Must Do Miami

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South Beach is bit like Las Vegas. Both have lots of alcohol-fueled partying with young men and women celebrating their youth while destroying their livers, live music and the obligatory minute millionaires driving their rent by the hour Lamborghini for everyone to notice.  But South Beach is so much more than what you first notice. Take a longer look and you see and appreciate the diverse culture reflected in the eclectic food and music. There is a deep pride and respect for the past, instead of tearing down buildings, the Art Deco buildings are restored and the past is celebrated.

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We chose to stay in a boutique hotel on Collins Avenue, right in the middle of South Beach. The Kimpton Beachcomber Hotel, a small three story boutique hotel. What is a boutique hotel you may ask? Most often they are small and have unique amenities. The lobby was unique and eclectic with live edge wood sculptures, bookcases, sofas and comfy chairs and lots of interesting art. This is not a homogenized hotel! As we are checking in we are offered wine at the complimentary happy hour. The hotel personnel are both friendly and genuinely helpful. The room is small yet beautiful. The beach is located behind the hotel pool area. The back area includes a bar, towel service and a variety of yard games, rocking chairs and sculptures of cows. I did say this place was eclectic.
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The Kimpton offers seats on the beautiful sandy beach, as well as bar service. The bites and drinks were not exorbitantly priced, and who doesn’t enjoy a picnic lunch in the sand? There are several miles of beautifully manicured walking and biking paths just before the beach. We took advantage of the hotel’s free bike rentals and rode up and down the paths early one morning.
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In South Beach you must try the diverse food offered. We were given the recommendation by a waitress to try a Peruvian restaurant called CHALAN ON THE BEACH. The uber fresh seafood was lightly seasoned and plentiful. We shared a sea bass ceviche which was nothing short of spectacular. The patrons were mostly locals ordering house specialities. We also enjoyed a seafood dish with rice, seasoned with Peruvian spices that seemed to sweeten the fish and rice.

When in South Beach trying some authentic Cuban food is mandatory. We visited HAVANA 1957 and ordered the daily specials of Cuban meatballs and rice. The dish was also served with soft, sweet plantain slices. The prices were very reasonable, except for the mojitos. At $15 and up they seemed pricy for lunch. No worries, we came back a couple of hours later and enjoyed delicious half priced mojitos at the bar inside
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We also had chicken, lamb and steak kabobs as well as incredibly delicious deeply roasted Brussels sprouts at CLEO a Middle Eastern place. The bar was ornate and the restaurant was a cool respite from the Miami afternoon heat.

On our final night in Miami our hotel had a pig roast (but from the looks of the poor fellow I think he was deep fried). For only eight dollars we each enjoyed pork tacos, homemade tortillas, rice and beans. The beer was local and cold and soon the Latin band was playing music and everyone was dancing to the beat as the ocean breeze blew.
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Jackie Gleason had a show many years ago that I watched as a child. He used to say how beautiful Miami Beach was as he began each show with the words “How sweet it is!”

Tick Tock the Traveling Clock Continues

The road trip continues to the final destination of the grandfather clock.

The first few days of our road trip to pick up a grandfather clock was filled with the sights and sounds of airboats, the cast of Disney world and the waves hitting the beaches in Florida.

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Now we need to get moving so we can get the clock home.  We traveled from Pensacola  beach, a beautiful beach that we couldn’t swin in due to the rip tides .  We traveled from Pensacola to New Orleans, Lousianna.  The trip took only about four hours.  We were very happy with the two bedroom craftsman Airbnb that we booked in the Garden District with friends.  New Orleans lives up to its big reputation as a party destination, complete with generous drinks and delicious local delicacies.  The Po’boys we devoured were from a local dive bar in the Irish Channel district called Parasols.  The dive bar had all the necessary ingredients, local clientele, no frills atmosphere and  delicious roast beef Poboys served since the 1950’s.  When we walked in and saw all of the regulars lined up at the bar we all knew we were at the right place.

We visited Burbon Street and enjoyed the rowdy atmosphere and activities but by our second day we wanted to enjoy some beignets and listen to some great music further down the French Quarter.  I loved all of the colorful houses and each Uber trip I felt compelled  to name the color of each gingerbread house we passed. “Look, periwinkle, sage, salmon, yellow!”  Once a preschool teacher, always a preschool teacher.

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A “celery” and White House

My friend and I were looking to have Tarot cards read for us, but we kept looking for a really “good one” and unfortunately we were never satisfied.  Not really sure what a “good” tarot card reader is but we both knew it should not involve an iPhone.

I can not say enough about the phenomenal music we were lucky enough to hear all along the French Quarter.  We were in NOLA for Southern Decadence, a gay pride event with music, parades, dancing and more.  Apparently New Orleans hosts hundreds of festivals celebrating the unique food, music and people that make it so fabulous.  We will definitely return to NOLA to spend some more time discovering the treasures of this wonderful city.

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Entertainment everywhere with lots of jazz
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Great times in NOLA with friends

We woke up early the next day to get a head start on the road to San Antonio. This was a  LONG leg of our journey.  Over 600 miles.  We had cappucino at a corner coffee shop and did not stop except for gas and bathroom breaks for the next nine hours.  We happily jumped out of the van, changed and went on to enjoy the River Walk in San Antonio.

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River Walk San Antonio

We were both getting tired of hotel rooms and maybe each other too, but the end was in sight.  The next morning we loaded the car once again and made our last push for home over 590 miles to Las Cruces, New Mexico.

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I may not have done any driving but I’m a pretty good navigator

Greg drove for over 2,800 miles with 48 hours behind the wheel.  Was it worth it?  Hell yeah.  We have this beautiful clock and the memories that travel imprints on you.

The clock is now safely home in our bedroom and it looks beautiful but I would be happy to not have any long road trips for a while.  And I didn’t do any of the driving.

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Greg’s grandfather clock in it’s new home

The Adventure of the Traveling Clock

Surviving a 2500 mile road trip across America with your spouse.

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Sarasota Beach

We have embarked on a new adventure, a road trip across America. The last time my husband and I traveled on a cross country road trip was thirty two years ago when we were relocating to Arizona from New Jersey. For that trip I drove a total of two hours, he is hoping that I will share a bit more of the driving this time.
We are calling this adventure “The adventure of the traveling clock.” About forty years ago my husband made a grandfather clock in his high school shop class. His aunt and uncle wanted a grandfather clock and paid for the black walnut and the clock mechanism and in a year he had completed the project and gave the clock to his aunt and uncle. I saw the clock once when we were dating and thought it was beautiful. When the opportunity presented itself and the clock was generously offered to us we jumped at the opportunity to pick it up in Florida. Today we fly to Florida. We are hoping that both the clock and the marriage survive.
We were home from Europe for a little over a week when the clock trip seemed to be a possibility. Greg did the planning and set up the rental car and hotels and I found and Airbnb for us to stay at in New Orleans.
We flew into Miami and were able to get our rental van easily. We grabbed a bite to eat in La Rosa Cuban restaurant in Miami before we headed to Port St. Lucie. Once in town we went to Greg’s aunt’s home and picked up the grandfather clock. It looks amazing after over forty years. The moving of the clock was pretty uneventful and we set out for Siesta Key. On the road for a couple of minutes, we started hear chimes banging from the clock. A quick stop at Walmart for bubble wrap silenced the chiming.

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Greg and his clock

 

 

In Siesta Key, known as America’s most beautiful beach we had some beach time and explored the town a bit. It was so quaint and beautiful, with white sand beaches, warm but refreshing water and some great sand sculptures on the beach. This little town has a “free” cab service for the surrounding area. The cabbies are locals who rely on tips. Fantastic idea to allow everybody to enjoy the night life safely.

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Sand sculpture at Siesta Key

We (Greg) drove to Sarasota to our hotel and found the most amazing place for dinner called Owen’s Fish Camp. It’s a charming little house with great vegetation and a sweet screened in front porch. We sat at a mismatched table and ordered scallops, jambalaya. Every bite was delicious. Mine came with succotash. I have hated succotash since I was a kid so when I asked the waitress to leave those off she told me the succotash was made with corn, edamame and dried cranberries. It was so good! After dinner we moved to the back yard to check out the band. Old iron patio chairs, giant trees, an oyster bar and a tire swing fill out the back yard. It was a perfect night!

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Owen’s Fish Camp Restaurant

The next day we headed for Orlando. We arrived early and decided to take an airboat tour in the Everglades. We saw alligators, hawks, egrets and more. The driver was informative and truly loved his job. For almost the entire trip it rained. Even though there was a cover over the boat it made no difference we were SOAKED.

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Not so friendly alligator smile

Finally we were in Disney World.  I have never been to Disney World, nor to Florida before so this is really special for me. Greg is the easy going guy willing to visit Disney World again. His last visit was thirty five years ago. Things have changed a bit. I was worried that we would look out of place at Disney without kids. But we weren’t alone. We arrived early and were on the first ride by 9am. We loved everything! We even got to see Mickey Mouse. While in line, I met a little boy who was so excited to see Mickey. He told his mom he was going to “hug and squeeze Mickey”. His mom told him to remember that Mickey is a boy so maybe you should  just shake his hand. He replied, “No I’m going to hug him because he’s so soft and cuddly ”.  I hugged him too.