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Water, Water, Everywhere!

That should come as no surprise--this is Florida, after all, with more than 1,000 miles of shoreline, not to mention countless lakes and rivers. We saw some new water however, even traveling over it to Key Biscayne and the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, home to the oldest standing structure in Dade County.
That's it above--a lovely lighthouse, originally built in 1825, and reconstructed in 1846. Located on the bottom tip of Key Biscayne, which by the way has had some notable residents in the past, including Brad Pitt, Cher, and most famously President Richard Nixon, it stands between the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay. Parking the car after about a 15 mile drive, including over two causeways, fortunately low ones, we made our way onto the beach. For Matt's upcoming birthday I picked out a little "Gnome Away from Home" for him to take on his many travels, Amelie style. Sadly, although Mr. Gnome has his own name, I've forgotten it, however, here is Bruce helping Matt keep Mr. Gnome standing for his first photo shoot!
I'm looking forward to seeing where he goes in the future. Speaking of photo shoots, while waiting for the ranger to give us a lighthouse tour, we came across these folks:
The model in the white dress wore no expression throughout--very weird indeed. The ranger came, we followed, and he gave us a quick overview of the history of the lighthouse. One thing we learned is that the park land was hit directly by the eye of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, destroying most of the trees which turned out to be a blessing in disguise as most of the ones at that time were non-native. Replanting with native trees, you would never even know it happened when you visit today. 

I've been in higher lighthouses, but not by much. Round and round we went....
with me stopping every now and again to take a photograph out of one of the windows.
Looking North from 95 feet:
That is Miami Beach in the distance. Looking South this is what you see:
I wish I'd been able to capture a photo of the stilt houses in the water--I'm thinking they are just beyond the sailboat. So, what's a stilt house Gail? Just what it sounds like! A house built above water one mile from shore, or in this case several of them. The area even has it's own name--Stiltsville. People, it seems, will go to great lengths to drink and gamble. Built near the end of Prohibition, the first one was for just those two activities as gambling was legal one mile from shore. Remember the caverns we visited earlier in the month that at one time housed a speakeasy? What will we see next? !

Back on the ground we took one more look out to sea and the sheer volume of seaweed on the shoreline reminds me of our corner lot at home. Following any storm we seem to attract debris from all our neighbors homes--maybe it's the same way at this corner lot. 
From the photo above you can see the beach was pretty busy so we made our way to a less crowded one where Matt took this photo of yours truly and her adorable husband. AKA-Mom & Dad.
Matthew, having lived in London for so many years now, cannot take very much of our Florida sunshine, so it wasn't long before we headed back over the causeway. Miami has a pretty impressive skyline:
There are many new buildings, and come to think of it, perhaps some of that is because of the aforementioned Hurricane Andrew. Apparently the damage was so great, destroying over 63,000 homes, and 82,000 businesses! Now that's a hurricane! I used to work with a girl who lived in Homestead at the time, where the devasation was great. She described the storm coming overhead while everyone was piled in the bathtub. When it was all over, only a few houses were left standing in her parent's neighborhood. Understandably, every time there was a hurricane watch, she grew very nervous. 

Lunchtime was spent on Lincoln Road, a pedestrian friendly few blocks with shops and restaurants,
and more shops and restaurants. All those clouds you saw above produced a quick rain shower, and I mean quick, with this taken about fifteen minutes later. I don't know the name of these flowering trees, because they don't grow in Orlando, but I love the deep coral color of the blossoms.
Fantastic, right? Bruce is building a Yard House just around the corner:
Actually, someone else is building the structure which is almost ready for his team. Now, back to the hotel where Matt caught up on some sleep after waking very early due to the time change. Bruce and I headed to the beach which was packed with chairs and such.
That little rounded thing in the middle is a shade shelter over almost a bed! Let me tell you these were the comfiest beach loungers I have ever had the pleasure to lay on. My, oh my! 
After some swimming and lounging, we went to the poolside bar to drink ridiculously overpriced cocktails, and listen to the dj pumping out the music. Have I told you I was almost the only woman wearing a one piece bathing suit? Many were barely wearing a two piece! It is another world in Miami Beach, that is for sure! A little later Matt joined us at one of the nine swimming pools! I didn't notice it at the time, but after reading about the history of the hotel, I learned that one of the pools is in the shape of the bow tie the main architect wore. Neat. I'll show more pool photos next post. 

Finally we met Helen, Matt's boss who we were joining for dinner. She'd had a busy day shopping at Aventura Mall while we were doing our thing, so both parties were slightly tired. We decided to eat at one of the restaurants on property instead of hailing a cab, or getting the car out of valet.
She was absolutely delightful, filling us in on what our son does for a living, something we've never been able to pry out of him before. He, of course, was embarrassed by all of her accolades, but this Mother ate it up! As did his Father. We shared a wonderful meal, and before you know it, our bedtime approached. While on the beach earlier, I saw this sign, but honestly I was just too tired to watch the lobby parade.
I can only imagine....

As predicted this week has been pretty dull--good thing I have one more day to write about. :)
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