Beautiful clouds. Thunderheads get more common as we start into the rainy season
You may be wondering why we are still in Florida, as it certainly wasn’t our plan to be here more than a couple weeks. A month ago Jim had a routine physical and the doctor was concerned about what he heard through the stethoscope. We decided to pause and figure out the issue. A few weeks, multiple tests, and doctor visits later, we know that Jim’s mitral valve in his heart is not working properly. All the doctors we’ve consulted with believe that treatment is necessary and should be completed soon. We’re taking their advice and Jim is scheduled to have heart surgery next week. With today’s advances in modern medicine, a surgeon is able to complete this routine valve fix through a few small incisions and expects that Jim will only need about two weeks to be back to normal! The hospital where they will do this is less than a mile from where we are staying. The best news of all, is that Jim is mostly asymptomatic and feels normal. We appreciate the support of friends and family; continue to send your happy healing vibes this way.
The Intracoastal Waterway travels the length of Florida and includes hundreds of bridges. We regularly cross them and wait for them to come back down after raising their span for boat traffic.
In the midst of all this, we continue to explore and enjoy our surroundings. We’ve visited art museums, street fairs, farmers’ markets, local restaurants, and aquariums. We swim almost every day and regularly walk on the beach. We’ve also rented SUPs for an afternoon, whacked balls at the driving range, and body surfed in the Atlantic. We’ve given up our rental car and are getting around on foot and public transportation.
Rocket Garden at Kennedy Space Center
One of our most interesting adventures was a trip to Kennedy Space Center. This is where NASA used to launch rockets and space shuttles. There is an elaborate museum and we easily spent a full day learning. There are multiple pictures in the photo gallery that you access through the “Pictures” tab at the top of this page. We got to see the launch pads, the humongous assembly building, multiple generations of rockets, a couple great iMax documentaries, artifacts, and footage from many past events.
The southern end of the infamous South Beach in Miami.
With a month in Florida, we decided that we needed to check out the infamous South Beach of Miami and spent a night down there. It was a surprising place: very fun, affordable, and the most livable community we’ve seen yet in Florida. A local bus makes a big loop through the lower end of Miami Beach and only costs a quarter. More often than not we heard people speaking a language other than English, which is probably due to both the tourists and the diversity of locals. The food was great. The people watching was glorious.
Our cruise boat. Note the two hot tubs and two swimming pools.
Looking for a new experience to fill the upcoming weekend, Megan came across a steep discount for a 3-day cruise to the Bahamas. We jumped on it. It was an enormous ship: 880 feet long, 2500 guests, almost 900 staff, 14 stories, 2 swimming pools, and 9 bars and restaurants. We spent one day in Nassau where we visited something called the Cloisters. It is the ruins of a convent built in France during the thirteenth century, bought by William Randolph Hurst, and then reconstructed in the 1960s in the Bahamas. The grounds included a series of terraces with sculpture, rock walls, gardens, pools, a gazebo and the central structure with double arched hallways. You can see more pictures in the photo gallery. On this day, it rained very heavily on us with passing thunderstorms. We were in a swimming pool during one shower and couldn’t help but laugh at how much wetter we seemed with the downpour and the splash back from each drop. Our second day was spent on Coco Cay, a small cay owned by the cruise ship company. We spent the day snorkeling. The highlight of our snorkel was seeing four rays. Three were very large spotted eagle rays, with about 10-foot wingspans; nose to tail they were 15 feet long. In addition, we saw a lot of our favorite fish but many were significantly larger than we have seen before. Overall, we enjoyed the change of scene and being on the sea. We were fascinated to see the mechanics of such a large boat docking, steering, and anchoring. Jim caught a great video of the pilots leaving the cruise ship to head back into Miami.
The Cloisters, near Nassau. Ruins from a french convent that was moved to the Bahamas
We plan to stay here for a few more weeks until Jim is recuperated.
People commonly use umbrellas here as sun shades. Here is a dad who pulled up his beach umbrella to take a walk with his daughter.
On the last morning of our cruise, our boat was delayed due to a brush fire in the Everglades the day before. The Port of Miami was closed and we could barely make out the other boats queued up waiting for the port to reopen due to the thick smoke.
Cruise boat sunset
Spotted eagle ray, like we saw in Coco Cay. Credit to Wikimedia for the photo.
Spotted eagle ray, showing it’s large head. Credit to Wikimedia for the photo.
The Cloisters. Ruins from a french convent that was moved to the Bahamas
Our boat docked in Nassau. Note the cruise ships on either side.
Jim was able to take the false helm in the top-floor cocktail lounge of our cruise boat.
Megan on the cruise boat with Miami receding into the background.
The Port of Miami pilot boat picking up the pilots after we cleared the channel.
Port of Miami has a lot of industrial traffic in addition to cruise traffic
Miami Beach has a very well done Holocaust Memorial.
Many palms here are supported like this. They plant large trees by paring down the trunk, cutting a small circular root mass, and propping up the trees. We have seen thousands of these.
One night we attended a fundraiser for a local education cause in Delray Beach. The blues band rocked the house and taught the children a dance
Atlantis space shuttle, now on display at the Kennedy Space Center with the bay doors open. In this picture, you can see the black panels of heat shields. This shuttle completed 33 missions over 26 years, transported 207 astronauts, spent 307 days in space, and flew 126 million miles before it retired to the museum in 2011.
The “Crawler” at Kennedy Space Center with a platform on top. Rockets are transported on top of this from the assembly to the launch. Empty it weighs about 6 million pounds, can travel up to 2 mph, and takes a team of 30 to operate it.
The Crawlerway connecting the assembly building to the launch pads at Kennedy Space Center
Palms make lovely patterns and their trunks often are a host to multiple other plants.
Sculpture garden at Norton Art Museum.
Norton Art Museum in West Palm Beach.
A marine-themed Chihuly exhibit at the Norton Art Museum. Can you find the starfish and octopus?
Megan enjoying the Saturday-morning. green market in West Palm Beach
The sound barriers along the freeway here are stamped with silhouettes of local animals.
Jim taking a break
Ann Norton Sculpture Garden
Ann Norton Sculpture Garden
Ann Norton Sculpture Garden in West Palm Beach displays a variety of work by Ann Norton.
Five types of sea turtles nest on the Florida coast between May and October. Each nest is marked to keep people away from it.
Our local beach has many turtle nests, all marked by a stake and tape.
These are banana spiders, or golden silk orb-weavers. They are harmless and large (the big one here was 5 inches across including legs.) The webs have a yellow hue.