Monday, October 25, 2010

A Perfect Week: Ft. Lauderdale and the Everglades

I'm going to split it up into several posts because otherwise it'd be one ONE MAJOR POSTATHON today and it's Tuesday and we's gotsta work. So, today, Ft. Lauderdale and the Everglades. Tomorrow, THE WORLD MWAH HA HAAAAAA–wait, that's another one of my plans. N'rmind.

Hugs and I drove south Friday afternoon (along with the girls, of course) and landed at my parents' house. We got up early Saturday morning, fed the girls, snuggled and kissed them goodbye, and headed to Ft. Lauderdale. It took foh-evah. Mainly because, once on the turnpike off of 75, we had to stop every 300 feet to pay a stupid toll. Geez, Florida, you don't make enough off of Disney World, you gotta charge folks to drive around? On the way back up, we took 95 instead to Port St. Lucie and avoided probably $15 of the tolls. And there is your Rand McNally tip o' the day.

Halfway down, we stopped at one of my all-time favorite restaurants...none other than Cracker Barrel. Also known as The Wheel Barrow in my family (thank you, Noah). I love CB. Mainly because it means vacation/road trip/fun getaway, because you usually only eat at one when you're headed somewhere, right. And it's part restaurant, part store...all country. Nine times out of ten, I order the country dinner plate. This time, I got fried catfish, fried okra, greens, cornbread and a biscuit. That's right...I was on vacation. A fried, buttery vacation. Yesssssss.

We made it to Ft. Lauderdale. I gotta tell you, I love that city. I mean, LOVE. IT. If I had a boat, that's where I'd be. And also, Flight of the Navigator is one of my favorite movies, know. We stayed right on the marina. When I found out David was taking me on a cruise, I got online and booked the room for the night before far in advance because I'm OCD and that's what I do. This was going to be a Pamper Cruise. No, not the diapers. Like, let's be royalty for a week and get pampered. So, I wanted us to have a nice room. I found one I was happy with and booked that sucker. When we got to the actual hotel room...yeah, not like in the pictures. I was not a happy hoteler. I avoid confrontation at all costs, so all I ever really do about anything is fuss fuss fuss fuss fuss. David actually does something about it. That little cutie went down to the front desk and talked to the super sweet lady. He came back up (I was still huffy) with a big smile on his face. He got us an upgrade. A free upgrade. To a room on the 12th floor that was better than the one I booked to begin with. That man. Rawr. I realized as I was going through the pictures that I didn't get a single one of the room itself. Oh well. It was pretty. And the bathroom was really funky and neat. There wasn't a shower head...the water just rained from the ceiling. That was weird, but nice.

Being up on the 12th floor was awesome because we could see so much from the balcony. And y'all know I have a teensy tiny issue with heights, but I made it out there and looked down.

We ate supper at their waterside restaurant and talked about Flight of the Navigator and how much we missed the girls. Then, we strolled around on the piers and boardwalks and looked at the yachts.

In the morning, I sent Hugs to get some pictures of the marina and city, and of course, we ended up with a lot of pictures of boats.

We had breakfast...I don't even remember where we had breakfast...OH! Hardees! Ha, yeah, we went through the drive-thru. That's right. I got one of their cinnamon biscuits with the glaze on top. Y'all, those things are good. Growing up, that's the only fast food restaurant my hometown had, so, for very special occasions or when grandparents came to visit, we got to go to Hardees and I would always get that for breakfast. Anyways. We drove about 30 minutes west and pretty much drove straight into the Everglades. We couldn't board the ship until 11 a.m., so we figured we might as well go do some airboatin'. Apparently, there was a motorcycle and Corvette party going on at the park, so the Gator Bites & Frog Legs Café was pretty full that morning. It was an absolutely perfect day. And the Everglades are really beautiful. While we waited for our tour to leave, we looked around. In the picture below, that film of whatever on the water that convenes in tiny little bays and coves is commonly known as Cow Slobber. What? You don't call it that, too? Just me and Sara? Huh. Well, it looks like cow slobber, so sue us.

The writing above the little hut in the background says "Airboat Passenger Waiting Area." Oddly, it was filled with the park's employees, most of whom were incredibly grouchy that day. So, none of the actual passengers sat down. And Guy in Pale Blue Shirt is totally digging for gold. Ha, just noticed that.

After a half-hour wait, we were off! I didn't realize how fast airboats could go. And the Everglades have roads. Like, water roads. Who knew.

It's hard to see in this picture, but almost right in the middle, there are four ducks. Two have red beaks...those are the parents. The boat driver kept telling us to look out for this family of seven ducks "around this area." And out swim four ducks. The driver got quiet and said, "Oh. Only four. Well, that's the nature of the Everglades. Not everybody makes it out here. Especially with gators." And all of us were like, "Awwwww." And I'm like, "Dude, wait until you see how many ducks there are and then be like 'Oh, hey, there's that family of four ducks' instead of completely crushing us with the fact that three of the babies didn't make it." Break a tourist's heart, why don't ya.

Speaking of gators, we saw several. I gotta admit, I'm not a huge fan of crocodiles, but alligators are actually kind of cute. I mean, from a distance. You can see this one up against the bank.

See his little head? Or, big head...this one was 10 feet long.

The driver went on and on and on about these birds. I was finally like, "Fine, I'll take a picture!" They were actually very pretty birds and "ate the worms that lived in the center of the water plants, not to be confused with water lilies."

Gator swimming across channel...far left, middle.

After the airboat ride, we got a "free" alligator show. (I'm pretty sure that show was added into the outrageous cost of the airboat ticket.) But, it was pretty interesting. The alligators they had at the park were rescued. They were...what's the word...bother, no...pest, no...NUISANCE gators. Yeah, nuisance gators, he said. (Btw, I realize that it'd be easier to have an inner conversation with myself instead of typing it out or just going back and deleting it, but I find it's better to talk it out and now I've wasted this entire time explaining it to you, so, happy now?) The nuisance gators are apparently the ones that roam around in people's yards or end up in a human populated area and the animal control services come and get them and give them to a guy who eventually kills them for meat or to make purses, shoes, etc., because it's illegal to release them back into the wild. So, the park goes and buys as many gators as they can and they have a sanctuary set up with a lot of acres for the gators to roam free and they keep some at the park to do this show.

And that guy is an idiot. But very informative.

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