A Florida diary… the group heads for Fort Lauderdale and the Keys
9 days in southern Florida… days one, two and three

It was a trip that proved different from any of those we had taken before… with Terry, Ellen, Richard and I jumping from Fort Lauderdale to the Florida Keys and then back. (And then back. Sort of. But you’ll find about that on day eight.)

Sure, we’ve played this game of mid-trip hotel jumping before… Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon come to mind.

This time though, there was something different about the trip. And mentioning the travel back and forth isn’t quite the right example to use. Instead, I should probably point to something quite specific. And yet, something amazingly vague and incredibly unsettling.


You may laugh… but I swear that it’s true. Our inability to find anything in Miami to see or do was a constant part of the trip… a presence that could be sensed while experiencing some tremendous moments.

Going back over every trip before this one, I couldn’t tell you that I’ve ever had troubles finding an entire city before, especially when I was quite aware of it and looking forward to the visit. I can now.

And yet… tremendous moments they absolutely were…

Day One ~ Saturday, May 2, 2009

We are leaving from Warwick, Rhode Island on Southwest Airlines, and we have the distinct pleasure of flying with the most annoying woman in the world. She’s traveling with her kids and a male adult… and while I’m obviously exaggerating by calling her the most annoying (she didn’t look anything like Sarah Palin or Oprah Winfrey), along with her gang-in-tow she is proving to be a barrel of fun and excitement while creating warm, fuzzy, happy thoughts in all of our memories.

It all starts with the boarding. See… Southwest lines you up. Terry, Ellen, Richard and I are leading the way for Group B this morning, and we quickly board the plane, get bags stored, and settle in near each other.

The Party of 5 is… go figure… the last to board the plane.

The very last.

A quick look around confirms (and both my memory and the margins of my notes agree) these five are the only ones standing as this event unfolds before us.

She begins this morning’s show with Act One, Scene One ~ “There’s no place for us to sit”… always a strong opening number and destined to be a crowd favorite from this performance. Oh heck… here’s the Playbill for you…

Arrogant, snotty, bitchy lady making everyone grumpy
(It’s a miracle we didn’t ask for her to be removed)

A play in three acts

Act one ~ Realization of a problem
Act One, Scene One ~ “There’s no place for us to sit” – The setting was near the middle section of the plane, standing in the center aisle, as they looked to the back and then to the front. The woman apparently in charge of this group is talking out loud, seemingly to the flight attendants… but no one from crew to passengers seems to be completely dedicated or attentive to ramblings. Evidently she’s surprised that the very last people to get on the plane aren’t finding five seats grouped together on this wonderful discount airline that makes no secret of the fact that they don’t book seat assignments, just boarding order.

Act One, Scene Two ~ “Some of these people will have to move” – Our bitchy friend is now walking up and down the aisle, doing a poor imitation of the Count from Sesame Street while noting the five empty seats that remain (“…four… there’s a fourth seat… and there’s not even five… oh wait… there’s another… or did I count that?”), and loudly observing that some of the already settled in passengers will just have to move so her entire group can sit together. (A quote of “a few people are just going to have to move” is in my notes.) At this point I was almost willing to move if it would have helped her (it wouldn’t have, since my moving would have simply changed a single-seat in one row to a single-seat in my row), but her tone of voice was convincing me that I didn’t want to move for her. She was absolutely certain that her demands would be met by all of us settled-in-waiting-to-depart passengers. And it was more and more irritating every time she spoke. Alot of other people also weren’t thrilled about her attitude or moving their overhead items, because it turned out she was wrong… none of these people that were already on board had to move. And… none did.

Act two ~ Action (or lack of)
Act Two, Scene One ~ “Why aren’t you moving” – She’s now begun having a discussion with a flight attendant. The attendant is trying to explain that there are five open seats available, there are five people in her group, and this is in fact an amazing coincidence. She asks the most annoying woman in the world to settle in. In other words… they’ve bought seats, there are seats, no one will be asked to move and we’re waiting on her. She’s not happy. Emotions are at a peak, we’re preparing for the big emotional number of the show. And… maybe… still looking around… not quite moving yet… perhaps… making a face… yes. Ok. Here it is…

Act Two, Scene Two ~ “I bought my tickets before any of these people” – Without consulting with any of us about purchase dates, she loudly claims that there is no way any of us on the plane had our tickets before her. After all, she bought them about four or five weeks ago. She continues by demonstrating her knowledge of traveling with a large group by pointing out that she arrived at the airport an entire forty-five to fifty minutes before departure to check in and get their boarding number. A shake of the head, a shrug of the shoulders, and there is no way any of us could top that. Forty-five minutes ahead of departure to check in. Go figure. It’s official… we’re tired of her. We’ve moved from: (1) their fault for arriving late (never really admitted, but at least acknowledged with frustrated looks at all of the filled seats) to (2) our fault for picking seats and arranging ourselves… apparently, on purpose… to inconvenience her, and we would simply have to sort out our mess to her satisfaction to (3) the airlines fault for wanting her to sit down. Ultimately, we’ve arrive here at (4) it’s our fault, and it couldn’t possibly be her fault, this time because she is more important and ordered her tickets at the coffee shop that morning when she first woke up while we were all sleeping.

Act three ~ I’ll show you
Act Three, Scene One ~ “Desperation” – Uh-oh… the show stopper fell on deaf ears and we have a very quiet audience. The show progresses without intermission. Apparently alot of those people that were sitting around us in the waiting area at the gate two hours before boarding weren’t impressed with her tirade about being less than an hour early and special. Once again she is scanning the seats trying to figure out how to arrange her group. During an amazingly uncomfortable silence (not her, she’s still mumbling, but not one passenger is making a sound) a few people do move a bit. There are now places for four people to sit as two pairs, which you have to admit is a step up from five singles located throughout the plane. And the fifth person is only two rows away from one of those pairs. Not bad. Not good enough though… she’s pointing at people and asking if they are traveling alone, evidently trying to find two people that will move so she can get three together some how. She does this while also complaining about the overhead storage. Evidently the people that were kind enough to move didn’t move their stored belongings, and she’s ticked off she can’t put her bags in the bin. (It’s the live show version of the gift that keeps on giving.)

Act three, Scene Two ~ “I hope you’re satisfied” – At last they begin to settle in, but she isn’t going to go quietly. In a moment that probably should have gotten her entire group kicked off the plane, she finally moves in to her seat while saying: “Well, I hope everyone is happy. Three of us are sick.”

I can only assume we were all too tired and fed up to complain about that one, because the plane departs the gate and heads to the runway.

(And folks… later in our story, while in the Keys, they returned to take a bow. So you’ve got that to look forward to.)

We’re traveling with mini-DVD players, and we learn that the batteries are just powerful enough to play for roughly two-hours. Unfortunately, there’s barely any volume in the headsets. We’re trying to watch Kung Fu Panda and a part of Iron Man (or at least I was watching part of Iron Man before the battery died), but honestly we didn’t see much of either. Ellen and Richard are having similar struggles with Ratatouille.

We arrive at the airport in Fort Lauderdale and head over to get the luggage and the car. Here, we meet BJ. And given the state of things today, she is perhaps one of the last great customer service experience providers we’ll ever see.

Her computer is down, so BJ comes around to the self-service kiosk and takes care of everything for us… all while smiling and having a grand old time.

We leave the desk, head to the garage, and find ourselves staring at a wide selection of cars. And since all of us have been wondering about the leg room available in that supposed third row SUV seating, we used this as an opportunity to check out some of the so-called comfortable models.

The result?

Not so much comfort.

Eventually… after Richard and I were both forced to say we didn’t want a Hummer… we ended up picking a Dodge Journey.

We head out toward our base residence for the trip… which is actually in Weston, Florida… and decide to stop for lunch. After getting Mi Luv U up to speed and looking around at our options under her food listings, we settle on visiting the Carolina Ale House.

Great decision.

I’d recreate the bar selections for you… but honestly: (1) That’s really personal preference. This place has a huge assortment of common and uncommon labels. You’ll be fine regardless of what you are looking to drink. (2) I can’t read my notes. Next to Terry I have written “Carolina Hurricane”… which between the name of the bar (could have been a house brew) and the NHL team and the listing of Carolina Pale Ale on their current menu… well, I just don’t know. Ellen has Coors Light next to her name along with “Sad Summer”… and I’m guessing I could have been abbreviating Saranac, which just so happens to also offer a pale ale that’s on the menu and also does make a summer-titled brew. (So I guess I actually did try to recreate it for you, but only partially can claim success. Oh well.)

What I can definitely tell you is the Carolina Ale House offers one of the most unbelievably amazing selections of appetizers I have ever seen. It wasn’t that everything would appeal to you… it was that the selection was diverse, just about anyone would find a couple of items they’d enjoy, and all of it sounded really good. Between the four of us, we ended up debating everything offered and ultimately settled on something called the Picky Platter Combo to get a taste of a few things.

My notes say Terry, Ellen and Richard went for blackened sandwiches… a chicken, mahi mahi and cheeseburger respectively. Looks like I had a sweet mountain honey barbecue chicken sandwich. Word is the blackened seasonings were very well done with good spices and everything was delicious.

I also have a note to share my wimpier jalapeno theory with you. So, abbreviated version, here goes…

If you look around, you’ll see that all sorts of places have begun using jalapeno and chipotle and other items of spicy reputation much more frequently… and to a certain extent, even more casually. Some of it is probably thanks to all of the new shows and popularity associated with cooking. Alot of it is marketing.

But ten…twenty… thirty years ago, you simply never saw every other brand of potato chip bursting with cayenne flavor. You never saw habaneros used in the dressings for your sandwich. What you did see was lots of people saying they didn’t like spicy food.

Now… let’s pause for one moment. I’m not saying that the vast majority of people were educated and truly understood the concept of “spicy” at the time. There was a lot of misinformation out there. Still… it’s almost as if they wanted to make eating spicy food a badge of honor, where today it’s about expanding the flavors. Which in turn is funny, and comes around to the jalapeno theory, because as it’s built up I’ve noticed that the jalapenos that seemed strong at times before no longer seem to be that strong.

Sure it would be really neat to say we have this new way of presenting hot and spicy food, and people seem to be enjoying it. People are trying new things. Isn’t it great? Except the marketing… go back, you’ll see I mentioned the marketing… would have the same people presenting it as new and different and exciting as also wanting to be certain that everyone could handle qualifying for the honor.

All of this has me wondering… are the peppers not as strong today as they were ten to fifteen to twenty or more years ago? The actual theory being that they aren’t… and I simply can’t prove whether or not it’s true.

(Although… timing can be a very funny thing. Just as I was wrapping up this article for posting, I spotted this column talking about how fruits and vegetables are actually less nutritious these days. Does this matter when it comes to spicy peppers? Don’t know. And with a note in there about organic foods being more nutritious, am I skeptical about possible ulterior motives for this veggies losing their benefits article? You bet. Still… interesting.)

Back to the Carolina Ale House.

As far as the place itself… we really enjoyed our visit.

We sat outside on a deck next to a small lake. There were some ducks wandering by… including five babies. If the goal of the design was to encourage drinking, appetizer eating, and wasting an afternoon while letting your thoughts drift around aimlessly in the company of good friends… then success. Brilliant and undeniable success. If we weren’t heading over to move in to our home for the week, we might have dragged out a deck of cards and stayed all afternoon.

Our waitress was Shanna, and I’ve got mixed reviews for her… very nice in general, but not the most attentive server I’ve ever encountered. When we left, we took a few key lime hard candies that were simply fantastic.

We arrive and check in to our rooms, and we find a slightly different experience awaiting us. We’re staying in one of these double-units that actually work as two separate hotel suites, but have united accessibility through the primary door. Nothing shocking there… we’ve hit the road with Ellen and Richard before and stayed in timeshare units with exactly such a floor plan. Heck, they probably used the same blueprints. But this time… there is no washer and dryer in the room. And… no checklist. We won’t miss the checklist. The washing of clothes… well… that was something we hadn’t expected.

Off we go to do some basic shopping… a trip to Publix and a mid-afternoon show in the produce department as we get to watch Richard select some fruit. Then it’s back to the rooms and I get a DVD player set up so I can watch the rest of Iron Man while Terry unpacks. (And before anyone complains… she actually likes doing this. It’s her choice.)

The four of us get together for dinner, and, well…

If you’re looking for some bad food, Del Vecchio’s is the place to be.

Now… please, please, please keep in mind… you will be seduced by Del Vecchio’s.

When you walk inside, it looks clean… busy… well staffed. There’s a selection of food available that gives off the impression of being homemade and served with pride. You know the stuff… in a cooler unit off to the side, and when you look through the glass doors at the items neatly packaged and stacked and almost homemade you get the idea the owners are saying to you (my words): “We could have bought some pasta salad in a big plastic tub and served it up, but our momma wouldn’t have approved. We love our momma. Please enjoy her special recipe that we used while preparing this for you.”

And the menu has some items on it that have you planning your return before you’ve even tried a bite. (My words) “Ok, this time we’ll try the fried calamari, and then on Tuesday we’ll… we’ll… we’ll… hold on. Do I smell fresh bread and garlic?”

Their web site proudly displays how they have been selected as the best pizza in Weston for almost a decade straight.

You will be seduced by Del Vecchio’s.

Given our experiences, the best pizza voting means either (1) there is no other place in Weston serving pizza or (2) the only people voting are the owners. (However… full disclosure… our experience tonight was so bad we never even considered going back to try the pizza.)

We ordered three strombolis and one calzone. We got three calzones and one stromboli.

Richard’s was cold.

Terry started taking the meat out of hers and tried to eat what was left.

I could go on… but it’s just not worth beating Del Vecchio’s up. We ate at several places during this visit that I would absolutely love to visit again. Places I dream of visiting again. This was one of two I will never return to.

(Here’s the kicker. (Back to Publix for a moment.) I usually fall victim to the sirens on the rocks of the produce islands myself when I shop with Richard. Visions of good food and fresh kiwis and so on dancing in my head. I saw some strawberries… and a sale on angel food cake… and we got back to the room and I prepped everything before we left to get dinner.

After a horrendous meal we’d all like to put behind us, we played some cards and had bowls of strawberry shortcake… vacation-style. As we settled in for the night in our rooms and drifted off to sleep, everything was right in the world again.)

Day Two ~ Sunday, May 3, 2009

This morning kicks off one of those perfect days you often dream about… as in a perfect day of nothing. We’re going to have fun… we’re going to see some great things… but we have absolutely zero plans. The day is just simply going to unfold around us.

Terry starts things off by preparing a fantastic breakfast of pancakes and sausage. Delicious.

After breakfast, I decide I miss Louise. Not having her and Mike along seems a bit off to begin with… but Terry has told me I need to wash the dishes, in part because I was already showered and dressed. Louise would have told her that I was doing the driving and already had a job.

As we get in the car and hit the road, we decide to head south. Maybe Miami. Maybe one of those crab-shack-like places for dinner.

And as we drive along Florida’s turnpike, we see a sign for the Hard Rock Casino, which we had been thinking about visiting, and decide to drop in.

We stop at the player’s club right away. Johanne took great care of us… getting Terry and I signed up while providing us with coupons and comps and all sorts of stuff.

I watch Terry use her slot play coupon and ultimately decide to play some blackjack. All of the tables are around $15 when I begin looking, but are actually heading up to $25. I play a couple of hands and end up down $15 when I quit. I move over to a Triple Diamond slot machine and turn my free play into $25. Now up for the day and not looking to play the large minimum tables, I wrap up my gambling.

We begin to walk around the shopping area, and that’s when a feeling hits us all at full force.

Something didn’t seem right to us. It started with $25-a-hand blackjack, but we couldn’t really explain it then. We wrote that off as being supply and demand. But as we strolled around outside we began to realize that the shops that were open were nice… but nothing special. And what really struck us was how many places were closed. It was 1pm on a Sunday and the majority of stores and restaurants were locked.

Since we think we’re going to be having a bigger dinner, we finally decide to head into Tequila Ranch. We all like Mexican food and decide that between the points we got for providing our e-mail addresses and such we can get a good discount. (Turned out to be true, we took $10 off the bill.) Unfortunately though, the flavor of the south offered here was pure vanilla… as in boring and spice-free.

We each ordered a beer and began to eat the chips and salsa on the table. The salsa consisted of tomatoes and little else for flavor. The chicken empanadas were good. But the spicy beef nachos? Well, the flavorless salsa had more flavor than the nachos. It was all ok, but hardly the kind of Mexican food you would expect to find in a Mexican-themed restaurant. (Hmm… maybe it was more the kind a suave marketer would promote in getting people to brag about being addicted to the taste of jalapenos.) It’s definitely not what you would expect from such a restaurant located in southern Florida.

We use our food voucher to stop at a bakery counter and purchase a few items for later. Then it’s back to the car, on the road, and off for the coast. We’ve targeted Joe’s Crab Shack in Lauderhill for dinner, and we’re going to drive along the water… as we can… down to Miami, see some of the sights, and then hook around to head north for dinner.

As we drive along A1A, we are treated to some amazing properties and beautiful areas. A few times we find ourselves driving next to a canal with stunning homes and gorgeous boats arranged nearby. We ultimately want to swing around to South Beach and maybe put together some thoughts for later in the week. Eventually though, we’re out of room and realize we’ve never been near South Beach. We’ve swung inland and started heading north. Somehow… while yes, gazing around… we’ve been unable to find what we set out looking for.

We arrive at Joe’s Crab Shack, and we have a ball. The only mistake I made… me… the guy that doesn’t dive in for seafood… is that I didn’t just order seafood. Because the snow crab was amazing, and the food overall was exceptional. Everything else we tried… everything else… put my Key West chicken to shame. (Please note… go to Joe’s Crab Shack… be amazed and enjoy… don’t order the chicken.)

Terry ordered a pot with two lobsters. Ellen ordered a pot with mussels. Richard ordered the coconut shrimp. We added some calamari (which was incredible) and a side of snow crab.


Just great food. Shake your head, look at each other in disbelief, and dive in for more great food.

Our waiter was Rob and he took very good care of us. He navigated the menu so that we would be prepared for sharing and getting exactly what we wanted. He even tried to steer me away from the chicken saying it was fine but wondering if I would rather go with some seafood instead. I resisted… he gave in… and he was right after all. The most amazing thing of all was the bill… which was significantly less expensive than we expected it to be.

If you’re scoring at home… 2 awesome meals… 1 disappointing meal… 1 horrendous meal… and we’re having a blast.

Amazingly… the good stuff hasn’t even started yet.

Day Three ~ Monday, May 4, 2009

But it does start today.

When we began planning our trip, an airboat ride in the Everglades had must-do status attached. No question it would be included… just a matter of what day and who’s airboat.

We’re heading out for a ride with Coopertown Airboats. The drive along back roads is a quick one… it’s early morning and we don’t want to be late. We’ve scheduled a private tour for our group. (Most of our visit is reviewed here… and we had a great time.)

The problem was our timing. There wasn’t any water… for the most part. While we saw plenty of alligators and other wildlife, and got to do alot, Mike… our guide for the day, and a terrific one at that… mentioned that several things they like to do simply wouldn’t be possible.

Hundreds of alligators lined our paths as we set out from the dock. It was an amazing journey… exactly what you would expect, pretty much everything you would hope, and yet somehow very different from anything you envisioned.

We spoke with Mike about his thoughts on lunch, and he was quick to direct us down the road to the Pit Bar-B-Q. Located really no more than 5 minutes down the road, we arrived and sat down in an outdoor dining area under a fantastic grass roof.

Terry and Ellen went with the Tidbits dinner. Richard had the spare ribs dinner. And I went for the BBQ triple decker, kind of a pulled beef sandwich.

The food was good. It wasn’t the best barbecue we’d ever eaten… and I don’t know if we’ll ever head back. But that open-air hut we ate in… and the general location (just a few minutes after seeing literally hundreds of alligators)… and a great day with good friends… it all worked. (And seriously… how can you top a good barbecue beef sandwich and cole slaw on a sunny day, with fries, for under ten bucks?)

We have the afternoon open, and make a decision to take the scenic route home. This sparks an interesting idea… one that will have some readers scratching their heads… and one that kind of sums up our thoughts on the city of Miami. And here it is…

Terry likes watching CSI: Miami. When I asked her if there was anything she wanted to do in south Florida, she jokingly said that she wanted to see the Miami-Dade County Police Department building.

She honestly meant that as a joke. While she would never have stopped us from driving past it, Terry is not one of those people looking to book a tour of the stomping grounds of her favorite shows. (Not that she wouldn’t try a restaurant or visit a place she saw on a television show… let’s just say she’s not spending $37.50 for a pizza bagel and bit size Three Musketeers. Anyway…)

Ellen and I figured it would be funny to try and find it. But… you know… Mi Luv U is incredible. She does not, however, have an option for finding “…as seen on the television show…” locations. (Note to Garmin… look into licensing such a feature. Think about it… there you are… in the middle of some state for the first time. And you remember seeing a place featured on your favorite Food Network show, but don’t remember the name of it. Get into the places of interest section on your Mi Luv U, and along with fuel, shopping and other categories there could be a “Seen on TV” section. It could offer you places to eat, shop or even just take pictures. Maybe Garmin even gets a pay-per-direction option that allows you to set up your own day of sightseeing, shopping and eating around those spots you see every week on your favorite shows. I need to call Garmin. This could be really big.)

Now… why will this thought have some people scratching their head? Because maybe they know exactly what station was used for the show, and are startled because (my words) “everyone knows that” when it comes to the address. Or, like most shows, maybe CSI: Miami doesn’t use a police station at all. Maybe they shoot their Miami scenes at a library or public school and change the sign out front when the cameras are rolling. The trick is…

I didn’t care enough to look it up.

Would that have mattered? Don’t know. As we started to find out yesterday, learned a bit more about today, and will eventually discover is true for every plan involving Miami, even the stuff I did care enough to look up will never be found.

But we never did find the Miami-Dade station from the show.

Despite not finding it… we had a pleasant drive around.

Got back to the room and watched some television while cleaning up and getting ready for dinner. Giada was making a Mother’s Day celebration meal. Looked kind of neat. We slowly assembled and prepared to head to Fort Lauderdale.

We were eating dinner at Chima’s.

Before we left on this trip, I was talking to a good friend at work, John. He recommended a couple of places to eat, and this one was an absolute for him. Do not miss it… get there any way possible… there is no way you’ll regret it… according to him.

He was wrong.

It was even better than the jaw-dropping, mouth-watering, incredible description he provided. Easily one of the best dining experiences we’ve ever encountered as a group.

Everything about the place was nice and well-maintained. After pulling up and finding valet parking, there was a short stroll from the road to the restaurant’s entrance. Upon reflection, this could be interesting if it was raining… but on this visit it was fine.

The restaurant itself is wonderfully designed, with several small seating areas that didn’t distract from the atmosphere, but did insure a sense of privacy and intimacy.

The salad bar was… well… amazing doesn’t suffice. They had a corn mousse that bordered on ridiculous. Nothing on a salad bar should be that good, and I’m just mentioning this item since I had never seen it before. Everything on the salad bar was delicious, with all of us looking at other plates to see if someone was missing something that we were falling off our chair enjoying… or if someone was enjoying something we missed.

And then the meats started arriving. I don’t know what to tell you. Listing them wouldn’t be fair. Just too good. All of it. Too good. One tip I do have… I don’t care how full you are… I don’t care if you can’t have another bite… do not skip the pork loin with parmesan. That stepped above epic into a level of deliciousness that words cannot convey.

By the end of the meal Ellen was crying that there was “too much food” while we picked on Richard that the fried bananas would be wasted if he didn’t finish them. (So he did. If they had made apple pie I swear I could have forced dessert into him.) We could have spent the meal eating from the salad bar only, or enjoyed just the meat service, and either would have been so fabulous we would have called this one of the greatest dinners we’ve shared… to combine both was bordering on perfection.

And a funny thing to end the meal… it really wasn’t that expensive. They serve essentially an all-inclusive visit, everything from soup to salad and appetizer to entrée is part of the cost. On our trip, we had found a coupon on their web site for $25 off two dinners and they honored it for both of our couples. Consider it all and the final bill was very reasonable.

If you go… and find Roger as your head waiter… say hello for us. He may not remember our group, but he will take outstanding care of you.

At this point Ellen started talking about the local water taxis. She thought they’d provide a great after dinner, sunset kind of experience for the evening. And she was right… because they likely would have. Sounded like a great idea. Except, since we didn’t plan on such an idea, and really weren’t excited enough about it to ask… we couldn’t find them. This led to an absolutely classic Ellen moment.

We get at least one Ellen moment per trip. Once, during a 20 questions game just outside of Las Vegas, she and Richard combined for In-N-Out Burger being a pet.

Here, she told us she knew the boats were close and had to have a dock just off of Las Olas Boulevard. She told us to head toward the beach. So…

We started to head east along East Las Olas Boulevard… toward the beach… spotted a public parking lot that appeared to be near a set of docks… and with every thing we did Ellen kept shaking her said while saying “no, no, no” to what we were doing.

We’re on Las Olas… no-no, it’s on Las Olas. We head toward the beach… no-no, it’s out near the beach. We see a parking lot… no-no, the dock is right next to public parking. Ellen is hysterical, and we’re laughing, and it just keeps escalating.

We parked the car, walked to the dock, and pointed to a water taxi sign. Again… “no”… and she insisted we were in the wrong spot. The three of us couldn’t stop laughing, because as far as we could tell, we had followed every point of Ellen’s directions exactly and landed right on the dock of the water taxi. Still… “no”… it was all wrong. So instead of waiting…

At her insistence, we changed our minds and skipped the water taxi, walking up Cortez Street on a quest for a bathroom and, ultimately, the Fort Lauderdale Beach.

Sunset may have been on the other side of the state, we still had a magical evening as the sun went down while we walked along the water.

I know you’ve heard of Fort Lauderdale. People talk about it… and millions have visited it. But I’m going to tell you something… it is about as beautiful a place as I’ve ever visited. And I mean that in a strange way. Everything was different… from the lack of a parking lot at the restaurant to the design of the streets and inlets of water. None of it different in a stunning way… most of us have valet parked at a city restaurant before… but just out of the ordinary different. Just enough to keep you on your toes.

Every element of Fort Lauderdale was comfortable and amazing, in ways you could never have expected.

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com