The breeze is warm, from the south. Tide is high and Vacilando has a fresh coat of wax on her hull, fresh oil in her power plant and a fine tune to her rig. The seemingly endless beeping of the bobcats and bucket-lifts careen off the buildings across the isle and reminds us that the economy in Fort Lauderdale is raging like the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Cranes crowd the skyline and distracted drivers swerve precariously into the bike lanes along Las Olas and A1A. This place is hopping and I am struck yet again at just how swiftly time passes.
This winter derailed us with the death of Mel’s father, Jim, but we’re slowly regaining traction. The trip south was a cold one and the record I was working on all last summer and this past fall is not going to be released any time soon leaving me once again, in musical limbo. I’m taking any and all paying jobs in exchange for tiny, pie-shaped triangles of my soul. Melody has ramped up her website design and has several side projects filling her evenings. We’ve dubbed this our year to be badasses and we’ve got our noses to the grindstone. As many full-time cruisers know, plans change faster than the weather and one day you’re going to the Bahamas and the next you’re replacing your refrigeration unit.
So here we are in sunny Fort Lauderdale for an indefinite amount of time, working. We aren’t traveling and we aren’t sailing. We’re existing, albeit in a pretty awesome little compound surrounded by palm trees and yes… massive development projects. As the concrete dust rains from the sky upon my laptop I ponder the question, “What the hell am I gonna write about?” So, in the interest of keeping my chops up I’m gonna write about life. Life here in Fort Lauderdale, Shadyville as I like to call it. There isn’t much shade but there’s tons of shady. And in case you missed it, Melody just did an awesome piece on her Saving to Sail blog about the good, the bad and the ugly of Fort Lauderdale. It’s quite funny and very true and if you haven’t seen it already, give it a read. It’ll provide a little perspective on the place we now call our home base.
Since we aren’t moving or spending lazy days in tropical island locations, I decided to expand on Melody’s take and write about seemingly random topics that may or may not relate to sailing. I mean, all one has to do is drive down Las Olas Blvd and a hundred different stories will leap, hands in the air clambering for attention.
Distraction is easy around here, whether it be bronze, sculpted young men and women jogging to the beach glistening in sweat, the million dollar Ferraris or the seventy-year old grandmother’s gravity defying breasts and lips so full of collagen one could almost hear her pleading with her cosmetic surgeon’s assistant, “Please, Javier! Just a little bit more!”
Distraction is easy. And… in all this craziness, we’ve discovered several small pockets of awesomeness that provide sanity and solace. Restaurants, Cuban bakeries, coffee shops, oysters, clams and cold beer on the water… whatever it is, and wherever it is; kooky Hollywood or right here in good ole’ Shadyville, we love our little local joints and I’m gonna tell you about em.
With the feeding frenzy in full swing, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Hotel chain has dealt the first big blow to one of the long standing local favorites. LeTub in Hollywood is famous for what was to me, long waits, rude servers and the most expensive cheeseburger ever. But it had charm! Right off the ICW, you’d find old wooden picnic tables, crooked steps that were a litigator’s dream and cold beer in a can. Ah the glamour. Oprah Winfrey loved it and Guy Fieri featured it on his Diner’s, Drive-ins and Dives. Sadly it will fall to the wrecking ball to make way for what I’m sure will be big, flowery, colorful shuttle boats carrying people from the gargantuan hotel up to Port Everglades for their cruise departures. The second busiest port in the world is about to get busier. Damn you, Buffett.
In reality, Mr. Cheeseburger in Paradise probably has no earthly idea where his hotels are being built or what landmark they are infringing upon. I think once the licensing check posts to his account, any environmental concerns or civic responsibility becomes a hit and run casualty only recognizable by the fresh F12 Berlinetta tracks.
But I digress… we covet these spots and we’re gonna share some of what we know while they still remain. We may not tell you the name of the place or where it is and that’s because we’re selfish. At least I’m honest right? Nah – most folks already know about these spots but the Bennys, the grockles, shoobees… the tourists… do not. Thank God.
And I know what you’re thinking… “You guys are tourists! You’re not from Florida!” We, by definition, “a person who travels to a place for pleasure” are not tourists. We are here on business. Serious, serious business. I don’t wear black socks with sandals. I don’t own sandals. I don’t own a single Tommy Bahama floral shirt or any other shirt with flowers. I don’t have a straw bowler, trophy wife, rented Maserati or Tag Hauer Calibre. I… have a G-Shock.
My friend Kasya from London sometimes calls me The Jägermeister and when I inquired about that nickname, she told me, “Every once in a while you just show up and smack down words of wisdom in a fit of coherency. Your posts smack people just like Jäger sneaks up and smacks you, but it works. It’s a compliment, really.” Well Kasya, I’m not sure they’ll be much Jägermeister-ing here but it’s been known to happen… wink, wink… (let’s not go there, Melody – no tag to prior posts here please…)
Anyway… Melody and I would love to be in St. Thomas with all our cruising pals eating Pizza Pi, swaying on the hook and drinking painkillers but alas, we’ve gotta get Vacilando a new home and hopefully once that’s done, our next boat will still be for sale. When that happens, I’ll be listing one well-worn and dust covered grindstone for sale. Much love to you all!