Saturday, March 8, 2008
America the Beautiful
Earlier this week I returned from a relaxing and much needed retreat in southern Florida. I’ve been to South Beach a few times before and I liked it enough. The sexy (sometimes raunchy) multi-cultural scene is excellent for my people watching tendencies. The weather was in the mid 80s. When I boarded my plane at JFK in NY there was still snow on the ground. I snagged a sweet airfare deal (finally redeemed an American Airlines gift card given to me for my birthday two years ago) and I roomed with my friend who was in the sunshine state for a trade show so my hotel expenses were zip-zero. (Thanks again Esh!)
What more could I ask for? Well, as I mentioned, I’ve been to South Beach before. I like to get those stamps in my passport whenever possible. Honestly, I had been treating my South Beach vacay as a consolation prize. (However, after reading my book under a palm tree at 2 o’clock in the afternoon while drinking a pina colada, I started to change my mind.) As selfish as it now seems, (hindsight is always 20/20) I was a little bummed that I could not afford to visit London for a quick U.K. fix.
Shortly before my trip, I started researching the Miami area to find out what I could do off the beaten path. Ocean Drive and Lincoln Road were NOT going to be the highlights of my stay. I became intrigued by the Everglades and in the days leading up to the trip I was downright excited about the "river of grass" that boasts being the largest subtropical wilderness in the U.S. Well, I wasn't disappointed. I took a daytrip by myself to Everglades National Park, rode on an airboat, chilled with a few alligators and remembered just how awesome God is. Being in the middle of a swamp with no land in sight can force you to do that. Unfortunately these pics don’t do this place justice so you’ll have to go and see for yourself. ;-)
This trip prompted me to never shun domestic travel again. Within the last couple of years I’ve been blessed to visit places like Sedona and the Gullah Islands (near Hilton Head). There is a vast amount of history and culture in this country that most of us Americans don’t know about. While on my way to the Everglades (it’s about an hour away from South Beach), my tour guide shared some fascinating Native American history with our group. And had I planned my stay better, I could have ventured into Little Habana and/or Little Haiti for a change of scenery from the new money having, spring break going, half-naked crowds of South Beach for minimal cash. Cape Town, Capri and Cairo are still very much on my travel wish list. But there are countless uncovered gems for me right here in America. I just have to dig a little deeper to find them.
By the way, I'm already considering going back in December for the Art Basel Miami Beach festivities!