May 30 - June 1, 2008: A Trip to the Wichita Mountains
May 3, 2008: Liza Minelli at Bass Hall
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May 6-14, 2008
A Trip to Fort Lauderdale


 


 

May 6-7: Our First Day in Florida

Our friend Greg Grosh was nice enough to take Fred and I to the airport on Tuesday noontime so that we could catch our early afternoon flight to Fort Lauderdale. And our friend Ron Drew and his partner Jay were nice enough to come down to the airport and pick us up when we arrived about seven in the evening. We took them to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner, and made plans to get together with them again on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Fred and I prepared for the arrival of Steve and Mario who had planned to come down to Florida and spend two days with us on Thursday and Friday. We played some Frisbee at the park, and rode over to the beach for a while during the day. Ron Drew gave me a ride down to Sunshine Rent-a-Car so that I could pick up our rental car.

We'd talked with Mario and Steve and planned to wait for their arrival about ten-thirty in the evening to go somewhere to have dinner. But then the comedy of delays began. American delayed and then cancelled their flight, and finally got them on a flight that would arrive a couple of hours late. We were on the phone continually as they were trying to get rebooked. They finally did arrive about a quarter of one in the morning of Thursday, and we ended up going to Lester's Diner to get something to eat. Then it was back to the condo to crash.


 

May 8-9: Steve and Mario Visit Us in Fort Lauderdale


 

     May 8: Morning in the Condo

Needless to say, we all slept in on Thursday morning, but by ten-thirty we were up and around. While Fred was getting ready, I spent some time showing Mario and Steve some stuff online, and then we discussed some plans for the day. We thought that Mario and Steve would enjoy an outing to Gumbo Limbo, up north of Boca Raton, where Fred and I have been a number of times before. We thought we would get some lunch on the way, and so about eleven-thirty we piled into our rental car and headed off.


 

     May 8: We Drive to Boca Raton


To take Mario and Steve to Gumbo Limbo, we followed the route we have taken on our bicycles. We went east on Las Olas to the Beach and then headed up A1A. The map at the left shows the first part of the route to Gumbo Limbo. Once we headed north along A1A from Las Olas, we drove along Fort Lauderdale Beach and on north past Sunrise Blvd. At the end of Fort Lauderdale Beach, we covered the distance up to Oakland Park Blvd. and the beginning of the Galt Ocean Mile- about a mile of continuous tall beachside condo towers.

At the end of Galt Ocean Mile, we jogged over towards the beach and drove up Beach Avenue to and through Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. The next mile or so follows A1A north until we jog over to the beach again and drive up Briny Ocean Drive through Pompano Beach. Then there is another stretch along A1A that takes us to Hillsboro Inlet.

Hillsboro Inlet is one of the places where the Intracoastal Waterway connects to the Atlantic. Everglades Inlet (where the cruise ships dock) is the next one to the south, and Boca Raton Inlet is the next one to the north. Here, a couple of years ago, the city of Pompano Beach built a nice park where you can relax, picnic, fish and watch the boats going in and out of the inlet. We stopped here so we could show the area to Mario and Steve.

I made a movie while we were here at the park, and the video turned out OK although there was a lot of wind and so the audio is a bit garbled in spots. In any event, you can watch that movie using the player at left.

 

We also took a number of pictures here at Hillsboro Inlet Park, and I have put thumbnails for four of them below. Just click on the thumbnails to look at the full-size pictures:



From Hillsboro Inlet, we crossed the bridge and continued north along A1A. this took us through the towns of Hillsboro and Hillsboro Beach (some of the most expensive real estate in the Fort Lauderdale area) and then finally into Deerfield Beach. It was about one o'clock, so we stopped in Deerfield Beach to have lunch- at Flanigan's (a Florida chain).

After lunch, we continued north on A1A crossing into Boca Raton (and Palm Beach County) almost immediately. Then it was up and over the Boca Raton Inlet Bridge and on through Boca Raton. This is a trip that Fred and I have made on our bikes numerous times- at least coming this far. We just continued north on A1A for about five miles, going through the part of Boca Raton that lies along the beach, and then we arrived at Gumbo Limbo.


 

     May 8: At the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center


The Gumbo Limbo Nature Preserve and Research Facility (named for a particular tree that grows in this area of Florida), is located just off A1A about three miles north of Boca Raton. It occupies a large tract of land bordered by a golf course on the south, the Intracoastal Waterway on the west, the town of Highland Beach on the north, and A1A on the east. 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. We arrived at the facility and found a place to park and then began to wander around.

There are always four things we do when we visit or bring someone to visit Gumbo Limbo. The first is usually to walk around through main building and museum, looking at the exhibits and learning a bit about the facility. The second, and more interesting thing to do is to go outside through the various research and educational buildings (all connected via a series of ramps and walkways, all of the buildings being raised off the ground due to the possibility of flooding and to keep the ground in its natural state) and to the back of the facility to the fish tanks. There are five of these, each containing different sea animals that can coexist. One might have sea turtles, while another might have sharks and rays. If you arrive at the right time, you can see the creatures being fed, and get a lecture about them in the process. These were the first things we did today, and the aerial view at left will allow you to place many of the pictures we took in relation to the facility itself.

Right at the entrance there are a number of big ceramic turtles representing the various species found in the area, and this is always a good place for a group picture. Then we went inside the museum area to look around. The museum has a couple of aquariums, an exhibit of live snakes, and a bunch of other stuff suitable for kids to play around with. We chatted with the volunteer for a while, and then went out back to the fish tanks.


The fish tanks are also on a raised platform area, and underneath is the usual sandy soil with mangroves and such. There are always quite a few land turtles present here; most are pretty small but there are some large ones. The fish tanks are the interesting thing. There are four major tanks; most of them have sharks, rays and other fish, but the pictures we got there were not really good enough to include in this album; trying to take pictures through two feet of water is not easy. But we did get some good shots of our group around the tank area, and also some of the sea turtles in their tank (they tend to come to the top frequently when there are people around). Below are thumbnails for these pictures, and you can click on the thumbnails to view the full-size images:

The 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.

Something new we did today was to go out behind the fish tanks to the butterfly garden. Here, there are various plants and flowers that attract butterflies of various kinds, and we were able to see quite a few of them. There is some educational signage and some interesting "sculpture" throughout the small garden.


 

     May 8: On the Gumbo Limbo Nature Walk


 

We of course wanted to take Mario and Steve along the raised boardwalk nature trail that traverses the mangrove woods south of the complex, but before we could do that, I had to move our car out of the parking area. The nature center was closing at 4PM, and the gates would be locked, so I had Fred take Mario and Steve along the route you see marked on the aerial view above towards the tower (#3) while I moved the car to the golf course parking area at the right of the picture and then came in to the nature path from there; I think the natural area is always open.

The nature trail that begins at the back of the main building and wanders through the natural area on a raised platform (since much of the natural area is wetland). The trail forms a loop through the forest, and the main stop at the far end is the observation tower, a three-storey wooden affair. Fred and the guys made it to the top of the tower before I had a chance to re-park the car and join them. As I approached the tower from the south, I took a picture of the three of them at the top, while at the same time Fred was taking a picture of me down on the boardwalk.

At the top, you can look in all directions, and we often take a lot of pictures here. Today, courtesy of Fred's pictures, you can look west at the Intracoastal Waterway, southwest towards downtown Boca Raton and south towards Boca Raton Beach. We also took quite a few candid shots of our group in various combinations here at the top of the tower, and I have put thumbnails for the best of these pictures below. You can click on any of the thumbnails to view the corresponding full-size image:

Before we left the top of the tower, I took my usual movie looking all around the area and bringing in the guys as well, and you can watch that movie using the player at left.

 

On our way down the tower, Fred took our picture, and this picture of me, Mario and Steve will give you a good idea of how the tower is constructed. When we got to the bottom I took one more group picture here at the tower.

On our way over to the beach, we went along a part of the boardwalk we had not traversed before- this path leading to an observation platform beside the Intracoastal Waterway. When we got there, I took this picture of Mario, Steve and Fred.


 

     May 8: At the Gumbo Limbo Beach Park


We continued to the end of the boardwalk trail where I had entered from the parking lot, and then turned to cross A1A to Gumbo Limbo Beach Park. I marked this location on the aerial view of Gumbo Limbo above, and below have provided a closeup aerial view of our walk here at the beach park.


There is also a boardwalk over here at the beach, presumably to help preserve the nature of the mangrove dunes. One path leads up and over the dunes and directly down to the beach. The boardwalk descends right to the sand, as Fred's picture of us at the bottom of the ramp shows. You can also see the same spot in the inset picture above. Fred took a couple more pictures of the rest of us on the bottom portion of the ramp, looking out at the ocean and the nearby rocks, and you can see those two pictures here and here.

This area of the coast is participating in a restoration program, where underwater and above water reefs are being constructed,both to reduce erosion of the beaches and also to attract more sea life to the area. Just opposite the ramp bottom there is one of these aboveground rock piles, and as I've done before, I walked out to the rocky pile just to see what I could see. Steve came out to join me after a bit, and I prevailed on him to take my picture out at the rocks. I took pictures of the rocks themselves, which are becoming covered with a coral-like covering. And Fred was taking his own pictures of Steve and I out at the rocks. I've put thumbnails for these pictures below; to view the full-size images just click on these thumbnails:

The other direction along the boardwalk leads along the shore to the south. The last time we were here, there had been a great deal of damage due to Hurricane Wilma, but all that has apparently been repaired. We walked along the boardwalk, and found all the way along that there were very nice views out to the ocean. Unfortunately, about halfway along, a dead tree that had been quite close to the boardwalk chose just that moment to finally collapse, and, also unfortunately, Steve happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. But we did make it to the octagonal shelter at the end of the boardwalk, which was a great place to sit, relax, look out at the ocean and take pictures, such as this one of Mario, myself and Steve, or this one showing the intricate roof construction of the shelter.

Finally, just as we got back to the beginning of the boardwalk, Fred, with his eagle eyes, spotted this really neat lizard. From there, it being way past five, it was time to head home.


 

     May 8: Returning from Gumbo Limbo

It was getting later in the day, so we got back to the car and headed south again on A1A back to Deerfield Beach. There, just opposite the place where we ate (please see the image above) there is a one-way street that goes over along the beach, and so we took that south, since we'd not been able to drive north on it. They have done a great job here in Deerfield Beach with their public beach areas, and there are a good many pictures of this area in some of the other Florida trip pages. We continued to retrace our route, and the only additional stop we made occurred when we got onto the Las Olas bridge over the Intracoastal and found that the bridge span was up. Since we had a few minutes, I hopped out with my camera and went to the south side of the bridge to take a picture of what we had seen yesterday and presumed to be a restored pirate ship.


 

     May 9: Lunch on the Riverwalk


On Friday morning, after everyone had gotten up and was ready to head out, we decided to walk over to the Riverwalk and take Steve and Mario to the Briny Irish Cafe and Pub, the relatively new restaurant that has opened on the north side of the river, and which is now our favorite place to eat since Shirttail Charlie's has closed.

On the aerial view at the left, which I borrowed from another album page, I have marked the general route we took, but we did do things a bit differently. It just wasn't worth marking up another view to be precise.

We left the condo and walked right over to Las Olas. At the corner, right by Mango's, we turned to the west and walked along Las Olas. We walked a block or so along when Fred took his first picture of Mario, myself and Steve. A bit further down Las Olas, past the Cheesecake Factory and the site of the new Icon Las Olas, and we could turn down towards the river. From there, we just followed the Riverwalk under first the 3rd Avenue bridge and then the Andrews Avenue bridge. Right on the other side is the Briny Pub, and we stopped there to have lunch.

While we were having lunch, we decided that after we were finished we would walk over to the Riverfront Cinema and see "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," a movie we'd all wanted to see, and that we did. It was enjoyable, and we were out of the movie about three. Then we walked back over to the river and back towards the condo. Right in front of the Briny Pub, Fred noticed yet another interesting lizard climbing up a palm tree. (He took a number of shots of it; the one linked to here is the best of them.)


When we came back under Andrews Avenue, we went through Huizenga Park to the fountain (shown here with River House in the background) at the corner of Andrews and Las Olas. This is always an interesting place to come to see if the user-controlled aspect of the fountain is on. I think that it is activated only at night. Here at the fountain, Fred took a picture of me, Mario and Steve, and I took a picture of Fred with the two of them.

The guys decided to walk down Las Olas past the condo to Storks to get an afternoon snack, and so as we started out from the fountain, I filmed a movie that I would call (with apologies to Bonnie Hunt) "we're walking, we're walking"; you can have a look at it using the player at left.

 

And we did walk right on down Las Olas, stopping only so Fred could take yet another picture of Steve, myself and Mario. We had our snack at Stork's and then headed back to the condo.


 

     May 9: At San Sebastian Beach

We had not yet taken Mario and Steve over the the beach, although we had driven along it a couple of times, so I thought we would take a short drive over to the Sebastian Street Beach and perhaps walk for a ways along Beach Boulevard (A1A) and just see what we could see here late in the afternoon. We drove over, parkedand went over to the beach itself to just sit on the sea wall for a bit and watch the remaining few late-afternoon beachgoers. With Sebastian Beach as a backdrop, we took the obligatory pictures- one of Mario, Steve and me and one of Steve, Mario and Fred.


     

     May 9: Playing Frisbee at Holiday Park


It was late in the day, but too early to go eat, so the next item on the agenda was to play some Frisbee up in Holiday Park. Fred and I go up there frequently to do just that, but this would be the first time we'd tried to snooker Mario and Steve into playing with us.

We hopped in the car and drove up Federal Highway; Holiday Park (a huge affair with all kinds of sports-related fields and courts, a Playhouse, an Auditorium and numerous playgrounds and jogging trails) is just south of Sunrise. There are two different places we usually play. One is just east of the Parker Playhouse, and that is the field marked on the aerial view at left as being our destination.

It probably does not matter to you, the reader, that on this particular day we played in a different area, one where we actually play more often. That field is just north of the Auditorium; you can see it north of the group of trees north of the War Memorial auditorium. I would have marked this aerial view (borrowed from elsewhere in the photo album) to show that field as our destination, but the aerial view available on Google was taken on a day when there was some sort of fair or something going on in the park, and it took up that area and the area northwest across the park drive.

But what matters is that Steve and Mario were real troopers in this, their first frisbee outing with us. Fred and I like playing together, but it's also fun to have somebody different playing also. Fred took a time out while Steve was catching his breath and took some pictures (unbeknownst to me) of Mario and I playing. Some of them turned out well, and I have put thumbnails for those pictures below. To view a full-size picture, just click on its thumbnail.

We had dinner at Acapulco Lindo that evening, and watched some movies at the condo. Steve and Mario had an early morning flight back to Dallas, and so the next morning, Saturday, we got up very, very early, had breakfast at IHOP on the way to the airport, and then dropped them off a little after six so they could catch their flight home. I thought it was a great visit, and I hope the two of them enjoyed it as much as Fred and I did.


     

May 10-14: The Remainder of Our Time in Fort Lauderdale

Mario and Steve left on Saturday morning, but Fred and I stayed on through Wednesday afternoon. In truth, we didn't do much different the remainder of our time there. Our daily schedule usually included breakfast, working on the dueling laptops, lunch, Frisbee, an afternoon bike ride or a trip to the beach, and dinner either by ourselves or with Ron Drew and Jay Silbert. We were over at their house two or three times during the remainder of our stay.

But Florida is not a vacation destination for us anymore, not unless someone new is with us and we can give them the tour. We treat the condo as just a place to go for a change of scenery and weather. It sounds bad to say, but basically we just vegetate when we are there. But that's OK, too.

The only other pictures we took during our stay were taken at the dock and they were all taken by Fred. Three of them are good pictures of some of the ubiquitous boats that go up and down the river. The other three that I want to include here are of a guy that we saw two days running that weekend, ferrying his little dog in a kayak up the river. Fred thought that the cutest thing was the little dog standing on the bow of the kayak with his little doggie life preserver on. He took quite a few pictures of them, and on the second day called out to get an email address so he could send the kayaker some copies. He did that, and the kayaker was pleased.

Here are those last pictures from this, our umpteenth trip to Florida. Just click on the links to view the pictures:

Huge Yacht Going Upriver
A Big Yacht Approaching the Dock
A Yacht Heading Upriver
The Kayaker and His Dog
The Kayaker and His Dog
The Kayaker's Dog



May 30 - June 1, 2008: A Trip to the Wichita Mountains
May 3, 2008: Liza Minelli at Bass Hall
Return to Index for 2008