Monday, May 20, 2013

Tripologue: Various places in Florida Pt 1

Alrighty then! Where to start? 

So first off: no, I'm not made of money. I am made of Mtn Dew and beef jerky. Most of what you'll see hereafter only *looks* expensive but was either free or wasn't as pricey as it looks. The fortunate thing about being in Miami is that there is quite a bit to do within 2-3 hours of home.

It all started around the end of April when Jan and Emmerson went up to Virginia to visit the Virginia McMurdies and to be there for our niece, Hallie's, baptism. While they were gone, it was just me and Madeleine. 

We woke up early in the day to take Mom and Emme to the airport, and after we went back home to sleep a little, we got up and I went to take Maddie to the library. The library was closed! I opened up my map app to see what else was in the area that we might consider doing. The map goofed and thought we were in the Florida Keys. With really no plan for the day and with the Keys only being an hour or so away, I made an uncharacteristically spontaneous decision and we headed down to the Keys.

Driving through town took a while but we eventually got to a 10-mile or so stretch of highway that went through some very low, very swampy looking scrub. Eventually we got to a medium-sized bridge and got a much better view of where we were. (Click on any pictures for a larger view or for a Gallery view.)

I got this picture from my helicopter.

It was getting much more 'oceany,' for sure. Now, we didn't go down as far as the Overseas Highway that you've seen in movies like Mission Impossible 3:

This is closer to Key West
But we did make it as far South as Plantation Key. Between Key Largo, Tavernier, and Plantation Key, we spent most of the day. 

There were many gift shops with fun stuff that Maddie and I like to check out:

And we had to take a quick picture of this sign to inform Mom and Emme where we had escaped away to:

I'd say 99% of the waterfront area in the places we went by were either owned privately or were part of a gov't park area. Was Key Largo beautiful? Well, the places where we could get to water were:

Everywhere we went, there were signs for scuba diving or snorkeling or parasailing or things like that. And we saw many hotels that looked like they had very pretty beach areas. However, you had to be staying at the hotels to be able to access all that. Key Largo itself seemed to me like a pretty normal Florida city. A bit older, with lots of trees, and roads not in great repair. But nice enough.

Some time later we found a public-accessible beach area. This was truthfully a lagoon with some beach sand where people could lay out. Maddie and I were not at all dressed for the beach-we were both wearing pants and dark shirts. But I got her there and rolled up our pants and we walked around in the water for a while. It was very nice but it was tough to keep her from wanting to jump in and swim with the small fish we found.

After a luxurious lunch at McDonalds-one of the only places where Maddie will eat, although there were 2 or 3 fairly cool looking local spots that I was tempted to try, we found an enormous gift shop that was full to the brim with sea shells and lots of fun stuff both inside an outside.

The little brother of my famous "Pirate's Pub" wooden sign that I bought in LA 11 years ago.

Heading back home, there was one spot where I found that the ocean came up to both sides of the road. But wanting to be safe, I only snapped several pictures of it.

That Sunday, Jan returned and we all headed up to Orlando for a business trip that I had. It was a convention at the Gaylord Palms, which is a sister hotel to the Gaylord Texan that we had near our home in Dallas. It was very nice and had many interesting features:

A large domed area

Very big atrium

This is a re-creation of the Castillo De San Marcos Spanish Fort from St. Augustine

Their very fancy steak house, the Old Hickory. I've eaten at the one in DFW before for work events and it is very very pricey but very good. This one in Orlando is done up to look like a bayou place.

Lots of plant life. These are all real.

The third area in the hotel was done up as Key West. 

Later in the conference I had lunch on that boat-the floor of the restaurant just extends onto the boat.

This is a duplicate apparently of a large shopping area in Key West called Mallory something or other.

Later in the week when I took Jan to the hotel (we were staying at a different one about a mile away from the conference) she arrived in time to see them feeding the alligators. I hadn't even noticed them during the conference, but there they were. They are all piled up on that rock in the pond int he below picture.

This was the cool wallpaper in the hotel bathroom.
A cool wall inside a restaurant in the hotel.
When we were done with the conference, we went back home to pick up Jan's parents: they had flown to Virginia for the baptism and had headed down to see us for the 2nd leg of the trip. I worked for just one day in that week and then we were back on vacation again!

To be continued...

1 comment:

Hillary said...

I hereby the Gaylord Texan more superior than the Gaylord Palms because it had statues I could pose with for photos.