November 3-11, 2007: A Trip to Georgia and North Carolina
September 18-26, 2007: A Trip to Fort Lauderdale
Return to Index for 2007

October 16-24, 2007
A Trip to Fort Lauderdale


An Afternoon Bike Ride (October 17th)

I had a really nice flight down yesterday, and, as usual, took the city bus into town. This afternoon, Wednesday, I will go pick up my car- at Enterprise, this time. Before I do that, though, since the weather is nice, I've taken the bike over to the beach and intend to head up to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea before going over to Ron and Jay's to go out to eat. I've included the map that I made for the last trip down here, although I didn't take as many pictures. But I did want you to see where the two new buildings whose progress I have been tracking are located. (The pedestrian overpass from the new hotel over to the beach is essentially finished, so I won't be taking any more pictures of it.)

One building project I have been tracking is the construction of the new W Fort Lauderdale- a hotel/condo building that is going up on an entire block just north of the Sheraton Yankee Trader. All that seems to have happened since last time is the completion of some more of the outside; I think it may be as high as it is going. Pretty soon, they will be able to close in some of the floors and begin work on the inside, I imagine.

The other project is the new Trump Fort Lauderdale, which I think is going to be entirely condominiums. This building takes up an entire small block a bit north of the W Fort Lauderdale. This one, too, seems to be about as high as it is going to get, but it is hard to tell without comparing the pictures in detail.


Ron Drew's 55th Birthday Party

A couple of months ago, Jay told me he was wanting to plan a birthday party for Ron, and inquired as to when in October (Ron's birthday is actually the 24th) I would be down, as he really wanted me to be there. We compared notes, and Jay settled on the Saturday evening of my current trip down here. He would have just a small group- he and Ron, me, their roommate John and his friend (also a Ron), Dr. Whitley (whom Fred and I met some years ago and who now knows everybody else), Leroy and Rick (Leroy was Ron's former partner) and two friend of Ron and Jay's from Palm Beach.

When I got home a month or so ago from one of these trips, I had the idea that I could really surprise Ron with a guest he wouldn't be expecting- his ex-wife, Lynne Richardson, who is the same woman that Fred and I know very well here in Dallas. I broached the subject with her, and in mid-September, she told me she would like to come down. So I got her a ticket, and she arrived this morning- Saturday. I went out to the airport to greet her coming through security at the end of her early-morning flight.

We spent most of the early afternoon driving around to find the cake I wanted for Ron- one of the Black Forest cakes they make at Sam's. We had to go to a couple of places to find it, and we also did some shopping to get Lynne the goodies she might want for breakfast during her stay. I offered to let her stay in the bedroom, of course, but told her that if Ron wanted her to stay at his house for all or part of her stay that I wouldn't be insulted. As it turned out, she stayed with me until her flight home on Tuesday.

Lynne and I had a routine all worked out for our arrival at the party. I went in by myself and said hello to everyone, and then told Ron that FEDEX was supposed to have delivered my gift yesterday, but that there had been a problem and they were making a special delivery very shortly. I pretended to call FEDEX while actually calling Lynne, giving her the cue to come to the front door and ring the bell. Ron got the door and, I think, one of the shocks of his life- seeing Lynne standing there. I couldn't arrange to get a picture of both of them at the instant Ron opened the door, so I had to settle for one of her and Ron just as she entered- and that's the picture you see at the left. I immediately called Jay over so I could get a picture of the three of them just after Lynne's arrival.

I introduced Lynne around (Brent was the only person not yet there), and then left her with Ron while I went out on the patio to say hello to Rick and Leroy. Leroy moved away with Rick about a year ago, and now they live just north of Lake Okeechobee in the central part of the state- about 90 miles from here. Rick is a truck driver and Leroy maintains their house. Ron ran across Jay about six or eight months ago, and Jay alternates being with Ron and being in the condo in Hollywood, Florida, that he owns and shares with his mother. He's been spending more and more time with Ron, though, and I think now considers Ron's house is home- which is just fine with Ron.

I came back in the house to find Lynne and John in conversation, and got them to pose for a picture. John has been a roommate at Ron's house for a couple of years now. Even when Leroy was there, Ron felt as if another person would lend added security, and also felt that the income would be helpful. John was just out of another relationship where his partner owned the house, and so he was looking for a place to rent. He travels a great deal doing training for some doctor office software, and so is often gone.

John has a new friend, another "Ron" as luck would have it, and they have been seeing each other for a few months now. I have met him the last few times I've been down here in Fort Lauderdale, and they seem to get along quite well. Here are John and Ron. Just before we all sat down to eat, Brent Whitley arrived, so I sat him down with Lynne and had Jay take a picture of Lynne, myself and Brent. Fred and I met Brent at a dinner given by Ty and Scott almost nine years ago, although, coincidentally, we had seen him at the beach earlier the same evening Ty gave the dinner. Brent is an emergency room physician, and used to have a house on the New River. Soon after we met him, he came to Dallas to visit and while here met our friend Mike Racke. They hit it off as good friends, Brent got "into" motorcycles to match Mike's interest, and they had a long-distance friendship until Mike died in 2001. Since then, Brent has had one serious relationship, but is currently single again living in a very nice house further inland in a gated community called Indian Point.

That is just about everybody, except for Murphy. Murphy is a designer for DVD cover art and his partner, who was sick this evening and couldn't come, is an elementary school teacher. Ron and Jay have known them for nine or ten months, although I just met them for the first time in June when John Evans came up from Miami to visit me. I never got a picture of Murphy by himself, but you'll recognize him as the only person not yet so honored in some of the dinner pictures and group shots.

Jay put a very nice dinner together- brisket and a whole bunch of side dishes and salad. As soon as Brent arrived, everyone filled his plate and we went into the dining room to eat. During and just after eating, I took a number of pictures and had some other folks take a few with my camera as well. I've put thumbnails for five of the best of these below; you should be able to recognize everybody, so just click on those thumbnails to view the full-size pictures:

I also took a couple of movies, although they weren't all that great. At least you'll be able to see and hear what most of the guests sounded like. I made a short movie of Brent and Lynne conversing and a humorous movie to introduce everyone; you can watch both of these with the players below:

Brent Whitley and Lynne Richardson
Introductions All Around

After dinner, we got down to the serious business of opening cards and gifts, sharing the cards and cutting the cake. Just before the cake got cut, I took a group shot and then John took one. You can see those two group pictures here and here. The birthday party turned out very well, I thought, and I think Jay should be proud of what he did for Ron.


Lunch with Lynne and Ron

On Sunday, Ron came by the condo and collected Lynne to spend the day with her. I was happy to let them have some time together, although Jay accompanied them most of the day. I did a short bike ride over to the beach, worked on my photo album and got on the exercise bike for a while. Then, in the evening, I met them out at Ron's house and we went out for dinner to Bahama Breeze out at Sawgrass Mills.

On Monday morning, we arranged with Ron to meet him for lunch on the Riverwalk. About eleven, Lynne and I walked from the condo down Las Olas to the Riverwalk, and then along the river to Riverfront Center. We stopped just short of the restaurant where we planned to meet Ron and I took a picture of Lynne on the Riverwalk. Ron showed up just about then, and we sat on the wall in front of the Briny Pub and Restaurant and chatted for just a bit. I got a very good picture of Lynne and Ron. Just beside the two of them in the planter were a couple of flowers that were interesting and I thought Fred might like pictures of. To view the full-size pictures of these flowers, just click on the thumbnails below:

The Briny Cafe didn't open until noon, and Ron only had a limited amount of time for lunch, so we went two restaurants down to the Metro Grill, where we had a very pleasant lunch. Ron asked what we would do in the afternoon, and I suggested that Lynne and I might go up to Boca Raton to Gumbo Limbo, and that became the plan. When Ron headed off back to his downtown office, Lynne and I walked back along the Riverwalk to the condo. Along the way I got a photo of Lynne at the 3rd Avenue bridge.


Lynne and I Go to Gumbo Limbo

Once we got back to the condo, Lynne and I hopped in the car and began the drive up to Gumbo Limbo. The fastest way is to take I-95, but I certainly wanted Lynne to see the scenery on the way, so we followed A1A instead- the same route that Fred and I have used when we have ridden bikes up that far.

The two maps at the left will show you the general route. We head over to the beach on Las Olas, then turn north on Beach Boulevard. We pass the construction I've been monitoring and then cross Sunrise Blvd. and go past Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. Following the beach to it's end, we go through Galt Ocean Mile and then reach Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Next, we go back out to A1A and follow it another two miles to Pompano Beach, and from there another two miles to Hillsboro Inlet, a common bike destination for me.

Crossing the inlet bridge, we wind through Hillsboro and Hillsboro Shores (very ritzy) for a couple of miles, finally reaching Deerfield Beach. The "S" turn in Deerfield Beach is where Fred and I have eaten lunch before, and where we have also taken Guy for lunch. A1A continues north, crossing into Palm Beach County and entering Boca Raton. A mile or so into Boca Raton, we cross the Boca Raton Inlet and continue up A1A along the shore.

Once you are north of Boca Raton, Gumbo Limbo is right up on A1A just before you cross into Highland Beach. Gumbo Limbo has elements of a research station, nature museum and park. It is actually run by a non-profit research organization that is supported by Florida Atlantic University and the University of Florida. Here, they do research into native Florida marine and animal life, and also research and conservation efforts directed at regional flora. The main building houses exhibits, terrariums and aquariums- all with local wildlife and marine specimens. There are a number of interconnected buildings that house the research facilities and classrooms. At the back of the complex are four huge fish pools (think shallow, above-ground swimming pools) that house different categories of fish and turtles.

The first stop Lynne and I made was out by the fish pools, and we were lucky enough to get there at feeding time. I made a movie to show you what feeding time is like, and you can watch it with the player at left. We followed the researcher/curator as she moved from pool to pool feeding and talking about the different kinds of fish and, most particularly, the sea turtles. These turtles are the same ones that are indigenous to this area, and the same ones that use the beaches from Everglades Inlet on the south to Palm Beach on the north as their nesting grounds. As a matter of fact, you will see signs along all the beachfront highways to the effect that street lighting is turned off May through October so as not to confuse the hatchlings. Before the shore was so developed, when hatchlings arrived they instinctively headed for the ocean because it was lighter than the dark vegetation along the shore. Now, the lights of the developed shoreline confuse them, and so there are programs to try to tone done lighting whenever possible so that this doesn't happen. The efforts seem to be working, as the population seems to be slowly rising.

Another tank held a variety of fish and a rare greenback turtle who has been living at Gumbo Limbo for quite a few years after having been brought in injured and entangled in some fishing nets. He has thrived, and we were told will be released back into the ocean next year.

Lynne and I looked at the exhibits inside, and then took the raised boardwalk outside that leads south through the native vegetation to the tower at the south end of the complex. Here, atop the forty-foot wooden structure, is Lynne with the ocean behind her. The tower is a great place to go because you can see so far, there being few tall structures anywhere nearby. Lynne also took a picture of me with Highland Beach behind me, looking north.

I think Lynne really enjoyed Gumbo Limbo; I know I do every time I visit. We retraced our route to get home where we relaxed for a while and then went to meet Ron and Jay for dinner.


Lynne and I Leave Fort Lauderdale

Lynne left for home on Tuesday morning. I think she'd really had a good time, and Ron has been effusive in his thanks for my bringing her down. Just before we left for the airport, I took a couple of final pictures of Lynne- one looking up the New River and one dockside at the condo.

For my own part, I stayed one more night, and then left for home on Wednesday. On Wednesday morning, I took a last bike ride over to the beach and back. Crossing over the Las Olas bridge, I could look south towards the Bahia Mar Yacht Harbor and I could see all the additional boats (and ships) that had been brought in for the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show that was to begin tomorrow and extend through the weekend. You can see the shots that I took here and here.

November 3-11, 2007: A Trip to Georgia and North Carolina
September 18-26, 2007: A Trip to Fort Lauderdale
Return to Index for 2007