Finally Oct. 13 arrived and it was time for another trip. We had some Wyndham points to use this year and it was our first experience using our points. I was surprised when Ken suggested coming back to Florida. Before he could change his mind, I booked it! Instead of Orlando, though, we decided to go down to Pompano Beach by Ft. Lauderdale. I had to split the reservation, so we'll have to move down the street to another Wyndham in a couple days for the rest of the week. If the next one is this nice, I'll be really happy! I think Ken's even impressed.
Here's our resort, Royal Vista.
This is about half of our unit--a 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo with full kitchen, free wifi, and great views. The whole area to the right is the master suite, complete with large jacuzzi and huge bathroom with washer and drier. To the left is the 2nd bedroom suite with 2 queen beds and a large attached bathroom. This picture doesn't show the large entertainment center directly to my right with stereo, tv, desk, and cabinets. Behind me is the lanai with a side view of the ocean. You can actually see sunrise and sunset from the lanai.
Here's the ocean view from our patio. We're on the 8th of 9 floors--rm 8806.
By the time we got to the resort, it was past 4. After unloading and checking out the resort, we headed across the street to Stingers for pizza. It was pretty good, not great, but we were pretty hungry. By the time we were done there, it was getting dark. That pretty much does it for our first day.
DAy 2-Thursday, Oct. 14, 2009
We awoke to another beautiful day in southern Florida. We did the "owner's update" first thing and were pleasantly surprised that we were out of there in less then an hour. Took our $100 in gift and were off to enjoy our day.
Couldn't go any longer without hitting the beach and the pool, so we spent the next 3 hours or so hanging out around the resort playing in the ocean and pool. Even ate lunch by the pool---bar-b-qued burger for Ken and chicken for me. It was very good.
A1A ended at the end of South Beach. We parked the car and headed out on foot for a couple hours. It was interesting seeing the beach I've seen so many times on tv. It was a lot less busy out there today!
Then we walked 4 or 5 blocks in the Art Deco District of South Beach. It was quite impressive. Even the items in the shops reminded me of art deco.
Ken even found a million bucks while we were wandering around! I can't wait to spend it!
Loved the colors and lines of the buildings.
Just another of the many buildings along our walk.
Even the outside furniture at many of the businesses were art deco in style such as these.
We headed back via A1A because we were so impressed with the views. I definately have a different opinion of Miami (at least part of it), now that we've been there. I expected it to be crowded and somewhat dirty.
On the way back through Fort Lauderdale, we stopped at a roadside park for some pictures just after sunset. Again we were both impressed with the area.
Clouds did build through the early evening, but we missed any of the rain. Didn't have as brilliant of a sunset as I'd hoped, but it was still worthy of a picture.
After sunset, we set out in quest for food. Ended up at Red Lobster. Dinner was very good. As was the day. After catching Top Chef on tv at the condo, we called it a day.
Day 3, Thursday Oct. 15, 2009---
Another beautiful day in southern Florida. Highs today were back up to about 90 and humid, but still felt good to me. The ocean from our room looked very calm this morning.
We decided to hit the water today, but in a different way. We went in search of the Water Taxi in Ft. Lauderdale. It took a little doing and stopping to ask directions twice, but about noon we finally found stop 1. We paid $13@ for an all day pass and were on our way through "the Venise of the USA".
There were 11 stops along the 1 1/2 hour one way trip. Views all along the way were awesome.
We got to see hundreds of houses and yachts of the Rich and Famous.
Soon we were going by the houses and yachts of the Filthy Rich and Famous.
The houses kept getting bigger and more impressive! As did the yachts!
We were told that only 40% of the houses were actually being lived in. Apparently even some of the filthy rich can't afford them anymore, either. Here's just one of the many bank owned homes.
We had planned to get off at stop 9 on the way back and wander around Las Olas Blvd. I read it was a pedestrian street with shops and restaurants along it. Thought it would be neat to check it out. Unfortunately, they skipped stop 10 on the way back and we thought stop 8 was stop 9. So we just rode back to where our car was parked and headed back towards Pompano Beach. After stopping for a quick snack at Wendy's, we headed to our condo and hit the beach.
The surf really picked up during the daytime, but the water was still about 80 degrees. After enjoying the water for a couple hours, we stayed on the beach and watched the sunset throw colors over the sky towards the east.
Dinner will be a late one at Smokey Bones.
Day 4: Friday, Oct. 16, 2009
This was moving day. At short notice to use my VIP advantage with Wyndham, I wasn't able to get a full week in one condo. Plus Ken wanted a Tues. arrival, so that made us have to make 2 reservations anyway. But I thought it would be nice to check out a couple different Wyndham resorts anyway, so this worked out. We even got up early to try and see sunrise in our Royal Vista unit since we wouldn't be having an ocean view unit anymore. Unfortunately, we were on the north side of the building so didn't actually get to see the sun. But it was still the dawn of another beautiful day. Yesterday was the 12th consecutive day of 90+ degree days and broke records for them for this time of year. I've actually been enjoying it. Ken's been melting, but managing pretty well.
Check out was at 10 am. We went straight from there to Sea Gardens to drop off our luggage and parrishables until we could check in. To my surprise, she was able to check us in then. I had read that the Palm building was the one to get into, so that's what I reserved. I was expecting a big let down after being at Royal Vista, but our Rm 558 in the Palm building is really nice, too. I would have been very happy staying a full week in either resort.
This is a picture from the entrance. The 2nd bedroom and full bath take up the left side of the unit. The master bedroom and bathroom take up the right side of the unit. The flat screen tv is opposite the couch. This one also has a washer and drier, but no free internet in the rooms. Internet is free by the pools and lobby, though. I actually got this 2 bedroom unit for 1/2 the points of a 1 bedroom unit. Being VIP, we also got the free upgrade.
I had been bragging about the park Barb and I went to in June, so Ken decided to take me there again. We took the long way up A1A, taking about 2 hours to go the 30 or so miles. But it was a pretty drive.
We finally reached John MacArthur park and headed to the snorkel area. I was very disappointed to find the water too churned up with sand to see anything. So we sat on the beach, ate a pic nic lunch, played in the sand bottomed water and had a good time anyway.
We even captured the moment on digital.
About 5:30 we left there and headed to another beach park in West Palm Beach. We got a kick out of watching the schools of fish jumping out of the water. A fisherman said they were trying to avoid being eatten by tarpin. Here's a picture of a school of fish near the shores edge. The white water is from the jumping fish.
For sunset we went over to the park under the bridge to Singer Island.
Another picture of some of the boats by the overpass.
Day 5- Sat., Oct. 17, 2009---
Woke up to another sunny, hot day. Weather forecast said a cold front is on it's way today, but it wasn't here yet. We decided to walk to the beach and check out our new beach area. We aren't nearly as close to the beach as we were at Royal Vista, but the landscaping along our walk here at Sea Gardens is really nice.
Only bad part of the walk is crossing highway A1A, but that really isn't bad, either. At least at this time of the year. In this picture I'm looking back across the highway towards our condo. We're staying in the tallest tan, red roofed building in the back of this picture. We actually have a very slight view of the ocean from our 5th floor room. The resort is made up of 8 buildings, 4 pools, as well as a deli, tiki bar, lobby, and video room. 2 condo buildings and one pool are actually on the side of A1A right by the ocean. Unfortunately, all the rooms in those buildings are studio units.
Our beach at Sea Gardens is just as nice as at Royal Vista. We soaked in the sun for a bit, then decided to head off to breakfast.
While at breakfast, the storm rolled in and we had a fair amount of rain and thunder and lightening. So we decided to do a rainy day activity this afternoon----go shopping. We headed to Sawgrass Mills. It's the largest mall I've even been in! It's suppose to be an outlet mall. We must have walked 5 miles in and around the mall. Some of the stores were outside, some were inside. Managed to only spend about $7. It had stopped storming then and had gotten pretty hot and humid again.
So it was time to head to the water! We went to the beach by our condo. The water was even better today then before! It was calm as a swimming pool and really clear! We played in the ocean for a couple hours until Ken got frightened by some more dark clouds rolling in.
From the ocean we headed to one of the 4 pools here at the Sea Gardens. We hung out there for awhile, even hitting the jacuzzi for a while in Dad's memory. When we got hungry, we headed in and got ready to head off to Outback. Service was extremely slow, but the dinner was very good. Now to head back to the room and eat my key lime pie!
Day 6, Sunday Oct. 18, 2009----
After finding a brochure on National Parks in the area a couple days ago, we decided we'd like to check out Biscayne Bay, just south of Miami. So today we decided to head south again. The cold front did move in last night and it was only in the 60's for most of the morning. It was also quite windy. We had hoped to snorkel at the park, but it was too cool and windy. So we opted for the 3 hour island boat tour.
We left Pompano Beach about 10 and arrived at the park about 12, stopping for breakfast at McDonald's along the way. Fortunately the overcast skies started to lighten up a bit when we got there. The water was still choppy, but at least the sun threw some color on the water. The bay and surrounding keys take up about 173,000 acres. We actually happened to be there on it's 41st anniversary of becoming a park. Since we arrived about 1 ½ hours before our tour, we walked along the boardwalks for awhile.
Then we headed up to the visitor center. From the second level of the building, we had more nice views of the park. They also have 4 videos to views. We only found time to watch one.
At 1:30, we took off on our catamaran to the island of Boca Chita Key. It use to be the private island of the Honeywells. He built this “lighthouse” that really isn't a lighthouse. It was used as a welcome to visitors to the island until the coast guard made him take the light out. Being in shallow water and on the wrong side of the key, it confused those who thought it was a real lighthouse.
Since a Park Ranger took the trip with us, she took us up into the lighthouse. Views of the little island from there were neat.
As this picture shows, it was still quite windy when we were there. Fortunately I had my coat with me. At least the temperatures eventually warmed up to the mid 70s by late afternoon.
We had a short 45 minutes to wander around the island. We started out with a guided tour by the Ranger, but ended up parting ways to try and see as much of the island as we could in such short time. I managed to find this little beach area. The whole area of Miami, the keys, and up past Ft. Lauderdale has a naturally coarse sand, so most populated areas import their sand from the Bahamas. Here was the small natural beach on this island.
From the far side of the island is the Atlantic ocean. Even less of a beach here.
Walking back across the little island to the little marina was a nice walk through stands of palm trees. Apparently the island isn't used in the summer because of hordes of mosquitos, but it was a beautiful day to be there today.
Then we sailed back the 10 miles through the bay to get back to the mainland. Even passed this schooner along the way.
Day 7, Monday Oct. 19, 2009---
We decided we ought to spend one day enjoying our resort, so today was that day. They were having a continental breakfast by the tiki bar, so we headed there about 10am. The walkway through the resort grounds is nicely landscaped. Here's part of the walk near the bar. We got some muffins and bagels and had our breakfast while updating this blog.
I had hoped to spend most of today playing in the ocean near the resort. What a change a day can make! Instead of the pool-like conditions a couple days ago, today the surf was roaring. We did manage to spend 2 or 3 hours there, though. Even got in the water and got beaten around a bit. The water was still nice and warm and the air temps were back in the upper 70's. Not bad even with the blustery winds.
As we were sitting enjoying the view, we noticed black blotches moving in the water. Upon closer examination we realized they were schools of fish. They liked to ride the surf , occasionally a few would leap out of the water. We watched several schools go by. The black spots in the surf in this picture is one of these schools of fish.
Eventually we decided to head back to the resort pools and jacuzzi and spent another hour or 2 there. By then we were getting pretty hungry. So we showered and dressed and were off in search of food. We came across this little diner and thought it sounded good. We weren't disappointed. My chipotle mahi mahi and Ken's monti-cristo sandwich were very good.
We still had a little daylight left after dinner, so we headed to Ft. Lauderdale beach to catch the sunset.
We walked the beach for about an hour.
Several fisherman were there. One even asked Ken if he wanted to have his picture taken with his catch.
Even saw a few planes flying by---reminding us that tomorrow that will be us.
Day 8: Tues., Oct. 20, 2009---
Only a few more hours to enjoy warm sunny Florida! Although it started out totally cloudy, it did clear up somewhat as the day went on. Warmed back up into the mid 80's. But the wind was still the north winter wind of about 15-20 m/h sustained winds. After loading up the car and checking out of the condo, we headed to check out the little fishing park overlooking a nearby lighthouse. The fishermen didn't seem to be having any luck.
Then we decided to go back to Royal Vista and sit at the beach for a bit. The waves were still fierce. It reminded me alot of the east coast of Kauai. So I wasn't totally disappointed.
We didn't venture into the water today, but there were a few brave souls who did. The surf was even rougher then the day before.
One of the things I thought was really unique that Wyndham put at the beach showers was an automatic foot/leg washer. Too bad it wasn't big enough for a whole body! It was that cool!
We thought we might hang out in the pool, but it had really cooled off. So we went 3 floors up to the sundeck and hooked up to the free wifi and looking at the ocean some more.
All too soon it was time to head to the airport. We had to turn the car in by 3:30. That got us to the airport about 3 hours before our flight, but we were able to find a table and play a few games of cribbage. Soon it was time to board our half-empty plane and head home. Upon take off we had some pretty awesome views of Ft. Lauderdale and all the waterways.
We took off towards the ocean where we then turned around and headed inland. This picture shows the long public beach area of Ft. Lauderdale with parking right by the ocean. To the right is a pretty neat state park that we didn't find until we were heading to the airport. We only had time to just drive through it.
We even got a neat sunset from the airplane.
Arrived home to 70 degree temps. What a nice change from the 40's that we left! I think Ken has changed his mind about Florida and will be willing to go back.