Miami Diary (Feb 13, 2006 - Feb. 19, 2006)
Overall impression of Miami: It's not even a very nice place to visit, and I definitely wouldn't want to live here. The folks in this city are very tightly wound. Traffic universally sucks. Anarchy rules both drivers and pedestrians, and aggressive driving is the norm. Ugh.
Monday, Feb 13. Got in, very late. Went to bed.
Tuesday, Feb 14. Miami MetroZoo. What an absolutely lovely place! It's huge, the enclosures are ginormous, and they've got wild iguanas running around. The first one we saw was in the Cape Hunting Dog enclosure, and when the dogs finally noticed it, they chased it. It got away. I shot four rolls of film, and of course, my very last shot was of an orange tiger mounting the white one. Yay. They also had New Guinea Singing Dogs, which I've only ever seen once before and never gotten pix of, so that was neat. They had lots of critters that you don't get to see all the time as well, such as Giant Elands, Greater Kudus, and Bongos. Very neat. Of course, we got out of there just in time for rush hour traffic, and by the time we got back near the hotel, we were exhausted and cranky. However, we found a Steak & Shake right by a WalMart, close by the hotel, so that was a godsend. YUM.
Wednesday, Feb. 15. The BEACHes. First we hit a bit of Miami Beach itself, wandered up and down. I found out why sandpipers hate to get their feet wet...it's because sometimes an errant wave catches them and pulls them into the water. They apparently don't enjoy that very much. Picked up some shells. Picked up some cool shells and saw some very interesting little white mussels with orange stripes attached and NOT letting go to some seaweed that'd washed up onshore. Then we hit Bill Boggs Cape Florida State Park on Key Biscayne, took off our shoes, and actually waded in the ocean for a bit. This is the first time Da Boy has ever had a chance to do that, and he had a blast...and got soaked. We all tried to dig up some clams with no success. Ate at Chili's. Once again, YUM.
Thursday, Feb. 16. Daytona International Raceway, and the GatorAde Duel! Of course, it rained first. And I left my jacket in the car, and it was chilly. However, I got a t-shirt autographed by Rusty Wallace--right in front of me!--and I found a really nice Elliot Sadler M&M hat in the closeout store, which the Hubby bought for me--and then Sadler won one of the two races! Whee! We walked and walked and WALKED up and down the concession area. Had great seats, and the jumbo screen made sure that we didn't miss anything. What a NEAT experience.
And, dude. Either race fans are more civilized than "normal" people in Florida, or Miami is the exception to the rule. Seriously, over a hundred thousand people were at the speedway, and most of us were parked in a lot that we had to be bused to and from. Keep in mind that a lot of these people had been drinking the alcohol freely available at the track...and I didn't hear one word of complaint at the length of the lines, no fights broke out, no one yelled or screamed or went nuts. Any teasing that happened about driver rivalry was good-natured and not mean or vicious. For a species that's as aggressive and downright ugly as we can get, we're also remarkably mellow. My theory is that we're cow-like as long as things go as we expect them to. Something NOT expected happens, and we stampede. But everyone knew what the deal was with the lines to the buses, and so we were patient about it. Remarkable. Ate at the track and then had a gas-station packaged sandwich. Meh.
Friday, Feb. 17. Boat show. On the drive out, we passed through a lower-middle-class neighborhood, and right in the middle of it, in front of a BRIGHT white house, was an equally bright white seven-foot-tall statue of Poseidon. Yes, the Greek god. WTF? It was strange, but endearing.
Parking for the boat show? A nightmare. We drove around for a good two hours looking for someplace to park. We finally decided to try one last place before giving up and calling it a day and finding something different to do, and we managed to get one of the very last spaces in a parking garage that we lucked into. It's nice and all that they have this big thing, but they really don't have the infrastructure to handle it, which is a shame.
But, dude, the BOATS. Yeah, I'd have to greatly simplify my life, but I think I could live on one. They have way more space than you'd think, and they're just beautiful, with the wood all over the place. Oh, yes. I could live on one.
On the drive back in to town, we took a different street and noticed that Every. Single. House had metal bars on the windows and doors. As did the businesses. It didn't seem to be a particularly run-down section of the city, but it was wild. And the fencing was metal with nasty-looking spikes on top.
Red Lobster for dinner. ZOMG YUM. RL does something different with their coconut shrimp than Joe's Crab Shack does, they put some sort of spicy stuff in it that you only notice after you've eaten several, and it leaves a quite pleasant tang on the tongue. Their dipping sauce for it is different too; it's a pina collada sauce, while Joe's has a plum sort of sauce.
Saturday, Feb. 18. More boat show. The parking situation wasn't nearly as dire this morning, as the boat show wasn't competing with the people that were actually working, so we managed to get to our parking garage and find a space very easily. Today we did the Convention Center exhibits and then went out to the Marriot for more boats on the water. Saw some just beautiful boats, picked up some brochures, and wandered for, oh, hours and hours. All kinds of neat stuff, not just the boats but all the STUFF that goes with boats, and artwork, sculptures, paintings, etc. One place had an artist that would paint your boat on the nautical chart of your choice, for the mere price of $1500. They were big, though, and quite well-done. I guess if you have the kind of money to throw around on a boat like this, you have the kind of money to get something like that done. There was another artist with some just gorgeous fish paintings; I wish I'd gotten his name. We have the book of exhibitors; I may have to look him up later.
Heh. I wore my Steelers shirt today and had a lot of people comment on it. I guess now that they've won the Super Bowl lots of folks are fans, or at least noticing. Steak and Shake for dinner again. YUM.
On the drive back towards the hotel, we saw the wildest thing. Oh, there was the normal cutting off in traffic, lack of signals (signaling apparently lets other drives countermove and is generally considered a bad idea around here, I guess), and near-hits, but this guy took the cake. He apparently missed his exit on the interstate, and rather than doing something logical, like, I don't know, taking the next exit and backtracking...He backed down the breakdown lane to get to the exit he actually wanted. *is gobsmacked* These people are INSANE. River and Dru look like the epitome of logic and reason compared to them. Dude, I would love to come back and see some of the things we missed while we were here, like the Everglades and the Parrot place and the Seaquarium...but if we have to come to Miami to do it? Forget it. I don't have the reflexes or the strong heart required to drive in this city, and I'm very glad I don't live here. Our shuttle bus driver must have had nerves of steel; I wouldn't even want to navigate our little 23' motorhome through these streets, and he had a 50' bus. My hat's off to him; I couldn't do it. And I will never complain about Utah drivers again. At least we don't drive with one hand on the horn and the other up in the air flipping the world off. I have never heard so much horn honking in my life.
And thus our trip is nearly over. Early flight in the AM, hopefully home in the afternoon after a couple of easy flights with no delays. *crosses fingers* I hear there's snow. Whee. Oh well. Can't be any worse than what we've driven through in this place. At least the snow isn't actively malevolent.