April 4, 2008: "The Wizard of Oz" at the Dallas Symphony
March 21, 2008: A Visit to the Dallas Arboretum
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March 25 - April 2, 2008
A Trip to Fort Lauderdale



March 25: Traveling to Fort Lauderdale

Since American was having another fare sale for trips to Fort Lauderdale, we thought we would head down there towards the end of March and spend a week. Our friends, Greg and Grant, took us to the airport Tuesday afternoon for our 5PM flight down to Florida. I have a new laptop; I am planning on leaving it or my older one in Fort Lauderdale so that when Fred and I are down there, we can use them simultaneously. I am also bringing a router with me so that I can set up a little network inside the apartment so that we can both use the cable Internet at the same time.

The flight was a very pleasant one. Soon after taking off, Fred got a quite good view of downtown Dallas; I rarely remember to haul out my own camera for in-flight pictures- I have so many of them. During the flight, Fred took a lot of pictures out the window, but they simply duplicate pictures you've seen before in this album. He did also take some pictures inside the cabin, the most interesting of which were two pictures showing me working with the new laptop computer. A week earlier, as a delayed Christmas gift, Ron Mathis installed the Windows XP operating system alongside Vista (the one that came with the machine), and he also installed more memory. I suspect that since this is now a dual-boot machine with both more memory and a larger hard drive than my older one I will leave the older machine in Florida and use this one at home and when I travel. I also had a problem with the older machine not recognizing my seat power outlet adaptor, but this one has no problem doing so.

Anyway, we got to Florida with no problem, and Ron Drew came out to the airport to pick us up and give us a ride to the condo. We'd offered to buy he and Jay dinner, but it was late and they took a raincheck. So we walked down to the Floridian and had supper ourselves.


March 26: Drinks at the Riverview Gardens Dock

Wednesday was an extremely casual day. Fred slept in while I set up the wireless network in the condo and moved things around to eliminate all the wires that had been trailing around the floor. When Fred arose, it took him a little while to realize that we were both on the Internet at the same time and that the modem had been moved out of the way. In mid-afternoon, we got on the bikes and rode up to Holiday Park to spend an hour or so throwing the Frisbee around. It is something we both enjoy, and Fred likes to do it to get some exercise.

I get additional exercise on the recumbent bike, though, and when we returned to the condo Fred did some more surfing while I spent an hour on the bike watching some tapes I'd brought with me. We had plans to go out to Ron and Jay's to take them to dinner; delayed recompense for his picking us up, and Ron was also going to come by and take me to the rental car place to pick up our car. I finished on the bike and cleaned up before he arrived, and I picked up our car and brought it back to the condo. Then I made frozen drinks and Fred and I took them down to the newly-reconstructed dock out by the New River.

There, we chatted and watched the river traffic while sipping on the drinks. Fred brought his camera down and we each took some pictures. I have put thumbnails for the best of these below. You can see the full-size pictures of us, some river traffic and some of the nearby houses by clicking on the thumbnails:


March 27: Traffic on the New River

Thursday and Friday were also relaxing days. We fell into a routine of getting up late (well, at least Fred got up late), having some breakfast (or, more accurately, lunch), going out for a walk, working on our dual computers, throwing the frisbee in the afternoon (coupled with a bike ride), my own recumbent bike exercising, dinner and going out. Thursday we ate by ourselves at Ernie's Bar-be-cue, and on Friday we ate with Ron and Jay.

Right after lunch on Thursday, Fred got a few good pictures of the boat traffic on the New River and, while I've included many such pictures in this album before, these were pretty good. There are thumbnails for them below, and you can view the full-size pictures by clicking on those thumbnails.


March 29: An Afternoon at Markham Park

On Saturday, I thought that Fred and I would take the bikes somewhere new. Last year, on one of my trips down here, I took just my bike out to a place called Markham Park; Ty and Scott had mentioned the park to me back when they were still here in Fort Lauderdale. They told me there were bike trails and lots of different things going on- and they were right. I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon I spent out there, and I thought Fred would like it too.


Getting to Markham Park

After that first trip out to Markham Park, I had scoped out the route that I could take if I rode my bike directly from the condo out there, but I didn't think that Fred would either want to ride that far or deal with the traffic, so we did what I had done the first time I went out there. We attached the bike carrier to our rental car, loaded the bikes on it, and set off for the park just after noontime.


Getting to the park is pretty straightforward. We went up to Broward Blvd. from SE 4th Street, turned west, and then turned south on Federal Highway. This takes us to the entrance to the Kinney Tunnel that goes under the New River. When we emerged from the tunnel we were on US-1 heading towards the airport. Just before the airport, we turned west on I-595, which is the same highway that connects to I-75 and goes across the state to Naples and the Florida West Coast. This expressway goes all the way to the park, which is actually just on the west side of the interchange between I-595, I-75 and the Sawgrass Expressway. (Actually, I-595 ends here and becomes I-75 west to Naples, while the Sawgrass Expressway goes north to circle around the developed area of the Florida East Coast. I believe that the Sawgrass goes almost to Palm Beach before it merges into Florida's Turnpike.)

The entrance fee on weekends is a dollar and a half per person (the park is free during the week), and we got into the park and to a nice shady parking space with no problem at all. The park was not particularly crowded.

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 last time I was here that there were so many cars entering the park at peak times that the route had to be is set up that way to minimize the necessity for cars to back up onto SR 84 as they are turning into the park), we crossed the park loop road and headed for the nearest parking area. The park, as I said, wasn't busy, so instead of parking in one of the lots, we found a parking area under some trees.

Markham Park is basically flat, although there are some gentle hills. Those hills are artificial, though, used to take park roads over trails and stuff. We got the bikes off the carrier, secured the car, and, acting as tour guide, I got Fred to head off with me to the model plane airdrome.


The Markham Park Airdrome


As you can see on the aerial view at the right, we left car and took the bikes back onto the park road and took that east to its intersection with the road that leads to the airdrome. From there, we just circled around the flying field until we got to the parking area for the airdrome. All the way around that road we could see and hear the model planes flying from their takeoff point at the airstrip off across the wide open field.

At left is a very interesting aerial view of the airstrip and preparation area at the airdrome. I'll use that aerial zoom view to describe generally where we were when the various pictures I'm including in the album were taken. It was pretty simple. We took the bikes over to the observation fence line and parked them at the green star, and sat in the bleachers there for some of our pictures.

On the other side of the fence from where we first sat was the helicopter preparation area; it seemed as if all the helicopters were kept in the same area (probably because they are harder to control, at least from the appearances today. The helicopters were of all different sizes, from very large ones to these smaller ones. I spent quite a bit of time talking with the helicopter hobbyist about the models and how much they cost and what kind of hobby this was; I found that the planes out here today cost anywhere from $500 to $5000, with the small helicopters in the picture being between $1500-2000. He did say, when I asked him how often planes crashed, that they didn't crash often but that when they did, the average repair was about $200. Expensive mistakes.

While we were down at the helicopter end of the airdrome, Fred took a picture of me alongside the fence, and then I left him temporarily and walked down the fenceline to the yellow star where I could get a better look at the airplane activity.

The first thing I did (actually, one of the only things I did) was to make a movie of the activity involved with flying the miniature planes. Use the player at left to have a look at it.

I mentioned Fred in the movie; he came up to join me pretty quickly so he could take his own pictures. I did take one picture of Fred after he came up to join me, and you can see that picture here.

Other than the helicopters, two other kinds of planes were being flown- prop planes and jets (actually internal fan turbines). We didn't see exactly how the helicopters were launched, but we did see that many of the props and jets were actually taxiied from the preparation area (on the aerial view, those two sections of black asphalt with all the little dots that were the preparation tables) out to the runway. (Some folks simply carried their planes to the runway.) Near the runway were some stations where the people controlling the planes would stand and operate their controls.

The preparation areas were basically pedestal tables on which guys put their planes for fueling (as this guy with one of the jets is doing) or to make adjustments and/or repairs. There was actually quite a lot of activity, with six or eight planes being readied for flight with four or five already 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.

The first time I was here, I took a lot of pictures and movies of the planes; you may have seen them on that album page from 2007. But this was Fred's first time here, and he took his own pictures, a few of which I'd like to include here. I've put thumbnails for these pictures in the groups below, and you can look at the full-size pictures by clicking on those thumbnails.

Here are some planes lined up for flight,

some moving or being taken to or from the flight line (note the controllers)

and some in flight

I think this hobby must be a lot of fun; it had better be because it doesn't appear that it is a cheap one. The enthusiasts put a lot of effort into their planes, I think, and they all looked really well-taken-care-of. They also looked very realistic; so much so that when they were in flight, the looked and sounded like real airplanes.


Riding the Park Circle Road


It was fun watching the airplanes, but I wanted to show Fred the rest of the park. We left the airdrome and headed north around the boundary road. We biked north along the east side of Markham Park. The road was quiet; we saw almost no cars. It seems that most of the activity is back near the park entrance. Eventually, the east boundary road turns west across the top of the park. Almost immediately, we came to the target range; they have both skeet and target shooting. Just before we turn back south, I showed Fred the Lauderdale SWAT training area I'd seen before.

The road then heads 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, obviously taking advantage of the weekend. At this time, in late March, 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.

When we passed the campgrounds, the road turned eastward again, heading back towards the park entrance. Since we had our re-entry tickets, I took Fred outside the park to the bike path that parallels State Road 84 (and I-595).


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. As I found out last time I was here, one can actually take a small boat down this canal towards town and, through a series of twists and turns, actually link up with Fort Lauderdale's New River somewhere west of I-95. One of these days that might be fun to do.

But today we are just going to ride the bike path along the canal.

The bike path was really neat. I've borrowed the aerial view I marked up from my ride a year ago to show you how far this bike path goes. Last year, I rode it all the way past Unversity Blvd., a main north-south street about six or seven miles west of Federal and my condo. The bike path follows the New River Canal for about seven miles along I-595, but Fred and I only rode about four miles each way. The path goes completely under the Sawgrass Expressway that is the park's east boundary and then continues, straight as an arrow, for mile after mile. When it comes to a major street, there is always a crosswalk and almost always a light; there was apparently not enough traffic on the path to warrant making underpasses or anything like that.

I'd actually just intended that we would have a pleasant, leisurely bike ride, and from my last time here, I knew the only thing of interest we might see were iguanas and big lizards crossing the path or on the banks of the canal. I recalled that I had seen one the last time. But I was not prepared for the number that we saw. Most times, they ran and hid before we got very close to them, but a couple of times they didn't. Or, some other times, Fred was able to use his excellent zoom lens to take pictures of them even though they were far away.

We also saw some other wildlife, and took quite a few pictures, many of which I would like to include here. The pictures are pretty self-explanatory, assuming you can tell the difference between the lizard and a duck. So just click on the thumbnails below to see some of the pictures we took of the many lizards and other animals along the bike path:

The afternoon at Markham Park was really neat, and I suspect we will come back here again- perhaps with someone new to show it to.


March 31: Lunch and the Riverwalk

Today, we are going out for lunch, walking from the condo. Here is a map of our route (and you can use it to place some of the pictures):

We headed out from the condo across SE 4th Street, and then down a block to SE 7th Avenue. Then it was north a block to Las Olas, then west on Las Olas to SE 4th Avenue. When the Icon Las Olas is ever built, the Riverwalk will start at the Riverside Hotel Esplanade, but, until it is, you have to walk a block or so down SE 4th Avenue to get to it. SE 4th Street does not go through to downtown because of the Kinney Tunnel, but it does pick up on the other side of US-1. Right where it does, I stopped to snap a couple of pictures. One is Fred at the corner of SE 4th Street and SE 4th Avenue. The other looks north along SE 4th Ave towards Las Olas.

Then, where SE 4th Ave hits the river and begins to curve around to follow it, the actual developed Riverwalk begins, and that is where I made my first movie of the day as we walked along the river watching the boat traffic.
We continued along the Riverwalk, passing under the 3rd Avenue Bridge and the the Andrews Avenue Bridge. Our lunch destination, the Briny Cafe and Pub, is just on the other side of the Andrews bridge, right at the southeast corner of the RiverCenter complex. Here is my movie at the pub.

Fred and myself shared some fish and chips for lunch; we like the Briny Cafe as all the food is very good and the prices are also very reasonable. Since Shirttail Charlie's has closed, this is our lunch spot of choice around here.

After lunch, we walked a bit further along the river to Old Fort Lauderdale, which occupies the area west of the Florida East Coast Railway line and east of the Science Museum and Performing Arts Center. We were just wandering around in the warm sunshine, and we stopped to look at an old British Admiralty anchor that the plaque said was salvaged off the coast at Fort Lauderdale. On the way back, near the Briny Cafe, Fred found a kolias that he did not have, and I caught him in the act of stealing a start from one of the many plants. He's always thinking he's going to get busted for grand theft plant when in fact taking a start does no damage to the plant and isn't even noticeable for its absence.

There is almost always a lot of boat traffic to look at when you are walking along the river, or even sitting at the condo dock, and today was no exception.

On the way back, while we were at the 3rd Avenue Bridge, a particularly beautiful yacht came through as the bridge went up, and so I made a movie of the yacht's passage.

There were some other boats following it up the river, and they were interesting too. And before the bridge came down, one more handsome cabin cruiser came through under the bridge.

We continued back to the condo, but went around behind the Riverside Hotel this time so we could stop on a new esplanade that has been built along the river literally on top of the Kinney Tunnel. It was built as part of the Riverside renovations and the construction of their new parking structure. There are some little shops, but it is mainly a nice place to sit and watch the river. I took a couple of pictures here. They both look upriver where we came from; the first is the Nu River Landing condominium and the second is the Las Olas Grand.

On Tuesday night we met Ron and Jay for the "All-you-can-Eat" shrimp night at Catfish Dewey's, and on Wednesday afternoon, we headed home, to be picked up by Mario and Steve. We had dinner at Celebration, a place we haven't been in a while. Our thanks to Mario and Steve.

April 4, 2008: "The Wizard of Oz" at the Dallas Symphony
March 21, 2008: A Visit to the Dallas Arboretum
Return to Index for 2008