South Florida Adventure
Updated: Jun 7, 2019
I left Cathy and Adam's in Georgia fairly early and drove the seven hours to Miami. There was some traffic on the FL turnpike, but otherwise the trip went well. Mu first stop in Miami was my old university, the University of Miami, where I did two years of work for my masters degree in music business. It has been 12 years since I graduated and the campus has changed a great deal. The school closed my favorite on-campus restaurant along the lake, and replaced it with a large modern student center. The school of music also had a lot of upgrades to buildings as well as new buildings. It was nice, but strange, to be back.
After campus, I met up with my old landlord John who offered to let me stay with him that night. John is an incredible person, sincere, nice, and funny. He had also gotten married a few years ago to an incredibly guy named Jorge. The two of them were incredibly cute and funny together, and I had a great evening eating pizza, and sharing stories of the time I lived with John to Jorge, and learning more about Jorge and his home country of Columbia.
When I woke up the next morning, I went out to my car to test the two new battery backups I received at Cathy's house. Once again, I was sent defective batteries that would not charge from the car outlet. One actually did charge, but the metal prongs on the cord were exposed and sparked when coming in contact with other metal. At time point, I had becoming incredibly frustrated with the battery system and did not know what to do. As you may remember from an earlier post, I need batteries to run my cpap at night, so this is critical to me having a good trip. In the end, I found a different company that made a similar product, I am having two new battery units to one of my stops a week later. Hopefully these new batteries will work correctly. I'm holding onto the existing battery units since I can still charge them in a wall outlet, but I will return them to Amazon once I get the new units.
After tackling the battery situation at John's house, I said goodbye, and left for a late lunch with an old professor named JP at a deli. We had a great chat about his life and what he has been doing since he retired. It was really nice to be able to catch up with him since he had such a big impact on my life. JP was the head of the music business department when I was getting my degree, and he gave me a teaching assistant position. Without that position, affording school would have been difficult, but more importantly I would have never learned that I loved to teach and I may never have pursued becoming a professor.
Once the meal was over, JP and I parted, and I drove a short distance to Matheson Hammock along the Biscayne bay. This is a beautiful little park that I used to ride my bike to during my school years. It was a place of relaxation for me, so it was nice being back and being able to take some beautiful video for the movie I am making of the trip. After the park visit, I started the three hour trip down to Key West. However, before I got to Key West I stopped at a park called Bahai Honda which is a beach along one of the keys. A co-worker of mine, Sue, recommended the place so I knew I needed to go. After a short stay to take some more video, I got to Key West and began to explore.
I stayed in Key West for two nights. The first night I essentially set up camp at Boyd's RV Park. My parking spot was perfect because it gave excellent views of the water from my tent. I rode a rented bicycle to a local restaurant that night because I knew the next day would be the major exploration of downtown Key West. It was about a 30 minute ride to downtown from my campsite, which went fine except that the storage bag on the side of my bike fell off at some point, and I had to retrace my route to find it and the bike lock stored inside.
I spent the rest of the second day exploring downtown Key West. I visited art studios, a pottery studio which I sent pictures of to my friend Matt who is a potter, and he immediately recognized the work. I also stood in line at the 'southern most point' multiple times to get usable video for the movie. Considering that I will be going from Key West to the most north-western part of the country on my trip, getting decent video was worth multiple times in line. I also explored the marina and had a drink at a few of the bars, as well as saw Truman's little White House where president Truman would visit on vacation during his presidency. Overall it was a nice relaxing day. Next time I visit, I want to take a ferry to the Dry Tortugas national park, which I was unable to on this visit since reservations fill up months in advance.
The next day I woke up early, packed the tent, did one more photo-shoot at the Southern Most Point (I wanted no lines and good sunlight) and headed back to South Miami. On my way back, I stopped by Biscayne nation park. The park is named after the bay and the aquati wildlife. I did not have time to take a boat tour, but I did walk a short path and take some pictures on the water, as well as at the sign at the entrance.
Next, I met up with another former professor of mine, Rey Sanchez, for lunch at a nice Cuban place in South Miami. Rey told me about all of the amazing new programs he has started since becoming associate dean at the Frost School of Music, and it was a bit inspirational in terms of how I should think about what I can do at Augustana. Rey gave me some good advice on my career, and we parted ways only after I showed him the tent on top of the car (packed up) and my other gear. I then left for the Everglades national park.
The Everglades National Park was the first park to check for my annual pass upon entry. This was the fourth park I have been to so far, so I have been waiting for that to happen. The park was hot, but has a calming beauty to it. My campsite was at end of a 30 mile roadway at a place called Flamingo campground. Surprisingly, a lot of the 50+ campsite were reserved but only about 6 of the spots had people in them. I was camped next to two guys Alan and Angus, from Texas. The three of us spent about an hour in the evening swapping stories and I learned a little about boat motors from Angus. The bugs were bad in my opinion, but Alan told me that it was actually mild since the wind was pretty strong. Luckily, I survived the night without bugs in my tent, but this was my third day sleeping outside in hot and humid conditions, and I woke up looking forward to driving to Tampa and staying in a hotel for the night.
This post has been a lot longer than I intended, but I have been doing a lot of driving and not having access to the internet for a lot of it. Hopefully I will be able to make posts more often going forward. The next two day are in Tampa for my friend Dennis's wedding, followed by a trip to New Orleans, with a camping stop along the gulf coast in-between. I'm incredibly excited for the wedding and so thankful to be able to take this trip.