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08 June 2011

Starting the Drive North: Along Florida's East Coast

Day 17: Monday, 6 June 2011
Another sultry night in Miami with no air conditioning meant that I woke up in a sweat by 8am (even though I used no blanket and as had almost no clothes on). Ben had his run and we got our things together before he drove us to the Fort Lauderdale Airport. We walked through the overly air-conditioned airport to get to the car rental center (too many places in Florida leave the air conditioning on too high, so the temperature contrast when you go outside is really bad (which can make you sick).

We picked up the car (a pretty new Hyundai Sonata, with only 40000 miles on it), and I drove to Miami Beach. Noa didn't pick up her phone so we just went there hoping she'd be awake in half an hour. And she was - her friend Oscar was able to come down and get our stuff out of the car. We said bye and were on our way. We drove north for an hour or so until we got to Palm Beach, where we picked up our ridesharer, Pat. Pat is in his 60s and is a trained pilot but currently between jobs. He is quite the expert on everything all along the east coast, having moved from city to city in this part of the country for most of his life. He helped guide us to the most scenic drives to take and the cities in which to stop. He also told us about what the cities used to be like. I feel very lucky to have found him - he was able to guide us around everywhere and provide such a great insight into our trip. He also has such an interesting life story - he went to military school, served in Vietnam, and went to the Woodstock (yes, the original 1969 Woodstock) - and was one of 300 people there to see the closing performance of Jimi Hendrix. He had something to say about everything, and he's truly one of the most interesting people you could ever meet.

We drove north from Palm Beach, sticking to the 95 until Cape Canaveral, where I exited to try to see some of the Space Center. Unfortunately you can't see anything without paying $43 for a one-day ticket, which was way beyond my price range, especially for a 1-hour visit. So we sufficed with taking a glimpse inside the Astronaut Hall of Fame visitor center.

Yachts, Beach, and the NBA Finals in Fort Lauderdale

Day 16: Sunday, 5 June 2011
Ben was up early and ready for his routine 10K run. Our plan for the day was to go to a CS jazz brunch event in Fort Lauderdale, so we awoke, quickly got ready and headed out. Fort Lauderdale is about 30 miles north of Miami and is a cool mid-size city. It's the yachting capital of the world, or something - and understandably: There are huge yachts sailing up and down the river going through the city's center.

The jazz was part of a concert series put on every month (or week?) by the city. It was nice, but the music was merely a background, as we got to meet 10 really interesting couchsurfers, who were all very friendly and happy to learn about our journey.

I finished off a few mimosas.

Sampling South Florida

Day 15: Saturday, 4 June 2011
After all the chaos of the past few days, it felt good to be settled in to a place. Benjamin could host us through the weekend until Monday morning, so at least for a few days, Ueli and I didn't have to worry about where we'd stay. Ben's an active guy, and he goes for a run every morning (5K on weekdays, 10K on weekends). If I had my shoes with me, I might have joined him (but my shoes were left in the other car in Miami Beach.

Ben drove us around in his dark green Mini Cooper. It was barely big enough to fit the three of us and our bags. We went to downtown Miami and walked around, seeing the area around the bayfront and art and history museums. We stopped by the gift shot at the AA Arena, definitely not buying any Heat gear, and the we walked south and took a ride on the Metromover, which is a short loop around downtown that is just like a people mover at the airport. Downtown Miami is nice but empty on a Saturday. It was also too hot and humid for many people to be walking around.