Fort Lauderdale Beach

Yesterday I took a break from work to relax at Fort Lauderdale Beach. On Saturday, I’d attended a meeting of Florida Romance Writers, and Sunday I spoke at a benefit for the Palm Beach School of Autism. Fellow panelists were Elaine Viets, Joy Fielding, and Michael Haskins. Some very talented members made paper sculptures out of books. The table decorations were inspired as well. We spoke a bit about our work and then fielded questions from the audience.

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Monday I decided that I deserved a day off, so I suggested to my husband we head to the beach for a walk and lunch. We drove down Las Olas and parked at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park across from Bahia Mar resort. It’s cheaper than one of those flat-rate lots. After paying our money via the meter and placing the sticker on our dashboard, we walked alongside the low wave-shaped white wall that borders the beach. Fort Lauderdale officials had the foresight to ban condos here so there’s an unbroken view of the water. Across the street are souvenir shops and cafés bustling with customers.

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We passed the cruise-ship shaped Ritz-Carlton hotel and went as far as the Casablanca Café, a popular restaurant on Route A1A. Then we turned back and went to lunch at Coconuts Bahama Café on the Intracoastal. The breeze was pleasant as we sat outside under an umbrella. I had a Caesar salad with grilled shrimp and we split a Key lime pie for dessert. Tourist boats and yachts plied the water while pelicans groomed themselves on the adjacent boat dock.

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Satisfied after our meal, we took our beach chairs from the car and found a shady spot on the sand. Here we sat for an hour or so until we were ready to leave. The ocean looked pretty clear down by the shore and I listened to the waves crest and recede. It was fun to people watch. Young girls wearing bikinis strode past while their male counterparts played on a basketball court or used the outdoor gym apparatus near the picnic tables. When I closed my eyes, I heard the ocean surf, seagulls squawking, people chatting, the thump of the ball on the court, the roar of a motorcycle, the drone of prop airplanes overhead dragging banners.

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And so a sense of peace descended upon me until I returned home. And now it’s back to work.

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Marco Island Revisited

Marco Island is our favorite beach getaway during the summer months. Located in southwest Florida below Naples, this quiet island holds pristine beaches and tempting seafood restaurants. We stay at the Hilton, enjoying its amenities and the café overlooking the water. I shop at Beachworks for tropical wear in Marco Town Center, a shopping strip with fun gift shops and boutiques. We visit Sunshine Booksellers that has two branches on the island. And we dine in our favorite eateries.

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Our first day, we had lunch at Snook Inn. I like their baked stuffed shrimp with a salad bar.

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That evening, we headed to Café de Marco. I had to get their seafood stuffed mushrooms again. It’s one of the best appetizers ever. We had butterflied shrimp there the last time, so now we tried delicious grouper with mushrooms, shallots, and garlic. Crusty rolls and salads accompanied the meal. We enjoy this restaurant’s elegant atmosphere and excellent service.

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The next day, lunch was at the pool bar as we spent the day at the beach.

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For dinner, we returned to Capri Fish House for grilled salmon while overlooking a sandy stretch at a waterway where kids cast fishing lines and boats bobbed at a marina.

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We’d hoped to take the lunch cruise on the Marco Island Princess the following afternoon, but it was cancelled due to lack of patrons. So we visited the Marco Island Historical Museum instead and learned about the early Calusa Indians and the Spaniard explorers who brought disease that wiped them out.

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Lunch was casual at NeNe’s Kitchen and dinner was coconut crusted tilapia at our hotel’s Paradise Café.

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It was another refreshing weekend at the beach and just what I needed to get away from the computer. Here’s the blazing sunset that’s always a celebration on the west coast of Florida, and just a snippet away, an approaching thunderstorm.

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Joys of June

June is a month to frolic by the pool, attend June weddings, enjoy the outdoors, and laze under the shade. For those of us writers with self-imposed deadlines, it can be hard to get anything done. This past weekend is an example. On Friday, we saw the Man of Steel film.

Superman

While I liked the interpersonal moments and the new take on this old classic, I did miss some of the traditional tropes including baby Kal-el’s arrival on earth and discovery by the Kents. And while Amy Adams was cute and feisty, she didn’t fit my image of Lois Lane. Neither did Perry White. I thought the lead actor did a good job and was hunky enough for the part, though. The intense action sequences with almost continuous explosions went on way too long, almost to the point of boredom. Enough already. Just defeat the bad guys and move on. If you like non-stop action, this is for you.

Dinner that night was Thai food and then home to watch Ghost Protocol with Tom Cruise on TV. Saturday found us taking a brisk walk along the Broadwalk at Hollywood Beach. We breakfasted at an oceanfront café and then worked up an appetite for another meal. Instead of lunch, we opted for ice cream sundaes at historic Jaxson’s in Dania Beach. Groaning under the weight of excess calories, we drove home to rest until partaking of an excellent dinner at Seasons 52 in Galleria.

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We ate once again on Father’s Day at Toojay’s for breakfast before it got too crowded. Then our kids left to drive home several hours away. Our weekend was capped off by a frantic call from our daughter that she had left her house keys at our place. Some $235 later, she had a new lock on our condo door. This door is cursed (see previous month’s article for why).

This morning delivered more unpleasant news. I have a cavity, and while the dentist is hoping to restore the tooth, a root canal and crown might be necessary. Oh, joy. I haven’t had dental work other than cleanings in years, and need I tell you how I feel about this upcoming visit? Can I crawl under the porch now? I put off my next appointment for two weeks to get past another out of town visitor and two speaking engagements.

Despite all of this hectic activity, I am up to page 315 (out of 466) in my WIP second draft/final copy and have succeeded in knocking off ten pages worth of prose.

So what have you accomplished this month so far?

Tortola

Cane Garden Bay, Tortola
Nov. 5, 2012, Vision of the Seas

We shared a taxi ride with two couples that we hooked up with via Cruise Critic. To get to Cane Garden Bay, it cost $8.00 per person one way with six people in the cab. It was a bumpy twenty to thirty minute ride across the island on curvy hilltop roads with scenic views. As the taxi careened around hairpin curves, we held onto our seats. This was as good an island tour as any other.

Cane Garden Bay Beach is a lovely site that I’d noted on a previous visit to Tortola. Restaurants are plentiful and restrooms are adequate. The drink prices vary from bar to bar. Our three dollar rum punch had no punch. A lounge chair costs five dollars, plus an extra five dollars for an umbrella.

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The beach is beautiful with many facilities and well worth a return visit. It wasn’t as crowded as Magen’s Bay on St. Thomas, plus there is no entry fee. Ask your taxi driver to drop you off at the main entrance near the two-story building. You can easily catch a cab back from here to the ship. Bring cash for taxi fare, food, and chair rentals.

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P1010966 (800x600)    I Love those Rum Punches but this one didn’t have much punch. This is a lovely beach with a wide range of facilities where you can easily spend a few hours.

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Coming Next: St. Maarten

MARCO ISLAND, FL

If you’d like to escape for several days to a beach haven away from it all, visit Marco Island. There’s as much or as little as you want to do here, with expansive sandy beaches, boat rides, fine dining, shopping, water sports, and more. Driving onto the island, a two hour drive west from Fort Lauderdale and just south of Naples, we stopped at the Snook Inn for lunch. Located on a waterway, this rustic restaurant offers a scenic view along with outdoor dining. I had Baked Stuffed Shrimp while my husband had Conch Chowder and Crab Cake Sliders. Then we went for cocktails later to Quinn’s on the Beach at the Marriott. Again, we chose outdoor seating so we could watch the sun descend on the horizon.

Snook Inn
Snook Inn

We spent two nights at the Hilton with its lovely pool area, big wide beach, three dining places, plus a lounge. The food in Sandpipers and the Paradise Café was excellent, better than many other restaurants we’ve experienced, with an artistic presentation worthy of the best worldwide establishments. For dinner in the Paradise Café, I ordered Coconut Crusted Tilapia that was absolutely delish. My husband ordered Salmon Oscar, and we shared a Key Lime Pie for dessert. Here you have a choice of eating outside on a screened patio with a view of the sunset and beach or inside in the air-cooled restaurant.

The last night found us at Capri Fish House where we ate outside under the chickee hut facing a waterway. While we waited for our food (I ordered grilled grouper), a thunderstorm struck and lightning flashed all around. Rain poured down, necessitating our moving to another table to avoid getting wet.        

Snook Inn
View from Snook Inn

Other than the food, we enjoyed the beach. The lounge chairs and towels are free at the Hilton. If you want an umbrella, it costs $19 per day. We hunted for seashells, splashed in the sea foam, sniffed the salty sea air, and floated in the bathtub warm water. This mini-vacation came with its comedic moments, such as when the spouse spilled ketchup all over himself or got lost walking on the beach looking for the hotel entrance. I tried to unlock someone else’s room until I realized I was at the wrong door. Good thing our daughter came along to laugh at our mishaps. Family vacations, however short, are treasures to be stored away with memories and photos.

Quinn's on the Beach
Quinn's on the Beach
Hilton Hotel view
Hilton Hotel view
Marco Island Beach
Marco Island Beach
Nancy in the ocean
Nancy in the ocean
Capri Fish House
Capri Fish House
Capri Fish House
Capri Fish House
Key Lime Pie
Key Lime Pie
Nancy at Capri Fish House
Nancy at Capri Fish House
Sunset
Sunset
Sunset
Sunset

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