July 5-8, 2010: A Trip to San Antonio
April 12-15, 2010: A Visit to Ruckman Haus
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Page Index
June 2-16
A Trip to Fort Lauderdale

    Getting to Fort Lauderdale
    At the Riverview Gardens Dock
    The Miami Sequarium
    A Lunch with Jack Fontaine
    At the Briny Irish Pub

June 2-16, 2010
A Trip to Fort Lauderdale


 

This month we are making another of our frequent trips down to Fort Lauderdale. I should point out that we have been going down there so frequently of late that the number of pictures we take has decreased tremendously. Usually, there are just a couple of things we might do that warrant very many of them. For previous trips, I've provided an index page for the trip's individual days, but that is no longer necessary. We'll just use the normal page index, such as the one on this page, to let you jump to an event that occurred anytime during the trip.

 

Getting to Fort Lauderdale

We followed our usual route down to Florida this time. I've driven the route so many times that I could almost do it blindfolded. I-20 to Shreveport, I-49 to Lafayette, I-10 to Jacksonville and I-95 to Fort Lauderdale. I used to head south on I-75 after Tallahassee and then take Florida's Turnpike, but it only saves 25 miles or so and costs ten bucks in tolls. Plus there is always congestion through Orlando, and so given all these things the route we take now is better.

You can return to today's index or continue with the next section below.


 

At the Riverview Gardens Dock

In our many trips down here, we've developed something of a routine. Mornings are relaxation times; we have breakfast or lunch (depending on how late we get up), we do email or check news on the Internet and I work on my photo album. In the afternoon, we bike around the area and usually to to Holiday Park to play with the Frisbee. I try to use the recumbent bike each day, and Fred uses the weights or does yoga. None of these activities are photo-worthy, so there are no pictures of them.

In the late afternoon or early evening, our tradition is to have a frozen drink or some other libation while we sit by the dock and watch the boats ply the New River. There's more boat traffic on weekends, of course, but there are at least some boats going by every night. It's at this time of day that we often take some pictures- sometimes of us at the dock and sometimes of the river traffic going by. Over the course of this twelve-day trip we took pictures on many of the days we were at the dock. From the many pictures that we took at this time of day during our stay, I have selected the best or most varied ones to include here. To take a look at these pictures, just click on the thumbnails below:

You can return to today's index or continue with the next section below.


 

We Visit the Miami Sequarium

On Saturday, June 12, Ron Drew, Jay Silbert, Fred and I took a trip down to Miami to the Miami Sequarium. Ron and Jay had some coupons for a discount on admission, so we thought we'd all go to see what it was like.


Ron and Jay came by the condo around nine in the morning to pick us up, and we headed down I-95 towards Miami. The Seaquarium is out towards Key Biscayne, and so we took I-95 to its end and then headed out the causeway towards the Key.


You may remember from an earlier album page this year that we visited Vizcaya with Guy Blair in March, and you can see that the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens are also right at the end of I-95 south of downtown Miami.

We turned out onto the causeway and followed it around for a mile or two until we came to the parking area for the Seaquarium. We parked and headed to the entry.

Just inside the main entry there was a landscaped area where there were two anchors salvaged from two ships from the Spanish Silver Fleet that sunk off Key Largo in 1733. This display was at the head of main promenade leading to the first aquarium building.

Off to the side of the promenade was a replica of a whale's tail; since it was placed there to provide a photo op, we took advantage of it, and you can see Fred's picture here and my picture here. Right outside the first aquarium was a replica of the teeth of a Megalodon, a prehistoric animal thought to be the largest shark that ever lived. Certainly apropos of the line "We're gonna need a bigger boat."

We did quite a few things here at the Seaquarium today, and perhaps you'll want to follow us around the park as we visit the various shows and exhibits. To help you, I've put both a park map and an aerial view below. I'll use the numbered markers on the park map to let you know where we are, and you can follow our path on the aerial view as well. The park map is helpful and the aerial view is certainly interesting. I have rotated the aerial view so it is in the same orientation as the park map; that's why there are some sections of blank space on the aerial view:

 

The Tropical Fish Aquariums

Our first stop was the aquarium right at the top of the promenade. This building (#12 on the park map) consists of a huge dolphin tank in the center, which is viewable from ground level, and a circular arrangement of tropical fish tanks on the outer rim. One can walk all around the dolphin tank, viewing the various tropical fish aquariums on the outer side and looking into the dolphin tank on the inside. This building also houses the Top Deck Dolphin Show, which takes place in that central tank and which is watched from an upper level (over our heads as we walked around looking at the tropical fish). It was really tough trying to take pictures of the many small aquariums that line the inside of this building- either the flash reflected off the glass or the pictures were a bit fuzzy without flash. Fred and I did get a couple of good pictures, though, and you can have a look at them here and here.

 

The Top Deck Dolphin Show

We had to wait a little while for the dolphin show to begin, and just before it did we headed upstairs in this building to get a spot to watch from. The show stars a group of bottlenose dolphins who perform "high-flying antics" and "breathtaking leaps and rolls." The open-air tank is ringed with viewing platforms; the platform next to the tank is called the “splash zone,” since people standing there are quite likely to get wet. Not for us the splash zone; we watched the show from the upper level.

We took lots of pictures during the show. The biggest problem was knowing just when to snap the picture to get a dolphin in mid-antic, but we did OK for at least some of them. Click on the thumbnails below to see the best of the pictures we took during the dolphin show:

We also took some movies, which do a much better job of capturing the action, of course. You can have a look at them using the players below:

The Top Deck Dolphin Show

Fred made this movie of some of the action at the show- dolphins performing and being rewarded.

The Top Deck Dolphin Show

One of the trainers gets in the tank and swims with the dolphins.

The Top Deck Dolphin Show

Along with the other action, a dolphin skims across the water upright on its flipper.

The Top Deck Dolphin Show

Want to know why it's called the "splash zone?"

 

The Reef Aquarium


Our next stop (#1 on the park map) was the Reef Aquarium. This exhibit is one of the most popular at the park. The Main Reef Aquarium features a 750,000-gallon saltwater aquarium teeming with reef fishes of every size, color and description. During the Reef Presentation, a diver slowly works his way around the tank allowing visitors to watch as he/she hand-feeds the colorful tropical fish, large groupers, cobia, loggerhead turtles and moray eels. This presentation was accompanied by an environmental narration. Pictures were difficult to take, but we did get a few interesting ones, and you can look at them by clicking on the thumbnails at left.

As in the other aquarium, movies turned out better here. Have a look at some of them using the players below:

The Reef Aquarium

Watch for the rays gliding past.

The Reef Aquarium

There was an impressive variety of tropical fish.

The Reef Aquarium

In this movie, a diver is feeding the fish, who crowd around to get the food being handed out.

The Reef Aquarium

In this movie, watch for the lobsters walking along the bottom of the tank.

Here is a repeat of the park map and aerial view so you don't have to scroll so much:

 

The Flipper Dolphin Show

From the Reef Aquarium, we walked to the "back" of the park to watch the "Flipper Dolphin Show." (#4 on the park map). It was very warm this afternoon, and Ron and Jay stopped to get a drink while Fred and I got seats in the bleachers nearest the water where there was a breeze to cool us off. From the top back row of the bleachers, we could get a great view out across Biscayne Bay.

In this show, TV Superstar Flipper and his Atlantic bottlenose dolphin friends perform in the lagoon which served as the set for the original Flipper TV show. The Flipper dolphins demonstrate the grace and intelligence of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. The show included jumps, spins, tail walks and flips, all choreographed to music and accompanied by lively and informative narration. This was one of those shows that included a member of the audience, in this case, a typical tow-headed boy (awwww....). During the show, one of the dolphins launched himself out of the water and onto a padded area of the dock, so we could get another "awwww...." moment as the tow-headed boy got to touch him.

Actually, I doubt very much that any of the dolphins we watched was indeed the actual dolphin used in the original "Flipper" TV show, unless dolphins live a lot longer than I thought they did. (Note: I just did some research, and the original Flipper died in 1972.) If you'd like to see them, click on the thumbnails below to see some action shots taken during the show:

Here are a few of the movies we took at the show:

The Flipper Dolphin Show

Typical for the show, the dolphins jump and somersault.

The Flipper Dolphin Show

The Flipper imposter is introduced to the audience.


The Flipper Dolphin Show

Some of the dolphins take turns batting beachballs into the bleachers with their tails.
 

 

The Manatee Presentation

After the dolphin show, we went to the little restaurant near the main aquarium and had some lunch. After that, we stopped by the Manatee Presentation (#10 on the park map). At the Manatee Exhibit, we came face-to-face with Florida’s state marine mammal through poolside and underwater viewing areas. The Manatee Presentation provides an opportunity to learn about this fascinating and federally endangered animal and, more importantly, explains ways that guests can help save these gentle creatures of the sea. The three manatees featured were part of the rescue and rehabilitation program at Miami Seaquarium. As a matter of fact, one of the manatees here in the pool had been rescued after a boat prop had damaged his flipper. You can see that manatee here.

We each took a movie here at the manatee presentation, and you can watch them with the players below:

The Manatee Presentation

My movie of the manatees was taken from above, and you can watch them lazily feeding on the vegetables that have been tossed in for them.

The Manatee Presentation

Fred's movie of the manatees was taken from the viewing windows below the surface of the water, and gives an excellent "up close and personal" view of this huge creature.

 

Tropical Wings

Just a few feet away from the manatees, at #8 on the map, is "Tropical Wings." Here, we found an amazing variety of tropical birds- parrots of all kinds and colors.


Tropical Wings

"Tropical Wings" actually surrounds a new exhibit of stingrays, who swim in a shallow, 10,000 gallon touch pool in the middle of all the birds. These are Southern and Cownose Stingrays, and you are able to feed and touch them. This movie shows you those rays and then takes you around the "Tropical Wings" area to show the many different birds that are here.
 

We took a great many pictures of these beautiful birds and, although you may not want to look at all of them, you can click on the thumbnails below to see the ones that interest you:


Turtles at "Tropical Wings"

Near the birds but off to the side was an enclosure that contained perhaps fifteen large turtles. You can watch them wander around in this movie, and look at one of them up close here.
 

 

The Killer Whale and Dolphin Show

This show was the last major thing we did this afternoon. It was pretty warm and I think everyone was getting a bit tired, but I am certainly glad we didn't miss this attraction. The C-shaped arena (#5 on the park map) where the show is held is the largest of the buildings here, and about a half hour before the show lots of people started filling the bleacher seats. We'd been warned earlier to sit a certain number of rows up in the bleachers if we didn't want to run the risk of getting wet from the enormous body and tail of the Orca that was the star of the show. We heeded that advice and so came away from the show nice and dry. Both Fred and I took pictures of us in our seats; you can see Fred's picture here and my picture here. And, just before the show started, I went to the highest row of seats to look out the back of the arena at the park and the Miami skyline.

The star of this show was Lolita the Killer Whale; her backup dancers were a group of exotic Pacific white-sided dolphins. All of the mammals showed off their natural grace, beauty and intelligence through the interaction of animal, trainer and guest. The trainers swam with the whale, rode on its back and stomach and balanced on its nose as it pushed, pulled or carried them around the large pool. At one point, the whale thrust one of the trainers perhaps thirty feet into the air. It was all very graceful, very entertaining and a lot of fun. And for some of the guests, it was a refreshing shower.

Although we took lots of pictures, the movies give a much better feeling for the show. But if you want to see some of the best of the still shots, just click on the thumbnails below:

And now for the movies:

The Whale and Dolphin Show

We are introduced to Lolita and some of the dolphins.

The Whale and Dolphin Show

In this movie, Lolita does a number on the audience just in front of us. Luckily, we heeded the warning to sit way back!

The Whale and Dolphin Show

Fred made a movie of one of the trainers riding on Lolita's back around the pool while holding on to her fin.

The Whale and Dolphin Show

One of the trainers rides on Lolita's stomach around the pool, and the whale deposits her neatly back on the platform, while other dolphins play for the crowd.

The Whale and Dolphin Show

Lolita's backup dancers (dolphins) get their time in the limelight while Lolita discusses the show with her trainer.

The Whale and Dolphin Show

In this very funny movie that Fred made, the crowd down to our left who were unlucky enough to sit down close get a royal drenching courtesy of Lolita's tail as she slaps it back and forth!

The Whale and Dolphin Show

On cue, Lolita slaps one of her fins down onto the water making a sound that echoes through the arena.

The Whale and Dolphin Show

In this very interesting movie, Lolita allows her trainer to stand on her snout and then pushes her about thirty feet up into the air. Then, still using her snout, Lolita pushes the trainer around the pool and back to the trainer platform.

The Whale and Dolphin Show

Now it's the turn of the crowd right in front of us and from a couple of rows down all the way to the pool to get soaked as Lolita does a perfect belly flop right in front of us.

The Whale and Dolphin Show

The show ends as Lolita allows her trainer to ride around the pool on her back (not holding on to anything) and wave goodbye to the guests.

 

Views From the Event Field

There were some other areas of the Miami Seaquarium that we hadn't visited, but it looked as if the time for the remaining shows of the day would require a good deal of waiting. Since we were all a bit tired, we decided to head back to the park entrance. Just outside the Killer Whale venue, I stopped to take a picture of Ron and Fred with a killer whale. We crossed in front of the main aquarium and the entry promenade on our way over to the Event Field (#15 on the map) where we could get some views across Biscayne Bay to downtown Miami.

When we got to the edge of the Event Field and the Bay, we could see the geodesic dome where the sea lion show is held. And, of course, we got great views of Miami and the Bay nearby. If you want to see some of these views, just click on the thumbnails below:


A Movie of Downtown Miami

While Fred was taking some of his pictures of the Bay and Miami, I made an interesting movie of downtown Miami.
 

When we were done with our pictures and movies, we all headed back to Ron's car for the return trip to Fort Lauderdale. It had been a very interesting visit to the Miami Seaquarium, and perhaps we'll return sometime to see the shows that we missed today.

You can return to today's index or continue with the next section below.


 

Lunch with Jack Fontaine

It is our custom to try to have lunch with our friend Jack each time we come down here. He's the fellow that used to live two doors down from me at Riverview Gardens but who moved to John Knox Village a year or two ago. We usually meet at Simply Delish, a breakfast and lunch place in Wilton Manors, and this Tuesday we did the same thing. We just eat with him and catch up on what he's been doing and let him know what's been up with us. It is always an enjoyable outing. Even though he has been gone from Riverview Gardens for some time now, he still has many friends there and seems to know much more about what is going on there than I do. So he is a great source of information. You can see the pictures we took and had the waiter take today by clicking on the thumbnails at right.

You can return to today's index or continue with the next section below.


 

Lunch at the Briny Irish Pub


The only other event of any note (where we took pictures) was our lunch at the Briny Irish Pub at Riverfront Center. We try to get here once or twice each time we are down here. It is a pleasant walk from the condo- along Las Olas to the beginning of the Riverwalk and then along the river, passing under 3rd Avenue and Andrews Avenue before reaching the riverside pub. You have probably seen the route we take before, but in case you haven't, I've repeated it at left.

We didn't take many pictures today. On the way, Fred took a picture of a beautiful Royal Poinciana in flower. And at the Pub, I took a picture of Fred.

That's about it for this trip. We had an enjoyable time, as usual, and were sorry to have to head back to Dallas (following our usual route up I-95, west on I-10, north on I-49 and west on I-20). We stayed overnight in Lafayette, Louisiana, which seems to be our most frequent stopping point.

You can return to today's index or use the links below to continue to the album page for different day.


July 5-8, 2010: A Trip to San Antonio
April 12-15, 2010: A Visit to Ruckman Haus
Return to Index for 2010