January 13-16, 2014: A Visit to Ruckman Haus
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December 28, 2013 - January 11, 2014
Our New Year's Trip to Florida


This year, we have decided to spend New Year's in Florida. We've done that once before, as our friends here in Dallas don't usually have New Year's gatherings anymore. But Ron and Jay in Florida like to have us over for dinner that evening, and so it is a pleasant way to bring in the New Year.


The Trip to Fort Lauderdale

If you've been through more than a year or two of this photo album, you are undoubtedly familiar with our route to Florida. Years ago we used to fly, but that has gotten to be such a hassle (and a good deal more expensive) that now we drive. This allows us to take all kinds of things with us- including, in the last four or five trips, Zack, our Snowshoe cat.

The trip is routine; we stop at the same places to eat and to stay- almost without exception. And it's an easy route, too. Getting out of Dallas is easy if a bit congested, sometimes. We usually leave about nine-thirty, and by ten or so are on I-20 heading east towards Shreveport. We usually turn southeast on I-49 about one in the afternoon, reaching Lafayette and I-10 east along about three-thirty. Baton Rouge can be very slow if we don't get through there by four-fifteen or so, and then it is another 90 minutes to get across Louisiana to the Mississippi border.

Mississippi and Alabama are an hour each, so we are heading east from Mobile about six-thirty or seven. This puts us north of Pensacola right about dinnertime about eight. After dinner, we have about two hundred miles to go to get to our usual motel in Madison, Florida, about halfway along I-10 between Tallahassee and I-75.

The next day, we usually get away from the hotel about nine or so, we cross I-75 forty-five minutes later, and are stopping for gas just west of Jacksonville by eleven or eleven thirty. Then we take I-295 around Jacksonville to the south, going through Orange Park and picking up I-95 south about forty-five minutes after stopping for gas. Then it is a straight shot, just about 300 miles, down I-95 to Fort Lauderdale, where we usually find ourselves arriving between four-thirty and five-thirty.

Our custom is to unload everything at the condo, get Zack and the laptops all set up, and then retire to the dock for a celebratory frozen drink. Then it is usually dinner at the Floridian. I wish we had transporter technology, but the drive is not a hard one- although sections of it can be boring. We left Dallas on Saturday, December 28th, and arrived in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday the 29th.


Our First Evening in Fort Lauderdale

We arrived late in the afternoon, and it was already starting to get dark. We moved everything in to the condo, and let Zack out of his carrier. I set up my laptop, and Zack hopped up on the table to watch us get things put away.

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One of the first things we noticed when we got upstairs was that the top of the Bank of America building was all lit up for Christmas, and that the lights were constantly changing, something new. So Fred made a movie of the lights, and you can watch it with the player at left.

I made us our first frozen drinks, and we took them down to the Riverview Gardens dock, where we found that the Chrismas decorations were of course still up. Fred brought his camera along, and took another picture at the dock and a couple of the houses across the river; you can click on the thumbnail images below to have a look at the pictures he took:

Fred took three more pictures of the Christmas decorations along the river, and these are below:


Riverview Gardens Christmas

This evening, while we were having our frozen drinks down at the condo dock, Fred brought his camera along to record the Christmas decorations at the condo. As you can see, the balconies and palm trees are garlanded with lights; those we have seen before. But down at the east end of the dock there were some decorations that we hadn't seen before. There was a sailboat done in strings of lights and, atop the east building's river-side stairway, a Christmas tree and Santa. Some of the trees at that end of the courtyard were also decorated, as you can see here.

Fred also made a couple of movies while we were out here this evening (he doesn't do many movies). In one, the decorated Jungle Queen goes past the condo, and in the other, longer movie, Fred takes a walk down the dock to show you all the decorations. You can watch these movies with the players below:

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The Jungle Queen Goes By
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A Riverview Gardens Christmas Tour


New Year's with Ron and Jay

On New Year's Eve, Fred and I went over to Ron's house to have dinner and hang out with him and Jay. Ron met us at their decorated door. We had a really nice evening with them and another guest of theirs, ending the evening by watching the New York New Year's celebration on television. Jay also showed us their growing collection of Britto ceramics which, of course, gave us ideas for future gifts as there is a shop right on Las Olas that carries the collection.


In the Condo

When we are in the condo, we are mostly just playing around on our laptops; I work on my photo album and Fred surfs the Internet. But whatever we are doing, Zack is always nearby, and if one of us goes to sit on the sofa, he can usually be counted on to come and join us. You can click on the thumbnail images below to see some candid photos of Zack and ourselves around the condo:


Boats on the New River

Of course, one of the main attractions of the condo is that it is right on the New River, and there is always boat traffic going up and down and so always something to watch.

A Sailboat on the River

Over the years, we have taken innumerable pictures of the boat traffic on the river, and so every album page involving a stay at the condo there will have its own group of such pictures. Click on the thumbnail images below to see some of the boat traffic pictures that Fred and I took on this trip:


Lunch with Jack Fontaine

Jack and Fred at the Courtyard Cafe

It is out custom to have lunch with our friend, Jack Fontaine, at least once on every trip down here. Jack is the person who used to live two doors down from me, but who moved to a retirement place some years ago- John Knox Village up by Atlantic Blvd. We used to meet at a place called "Delish," but that morphed into something else, so now we meet at the Courtyard Cafe- right at the crossroads in Wilton Manors.

It is always interesting to catch up with Jack; he seems still to be plugged in to all the goings on at Riverview Gardens, and we learn things from him we don't learn from anyone else. Now in his eighties, Jack is a little slower but still going strong- driving his own car and living independently.

When we got back to the condo from this particular lunch, we took a walk over to Las Olas, as it was a nice day, and we happened by a real estate office that had a Riverview Gardens listing in its window. We have a "large" one-bedroom; this listing would be for the slightly smaller one at one of the river-side corners. But those units look directly across the river, not upriver as ours does, so I actually think that our condo is not only larger but has the better view. Let's hope that makes it worth a bit more than the listed unit!


An Unusual Visitor to the Second Floor

We were sitting at the high-top table one morning when I happened to look out the window and saw that one of the iguanas that roam around this area had, for some reason, come up to the second floor- very unusual. I grabbed my camera and tried to go out the door without scaring the lizard away, but I was not entirely successful. Before I could take his picture, he scurried along the balcony wall and through one of the decorative openings. The first picture I got was of his tail disappearing through the opening.

But he stayed on the side of the building (how he holds on I have little clue) and did not run away when I slowly leaned over the balcony wall to take his picture. That's him at the left.

I tried to get another closer picture, but he moved down to the edge of the overhang at the first floor and then dropped into the bushes below. He was none the worse for wear, and I got some more pictures of him right below me between the parked cars, as he scurried across the parking lot towards the river, and then as he reached the row of bushes along the river- where we normally see these large lizards. (I think he was a young one, as there are much larger ones around.)

Click on the thumbnail images below to see some of the pictures I took of our reptilian visitor:

Well, that's about it for pictures on this trip. The next time we come down, Guy Blair will be joining us from South Dakota, so we will undoubtedly take a lot more then.

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

January 13-16, 2014: A Visit to Ruckman Haus
Return to the Index for 2014