November 14-16, 2012: A Vist to Ruckman Haus
October 1, 2012: "Chihuly at Night" at the Arboretum
Return to the Index for 2012


October 16 - November 1, 2012
Our Fall Trip to Florida


On October 16, we drove to Florida for our Fall trip. But this time, as has been the case two other times in the past, we will have a first-time traveler with us. As we have been to Florida so many times, we only take pictures of unusual events or of new locations we visit. So what I will do on this page is simply group such pictures into topics- without much concern for keeping them in any kind of time sequence.


The Drive Down to Florida

As is our usual, we left Dallas on a Tuesday morning but, unlike our usual routine, we picked up our traveling companion on the way out of town. As they have done so many times before, our very good friends Steve and Mario looked after Lucky and Tyger while we were gone.

As usual, we took our normal route- I-20 to I-49 to I-10 to I-95. Also as usual, we stayed overnight in the Florida Panhandle- this time in a Super 8 in Marianna, Florida, a place where we have stayed before. Of course, this time we had to get a room for three.

Finally, also as usual, we reached the Fort Lauderdale condo the afternoon of the next day, and we and our new friend got settled in the condo. We, of course, knew where everything was, but it took our new friend a bit of time and a bit of exploring to figure out where everything was. We left him in the condo while we had our traditional arrival frozen drink at the dock and shared our normal turkey burger at the Floridian.

When we returned to the condo, we found our friend fast asleep, so he had obviously gotten acclimatized quickly.


Our New Friend

A few weeks ago, we went with my next-door neighbor, Cynthia, as she was looking for another kitten to keep her single cat, Sadie, company. First, we went to a Petsmart in North Dallas, but the cat Cynthia had seen online wasn't there. So we ended up at a shelter near Love Field, just blocks from the house, called "Dog and Kitty City." While Cynthia was looking for just the right cat, Fred and I wandered around looking at the 150+ cats that reside at this no-kill shelter. There were cats of all ages and all descriptions, some friendly some not so much. We'd had an orange long-hair tabby a month ago, but returned it when we realized it would be another longhair (my housekeeping can only cope with one cat like Lucky), and now were on the lookout for another. We didn't see just the kind of cat Fred had in mind, but we did see a gray-and-cream six-month-old Siamese mix that was intriguing.


We gave the possibility of a new cat a good deal of thought. We might have waited for a short-hair orange cat, but Zac was different enough from our other two cats that we thought he would be a good addition to the household.

The only problem was his health. As cats in shelters are wont to do, he seemed to have a respiratory infection; we had noticed his sneezing occasionally when we went both times to look at him. The shelter, the personnel at which were very concerned and caring, had their vet prescribe a round of antibiotics, but advised that it would be necessary to keep him separate from the other cats while he was undergoing that round of treatment.

This presented a problem. We certainly didn't want to keep Zac away from the other cats for ten days, shut up in a bathroom all by himself, but then we didn't want the other cats to catch what Zac had. The problem was solved when we arranged to pick Zac up from the shelter on our way out of town to Florida. This would give us a chance to bond with him and get him well physically before being introduced to Lucky and Tyger. It also continued our developing tradition of taking each of our cats to Florida with us at a very early age. This, we always hoped, would acclimatize them to traveling pretty well.

So when we left the house for this trip, we made a stop at Dog and Kitty City, picked Zac up along with his medications, and headed off to Florida.

Usually, I put most of the pet pictures on the Pets page for each year in this album, but since Zac was an integral part of our trip to Florida, I will put the pictures from that trip here (creating just an entry on the Pets page to record our acquisition).

I must say that of the three cats we've taken to Florida, Zack (we have added the "k") is by far the best traveler. He doesn't particularly like staying in the carrier, although sometimes he will curl up in it and take a snooze. When we let him out of the carrier on the road, he does a fair amount of exploring, but more often than not, he just curls up in one of our laps and sleeps. Even when we put him back in the carrier when we have to get out of the car, he rarely protests; he is just an excellent traveler.

Zac in Traveling Mode

Of course, since I do most of the driving (I'm not complaining; I prefer to do that), I can't pay too much attention to Zack as he crawls here and there around the car. Often, he will get in my lap and sleep, sometimes he sleeps on the floor at my feet and sometimes he is just climbing around on me (or on Fred).

As the driver, I have to be pretty much unconcerned with where he is (although when he is asleep I can cradle him in a free hand if I have one at the time). There are clickable thumbnails below for some of the pictures Fred took of Zack and I while I was driving.

I don't know why, but Zack seemed to prefer my lap to sleep in, although he spent a fair amount of time with Fred as well. Fred made sure that Zack had his food and water available, although I must say that Zack did not seem to be much interested in eating and drinking while we were on the road; he would wait until we stopped for the night or got where we were going to eat or drink much. That meant he didn't have to use the litter box much, which was fine, of course.

As I said, Zack was a pleasure to travel with. Fred got lots of pictures of Zack and I, and even a few of himself. Many are quite endearing, and I've selected the best of Fred's pictures to include here. You probably won't want to look at all of these, but in case you never tire of cat pictures, there are clickable thumbnails for quite a few of them below:

Almost all the pictures we took while on the road were of Zack in the car; but Fred did find one other interesting sight to record. You have all seen cars driving along with the heads of dogs hanging out the windows looking ahead into the wind; dogs seem to like that. Well, apparently horses do too.


Sandy Floods the New River

Over the weekend of October 26-28, Florida and Fort Lauderdale felt the effects of Hurricane (Superstorm) Sandy. On the Thursday before that weekend, we got a great deal of rain, but it was the storm surge created as the storm passed through the Bahamas that caused what damage there was in Fort Lauderdale. We aren't talking anything even close to what happened in New Jersey and New York, of course, but still there were effects here. In another section of this album page below, we'll look at the larger effects that occurred over at the beach, but even here, over a mile from shore, the New River was affected- and so was Riverview Gardens (although not, thankfully, in any permanent way).

Our Dock is Submerged

What happened on the river was that the storm surge that pushed the Atlantic about three feet higher at the beach (high tide is normally brings the water level up less than a foot) affected everything on the Intracoastal and up the New River, pushing all that water higher as well. And Sandy was coupled with the month's highest tides, and the result has been that where Riverview Gardens is, the river is about two feet higher than normal- even at low tide. Our dock, which is usually eighteen inches above the water even at high tide is now a couple of inches below the water most of the time- as you can see in the picture at left.

The land is a little lower on the other side of the river, and the so the water there is up over the seawall and five feet or so into people's yards. Their docks are a foot underwater; you can't even see them. The boats that are usually docked there have had to be moved to floating marinas elsewhere. As you can see here, the boats at our dock are OK; the water is not high enough that their bottoms would come over the dock itself- and our pilings would prevent that as well.

Below are clickable thumbnails for some of the photos Fred took of the high water here:

You might also be interested in the movie I made here at our dock; you can watch it with the player below:

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Effects of Sandy at Riverview Gardens


Zack in Florida

Zack seemingly enjoyed being in Florida, but then I am undoubtedly anthropomorphizing when I say that. He had a place to run around, people to play with, toys to play with, food and water to eat and nice places to nap- so what's not to enjoy?


Internet Kitty

Zack likes to keep us company when we are sitting at the living room table using our laptops, so we took quite a few pictures there.

"You Done With That Mouse?"

Below are some of the many pictures Fred took of Zack helping us with our Internet surfing and other computer work:


Faucet Kitty

One off the idiosyncracies that Tyger and Lucky have is that they both like to drink water directly from a slowly-running faucet. Perhaps its the movement of the water, or perhaps its because it is as fresh as we can get it, but anytime the faucet's on in the bathroom, one or both of them will be there asking for a turn.

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Zack Learns the "Faucet Principle"

I don't know what it is about running water from faucets that the cats all seem to find so interesting, but it turned out that Zack was to be no exception. Just about the first time Fred was at the bathroom sink, Zack got up onto the counter and started nosing around the running faucet. So Fred cleared the counter to give him easier access, and then made a movie that you can watch with the player at left.

He also took a few still pictures, and you can use the clickable thumbnails below to have a look at them:


Leisure Kitty

Of course, one thing that cats do a lot of is lounging around and sleeping.

Zack on a Living Room Chair

We took quite a few pictures of Zack around the condo (although we should have taken more movies of him playing, which was always a hoot). There are clickable thumbnails below for some of these pictures:


Clean Kitty

Something else we try to do with all new cats is get them used to having a bath. This has more or less worked with Tyger and Lucky (more with Lucky and less with Tyger); at least neither of them have front claws. Zack, however, does, so it was with some trepidation that we approached his first shower.

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Zack's First Shower

As it turned out, it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been. Just as Zack was a wonderful traveler in the car, he seemed to be a gentle and compliant cat in the shower, as my short movie (which you can watch with the player at left) shows.

I also took a few still pictures, but they were so similar that I just selected one; it is below:


At the Beach (Before Sandy)

Our visits to the beach can be divided into two groups: before Sandy and after Sandy. We'll get to the "after Sandy" in a moment, but we did go to the beach a couple of times before that storm hit towards the end of our second week here.

Fort Lauderdale Beach (before Sandy)

On one morning, we came down to the beach to have breakfast at a little beach cafe we'd walked by numerous times. It was actually a very nice breakfast, and it was fun to sit beachside and watch the scenery. We took pictures of each other and a few others as well; there are clickable thumbnails below for some of these:

On another afternoon, on our way to play with the frisbee, we came by again, and I took some late-in-the-day pictures. There are clickable thumbnails below for some of them:


At the Beach (October 28, During Sandy's Passage)

By October 28th, Sandy had passed by Miami-Fort Lauderdale, and the skies had cleared, but the damage wasn't over. As Sandy moved north, the storm surge raised the ocean level by three feet, and at the high tides on the 28th and 29th, water came up over the entire beach where it was narrowest and deposited sand and water on A1A, which by the morning of the 28th had been closed.

The Affected Areas of Fort Lauderdale Beach

As you can probably see on the aerial view at left, the wide Fort Lauderdale beach north of Las Olas begins to narrow at about Sebastian Street, and from there northward it is a good twenty-five feet narrower and a bit steeper. That narrowing made all the difference; beginning at Sebastian Street, large amounts of sand were brought up and over the seawall to be deposited in the northbound lanes of A1A. This necessitated the closing of the entire street from that point almost to Oakland Park Blvd., a mile north of Sunrise.

On the 28th, at about 4PM, I made a solo ride over to the beach on my bicycle. I am not sure why Fred didn't go with me, but we didn't go together until the next morning. I rode over on Las Olas, as usual, but I found that at the ends of the canals the water had usually come up over the wall and flowed out onto Las Olas. There were a couple of places where it was a few inches deep on the street, but it wasn't impassable and I made it over to the beach easily.

From Las Olas north to Sebastian Beach, the water was much higher than usual, and the waves were larger, but it didn't look as if the water had come up onto the street at all. Just past Sebastian Street, where the beach narrows, there is a pedestrian walkway over A1A, and it was just beyond that point that there had already been a good deal of flooding and a lot of sand had washed up on the street. In the pictures that you'll see, the sand that had washed up the previous night and throughout the day had apparently been bulldozed into piles, and these were being used as additional bulwarks to keep more water and sand off the road.

I stopped my bike just beyond the pedestrian bridge where there is an inset for cabs and busses, for I could now see the piles of sand ahead of me up the highway. This was a good place to make a couple of movies, too, and you can watch them with the players below:

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Large Waves and an Eroded Beach
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The Seawall is Breached

I knew that the tide was coming in, because I'd checked before I left the condo and high tide wouldn't be for another four hours, and so I thought that I'd better move my bike back a ways, but I wasn't quite quick enough.

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How the Sand Got on the Road

No sooner had I thought that I should move the bike, a large wave inundated the entire beach and cascaded over a long length of the seawall; I barely had time to step back out of the way of the water as it flowed over the wall and over the spot where I had been standing beside my bike just a moment earlier.

As soon as I was out of the way of the water, I snapped a couple of pictures of this particular wave, and I have put clickable thumbnails for them below:

When I saw that I would have time to retrieve my bike and move it back without getting my shoes soaked, I did that, and then waited a few minutes for another wave to come that I could film. One did come along, and you can watch it with the movie player at left.

From this point, I just biked up A1A all the way to Sunrise. As I went, I stopped every so often to photograph anything I thought was particularly interesting. I took a lot of pictures, but have selected just the most interesting of them. You can use the clickable thumbnails below to have a look at my favorites:

All along the portion of A1A by the Bonnet House I just saw water and some sand on the road; here, the beach is a bit wider and steeper, and consequently not much had washed up on the roadway. But when I got to the section of businesses between the north boundary of Bonnet House and Sunrise Boulevard, it was a different story. You can see this area marked on the aerial view above; it's where Primanti Bros. Pizza is located.

Either water this high has happened before, or the pizza place just wasn't taking any chances, but you can see that they have already sandbagged everything save for the main entrance- and I saw that they had sandbags piled inside for when that became necessary. I don't think that the water has come up this far yet (although perhaps it had at the high tide this morning), but with four hours to go until the next one, it was just prudent to prepare.

After all, the sight in front of the pizza place wasn't very reassuring. A1A already had a lot of water in it, and as I stood on the corner opposite I could see the occasional wave push a small amount of water over the beach across the road and down into the street. You can use the clickable thumbnails below to see a couple of views of what A1A looked right in front of the pizzaria:

I waited around to see if I could capture any of the larger waves in a movie, and I did get a couple that will show you what was probably in store for the businesses close by. You can watch these with the players below:

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At the Beach (October 29, After Sandy's Passage)

The next morning, I wanted to see what, if anything, had happened after last night's high tide, so Fred and I together this time headed over to the beach.

Las Olas at Las Olas Isles

We headed over to the beach on Las Olas, and had no problem until we came over the small bridge and down into Las Olas Isles. This is the area where the "finger islands" extend out from Las Olas on either side, and there are canals that come right to the roadway. The tide was coming in again, and Las Olas was under about six inches of water at the deepest. You can see what it looked like in my picture at left.

If we'd had shorts on, we could have taken off our shoes and perhaps walked the bikes through the water, but since we didn't, we had to find another way to the beach. I convinced Fred to ride north with me past Holiday Park to the bridge at Sunrise, which is what we did. Although Sunrise was closed to all but local traffic, we were able to take our bikes across, and then work our way down A1A towards Las Olas, taking pictures as we went.

The pizza restaurant where I'd been yesterday afternoon was closed and sandbagged, and it did not look as if they had suffered any major damage, so I didn't take any more pictures there.

But as we worked our way down A1A, we saw even more sand piled up than there had been yesterday; I imagine that equipment had been used early in the morning to pile up the additional sand that last night's high tide had brought up. I think that the pictures we took are self-explanatory, so I'll just begin with some clickable thumbnails that you can use to see the best of Fred's pictures:

If you compare some of Fred's pictures with some of the ones I took yesterday, you can see the difference in the amount of piled sand there was, and the amount of water on the roadway of A1A.

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For my part, I took one movie this morning, and you can watch it with the player at right. (The wind noise was so bad that I have eliminated the audio.)

As for my pictures, I have put clickable thumbnails below that you can use to see a selection of them:

When we were done looking around at the beach, we headed back the way we had come- back over the Sunrise bridge. We were sure that the water had gotten even deeper along Las Olas, since the tide was still coming in.


Boat Traffic on the New River

Every time we come down here, we take pictures of the boat traffic on the New River. Sometimes I wonder if we haven't seen every major watercraft that goes up and down past the condo, but then it always seems as if we see new and interesting craft every time we are here. So in this final section for our trip, I'll just put clickable thumbnails for some of the best of the pictures we took:

I also took a few decent movies of the boat traffic, and you can use the players below to have a look at them:

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Well, that's about it for the pictures and movies from our Florida trip this Fall. We enjoyed having the new kitty along with us. He was an excellent traveler, and a lot of fun to have around in the condo while we were here. We hope that Tyger and Lucky will take to him when we return. The results of that encounter will be on this year's "Pets" page.

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

November 14-16, 2012: A Vist to Ruckman Haus
October 1, 2012: "Chihuly at Night" at the Arboretum
Return to the Index for 2012