Johan went to the Daytona International Speedway for a day at the races while I stayed home to read a book and test out some new face masks. Stay tuned for an update on the cool stuff he saw there; peruse the pics in the meantime!
Going to Disney World was not part of the plan, not by any stretch. However, when I got a call from one of my very best friends in the whole world saying she would be there with her boys, her husband, her mom, and her sister (another one of my very best friends in the whole world), I began the process of talking Johan into going for just one day. He HATES Disney World. So I would say it is out of true love that he agreed to go and even managed to look like he wouldn’t rather stab himself in the eye with a rusty nail. After riding Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder, Buzz Lightyear, Dumbo, Mad Tea Party, Small World, Winnie the Pooh, Pirates of the Caribbean, Little Mermaid, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and watching the birds sing at the Enchanted Tiki Room, we had dinner at Belle’s Castle and kept a watchful eye on the Beast who occasionally walked quickly from one side of the dining hall to the other looking angry. Best day ever getting to know Finn and Riley better and catching up with Brit and Mike Siciliano and Jan and Jamie Burns.
The Kennedy Space Center is a definite must do, even if you aren’t into space, astronauts, flight, exploration, or any other super cool things like that. In fact, taking the Center Bus Tour at the Space Center will open your eyes to completely different things, like alligators. Once you have seen the building where space ships are assembled (it is taller than the Statue of Liberty!), and the launch pads of past and present space missions, you will be taken back by bus and feel very glad there isnt a walking option for the tour. Our driver pointed out no less than 14 alligators on the way back, some incredibly large and moving quickly!
The Restoration Hardware store in West Palm Beach is the greatest place on earth. Not only is it 4 stories of beautiful lighting and furniture, but they have valet parking and a gorgeous rooftop restaurant. The line of cars waiting outside says it all. We found a lovely fur covered chaise that I thought would be perfect in our new place until I looked at the price tag. On November 25, 2017, I made fun of Johan in Santa Fe for looking at beautiful works of art and declaring “I can make that”. On January 16, 2018, I said those same words about a chair, and I owe him an apology. But I will make the chaise. I will buy a $200 chaise from Overstock.com and shear a sheep in Montana when we go there later this year, and it will be ~almost~ the same. We left Restoration Hardware on foot as opposed to in a Rolls, and headed for Clematis Street. After a walk around downtown and hard boiled eggs in the car for lunch (keto), we took the bikes out for a ride along the Palm Beach Lake Trail. The article that named this trail as a “must-do” suggested it was a way to peer into the lives of Palm Beach’s rich and famous, which of course I wanted to do. In reality it is a bike path from which you can see the shrubbery belonging to Palm Beach’s rich and famous, but it was still cool. While in the area, we also visited Port St. Lucie, Jupiter, Hutchinson Island and Jensen Beach.
The second week in January marked our “halfway thru Florida” milestone and we began our way north along the eastern coast of Florida. Horrible weather continued through the midwest and northeast, so we felt that living through some overcast days that were “a bit brisk” wasn’t something to complain about. We started out spending a day in Fort Lauderdale, walking Fort Lauderdale and Las Olas Beaches, Las Olas Blvd, and took a bike ride through the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park.
We spent another day in Coconut Grove. Still on the Keto diet, we figured the poke bowl place was a good stop for lunch. A kind man behind the counter asked if we knew what a poke bowl was. Hello, we’re from California. Next door was The Barnacle Historic State Park, which gave us a quiet place to look out over Biscayne Bay before heading back to the intersection of Grand Ave, Main Hwy, and McFarland Rd, otherwise known as the place where no one is sure if pedestrians or Bentleys have the right of way and the honking and hand gestures just don’t seem to help to clear up the confusion at all.
Of course no trip to Miami would be complete without a day and a night in South Beach. We were lucky (or unlucky) enough to arrive on a weekend where they had closed down A1A for an Art Deco Walk, causing lots of traffic and impossible parking, but even better people watching opportunities (who knew that was possible in South Beach). It’s the only place where everyone needs these two items on the same day: swimsuits and sequin gowns. Conveniently a store on Ocean Drive sells both. In the evening we walked over to Mare Mio on Espagnola Way for dinner, amused that we were dining in this very place just 5 years ago, after getting married in Jamaica and about to leave for Panama on our honeymoon.
We began 2018 in The Keys; a bit of bad weather actually helped us stick to our New Years Resolution – the Keto diet – for the full week we were there. (The Keto diet actually ended up being a bit of a disaster, but for anyone trying it, we recommend buying billions of already peeled hard boiled eggs at Costco to help you get started.) While the rest of the states were getting freezing temperatures and record snow, we were lucky to get a few rain-free days, which we used to venture out and see a few “key” areas: Key Largo, Key West, and Islamorada.
Since we were fans of the show Bloodline, we were excited to find the Rayburn house in Islamorada. The house is actually part of a hotel called The Moorings Village, which has a casual outdoor bar, a lovely indoor restaurant and plenty of white chairs to watch the sunset from. There is quite a lot to do in Key West after driving across the incredible Seven Mile Bridge. Obviously you must stand in line to take your picture next to the Southernmost Point Buoy. (The fact that people were civil enough to wait in line was most impressive to me.) Fort Zachary Taylor is walkable from Duval Street and is full of historic significance from the Civil War. There are also chickens and roosters running the streets everywhere. With the amount of restaurants serving chicken tacos, chicken salad, chicken wraps, and chicken fajitas, I felt they were quite brave.
While wandering around Key West, it is difficult to remember that Hurricame Irma came through in September of 2017. But the drive from Key Largo to Key West down US-1 is a reminder of the destruction caused not long ago. There are 106 miles between the two keys; many of those miles are piled high on either side with ripped mattresses, broken appliances, damaged furniture, dirty clothing and other debris. Watching the clean up, which is still occurring daily, brings a new awareness to the effort required to recover from a natural disaster. Trash trucks drive in a little further south each day, use a crain to stuff large heavy objects into the back, and make the long drive out full of just a tiny portion of an endless pile of garbage. At first we were appalled to see so much trash on the sides of the road so many months after the hurricane. But after a week of watching the clean up process, we concluded that the teams working on this project are doing quite an incredible job. It would be difficult not to be discouraged by how much is left to do, but they continue to work make the Florida Keys beautiful again. Keys Strong! Now we wonder who will be removing the sunken ships from the bottom of the canals in the Keys because some of the residents can’t take their boats out for fear of running into a neighbor’s yacht at the bottom of the water. First world problems are really rough sometimes.