|May 30 - June 1, 2008: A Trip to the Wichita Mountains|
|May 3, 2008: Liza Minelli at Bass Hall|
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May 6-7: Our First Day in Florida
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
May 8: We Drive to Boca Raton
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.
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:
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
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 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:
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
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
May 9: Lunch on the Riverwalk
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.)
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
May 9: Playing Frisbee at Holiday Park
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
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:
|May 30 - June 1, 2008: A Trip to the Wichita Mountains|
|May 3, 2008: Liza Minelli at Bass Hall|
|Return to Index for 2008|