I keep my blog as a personal record of what I'm up to, which might be seen as working towards "An elegant sufficiency, content, retirement, rural quiet, friendship, books, ease and alternate labour, useful life"

I'm certainly not there yet.  There is quite some way to go!










Entries in USA (233)


It was 2321 photographs great


We are home.  We have both unpacked and if it wasn’t for the fact that the washing machine is (still) needing attention, we’d have been getting on with that.


At 5.30pm last evening, the First Officer announced that he’d be flying us out of Miami on more or less a straight line to London, anticipating a shorter than usual flight time of 7 hours 30 minutes.  Most importantly, he added that it was generally calm en route and he anticipated no turbulence.  It was about 10pm then (I altered my watch immediately) when I put my head on my pillow and went to sleep for more or less six hours, only waking when someone offered me a bowl of fruit for breakfast.




We’d spent a great morning at the art museum, with one hitch.  I stumbled on one of the steps and did something horrible to my right knee.  Aaagh!  Since then, I’ve been doing an impression of an old lady…

But let’s not dwell on such things.  The outstanding exhibit at the Perez Art Museum was undoubtedly the work of Julio Le Parc, of whom, till now, we knew nothing.




There was a notice as we were about to enter the exhibition.  Oooo.

Would I be brave enough?  Of course!




To begin with, the feel was definitely “pop art”.  Some black and white exploration of pattern and some even more interesting exploration of colour work with pages from sketchbooks, which I love.  The larger, developed pieces were stunning – rather fun, too.  After all, whose spirit can’t be lifted by a rainbow of bright, saturated colour?




Even better, we had the exhibit more or less to ourselves.




So, we had time to explore, to look closely and most important, to stand back and take as long as we wanted to consider and work it out.  Because some of these pieces were simple, but oh so very clever.




By moving just a couple of feet, by looking up or down and shifting the air just the slightest bit, the patterns created by the focused lighting became mesmerising.




This piece, hung on the ceiling, had a large, 8ft square “mattress” beneath it, so we did what we thought we were meant to do.  We lay on it and looked up, noticing the reflected frieze on the black walls surrounding it.  How could we have done that in a packed gallery?




We could have spent all day in there, playing.  These panels were suspended from the ceiling and were made from pieces of organza, weighted top and bottom but hanging freely.  When we moved, the whole thing moved, shimmered and set up interference patterns.  Wow.




Yes, there were other exhibits including this one by Ulla von Brandenburg.  Yes, we rather liked them too.




We loved the sketchbooks revealing the experimentation which led to the creation of the finished pieces in this room.




In fact, we liked the sketchbooks more than the (enormous) finished pieces.




So much to think about, to consider and to reflect on.




How concepts and cultures are exported, shared, transmitted and absorbed.




And not restricting the art to merely visual pieces, it was interesting how the sounds of lost and endangered languages were exhibited, though by then, we were feeling hungry and a little overwhelmed.  What a pity then that we can’t return to that exhibit in a few days time, to begin afresh!




So we left the galleries and retreated to the cafe for a spot of lunch in the most lovely surroundings.




We enjoyed a little swing in the comfiest of seats.




We looked over to the cruise ship terminal and wondered where they were all going this weekend.  We mused on what an enormous business this is and wondered where all the people come from to fill these huge ships (Later, we looked them up here and discovered that almost all were headed for the Bahamas this weekend)




Our destination was more mundane but for us, more attractive.

What a great trip!  And here’s to the next one Winking smile


Finishing as we began


The best part of this adventure has been that we started it and finished it in the company of dear friends.  One of the attractions of the Explorer cruise was that it would enable us to catch up with those on both sides of this vast country; people who we don’t see so very often but where we simply take over where we left off, however long ago it was we were together.

Yesterday, we laughed, cried and talked non stop at home with Jane and Allan.  We remembered funny times which will stay with us forever.  We shared stories of more recent travels and caught up with news of family and friends.


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We ended the day with a wonderful dinner at Kaluz, arriving in the dark so not noticing the waterside location until a huge yacht pulled up outside.  As we have done rather frequently during the last few weeks, we said our goodbyes and promised to see one another again soon, on one side of the ocean or another.




Waking up in Miami this morning, one last time, we acknowledge that now, we are ready for home.  We’ve deliberately left a great modern art museum to visit today, before we drop off our rental car at the airport and begin the return journey.




Hard to imagine how eager we are to swap palm trees and sun loungers for ice, cold winds and dark February days.  Not so hard to imagine that when we factor in seeing our family, wearing different clothes, sleeping in our own bed and normal life, whatever that might be. 

Because, part of that is having a lovely family and home and friends to return to, isn’t it?


The benefits of having a plan




We had no intention of being caught out like we were yesterday and made sure we had plenty of addresses and note of parking places before we drove out this morning.




Well, it’s a dark and rather unobtrusive welcome, wouldn’t you say?  I don’t suppose I’d have noticed it at all had we not been stuck in traffic by that particular junction yesterday so this morning, I had my camera ready.




In not time at all, we’d parked the car in the multi storey and were walking towards Ocean Drive.




Where, of course, there were plenty of parking spots this morning!  Never mind.




It was a beautiful morning, just right for walking and enjoying the fresh air.




Oh, and taking a closer look at the architecture, of course.  We loved the way the Hotel Avalon parked a cute car outside, too.




Walking on the beach side of the road to avoid the breakfast solicitations from every hotel we passed, it also gave us a better view of the buildings too.




We really enjoyed simply strolling around, spotting quirky features there amidst the stylish hotels.




Love the colour pops!




But hey, there’s a beach here too!  We turned right and wandered down there, marvelling at the miles and miles of clean, well maintained sand, even if all those vehicles had compressed the beach to an almost concrete-like firmness.




I guess it makes an easier commute than Ocean Drive?




I considered dipping a toe in the water, and walked down to the softer, sandier stretch a little lower down, stopping to admire the brightly coloured lifeguard station as I did.




But as I did, I noticed the lifeguard feeding the birds.  Guess which direction I chose to run in?




We’ve seen signs like this all over the world and count ourselves lucky not to have to worry about hurricanes and things generally.




The Victor Hotel caught our eye, causing us to overlook the stunning Casa Casuarina next door!




Perhaps we should have joined a walking tour?  No, really, we’ve had enough of that kind of thing during the last couple of weeks!




Anyway, as people queued to take their photograph in front of the sign, we enjoyed a bite to eat at the Breakwater Hotel opposite, wondering what it’d be like to stay here.  The answer was all around us – noisy!




We had one or two bits and pieces still on our list, so dropped into a supermarket and marvelled at the quantities of beer and snacks people had in their trolleys as we paid for our shopping.  As we left, I turned around and spotted the answer – the Superbowl.




Our day ended in Little Havana.




We’re unfamiliar with Cuban food, though have really enjoyed a couple of meals on previous visits elsewhere in the US (here and here) and thought that this would be a great place to have dinner.




La Carreta wasn’t billed as fine dining, but seemed to offer good, reliable choices and had reasonable Trip Adviser reviews, so we headed there.




The mojitos were great!  (Plural: Happy Hour = 2 for 1, and guess who was the designated driver?  Clue: not me!)




But the Cuban sampler dish was a disappointment.  With plain white rice in the centre, then from the top, fried plantain (the best), yuca (like eating wallpaper paste), carnitas (pulled pork but without sauce), a croquette (rather dull), tamale (ditto) and piccalilli beef (like my Mum’s minced beef in gravy).  No spice.  No interest.  No seasoning.  Unlike any Cuban/Latin food we’ve had anywhere and certainly not in the same league as the delicious offerings in Rosa Mexicano the other night.  Poor choice – our fault.




But hey, we can’t end on a dull note. 




There was another Calle Ocho address on my list!




The Jeni’s of Miami!  Delicious ice cream that more than made up for the “first course”.




Next door, there was quite a party going on!




Watching the trails of aircraft taking off from the nearby airport form kisses in the sky, it was time to make our way back.  We have fun planned for tomorrow, involving about an hour’s drive, much chatter and even more laughter, of that I am sure.

An early night is required!


Living the Dream?




Here in Miami for a few days, we had made a list of things we wanted to do and see.




We woke to blue skies and, for us, warm temperatures.  As we drove, we passed joggers, dog walkers, power-walkers and cyclists.  Just what would it be like to live here?




What would appeal more, city or beach?




Modern or Deco?  We thought we’d take a look at South Beach Art Deco today.




Aaaagh!  For heavens’ sake.  The traffic!  The parking!  (there appears to be nowhere at all to park a car!) 




Oh, we just couldn’t be doing with this, driving round nose-to-tail in a total traffic jam, looking for a parking space (just like everyone else).




At least there’s a pedestrian shopping mall nearby (with a multi storey car park) so we can stretch our legs and have coffee.




Actually, along here are modern apartment blocks right there on the ocean – South Beach looks pretty nice.




Well, it would be nice if we could see the ocean too!   Those apartment blocks are side by side, right along here and form a canyon-like feeling to the road.  Yes, I could imagine living here…but only if I had an ocean facing apartment.  Who wants to live above a busy road with traffic 24/7?




The beach might be nearby, but I was staggered by the number of apartment blocks which are cheek by jowl all over this part of the city.  All of those people – and all of that concrete – I think it would drive me crazy.




The behaviour of at least one local suggests that I’m not alone!  (He did that wheelie right across the road junction)




The sunny weather would be nice, wouldn’t it?  Or?  Maybe the summer heat would get a little much, especially when radiated from all that concrete.  And I’m not sure I could be faffed about applying sunblock all the time, even though it’d be an essential daily task.




As we returned to our car this evening in a vast parking lot (yes, we resorted to the remote unlock to see which car flashed), we thought of home.




You see, the Moon and Venus were high in the sky, as they were a month ago when I took the same picture from our sitting room window.  Yes, it’s fun being in Miami.  Of course, we love travelling and are having a great time here and yes, it’s ever so cold at home, we are told. 

Slowly, though, we’re getting ready to be back.

Yes, Crisy, it was hard to leave Explorer after such a great time.  Rick, we were delighted to have you along, if only in the virtual sense.  But I‘m glad to say that we already live the dream in my opinion and after another couple of days of good times here, meeting with friends we can look forward to being at home in Gloucestershire and to anticipating our next adventure!

I hope you’re coming too?


Adventure Part 3




We were already “here” when I opened the curtains this morning.  Already packed and our luggage collected, we simply had to manage our time today.  No point in rushing – we were assigned the last disembarkation code, with no flight to catch, no tour to take.




So we took our time over a leisurely breakfast in the restaurant, enjoying Aras’ company again and appreciating the small details like the little ship-shaped garnish to my blueberry pancakes.




Not to mention the clever carrot garnish on my Hero’s omelette.  I looked closely at that one and might add it to my repertoire!




Though our estimated disembarkation time was 9.10am, it was more than an hour after that when we were finally called and gone 10.30am when we had collected our luggage, gone through immigration and joined the last queue of the day, for a taxi.




Hello Miami.




As we drove through the city, we spotted a billboard for the Harmony of the Seas, the ship we’d passed by yesterday.  OMG.




We checked into our cool hotel, learned that our room wouldn’t be ready for another hour or so, and went out to get our bearings.




I guess we’re not in Kansas any more Winking smile




We hummed as we walked.




Doing our best to avoid road and building works around and about, we took refuge in a new shopping centre, which the concierge had recommended for the architecture alone.  Built to capitalise on the breezes during the hot Summer months, it made an interesting diversion for a while.




Still awaiting our call to say our room was ready, we mooched around the Brickell Key a while longer.




Had we but got our beachwear with us, we could have settled on the hotel beach for a while.  But everything was still packed up and for now, we must simply be patient.

We seem to have been doing a lot of that today.




As we turned the corner, we spotted a familiar sight.  The Explorer was just over there, awaiting her next complement of guests who would be boarding about now, I guess.




She’ll sail at 5pm for a short, five day Caribbean cruise, chartered to an hotel group for their employees.

Bon Voyage, Explorer!  Hope to see you soon!