Monday, December 30, 2013

South Florida Trip

Other than to see my family in Jacksonville, Florida has never really been a vacation destination for Amber and me. Amber generally prefers vacation destinations that are colder, more mountainous, and more Canadian. I generally do also, and that's all well and good, but...maybe just this once, we can go do some sightseeing in Florida?

With Christmas falling on Wednesday this year, and our day care being closed all last week, I thought it made sense to take the entire week off and do a little extra road tripping on top of the usual Jacksonville family visit. And given that we would already be in Jacksonville, I thought we'd go down to Miami and spend a day in Everglades National Park.

"So...why not Disney World, given that you have a 2-year-old daughter and all?" Marla doesn't really know what "Disney World" is yet. Best to save our visit for when it will be more meaningful to her, in my opinion. And I'm assuming that Christmas week isn't really the best time to go to Disney anyway, if you don't like crowds.

So, no Disney World yet. Instead, lots of swamps and birds and stuff.

Those pictures are actually NOT from the Everglades; these were from Lettuce Lake Park in Tampa, at which we stopped on our way down to Miami. Mostly we were just looking for a playground close to I-75, but it turns out they had a nice little boardwalk, too. (By the way, "birding" is a big thing in Florida, which I had never really realized before. "Birding" is the main attraction at a lot of Florida parks.)

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"So...why did you drive to Miami by way of Tampa? And what's with that 'Point C'?" That was all for statistical reasons, of course. Southwest Florida is far away and hard to get to, and there isn't a whole lot there other than beach resorts and retirement communities, really. So even though I grew up in Florida, there were still two counties in Southwest Florida I had never been to. Now was as good a time as any to take care of those, along with the only stretch of interstate I hadn't driven in Florida yet (I-75 between Tampa and Miami, including Alligator Alley).

Really, it didn't take that long to get to Miami via the statistically-inclined route. We were there by 4 pm, at which point, we...didn't do much else the rest of the day, because we were tired, and Miami is a real pain in the butt to get around. It's really no different than any other big city in that regard, though, except that the weather is almost always warmer in Miami.

One thing that's kind of neat about South Miami is just how much different it is from the rest of the country - culturally, ecologically, climatologically. That was kind of the allure, for me. Drive for a few hours south, and you're suddenly somewhere else completely. Want to visit the tropics, but don't feel like going to another country? Go to Miami! (Or Hawaii. Or technically Puerto Rico, but there's a language barrier there; lots of people speak Spanish in Miami, sure, but it's not like you can't get by in Miami with English only.) The tropics (or subtropics, really) have never been a prime destination for us, but it was a nice change of pace, I thought. Next trip, we can go back up north somewhere. But Amber still hasn't been to the Florida Keys (too long of a drive to check out on this little trip) or Hawaii (can't drive there at all, obviously), so there will still be room for the occasional warm weather vacation destination in the future.

The next day, we went to Everglades National Park, and then the day after that we went to a tropical botanical garden in the morning and started driving home in the afternoon. I'll post pictures from those places in a few days. (Amber takes better "scenery" pictures than I do. My specialty is pictures of quirky things like four-digit state highways.)

1 comment:

James Allen said...

I used to canoe in Lettuce Lake Park while at USF.