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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Rainy Day in Florida

Wednesday 2/13

By noon today, the rain had returned to central Florida. That cut short most of our sightseeing.

The rain varied from mostly moderate to damned downpour as we pressed on South from Titusville.

We mostly followed state Highway A1A which hugs the coastline but periodically disappears entirely. You get to see a lot of the "old Florida" along the East coast with this route. The old cottages painted pastel shades of pink, lime and yellow are reminders of the time before condominiums.

The sheer number of homes and their variety is stunning. A patch of double-wides, some old bungalows and then a dozen high-rise buildings followed by beach front mansions. Stops in Melbourne, Vero Beach and Jupiter gave us a good feel for the variety.

We took the two-and-a-half mile ride along the ocean in Palm Beach to check out the serious wealth. Some of these places are visible from ground level but most are well-concealed behind lush shrubbery ten to twenty feet tall. Someone is making a mint selling garden services in this area because they are all trimmed to perfection.

While it almost seems like a single long city extending the length of Florida's East coast, there are quite a few state and county parks scattered throughout the area. With the weather what it was, we didn't expect to see anyone out on the beach but were pleasantly surprised by the number of hardy souls who were out:

Route A1A is a slow road so we ran out of daylight before we ran out of coastline. We headed inland to I-95 for the final sixty miles down to Miami. At 7:00 p.m. there were three to five lanes of heavy traffic headed South into Miami for the entire drive. We couldn't imagine where they were all going except to replace the three to five lanes of cars headed North out of Miami.

There is a boat show in Miami Beach starting on Thursday. Boats were lined up by the dozens along Bayshore Drive. These are not pontoon boats or runabouts - Probably nothing much under forty feet in length. Think the U.S. economy is hurting? Not this sector! All the rooms in town were booked except for one at the airport Mariott and that is where we are tonight.

Dinner was at Joes Stone Crab at the Southern tip of Miami Beach. After ninety-six years serving up stone crabs to the famous, infamous and just plain folks, Joes still had a ninety minute wait for dinner when we arrived at 8:30. It was well worth the wait. This was Linda's first trip to Joes and she liked the crabs too. We both pronounced the key-lime pie as World Class.

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