Friday 3 December 2010 - Saturday 4 December 2010
We never actually went clubbing in Miami. After wandering around the Art Deco District at night we quickly realized it really wasn't for us. Instead we went to a giant art installation that had a DJ, a couple roach coaches, and a giant fountain of Vodka. It was bizarre, but much more our style. There was a huge... thing. I don't know how to describe it, so I'll just let pictures do the talking. Underneath it was the DJ, a bar, and hammocks. It was awesome.
Then we climbed the Great Vodka River. The installation was created by Fyodor Pavlov-Andreevich, and featured a three story high structure with a channel of Vodka spiraling down the middle. At the bottom was a group of women who would climb the structure one by one with buckets of Vodka. Upon reaching the top they'd pour their buckets into the stream, then head back down to chant with the others. It was really weird, so obviously I loved it to pieces.
What a great way to end our stay in Miami.
The next morning we headed off to the Everglades via the Tamiami Trail. We took the obligatory airboat ride, being careful to choose one of the more ethical companies in the area. They had an alligator show, but it didn't feature wrestling like some others did. Unfortunately this was also a hot spot for tour buses, so the boat was packed to capacity. We did see a few gators, but at the speeds the boat was going the pictures were either too blurry or too dark. I did get some cool looking shots of the swamp (well, technically the Everglades is a giant slow moving river, but it is very swamp-like).
And then we got to see Snappy, the baby gator. The dude holding him was one brave dude. Just minutes before this he was in a cage with six adult gators like it was no big deal. He hand fed them, pet them, and talked to them like they were old pals. Maybe they were, but I still wouldn't stroke a 6-foot long gator like a puppy. But hey, good for him.
Afterward I had gator bites. Kind of weird considering we had just spent the previous couple of hours appreciating and learning about alligators, but I love giant doses of irony for lunch so I had them anyway.
With my recent heightened interest in photography, I decided to stop by the Big Cypress Gallery featuring the work of Clyde Butcher. He specializes in black and white swamp photography. I took a walk behind the gallery to try my hand at photographing the swamp and, while I got some decent shots, it doesn't even begin to compare to Butcher's work. But I'm going to post some anyway.
Our third stop on the Tamiami trail was a visitors center. It was a convenient place to stop and take some decent pictures of gators. As we were driving I spotted dozens just sitting along side the road, but there wasn't a convenient place to pull over until there. The gators were just lounging about without a care in the world, so I really go to go crazy with photos. I think I ended up with over 50 shots from this one little section of swamp. Gators are so lazy, they make excellent models.
Our last stop on the Tamiami Trail was the "Smallest Post Office in the USA." I think this along with my Merlion pictures from Singapore has started a "Pictures of Me in Front of Stupid Things" series of photos. Someday I'll have to make it the Carhenge and the Biggest Ball of Twine to complete the set. And, of course, they all have to feature me with Colbert-style thumbs up.
We exited the Tamiami Trail in Naples, but there really wasn't much there of interest to us so we continued on to Sarasota. As we got close I used Yelp! to find some food in the area and we ended up eating at an Amish style cafe called Yoder's. Who knew there was an Amish community in Florida? I certainly didn't, but the food was delicious. There were several groups of elderly Amish folk eating in the diner, but there was also a mix of other Floridian locals and tourists. I didn't want to be rude and take pictures of the Amish people, so I just took a picture of the side of the building instead. Here is the only photographic proof I have that I was in Amish country.
On this trip I have now eaten Amish food, Cuban food, Brazillian food, fish in a fancy restaurant, fish off a roach coach, and pizza from a restaurant that encouraged me to "Keep on Shroomin'."
Our next stop is only 2 1/2 hours away, so we'll be playing tomorrow by ear for the most part. We'll see what happens. One thing is for sure: we are only two days away from swimming with Manatees!