smittenbyu: (Default)
December 31, 2009

Our last day in Florida. We packed and we somberly drove up to Miami and onto South Beach to spend the day at the beach. Well, we only had three hours there. For two hours we basked in the glory and enjoyed the crystalline shallow waters of the Atlantic ocean. It was just beautiful! We had a change of clothes in the car, after all we needed to dress warmer for our return. So, we got drenched in whatever we were wearing. And truly enjoyed ourselves! 

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smittenbyu: (distraught)
December 30, 2009

We had a 5:30am wake up call. We had to meet the rangers and get the canoes at 9-mile pond  Canoe trail by 8am. It was going to be a half day canoe ride through the mangroves and other habitats with a ranger to guide us. As I turned off the alarm and woke up hubby, I felt very hesitant to go on this ride. I could barely sit an hour straight and needed the bathroom every hour and half! One can't exactly stand up in the canoe for a stretch or a leak! So, I asked N if he would like to go with MIL. I had planted this idea in him the night before, he said we will see in the morning.

In the bed next to us, MIL also woke up in pain. I guess that brisk walk the day before was too brisk for her and her legs were aching and back was stiff and asked us both to go. So that solved the problem and we all went back to sleep. I somehow felt horrible though as this would have been the second best highlight of the trip! It's the way to see the Everglades - afterall it's a river, you can't walk it all! 

We woke up at 9am and wondered what we would like to do on our last day. MIL had read in a few brochures about a glass bottom boats to see the coral reefs and other wildlife. I was a bit hesitant about taking this ride as I have only heard stories of disappointment. But then MIL can't swim and so the idea of snorkelling went out the window. And since she hardly makes requests, we obliged. We decided to go to Biscayne National Park which wasn't too far away from where we were.

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smittenbyu: (relaxed)
December 29, 2009

The previous days we were at Everglades Park (from Homestead entrance) we didn't drive all the way down to Flamingo. We had signed up for this Car Caravan that would take a guided tour with the ranger all the way down from the main entrance to Flamingo making many stops.

We started off the day with another view of the alligator. This alligator was sharing a pond with several of the birds we saw. I guess it fed itself and so the birds didn't seem too scared of it!

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smittenbyu: (relaxed)
No it was not a 3 day trip. Just haven't had the opportunity to sit down and post about the rest of the trip!

December 28, 2009

This was truly the highlight of the trip! My back though was giving a lot of pain. There was so much sitting in the car the previous day. We took it really easy and left the motel around 11am. We went  to the Ernest Coe Visitor center and saw some of the exhibits there. Then we found a picnic spot and had our lunch.

In the afternoon we went slogging through the slough with a ranger of course! It was awesome! It was just three of us. I guess many of us, the three of us included, are rather anxious about setting foot in the everglades afraid of its natural inhabitant - the alligator. In fact, we saw more alligators on the paved trails than we did in the slough/slew! We all had only sneakers. So, within the first step our feet were drenched through. The water was so cool to feel and it acted as a natural AC unit as we walked about under the sun. The life that lives in this ecosystem is just so complex. It was unbelievably fun! The ranger had to really drag us out of the allotted time for the slough tour!

We first started off in the grassy part. Not too bad. The water just was barely ankle deep. And the bare tree to my right is a cypress tree. See how small this one is and a few in the background.

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smittenbyu: (relaxed)
December 27, 2009

We drove north to the other entrance of the Everglades, towards Everglades City. This side of the park is more commercialized. We first stopped at the Shark Valley Visitor Center. We caught the tram that goes in a loop for 2.5 hours. One could also walk the loop or bike the loop. We chose the lazy way and took the tram. There were a lot more people on this side of the park than at Homestead side of the park. And almost all activities here were charged.

It was a nice ride with a guide on board sharing all about this side of the park. We saw more birds here than we did at the other side. Mostly because it's the wetter part of the park.

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Half way through the ride, we stopped at the observation tower that gave us a full view of the park from above! This was very different type of habitat than what we had seen the day before!
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smittenbyu: (relaxed)
December 26, 2009

We got up leisurely, had breakfast, enjoyed the surprisingly chilly morning, wondering if we were actually in Florida! I drove us to the Everglades National Park. We stopped at the Ernest Coe Visitor Center and signed up for some of activities coming up in the following days. I had read that this was their busiest season and the Ranger was also very happy that we were there for five days!! He is always taken aback at visitors who come in wonder what they can fit into a day or even a few hours!! The National park only has about 1.4 million acres to explore!!

We headed onto our next stop, the Anhinga Trail. We joined a Park Ranger guided tour. We really enjoyed the tour. I think if we hadn't gone for the tour we would have just looked and thought, "ah pretty tree, pretty flower, pretty bird" and gotten bored in a day. Ranger Cindy was awesome. She shared a lot about the ecosystem, the birds that are local to the place, the river of grass and of course about its infamous dweller - the alligator.

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smittenbyu: (relaxed)
December 25, 2009

On a cold chilly freezing morning, with a few feet of snow piled up on either side of the road, we took a cab to the Baltimore Washington International Airport. For the first time in the two year history I have been here, we had an American drive us, Caucasian to boot! Very friendly and a local guy, shared a lot about his life and how things have changed in the metro-DC area. As many cab drivers, he peppered his talk with religion, politics, philosophy, family story, and life in general. A great start to Christmas morning!

We were eagerly awaiting our flight departure and escape to the warmth of Florida. Luckily by then the airports had cleared up their runways and we were all set to go!

BWI airport 25 dec 09

You can still see the snow cover on the non-essential part of the airport. But we didn't care. We could already feel the warmth of sun and the light breeze blowing onto our faces. We landed 2 and half hour later in Fort Lauderdale. MIL wondered if weather had an effect on people and their moods. Surely there must be some truth to it as we had such a friendly shuttle driver who picked us up and drove us to the car rental place! Although who wouldn't want to show off a place to a bunch of visitors still defrosting from the cold North! After picking up the car, we found ourselves driving down to Ft Lauderdale beaches.

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All pictures in this post and the following were taken either by MIL or N. A handful were taken by me, but none that are shown here! I really relaxed! ;)
smittenbyu: (fun fun)
I have completely forgotten that we were in Florida just a week ago! Should post up about it. This time I can't blame my husband for not sharing the photos from his camera. He already passed all of them to me! Although I can say that I need to get pics from MIL's  camera... although I think she has already uploaded them to this laptop we share! With three people on the trip I really didn't want to lug around a camera too. So, I was handsfree enjoying the vacation, while MIL captured every moment of the trip and N was in his own world clicking away!

It all feels like such a blur sitting here shivering away in the cold weather. Although it has been a bit warmer today than yesterday! Look how far I have come when I think it being 32F as opposed to 29F yesterday is "warm"!!!!
smittenbyu: (Default)
28th May 2009

N had a horrible night with throwing up and all the yucky stuff. No fun. But the morning he was feeling bit better. We checked out and headed back to Miami as planned. It was a beautiful drive back. I filled up gas for the first time in the US!! hehehe

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just a few )
smittenbyu: (Default)
27th May 2009

After a late start in the morning we headed out to see some sights in Key West. We went up the lighthouse. We saw the Ernest Hemingway's house - from the outside.

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We watched an old WWII ship being sunk far off into the ocean that will create an artificial reef. How quickly a ship blown with holes sinks!! It went down within a few minutes!!

picture heavy )
smittenbyu: (Default)
26th May 2009

And then we hit the road on a 150 mile road trip to Key West, Florida!

Key West

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smittenbyu: (Default)
oh it just feels like yesterday I was wishing for the rains to go away and already the week has passed us by! D.C. has welcomed us back with severe thunderstorms! At least it gave us a break while we were in air! phew!

We had a fabulous time in Miami/Miami Beach & Key West! So much so I forgot all about the poor astronauts that were stuck up in space because of poor weather in South Florida. Well, the storms kept threatening but they never really came in full force. The sun shone upon us while we were at Miami Beach and Key West! So, did the astronauts make it back?!
 

So much has happened! Obama has picked a judge, North Korea is on a testing spree, the world is still a mess and sadly Jay Leno is wishing the late night show viewers a farewell (only to be moving to primetime)! I am staying up to watch! Leno has kept me entertained through my college years while I was dragging through certain subjects! I wasn't a big fan of Conan O'Brian but recently he seemed a bit funny!

The highlight of course was that I DROVE!!! It felt so wonderful! I didn't hit anyone or anything. I did hug the right quite a bit and might have run a few cars off the streets, but seems that's a Miami thing as well, so I fit right in. I ran up a curb in the parking lot at the entrance - my first in four years of driving! My hands occasionally did reach for the gear stick with my left hand (only when I had to reverse, park or put it into Drive gear - as it was an automatic transmission), and once I did drive on the left side of the road and wondered why that moron was heading towards me! But all in all I drove 400 miles - amidst hundreds of tourists who make very inconsiderate pedestrians, half-buzzed drivers, narrow lanes, wide highways/freeways, small towns and big city!

I was not so keen on seeing Miami. The image that it portrays was not something that attracted me! But after going this once, it's definitely a place I would go back to! I also do want to make it out to the Everglades!

Miami Intn'l airport has that new x-ray type scanning gadget thing that the TSA is testing out. Of course, for those who don't want to try it out can go through the regular metal detector. It was a bit creepy to step in but didn't feel violated or anything as some opponents claimed. Of course, I chose a beautiful top with a whole bunch of steel decorative pieces around my chest area that needed a padding down in front of everyone! fun times! 

Anyhow, after nearly a week in the sun, am enjoying the cool weather that the rain is bringing now! Hope everyone is well! Catch up with you in the next few days!

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