August 8, 2009: Birthday Party for Ron Mathis, Fred and Mario
July 6, 2009: The Paul Potts Concert in Dallas
Return to Index for 2009


Page Index
Florida Trip

July 14:
      Getting to Madison, FL
July 15:
      Driving Along A1A
      Watching the Space Shuttle Launch
July 15-17:
      Around Fort Lauderdale
July 18:
      Butterfly World
July 19-25:
      Around Fort Lauderdale
June 26-27:
      Driving Home to Dallas

July 14-27, 2009
A Trip to Florida

 

On the 14th of July, Fred and I left in my car for another trip to Florida. The last time we drove down, we had Lucky with us, but now he is big enough to be left at home with Bobbie Lee, under the watchful eyes of Steve and Mario.

 

Getting to Madison, Florida (July 14th)

The last few times we've been to Florida, we've been traveling a different route than all the times I'd driven it before. The first time we tried it (the route being suggested by both MapQuest and the car's portable GPS), it seemed fairly quick, except that the GPS routed us through downtown Mobile. The next time we tried it, we went around downtown on I-65, and I think that was quicker, if a couple of miles longer. So now, when we drive down to Florida, we will usually follow the route shown on the map below. It it about as quick and a trifle shorter, but on the way down it avoids the rush-hour traffic in Baton Rouge, which is a plus.


The driving was easy today, with the exception of a bit of rain between Vicksburg and Jackson, and we made it through Mobile and on eastward on I-10 by the very early evening. As we left Mobile heading east, we crossed the bridge that spans Mobile Bay, and for the first time on any of our trips it was light enough for pictures.


Across Mobile Bay

The first picture was taken as we passed the last Mobile exit and headed out across the bay. Next, I made a short movie as we approached the elevated span in the middle of the bridge, and you can watch that movie using the player at right.

I took one more picture after we crossed the center span and we could look ahead towards Florida.

We continued on past Pensacola, stopping for dinner just past the city, and by eleven in the evening found ourselves at the same Super 8 Motel in Madison, Florida, that we had stayed in on our last trip down here with Lucky.

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Our Drive Along A1A on Florida's Atlantic Coast (July 15th)

Today we are going to do something that I have wanted to do for a long while- drive down A1A along Florida's East Coast from Jacksonville to Fort Lauderdale. When I was young, and we came to Elinor Village in Ormond Beach for two weeks in the summer, we always drove down this beautiful coast road. But we only went as far as Ormond Beach, and today I am hoping that we might make it all the way down to Fort Lauderdale. Whether we do or not will depend on how many stops we make along the way and consequently how late it gets.

 

Driving Through Jacksonville to the Coast


Our Route Through Jacksonville to Ponte Vedra Beach

When we got up, we used some free coupons that I'd gotten at the front desk of the Super 8 Motel to go across the parking lot to the Denny's for a free breakfast. This was the first time we'd gotten such a deal; I'm told that the same person owns both properties and, instead of offering a breakfast at the motel, simply sends people to the restaurant. I suppose they save a good deal on not having to have a space for the breakfast or the equipment to prepare and serve it in the hotel lobby.

After breakfast, we checked out and continued east on I-10 towards Jacksonville. Rather than go around the city as we did earlier this year when we went to St. Augustine, we went in further to I-95 and took that south to Florida Highway 202 that took us over to the coast. A1A actually starts north of Jacksonville, but even though I would like to have said that I drove its entire length, there was no particular reason to backtrack and head north only to come back south again.

As we came around on I-95, we could see downtown Jacksonville off to our left. The morning was a bit hazy and the highway was a bit curvy with construction, so we couldn't get really good pictures of downtown. Florida Highway 202 was also an expressway, and it dumped us out right at the beach, where we took local streets over to the road right along the coast- A1A.

I should probably explain just a bit about route A1A. The original route from the north down into Florida (actually from Canada to Key West) was US Route 1. Most of the long haul traffic moved over to I-95, which parallels US 1 for almost its entire length, when it was opened many years ago. As Florida developed, and more and more homes and businesses were built between Route 1 and the ocean, a new north-south highway was needed, and it was called Highway 1A. You will see it marked on some of the maps. But this highway did not go right along the coast, and eventually yet another road was needed to provide access to the beach and the homes along the ocean, as well as the Intracoastal Waterway. This highway was not built all in one stretch, and there are places where only Route 1 or both Route 1 and Highway 1A are sufficient (mostly where there are bays and inlets or sections of the coast that are undeveloped parkland). So Florida just designated the highway nearest the ocean as Alternate Florida Highway 1A, or simply A1A for short. The highway winds in and out to and from the coast, but it is always the nearest through road along the coast (if there is a dead-end at an inlet with no bridge, for example, then A1A moves west and the road along the shore has some local designation).

So what we intended to do was simply follow the road signs for A1A, beginning just south of Jacksonville at Ponte Vedra Beach.

 

Ponte Vedra Beach


Ponte Vedra Beach

The first stretch of A1A was not along the shore; there were housing developments between us and the shore as we drove south. Eventually, these ended, and A1A curved over to head south right along the coastline. There was one row of houses on our left just along the beach until we got to the Guana River State Park. The houses ended for a while, and we picked the second or third parking area that we came to, parked the car and walked across the road to the boardwalk beach access.

We wandered around this area for a while, going across the boardwalk to the beach, and taking some pictures. I've put thumbnails for some of the better or more interesting pictures we took below; you can click on any thumbnail to view the full-size image:


 

Driving Through St. Augustine


Our Route Through St. Augustine

From Ponte Vedra Beach, we got back in the car and continued south on A1A a few miles and then the road curved back to the west to cross a bridge north of St. Augustine back to the mainland. You can watch a short movie of us crossing this bridge using the player below:

The Bridge Into St. Augustine

Back on the mainland, A1A rejoined US-1 for just a short distance. Right where the two roads came together there was a Baskin-Robbins I had not been to, and we stopped for a cone. Continuing south, US-1 angled off to the southwest, while A1A continued south through town, past the Castillo we'd visited earlier in the year. At the park in the middle of town (pictures of which you may have seen earlier on the album page describing our visit to St. Augustine in February), A1A turns back to the east to cross a drawbridge and head back to the shore. As you can see in the picture, they are, apparently, replacing the old raise-platform bridge with a new one.

Shortly, we found ourselves back at the beach and continuing south on A1A.

 

Marineland


A few miles down the highway we came to a place that I remembered from the many trips my family made down here in the 1950s and early 1960s- Marineland. As we came into the town of Marineland, and passed the entrance to Marineland, I was struck by how much smaller it seemed now than when I was a kid. I was also struck by how few people there were at the attraction; I remembered it as a bustling, busy tourist stop on the highway.

We went a little south of Marineland proper to the parking area that you can see in the aerial view, and we walked over to the beach. Along the beach there was a raised boardwalk with steps up and over it periodically along the side of the parking area. From the boardwalk, you could get good views of the shore (note that something seems to have washed up on the rocks) looking north and south. From the southern end of the boardwalk, and looking north, Fred took a picture of me and I took a picture of him.


On the Boardwalk at Marineland

Fred also took a short movie of the scenery from atop the boardwalk, and you can watch that movie using the player at right.

We'd missed the Marineland sign as we were driving south, but south of the parking area there was another one, so I snapped a picture of Fred at the Marineland sign.

We decided not to go into Marineland itself; we still had a long ways to go and I wanted to see as much of the coast as possible. As it turned out, bypassing Marineland turned out to be a good decision.
 

Ellinor Village and Daytona Beach


Now it was time for a short walk down memory lane. As soon as we entered Ormond Beach, I began looking for Ellinor Village, the resort where my family had come each summer for about six years running in the late 1950s and early 1960s. I knew what I was looking for- the landmark resort office with the high-pitched roof that I always remembered. I was fooled a bit by all the new development, but eventually found it. Although the "Ellinor Village" designation that you can see in the photo below of the resort as it was in the 1950's was gone, the distinctive building remained, and we stopped to have a look.

In the late 1940s, developer Merrill Ellinor and his brother Byron built 660 cottages and apartments on A1A, along with a shopping center. They called it Ellinor Village and, although you wouldnít know it today, it was reportedly the largest family resort in Florida right up through the early 1960s. It opened on May 1, 1949. The cottages were mostly duplexes or triplexes, with a mixture of one-, two- and three-bedroom units. We would come down for two weeks each summer, following the same route through South Carolina, Georgia and then along A1A through Florida; there were no Interstate Highways going our way back then.

We got a two-bedroom bungalow that was completely furnished, and we spent our days at the beach or off on an excursion and our nights reading, watching TV or playing outside. Some days, I would walk the couple of blocks to the drug store next to the A&P in the shopping center between the bungalows and the beach, and I'd have some french fries slathered in ketchup (yes, my affinity for ketchup began early).

The resort was a real family destination with plenty of activities for kids and adults alike. In 1951, Merrill Ellinor purchased what is today the golf course at Oceanside Country Club. The golf course was orginally part of the Ormond Hotel. He renamed the course the Ellinor Village Country Club. 1962, the club was sold to the new Oceanside Country Club Corporation.

Today the Ormond Hotel is gone. The Ormond Heritage condominiums now sit on the site. The original cupola from the hotel sits in a riverside park across from the condos. However, the legacy of Ellinor Village remains. The history of Ellinor Village is rich and the duplexes and triplexes that the Ellinorís built have been modernized and renovated into beautiful homes and rental units. The properties were built rock solid with construction that just canít be duplicated today.

Re-connecting with my old memories of the summer vacations we spent here was quite an experience; those memories are among the strongest of my childhood. I can still remember much of the highway down here from Charlotte; I'd wager I could retrace the route without missing a turn even now (unless the highways and streets themselves have been changed). The trip was before Interstate highways, and it took us over a day to get down here from Charlotte, since the trip was entirely on two-lane roads that went through innumerable cities and towns. I can remember my days at the beach, timing the building of my extensive sand castles so that I could be inside them when the tide came in and washed them away. I remember, too, the sunburn I usually got the first few days we were here, and how I'd be miserable for a day or two until all the lotions that Mom brought along could take effect. I never seemed to learn to ease into the sunlight, and the legacy of those sunburns didn't become apparent until well into the new millenium. I can still taste the french fries that I'd get at the Rexall Drug luncheonette, and I still remember the trouble I got into when I took my Dad's battery-operated radio to bed one night so I could listen to Chicago's WLS. I fell asleep doing so, and the radio fell off the bed onto the floor and its plastic case got cracked. My Dad was really, really mad at me.

But so much for memories. We have to get going on down to Fort Lauderdale. Before we left, I took two movies, mostly for my sister's benefit. One of them shows how the shopping center and resort office look today, and you can watch that movie using the player below, left. The other one was taken out in the resort itself, and you can see some of the typical bungalows that we stayed in. Have a look at that movie using the player below, right:

Shopping Center and Resort Office
 
Typical Ellinor Village Bungalows

We got back on A1A and continued on south. Ormond Beach is a smaller beach community just north of the much more famous Daytona Beach- one of the origins of the current NASCAR racing circuit. The beach had been so wide and hard packed that visitors drove their cars right down to the ocean, and at night drag races were held on the beach itself. We did not go over to the beach (we knew it had narrowed a great deal in the last 50 years, and now looked much like most of the other beaches on the eastern coast of Florida), but just drove south on A1A through the resort area of the city of Daytona Beach. It seemed to me as if there were fewer people here than I remembered, but that may just be temporary, what with the economy and all. What certainly had changed was the architecture and the businesses. Now, it's one chain restaurant or business after another, and one new hotel or condo after another. Fred (and I) took some pictures on our way through Daytona Beach, and I have put thumbnails for the best of these below. Have a look at the pictures by clicking on the thumbnails:


South of Daytona Beach, we followed what I thought were signs to A1A, leading us back out to the beach. We crossed a very pretty bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway and found a Baskin-Robbins I had not been to on the ocean side of the bridge. We stopped for a cone and then continued south. After about five miles, I saw a sign that the road dead-ended three miles ahead. We'd inadvertently gotten onto a spur of A1A and had to backtrack across the bridge to the mainland to continue south.

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We Watch the Launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour (July 15th)


From Daytona Beach, we continued south along Highway A1A. The scenery was very nice, and it was a pleasant drive. At times, the highway was a bit inland from the beach, and then, north of Titusville, we were out of sight of the beach itself, since there is an extensive marshy area between the mainland and the ocean. Our route took us inland at the Canaveral National Seashore where we re-joined Route 1 into Titusville, Florida.

It was late afternoon when we reached Titusville. I had hoped that we might be able to get out to Cape Canaveral and see the Vehicle Assembly Building or take a tour or something, but it was too late in the day. We did notice, as we came through town, that there were people along the street apparently picnicking or maybe there was a town festival or something. It did not occur to us what was actually happening: the launch of the space shuttle Endeavour was scheduled for about an hour from now, having been postponed a couple of times previously. Our timing was excellent.

We decided that we'd get an extremely late lunch and, we hoped, by the time we were done, we might be able to stand along the street (where you had an unobstructed view out across the Indian River to Cape Canaveral). We passed a restaurant that looked OK; it was called "Dogs R Us," but looked as if it would have a good deal more than that. It was busy, and its parking lot was blocked off (to keep out anyone but restaurant patrons, I guessed), so we turned the next corner and parked on the street behind the restaurant. We walked around, went in, got a table and ordered. As it turned out, parking in their lot was $10, but if, when you left, you presented a guest receipt from the restaurant, they gave you your $10 back. No matter; we were only a hundred feet or so away.


We ordered some sandwiches and while we were eating, we could watch one of the numerous flat screen televisions that were overhead all around the room. My guess is that this is a sports bar usually, but today, all the televisions were tuned to various channels covering the launch. As you can see from the TV screen, we had an hour or so to eat.

When we were done eating, we headed out of the restaurant and across the street to a parking area for a fishing pier that stuck out into the Indian River. Although all the parking places were taken, it was not hard at all to find a good vantage point for viewing the launch. There were lots of people here, a great many of them out on the pier itself. In the picture, you can see the VAB way off in the distance. Launch Complex 39 is on the horizon about one-third of the width of the picture from the left. Some folks had pocket cameras, and there were also quite a few with professional gear (one guy next to me had a 1200mm zoom lens).

One of the parked cars had its radio on, broadcasting the launch. (It wasn't until just a few minutes before the launch that I heard someone say that the broadcast was on a thirty-second delay, so I ignored it for the most part and just kept my camera trained on Launch Complex 39 way out across the river and the marshlands between it and the seashore.

Here is an aerial view of the area between our viewpoint and Launch Complex 39, from which the shuttle would rise:

And, if you are interested, here is an aerial view of Launch Complex 39 (obviously taken sometime other than today):


I'd like to include a few additional pictures of the scene here beside the Indian River before the shuttle launch. If you will click on any of the thumbnails at left, you can have a look at some of the pictures that Fred and I took before the actual launch.


We did not have long to wait until the shuttle was launched, just after six o'clock. I won't try to describe the launch in words, except to say that as much as you could see the launch you could feel it, although it took a few seconds for the sound and vibration to reach us across a distance of a few miles. We took both pictures and movies (with Fred taking most of the pictures). First, if you will click on the thumbnail images at right, you can see some of the pictures that we took during and after the launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour today.

We also took a couple of movies during the launch. Rather than take still photos, I filmed pretty much the entire launch sequence, and you can watch that movie using the player at left below. (Please note: For some reason, the audio broadcast is delayed some 30 seconds, so the announcer was that far behind the actual events.) Fred took the still shots during the launch, and captured the final seconds before the shuttle disappeared into the clouds in his own movie, which you can watch using the right-hand player below.

The Entire Launch Sequence
 
The Shuttle Endeavour Leaves Sight

The launch of the Space Shuttle, the first actual launch I have ever seen in person, was, to say the least, impressive. It would have been fantastic to watch it from up close, but there are plenty of official videos on YouTube and on the NASA Web Site taken with cameras close to the launch pad and, of course, on the vehicle itself. You should have a look at some of them; they are pretty neat.

It took the traffic a while to unwind before we could continue along A1A through and south of Titusville. We crossed the Indian River on A1A going back out to the shore south of the Kennedy Space Center complex, and followed the highway through Cocoa Beach and into Melbourne. There we headed over to I-95 since it was late in the day and we still had well over a hundred miles to go to Fort Lauderdale. The drive along A1A had been very nice, and I hope to do the rest of it sometime in the future.

We arrived in Fort Lauderdale about 9PM, got settled in the condo, and then walked down to the Floridian for dinner.

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Around Fort Lauderdale (July 16-17)


We settled into our routine quite easily the next day- Internet, a walk to lunch, Frisbee, frozen drinks and dinner by ourselves or with Ron and Jay. We have both been to Fort Lauderdale so many times that it has become unremarkably pleasant. On the 16th, as we were sitting by the dock and Fred was taking some pictures, the Goodyear blimp came overhead and then traveled upriver over downtown. At the left are thumbnail images for the best of the pictures Fred took of the blimp and while we were sitting at the dock that evening.

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A Visit to Butterfly World with Ron and Jay (July 18)


On Saturday, Ron and Jay and Fred and I made the short trip up to Boca Raton and Butterfly World. Ron had mentioned it a couple of times before, and today we decided to go up there.

Getting there was pretty easy. We first stopped by Ron and Jay's house where we switched to Ron's car, and then we continued up I-95 to Sample Road and then west to Tradewinds Park. Butterfly World is located within the large park.

Admission was a little pricey, but as it turned out it was well worth it.


We spent about four hours there; there is quite a bit to do. Of course, there are the butterflies, which fly freely within the large netted enclosures that have an intricate system of pathways wandering through them. We spent a great deal of time trying to photograph both the butterflies and the many exotic plants. Another feature of Butterfly World is the hummingbird enclosure, and there were quite a few of them flying around this large enclosure (though not so many as I saw at Frank and Joe's on an earlier trip this year). The hummingbird enclosure is at the end of a swinging wooden bridge across an artificial pond.

We also visited the insect displays. One house contained what looked like an insect and butterfly collection, and a second contained display cases with live insects of all kinds inside. We definitely saw some we hadn't seen before. In the main building we wandered through the air-conditioned gift shop, which was a welcome respite from the heat outside. But the most interesting and fun thing was the "lorikeet encounter." Lorikeets are much like parrots, and in the enclosure there were a great many of them. We bought little containers of sugar syrup from the attendant and, using that as a lure, got the birds to land on us (they would do most anything for some of that sweet syrup). They were incredibly interesting and very, very funny in their antics, both with us and with each other.

It probably doesn't matter much that you have an idea where within the complex the various pictures were taken, so I am just going to group them logically, without regard to where, particularly, they were taken or who took them. But in the administration building there was a pretty good diagram on the wall of where things were.

Above, you'll see this diagram, and I've added some a legend along the side to point out where the pictures that you will see below were taken. Our route through the complex followed the outline above, but that is really immaterial. Unfortunately, there was no way to identify each bird or butterfly, so I won't try. If you're interested, go to the website for Butterfly World Florida; there you will find some specific information on the birds and butterflies. For now, though, I hope you just enjoy our pictures.

 

         The Butterflies

Of course, you would expect that the entire complex was full of butterflies. The only areas that weren't were those that were entirely open, although even there we saw the occasional escapee. In most of the butterfly areas, there were just plants and butterflies, but in some areas butterflies and birds were in the same enclosure. I would have thought one would be food for the other, but, apparently, size matters. Below are some thumbnails for the best of the butterfly pictures that Fred and I took. There are a lot of these, so you may not want to click on all of them. But I've weeded out the duplicates and the ones that didn't turn out well, so any that you choose to look at should be rewarding:


At Butterfly World

I also took a movie of what it was like inside the butterfly enclosures with all the butterflies flitting about, the plants and the many walkways. You can watch that movie with the player at left.

 

         The Birds

There were a number of aviaries here at Butterfly World, and we went in all of them. At the entrance to some of them there was an informational sign describing the birds that one would expect to see inside the particular aviary. We did not try to identify the birds, though. We just marvelled at their variety and their beauty. Below are the thumbnails for the bird pictures we took. Click on as many of them as you would like to view the full-size pictures:

 

         Our Group in Butterfly World


Our Group at Butterfly World

While we were wandering around Butterfly World, both Fred and I took the occasional picture of our little group and of the complex itself. For example, I took a picture of the other guys as we were about to cross the Tinalandia Bridge that leads to the Jewels of the Sky hummingbird aviary. (If you would like more information about this decorative bridge, you can read the commemorative plaque here.)

I also made a movie of our group and the butterfly enclosures just after we entered, and you can watch that movie using the player at right.

I have put thumbnails for the rest of these pictures below, and if you will click on them you can see the full-size images of us in Butterfly World:

 

         Plants and Flowers in Butterfly World


Butterfly World was almost as much an arboretum as it was a butterfly refuge; there were a large number of very beautiful tropical plants spread throughout the complex. Many of them were passion flowers, such as the one you can see here.

But there were lots of other flowers and interesting plants as well. It was hard to cull through all the great pictures that we took, but I did get rid of as many duplicates as I could as well as those photos that just weren't very good. But still, the result is over thirty very good pictures of flowers and plants. Since there are so many of these pictures, opening and closing each of them would seem too much to ask, so in this instance I have created a slide show, which you can see is running continually at left. You can just sit back and watch the show. (I have included a blank picture in the show so that you can tell when the cycle begins over again.)

 

         Parrots and Hummingbirds

We crossed the bridge over the lagoon to the hummingbird enclosure. The enclosure actually had two sections to it. In the first section were the parrots; I think I counted six or eight large birds. They were extremely colorful, although not very active. We did get some good pictures of them, and I have put thumbnails for the best of these pictures below. Click on the thumbnails to view the full-size images:


Parrots At Butterfly World

I also made a movie while we were looking at the parrots, and you can watch that movie using the player at left.

After being at Frank and Joe's earlier this year, and photographing hummingbirds from up close, I wasn't much interested in looking for the occasional bird here in the hummingbird enclosure; there weren't that many of them to start with. So we didn't take many pictures, only a single picture of a hummingbird and one of an interesting informational sign about the birds.

 

         The Lorikeet Encounter

By far the most enjoyable part of our visit to Butterfly World, at least for me, was the time we spent inside the 500-sq.ft. lorikeet enclosure.


Lories and lorikeets are small to medium-sized arboreal parrots characterized by their specialized brush-tipped tongues for feeding on nectar and soft fruits. They can feed from the flowers of about 5,000 species of plants and use their specialized tongues to take the nectar. The tip of their tongues have tufts of papillae (extremely fine hairs), which collect nectar and pollen.

Lorikeets have tapered wings and pointed tails that allow them to fly easily and display great agility. They also have strong feet and legs. They tend to be hyperactive and clownish in personality both in captivity and the wild, and that is exactly what we found them to be in their special enclosure.

The enclosure must have held thirty or forty of the colorful birds and their antics, especially when being fed the nectar that one could purchase from the attendant for a dollar, were pretty amazing. Not only did they interact with the visitors, but they often played with each other.

It was impossible not to laugh at the things they did both to get food and just, apparently, for play. As you can see on the sign, three of the most common activities for these birds are feeding, investigating and playing. We each purchased more than one little container of nectar as it was so much fun to feed them. The birds clambered all over us and each other, attracted to any odd object- like a button or a beard or a watch. And on at least two occasions, I watched as a pair of the birds wrestled around on the floor of the enclosure, much as our two cats wrestle with each other. It was an incredibly interesting and fun experience.


"Don't look now, but what is
that guy behind us doing?

"Hey, bud, could we have a
little privacy here?

We took oodles of pictures here, but I have winnowed them down to show you just the best ones. Below are thumbnail images for these pictures. You can tell from the thumbnail what the picture is, so I encourage you to find at least some of them that look interesting, click on the thumbnail and have a look at the full-size picture. Although all four of us appear in one or more of the pictures, it's the birds that are really in the starring role.

While the pictures of the lorikeets are certainly worth looking at, nothing can describe what it was like to be in the enclosure with them than a movie, and, fortunately, both Fred and I took a number of good ones. I hope you will look at a couple of these, at least, although I think you will find all of them interesting and entertaining. You can use the players below to watch these movies:

Lorikeets Eating Out of My Hand
 
Jay and I With the Lorikeets

Lorikeet Playing with My Neck & Ears
 
Lorikeet on Ron's Shoulders

Closeup Movie of Lorikeet Playing with My Beard
 
Lorikeets Having a Fun Time Wrestling

Lorikeets Grooming Each Other

 

         Butterfly World's Butterfly Collection

The butterfly collection was housed in one of two buildings adjacent to the Lorikeet Encounter, and on the way back to the entrance. So we stopped there next. It was like a small museum, with all the walls covered with displays of butterflies on typical pin display boards like this one. Fred and I took a number of pictures of some of of these displays, and if you will click on the thumbnail images below, you can see the full-size versions of these pictures:

These displays were very well done, very much the professional collection. To show you some more detail, we also took some photos of small sections of some of these displays, such as this picture of the male and female Orange-barred Sulfur. I have put some thumbnail images below for more of these small groupings, and you can click on them to view the full-size images:

Both Fred and I experimented by taking some extreme close-up shots of individual butterflies from the collection displays. A good many of these pictures turned out really well. I've put thumbnail images for them below; click on the thumbnails to view the full-size pictures:


Finally, on the way out of the butterfly collection and into the insect area, there was an entire wall with sweeping lines of all different kinds of butterflies. This wall was more artwork than butterfly collection, and both Fred and I took pictures of sections of it. If you will click on the thumbnail images at left, you can see these pictures.

 

         Butterfly World's Insect Museum and Displays

Our last stop here at Butterfly World was in the insect museum, housed in a small building connected to the butterfly collection. I am not fond of spiders and scorpions, and they were the focus of the displays and exhibits. These displays and exhibits were not nearly so beautiful as those in the butterfly collection, so we took few pictures. Many of the displays were of live insects in glass enclosures or cages, such as this Bird-Eating Spider. Trust me when I tell you that if I knew one of these spiders were somewhere in my house, I wouldn't be able to go in until it was found and captured!

Just before we left, Fred took a picture of myself, Jay and Ron here in the insect building, and you can have a look at that picture here.

This brought to an end our visit to Butterfly World. It was really interesting and enjoyable- particularly the lorikeets. When we left, we drove over to A1A along the beach to have lunch at a oceanfront restaurant- the Sea Watch. Fred and I had seen it before when we bicycled from the condo to Hillsboro Inlet, but we'd never eaten there. It was very good, and we got a great table by the picture windows overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Ron and Jay took us back to their house, where we collected our car and headed back to the condo, arriving home in late afternoon. For the rest of the day we did our normal routine of Internet surfing, Frisbee playing and going out for dinner.

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Around Fort Lauderdale (July 19-25)

For the remainder of our trip, we did our usual things pretty much day after day. It may sound boring, but being down here and watching the boats, playing Frisbee, going to the beach, riding bikes and relaxing in the condo has an attraction all its own. Most of the pictures we took here for the next week are more of what you have seen before, but even so you might find some interesting shots to look at. I will simply divide the time by days.

 

         July 19


Today, Fred got a picture of the condos at the corner of Broward and Federal so he could record the color scheme. I've hated the color scheme at Riverview Gardens for a long time, and am looking forward to the next repainting. I've been accumulating pictures of nicer schemes and will get involved in the decision-making this time. The rest of the pictures we took today we took while we were sitting at the dock late in the afternoon having our ritual frozen drinks.

 

         July 20


Thunderstorm Over Fort Lauderdale

By the time we were up and about today, some rain had moved in, so we spent most of the day inside doing stuff on our dueling laptops (a couple of trips ago I bought a second laptop to keep here in the condo, so that when we are down here we can both be using one, and sharing the networked cable Internet connection). Just after lunch, a particularly big storm moved through, and the lightning and thunder brought us out onto the balcony. Fred made a movie out on the balcony, and you can watch that movie using the player at right.

 

         July 21

Today's a nice day, so we've decided to walk out along the Riverwalk to lunch. A day or two ago, we'd biked along the Riverwalk and noticed that the old Shirttail Charlie's, which has been closed for some time, has reopened as something called The Pirate Republic Bar, and so we are going to walk over there and try it out.

From the condo, we walked along SE 4th Street past the Riverside Hotel, where there is a small park. Here, there is a new marker that summarizes the history of Fort Lauderdale. The area from Federal Highway west to finger islands, and from the New River north to Broward Boulevard is called "Colee Hammock," and you can see where the name comes from. Adjacent to this small riverside park is the Stranahan House, the home of two of Fort Lauderdale's earliest civilian residents.


Our route along the Riverwalk is a familiar one. We pass three of the newest condo towers- the Las Olas Grand, the Water Garden and River House. This brings us by Huizenga Park with its large fountain. This brings us to the Andrews Avenue Bridge where we cross to the south side of the river. Just adjacent to the bridge is the Briny Irish Pub, which has been our usual lunch place since Shirttail Charlie's closed over a year ago.

Crossing the drawbridge, we could look downriver (east) towards the other downtown bridge- the 3rd Avenue Bridge. When we got to the south side of the bridge and started down the rampway to street level, I took a nice picture looking east of Fred and the New River. Then, as you can see in the aerial view at left, we continued a bit more west on the south side of the river, went across the FEC railroad tracks and around the back of the huge boat dry storage, and then up the street to the Pirate Republic.

The fact that it is so tricky to get to is probably why Shirttail Charlie's closed originally. When there were lots of boaters with their craft in the dry storage, the dockside bar and cafe could rely on them during the day and then a steady clientele for the more upscale and upstairs restaurant during the evening. Either the boating traffic fell off or the clientele changed or it was the economic downturn, but it has been well over a year since there has been an active restaurant here (although the boat storage and chandelry seem always to do OK). The Pirate Republic is very new, and either they haven't fully renovated the site, or they left this old Shirttail Charlie's sign on purpose. As we walked into the restaurant area we passed the first sign for the new establishment.


We got a table right by the little marina where we could see the marina and dry storage and across the New River to downtown Fort Lauderdale. The tables on the dock by the river weren't open; that's where we usually like to sit. We ordered some sandwiches and then walked around taking pictures. The entire area was done in a "Pirates of the Caribbean" theme and we thought they'd done a pretty good job. Below are thumbnails for the pictures that we took; click on them to view the full-size images:

The lunch was pretty good, although a bit more expensive than Shirttail Charlie's had been. I suspect we'll be back again for lunch, if only to vary things up. Eating here provides different river views. I would hope that, at some point, they would reopen the tables on the dock right at the river, but I guess we'll have to see if they make a go of it first. As we were leaving, we were going to take pictures of each other at a third pirate carving, but our waitress offered to do the honors, and so we both got in the good shot that you can see here.

 

         July 26-27: Our Trip Home

We began our trip home on Sunday the 26th and we arrived back in Dallas on Monday afternoon.


Driving into Mobile

We followed our old route, ignoring the insistent efforts of the GPS to send us through Jackson, MS. On our arrive into Mobile, the sun was setting beyond the city and "Somewhere in Time" was playing on the stereo. I thought the combination of the sunset, the city and the music might make for a good movie, so I tried one. It turned out pretty good, and you can watch it using the player at left.


My Hyundai Reaches a Milestone

About an hour later, between Mobile and Gulfport, my car and I reached a milestone. I'd been anticipating it all day, and knew about where it would occur, so I had my camera out and ready. You'll know what the milestone was even before my narration starts, I think. Once again, I decided to use "Somewhere in Time" as the background music. So, you can watch history happen using the player at right.

We had dinner past Gulfport at a barbecue place and then drove all the way to Lafayette, LA, where we spent the night in the same motel we'd used on our trip from Fort Lauderdale to San Antonio with our new kitten back in May. On Monday, we finished the drive to Dallas.

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August 8, 2009: Birthday Party for Ron Mathis, Fred and Mario
July 6, 2009: The Paul Potts Concert in Dallas
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