sunday morning, I thought I would take the bike somewhere new. Ty and Scott had mentioned, some time ago, that there was a park out by the Everglades where there were bike trails and lots of different things going on. They weren't sure of the name of the park, but I was able to find it on the Internet- Markham Park and Range. I wasn't sure how far it was or just what bike route I could take to get there, so I decided that, at least for this first trip to the park, I would use the bike carrier and take the bike on the car.


Getting to the park was pretty straightforward. It was out I-595, which is the same highway that connects to I-75 and goes across the state to Naples and the Florida West Coast. So I just went over to Federal, down to State Road 84, west to intersect with I-595 and then west to the Park. I overshot the correct exit, so I had to go a bit further than I needed to, but I found the park with little problem. The entrance fee was only a dollar, like it is at Hugh Taylor Birch over by the beach.

The entrance to the park is right off of State Road 84 (which parallels I-595 all the way out here). After a circuitous route into the park (I found out when I left and there were lots of cars entering the park that the route is set up that way to minimize the necessity for cars to back up onto SR 84 as they are turning into the park), I crossed the park loop road and headed for the nearest parking area, where I took the movie that you can watch with the player below:.

That movie probably gave you a pretty good idea of what the land around the park is like. Of course, I expected it to be virtually flat, and it was, making it easy to bike ride around. (The only hills were artificial, as driveways went over lakes and ponds.) I got the bike off the carrier and headed off to see what was here.


The Markham Park Airdrome


As you can see on the aerial view at the right, I left the parking area on my bike and just took the first road I came to that led through the park. You can see that this wasn't actually the boundary road around the park, but that didn't matter. I crossed a couple of low bridges and then came to the intersection with the actual boundary road.

At that point, right in front of me but a ways away I could see and hear the model planes flying from their takeoff point at the airstrip off across the wide open field. Use the player at left and you can, too.

Although I could see and hear the planes, they were being flown from the airdrome way across the field, so I thought I would ride on over there and take a look.

It was just a short ride around the road to get to the airdrome, as you can see in the closer view at left. Below is an even closer view:


I'll use the aerial zoom view (above, right) to describe where the pictures were taken. When I first got to the airdrome, I parked my bike and stood behind the fence at about the location of the yellow star. Only flying club members could go out to the preparation area (the two black asphalt areas with the numerous preparation tables) or on out beyond that to the flight line where those controlling the aircraft stood. Most guys taxiied their planes from the end of the prep area out to the runway, but some of them carried the planes out there and then returned to the control line.

The preparation areas were basically large pedestals on which guys put their planes for fueling or to make adjustments and/or repairs. Here is the prep area right in front of me in normal view, and here is the same area in closeup. There was actually quite a lot of activity, with six or eight planes being readied for flight with four or five alreay in the air. It looked as if there were a maximum of four or five spaces on the control line, so I just assume that only that many planes could be flown at one time. Most of the planes were prop planes but I did see at least one jet (which looked and sounded and flew just like a jet plane). Use the player at right to watch a movie of the flight operations at the airdrome.

At the red star, there is just a paved walkway from the shelter building (bulletin boards, rest rooms and vending), and alongside the walkway folks had placed airplanes that they were wanting to sell. I took quite a few pictures of these planes, and I've placed thumbnails for three of the better ones below; to look at the full size image just click on its thumbnail:

Finally, I moved down the fenceline to the green arrow; this was opposite the prep area for the helicopters. There was also a jet plane down here at the end of the control area; it flew a little later on. I took a couple of good pictures of the helicopters, and you can view those pictures here (with a jet as well) and here.


Riding the East Road


It was fun watching the airplanes, but I wanted to see the rest of the park. I left the airdrome and headed north around the boundary road. Near the airdrome, just before heading north, I came across some of that beautiful yellow flowering tree that is common in Fort Lauderdale. Click on the thumbnails below to see the full-size images:

I continued biking north along the east side of Markham Park. I passed another entrance to the park, but it was blocked off, and I would guess that it is only used in emergencies or for special events. The road was quiet; I saw almost no cars. It seems that most of the activity is back near the park entrance. I stopped at point #1 on the aerial view at right to take a picture of the road behind me.


The Target Range


Then I reached a road intersection and had to turn left to follow the north road west across the top of the park. Almost immediately I came to the sign announcing the target range. You can see the target range at the top of the park, right along the road. I stopped and walked my bike up close behind the shooters (point #2 on the aerial view), watching them practice. I made a movie of the skeet shooters so you could see what the activity was like; use the player at left to watch it.

A ways past the skeet shooters, there were some people practicing with stationary targets, and they were interesting to watch, too. At the west end of the target shooting area I ran across something really interesting, something I'd never seen in a public park before (point #3 on the aerial view). Click on the sign below to see the full image:


The West Campgrounds


From here, the road headed south along the west side of the park. It is here that all the campgrounds are located. There seem to be quite a lot of them, and quite a few of them had campers, leftovers, perhaps, from a busy weekend. At this time, in mid-April, the temperature and humidity in this part of Florida are not bad at all, but I would imagine that later in the summer camping here is a lot less pleasant.


Completing the Loop


When I passed the campgrounds, the road turned eastward again, heading back towards the park entrance. I went ahead and passed the entrance but stayed on the outer loop road going towards the airdrome once again. Here, at the south end of the park, there are picnic areas, a small pool, and a launching ramp for boats. The launch ramp was not into one of the interior lakes, but rather into a long, thin canal which parallels I-595. I could see that there was a bike path on the other side, out of the park, and so I thought I would leave the park temporarily to see where it went.

I made a big loop back around the end of the flying field, back through the center of the park, past the area where I'd parked, and then out the main entrance to the bike path.


The Bike Path along the New River Canal


A sign at the bridge for the road leading into the park identified the canal as The New River Canal. This made me wonder whether one could take a small boat all the way from here back towards town and eventually to the New River itself. I couldn't tell by examining the aerial views on Google whether this was possible, and there was no one around who I thought might know. But I decided to hang a left and see how far the trail would take me back towards Fort Lauderdale.

The bike path was really neat. It followed the New River Canal for about seven miles along I-595. You can see in the last aerial view of Markham Park above the canal that it parallels (on the south side). When it came to the Sawgrass Expressway (the major interchange on the aerial view immediately above), it went completely under it and all of the ramps connecting it to I-595. Then it continued, mile after mile. When it came to a major street, you had to wait for a light to cross and then continue on the other side; there was apparently not enough traffic on the path to warrant making underpasses or anything like that. But then there were clear crosswalks, and I made most of the lights without ever having to stop.

About a mile before University Road (Florida 817, if you want to refer to the map at the top of this web page), the path ended, so so I thought. What actually happens is that it shifts to the north side of the canal and continues towards town, passing some hotels and office parks. At University Road, the path does end, but there is a ramp leading from the bike path up the west side of University, past a convenient IHOP (where Fred and I might stop sometime) and then to a connection with the sidewalks and bike lanes along both University (north-south) and Peters Road (east-west). Peters Road connects up with Davie Boulevard, so it would be easy enough to bike all the way home, since Davie goes over I-95 and the New River, coming out near the Symphony Condominium and the Performing Arts Center.

The ride was a very pleasant one, and it was good to scope out the lay of the land for a time when Fred and I might take the bikes out to Markham Park. He's not big on city street riding, so I suppose we might park the car near the IHOP, have something to eat and then bike out to the park and back.

On the way back to the park, I came across three huge lizards crossing the path; they were much bigger than any I have ever seen in the wild here. Also on the way back, I saw a memorial that I'd missed going in the other direction. I assume there had been an accident along State Road 84.

My trip out to Markham Park had been very interesting and a great way to spend most of the day. I expect that Fred and I will return here sometime soon.


The Rest of My Florida Trip


For the rest of my time here in Florida, Monday through Thursday, I just hung around the condo mostly. I rode over to the beach almost every day, going up to Hillsboro once or twice (but not taking any pictures). I had dinner with Ron and Jay one night, and with Ty and Scott on another. I also rode along the Riverwalk quite a bit, which is where I got this picture of the Briny Irish Bar and Restaurant, the one where Fred and I had lunch earlier in the year, and the one with all the nautical items hanging from the ceilings.

But it was just a relaxing time until I headed back to Dallas on Thursday evening.

April 24-26, 2007: A Visit with Ron and Prudence
April 1, 2007: A Trip to the Arboretum with Tom and John
Return to Index for 2007