Monday, March 16, 2009

Pembroke Pines, Florida

We’ve spent the last four days at C. B. Smith County Park in Pembroke Pines, just north of Miami. We chose it since it’s near our friends, Albert and Sol Tio. Thom worked for Colonel Tio about 15 years ago when Thom was a Captain in Garden City, NY. This was when Thom and I were married, and I relocated from California to be with Thom. COL Tio was one of the greatest bosses Thom ever had. Now that both are retired colonels, he insists that we call him Al or Albert.
After at least 12 years, we had a wonderful reunion yesterday at their beautiful home. Their son, Sergio joined us along with his wife, Anita, and children Gabe and Allie. Our boys loved swimming in their refreshing pool, and playing with the grandkids. Sam was the water taxi for little Allie (3), and later played monkey in the middle with Gabe.

Sol cooked up an exquisite Cuban dinner, since she and Albert are originally from Cuba. We talked about so many things including life after the army, family, travel, Cuba, and work. We loved every minute, and laughed at so many of their stories.

We’re heading south this morning to the Florida Keys! Before we depart, the boys insisted on one more round of golf at the park’s driving range. Thom’s been taking the boys there daily, and now they each spent allowance money on golf gloves! Sam decided that golf is his favorite summer sport.

This park is huge and offers tennis, a water park, open picnic areas, baseball diamonds, and even ski/wakeboarding lessons behind a boat on the lake next to us. We heard loud music the second evening. Upon closer investigation, we discovered an adjacent school was hosting “Relay for Life.” This is a terrific all-night fund raiser for the American Cancer Society, which brings public awareness to the fact that cancer never sleeps. We participated in the past with Relay for Life in Delta Junction, AK. It was fun to compare how they do things in Florida. Our campsite is very near the event, so we heard them late into the night, and early the next morning.

Another fun thing we did here was link up with friends Judy Lee, her husband Pascal, and kids Luc and Lea at Miami’s famous South Beach. The biggest difference between this beach and all the other Florida beaches we’ve experienced are the enormous crowds! We sat in traffic just getting to the beach for about an hour. Once parked, the fun began. The color of the water is gorgeous, like teal or turquoise. The boys noticed right away that many women go topless, and Ben even spotted a woman sunbathing completely nude! There were so many activities with surfers, airplanes pulling advertisements, parasailers behind boats, beach paddle ball, volley ball, football. A funky band with drums walked down the beach, with a woman on stilts in the sand! A handsome man dressed in full tuxedo walked along the beach interviewing beautiful women, accompanied by a camera man and two others. We still don’t know what they were doing. Thom and I sauntered down the beach and came upon the Cosmo Bikini Bash. At least 150 women were dressed in identical blue bikinis, posed in formation for the helicopter and giant crane. Camera crews, a producer, a director, and the press were there for over an hour taking photos. So we’re going to keep our eyes open for Cosmo’s South Beach edition, and buy a copy as a souvenir!

We haven’t seen Judy since Clipper and Wendy’s wedding about 12 years ago. She and Pascal have a beautiful family and life here in the Miami area. It was great visiting on the warm, sandy beach while the kids surfed and played paddle ball. We hope to link up with them again on our way north, after the Keys.

That evening, we put away the beach toys, and meandered down Ocean Ave through the famous art deco restaurant area. The boys enjoyed all the cool cars, including Corvettes, Ferraris, muscle cars, and Hummers. We spotted a huge sand castle across from the restaurants with amazing details of manatees, alligators, birds, a snake, and fish. Women were decked out in high heels and fancy clothes. Another experience to add to our world travels!

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