By Emma Palova
Ft. Lauderdale, FL- Sipping coffee at a Turkish café on the corner of Sunrise and N. Ocean boulevards in Ft. Lauderdale with my daughter Emma, I found life easy.
This writer’s break from the northern vortex in West Michigan was different from the previous ones.
First of all, I changed bodies of water;that is the Gulf of Mexico for the Atlantic Ocean. Then I changed company. We all went with our adult children and the grand kids.
We stayed at an Art Deco villa five minutes from the beach. It gave us the opportunity to explore the Atlantic Ocean up close and personal.
And for the writer in me it was also good to compare the two shores; that is the Atlantic and the Gulf coast.
The weather was marvelously warm in the 80s with equally warm waves of the Atlantic splashing the beaches. Surfers were abundant unlike on the Gulf, where the waves are not big enough for surfing.
On the downside of the Atlantic, there were less shells and no shark teeth hunters. However, the lifeguards were on full duty and warned of rip currents. Our fellow traveler Maranda almost got caught in one. The lifeguard warned us with his whistle.“Always swim with the current to get out of it, never against it.”
The sounds of the waves rocked the youngest ones to the best nap in the world: on the beach.
Just listening to the ocean and watching the white combs as the waves crested was the best meditation in the world. Enhancing the motion and the sounds of the ocean were the freighters anchoring off shore. These lit up at night.
South Beach, Art Deco & Miami Yacht Show
A pretty nerve-wrecking drive south on Collins Ave and onto Ocean Blvd. took us to South Beach and the Art Deco district.
On the cusp of the 30th annual Miami Yacht Show running from Feb. 15 through Feb. 19, we drove past hundreds of yachts-in-water for sale on the Indian Creek Waterway. Yacht brokers were just building entrances to the yacht in-water displays on 1.2 million square feet.
Art Deco district
As a civil engineer by trade and a history buff, I was fascinated by the chic historic Art Deco district. Sitting in the South Beach neighborhood within a short walking distance from the beach, the colorful historic buildings span three basic architectural styles: 1920s Art Deco, Mediterranean Revival and MiMo or Miami Modernist architecture.
In search of Cuban fare & Daiquiri cocktails, we ate at Mango’s Tropical Café.
The beach scene beyond the Lummus Park featured colorful Art Deco lifeguard stands and the hottest fashion trends such as the thong swimwear.
Las Olas, Venice of America, Ft. Lauderdale
We took a pirate boat ride on the Intracoastal Waterway lined by million dollar homes and mega yachts of the rich and the famous. Captain Kris took us past Steven Spielberg’s mega yacht equipped with three-quarter of a full length movie screen.
Knowledgeable about the lives of the famous, Chris told us the story of the founder of Phillips 66 petroleum company after whom the famous Grille 66 & Bar on the waterway has been named.
Then came the story of entrepreneur Wayne Huizenga known for Blockbuster Video, Waste Management & AutoNation.
We visited this small town of 6,000 north of Ft. Lauderdale twice for its walkable shopping district, the pier and snorkeling opportunities. It is full of small beach motels, unlike its high-rise neighbors.
I marveled at the sign for the local Farmer’s Market open from December through May.
In Michigan, we get first produce in June.
I will treasure timeless moments spent in the coarse sand, on the waves of the Atlantic, on the veranda of Ocean 2000 of the Pelican Resort and Valentine’s dinner on the deck of the Sandbar Grille.
And yes, we did also meet some Rubes, like the clerk at the Beach Shop.
However, we bargained with her for the best price for our Budweiser and Corona swimwear.
“You girls will never have to buy a drink for yourself on the beach,” she noted with a deep hollow laugh. Emma noticed her turquoise colored earrings in the shape of balls from the smallest to the big one.
Or maybe the real rube was the obnoxious bad pirate Barnacle Bill who stole our key to the treasure aboard the Bluefoot Pirate Adventures.
At the Aruba bar, women sported heart-shaped Valentine shades, and Publix was overflowing with heart-shaped balloons and cakes.
During this brief break from the freezing cold, we marked Mardi Gras, Valentine’s and Ash Wednesday, as well as the Greek Festival weekend in southern warmth and hospitality.
Alligator Alley, Everglades
However, I would be remiss, if I didn’t mention our 123 mile long drive from Ft. Lauderdale to Ft. Myers through the Everglades area of South Florida.
The freeway I-75 from the east coast of Florida to the west coast is appropriately called Alligator Alley, as it cuts through the Everglades for 80 miles.
I noticed hundreds of white egrets congregating on the palm trees by the river fenced off from the freeway to protect the endangered Florida panther.
According to popular lore and crime movies, dead bodies are being disposed off here at the Alligator Alley. You will find no traces of anything. What the alligators didn’t get, the birds and the panthers will. It’s called balance in nature.
Well, our time on the Atlantic Ocean came and went like the afternoon tide. But, it washed ashore thousands of precious memories.
And I close this “Notes from Ocean 2018” account with the words of the Frontier airline captain.
“Join us. We’re flying like crazy from the tip of North America to the tip of South America.”
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