August 23, 2015 by Briana
Day 151 (10/29/14): Fort Lauderdale, FL | Miami, FL
Due to minimal options for pet-friendly hotels in Fort Lauderdale, we ended up staying at the Westin last night since they didn’t charge a pet fee. When we walked out to the parking lot this morning, we witnessed something completely out of the ordinary. A Corvette was draped in a car cover and sitting precariously on two cinder blocks with it’s front bumper resting on the asphalt. Upon closer inspection, we noticed that there were lug nuts resting on the ground next to the car. That’s when we also discovered that all four of the vehicle’s wheels were missing, and realization smacked us in the face.
As we mentally processed the facts, it took a minute for the scene to register followed by a brief moment of denial. “This can’t be right. There has to be a perfectly reasonable explanation,” we thought. We glanced around the parking lot and saw another car on blocks without wheels. We got our explanation. These cars had been robbed…at the Westin! In a panic, we rushed over to our truck worried we would also be victims. Luckily, we still had our tires and rims, but the situation was still unnerving.
Once our shock dissipated, we took off with all four of our truck’s wheels intact. Our exploration began at Fort Lauderdale Beach. The water seemed to be just a few feet from the road. There was still dry seaweed on the sand. But with the presence of palm trees waving in response to the ocean breeze, this was the most tropical and inviting beach we had encountered so far. In addition to the 7 miles of beach, Fort Lauderdale has dozens of bridges and miles upon miles of scenic interconnected waterways. With more miles of waterways than Venice, Fort Lauderdale has been nicknamed the “Venice of America.” The extensive canals boast an affluent neighborhood known as “Millionaire’s Row” with extravagant homes and luxurious yachts. We definitely wouldn’t mind having a vacation home there! 😉
While driving towards Downtown Fort Lauderdale, we passed through Las Olas Boulevard. Adjacent to the New River, the tree-lined street features high-end shops, art galleries & fine dining restaurants along with sidewalk cafes. Wanting to make it down to Miami, we made a mental note to check out Las Olas Boulevard later. But, as we attempted to leave Fort Lauderdale, we felt trapped! With all the bridges, one-way streets and gated communities, we kept making wrong turns and getting stuck at drawbridges.
When we finally made it out of Fort Lauderdale, we visited the South Beach neighborhood of Miami Beach. The temperature was a balmy 90-something degrees despite the fact that it was the end of October. The weather was not a deterrent though. The streets were buzzing with people walking from one establishment to the next, absorbing the Miami sun and energy. Ocean Drive seemed to be the busiest and most popular section of South Beach. The street faces the beach and features countless sidewalk cafés. We would have loved to have been able to have lunch there, but tragically, we couldn’t find any available street parking (especially not any spots long enough for a truck to get in and out of).
After we finally gave up on trying to find parking in Miami Beach, we returned to Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. There were several restaurants to choose from, but we had to eat at Fork & Balls! The name is attention-grabbing to say the least, and you can’t help but be amused as well as intrigued. As soon as you look at the menu, you immediately understand the name of the ball-themed restaurant. The unusual concept compelled us to give the Meatball Kitchen a try. A stylish yet rustic and industrial décor created a casual and comfortable ambiance.
For an appetizer, we started with the Herb Polenta Fries. They were the perfect balance of flavor with a crispy outer texture yet a creamy interior. The polenta fries gave us high hopes for our entrees, and The Greek Sandwich did not disappoint! The “sandwich” was actually more of a wrap similar to a gyro and seemed simple enough. That was, until I took a bite of it and there was a flavor explosion in my mouth from the tender, juicy meatballs! Being part Greek, I was skeptical trying a meatball Gyro. It felt somewhat sacrilegious, but it was ahhh-mazing! If that admission makes me a sinner, I can live with that! Haha! We were glad we ended up not being able to grab a bite in Miami Beach, or we would have missed out on this delicious meal and unique restaurant!
Day 152 (10/30/14): Fort Lauderdale, FL
At this point, we needed to re-evaluate our situation. We spent the day strategizing and figuring out a game plan. With our RV in the shop being repaired, we were homeless and forced to stay in hotels. The cost of hotels is really starting to add up, and we don’t want to waste time just sitting around in a hotel room. If we’re paying for it, we need to make the most of it. We decided to continue working our way through Florida as far as we could before we would need to start heading back west. We’ll go down to the Keys, then to Everglades National Park, up the western coast through Naples to Tampa, cut over to Orlando and head back east continuing over to St. Augustine where our RV is. This route will cover southern Florida and just leave the Panhandle to visit as we work our way back to the West Coast.
This way we won’t go too far out of our way since we’ll have to return to St. Augustine anyway to pick up our trailer when it’s fixed. However, we’re sure the RV will still be in the shop for at least a few more weeks by the time we make it back to St. Augustine. Rather than stay in a hotel during that time at $100 or more per night, we realized it would be much more affordable to stay in a vacation rental. Remembering that Hilton Head Island in South Carolina was mostly vacation rentals, we thought it would be a good idea to go back there. We really enjoyed Hilton Head, and this would give us the opportunity to spend more time there to see if we could live there when our journey is over. Okay…decision made! 🙂