Sunday, January 27, 2008

Historic Swing Bridge in Sailboat Bend

We went back to visit historical Sailboat Bend as we wanted to witness the opening and closing of a swing bridge over the New River that is 83 years old.

Built in 1925 the Snow-Reed Bridge is the oldest operating metal pony truss swing bridge in the state of Florida. A real piece of history just blocks from where we live. The bridge was named after two Fort Lauderdale mayors that served during the construction.

When the bridge was originally built there were deer grazing and Indians hunting along the banks of the New River. Now you can see that there are houses with their boats parked behind them on the river. How life changes.

Today, the bridge is a part of the 400 block of Southwest 11th Avenue, which connects historic neighborhoods of Sailboat Bend and Riverside Park. The Fort Lauderdale Historical Society has designated the bridge as historic property #19.

We wanted to post a few photos of the bridge actually closing to help you get a feel for how it works. It was amazing to stand there just a few feet from the edge and watch the bridge slide into place at the end of the road.

The bridge tender has a tiny little house photographed here. That little spot that you see on the side of the house is the plaque, pictured above, from the historical society

When a boat approaches, the bridge operator, a woman today, leaves the operator's house at the north end and walks to the center of the bridge. From there, the operator lowers the barricades and swings the bridge open and shut. During a power outage, the bridge can be swung open by hand.

A few months ago there was a scandal relating to the bridge tender and this swing bridge. A local reporter enamored with the bridge decided to do a small story on the bridge. He went to talk to the bridge tender and when he did his story, she got fired for talking to him. That created a bigger story and led to an investigation that discovered that the city was outsourcing the job of tending the bridge to the tune of almost $140k a year. The company was paying the bridge tender $9 an hour. Do the math.

If you are interested to know the fate of the poor lady who got fired you can follow some of these links. It is a good human interest story.,0,6984193.column,0,2065368,full.column

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Just a few minutes ride north up A1A is Lauderdale-by-the Sea, a charming seaside village located on a barrier island just north of Fort Lauderdale Beach. Until the Real Estate boom, this was a quiet charming old Florida destination where gentle breezes tossed your hair (if you still have some) and pelicans fly overhead.

The most popular spot is where Commercial Blvd. dead ends into the Ocean. The beach is nice and wide and hosts restaurants, shops and a fishing pier.

Famous Anglin's Pier, one of just four piers in Broward County, (another story) is also a popular spot with anglers and tourists. The pier has a quaint coffee shop at the beginning and then extends way out into the ocean.

This is an article that appeared in the New York Post back in March.

March 2, 2007 -- YOU DON'T have to spend a fortune to enjoy exciting fishing. In fact, it could happen just by sitting at the end of a pier.
Anglers who make their way south in the winter can tell you that pier fishing along the Florida coast can offer the unexpected. Last month, Jeffrey Dillon caught a goliath grouper estimated at more than 300 pounds while fishing off the Anglin's Fishing Pier at Lauderdale by the Sea. It took almost an hour to realize what he had on the end of his line.
"Somebody yelled, 'Get the net! We're gonna need a bigger net!' " Dillion said.
He eventually got the fish to land, where pictures were taken and the fish was released.
Pier fishing is a way of life for many. Anglin's Pier is located at the end of Commercial Boulevard in Lauderdale by the Sea. It opened in November 1963, and has been, and still is today, an important part of the city. The pier is close to the water, so if you like to use artificials, they can be worked pretty well from the height and angle from which you are fishing.
Anglin's Fishing Pier offers two types of fishing: sand and reef, and rock. From the bait house to the middle house is sand, and from the middle house out to the T is reef.
I've been there many times, and it's an inexpensive and fun place to fish.

Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is also listed as one of 8 great snorkeling spots in South Florida.

Commercial Boulevard and A1A, Lauderdale By The Sea
Something a little less formal then a park, one can just take a little walk either north or south of Anglin's Pier and swim out a couple hundred yards, where many kinds of fish, including nurse sharks, have been spotted. The prime spots for snorkeling here is a significant distance from the shore so snorkelers should be strong swimmers and bring a dive flag.

This was on one of the message boards:

There are three reef systems off Lauderdale-by=the-sea, depending how far out you wanna go. Don`t forget to bring dive flag even if snorkeling and watch out for fishing lines off Anglins pier. We`ve seen really thick schools of fish, huge Tarpon and huge Nurse sharks in 2 feet of water. Many, many rays, even close to the beaches. You can snorkel from dawn to dusk there without ever coming out of the water. Some of the reef is high enough to float over and look into. Great town for snorkeling. You know there`s Hammerheads there too, right??

Right on the sand across from Anglin’s Pier is the Aruba Café where you can just walk out of the water and stroll up and have a great meal. Fun and casual with great summer drinks and good food.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Beach Warning Flags

Fort Lauderdale beach has some very nice looking lifeguard stands. They have a sort of futuristic look. The office chair pulled out on the front deck is a weird addition to the decor. It is the first time that we have seen that. Guess they wanted to try and relate to the tourists and see what it feels like to sit in an office, but can't imagine that many tourists have the ocean as their desk. Today was a beautiful day with a high of 82 degrees and a wonderful ocean breeze.

The flags flying are indicators of the swimming conditions. The yellow flag means that there are moderate surf conditions. Not too rough but not smooth either. But the purple flag is ominous and means that there are sea pests present in the water, it can mean jellyfish, sea lice or the dreaded man-of-war. So we did not test the waters. There are several colored flags that they can fly to inform us of the conditions. Here is a link to our Ocean Rescue website that gives current updates on the conditions. There is a neat color image for the different flags. One can log on before heading to the beach and find out if it is a good swimming day at the beach, or just a good day to be on the beach.

In the first photo you can see how close the water is to the road. We have had a lot of beach erosion so the beaches have really lost a lot of depth.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A Trip Around the World on a Scooter, the book, " In The Long Run A Hopeful World Odyssey" is Free Online

We just discovered this and hope you find it as interesting and intriguing as we do.

Writer and photographer Thomas Martin Smith made a solo trip around the world on a scooter in 1983. It has taken him 12 years to write about it. We can now go on this adventure with him, for "free". Tom is publishing his entire 597-page, 450,000-word book about his adventure IN THE LONG RUN: A Hopeful World Odyssey for a limited time online, for free, for all of us to read.

The entire story... IN THE LONG RUN A Hopeful World Odyssey is NOW being published online exclusively on FREE for the reading! Three chapters per week January 7 through April 21, 2008

Tell all your friends about it. Enjoy

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Hollywood Beach

Today we rode south to Hollywood, Florida, can you believe it? Most people in the world think that Hollywood is in California. Man are they misinformed.

Hollywood Beach has over two miles of a boardwalk that is free of motorized vehicles. So of course Heinz and Frenchie had to watch from the side. Bicyclists, runners, walkers, rollerbladers, and cute pedal type surrey buggies and bikes are available for rent and fun for the whole family. They have some fun pedal bikes where you are almost lying down and you have to pedal and steer with your feet, there are no handlebars. Kids love them and get the hang of it so quickly. Wish we had taken a picture of them. Maybe next time. This path is bordered by boutique hotels, charming shops, cafés and places to eat, all facing the ocean. Hollywood Beach is also a Wi-Fi Hotspot. There is a neat website In fact we have it running in the background while we are writing this post. it has the sound of sea gulls and waves breaking on the beach. Nice….

At Christmas they have all kinds of celebrations, parades, music and entertainment. Here is an example of their décor. These Light Posts decorated with garlands and ribbons were all that were left today.

We had lunch at the beachside Marriot and enjoyed watching the people go by. It is a real show. You can see every size and shape and every age from infant to seniors, something for everyone.

Hollywood Beach is a great venue for families as the kids love it. When they are not in the ocean, or building castles in the sand, or pedaling the funny bikes, or playing miniature golf, they can have an ice cream or other treat. There are many many restaurants along the boardwalk, all facing the ocean and catering to every taste bud and most nationalities.

The weather today was great, sunny and somewhere in the 70’s. A perfect day for the beach. We sometimes feel guilty when we see the weather in the rest of the country. And we read all the blogs of riders braving the cold and the ice and the snow. Our beach hats off to you!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Sunny Holidays

The holidays here in South Florida were warm and sunny and the beaches were a statement to that fact, wall to wall bodies soaking up the rays. We rode almost every day and put some miles on our scooters. We had our 625 mile revision just before the holidays and are happy to say that both Vespas are running great. No more squeaking!

We visited a park where the mangroves were so thick one could hardly see thru them. There was a wooden walkway just above the water so we walked along and took some interesting pics.

Of course scooters were not allowed on the boardwalks, but dogs were and we snapped one of this beauty.
There was a section of the park especially for dogs. In fact one guy was riding his bicycle on the boardwalk pulling his pooch in one of those covered wheeled carriers. It was funny to see. The dog was sitting up looking like a princess being carried on her portable throne. Too bad we did not get a photo of that, we were too busy laughing. Guess we have to go there again as I am sure pooch and courier are regulars.

There are docks everywhere in our area and these pictures remind me of the song “Sitin on the Dock of a Bay” by Otis Redding.

Well all good holidays come to an end and Wednesday was "Back To Reality" Day. Hope you all had a nice holiday.