By Leslie Parks - Friday, March 23, 2012

Recently my mother and I went on vacation together.  We really haven't spent this much time together since we took too many high schoolers to Europe.  That was nothing like this trip.  We met up in Houston and flew into Miami together. We had decided to arrive a day early for our cruise.  That gave us some leeway to make sure we had our luggage and anything else we may need to purchase before getting on the boat.  We quickly found our shuttle to the hotel, checked in and I promptly crashed.  Exhaustion had set in at that point.  The day before I was up at 6am and packing our belongings up to head home from the Firs Chalet.  Upon arriving at home I quickly started laundry, went grocery shopping, visited a little with John's brother who was in town, and finished packing for Miami.  I took the shuttle to Seattle but it left at 1:40am to arrive at 4:40am.  My plane left at 7:40.  Continental and United had merged that night at midnight and all boarding passes that were issued on line had to be reissued.  Some people were having major problems and were waiting over 1 hour.  I just walked up, scanned my passport, they called for my luggage, I checked it walked through security without waiting and was at the terminal.  I think it took me all of 30 minutes.  Piece of cake. 

But this is about Miami.  I think that I have found a city to love.  Oh, I like Bellingham.  It's great but Miami was beautiful.  We toured the everglades.  That wasn't what I had imagined.  It was grasslands with some hummocks.  I pictured something more like the swamps in Pirates of the Caribbean.  Lots of trees, vines, darkness.  Nope.  The water in the Everglades at least the part we toured was about 15" deep with lots of grass growing through the water.  It is part of the Miami River which happens to be the slowest moving river in the world.  It was a cold day in Miami in the 60s and it felt chilly.  The animals in the everglades agreed which is the reason we only saw one alligator during our airboat ride. Still it was amazing.  Once done with our tour, we asked our tour guide to drop us off at South Beach.  We'd catch another taxi to the hotel later.
We quickly found our way to the beach but with the cloudy sky and the wind blowing it was too cold to hang out there even though the water was warm.   We then wandered up Ocean Drive.  It is lined with cafes, restaurants and hotels, music blaring from many establishments and girls dancing in scanty outfits.  People were everywhere.  Turns out there was a festival going on that weekend.  We continued to wander and down the street looking for a place to eat. Finally we walked by one that didn't have loud music with dancers.  We were told it wasn't that kind of restaurant so in we walked.  It was classy.  Free first drinks and then two for one.  The food was delicious the desserts were divine. The meal was expensive but no more so than any other cafe/restaurant that we had passed.  Bice is the place to eat at South Beach. 

South Beach Miami is home to the largest neighborhood in the Art Deco Style.  But like anything else, Miami changed it to be more like Miami - they added color and lots of it.  The Art Deco Style originally was introduced in Paris but it caught on in Miami South Beach like nowhere else.  The rounded corners, geometric lines, glass blocks, and decorative symbols are all indications of Art Deco. As with the bright and pastel colors that Miami added they added something else to many of the buildings.  Since there wasn't any air conditioning in the 1920s when the Deco Art building were constructed they created these "eyebrows" over the windows to produce shade and decrease the amount of heat inside.  Art Deco isn't really my style but I do appreciate the style now that I know more about it. 

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