July 19-22, 2011: Visiting Frank and Joe and Ruckman Haus
May 7-10, 2011: Guy's Birthday in San Antonio
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Page Index

The Drive to Fort Lauderdale
At the Condo With Tyger
Fort Lauderdale's 4th Fireworks
Riverview Gardens Ducks
Nighttime at the Beach
Other Activities
The Trip Home

June 29-July 14, 2011
A Trip to Florida (with Tyger)


Beginning with Lucky, Fred and I seem to have started a tradition. Whenever we get a new cat, it gets to travel with us to Florida the first time we go after we get it. There are a couple of reasons for this tradition. Probably the most important is that it is usually not a good idea to leave very young cats alone (either by themselves or with older cats) for more than a short while- even when you know they are getting along. It can hinder the bonding process. Second, it is always good to acclimatize cats to riding in cars; they will be doing so, off and on, throughout their lives, and it helps if they are used to it and don't put up a fuss. Lucky got used to it quickly, and is very good about riding in the car or in a carrier back and forth to Fred's house or to the vet. We hope that Tyger will be able to get used to it as well.

We were, as people so often are, in for a disappointment.


The Drive to Fort Lauderdale

You've probably seen a map of the route from Dallas to Florida before. We always go the same way (I-20/I-49/I-10/I-95), and we usually stay somewhere between Tallahassee and Jacksonville (depending on how tired we are). This time, to continue a tradition, we stayed in the same motel in Madison, FL, that we took Lucky to a couple of years ago.

Along the way, both on our full day of driving and the next day that took us from Madison to Fort Lauderdale, Fred was busy with his camera, taking some pictures of our route but more pictures of Tyger.

Some of the pictures Fred took were while Tyger was crawling around the driver (me), or sleeping in my lap. When the trip began, Tyger was never still, wandering all around the car just as Lucky had done. Sometimes, he was clambering around over me, but I just concentrated on my driving duties and tried to ignore what Tyger was doing. I am sorry that the picture at left is a bit dark, 'cause I thought it cute when Tyger tried to get up onto the dash so he could see the road ahead.

We had the cat carrier with us, but, as it turned out, we didn't really need it, for whenever we put Tyger in it (just to get him our of our hair for a while) he would meow so plaintively (and sometimes threateningly, as if to say "Let me out of here or you'll be sorry!") that we got tired of listening to him and let him out. Lucky had been very good with the carrier, and just curled up to go to sleep when he was in it. Tyger didn't eat or drink much, either, while the car was moving. Perhaps it was the vibration.

I've put thumbnails for some of the best pictures that Fred took of me and Tyger at right; you can click on them to view. One of the places that Tyger spent most of his time was curled up on the top of the console between Fred and me. It was flat, and just big enough to hold him if he curled up. You can see him there in the first picture. But sometimes, he was in play mode, and was climbing all over me and throughout the car, as you can see in the second. Other times, he would take a nap down in my lap- although those tended not to last long.

Much of our route to Florida is pretty boring. From Dallas to Shreveport, you are driving up and down gentle hills through piney woods and open areas; there is a lot of truck traffic on this stretch, and it can be slow going sometimes when the traffic is heavy. It is the least scenic part of the trip. From Shreveport down to Lafayette (LA), the Interstate is relatively new and the traffic is usually very light. The drive is much more pleasant, the scenery is lush and sometimes swampy as you pass through rolling hills and farmland. You can almost always drive the speed limit all the way without ever having to slow down for traffic.

From Lafayette over to Baton Rouge is the most interesting part of the trip. Although this part of Interstate 10 is quite old and not in the best shape, the scenery makes up for the hassle of so much truck traffic on such an old highway. Most of the distance takes you through
the Atchafalaya swamp.

At the west end of the swamp, the highway elevates bo become a causeway, and you travel for ten miles or so until the highway descends temporarily to connect up with Louisiana 3177, a small state road that wanders through the basin, and leads to the tiny hamlet of Butte LaRose, about five miles south of the Interstate. One of these days, I'd like to get off there and see what it is like, although I can tell from the aerial view of the town that, while it must be very scenic, what with all the water around, it is quite in the middle of nowhere.

A bit further on, we pass an exit for what I always thought was a little town (and one with an interesting name), but which I later found out was actually nothing at all- not even the actual Whiskey Bay, which is way down by the Mississippi Delta southeast of New Orleans. It always struck me as the kind of place where Jimmy Buffet would live. After a while, the causeway comes to an end, and shortly after that, we head up over the Baton Rouge bridge over the Mississippi River. For a couple hundred miles after that, the highway is pretty non-descript. About the only interesting thing is the fact that we traverse the entire length of I-12- one of the few Interstate highways in this country (not counting spurs and loops) that I have driven end-to-end, and the ONLY one I have driven end-to-end in a single stretch. Not such an amazing feat when you consider that I-12 is less than 100 miles long.

There is a pretty neat tunnel and bridge over by Mobile, and some interesting scenery around Jacksonville, but the rest of the drive is just steering and stopping for gas occasionally (very occasionally, since I seem to be getting right around 40MPG in my Elantra). Fred took some other pictures of Tyger while we drove, and I have put thumbnails for five of the best of these below. Click on those thumbnails to view the full-size images:

By the middle of the next afternoon, we'd pulled into my parking space at Riverview Gardens.

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At the Condo With Tyger

We have been here to Florida and the condo so often that there is little left for us to take pictures of. By now, you know what the condo and Riverview Gardens look like, you've seen us sitting at the dock drinking, and you have seen innumerable pictures of boats going up and down the river. Heck, you've walked with us on the beach more than once, and you've seen pictures of just about everyone we know here in Fort Lauderdale. But this trip, there is something new- our kitten Tyger. So the pictures we've taken around the condo are almost entirely focused on him and his antics.

So maybe the best thing to do is just to show you some of the best of the many, many pictures we took during our two weeks here. As always, click on the thumbnails to view the full size pictures. Begin with some pictures of Tyger in the condo:

Cats sleep a lot, but the funny thing is what they often look like when they do. Some cats curl up in the familiar pose. Others don't:

Did I mention that kittens sleep a lot, often in funny poses? See below:

Cat at Work
Cats don't need to go find the nearest bathroom to wash up; they bring everything they need with them all the time, and can wash up anywhere.

Cat at Play
You don't really need to go buy your kitten a lot of cat toys; after all, they always have at least one toy with them. It's their tail.

Click on the thumbnail images below to see some more pictures of Tyger around the condo:

Kittens Are Cute
It doesn't much matter what kittens are doing; they are always photogenic. Here, Tyger is doing very little, but he's still awfully cute doing it.

Finally, here are a few more photos that I took, and so they are the first that show Fred (and our friend, Jack Fontaine); click on the thumbnails below to view:

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The Fourth of July Fireworks

This is the first year that we have been in Fort Lauderdale on the 4th of July, and we planned to go watch a fireworks display somewhere in town. Ron and Jay didn't care to get out, so Fred and I walked over towards the beach and took up a position in the small park at the southwest end of the Las Olas bridge.

From there, we were able to get a great view of the fireworks display that was shot off from over on the beach a couple of blocks east. It was a good thing that we hadn't tried to drive over here; beginning a couple of blocks west of the bridge, the traffic just stopped, and people just got out of their cars in the middle of the street to watch the display. We stood or sat on the seawall by the Intracoastal Waterway and had a great view. I have put thumbnails for some of the pictures that Fred and I took of the display below; click on those thumbnails to have a look:

The Fireworks Display
Here is a movie I made of part of the fireworks display. Though the pictures above didn't turn out that well, the movies do much better- especially at night.

The Finale
Of course, the best and most explosive part of any fireworks display is the finale, and I captured the finale of this year's Fort Lauderdale display on film for you to watch.

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The Riverview Gardens Ducks

It seems as if Riverview Gardens has some erstwhile mascots- a group of three or four ducks that are seen around the property occasionally. Fred and I have seen them before when we've been here, and they made another appearance during this vacation. Fred took a number of good pictures of me and them, and if you'll click on the thumbnail images below, you can have a look at them:

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Nighttime at the Beach

One evening, we thought we would go over by the beach after returning from dinner out with Ron and Jay. We rarely go to the beach at nighttime, but it is a "happening" place most evenings. We parked at Sebastian Street and walked south to Las Olas.

We passed the brightly-lit and busy Beach Place (where Hooters is), and stopped occasionally along the beach wall to take some pictures. We ended up at the Las Olas intersection, where the city has put up an addition to the beach wall; it celebrates the city's centennial.

You can click on the thumbnails below to see some of the pictures we took:

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Other Highlights of our Trip

Other than the events you've already seen, there wasn't much really new or unusual about our trip down here, but then that's about what we expect. We don't come down here to see the sights any longer; we've already seen and done just about everything there is to see and do within a hundred-mile radius around here, from Key West to Palm Beach to the western edges of civilization. But there were a couple of other occasions where Fred or I took some pictures.

Tyger Gets a Shower

One thing we did that we haven't done in years was to accept an invitation from Ron Drew to go down to Haulover Beach for a while. We drove down south of Fort Lauderdale and then over to A1A to park at the beach. We set up our chairs and towels at the beach and just sat in the cloudy sun and read or played backgammon for a couple of hours. We could have gone to a closer beach, but
Haulover Beach is "clothing optional."

Of course we did some of our usual things, one of which is to walk from the condo to the Performing Arts Center along the Riverwalk, a route that you've seen numerous times in this album. One particular day, we stopped at the Briny Irish Pub for lunch.

I suppose the only other activity of note was to give Tyger his second shower; he got his first one in Dallas. Fred likes to do that to acclimatize the cats to water, so that later on, when they need a bath, it isn't much of a hassle to give them one. You can use this movie player to watch the process, and you can see a still picture of Fred and Tyger in mid-shower here.

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The Trip Home

As usual, we took the same route home that we do coming down, heading first 300 miles up I-95 to Jacksonville. There, we take I-295 around the city on the southwest side, crossing the St. Johns River Bridge as we go. From Jacksonville, it is another 350 miles to the state line, and shortly after that we reach Mobile, Alabama, and the long causeway and tunnel that carry I-10 around downtown on the south side.

Then it is the familiar route along I-10, with an overnight in Lafayette, Louisiana, up I-49 to Shreveport, and then west on I-20 all the way into Dallas. As we were passing through downtown Dallas, Fred, as he often does, gets some pictures of the city, and you can see them if you click on the thumbnails at left.

Finally, as he did on the way down, Fred took a number of pictures of Tyger as we drove. I have selected the best of these to include here, and you can have a look at them by clicking on the thumbnails below:

This trip was another very pleasant one, but it is always good to get home.

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July 19-22, 2011: Visiting Frank and Joe and Ruckman Haus
May 7-10, 2011: Guy's Birthday in San Antonio
Return to Index for 2011