The flight down to Boca was pretty easy. Up at 3:00 AM, off to the bus
wearing everything I have, as the temperature was 39F. Off to Montreal,
down to Fort Lauderdale and a quick drive to Boca with Emily's room-
mate, Sara. The temperature is now 89F! Nothing like a 50 degree swing
to start your day.
A quick call to Emily and I'm off to the beach, walking. Man, it is HOT! Swimming less than 2 hours from landing.
I like it! Find the local places for banking, newspapers, etc, then a
late lunch at a place on the Deerfield beach with a cool breeze. First time I've
had a conch chowder. Not too impressed with the one I had.
Emily gets off work and it's salad, seafood (Mahimahi) and beer while we catch up.
Great way to finish the day.
Up at sunup and out to the deck with a cup of coffee to watch the day start up. We are right on the
Hillsboro Canal which wends its way out to the Intra-Coastal and then
the Atlantic. Emily is working all day, so I'm left to my own devices.
First, I work on the surfboard rack that she wants me to build, then
it's off on the bike to tool around town. I end up at the Boca Pavilion beach.
Lots of kids surfing on a school holiday.
Dinner is a wonderful veggie spaghetti that Emily makes just like her
Mom, some beers and lots of chit-chat with Emily and Sara.
Emily's friend John has agreed to give me a surfing lesson in Fort
Lauderdale. Unfortunately, the drive down didn't make the waves any
bigger and we had to push it till the next day. We get in a nice swim
and Emily suggests snorkeling after we drop off some stuff for her
boyfriend Matt, who is coming back from an Indonesian surf holiday on
I've been snorkeling once before (Eilat, Israel) in very tropical waters
with schools of brightly-coloured fish. What was different here is that
we went 50-60 meters offshore. It takes so little energy to paddle
along in salt water. Very cool. Like being in your own movie. We found
the reef and got to see all sorts of fish swimming in and out of parts
of the coral. A few schools of larger fish drift by. This is a lot of
fun. I am lucky enough to catch sight of some sort of turtle. I jump
right up to yell for Emily, then back down to keep looking.
Actually, I'm kind of nervous...do I really want to get close to this
guy? As it turns out he is moving away from shore a lot quicker than me,
so I only get another small glimpse.
Emily is off to work, so I get another afternoon to do some biking and
swimming. I call up our Uncle Sam and we agree that I'll come up for
dinner. A nice, big Shabas supper then a long, argumentative walk in the gated
community that he lives in and Emily works in. I leave Sam the bike and
drop over to visit Emily for a ride home. Mucho rich people in this
I don't know that I could handle being well-to-do. I have very simple
pleasures. I enjoy my friends and the group
activities that I participate in. My health is good and I really enjoy
working out. Adding money would likely mess up that nice balance.
Emily has the next 3 days off, so we going to fill them up. No luck with
the surf lesson again today, so it is off to Gator Park in the
Everglades. I have a Bucket List that I am working on that has about a
dozen items on it. An airboat ride in the Everglades isn't on that list,
but it's on the big Life List that's in my head. The Everglades have
always fascinated me and I never miss a chance to read National
Geographics that feature the area.
Our guide on the airboat ride is Dan. Quite the character. Definitely
not Park Ranger material. Gravelly voice, long hair and multiple
tattoos. Lives about 200 meters from the park. He is really good at informing us and hopefully scaring us a
bit at the same time. We start out slow and see some birds and quite a
few alligators. The weather is sunny, hot and steamy. Once he cranks the
beast up a few notches, I am really happy.
We are sluicing along the
waterway at a good clip and Dan is slip-sliding the boat across various
patches of grass, water spray all over the place. I could do this all
day! We stop for a breather out in the middle of nowhere (always
wondered where that was, now I know) and Dan jokes that with cutbacks
and all that, this is as far as our tickets will take us. It is a very
enjoyable ride. I'd love to spend a full day or two on a boat like this.
Definitely still have Everglades on the Life List.
The next part of the tour involves Howard???, a few alligators, some
wresting and tons of laughter. Easily the most entertaining patter I've
ever heard. He owned the small crowd and we basically did what he told
us, regardless of our initial fears. He had most of us convinced that he
was going to make the Israeli woman wrestle a 6 foot alligator. She was
nervous the whole time, but looked equal to the challenge.
End result is we all got to touch and hold an alligator, even the kids
who were quite scared at the outset. The guy was the master of his domain.
As much fun as the show was, the bit I enjoyed the most was where he stuck his hand in the
alligator's mouth after just showing us the speed and strength of those
jaws with a stick in that same mouth.
Back to Boca and swimming at Red Reef Beach and an excellent dinner made with
some very fresh hogfish (Capitaine) caught by Emily's friend Greg.
It's surfing Sunday! The waves at Deerfield Pier are ankle to knee-high,
perfect for learning how to surf. We get in some yoga stretches and then Emily waxes up
the boards, gives me some initial pointers and we head
out into the waves. My only other time surfing was Spring '07 in Tofino,
B.C. The waves then were knee to thigh-high and I was encased in a full
wetsuit as the water temperature was 40F. Tough for a first day. Today,
the water is in the 80's, I have a nice, big training board and Emily
is right there to keep me on track and give me positive feedback.
I get myself out past the break (a first) and get to hang around sitting
on the board (another first) while Emily picks waves for me to try. I do
catch a few and manage to stand up at least once. Very addictive sport.
Also quite frustrating and tiring. After about an hour and a half, I am completely
Back to Emily's for the daily Greek salad (she eats even healthier than
I do) and since it's vacation, a beer.
We spend the afternoon at Boca Pavilion that has a knee-high shore
break. I work at it for awhile, but I'm not going to get out past these
big waves so close to shore. I need more skill and practice and the legs and arms are chafed
and the tank is quite out of gas. Fun to see the completely different set of wave
We put in a quick hour at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center.
What a great place. A long boardwalk hike out amongst all sorts of local
trees, spiders, lizards and flowers, followed by a series of pools with
sea turtles, hammerhead sharks, horseshoe crabs and a small manta ray. I
buy an ironwood carving of a sea-turtle to commemorate my first trip to
Florida. Hope to go back and do Gumbo Limbo justice next year.
Home for a shower and quick meal of salad and fish, and we head out to a
local surf bar (Kahuna's) for some beer and great live music. All in
all, a great day.
Surfing in Boca. The movie
It's surfing Monday, and the waves are up. I thought they were pretty
tough at the Pavilion yesterday, but I gather that they'll be up even
higher the next few days. Oh boy? We start out at the Pier. Emily works
at it for a bit and gets out past the break. Not so for me. I can't even
get past the first set of obstacles with any consistency. The arms are
gassed. I content myself with watching Emily try and work the waves
about 50 yds offshore. Don't see any other girls, just a bunch of guys.
Me, I'm your average Dad, nervous and proud at the same time.
We decide to move farther down to Trespass, where the waves will be a
tad smaller and hopefully not as messy. We bring the boogie-board for
me, as the big beast of a training surf-board has beat the stuffing out of
me. I am trying to get a movie or some shots of Emily out in the surf.
It is pretty windy and starts raining big time. I couldn't see anything from
shore and Emily said it was worse in the water. Not too many getting up
in these conditions.
I decide to give Emily's board a try. It is a lot tippier, so the
chances of standing on it are basically nil. That being said, the board
is a lot lighter and skinnier and I adjust to it quite quickly and get
out past the break, which makes me quite happy. I am even able to sit on
the board and manoeuvre it enough to chase a few waves. I am having a
lot of fun.
I am having so much fun, I let my guard down a bit and end up making a
bad decision on a wave that is way over my head. The board smacks me up
the side of the head and I am bleeding like a stuck pig. Emily carries ice
to the beach all the time (thank-you Emily), so I am on it right away.
An hour of ice doesn't stop the bleeding, so it's off to a local clinic
to see how my Blue Cross coverage works in the States (quite fine).
A long phone call to Canada, a short time with the doctor
and I am all fixed up (Durabond glue instead of the 3 stitches that it
would have taken).
I have three gashes in my mouth and it's swollen like a pumpkin. Oddly
enough, Emily is quite pleased that I got my first surfing injury. I
have chafe spots everywhere, a big bruise on my hip, sore spots all over
my body, but I guess that unless it draws blood, it doesn't count.
Emily takes me to dinner at a great Mexican place, followed by a Guinness
at a local Brit bar. Again, a great day, even with the beer dribbling
out of my balloon-sized lip.
In Tofino, I spent about 5 hours in the water. In that time I stood on
the board a grand total of about 5 seconds, with the longest stint being
about 1.5 seconds. In Boca, I got in about 4 hours of surfing and
spent...you guessed it...about 4 seconds on top of a board, with 1.5
seconds being the best result. A very addictive sport.
I get up in time to watch sunup along the Hillsboro Canal from Emily's
front lawn. I love sitting out there in all kinds of weather, especially
the rain or early morning. The wind is up even this far from the beach,
and sure enough the surf report means that I'm not going in the water,
even without the facial injury. Once we get to the beach, I'm glad
Emily's not going in as well. I would definitely have been too nervous
to watch. Maybe next time.
We hang out at a few Deerfield beaches watching some very talented
short-boarders work the vicious wave sets. A lot of fun to watch how they
get themselves at past the break and then work at picking decent
waves. Excellent way to spend a morning. We end up at a nice French pastry
shop for coffee and croissants. Great to hang out with a local, cause
I'd never find these spots.
Back to pack up and head off to the airport. The size of the yachts in
Fort Lauderdale reminds me just how stinking rich this area is, as
compared to all those lonely sobs waiting for intermittent bus service
in Boca. The flight home goes well. We lift off out of Newark under a
full moon and fly right up the western side of Manhattan, a view I know
from the seat of my pants. As luck would have it, I meet a co-worker
(Ray Doucette) in the Customs line and am not forced to take a taxi home
at 1:00 AM. The shuttle shuts down before the last plane, you know.
Great to be home in Halifax. It was a great trip. I enjoyed myself
everyday. I really enjoyed seeing daughter Emily in her new life. It's
great to be a Dad.