May 15-30, 2014: Our Summer Trip to Florida
January 13-16, 2014: A Visit to Ruckman Haus
Return to the Index for 2014


March 15-31, 2014
Our Spring Trip to Florida
Guy Visits Us in Florida


 

Fred and I have come down to Florida again here in March. It has become our habit to come down once around Christmas, Once in late March (like now), once at the beginning of the summer (before it gets so hot and dry that Fred needs to stay home to keep things watered) and once in October, once the summer heat and drought has broken. We call this trip our Spring Trip. What will make this trip special is that I have gotten Guy a ticket to come down from South Dakota and join us.

We did not take so many pictures that I need to break this trip down by day; doing it by subject/event will be fine. However, on the day we went to Fairchild Gardens in Miami we did take a lot of pictures. So that no page loads too slowly, I will be putting that particular outing on its own page. You'll find out how to get to that page and back as you scroll down through this one.

 

Getting to Florida

We left Dallas on Saturday, March 15th, so that we could arrive on Sunday and have a day to get things ready for Guy's arrival on Monday.


Once again, we brought Zack with us to Florida- his sixth trip, I believe. We followed exactly the same route and adhered to almost exactly the same schedule as we have done so many times before. We took I-20 east to Shreveport, I-49 south to Layfayette and our first stop for gas, I-10 east to Baton Rouge, I-12 east to Slidell, LA, I-10 east to Pensacola, FL for dinner and our second gas stop and then I-10 east to Madison, FL and our stay for the night.

On Sunday, we took I-10 towards Jacksonville, stopping just a few miles west of the city for gas again. For our final run to Fort Lauderdale, we took I-295 around the southwest side of Jacksonville to hook up with I-95 south towards Miami. Three hundred miles later, we got off on Broward Blvd. and took that east to get to the condo, pulling in to the condo parking area about four.

We unloaded everything, got Zack situated, set up both laptops and then made our traditional arrival frozen drink and sat down by the dock. Dinner at The Floridian completed our by now routine trip down here.

 

Around the Condo

Actually, we didn't take all that many pictures around the condo that didn't involve Zack in some way. Most of the pictures of Zack I have moved to this year's Pets Page, but there will be some here.


But of course, Zack is so photogenic that we do take lots of pictures of him. He is usually on the table with us and our laptops, but he also hangs out on the sofa arm or in his own chair. Click on the thumbnail images below to see some of the pictures we took of Zack (that I didn't put on the Pets page):


On the Laptop Table


Elsewhere in the Condo


One of the things Guy wanted to do while he was down here in Florida was to go to an AT&T Store to get a new, updated phone. (Chamberlain does not have one, so he'd have to drive to Mitchell or Rapid City).


We did go up to the store on Federal Highway, and Guy was fortunate to find a sales associate who took the time to help him get the best phone for his use. He settled on a Samsung Galaxy Note, and, as luck would have it, there was a Samsung representative in the store that day that showed him some of the cool things he could do with it.

He took his first photograph (of me) there in the store, and two more of Fred when we got back to the condo. If you click on the thumbnail images at right, you can have a look at these photos.

In a reprise of our lizard visitor last January, Fred happened to look out the window one day and, with his sharp eyes, spotted one of the larger lizards that roam the area perched on the top of the hedge that runs between the parking area and the river.


With Fred's incredible close-up lens, he was able to focus in on the lizard from the balcony outside the condo door; you can see the amazing result at left. In fact, all the pictures Fred took of the iguana were taken from the balcony. He took quite a few, but I have winnowed them down to just five more, and if you click on the thumbnail images below you can have a look at them:


Those were the pictures taken in and around the condo this trip, but we did quite a bit more.

 

Lunch at the Floridian

On the day after Guy arrived in Fort Lauderdale, we took him down to the Floridian Restaurant for lunch.


Guy, and we, like to walk, and in any case the Floridian isn't far from the condo, so we just walked east along Las Olas about six blocks to the restaurant. On the way, Las Olas crosses the Colee Hammock canal, and we stopped there to take a few pictures. You can have a look at these by clicking on the thumbnail images below:

We had a pleasant lunch, and walked around Las Olas a bit afterwards before returning to the condo to sit down by the dock in the sunshine. At the dock, we took pictures of each other, and you can see those pictures here and here.

Guy always enjoyed getting out and walking around, so we ended up doing quite a bit of that.

 

A Visit to Fairchild Gardens in Miami

Fred and I had planned way ahead of time to take Guy down to Miami to show him Fairchild Gardens, a place that we had first visited with Mario and Steve a few years ago. We had a great time then, and expected that we would enjoy it again, particularly since we had someone along who hadn't been there before. We took a great many pictures on our trip down to the Gardens- so many that I think that particular outing deserves its own album page. So I have created one that you can access by clicking on the Fairchild Gardens logo below. (That page will have a "Return" button that you can use to return right to this spot.)

 

Boat Traffic on the New River

As we do on each and every trip down here, we photographed boats passing the condo. Big boats. Small boats. Private boats. Commercial boats. The variety is endless.


There really isn't much to say about each individual picture, but there is always a collection of them on these Florida trip pages. If you want to see a selection of this trip's boats, just click on the thumbnail images below:


 

A Walk to the Beach

On one of Guy's days here, we took advantage of a beautiful day to walk from the condo over to the beach. You've seen that route before; it is a simple matter of walking east along Las Olas to the Las Olas Bridge across the Intracoastal, over the bridge, and another two blocks to the beach. Then, it's up and down the wide beachwalk.

Walking along Las Olas takes you through an area called Las Olas Isles- a series of artificial narrow islands that extend north and south of Las Olas like the tines of a fork. On these islands are some of the nicest homes in Fort Lauderdale, as each lot has water access behind it. If the owners don't have a boat themselves, they lease out the space, and these "canals" are always chock full of watercraft. On the north side of the street, bridges lead to each of these islands; on the south side of the street, the islands are connected to Las Olas itself. As we got close to the Intracoastal Waterway, Fred spotted a whole bunch of pelicans sitting atop dock pilings, and he took a couple of good pictures that you can see here and here.


Arriving at the Las Olas Bridge, we had to cross the street and use the south walkway to cross the bridge; there was repair work going on and the north walkway (as well as a couple of lanes on the bridge) was closed. From the top of the bridge, there are excellent views both south towards Bahia Mar and the New River, and north up the Intracoastal and the beachfront hotels and condominiums. It is a great place to stop and have a look around, and it were I took the picture at left.

This was such a nice day that I thought I would try my hand at a panoramic shot, so I took a series of pictures panning almost 360° around. Then I stitched the nine individual pictures together. The resulting view begins at the left looking due south, pans around through the west, north and east and comes back looking south again. As you look at the image from left to right, you can see Las Olas coming from due west and leaving the bridge going due east to the beach. I have put this panoramic view in the scrollable window below:

As we came down off the bridge, we crossed the street again to have lunch at the Quarterdeck restaurant just a block this side of the beach. The pictures we took here weren't all that scenic or interesting, but the two best were of Fred and I perusing the menu and of Guy and I as we worked with his new phone. After lunch we hit the beach.


As it usually is on nice days, the beach was pretty crowded; we spent about an hour walking north and south along the beachwalk. At one point, we saw something we don't see often- mounted police on the beach. Fred saw them coming south on the beach, and I took that picture as they passed. You can see some other pictures of them if you click on the thumbnail images below to view the other pictures we took on our beach walk this afternoon.


From the beach, we returned to the condo by the same route, except that we stopped in the little park at the west end of the Las Olas Bridge just to sit and watch the boats and enjoy the sunshine.


The little park at the west end of the bridge is actually called Idlewyld Park, although it is perhaps an acre at most. It is basically just the bit of land on and over which the west approach to the bridge was built; no one would have wanted to put a home there what for the traffic noise, although as you can see someone does have a home just north of the bridge. Anyway, the park is just an open lawn with three or four benches scattered around the point.

We picked a bench close to the Intracoastal and just sat down to enjoy ourselves for a while.

It wasn't long after we sat down that we heard the bridge bells go off and the car barricades come down. The bridge was going to open, and we thought we would stick around so Guy could watch.

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Taking pictures of a bridge going up and down is one thing, but watching the process cinematically is quite another. I made a movie of the bridge opening process; you can watch it with the player at right.

But of course we did take quite a few pictures as well, mostly of the area of the Intracoastal around the point of the park. You click on the thumbnail images below to have a look at these pictures:


From Idlewyld Park, we walked back along Las Olas towards the condo. I mentioned that the streets that lead into the finger islands south of Las Olas connect directly with the boulevard; at the corners of each of these streets there are pedestals constructed out of a shell rock matrix, and on top are bird and fish figures- such as these large sea birds. Leaving the area of the finger islands, we cross over a small canal and then we are back to the business district of Las Olas. We walked right by the Floridian Restaurant on our way back. The restaurant is in a strip of stores that are essentially one large building, and there are murals on either end of the structure. You can see the mural on the east end here and the one on the west end here.

 

A Visit from Tom Jackson

On the last Sunday we were here in Fort Lauderdale, Tom Jackson came from Tampa with a friend of his for a visit with Ron and Jay and Fred and I. Tom used to live in Dallas, where he shared an apartment with Ron Drew before Ron got together with Lowery. He had moved to Tampa some years ago to work as a paralegal, a job that he still has. He has come to the East Coast with a girlfriend of his to do some stuff in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.


We met for lunch at The Cheesecake Factory with Tom, Ron and Jay. (Tom's girlfriend was off seeing some friends of hers.) When we were done, we stopped outside the restaurant to take a few pictures. The picture at left shows me, Tom, Ron and Jay. We switched out and took two more pictures of the group, and you can click on the thumbnail images below to have a look at them:


Tom wanted to see where Ron worked, and I wasn't sure that Fred had been to the offices of the Broward Alliance either, so we walked into downtown to visit Ron's building. We walked from the Cheesecake Factory back to the condo where Ron had parked, and then Ron drove us to his office.


Tom, Ron, Jay and Fred at Ron's Office

We could have walked, as you can see in the aerial view of downtown below:


Ron's office wouldn't be anything special if it weren't for the fact that it is about 25 stories up and thus offers wonderful views of Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding area from every window. Most offices look east and south, although one of them has a nice view to the northeast. Ron's actual office window looks southeast- towards the condo. Actually, aided by a good pair of binoculars, he would be able to see me if I were standing on the second-floor balcony just outside our condo door. You can see what I mean if you have a look at a closeup of that same southeast view.

But the better views are from the conference room, which offers views east, south and west.

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A Tour of Ron's Office

We spent most of our time in the conference room admiring the views, but I also made a movie of the entire office suite, beginning at the entrance. The sound quality at the beginning isn't great, but you can use the player at left to take a tour of the offices of the Broward Alliance. And please click on some of the thumbnail images below to see the views from the Alliance conference room:


Before we leave, I might mention that two of the pictures I took formed a mini-panorama, so I stitched them together:

 

We Return to Dallas

After another nice visit to Florida, we set our for home on Sunday, March 30th, returning Monday afternoon.

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


May 15-30, 2014: Our Summer Trip to Florida
January 13-16, 2014: A Visit to Ruckman Haus
Return to the Index for 2014