Thursday, March 20, 2014

Florida: sun, fun, and interesting sights!

Monday night (St.Patrick's Day), Rich, Dave and I arrived in Fort Lauderdale for our pre-trip vacation!  Since we had never been to Florida, we thought it would be fun to just check it out.  The Streets were blocked off and a giant St. Patrick's Day street party was in full swing when we got there!  What can I say: FUN!  I must tell you- odd people live here:-).  They were all into it! After a good nights sleep, we started out exploring the area.

 We really had to get used to two things:  First, everything here is very colorful!  The tiles for this downtown Lauderdale-By-The-Sea beach area really stand out- this area has colorful boats cut into seats for a sitting area as you look out at sea, and Adirondack chairs in every bright colors are set around town.
 Since we are from the west coast, it was really hard getting used to the second big thing: the sun rising over the ocean!  Beautiful!  Equally hard, was watching the sun set over the city.

Everywhere you go, homes, furnishings, clothes are all in color.

As soon as we found out that the Everglades were close, we were so there!!!  

 We chose the Everglades Holiday Park ( for our Everglades trip.  It is the closest park site to Fort Lauderdale, and we thought it best to stay close so we could do more.  Loved it!  The park had the Everglade boats for glade tours- of course- and alligator shows that teach the public about alligators (No crocs- they live in salt water.  The Everglades are fresh water; it is a giant river that runs 3 miles per hour)

 There are tons of mangrove trees.....
 and grasses and lily pads....
 and alligators!!!!!
 The Alligator show is fun- the park rescues alligators that venture into public (human) spaces that would otherwise be killed.  Good for them!

We ventured to South Beach (of course!).  Really great area- many square blocks of art-deco buildings that have been restored.  

Not being a great artist, I did not capture much of South Beach- but it is cool- lots of restaurants and shops and a beautiful beach walking area!

Speaking of walking areas, we took a water taxi ride ( and ended up in Hollywood Florida:-).  What a totally fun place!  It is like 1960's beach walk: funky, kitchy, clean, lots of cool shops and affordable restaurants.  And the water!  Totally turqoise! The water taxi ride also toured the canals (Ft.Lauderdale is considered the Venice of America).

We only had 3 1/2 days here, and loved every minute.  If you get the chance, check it out!  Big caveat- according to Dave (and everyone we know that has been here), it is VERY hot and humid during the summer!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

And so it begins......we are down to the wire! YIKES! Stress!

So- tomorrow we start our Excellent Adventure!  We have been talking about this trip for decades! Ever since we started traveling in the early 80's, we talked about long term travel, even living in Europe.  And now it is here........

At 9 AM our friends Rick and Ellen pick us up, and we all trek down to Orange County!  Rick and Ellen are visiting their daughters and will be enjoying a family trip to Japan.  Rich and I will spend time with Cody and my family, then Monday morning we fly to Florida with our friend Dave, where we will travel for 4 days before we board the Holland America cruise ship the Noordham, on Friday March 21.  We will post from Florida as we hear it is beautiful!

Preparation: (this is where you feel sorry for us:-))- hire a gardener and pool person (previously Patrick's jobs), arrange for the correct bank account access, plan our trip (still not done!), find someone who will watch the house and feed Henry (our fish) (thank you so much Jennifer!!), and pack for 6 months.  Of course, include whining how hard it is and get on each others nerves!  Rich's sister says no one will feel sorry for us, but I am sure there is a kind soul out there who will feel sorry for us:-).

Most of all, we are looking forward to great new experiences, meeting awesome people, eating great food, visiting great and cute European cities/towns, seeing history in the making, and finding a beach for the perfect tan (yes, we have aging bodies, but they still tan- and those are NOT liver-spots!). Sharing this with you will be awesome!  I hope you leave comments!  We will also post to Facebook. For now, we love you all, and can't wait to come home and see you again!