If I had a dollar for every joke i told wrong… To get the other side.

South Florida is an interesting place. It’s a place that teaches you to dig deeper than the surface. It definitely changes as you live here longer and really learn about things here.

I guess that can be anywhere that you move to, away from where you grew up. After all, my little pond near the house in Cherry Hill NJ had a car tire sized Snapping Turtle pulled out of it by my neighbor Johnny and I caught snakes bare handed in Mrs Alderfer’s Shrub once.

If you do dig, for example here in my back yard, you will hit ground water at around ten feet.

I may be the highest property on my block.

Yes, we all do know our elevation down here.

When you’re a tourist driving around town, too slowly in the fast lane and too fast in the slow lane, you will see a lot of really beautiful lakes and rivers. The Canals that drained The Swamps look inviting, but we see a lot of things in those canals that don’t really belong.

Like Tourists and their cars from taking that curve just a wee bit too fast.

It’s a bit like Hippy Star Trek. Paradise, yes, but it has some very dangerous aspects to it.

Swimming pools are better. It is a rare day we don’t have a Rip Tide warning on the beach, but my 32 Foot by 16 Foot pool never has one.

Stay out of the lakes and canals unless you can go very fast.

It’s not important that you are faster than the Piranhas, just that you are faster than the next guy.

This next little joke explains it pretty well.

While sports fishing off the Florida coast in Key West, a tourist capsized his boat. He could swim, but his fear of alligators kept him clinging to the overturned craft.

Spotting an old beachcomber walking on the shore, the tourist shouted,

“There wouldn’t by chance be any alligators in these waters?!”“No,” the old man hollered back, “haven’t been any for years!”

Feeling relieved, the tourist started swimming leisurely toward the shore.

About halfway toward shore he asked the old man, “Say, how’d you get rid of the gators, anyway?”

“We didn’t do anything,” the old man said. “The sharks got ’em.”

New Black Ice Trail at Pompano Airpark

They have been working on this since April.  Planning stage was of course, before that.

But, it’s finally at a point where it’s interesting.  It being the trail at Pompano Airpark.

The entire trail is 4.5 miles plus another mile or so on the south side of the park that parallels the main trail.

For a Biker, that’s a bit of a short run.  I used to get in 50 miles in a workout which just was a logistic nightmare, imagine going 11 times around this little loop for a weekend excursion.

I’m surprised when I see joggers running the entire trail in the heat we get here, but then again I used to run 10K at Valley Forge National Park in Pennsylvania so I shouldn’t second guess someone else’s workouts.

Walkers do segments of this trail as well.  Some even the entire trail.

I have even seen a few, very few, skateboards but this isn’t really their thing.

Well good for you folks, it’s a good workout.

Why is this exciting enough for me to ramble on about it?

Why is this just so totally Droolworthy?

Think about skating in a rink.  If you’re on the old school quads, it’s on a rink.  Polished floors of either wood or concrete.  Flat as a plank, smooth as a pancake.

Or the other way around.

Point is that it is a very specific sort of a place.

Inline skating is done outdoors.  Usually on some truly horrendous surfaces.  Sometimes on city streets.

You really can’t skate on streets in South Florida.  The cars will hunt you down for sport.  Trust me, it has happened more than once to me.

There is a scene of skating at the beach.  Personally, I can’t see that, but admittedly I have a different goal when I am out.  Way too crowded, the surface is either textured concrete or bricks.  Can’t get any speed out of that.

Now, consider Endurance or Distance Skating.  I used to skate 33 miles, three times a week, all at 15mph average for my workouts.  Can’t really do that here.

However with this trail, I can do some distance.  That 4.5 mile loop I was talking about.

 

The City of Pompano Beach decided it was time to resurface the trail.  I’ve skated on worse but I won’t argue it could easily have been justified.  I certainly won’t miss the divots caused by subsidence at the Four Mile Mark or those repaired strips under the pavement in the second mile.

They’re all gone.

It’s currently 2.5 miles all in one trail, plus an extra “bonus” mile on the other side of the south side of the park.

But it is smooth.  I mean SMOOTH!  As smooth as some rinks I have skated.  Polished.

Oh sure, it’s flat as a pancake just like the rest of South Florida up to Titusville.  I’ve forgotten what it is like to skate on a hill since I moved here.  But this is like stepping onto an interstate highway after driving off road for so many years.

Must have been.  Every time I checked my heart rate while I skated it last, I was up above 180 BPM because I was skating so fast on it without thinking.

 

So if you do come to South Florida looking for a safer place to skate than at the beach, bring a lot of water.  They do need to get the water stops sorted out.  A part of the improvements is to add restrooms at the beginning of the trail at NE 10th and Federal Highway.

Besides, that sun is almost directly overhead and in our humidity and heat it gets difficult to make that run between the too few water stops.

But you will enjoy it.  How often do you get to skate black ice for 2.5 miles uninterrupted.

Now when they do the other two miles of the trails, it will be rather nice until the sun eats that asphalt away.

Banana Leaves With A Side of Sparkle

6 months of Desert, 6 months of torrential rain.

That’s our climate.  I did see a map once that said that Fort Lauderdale and coastal Broward County are considered a Rainforest Climate according to the Koppen criteria.

It never freezes here, but it gets damn close.

The rains just finally opened up this week.  They got so strong and so commonplace, even though they’re late, that my dog is going through Panic Attacks going out at night.

I will say that it’s probably due to the combination of Rain, Thunder, and Fireworks that happen this week.  If I had a place way out away from everyone, we would be there.

The nice thing is that when you get up in the morning, the world is washed clean.  You have the streets scoured of anything that was killed on them over the last few months, the dust runs off to the soil, and the air smells cleaner than usual.

Where I am, 2 1/2 miles or about 4 K from the ocean, there isn’t much pollution coming from the east.  What we do get are dust clouds from the Sahara Desert.

Seriously.

As in every time I take the Jeep out I have to hose it down.

As in I just spent an hour dusting the room divider of that stuff.

Going out into the morning makes you see why things are green and lush.  My plants are loving this weather.  I’m liking going out after a rain storm and seeing temperatures edging down towards what passes for cool here.

The plants are dusted clean, and usually there’s a mist covering their leaves.

That is what caught my eye.  I was walking around my yard picking up things.  In the corner of my eye, my Banana Tree sparkled this morning.  Like one of those cartoons when you see things cleaned and you hear “ping ping PING!”.

The leaves were misted with tiny jewels of water droplets.  Each droplet catching the light like a band of that reflective paint.  Some bending the light and giving me a show.

I’ve said it before, if you look, you can even find beauty in your own back yard and in your own pots.

In this case, I caught it, even if it did have to be enhanced by the sun in the golden hour after sunrise.

Taking a Break From Windsurfing on Eight Wheels

I have a couple very hard and fast rules.

Never in the rain.

Never in the damp.

Never if the wind was more than a 20 MPH gust.

Call that last one 30 KPH for the metrically endowed.

I had a routine that I fell into back in the days when inline skating was hot.

Which was to say that everyone, their grandmother, and their dog was on some sort of wheeled contrivance at the time.  Yes, the wonderful time that was the 1990s.

While many of us found ourselves on inline skates, others looked upon it and laughed.

I used it as a sport.  Big time for me.  Most of my dry and calm weekends were spent with my cruising skates on.  I’d be wearing a groove in the trails in and around the fabled city of Philadelphia and all the way out to west of Valley Forge.

I say groove because it was about 30 miles per workout.  Lord, Europeans, I can’t Math… 1.6 Times 30, er… I make that 48 K’s give or take a meter.

Peak was 54 miles in a single morning, 200 miles in a week.

But Geography is your friend sometimes.

The trail, Schuylkill River Rails to Trails trail, or similar was built on an old railroad line.  That means that the road was flat with a one degree rise or less for the most part and along the river.  Oriented on a Northwest to Southeast direction it also was in a valley.  That focused the wind down along the river.  It was always windier in the valley than it was just outside of it and if the wind was right, you could skate out fighting the winds and use that same wind home to Windsurf back.

I did that often.  I fell into the habit of bringing along two liters of water, about 400 calories of snacks, and looking forward to that mid workout rest in Oaks, PA right over the Perkiomen Creek.  It was a hangout there and you’d meet up with us regulars.  Bikers would continue out to the Reading (PA) trail, or stop with us and chat for a while.

This was where I had met up on the way back with a Deer that stopped me dead in the

middle of the trail.  Just West of Valley Forge in a beautiful forested area before you hit the big power lines, it spotted me, I spotted him.  He was just off the trail, moved to the middle of it, and approached.

Yes, a Deer.   Came to visit me.  Looking in those big brown eyes, I said hello, and asked “what would you like to do?  Feel like a bit of a run?”.

It did.  With that wind at my back, a clean trail, I started off.   The buck joined me and we trotted along for about a solid mile, er, K and a half or so, toward the water stop at Valley Forge.  He veered off and watched me go on my way.

The rest of that ride was very gently downhill and very gently breezy.  I windsurfed back to the parking lot just within the city of Philadelphia where the trail turned to gravel towards Manayunk and Center City.

Freaky huh?

While it has to be one of those “things were just right” occasions in Pennsylvania for me to be able to windsurf, especially with a torso tall tawny buck trotting along for the ride, here in South Florida it is much more commonplace.

The trail at the Pompano Airpark is laid out in a slightly more than a mile per side square.  We predictably get a wind off the ocean here.  East To West.  That means that you windsurf one side of that square, are cooled on two sides, and get to battle the winds on the fourth.

I’ve been known to peak out at about a 20MPH (30Ks) on my skates, especially with the winds at my back.  It’s a broad back, I have to have a broad chair, and my favorite Poang Chair is as wide as I am at the shoulders.

Got the picture?

The trail is best done heading West on the southern side of that square to give you a boost from the breezes on the first leg to give you a good Warm Up Mile.  This particular day, winds just below my own speed limit, I managed to stand bolt upright instead of the more normal racing skate crouch to avoid the wind.

I captured that wind and flew down the trail.   Really all I had to do was get going and it was a free ride toward that western edge and the 90 degree turn that I had to brake to get around.

Falling on skates is not fun, I’ve done it too many times.

Luckily the wind was just a bit more North of West that day, and I got a boost out heading northbound on that second leg.

Sitting on the bench I had just enough of a runner’s high to smile at what I had just done.  It was a second hop actually, this was my second time around the square, and come April, that second mile on the park would be closed for repaving.

Looking back, south, at the scene it was what I consider heaven.

You see anywhere I would travel to since I started skating in 1992, I would plan to take the inline skates with me.  Most of these trails are about a car lane wide, split down the middle.  Nondescript grey asphalt, and a great place to get a runner’s high.

Hence the smile.

Not a bad place to sit in the sun and enjoy a half liter of water before getting up to finish the last lap.

Getting my heart rate down from cruising at 173 BPM, to about 140, I stood up and thought I could refill the water at the three and a half mile water stop before heading home.

A good day on skates is better than just about anything else I can think of.   No wonder why people are coming back into the sport.

In Florida, If Car > Iguana, and Buzzard > Iguana, then Buzzard = Car?

Welcome to Mutual of Florida Wild Kingdom where Native Species sometimes win out.

Once upon a time there was a pristine land where Puma roamed free and nary a hibiscus was found.

This was South Florida.

Then “we” moved in and changed things.

A few “swamp rats” of various kinds moved into the land that was dry enough to support us.

People.  We changed the place.

We have all put a heavy thumbprint on the land, no matter which group of people you are referring to.

Clearing the land to allow for homes of various ilk.  Then someone got the bright idea to drain the forests and the river of grass to create more land.

Sure, it worked but when the North emptied out into the place after the Second World War and the invention of practical air conditioning, we brought what we thought should be in this climate.

South Florida is an artificial landscape.

Those Palm Trees we plant everywhere don’t belong.  Nor do the Hibiscus, the Orange Groves, and the Bottle Brush Trees.

Most of this stuff comes from Asia and Australia.

We also brought our animals.

There are roving packs of dogs and cats, of course.  Large amounts of Razorback and other feral hogs living in the forests.  There are flocks of parrots that visit from time to time that chatter at me and mine while I am out working on the swimming pool that does not belong, either.

Someone got the foolish idea that having an Iguana as a pet would be great until they started escaping.

These green dinosaurs run all over the place eating up the plants that we brought with us like they’re candy.

You can’t share with an iguana, don’t even try it.  They won’t leave your hibiscus or your orchids in peace, if they can get to them.

Every so often one of these creatures meets up with a car.  They run at full speed across the streets in front of my house looking for choice bits of plants.

Until, Crunch.

Then you get to watch them as they move onto their next existence.

After they finish thrashing, they’ll become food for whatever animal chooses to visit.

In the case of the last one, it was a buzzard.  It had just about a six foot wing span when it landed.  Or rather I should say when they landed because they’re quite skittish.  Once one gets there, another tries to run it off so it can get to the choice pieces of Iguana before the other and they trade off.

Not a problem for me, I’m all for the Buzzards, after all they belong.  Green Iguanas do not belong in this ecosystem and anything that gets rid of them I’m all for that as well.

Even if it is a Ford or Goodyear and it ends up on my neighbor’s driveway.

Fascinating to watch.  If you have to watch a dinosaur get eaten, may as well be on your neighbor’s driveway!

I’d just rather not clean up after it all.

Mushrooms and The Morning After Gordon

It was a noisy night.

It had been raining the day before, and well into the night.  The Radar here showed random clouds that had gathered themselves into something remotely resembling bands, Lines of Thunderstorms to non-Floridians.

This was the normal way a storm develops here.  Pop Up Thunderstorms generate over the warm water East of me, move their way over land, drop their water, then peter out.  Or they end up working their way across the state in one of a dozen directions.

These storms, though, had kept grabbing the heat of the water that was just off the coast and turned themselves into a storm of interest.  That grew into a Tropical Depression by morning.

That also had me wake up at 4AM.  If I am up that early, I’m up.  I would not go back to sleep.

Rack, the McNab SuperDog (TM) was unhappy.  He hates T Storms on a good day and this was well into the second good day.  I could hear him shivering in the dark.

Turning on the phone, launching a Radar program, I was able to see tell-tale banding and thought that this was going to turn into something that bears watching.

Yep.  By now this would be Tropical Storm Gordon, and did hit somewhere near the Mississippi and Alabama border on their Gulf Coasts as a strong Tropical Storm.

Here it was a minor nuisance.  Lots of rain.  The next day I found out it was 2.65 inches of rain.

All the South Floridians grumbling about their Labor Day holiday being a wash out, and so on.

I sat up in bed and looked down the line of pots by my pool and under the Mango Tree I saw something that looked like it had landed in the yard, but could not tell.  Since it was raining so heavily, I’ll wait for Sunrise before inspecting.

We went for our dog walk and a couple hours later I revisited the what was it in the yard.

It turned out to be four very large, six inch in diameter, palm sized white mushrooms.

I have lived here for more than 12 years now and I have never seen a Mushroom in the yard, let alone something this massive.  I guess it was always too hot, but with the cooler air due to the storms, and all that rain, it decided to send these fruiting bodies out and spread spores.

Quickly.

Weird.  It looked like a scene from Lost In Space where the Jupiter 2 had landed on the planet of the big grasses, and one of the other had ditched on its side.

If it were, there would be fire, people running around screaming, a monster that was a cat with things stuck on it or perhaps a giant 40 foot tall chimp looking thing that went “Bloop Bloop” coming off an attack space ship that was in reality a kitchen utensil.

My money is on a whisk.  If you hand a child a whisk and tell them to play, they’re going to make it fly.  Trust me.

But there the mushrooms were.

Since they didn’t bother anyone, I let them alone, and went inside.  It was raining again, and would all through the night and into the next morning at 4AM.

Luckily we slept through that.  In fact, we slept so well that I was lucky enough to see the Sunrise.  The sun coming up over the Bahamas lighting the clouds below, turned them purple and mauve, later changing to some fiery reds and oranges.

It was so stunning a sunrise that along with my mushroom pictures and sunrise picture, many other people on social media showed off their own pictures there.

I mean, come on, how often does a space ship land in your back yard under your mango tree?

A Walk Through The Garden

My routine is stable.  You might even describe it as calcified.

Up early, even if “early” can be as late as sunrise.

That late is rather rare.

At any rate, haul my bulk out of bed, get the dog up, get him out to water the garden, and the walk.

When I get back, there’s Dawdle Time.  Depending on how much time there is I can get a lot done in Dawdle Time.   I’ve said I get more done before sunrise than many people do some days.

But Sunrise varies, and I have to be outside at 7:30 AM every day, unless it is raining.

All of these plants do require care.  Sometimes they require care by others, and I can find homes for the extras, other times, I end up watching for where the water is being irrigated and putting out new plants.

South Florida has a wet and hot tropical climate.  It never freezes here, the USDA freeze line for Coastal Eastern South Florida is 8 miles North of me.  Clint Moore Road in Boca Raton.  Ok, sure that’s a bit silly to be that specific, we know there is little difference whether something is actually “freezing” or thawed at 1/2 degree warmer, but hey, it’s a talking point.  Even if the line could be well north of that on any given year.

But the other thing about this climate is that we get 50 inches of rain per year.  Give or take, Depending on whether a tropical storm deposits itself overhead.  But on average it’s 50 inches or about 125 cm.

Since that is 40 inches or 100 cm in the wet season, and the rest in the other six months of the dry season (December to May),  it’s been described as a part time desert.  It requires irrigation.  Twice a week for certain hours sprinklers may be used, or every day if you have drip feed irrigation.

If you don’t, your flowers die.  This is a very artificial look here that we have.  Those Hibiscus hedges and Palm trees are not native.  The soil is Beach Sand, and now the ground water is suffering from Salt Intrusion because too many people from other places don’t want to freeze in the winter and have settled here.

Like me, guilty.

But for now, the Global Warming that isn’t supposed to exist, hasn’t really hit my specific area too hard.  I’m at High Ground – 15 feet above sea level the charts tell me.  Miami Beach on the other hand has regular floods due to tides.

 

Outside of the ash piles called “Mount Trashmore”, the next natural hill is 200 miles North of me.  Florida is flatter than Kansas.

I putter in the garden and am followed around as I decide what to prune, and what to propagate. Milkweed from cuttings have gravitated to being hidden in the hedges because when they are found, they get eaten to sticks.

Coleus is literally everywhere because they readily go to seed.  Cut the tops off and the seeds are tiny, get flung into pots.

Snapping a bit of Coleus off and tossing it into the garden means the stuff grows where it’s tossed.

There is a story told to me about a groundskeeper in San Jose, Costa Rica.  A wise man who said, “Señor, estamos en las tropicas.  Arrojar una semilla en el suelo y crecerá.”

Sir, we are in the tropics.  Throw a seed on the ground it will grow.

But puttering isn’t always interesting those who don’t have a putter.  You get followed around lost in your thoughts and the noises of the feral Parrots that are having their Call To Flock in that first hour after Sunrise.  The Pigeons call to you “Meh! Meh!” like grey feathered Simpsons characters.

And the Dog.  Rack.  Bored with what you’re doing, and having finished fertilizing the fence posts, tells me it is time to go inside.  Move onto the next task and into the house.  Besides, there’s breakfast to make, and you have already decided which trees to fell five times over.

Time to go in.