Sunday, May 28, 2006
A rainy Memorial Day weekend in Everett. P and D are playing chess on the floor again, probably the first time since Louisville. P is cleaning up in the booster session; D is holding his own in the premier. Two more rounds tomorrow.
M and I scurried over to the train station just now to say hi to J and R and L and W as the train from Vancouver came through on its way back to Seattle. Would have taken a picture, but the conductor was anxious to get them back on the train!
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
These photos were taken two days ago, before the gray weather arrived. I've managed to avoid the swimming pools and the big slide thing. D would have appreciated the big chess set, although it would have required rounding up some victims.
We landed on the backside of Shell Key and had lunch on the beach. Nice to find a barrier that hadn't been paved, landscaped, and covered with hotels. And the kayak guides provided good sandwiches, along with strawberries and little cream puffs for dessert!
A dozen of us chose to spend part of Sunday on the water, paddling over to Shell Key. Great introduction to West Florida bays, mangroves, and barrier island beaches. Plus a little exercise and a lot of sun. Mangroves are pretty primordial - one expects large reptiles (fortunately, alligators stick to fresh water) and foot-long dragonflies. What we saw were birds (ibis) and little black crabs that climb the trees and threaten to drop in your lap (but didn't).
I had never seen a watermelon split with a kayak paddle before, either.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Saturday morning I headed west from Florida City into the Everglades. I didn't go all the way to Flamingo, figuring I'd save that for the family and for wetter conditions. This is the dryest time of year for the Everglades and it has been a particularly dry winter, so there's not much water. But that means that where there is water, the critters are pretty dense. Particularly the alligators, which appeared to be as lazy as they were dense.
Some cities are defined by their geography more than others. Pirates, the Civil War, and Ernest Hemingway. I did the basic Duval Street, Mallory Square, and Southernmost Point tourist stuff that you can do in a couple hours. I decided not to wait around for the sunset, but tried a local beer and a conch fritter. At the time, I thought I was showing restraint by not getting Key Lime Pie, but in hindsight, I shouldn't have squandered a unique opportunity.
I remember the Southernmost Point from our family's February 1971 trip, along with the official southern end of Route 1 (important for a family from Maine), and I've always viewed it as a Yankee wanting to check out the extremities of the country (like Eastport or Cape Alava). On Friday, it wasn't northerners lining up for family pictures, however, but Cuban Americans joking about the next ferry to Cuba. Being the southernmost point, it is also the closest point to Havana, and held some real significance (beyond my geographic trivia) for many of them.
Friday I drove down to Key West and back. A heavy downpour leaving Florida City and another in Key Largo marked the beginning of the wet season - otherwise weather was pleasant and the main sign of bad weather was the left over evidence of last fall's hurricane (Wilma?). Although some long sections of the road were awfully commercial, the highway and it's bridges are a wonderful experience. Swam at Bahia Honda, wandered around Key West, and drove back with setting sun at my back.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Miami Beach was a refreshing surprise (it would have been more refreshing had it not been 90 and muggy and hazy), if only because I was expecting the gloppiest development on the coast and hadn't realized the extent to which the old art-deco hotels in South Beach had been preserved. I was also expecting to find no parking and no way to get to the beach, but it turned out to be no problem.
I flew east as far as Tampa and then drove the west of the way. This was no Lewis and Clark struggling for months to reach the Pacific. I got a good cup of coffee passing through Bartow and I arrived at the Atlantic by walking through the lobby of the Breakers (I was a little worried they wouldn't let me in the gate). Nice place. Not much beach - but more than there will be when sea level is another 10 feet higher. Bet it would be exciting in a Category 5.