Windy Fort Lauderdale

Woke up in 2312 of the W Fort Lauderdale to pretty heavy winds and choppy waters, with rain-like (and eventually true rain) conditions on the street level when we went looking for a nearby Starbucks. The photo below of the palm fronds blowing hard in the wind gives a good sense of how heavy the winds were on the street:

This evening I’ll head to Ave Maria for a short visit before flying to Washington from Fort Myers early tomorrow.

Full Moon Party

We’re in the Florida Keys for New Year’s Eve, specifically staying on a houseboat at Mangrove Marina in Tavernier near Key Largo, and later in Islamorada for a New Year’s Eve “Full Moon Party” at Pierre’s on the beach. I’ll post scenes from throughout the day.

First from Lazy Day’s in Islamorada, where we had a late lunch. then from Mangrove Marina on our “Starfish” houseboat, where we spent the last daylight hours of 2017 and watched the sun set over the water and the full moon grow increasingly bright in the darkening sky, and finally from Pierre’s on the beach in Islamorada, where we spent the final six hours of the year:

A parade weaved its way through the beachfront crowds probably a dozen or so times throughout the evening and night, past midnight. I captured this scene from our table-on-the-beach:

And the midnight fireworks were a fitting way to finish the year, especially in the Keys which suffered a fair amount of devastation from Hurricane Irma earlier this year:

Happy New Year.

Nearly New Years

We’re heading to Fort Lauderdale today to meet friends for New Years, and stayed at the Sheraton in Center City, Philadelphia last night before this morning’s flight—in part due to the forecast of snow that would have slowed the roads. Here’s the scene from the Sheraton at night, before the snow, and in the morning, after the snow:

Our flight ended up being delayed out of Philadelphia by about an hour, but the flight itself was smooth and I slept through most of it.

It’s my first time to Fort Lauderdale By-The-Sea, which seems lovely and retains perhaps a bit more of 1950s-era Florida than does Fort Lauderdale proper. Scenes from a walk to Assumption church for mass:

We’re heading to the Keys for New Years Eve, specifically Islamorada and Tavernier, near Key Largo.

Indiana Dunes State Park

Driving from Notre Dame to Chicago on Sunday, as we were nearing the border between Indiana and Illinois, we saw an exit for Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and State Park. On the spur of the moment, we took the exit—we had about at least an hour padding in our schedule before we really had to be at Midway/O’Hare airports, anyway. It was about a ten minute drive from the highway exit, and we arrived at Indiana Dunes State Park maybe thirty minutes before dusk, paying the $12 admission, parking, and heading to Lake Michigan’s southernmost shoreline:

The park building there dates to at least the 1930s, but I think probably sometime in the 1920s. There was an historical sign that showed the building in that period when life in this park of the country was better in many respects than it might be presently. The “Devil’s Slide” was a slope that ran from the highest point of the natural dunes down to the lakefront—it was far more difficult to hike up than it looked from the bottom. I was panting by the time I made it to the top. What I filmed below doesn’t convey at all the steepness of this dune ridge; there was real risk that an incautious hiker could seriously injure himself by falling down the backside of this area. It sure was scenic; particularly for this Pennsylvania boy to see the unfolding autumn foliage mixed with sandy terrain and woods, in earnest and all together.

A short hike through the dune ridge’s wooded path led to a climbing-down point on the opposite side of the Devil’s Slide and back to the lakeshore. I tried to keep my hand steady for this filming, but wasn’t successful:

You can see in the last photo how rapidly we were beginning to lose the light, so we took in one more admiring view of this beautiful Midwestern scene before hopping in the car and returning to asphalt modernity.

Overcast, raining, and wet

After a good morning workout in the hotel gym, we checked out of our hotel, parked our rental car on Notre Dame’s campus near the Compton Family Ice Arena, and biked around the campus a bit one more time. It was initially overcast, but eventually (and quickly) turned to rain. Each of us were separated at different points during the rain, taking cover to keep warm with our Limebikes. Eventually we met up at the Morris Inn, left the bikes and Ubered to lunch at the Crooked Ewe, which was excellent. We finished our time at Notre Dame with a short ice skate, and then hit the road back to Chicago for our departures from Midway and O’Hare.

Notre Dame scenes

Today turned out to be much drearier than yesterday, with plenty of wet, chilly, and ultimately rainy weather. Yet despite the stretches of rain, it was a beautiful day in its own way, with Notre Dame’s shootout with Wake Forest leading to a win. (A few hours away in East Lansing, Michigan Penn State’s fortunes turned for the worse in their 27-24 defeat at the Spartans’ hands.) Celebrating mass immediately after home games is a distinctive and appropriate part of the Notre Dame football experience.

Limebike, Notre Dame/South Bend’s bikeshare program, has turned out to be really great. We’ve ridden a few miles on these dockless bikes that can be left anywhere, and work in conjunction with Limebike’s app. Probably the highlight of the day, strangely enough, was the Knights of Columbus-sponsored steak sandwich tent. A BBQ-steak sandwich, in the rain, with a rum and coke isn’t such a bad way to spent an autumn afternoon. Lots of big and little moments in between these.

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This final photo reminded me very much of a contemporary version of Penn State’s historical “Ghost Walk,” a sort of “Lover’s Lane” that used to run through Hort Woods north of the campus. In any event, this little wooded area’s thoughtful and densely planted trees, combined with its well lit fresh green grass and the lingering fog/haze of the rain made it a memorably way to walk back to our hotel for the night.