Saturday, February 28, 2009

South Florida Vacation Photographic Frenzied Finale

FINALLY! I'm getting around to updating this blog with some of my South Florida trip photos, starting with three lead images ...

A 25+mph northeasterly steady wind blowing from the ocean along the immediate shoreline walkway in Deerfield Beach, Fla., Feb. 24, 2009 ... these gusty onshore northeasterly winds are common in South Florida at his time of year. The fronds of these Royal palms were really being whipped about by the wind.

A Coconut palm growing along SE 1st St., Deerfield Beach, Fla., Feb. 22, 2009 next to the Comfort Inn where LP stayed.

I have a fascination with palm trees, always have, especially the more tropical ones such as the Coconut palm tree. This variety grows in South Florida near the ocean. The Florida State tree is the Sable (or Cabbage) palm that grows basically statewide and can handle the occasional sub-freezing night.

The gurgling, swishing, lightly roiled and choppy surf at Deerfield Beach, Fla., with the nearby pier, Feb. 24, 2009

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The rest of the pictures are more or less in chronological order ...

Gary and I took a 450PM flight on Spirit Air directly (!) from National Airport (DCA) to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) Friday evening. While I had a window seat, I was seated on the right side of the jet (in an "A" seat), and since we did the upriver take off from DCA, I didn't get the nice view of downtown Washington, D.C.

Instead, I saw parts of Northern Virginia and as we traced an arc around suburban Maryland, I saw the entire Baltimore area. Shortly thereafter, the jet flew over the lower tidal Potomac ...

This is a blurry jet view (with my crummy cellphone camera -- yes, I briefly turned it on to take this picture) from 30,000 feet above of the mouth of the (tidal) Potomac River where it empties into the Chesapeake Bay ...

What you're (supposed) to be seeing in the above picture is the very lower tip of St. Mary's County -- where I lived for a few years in the 1989 - 1992 period when I went to a horrible shitty college there called St. Mary's College of Maryland. It was there I had a previous Mr. Sirius situation, only that one was shorter and worse. Of course, thanks to going there, I met several of my friends today, including Phil, Amie, and Eric M.

Anyway, the image above is of the area more or less inside the lavender circle on this map image to the left. It Point Lookout which is the southern - most tip of the "western shore" of Maryland, and the "mouth" of the Potomac River (it isn't referred to as that) as it empties into the dull, vapid, rather polluted "drowned river valley" estuary of the Chesapeake Bay (the largest such estuary in the United States).

You can also see the edge of what is called the "Northern Neck" of Virginia, Northumberland County, as well as (barely visible in the haze) the Eastern Shore or Delmarva of lower southern Maryland and Virginia. Unfortunately, historic Tangier Island is not really visible in the image above.

The jet passed offshore near Morehead City and Cape Lookout, North Carolina (not to be confused with Point Lookout, Md., referenced above), and I had no view except the eternal expanse of the Atlantic (since my window was facing east) as dusk fell, and sky and sea merged into a hazy infinity of intense blue, white, gray, and violet shadows and the featureless greenish-gray tinged ocean above puffy white-gray stratocumulus clouds below slowly morphed into nighttime blackness off the Florida coast. Had I been on the opposite side of the jet, I would have seen the Florida coastline, since we weren't that far offshore. I probably passed within 10 miles of my dad in Flagler Beach, Fla.

The flight into FLL took us over the Florida coastline literally just north of downtown Fort Lauderdale, and that was quite a spectacular view, esp. after hours of seeing nothing.

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We arrived and Gary soon rented a car -- a black VW Jetta that served us very well -- and we drove to his D.C. landlord's condo in Boca Raton at the Boca Bella Condominiums in Boca Raton.

First night, Feb. 20, 2009 ...

Bob's Pizza, a take-out/eat-in pizzeria that adjoins Amante's an Italian restaurant in Deerfield Beach, Fla., two blocks from the shore. There was live music playing in the restaurant.

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Mr. Sirius's lawn ornament ...

Just kidding. Actually, this is an ornamental wooden flamingo and other South Florida-themed bric-a-brac on sale at the CVS in Boca Raton, Fla., which is the town adjoining Deerfield Beach, late night, Feb. 20, 2009

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First full day in Florida, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2009 ...


The view along (Old) Dixie Highway near the Boca Raton (Palm Beach County) - Deerfield Beach (Broward County) boundary. Dixie Highway runs parallel to Rt. 1, which is there called Federal Highway.

Dixie ... Federal ... Oh, I get it. Boo.

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Here a palm tree (a Royal Palm variety, I believe) was on its unceremonious way to some South Florida place to form a hopefully lovely landscaped setting.

The above picture was taken on I-95 in or near Delray Beach, Fla., as Gary and I rode to Palm Beach International Airport to pick up his uncle, Joel, who was visiting Gary's mom (Joel's sister) and grandmother (Joel's mom).

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Gary and his uncle Joel in the Platina village in the unincorporated part of Boynton Beach, Fla. This is where Gary's mom and grandma lived. His grandfather, who had been very sick for a while, died a few weeks ago, which was the occasion of Joel's visit. Our Florida trip was just coincidentally timed.

Gary grew up in Boynton Beach, Fla., before coming to the D.C. area in 1997 via Rutgers Univ. in New Jersey. I met him in meteorology grad school at UMCP.

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Here is a picture of Gary and his grandma, while ahead in the light blue sweat pants and white sweater is his mom. We went on a shopping expedition. This is in the Aberdeen Square Publix supermarket in Boynton Beach, Fla., Feb. 21, 2009.

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Here is a picture of Gary's mom and grandma at the same Boynton Beach Publix supermarket, Feb. 21, 2009.

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Unexpectedly, I saw Mr. Sirius at this very same Aberdeen Square Publix in Boynton Beach, Fla., Feb. 21, 2009 ...

Ha ha. Just kidding. This was a big lady doing her shopping. My ass is rapidly approaching that size. Boo.

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Some more interesting items at the aforementioned Boynton Beach Publix ...

There was actually a section of British foods, including this tin of Spotted Dick sponge pudding, as well as "salad cream" (salad dressing). I didn't see any bubble and squeak, though.

Ha ha ... this reminds me (well, actually, Gary said it) of the line in the movie "Auntie Mame" starring Rosalind Russell when Mame wakes up with a hangover and says (paraphrasing) to her young nephew Patrick, "bring your Auntie Mame coffee, black, and a sidecar..."

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Gary and I started on our way to Fort Lauderdale Int'l Airport to pick up LP. He was flying down to join us, but staying in a hotel near in Deerfield Beach about a mile from the condo.

Here we were driving along the 5900 block of N. Ocean Blvd. (also known as A1A that runs hugs much of the Florida Atlantic shoreline) in an unincorporated area of Boynton Beach also known as Ocean Ridge and Briny Breezes at dusk on Feb. 21, 2009.

These are millionaire and multi-millionaires' homes, although the wealth is even greater just north of here toward Palm Beach, where we went two days later (see below).

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On the way south, we stopped at Gulfstream Park in Gulf Stream, Fla., just north of Delray Beach.

A Royal palm (at least I think it's a Royal palm) in Gulfstream Park.

Gary in Gulfstream Park, Feb. 21, 2009

Yours Truly, Regulus, on the beach in Gulfstream Park, Gulf Stream, Fla., Feb. 21, 2009 at dusk.

I love the Atlantic Ocean of Jersey shore childhood memory, even as seen 900 miles south of there in a much more tropical place.

I have a weird relationship with Florida, and not just because my dad currently lives in Flagler Beach approx. 200 miles to the north in the more "Southernized" northern part of the State where things are less upscale and tropical and more NASCAR and sub-tropical.

Another image of me on the beach in Gulf Stream, Fla., Feb. 21, 2009

My odd relationship with Florida goes way back to my childhood and my grandparents -- my grandfather was ALWAYS moving there from New Jersey, though in the end he never did. He used to go there in the 1930s and 1940s -- driving there from New Jersey long before I-95 was put in. I always have this weird sense of deja vu when I go there, as though I lived a life there during World War II.

Silhouetted palm trees at sunset at the edge of Gulfstream Park, Gulf Stream, Fla., Feb. 21, 2009

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A really blurry picture of the beachside condos in Boca Raton, Fla., along A1A, Feb. 21, 2009

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We drove to Fort Lauderdale Int'l Airport to pick up LP and took him to Deerfield Beach to the Comfort Inn where he stayed.

Here LP checks into the hotel ... No, not with that young, voluptuous lady. She just happened to be checking in, too!

A very colorful, vaguely impressionistic painting of some hilly seaside setting that I found rather pleasing...

A lamp in the shape of a sea shell ... As my friend Chris T. would tell me, if that were a real Tiffany with a real lead glass shade and real brass base, that would easily cost $50,000.

Yours Truly, Regulus, Room 411, Comfort Inn, Deerfield Beach, Fla., Feb. 21, 2009 ... LP stayed here for four days. Gary and I were able to use the room during the day when we went to the beach.

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Second full day in Florida, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009 ...


The view at the corner of SE 14th St. and Federal Highway near the condo where Gary and I stayed at night.

The intersection of Hillsboro Blvd. and S. Ocean Drive (which becomes N. Ocean Drive north of Hillsboro Blvd.), Deerfield Beach, Fla., Feb. 22, 2009.

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FINALLY, the beach and the ocean ...

The beach and the pier stretching out into the ocean in Deerfield Beach, Fla., Feb. 22, 2009

Deerfield Beach walkway along SE 21st St., Feb. 22, 2009 ... it was mostly in the low to mid 70s Fahrenheit, variably cloudy, breezy to windy, but otherwise dry with only one brief rain shower the next day (Monday). Florida is in a mild to moderate drought. The ocean water temp was around 72F.

This Goodyear Blimp kept going back and forth up and down the coast. Interestingly, I saw no airplanes towing banners (my dad used to do that in the summertime along the upper Jersey shore). I'm guessing the Hindenburg was a damn site (or is it "damn sight"??) bigger than this blimp.

Here I am reclining on the beach after going into the ocean.

My lower half.

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More palm trees and a lifeguard hut near the Deerfield Beach pier. The green flag meant relatively calm sea conditions but the purple flag meant "dangerous sea life" or "sea pests" -- specifically, the Portuguese man o' war jellies ("jelly fish").

Quintessential Coconut palm trees at dusk, Deerfield Beach, Fla., Feb. 22, 2009

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Later that night, Gary, LP, and I went to Delray Beach, Fla., about 10 miles north of Deerfield Beach. However, it was rather late by Delray Beach standards (11PM) for a Sunday night and most of the town had closed up shop.

The curios in the DaVinci Fine Arts and Antiques on Atlantic Ave. in Delray Beach, Fla., Feb. 22, 2009

We ended up at an English pub called the Blue Anchor where we watched the last minutes of the damn Oscars. I think Ghetto Slum Dog Billionaire Millionaire won the best picture award.

Here Gary and LP look into the window of Reyes in Delray Beach, Fla., shortly after midnight, Feb. 23, 2009. There was a $14,000 item (can't recall what it was) in the window.

Gary: "$14,000 for that shit??"
LP: "It's not shit exactly."

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Third full day in Florida, Monday, Feb. 23, 2009 ...

There was a brief rain shower in the afternoon -- which was actually good since Florida (like the mid-Atlantic) has entered a near-drought, although it is winter time here so it is somewhat masked.

Here a heavy rain shower passes to the north and east of Deerfield Beach, Fla., with the sunlight creating a sharp contrast between deep gray-blue clouds and sunny beach and surf. This picture was taken in Kelly's, a small pier-side snack bar.

Gary and I tried to go back to the beach, but it began raining lightly so we nixed that idea and instead Gary, LP, and I took a drive to Palm Beach and its famous Worth Ave.

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EXTREME Worth Avenue ...

The view looking west down Worth Avenue in Palm Beach (not nearby West Palm Beach), Fla., Feb. 23, 2009.

Worth Ave. and the shops lining it are on par with Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills in terms of extreme wealth. It features incredibly high end clothing, art, and jewelry stores (where prices are mostly not even listed, since if you have to ask, you probably can't afford it, although one bracelet had a $47,000 price tag).

The "Trillion Too Courtyard" with $$$ restaurant$$$

The Palm Beach area is where live billionaires such as OPRAH! and closeted Rush the Vulgar "Defender of His Constitution" Pigboy. I wonder if they ever saunter or sashay down Worth Ave. and drop a few hundred thousand here or there. Maybe Rush sends one of "his boys" there to shop for him.

Compared to those prices, the Nieman Marcus on Worth Ave. was positively discounted and reasonable ...

Such as this $372 pair of jeans that I wonder if Mr. Sirius would buy.

Worth Ave. looking east toward the beach, or rather where it intersects S. Ocean Blvd., Feb. 23, 2009

The intersection of Worth Ave. and S. Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach, Fla., Feb. 23, 2009

Royal Palm Way, Palm Beach, Fla., Feb. 23, 2009

This ended our Palm Beach jaunt. We went back via West Palm Beach to I-95 southward. Of note, there is a North, South, and West Palm Beach but no East Palm Beach -- that's the ocean, I guess.

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Fourth full day in Florida, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2009 ...

It was on this day that I decided to delay my return by 12 hours ... from a ghastly 7AM flight on Wednesday that my friend Brian arranged to a 755PM on that same day. Brian -- who got me the $37 round trip fare -- did not come to Florida due to a situation at work.

Yours Truly on the beach again in Deerfield Beach, Fla., Feb. 24, 2009

I just couldn't bear the thought of having to get up at 430AM Wed., which would have also ruined my Tuesday night, though Gary was willing to ride me to the airport. Nor did I have any particularly urgent reason to return to D.C. Quite the contrary. Anyway, long story short, I purchased a $154.60 one-way FLL to DCA ticket on the same flight that Gary and LP were on.

The lightly roiled surf looking east from the beach in / at Deerfield Beach, Fla., Feb. 24, 2009

Part of the reason I didn't mind this is that I had come into $1110 unexpectedly as a result of my retroactive drop/add of a 3 credit class for a 1 credit class. I didn't expect that money, but it arrived instantly. That money combined with $1550 from my contracting job and my earlier student loan refunds has temporarily pushed my bank balance to nearly $10,500.

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The surf looking southward toward the bright, sunny, southern sky along the shoreline, Deerfield Beach, Fla., Feb. 24, 2009.

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On Tuesday evening, LP and I went back to the Patio Bar & Grill in the Howard Johnson hotel near where he was staying. We had gone there Monday night also and the food was very good. Gary again visited his family in Boynton Beach. Before that, though, LP and I took a brief walk on the beach.

I really need a haircut ...

Two Sable palms and a Coconut palm growing beachside near the Embassy Suites hotel, Deerfield Beach, Fla., Feb. 24, 2009...

The pastel orange-pinkish hued Cove Beach Club with palm trees at dusk, Deerfield Beach, Fla., Feb. 24, 2009, although at this time of day the colors appeared more muted.

The South Florida pastel colors also awaken this weird deja-vu feeling. And while in South Florida, I kept thinking of The Golden Girls TV show, though that was set in Miami. Of course, Miami would have been far more expensive and upscale with Triple A-List people all over the place.

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Last day in Florida, Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2009 ...


Here I am hiding my face from the full glare of the Sun on my last full day in Florida the day after getting sunburned the previous day as I didn't put on enough suntan lotion. I burn easily.

My last palm tree beach image from Deerfield Beach, Fla., Feb. 25, 2009 ... My Florida trip ending ... Boo

LP checked out of the hotel and the three of us made our way back to the condo to get cleaned up and do laundry.

On the short way back, I saw some nice, quintessentially South Florida images ...

The Addison condominium, Boca Raton, Fla., Feb. 25, 2009

Camino Real in Boca Raton, Fla., Feb. 25, 2009 lined with "Real" Royal palm trees ...

Another Coconut palm, SE 11th St., Boca Raton, Fla., Feb. 25, 2009 ... such vibrant colors in South Florida (like in the Caribbean).

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Finally, we were all packed up and ready to go. We began our way to the Fort Lauderdale Int'l Airport to catch our flight back to D.C.

A final sunset in Boca Raton, Fla., Feb. 25, 2009

Oh, yes, the whole time I was there, I kept thinking of how Fran Drescher's character Fran Fine on The Nanny would always say in that nasally voice, "BOCAH!" when referring to Boca Raton, where she (desperately) wanted her mother to move so she'd stop messing in her daily life.

Turning in the rental car in Fort Lauderdale at the airport, Feb. 25, 2009

As for the flight, I was able to get a right ("A") side window seat on the hope that we'd have a downriver approach into DCA. If it were an upriver approach, then it doesn't matter what side you sit on -- the view is equally lousy.

In the end, I was able to have LP and Gary sit in the same row with me.

In the end, we in fact did the downriver approach and it was nighttime spectacular, as always, even if I was less than thrilled to be back in crappy, cold, but snowless D.C. with its unsafe, unhappy, unfriendly feelings, powermongering, uptightness, and nonstop frickin' sirens every three minutes, at least living in the Dupont Circle area.

Spirit Air uses the old A terminal, which means a nearly 15 minute walk to the Metro station. Here we were walking in that semi-surreal hallway between the A and B terminals that resembles a series of old movie theatre ticket offices.

OK, this is a bizarre post-9/11 allegorical painting done in 2002 by someone named KR Turner showing the wreckage of the World Trade Center and political leaders, emergency responders, esp. firefighters, and ordinary citizens. At the front is a character that is supposed to be George W. Bush, though it bears scant resemblance to him. A figure that is supposed to be that idiot Tom "Puff" Daschle, who was then the Senate Majority Leader, is "looking to Bush" for guidance. Stupid.

It has a vaguely Soviet Realism feel to it.

The airport authorities have (understandably) hidden the painting far and away in this remote walkway connecting the two terminals in an alcove. I discovered it several years ago on one of my summer weekend walks with Gary (since DCA connects easily to the Metro and it is even easy to walk to).

Here Gary and LP walk into the B terminal -- that's the new one -- on our way to the Metro station. We all took the Metro home safe and sound.

And THAT, Dear Reader, concludes this blog entry except for one minor thing ...

There is actually a winter storm watch out for the usually weather-less Washington, D.C., area -- where this winter's combo of cold temps but endlessly missed snow events was especially vexing for me and other "snow lovers."

I realize talking about wanting snow after having posted all these tropical themed pictures from South Florida is an odd juxtaposition, but there you have it. I like my tropical settings tropical and I like my mid-Atlantic winters to have some snow. But, unlike some people, I don't always get what I want.

--Regulus