Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Florida Day 5, 6 and going home

Ok now I'm several weeks behind updating my blog.  Long story short I ran out of space on Google and had to buy more to upload my pictures...that along with life....and I'm just now getting back.

So for the rest of our Florida trip.

Thursday was the day that they had an activity for the New York Life families. We rode an hour on a bus to get to a safari park. I met a nice lady from Utah and got to hear her remarkable life story.

The Safari park reminded me of the Wild Animal Park but instead of riding a tram through the animal enclosures you get to drive your own car.

This is cool if you have a car...not as cool when your on a huge bus full of people and it's full of crying and carsick kids.

(The boy behind me threw up in the aisle right next to me and we had to make a stop so they could clean it up before we started.)

We got to see some really neat animals up close...

But we were so short on time by the time we were done with the tour we had to drive back to the hotel immediately.

All those cranky and carsick kids were now crankier and more carsick because they couldn't get out and take a break from the bus. My companion had a migraine and was silently trying to block out the noise around her. I'm thinking the family excursion wasn't as fun without the family there.

Hanging out at the hotel might have been more boring but it would've been quieter ;)

After Jeff was done with his meetings for the day Doug and Jaimie came with us to go check out South Beach in Miami. We heard it was THE Place to go so we thought we'de take the afternoon to go and check it out.

I loved that the beaches in Florida looked like the watercolors that you see of beaches with sand dunes and picket fences...I used to think those pictures weren't of "real" beaches because the beaches out here never looked like them ;)

Walking out to the sand we realized how windy it was. It was so windy we were getting pelted with sand!

I don't know if you can see it or not but there are clouds of sand blowing through the buildings of Miami and hardly anyone on the beach.

Even the birds were smart enough to take cover. This flock of birds was standing downwind from the stack of chairs to protect themselves from the sand! Smart birds!

Behind every trash can was a beachgoer trying to protect themselves from the sand
(you can see one in the corner)

The downtown area wasn't very busy at that time of day but we thought that the stores reminded us a lot of down town New York.

Though I don't remember seeing Psychics in New York.

After checking out Miami we raced back for our final New York Life dinner that was featuring entertainment from and local group like Cirque du Soleil. 

We could tell that we would be in for a fun night.

We weren't disappointed! They had little shows in between the courses of our dinner and all of them kept us enthralled the whole time.

We were lucky enough to sit at the table with the New CFO. After saying goodbye to the old one it was nice to get to know the new one. He and his wife were both very nice (notice they aren't above wearing the glow sticks too ;)

The acts at the end were amazing! This contortionist was unreal! My back hurt just watching her.

This balancing act was unreal too. He got so high that we were sure he was going to fall. Jeff took lots of video of him doing his tricks...just waiting for him to fall so we could send it to funniest videos. He never fell!

After the show we went and talked to the cast...some were from Florida...

And some were from Mongolia and Russia!

We met a new couple that were friends with Sam (who we talked to a lot last year). This orthodox Jewish couple had 10 children! Jeff talked to the husband and I was interested to hear that the wife's favorite thing to do at the conventions is go shopping at the malls since the stores are all in the same place. (She doesn't drive so it's hard to shop in New York on a Subway) She had never been on a plane until she came to a New York Life convention the year before.

The next day Jeff had investment meetings. He usually stays for this extra day.

After he was done we walked around the hotel some and then decided to try and shop for some souvenirs.

This courtyard was part of the original construction. It was nice to learn about the history of where we were staying.

It was harder than we thought to find souvenirs...there wasn't any Walmarts or cheap T-shirt stores...just high end shopping. We did find a cool gallery in this shopping plaza though.

(Leave it to us to want cheap souvenirs ;)

When we got back we went over to meet Doug and Jaimie at the pool. On the way back she showed me the "powder room" she discovered on the original wing of the hotel. This is just the room you enter before you get into the bathroom!

That night we were bussed to the Ragtop museum and car dealership.

The whole place was like a throwback to the 50's with all kinds of artifacts that you could touch and check out...not to mention the classic cars that they let you get inside of and check out.

There were 3 floors of entertainment and food...though we were spoiled after a week of great food...this dinner wasn't the greatest.

The ambiance couldn't be beat though!

I think I could've been a switchboard opperator...

Before we left we got some dessert at the Ice Cream Bar. Pretty sweet idea but it was so dark we didn't know what we were putting on our ice cream...

After dinner Jeff and I were relaxing in the room when Doug and Jaime texted us and asked us if we wanted to hang out since we were all leaving the next we hung out in the lounge eating more ice cream...and nacho...since it was right next to Serendipitys Yum.

It was fun to have California friends to hang out with during the week!

The next day was our last before we were flying back home. We wanted to try and get back to the Everglades and take the 2 hour tram tour. We were tight on time but with Jeff's driving and some calls ahead ...we made it just in time.

We learned even more about the Everglades from our guide who could tell us a lot more than our airboat ride operator.

We came up to this section in the road...can you see what's lurking in the water?

Yep another alligator!

This guy kept moving the grass to get a better picture...we were all waiting for him to fall in. Crazy guy!

He told us that the clumps of trees that we were seeing were from alligator holes. They scoop out the surrounding dirt little by little over the years and it makes the water deeper during the dry season...this allows bigger trees to grow.

The alligator's tail scrapes the bottom and creates a river through the grass that other animals follow right to his he's got his own home food delivery service set up.

In the middle of the tour we got to a giant lookout tower.

We didn't have much time to go up and look around but it was enough.

The view seemed to go on forever!

(And it was fun to run back down the ramp ;)

Before we knew it, it was time to get back on the tram.

Here is an anhinga bird...I guess they are native to Florida and we say them everywhere.

Here are some more baby alligators.

Right after the tram ride was done we walked back to this moma and her babies. I don't know if you can see them very well but they were hanging out on her head an on the lilypads all around her!

After we were done we had some more time to kill so we headed over to a Miccosukee Indian village on the reservation. (We found out from the guide that these Indians along with the Seminoles used to live on the the little tree islands and were the only tribes that escaped the American armies round ups...they were the only Indians that never succumed to the soilders and had to sign a treaty.)

In the village we got to see some of the traditional houses that would've been on the tree islands...along with the hammocks used to keep your children away from alligators.

Like this one...(fun fact did you know that Alligators got their name by gringos botched attempts to pronounce the Spanish phrase for lizard "el largarto")

It was interesting that out of all the people that worked there only one was from the Indian tribe, and only 2 or 3 were Indian at all!

They had lots of alligators but nobody to tell you anything about them (It might be busier on Saturdays)

After some more hanging out it was finally time to fly home and see the kids again. We had lots of fun but were ready to come home!

When they woke up the next morning we showed them the piece of Florida we brought back for them to enjoy...

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