May 2-18, 2012: Our Cruise to Europe
Return to the Index for 2012

January 4-18, 2012
Our Winter Trip to Florida


With the holidays behind us, it's time for some decompression and, as usual, one of the ways we do that is by heading down to Florida. Coming down to Florida has become very familiar to both of us. Fred first came down here with me in the mid-1990s, and while he was working we might come once a year. Since his own retirement, we've been coming down four or five times a year, and so the trips have become very familiar- more of a change of scenery than an actual vacation. We tend to do the same things each time we come- watch the boats, walk around town or the beach, play frisbee, go to the gym, see our friends Ron and Jay and Brent and Doug and just hang out at the condo. This time there was an Art Fair going on, so we'll visit that, too.

As I have done for the last few trips down here, where it's been all about the relaxation and less about specific events, I am just going to group the various pictures we both took into topics, and dispense with the day-by-day narrative. Things like the Art Fair happened, of course, on specific days, but we took boat pictures all throughout our two weeks here.

I understand that these trips to Florida may have become a bit repetitive for you, particularly if you've looked at most of my photo album. So if you start to skim through pages like the ones for our Florida trips, that's certainly understandable. After all, how many luxury yachts can one look at before they become just another boat?



Getting Down to Fort Lauderdale

Our friend Mario gave Fred and I a ride to the airport. Normally, we wouldn't have bothered him during the workday; we would have asked Greg instead, but Greg and his friend Jonathan had left for a cruise three days earlier. In fact, they had stayed at the condo for two days before boarding their ship in Fort Lauderdale. (We'll be picking them up on Friday the 13th when they arrive back in Fort Lauderdale, and then taking them to the airport that same day.)

We left out of Terminal D; once we got through security and into the concourse, we were smack dab in front of some sort of fanciful city sculpture in the middle of the concourse, and Fred thought it was worth a picture. That picture is at left.

This terminal is the newest one, and I guess that art was more of a focus than it used to be when the other terminals were first built in the early 1970s. For example, at one location there is a large, circular mosaic embedded in the floor. Oddly, it looked more "tropical" than "Texan." You can see another close-up of it here.

We got our exit row seats and pretty soon the plane pushed back from the gate and headed out towards an active runway. As we were taxiing away from the terminal, Fred got some interesting pictures of the terminal, planes and jetways (an some planes in the air above). Click on the thumbnails below to have a look:

We took off to the north, and circled around over the Grapevine-Lewisville area of the Metroplex. I don't get out here much, but I know that there has been an incredible amount of construction in this area in the last ten years; most of the expressways are unknown to me. Fred got a few good pictures as we were climbing and turning towards town, and if you click on the thumbnails below you can have a look at them:

The plane came around to the southeast and crossed over the northern edge of downtown Dallas- pretty much right above Central Expressway. The day was a bit hazy, and not many of Fred's downtown pictures turned out well, but he did take one that allows me to point out some of the downtown features. Have a look at it below:

The flight down was pretty uneventful. As we were approaching the Fort Lauderdale area and then coming into Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport, Fred took some additional pictures from the plane. You can have a look at them if you click on the thumbnails below:

The Fort Lauderdale airport has been changed around; some of which is due to the shakeup in the airlines that serve it (notably American). But the basics are still the same, and we got to our rental car shuttle with no problem. After picking up our car at Sunshine (my preference and usually the cheapest), we were at the condo by five o'clock. As is our ritual, we had our first frozen drink down at the dock and then, again as is our practice, dinner at The Floridian down on Las Olas.



This Trip's Boat Pictures

One of the nicest things about where our condo unit is located is that we have a nice view of the boats going by on the New River, and in the mornings when we are both sitting at the tall living-room table, Fred has a great view out the window at the river, and he keeps his camera handy. Another opportunity to photograph these fabulously expensive toys (and some that are much, much more affordable) comes when we walk on the Riverwalk to the Briny Pub or someplace.

In any event, I have put below thumbnails for some of the best of the many pictures Fred took of the multitude of boats that ply the New River through downtown Fort Lauderdale and past the condo. Click on them to get some ideas of what the 1% does with some of its money (and what the .01% does with a lot of theirs):



At the Las Olas Art Fair

Three or four times a year, there is an Art Fair along Las Olas right by the condo, and sometimes we time our trips so that it will be going on during our stay. This time, we lucked into it; we had just had one on our last trip here in October, and on our first weekend here there was another. We always like to walk over and go through the fair, even if we aren't in the market for anything. It is a great place for impulse purchases or to get gifts for birthdays and holidays.

We usually go over to the Fair each day it is on, and we tend to follow the same route each time (so we can see everything efficiently). Take a look at the aerial view below and you'll see how close the two-day event is to the condo:

We always take lots of pictures and movies at the Art Fair; most of the arts and crafts are incredibly colorful, and the crowds are always interesting, too. Below are thumbnails for some of the pictures that Fred took at the Art Fair; just click on the thumbnails to have a look:

I began my photography at the Art Fair with a movie, which I took just after we rounded the corner in front of Mango's Restaurant at the very beginning of our route around the fair. You can watch it with the player below, left.

Loading the player...

The sunshine was bright and really brought out all the colors of the artwork, and so I took quite a few pictures today. You can see a few of them if you click on the thumbnail images below:

We walked as far east as we could go, and then back west on the north side of Las Olas.

Loading the player...

I made another movie over here on the north side of Las Olas, and you can watch it with the player at right. I also continued to take pictures, and you can see some of them by clicking on the thumbnail images below:

I got a real interesting picture of Fred along the north side of Las Olas; have a look at it below:

He is standing beside one of the more interesting pieces of artwork that I have seen today; it must be from some modern, mechanical art style. I have no idea what the thing to his right is.

Click on the thumbnails below to see more of the pictures we took at the Las Olas Art Fair:

Often, here at the Art Fair, there are musicians selling CDs and performing and so when you walk around there is usually music coming from somewhere.

Loading the player...

When we got down by the Cheesecake Factory and turned to come back east along the south side of Las Olas, we came to one of these musicians selling CDs; this one was a steel drum performer. So I stopped in that intersection to make a movie with the sounds of the steel drums in the background; you can watch it with the player at right.

Below are thumbnails for three more of the pictures I took at the Art Fair; click on them to view:

There was really something for everyone and every taste here at the Art Fair; and this was one of the most colorful fairs we've been to here. For the kids, there was a clown doing face-painting, and down by the Cheesecake Factory there were some very interesting fabric artworks

Sometimes there are artworks that are just so interesting that I want to have a picture of them, but most exhibitors don't want you to. By happy circumstance, there was an obliging exhibitor combined with a picture I wanted today, and you can see my picture of the artist's painting of a New York City scene at left. I may appear realistic here on the Web, but it was much more so in person. I know it's not actually a photograph, but it almost seems as if it was painted using one as a guide (not just as an example, but actually painting on top of it). I was pleased the artist let me photograph it.

As I said earlier, the Art Fair runs for two days- Saturday and Sunday. We did most of our walking and took most of our pictures and movies on Saturday, but we did see some items during the day that we thought might make good gifts for family and friends. So we returned to the Fair on Sunday after deciding to get some of them.

Loading the player...

I made one final movie when we returned to the Fair Sunday; you can watch it with the player at right.

One gift that I found was a belated Christmas gift for Prudence, and I found it at the stall for the incongruously-named "Ole Fish House Pottery." That doesn't sound like a place to shop for Prudence, but I found a kiln-fired dish that she can either use herself or put in her Sun Room, since it has a Spanish/Mexican flavor. You can see some other pieces similar to the dish I got her in a picture Fred took of me at Ole Fish House Pottery.

I also found what I thought was a very nice print of a horse for a relative for next Christmas, and you can see me holding it outside the artist's booth here. And we found a wine set for someone else we know which consisted of a tall clay pot that you freeze and then use to hold a bottle of wine. It will keep that bottle perfectly chilled even on a hot day for about an hour. It came with four matching wine goblets; the goblets were painted and fired and they match the color scheme on the patio of one of our best friends. As it turned out, the artist was from Wimberley, Texas; I have been to a B&B there with Ron Ruckman to play poker before. The set was large, and so we arranged for me to pick it up the next time I am going to or coming back from San Antonio. If you want an idea of what her work looks like, take a look at the picture I took of Fred in her booth.

Finally, we found a gift for a friend of ours who is the "person who has everything."

This Chinese artist makes "fused-glass" pieces that either sit on metal stands or can hang from metal holders. Two pieces of thick glass are first curved and then cut and beveled. Then they are married together and glued with a watertight seal. (There was a collage on one wall of his booth illustrating some of the steps in the process. Fred took a picture of that collage, and you can have a look at it here.) Then you can put almost anything in them.

His display models had a wide variety of things in them, from tomatoes to flowers to live fish. Click on the thumbnail images below to see some of the variety of pieces he makes:

The Art Fair this time was really, really enjoyable. The weather was perfect, and we saw more things than we usually do that we would actually like to own. Sadly, many of the pieces would require a complete redecoration- at least in Dallas- so we had to really restrain ourselves.



Around the Condo

This trip, we took very few pictures at the condo and none on the dock. That's no biggie, since we have plenty from other trips; they really just start to duplicate themselves. But there were four pictures I wanted to include here in the album. Just click on the thumbnails below to have a look at them:



The Trip Home

Our two weeks went by all too quickly. We had dinner with Doug and Brent once, and with Ron and Jay multiple times. We picked up Greg and Jonathan from their cruise ship, visited and delivered them to the airport. We played frisbee, we rode our bikes to the beach and we decompressed from the holidays. It was, as usual, an enjoyable trip.

Fred had his camera ready on our departure from Fort Lauderdale, and got a few good pictures on our climb out from the airport. There are thumbnails for these pictures at left. Click on the leftmost one and you'll see the I-95 bridge over the upper reaches of the New River- navigable even by large boats this far up. In the second picture, you are looking even further up the river- to about the limit of navigability by large yachts. Finally, we've leveled off over South Florida and are headed home to Dallas.

You can use the links below to continue to another page in the photo album.

May 2-18, 2012: Our Cruise to Europe
Return to the Index for 2012