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It’s All Relative . . . February 3, 2018

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Less IS More, Travel & Leisure.
26 comments

On our recent road trip across the state to Miami and up the coast on Route A1A, we traveled through congested city streets with bumper to bumper buildings lining both sides of the road.

As we drove north on A1A, we often found ourselves traveling through canyons of skyscrapers peering down on us.

Late Saturday afternoon, we turned toward home on Route 710, driving through mile after mile of sawgrass prairie populated only by cows grazing in the fields.

Not these cows, but ones just like them . . . only slightly less curious about our “cruising tunes.”

Sometime after sunset, as we approached a 4-way intersection, a cautionary sign greeted us:

“Congested Area”

Looking around the intersection for the promised congestion, we noted a single gas station on one of the 4 corners.

And nothing else.

No high-rises.  No bumper to bumper traffic.  No trucks entering or leaving the highway.  No construction.

As we passed through the “congestion” with ease, and without mishap, I burst out laughing.

zebras

Like beauty, congestion is in the eye of the beholder ~> it’s all relative.

Aah . . . that’s better!

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An A1 Road Trip . . . Up A1A January 29, 2018

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Humor, Mindfulness, Travel & Leisure.
34 comments

After craning our necks to see the Art Deco hotels of South Beach and the skyscrapers of Miami Beach, we headed north under Sunny Skies with sunny dispositions.

Memories of cutting school in high school to “cruise the beach” filtered into my thoughts.

We lowered the windows and cranked the tunes as we headed up the coast through storied locales overflowing with moneyed locals.

We drove north from South Beach to Miami Beach to Surfside to Bal Harbour to Sunny Isles to Golden Beach.

In Hallandale Beach, I spotted a decorative mural.

A well-timed stoplight let me get the full picture.

In Hollywood, we parked and headed out to the beach.

Gorgeous, eh?

Satisfied, we put more money in the meter, so that we could check out the 2.2 mile boardwalk.

Watching out for bikes and bikers, we wandered down the smooth surface.

I loved this house located along the boardwalk.

In Dania Beach, we stopped for lunch in a small bayside park.

Populated with more palms than people.

We enjoyed the breeze off the intercoastal.

Though simple, lunch was delicious.  Everything tastes better under sunny skies.

In Fort Lauderdale, we drove through two “tunnels” . . . which doubled as runways for the airport.  Now that’s urban planning!

Skirting the edge of the city, we turned east toward Fort Lauderdale Beach.  Crossing over the intercostal, we could see a number of city-sized cruise ships readying to head out to sea.

Like Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale Beach had a simple uncluttered look to its promenade.

But it did engage in some unique beach marketing.

First, this inviting Adirondack Chair.

And then a sunny snowman wearing sunshades and a Panama Hat on a stand-up paddle board ~ let’s hope he remembered to put on some sunscreen!

Palms shaded the sidewalk.

And the tree-lined streets.

A few miles north, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea got our vote for funnest and funkiest beach town!

What an inviting and colorful place to hang out!

In Pompano Beach, we saw the Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse standing guard over the busy inlet ~ a helpful navigation aid for sailors even on sunny days.

We continued north through Pompano Beach, Hillsboro Beach (which was surprisingly hilly), and Deerfield Beach.  The coastal views continued to be framed by blue skies and palm trees.


In Boca Raton, we stopped at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center and enjoyed a stroll through the hardwood hammock on an elevated boardwalk.

Before leaving, we stopped to admire the turtles in the children’s play area.

We also walked around the Butterfly Garden & Trail to the Chickhee Hut at water’s edge.

And admired its interior architecture.

It was an enjoyable last stop.  In Highland Beach, just south of Delray Beach, we set our sights toward home . . . after a couple of quick pit stops to fuel up ~ both the car and our bellies.

Heading home across the sawgrass prairies, we admired countless cows grazing in the fields until it was too dark to see anything but the night lights.

Aah . . . that’s better!

 

WILSON! January 27, 2018

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Joke, Less IS More, Mindfulness, Travel & Leisure.
19 comments

In Boca Raton, at Red Reef Park . . . I found a coconut!

Holding it up to my ear, I heard Tom Hanks hollering “WILSON!” . . . as his only and constant companion washed out to sea.

Not wanting to grow attached to an inanimate orb, I put the coconut back where I found it for some other Castaway to befriend.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Scenes From South Beach January 25, 2018

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Humor, Travel & Leisure.
23 comments

The next morning, after driving through downtown Miami on Route 1, we crossed the MacArthur Causeway to South Beach, where we hopped on A1A to take in the sights, sounds, and scenes of South Beach.

We loved seeing the Art Deco buildings ~ with over 700 in the Historic District, we caught sight of more than a few, including the Delano and National Hotel.

I spotted my initials on the front porch of the National Hotel.

Art Deco architecture arrived on the scene during the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, held in Paris in 1925, where the style was first exhibited.

It’s characterized by symmetry, ziggurat (stepped) rooflines, and decorative sculptural panels.

Set against the backdrop of a blue sky ~> c’est magnifique!  As were the palms.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Give Us This Day Our . . . Daily Bread January 23, 2018

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Travel & Leisure, Vegetarian Recipes.
18 comments

Arriving in Miami proper, we decided to check out The Original Daily Bread Marketplace ~ a Middle Eastern restaurant established in 1975.

Getting to the restaurant (via the terminus of the Tamiami Trail) involved driving 130 B~U~S~Y city blocks ~ a time consuming proposition in the pre-rush hour rush.

The slow going traffic meant that we spied any number of restaurants that would have filled the bill and our bellies, including the Versailles Bakery.

We kept driving.

We’re glad we stuck to the plan.

The Daily Bread is half market and half restaurant with a bakery in the middle.

We ordered a Falafel platter with 3 sides ~ hummus, house salad, and rice pilaf ~ plus pita bread, a side of Spanakopita, and a bowl of Tahini for dipping.

We enjoyed it all, especially the falafel.

After finishing the platter, we took a quick tour of the market and then headed (with purpose!) to the bakery to end our meal on a sweet note.  Torn between the Traditional Baklava and the Greek Baklava, we opted to get both so we could do a side-by-side taste test ~> we liked the traditional the best.

From the Daily Bread, we drove south through Coral Gables and Coconut Grove to Mattheson Hammock Park on Old Cutler Road . . . where we got our first glimpse of the Miami skyline under some serious cloud cover.

The next morning, we woke to SUNNY skies.  Stay tuned.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Clyde Butcher’s Big Cypress Gallery January 17, 2018

Posted by nrhatch in Animals, Art & Photography, Humor, Travel & Leisure.
18 comments

As we crossed the state on the Tamiami Trail, we saw birds, gators, and . . . fine art!

Clyde Butcher is an award-winning photographer who is not afraid of wading waist deep in water nor of waiting for hours to catch the right mix of sun, sky, and shadows for his stellar shots.

In short, he has patience to capture the exact configuration he wants.

We enjoyed touring his Big Cypress Gallery.

Both inside and out.

Noting that other artists aren’t constrained to black and white images or imaginings.

We skipped the guided tour ~ Walk On The Wild Side.

Trekking through the mucky muck of the Big Cypress Swamp surrounding the gallery (even with a seasoned professional as our tour guide) held no appeal.

Watching gators from an elevated boardwalk is more our speed.

Aah . . . that’s better!

 

Gator Country January 15, 2018

Posted by nrhatch in Animals, Humor, Life Balance, Nature, Travel & Leisure.
30 comments

On a recent road trip to Miami and up Route A1A to Boca Raton, we traversed the state on the Tamiami Trail, passing through portions of the Everglades and Big Cypress National Preserve.

In other words, through the “River of Grass” and through swampy bits of  “Gator Country.”

Did we see Gators?

You betcha!

We wandered boardwalks at several rest stops and stopped to watch the gators resting.

They are pros at relaxing and recharging.

And recharging and relaxing.

Often sleeping with one eye open.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Christmas Traditions January 3, 2018

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Humor, Life Balance, Travel & Leisure.
22 comments

Since my sister’s daughters were both in England over Christmas, my sister and her husband headed to Mississippi to spend Christmas with his family.

Instead of spending Christmas “Home Alone” . . . BFF and I packed our bags and headed to the “other coast” of Florida for a few days.

Staying in a high-rise on the beach didn’t feel like a “traditional Christmas,” but we did enjoy a few “Ho-Ho-Ho” moments . . . like riding the hotel elevator on Christmas Eve with a white-bearded guy carrying a Santa costume (who was probably headed to Cocoa Beach for the Surfing Santas event, but who wished to remain incognito):

“Hey, you look like Santa!”

“Shhhh . . .”

Note to readers:  NEVER argue with Santa on Christmas Eve!

The day before, after a happy (and delicious) Happy Hour at the Chart House, I snapped a shot of Santa’s eight tiny (champagne cork) reindeer . . . who did NOT insist on remaining incognito.

On Christmas Eve, our dinner plans evaporated when we arrived at Coasters for dinner in the Biergarten and found it had closed 2 hours too soon to suit us.

Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans. 

Plan B ~> take out from “No. 1 Chinese Restaurant” . . . because nothing says Christmas like Lo Mein, Egg Rolls, Crispy Noodles, and Fortune Cookies served up on paper plates.

Ah . . . so!  Laughing

On Christmas Day, before checking out of the hotel, we enjoyed coffee on the balcony while checking out the waves.

On our way home, via Orlando, we stopped at Disney Springs for lunch ~ take out from Bongos Cuban Cafe to enjoy lakeside.

Black Beans and Rice . . . that’s nice!

Look!  Up in the sky . . . it’s a bird.  It’s a plane.  It’s a balloon full of hot air!

After lunch, we wandered the shops . . .

Admiring a-moose-ing decorations . . .

We also toured the Christmas Tree Trail, full of all things Disney . . .

Hats off to my favorite Alice-in-Wonderland themed tree . . .

A few days after Christmas, we headed back to Orlando for a belated Christmas celebration with my sister’s family.

Instead of scones on arrival, we ate granola bars en route.  Instead of a traditional Christmas dinner (with Yorkshire pudding), we had pizza.  Instead of a garlanded Christmas tree guarding piles of presents, we piled our beribboned packages on an end table in front of the fire.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas . . . 

So, even though our Christmas traditions got tossed asunder this year to accommodate life’s changes . . . we found, just like the Grinch, that “somehow it came, it came just the same.”

Plus, we loved Plan B so much that ordering Chinese take-out on Christmas Eve might become our NEW Christmas Eve tradition!

Aah . . . that’s better!

What are your favorite Christmas traditions?  Did you start any NEW ones this year?

A Sage Scarecrow December 21, 2017

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Humor, Life Balance, Travel & Leisure.
10 comments

While wandering around Hollywood Studios, we stopped to enjoy a Fried Green Tomato sandwich and fries at Rosie’s Cafe.

Rosie’s scary (and sage) scarecrow got my attention!

It reminded me that we are all on a one way journey!

So we might as well take chances!

So we did ~> riding the Hollywood Tower of Terror two times!

We didn’t let the hotel’s sloppy housekeeping keep us away . . .

Here’s how we looked mid-flight!

Emboldened and bolstered by our bravery, we rode the Rock ‘n Roll Coaster before calling it a night!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Hollywood Studios December 19, 2017

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Magick & Mystery, Travel & Leisure.
14 comments

Hoping to enjoy a bit of Mickey Magic before the holidays, we headed to Hollywood Studios.

We ran into Woody outside Toy Story Mania . . .

We enjoyed the holiday greenery . . .

And the holiday tree . . .

We checked out an active construction zone . . .

Saw 3-foot-tall dominoes standing at attention . . .

And watched the natives having more fun than a barrel of monkeys . . .

As the sun started to set, we enjoyed more holly daze decor . . .

And ended the evening with a Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!

Aah . . . that’s better!