Day 3 – Fort Lauderdale & Miami

Today we travelled south to Miami to take a peak at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden on Old Cutler Road. Diane drove us there like she’d done it a hundred times. She’s attuned to listening to the GPS on my phone, or the car, in order to find her way when we travel together. But, she’s a natural navigator who gets around exquisitely on her own. This is true. She has this innate ability to reverse engineer her trips even in hostile environments. No matter where she goes she can easily find her way home. With me, no matter where I go, there I am. Sometimes for a long time. Unlike Diane, I get to see a lot more foreign territory as I drive in circles looking for something familiar. Diane, on the other hand, just knows the way, like a Ninja.

This Florida trip was planned a long time ago and Diane had high expectations about seeing wonderful things. Today was a trip to one of them.

Getting to Old Cutler Road was a great journey down enormous freeways and through pretty classy neighborhoods that don’t have sidewalks. We followed all the signs and wound up in the employee’s parking lot for a little while before taking another stab at the proper location. We found it quickly as it was only about 20-30 yards down the street from where we were. Piece of cake.

Once in the parking lot we, well … we parked. Actually, ‘we’ didn’t park, Diane did. I was just along for the ride, like normal.

After leaving our assigned vehicle we followed signs to the registration office. Once there we showed the nice man the tickets we’d printed at our temporary domicile in Weston. Apparently they were authentic because he accepted them and let us pass, giving us stickers to put on our shirts so everyone in the park knew we were legit.

Our objective was to get to the tram stop before everyone else did. We were told to head down one of the many incredible brick paths to a spot where the tram would stop. Sad to say I did not take one photo of the bricks.

Shortly after sitting down for the wait, a gentleman drove up in a 10-seat golf cart and explained that the tram ride wouldn’t be back until noon so we had 45 minutes to go check out the butterfly display. He said he’d be happy to drive us there.

Not having any idea where the butterflies lived, the only obvious choice was to accept his offer. So, we did and he drove us right to their front door. His name was Dan.

Upon entering the enclosed display that looked a lot like many bird aviaries we seen, our eyes were immediately engaged with the antics of about 30-40,000 butterflies flitting everywhere. Seriously, it was non-stop motion and It was quite astounding. What I immediately noticed was that they fly either alone or in groups of their own kind. They don’t mix. If you’re blue with black stripes in this world, that’s who you flitter around with. If you’re not with your group, you flitter around alone while you look for them. It’s quite stunning to see a flock of bright blue butterflies coming at you, flying around you, and never touching you. They are really good pilots. I took lots of photos, of course, but I wasn’t able to catch them standing still. They seemed to always be in motion, even when they were standing still. So, I took a few videos and took a shot at editing and came out with this. Just a brief glimpse, at the right moment.

Inside this enclosure we met a few new people and a lot of volunteers, all of which were very friendly. We also saw a ton of orchids. We detected a theme with the appearance of the orchids. Interestingly, the ones made available for the butterfly playground didn’t reside in pots. They lived freely without boundaries by clinging to trees, and walls, or just by hanging on a string tied to a branch. Apparently they survive nicely by absorbing moisture from the atmosphere. I don’t know if that’s true or not because I never really heard anyone in authority actually say that. It just made sense.

We got back to the tram stop at the appointed time and jumped on a 4-wide golf cart that holds 23 people. We sat in the last row that faced forward. Another row behind us was a row that faced back.

If you did a little math you may question my claim that 4-wide works out to 27 seats. The front row only had 3 seats so the driver wasn’t crowded like everyone else. It was important, we were told, so the driver (Dan, again) could properly operate the foot pedals that were located close to his seat. This became immediately evident when we pulled away from for the tour because apparently the only way to move forward was for the Dan to alternately floor the accelerator the let it go. Pretty jerky making Diane, and me, cringe. Once he got up to speed it was OK, but he was forced to stop frequently for the narrator on this journey who gave detailed history about every one of the trees and bushes he pointed out. And, he pointed out all of them.

He even picked some of them up

On this 80 plus acre site there are a bunch of lakes around which Dan had to navigate. Lucky for us we were on a well maintained gravel path that we could have easily walked if we had a mind to. Iguanas were everywhere and, we were told, alligators lived in the lakes so walking really wan’t an option for us. Personally, I bet there were also a bunch of snakes prowling around the area. Again, not walking. We stayed on the tram for the duration of the trip.

Once that was done we wandered around in the gift shop before going outside to look for our car. Surprisingly, for one of us, we found it quickly and were soon on our way. It was pretty warm, 88 or so, and I asked Diane to get in the car and cool it off before I had to get in. She declined, suggesting instead that she’d get in and drive away if I didn’t get in also. So, I did.

We didn’t stick around in Miami to view the sights but instead headed north to the safety of our condo in Weston. For fun, we had both GPS systems engaged (the car and my phone). The car wanted to take us east toward downtown Miami, in the middle of the day, during Spring Break. When we realized what the car was doing, we switched to my phone which was more in line with our thinking and guided us on a more northerly route.

We arrived in good time and Diane opted to drop me off at the condo, suggesting that I get busy cooking while she made a speed run to the nearest Walmart*. I did that. But, I didn’t actually cook because we were having chef salads. No cooking involved. It wasn’t too bad for a meal, but the time was wrong for lunch because it was after 3 pm. This lunch was invading the dinner hour. So, I also fried up the hamburger we had for tacos later in the day.

It didn’t really matter because we’re on vacation and can eat any time we want. Right?

So, now, I leave you some photos to ponder. I will attempt to give descriptions that I remember. The others you’ll just have to enjoy for the fun of it. Cheers.

The above photo is of a bunch of bananas sliced in half and laid out on a lava rock pedestal. Look closely and you’ll see a bunch of butterflies sitting around on them snacking. They like pineapple, too.

Here’s one resting, looking for his family.

The next one is sitting on an orchid and looks like he ran into a wall with his right wing .

Here’s some interesting glass art.

Just us.

Then we went ‘home’. Go right to Miami proper, or left toward Weston? Hmmm.

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