November 3, 2013: A Visit With Frank and Joe in Fort Worth
October 12, 2013: A Gathering at Barbara's
Return to the Index for 2013


October 14-28, 2013
Our Fall Trip to Florida


 

For a while, Barbara has been planning to have all her friends over to her house in McKinney for a gathering/party, and she has planned it for a couple of weeks after we returned from England. The gathering will be today, Saturday.

 

Getting to Fort Lauderdale

This will be the fourth time that Zack has accompanied us to Florida. He has started making noise about wanting to cash in his frequent driver miles for cash or merchandise. We took our usual route, this time staying overnight at a pet-friendly Super 8 Motel in Madison, Florida, about 900 miles from Dallas.

We arrived in Fort Lauderdale on the afternoon of October 15th, had our inaugural frozen drink at the dock, and our traditional turkey burger at The Floridian.

 

The Las Olas Art Fair

Oftentimes, we try to plan our trips to Fort Lauderdale so that we will be there on one of the three weekends each year that a Las Olas Art Fair is going on, and this trip was no exception. On the first of our two weekends here, we were able to walk over to it. It is really nice to live so close to where the Art Fair is held; the location of the condo is really ideal, being right on the New River and right in downtown.


Me at the Las Olas Art Fair

As you can see, the Art Fair is only a block away- we can see it from the window!


The Art Fair is set up in the median of Las Olas, which is closed to traffic, of course, while it is going on. To get in and out of the condo, I can use the road by the Cheesecake Factory or the east end of SE 4th Street.


Fred at the Art Fair

When we were walking around the Art Fair today, we were a little surprised to see our friend, Doug Fountain at his booth down near the west end of the Fair. Some time ago, he'd been telling us that the costs involved with this particular Fair were too high to justify the few sales he seemed to be making. But I think that the fact that he has introduced an Oriental tone into many of his works (which used to be exclusively Southwestern in nature) has opened up a different market for him, one more suitable to the Fort Lauderdale area. We had a nice visit with him.

Below are clickable thumbnails for some additional pictures that Fred and I took at the Art Fair:


 

Dock Sitting

Another very common activity (just about every night that weather allows) is for us to sit down on the Riverview Gardens dock- usually sipping a frozen drink- and watch the boats go by or just enjoy the evening.


New Underwater Lights at the Dock

What has made this more interesting in our last couple of times down here is that the complex has installed a series of six underwater LED lights spaced along the dock area. (These are, apparently, becoming popular, as the house across the river has installed four blue ones.) While these of course add an interesting element to sitting at the dock, they have also revealed something we had suspected but had not known- that the New River has quite a few fish of various kinds in it.

We can see them, now, when they swim within range of one of the lights. Sometimes we see their silhouette if they pass between us and a light; sometimes, when they are on the far side of the light, we can see shape and color. The most common fish, seen in the previous picture, is called a "Lookdown" fish, because of the way they are shaped and the fact that their eyes seem always to be looking downward. But we have also seen a mullet-type fish, a long, needle-nosed fish, and some larger tuna-shaped fish as well.

It is very difficult to get good pictures of the fish; by the time you know some are swimming by, there is not enough time for the camera to catch them before they are gone. About the only way to see them is with movies. Of course, with the movies, you just have to point the camera at the light and start the movie going and hope that enough fish will come by to make it interesting. We took a lot of movies, but many of them didn't have enough fish to make them worthwhile. I have selected two of the ten or fifteen movies we took, and you can use the players below to watch them:

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On Another common sight is a kayaker named McDaniel, who we found some time ago was a boat captain by trade, and so he is known as Captain McDaniel. He kayaks up and down the river with his English Bulldog laying on the front of his kayak with a little doggy life preserver on. The dog seems very chill about the whole thing, and we have seen them for years now. One night when Fred had his camera, he snapped a picture of Captain McDaniel and his dog the captain paused to chat with us.


Fred at the Riverview Gardens Dock

Other than watching the fish, we just enjoy seeing the sunsets, although in the winter it is usually already dark by the time we get down to the dock around six. On this particular trip, the sun was still setting about that time, so we were able to enjoy the show. On weekends, there is also quite a bit of boat traffic, which also makes it interesting. Below are clickable thumbnails for some of the other pictures we took at the dock in the evening:


 

Boat Watching

Being the Boating Capital of the World, you'd expect to see lots of boats in Fort Lauderdale, and you do. But here at Riverview Gardens, we don't have to go to the boats, they come to us. A twice-daily visitor is the Jungle Queen, carrying her loads of tourists, but there are plenty of other craft on the river, too (not all of them boats).

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The 1/10 of 1%: Conspicuous Consumption

For much of the morning, we are both sitting at the table by the window, with me working on my photoalbum and Fred surfing the Internet and Zack just watching it all.

Oftentimes, we see the boats from the window, and go outside to take a picture or a movie. Fred always alerts me to the larger ones, as he sits facing the river. Use the player at left to watch a movie of one that got his attention.

On weekends, the boats of all sizes are thick as thieves, particularly in the morning and evening, when they are heading out or coming in. Use the clickable thumbnails below to see some of the other interesting boats we photographed during this stay:

 

The Riverwalk

One of the best features of living where we do here is the easy access we have to The Riverwalk- a walkway along the north side of the New River that extends from near Las Olas and the Kinney Tunnel about a mile and a half around by the Broward Performing Arts Center to the south part of River Bend (the point on the river coming downstream where you are actually in downtown Fort Lauderdale. I have put below an aerial view of the portion of the New River from our condo to River Bend, encompassing all of the current Riverwalk. I have also marked some of the major buildings and features so you can follow us as we walk along it.

We usually do this walk at least a couple of times each time we are here, often as part of walking to have lunch or dinner at the Briny Pub. To get to the beginning of the actual Riverwalk, we just walk up to Las Olas and then go west about three blocks, cross over the Kinney Tunnel, and then turn left on SE 2nd Avenue to reach the beginning of it. Just walking along Las Olas can be interesting, 'cause there is always something new or interesting, such as a new sculpture, or perhaps a classic car, or even some pirates.

On the actual Riverwalk, we pass under the 3rd Avenue Bridge with its distinctive mural and then by the rounded River House with its nice fountain. Once we cross under the Andrews Avenue bridge, we are at the Riverfront Center complex and its busiest and best restaurant- the Briny Irish Pub.


At the Briny Pub

We stopped at the Briny Pub as we often do to have lunch. It is probably the best place for us to go- it is very reasonable and it is right on the river, and you can watch the people and the boats go by while you eat. This view of Fred looks out of the open-air patio area and generally upriver. The restaurant's decoration has always been interesting, as the ceiling is festooned with every manner of nautical item you can think of- even a whole raft and a rowboat. These are hung amid every type of buoy, life preserver, fish trap and marker that you can imagine. Where they got it all I have no idea.

The patio is also, at one end, dog-friendly, and some days, including today, quite a few people show up with their dogs- usually small ones. The dogs seem almost all to be well-behaved, and there is little barking or running around, which may seem surprising when you see the dumb little outfits that people put their dogs in. Fred took a number of pictures of the canines today, and there are clickable thumbnails for five of these below:


When we were done with lunch, we continued walking up the Riverwalk towards the section known as River Bend.


A New Condo Building
Across from the Briny Pub

Just west of Riverfront Center, the walk crosses the Florida East Coast Railroad tracks that cross the New River at this point. There is a railroad drawbridge for the trains, of which there are not many in the daytime. I think I have only seen the bridge come down four or five times in all the times I have been coming down here. I do know there are long freights in the evening and one at midnight; we have been caught by them on the way to Ron Drew's for dinner and on the way back from going out.

West of the tracks is an area known as Old Florida that has a couple of restaurants and a museum. The museum is open most days, but the restaurants are only open Thursday-Sunday. Beyond that is the small park between the Science Museum and the New River. Today there were some booths set up in the park that seemed to be part of some Halloween celebration. This was my assumption when I saw a witch telling stories on the bandshell. She was pretty entertaining; I should have made a movie.

We continued walking around the river's bend to end up by the Symphony Condominiums which are adjacent to the Performing Arts Center. On the way there, and after we arrived, we took a lot of pictures, and many of them are good enough to include here. You can see these pictures by clicking on the thumbnails below:


At the farthese point of our walk, I stopped to create a panoramic view looking east. At left is the park (north); in the middle is the New River flowing downstream to the east; at right is the New River which flows south at this point;

We had yet another good time on this trip, saw quite a good deal of Ron and Jay and helped Ron celebrate his birthday.



November 3, 2013: A Visit With Frank and Joe in Fort Worth
October 12, 2013: A Gathering at Barbara's
Return to the Index for 2013