September 27-30, 2010: A Visit to San Antonio
September 4, 2010: Steve Friedman's Birthday Party
Return to Index for 2010

September 8-22, 2010
A Trip to Fort Lauderdale


Well, Labor Day and the birthdays are all past us, and Fred and I are heading down to Florida again. This time, oddly enough, I was actually able to find some American Airlines AAdvantage Award space, and so we are flying back and forth instead of driving. It will be a welcome change.



Getting to Fort Lauderdale

Steve was kind enough to pick us up on Wednesday morning and take us to the airport for our 11 o'clock flight. It was driving rain, and I know it wasn't fun for Steve to be driving, so our hat is off to him. He and Mario will look in on the cats while we are gone.

Check-in and all was very smooth, and we were sitting at the gate almost an hour before flight time. There was only a short delay before we took off. It was still thickly overcast and raining, so Fred didn't get any good pictures as we climbed out of Dallas-Ft. Worth, but he did get some nice cloud pictures while in flight, and a couple as we got close to landing at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood. If you would like to take a look at some of these pictures, just click on the thumbnails below:



Our New Two-Man Kayak

When we were last down here, Ron, Jay, Fred and I went to the Miami Seaquarium (as you might have seen on a previous album page). On the way back, Ron wanted to stop and find some heavy rope that he could cut into chew toys for their chihuahua, Amelia. I suggested that they stop at West Marine on Federal Highway, and we did. While they were looking at rope, Fred and I wandered about looking at stuff and found ourselves looking at kayaks.

We'd often seen Captain McDaniel kayaking along near Riverview Gardens with his dog, and it looked like a lot of fun- not to mention good exercise and a cheap way to get out on the water. Problem was, our condo wasn't big enough to store a couple of rigid kayaks, nor was it big enough to store one rigid two-person kayak. Then we saw an inflatable two-man kayak on sale. We asked about it and looked at it, but in the end decided we'd first look on the Internet to see what we could find.

Two days later, on the Monday before we left, we'd discovered that the kayak from West Marine was a good one and at a very good price, so we went back to buy it. Unfortunately, not only was the sale over, but the two that they'd had in stock were both sold the day before. I worked some magic with one of the managers who agreed to order us one from the warehouse in North Carolina and give it us us for the sale price. Only problem was that the kayak wouldn't arrive before we left.

So when West Marine called a week or so later to tell me the kayak was in, I asked Ron Drew if he would pick it up and put it in the condo, which he did a week or so later. It has been patiently waiting for us to arrive and open it up.


Inflating the Kayak

As you can see from the picture at left, the kayak is very compact when it is deflated. It came with its own hand pump, much like the one we use when camping to blow up the air mattress. In fact, the instructions say not to use an electric or gas station pump as it is too easy to over-inflate and burst one of the air cells. So our first step was to take everything out of the canvas bag and lay it out so we could marry the instructions to the kayak.

As soon as got the folded, deflated kayak out of its carrying case, we each posed with it, wearing our new life jackets and holding our new paddles. You can have a look at us if you will click on the thumbnails at right.

We got the kayak out of its plastic wrapping and unfolded it. Then we read the instructions and found that there were eight cells that needed to be inflated; they are supposed to be done in order, although we found later that isn't strictly necessary. Also, the instructions weren't precise about how much to inflate each cell; that answer came after our first trip in it when we discovered that it worked much better if it were inflated more. The inflation process took about twenty minutes, all told. With practice, it could probably be done in half that time.

While I was inflating the kayak, Fred made a movie of part of the process. He digresses about where we could store the kayak if we didn't deflate it, and the camera angle gets wacky in spots, but it is a good movie of the process. Fred also took a still picture of me inflating the kayak.

We got the kayak all inflated, and I took a final couple of pictures. I took one of the kayak by itself, showing the seats and the backrests and you can see that picture here. And I took a picture of Fred alongside the inflated kayak, and you can see that picture here.

We took the kayak out six times while we were here this time, each time taking a different route up and down the New River and through the various canals and waterways within a few miles of the condo. We did not take cameras with us; we thought it best to wait until we were reasonably sure that we wouldn't run into a problem that would involve capsizing. In any event, the pictures we would have taken would all have been similar- looking at parked boats from the water side. Perhaps on future trips we might take photos, but for these first trips, you may just be interested in the routes we followed.


Kayaking Trip #1

When we got the kayak inflated (although we discovered later that inflating it more would help with speed and maneuverability), we put on our lifejackets and carried the kayak out the door and down the stairs to the little canoe/kayak launch platform that is anchored at the east end of our dock. Manhandling the bulky boat took some doing, but now we seem to know the procedure- where to hold it, when to turn and so on. We put the kayak in the water and then took turns getting in. We probably looked a bit awkward as indeed we were.

For this first ride, Fred was in front and I was in back. We headed off upriver on our maiden voyage. Getting the rhythm of paddling took some doing. At first, both of us switched hands with each stroke. This had a number of problems. The primary one was, at least for me, every time I had to shift my grip on the paddle, as I did passing it from one side of the kayak to the other, the paddle handle rubbed agains my palm and, after a while, I started to get a blister. I know that one is supposed to hold the paddle constantly the same way and dip down on one side and the other, but this proved hard to do with the width of the kayak; it would probably be easier in a one-man, narrow, hard-plastic craft.

The second problem was that every time either of us shifted sides, a fair amount of water would drip from the paddles onto us and into the boat. Third, we sometimes touched paddles together as we were shifting sides. And, last, we tended not to go in a straight line (depending on who was paddling harder on which side). But we made do, and were able to navigate upriver through downtown all the way to Riverfront Center, where we turned around and came back downriver to the condo. We went on past the condo, and turned up the little canal that goes up under Las Olas. That's where we turned around and headed back to the condo.

The ride was enjoyable and we got a heck of a lot of exercise. And we learned some things we'll need to know for our next ride, and any longer ones.


Kayaking Trip #2

For this trip, we went a different direction. One of the nice things about the kayak is that you can take it places even small boats would have difficulty going. We headed downriver almost to the beginning of the Intracoastal Waterway, but then turned south into a canal that winds through a residential area south of the New River that is called Rio Vista. This canal goes through the area and under two or three streets and then US-1. We kept going west but at Davie Blvd. we found that no bridge existed there; the canal just stopped on one side of the busy street and picked up on the other. We didn't feel like portaging the kayak; there was no good place to get out of it without standing in water. So we turned around and retraced our route back to the condo.

I asked Fred to experiment with a different way of paddling. To minimize blistering and to minimize the amount of water dripping into the boat, I suggested that we change sides only every minute or so. I would paddle on the left and Fred on the right for a few minutes, then we'd switch. We also found that the person in front could adjust the strength or rate of his paddling to keep us going straight. This seemed to work better most of the time, although Fred thought we should switch more often.

At the end of this second trip I realized that I needed rowing gloves; I was just too inexperienced to avoid getting blisters. Before our next trip, I bought some good gloves at Home Depot that had a rubberized hand grip that held on to the paddles nicely, and shielded my hands from small movements in the paddle.


Kayaking Trip #3

For our trip today, we again headed downriver and, just after we rounded the last bend in the New River and could see the Intracoastal Waterway up ahead, we went north down the only canal between downtown and the Las Olas Bridge that goes under Las Olas. (All the other canals just end on either side of the street.) We took this canal north, went under Las Olas (which not very many watercraft can do) and then hugged the shorling of the area known as Victoria Park.

We rounded the northern tip of the longest of the Las Olas Isles, and then came a bit southeast to pass south of Sunrise Key, another residential island. We continued down the wide channel leading back to the Intracoastal, detouring south to go down a less-traveled channel/canal to get there. Once at the Intracoastal, we headed south, hugging the west shore. We went under the Las Olas Bridge and continued to stick to the west side of the Intracoastal.

We rounded the curve to head into the channel leading up to the mouth of the New River. Once we reached there we continued up the river to the condo. This was our longest trip so far, but it was extremely scenic and very enjoyable.


Kayaking Trip #4

On this trip, we are going to explore the area south of the New River and between the Intracoastal and Rio Vista. We headed downriver and went past the turnoff into Rio Vista until we came to the canal that runs along the east side of Cordova Road, and we headed south into it. The finger of land to our left is formed by two main streets- Ponce De Leon Drive and Cordova Road, which run basically north-south. Extending eastward from this finger of land are separate fingers of land that contains the streets from SE 7th to SE 11th, each one reached from a bridge to Cordova Road. This is a very nice area to live, since each of these fingers of land has only one street and thus every house is on a canal or waterway in back.

The canal running along Cordova Road ended after it passed under the bridge to SE 11th Street, so we turned east to head down the canal south of that street. This brought us to the Intracoastal Waterway. We came around the end of that finger of land (occupied by the Lauderdale Yacht Club) and then came back west along the canal to the south of it. Then we found that the canal along Cordova Road continued, and so we took it south, until it ended once again at the canal north of SE 15th Street. So we went east again to the Intracoastal and then south.

I wanted to go all the way under the 17th Street bridge into the cruise ship harbor, but that was just too much paddling. So we turned around at the end of the SE 15th Street peninsula and headed back. We were getting tired of paddline, so on the way back we bypassed part of the route we'd taken coming down. Instead we passed the Yacht Club and went two canals north of that until we headed west again. From that point, we followed the same route we came down.

This was a long, exhausting trip, but very, very enjoyable.


Kayaking Trip #5

Today we are going north again. We followed the same route we did on a previous trip, up along the side of Victoria Park. But when we got to Sunrise Key, we went under the bridge connecting it to the mainland and continued north. At this point we were not actually in the Intracoastal, but in the mouth of a canal system that runs north to Oakland Park Boulevard and west into Wilton Manors. It is an extensive system, and I am not sure just how far it goes.

We only took it to Sunrise Boulevard, where there is a Borders Books store that has its own little dock. We went underneath Sunrise Boulevard into a little boat launch basin and park. There, we turned around. Getting back was retracing our route. This trip covered a lot of ground (or water) we'd been over before, but it was still a fun trip.


Kayaking Trip #6

For our last kayak trip on this visit to Fort Lauderdale, we once again went up the New River. We passed Riverfront Center and the Performing Arts Center and under the 4th Avenue Bridge. The New river continues for a ways until the waterway splits at an area called Riverside. Instead of following the New River, we turned right up a canal that leads north. This canal is the mouth of yet another system of small tributaries that runs northwest for many miles, under Broward Boulevard and all the way to Sunrise. There, it continues west, now not much more than a drainage ditch paralleling Sunrise Boulevard. Where it finally ends I have no idea.

We didn't go that far, but just a mile or so up this tributary and then down an offshoot south of SW 5th Court. These little offshoots provided just enough space for homeowners to dock small boats behind their houses, and the fact that all the bridges between them and ocean are either drawbridges or rotating bridges means that they can get these boats out to open water. I'd never been up this way before, and it was very interesting.



Around Fort Lauderdale

For the rest of our stay here in Fort Lauderdale, we settled in to our usual routines, which involved not doing much at all. One tradition that we try to maintain is to have a frozen drink each evening down by the dock. This is always a relaxing, enjoyable time, and we can watch the boats go up and down the river, and just sit and enjoy the warm evenings and the sunsets. Fred often brings his camera down with us, and takes the occasional picture. You can have a look at some of these pictures by clicking on the thumbnails below:

On the 22nd, we packed up our stuff, stowed the kayak, and headed off to the airport for our flight home from another very great time down here. It was unusual because we were not driving, and we also got our first taste of the new body scanners- a thoroughly unpleasant experience. I'm happy I don't fly that much.

You can use the links below to continue to the album page for different day.

September 27-30, 2010: A Visit to San Antonio
September 4, 2010: Steve Friedman's Birthday Party
Return to Index for 2010