Playing Tourist in Fort Lauderdale

Last weekend, we attended a family wedding. It was a lovely affair at a country club.

P1040188  P1040192

P1040177  P1040184

Look at this cake. Isn’t it worthy of the one in Shear Murder? And note the floral centerpieces have orchids that play a central role in my story.

P1040196  P1040194

I got to see my cousins, and my brother visited from out-of-town. This gave me the chance to show him around. He loves flea markets so we went to the infamous Swap Shop on East Sunrise. I remember the days when there used to be a circus with live animals.

P1040202  P1040203

P1040204  P1040205

We headed over to Bass Pro Shops and lunch at Islamorada Fish Company Restaurant next. I had coconut shrimp, while my brother had a conch salad and the husband had fish and chips.

P1040211  P1040214

Look at this iguana sunning itself on the rocks. There’s a whole bunch of them. A family, perhaps?

iguana3  iguana4

Anyway, it was a neat day, and we were sorry to see my brother leave. I’d bought vegetables at the Farmer’s Market, and what I made with the eggplant will be posted on my next blog.

P1040206  P1040208

Winter Contest, Jan. 27-Feb. 14
Enter to win a signed hardcover copy of Shear Murder & a $10 Starbucks gift card. Two prizes to be awarded.
https://nancyjcohen.com/fun-stuff/contest/

 

Brio Tuscan Grille

I love trying new restaurants, especially when they’re right around the corner from where I live. A new Brio Tuscan Grille just opened on the southeast corner of Westfield Mall in Plantation. We had an excellent meal, starting with the tomato and mozzarella Caprese salad. My husband had shrimp and crab cakes and I had grilled salmon. The fish was accompanied by roasted diced sweet potatoes, asparagus and other vegetables. It was delicious and the service was excellent. I can’t wait to go back. We also liked that they served butter instead of olive oil with the crusty bread. Prices are reasonable, and they are open for lunch. And who can resist the mini-desserts for $2.99?

IMG_1136  IMG_1138

IMG_1140  IMG_1139

IMG_1141

Contest Alert!

Win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free ebooks from Booklover’s Bench authors, including a copy of my cruise ship mystery Killer Knots, in our December contest: http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

Flamingo Gardens

Yesterday, we revisited Flamingo Gardens where we’d been members years ago. It’s the only botanical gardens in the Fort Lauderdale area. For an $18 admission fee, you can enter the lush grounds through the gift shop. In the back is the entry through an impressive arch of holiday lights.

P1040019  P1030989

P1030991  P1040020

Along winding paths, you can admire the tropical greenery and enormous trees like the live oaks that have grown here for 200 years. Who said south Florida didn’t have tall trees? Colorful flowers abound amid trickling waterfalls and spreading plants.

P1030993  P1030997

Next comes the Aviary where birds run free, then a caged section holding owls, eagles and hawks. These birds of prey are all injured and can’t be released into the wild. So they are, in effect, rescue animals.

P1030998  P1040001

We skipped the snakes behind glass cases and the guide-led wildlife encounter to head toward the historic Wray home. I love seeing how people lived in 1930’s Florida.

P1040009  P1040003

P1040004  P1040005

P1040007

After eating hot dogs at the outdoor café, we viewed the zoo area with a bobcat, turtles, alligators, a black bear, and more. We passed on the tram ride, annoyed at the extra cost and that they don’t allow visitors to stroll the expanded acreage because you have to take the ride there. That’s one reason why we dropped our membership. The place isn’t as well maintained as Fairchild in Miami or Leu Gardens in Winter Park. It’s pleasant for visitors but limited for locals due to these reasons.

See the iguana in the picture below on the right? And you do know that flamingo get their color from eating shrimp?

P1040011 P1040012

P1040014  P1040015

I am not sure, but I think that might be a breadfruit tree above. The path ends again at the gift shop which always has an appealing array of Florida knickknacks, books, souvenirs, snazzy umbrellas and more. The gardens are certainly worthwhile for visitors who wish to experience our ecological environment. I suggest you go in the cooler months when it isn’t buggy. Yesterday was perfect, in the seventies and sunny.

P1040018

<><><>

Contest Alert!

Win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free ebooks from Booklover’s Bench authors, including a copy of my cruise ship mystery Killer Knots, in our December contest: http://bookloversbench.com/contest/. Unfortunately, if you entered before, you’ll need to enter again. Rafflecopter screwed up and lost all our entries.

Now speaking of flamingos, Freddie the Flamingo is the official mascot of Florida’s MWA chapter. Come join us for SleuthFest 2015 in Deerfield Beach on Feb. 26. Guest speakers include bestselling author James Patterson and humorist Dave Barry. For more info, go to http://www.sleuthfest.com

Spider2

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.

IMG_0185   IMG_0184

IMG_0188   IMG_0189

IMG_0190   IMG_0191

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?

Playing Tourist in Florida

Happy Easter to my friends who celebrate the holiday! As with any celebration, it’s a day to relax and enjoy your family and friends. In our busy lives, it’s not so easy to take a day off. I like to take walks and enjoy visiting parks when the weather is suitable.

We were lucky to be in Naples, FL during perfect weather to tour the Naples Botanical Garden. We’ve seen many of the other attractions in the area, but this was a first time here. After paying the $12.95 admission fee at the ticket booth inside the gift shop, we emerged onto the garden path. Different ecological areas are nestled among the 170 acres. Created in 1993 by a group of inspired Naples residents, the garden boasts seven habitats, 2.5 miles of walking trails, and restored native preserves. New construction is planned for a welcome center, auditorium, café, and more.

A sculpture exhibit was going on the same time as our visit. Enjoy the photos and picture yourself in sunny South Florida.

Naples Garden2 (800x600)    Naples Garden1 (800x600)

Naples Garden3 (800x600)  Naples Garden4 (800x600)

Naples Garden5 (800x600)   Naples Garden6 (800x600)

Naples Garden7 (800x600)  Naples Garden8 (800x600)

Naples Garden10 (800x600)  Naples Garden13 (800x600)

Naples Garden11 (800x600)  Naples Garden14 (800x600)

Naples Garden15 (640x480)  Naples Garden16 (640x480)

And here are my friends from Southwest Florida Romance Writers who gave me an excuse to go to Naples in the first place. I spoke to the group on “Social Networking for Writers.” You’ll see me at the far end in the first photo.

P1020304 (800x600)  P1020303 (800x600)

<><><>

As for other day off activities, we’ll often take a walk inside Sawgrass Mills Mall. Last week we went there to see Oz: The Great and Powerful. We liked this Disney movie despite the negative reviews. The storyline was clever and the scenery beautiful and creative. It reminded me of Avatar. We didn’t see it in 3-D but I would buy the DVD that way.

We discovered a new sushi bar inside the mall at a central location. Patrons sitting at the bar can watch sample dishes glide by on a conveyor belt.

Sushi Sawgrass   Sushi Sawgrass2

Another day, I met my friend Margaret, a former member of Florida Romance Writers. We dined with our husbands at La Bonne Crepe on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. I indulged in the baked brie with fruit and an iced tea.

La Bonne Crepe  Nancy Margaret

After lunch, we strolled by the New River to see the Water Taxi landing where a bunch of people waited for the boat. That’s one adventure I haven’t done yet.

Where do you go on your days off?

CRIME ON CRUISE SHIPS

Besides the shenanigans that happen on the Tropical Sun, my fictional cruise ship in Killer Knots, real crimes take place on ships at sea. You’ve all read news articles about people who go overboard or go missing on ocean voyages. What about murders and rapes and robberies? 

 A cruise ship is like a city. You should take the same precautions there as anywhere. Don’t go alone into deserted parts of the ship. Keep your valuables locked up. Steer clear of areas with high winds and a single railing between you and the ocean, especially if you’ve been consuming alcohol. Be wary of strangers who come on to you. The crew are no exception. Don’t go off to uncharted territory with a crew member just because he’s cute.  You don’t know his background or his motivation.  Always get your own drinks. Don’t accept drinks from strangers or leave your drinks unattended.  Know where your children are and warn them to be cautious. Vacations are no place to let down your guard.

In many cases, jurisdiction over a shipboard crime is questionable. Lack of communication, overlapping authority, and poorly trained staff who don’t know how to collect evidence have been problems in solving crimes at sea. Plus it’s hard for local authorities to examine a crime scene when the ship is in port for one day and by then, days may have passed since the incident.

Fortunately, new laws aim to tighten standards. The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 will require ships to install video surveillance in common areas plus door viewers and safety latches on cabin doors. Ships will need to carry kits to conduct sexual assault exams and to administer drugs that prevent STDs after an attack. They will need to log in all deaths, missing persons, assaults involving U.S. citizens, and other alleged crimes.  These reports will be available to the FBI and Coast Guard.

The FBI has jurisdiction if the ship is owned by a U.S. company, if the victim is a U.S. citizen on a ship departing or arriving at a U.S. port, if the crime takes place within 12 miles of our coastline, or if an act of terrorism against the U.S. is involved. 

You don’t want to become a cruise ship victim. Be as careful on vacation as you would be on shore, and you should have a great time.