Friday, March 1, 2013

Manatees, South Florida & Mexico

Manatees, Dania Beach and Mexico

2/21/13 - 2/28/13

Up early with an hour drive to Blue Springs State Park. We had been advised to arrive early because when the parking lot fills, no more admittance. There is a good boardwalk along the Springs and we saw fish nests for carp just like a bird nest underwater. This was something I'd never seen and it was so interesting. We could see lots of gar fish and manatees. In most areas the water was very clear. I can't even count the number of manatee we saw. They seem to be very social and several would lay together for awhile, then barely swim away and then go back together in a group or pile. We ate our picnic lunch and then headed home.
Gentle Giants

Carp nests all over the place

Four manatees together - one is a baby

Outside for a BBQ at our place. Grilled summer squash and 97% ff burgers. Delicious. Somehow we accidentally got full of Captain and Coke, were cracking up and having too much fun. Around sunset a raccoon came along. I told John there is a raccoon, but he said, no that's a cat -- then saw that is was really a raccoon. We ended up with four of them right beside us, like 3 feet away, John is clicking his tongue sort of calling them in and they were coming for something to eat so I decided to end our party. They can be very mean and aggressive and I didn't want to take a chance.  Of course I didn't have my camera!!!! I also missed a shot of a red cardinal yesterday because I didn't have my camera. I'm going to staple my camera to my hand. We had a fun night. We've cut back on the drinks we usually have during "vacation" because we aren't technically on vacation, -- but "The Night of the Raccoon Rendezvous" was a laughing blast. We're silly still and ain't never gonna change.
Waited the day for Danielle, finally went in pool and hot tub and then grilled London Broil. Got call that she was about 40 minutes out and we all had a nice dinner of grilled London Broil and shrimp -- surf and turf. We opened a bottle of the delicious Lakeridge wine made of muscadine grapes. I love that stuff. After dinner we went over to Old Town and looked at the Vintage cars. They probably had 200 cars this time. We sat down and had a drink, listened to the music and watched folks dance. Nice evening to be out.  Danielle drove back home so she had a long day, but we enjoyed her coming over.  She's quite a fun gal and we think the world of her.
Our Tampa Adopted Daughter Danielle
Up early, packed the car and drove down to Dania Beach, about a four hour drive. Found the house where we are renting a room. Met the owners, Goran and Sanela, who are very nice. They have a beautiful home, very modern with lots of white walls, glass, with touches of orange here and there.
Lovely home
Monday we drove down to see the beaches. We spent a few hours at Dania Beach, picked up some shells, and sat down and people watched. There were swimmers, snorkelers, surfers, and even a paddle boarder. The water was cold, but not freezing and it is a lovely teal color. We then drove over to see the Hurricane Rollercoaster, closed as of 2012. It is made of wood which is hard to maintain in this humid area. The owner is going to have it torn down and the wood will be donated to a charity. I wish I was rich so I could refurbish it and keep it forever. It was really something to see. Reminded us of the old rollercoaster at the Pike in Long Beach.
Dania Beach Pier
Fishing, nice restaurant

The Sad Hurricane Rollercoaster
Waiting to be Demolished

The next stop was Hollywood Beach. Nice, but so crowded for a Monday. Had a nice boardwalk(concrete) along the beach with an area for bikes and a separate one for pedestrians. There are restaurants, souvenir shops, ice cream, frozen yogurt, etc., and open air bars. Lots of people out strolling, eating, drinking and having a good time.
Hollywood Beach, Florida
Heading back to the house and John said he could not find the house key. He last had it in his hand in the morning and he put it in his pocket. We looked all over but never could find it. It must have fallen in the sand at the beach. I was mortified, but Goran and Sanela were gracious and said accidents happen and just gave us another key. I hate stuff like that.

John woke up with a sore back but managd to make it through the day. We had a nice breakfast at a place called Robert's. It is highly rated in reviews, was good and immaculate. We drove to Art Park at Young Circle and to the historic downtown. Neat area with tons of outdoor restaurants of just about any ethnic type you would like. A few clothes stores, a totally, truly best bakery.   Unfortunately I wasn't hungry, but we looked at all their baked goods and they were just too wonderful. More candy stores, yogurt so you can tell this is foodie paradise with a good vibe.  The Park apparently has all types of activities, concerts and last night they had a drum circle for the full moon.  We didn't go, but those are the cool types of things they do there.
Huge and I mean huge tree in
Art Park
We then drove to a big park (56 acres) named Topeekeegee Yugnee (I'm not making this up) that is right in the middle of the city. It has a lake, camping, tennis, boat rentals, fishing, water park for kids, a fitness trail, and some of the best trees I've ever seen. What a treasure for the citizens to have this jewel in their backyard. I'm sure this place is packed in the summer.
Topeekeegee Yugnee Park

So we had a fun day exploring. John had a Subway for dinner and I was lucky to have two pieces of my favorite fried chicken that I can't find often -- Church's Fried Chicken.  It is so crispy and bad for me, but as an occasional treat I say yum. Back to the house, had a drink, read a little bit, TV and a good night's sleep.

Rainy day so we drove over to Fort Lauderdale to go to the movies. We drove by the beautiful beach and all the restaurants, bars and shops opposite the beach. Looks like a fun area on a sunny day. We saw "Identity Thief" that we both loved. It was crude, but hysterical and there were even some tender moments. Haven't been to the show in a long time and usually we are disappointed, but this was funny and we had a good time. Came back to the house and I made guacamole and salsa fresca to share with our hosts, Goran supplied "Palm" beer that was new to me. It is Belgian and very tasty. We sat in their "Florida Room" a screened in porch, ate, and talked by candlelight - a nice evening visit.
Goran and Sanela
Good, down to earth people
Packed most of our things, read and relaxed for our day of travel tomorrow. We went out for dinner at Viva Chile, Chilean food which was a first for us. Enjoyed it, great bread on our sandwiches and we shared chicken and beef empanadas. Excellent Chilean salsa discovered there (pebre) so I will make it in Mexico. Back home, having a beer, trying to finish blog, getting photos. Will do last minute packing and then it will be Hasta la taco tomorrow. Can't wait. Viva Mexico!!
In this three county area where we have been, Goran told me there are over 7 million people. We thought there was a lot of traffic, parking impossible.   The area encompassed is from Key West (Miami-Dade County, Broward County up to Palm Beach. Crowds here sort of did remind us a little of LA and now I know why. Nice areas in this part, but way too crowded for us.
Back in the olden times each state had a license plate. Awhile back we were given some choices. When we got to Florida we found so many different plates we were astounded. I'm not sure if they have the most choices of any state, but it is amazing:
The choices
Environmental - 18 (seen sharks, turtles)
Miscellaneous - 40 (branches of the military, retired, wounded, etc., etc.)
Professional Sports - 9 (lots of Gators)
Universities - 36 (they have lots of those)

These plates all have different pictures, colors, designs so it has been interesting seeing them all (?).   Florida is a state of diversity with a capital "D".