"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield"
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833

"live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"
- Henry David Thoreau, 1845

"Some guys, they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin' in the streets."
- Bruce Springsteen, 1977

"...to the heart, there's no time for you to waste.
You won't find your precious answers now
by staying in one place."
- Frank Turner, 2009

"The best things in life aren't things.
They're living and breathing."
- Michael Franti , 2011

"I owned every second that this world could give,
I saw so many places, the things that I did"
- Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, 2014

All written content and photos by Rob Fulfer unless otherwise indicated.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Red Hearts, Blue Devils and Green Shamrocks

Feb. 11th, 2011
We took a great little long-weekend trip down to South Florida that we nicknamed the "Suck It, Winter, Tour" because we were just tired of the cold winter temps and were looking forward to some sunshine and warmth. We got a great flight deal on AirTran out of Atlanta despite having to drive a bit further than we really wanted. So as to not have to get up really early, or feel rushed before the flight and to gain a few more Hilton points, we drove down to a bit north of Atlanta on Friday night after work and stayed at a nice Doubletree Hotel that we got a great rate on.
Feb. 12th - We flew down to Ft. Lauderdale around noon and arrived just after 2 PM. We got a sweet deal on an even sweeter Mustang convertible (photo above) which we immediately dropped the top on despite some cloudy skies and a smattering of rain drops. We drove south about a half hour to Miami Beach where we had two nights booked at the very cool art-deco Hotel Astor. The restored boutique hotel (originally built in 1936) is a historic site in the area (there was a history tour on a stop in front of the hotel when we checked in). Our room, 211, was in a word...interesting. Access to the door to the room was actually in the stairwell?? At least they had a little sign indicating it to lost patrons. The room itself was very large and lovely. (photos above)
The hotel was just a couple blocks off the beach and by sunset the cloudiness had dissipated and we were treated to a beautiful sunset (photo above). We grabbed dinner at Waxy Conner's Irish Pub a few blocks from the hotel which only seemed appropriate since we had tickets to see Flogging Molly, an Irish folk rock band, in concert later that evening at the Fillmore Theatre a few blocks further on. The theatre was a beautiful facility with good sight lines and acoustics. It was a general admission show with plenty of standing room in front of the stage as well a large amount of seating further back. We got there in time to hear the last song of the first opening band, Drowning Men, who sounded pretty good. Next up was Moneybrother. This band can best be described as a Swedish Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band. Singing their own songs in English with a heavy Swedish accent was about the only difference. (maybe they should call the band, Bruce Svensteen, instead?).
Flogging Molly came on about 10 PM and we had heard their shows can get a little crazy with beer-swilling Irish (and wannabe Irish) fans becoming excessively rowdy. We intentionally stayed back from the stage a good ways to avoid this possible activity, but unfortunately it found us right into the first song as these slam-dancing idiots started in immediately. This nonsense got old quick and Ashlee even wound up throwing a half a beer in one's face which neither angered nor deterred him. With no security in sight to stop the stupidity, we retreated to the seating area to avoid the mayhem. The band was excellent and the crowd (for the most part) was joyous and in control for most of the night. Feb. 13th - We slept in peacefully and then spent the early afternoon at the beach a couple of blocks away. On the way to the beach we stopped and had a great lunch at The Clevelander, an open-air sports bar attached to a hotel of the same name. The beach was perfect with a light breeze and low humidity. The ocean was a bit cool when you first made contact with it, but it slowly became tolerable. After getting back to the hotel and showering, we dropped the top on the convertible again and headed south a few miles toward the Miami suburb of Coral Gables where the University of Miami is located. We had tickets to see our favorite basketball team (and defending national champs), the 5th-ranked Duke Blue Devils, play in the first ACC game we have seen them play in live. We have seen them play (pre-blog) several times on their home court in Durham and in larger venues in Charlotte and Greensboro vs. out-of-conference opponents, but this was a first.
We had a little time before the 6:45 tip-off, so we had a light dinner and a few microbrews at the Titanic Brewing & Restaurant next to the campus. We went for the beer (more on those is Rob's beer blog) and wound up loving the food as well. The University of Miami has a beautiful campus and the Bank United Center where the basketball teams play is a nice, new, yet still small, intimate venue. We had good seats about 20 rows off the court behind the Duke bench. It was a great game with the improving Hurricanes staying in the game until the end when the Blue Devils were able to pull away by the final score of 81-71. The drive back with the top down on a gorgeous night was just a bit cool, but with the heater blasting it was fine. We were early to bed after the sun and the busy day in South Florida had drained us.
Feb. 14th - Happy Valentine's Day! We got up a little earlier this morning, said goodbye to Miami Beach and the lovely Hotel Astor, dropped the top on the Mustang (of course!) and headed north. About an hour later we stopped in the quaint little town of Lake Worth and found the Havana Hideout for an early lunch. This little slice of the Caribbean had a great Cuban-influenced menu and has been featured on The Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives show. After an appetizer of warm tortilla chips and delicious homemade salsa, we both ordered the "What Guy Had" Platter (that's Guy Fieri, the host of the show). It included one fish taco, a small pressed Cuban sandwich and a helping of pionono (ground beef and spices layer between sauteed plantains). It was all delicious!
After lunch we headed on north another half hour and made it to the seaside Hilton in Singer Island. We have stayed here before and really enjoyed it ( see previous blog - July 2009). We immediately headed for the beach and enjoyed a few more hours of low-humidity sunshine, gentle beach breezes and even a bit warmer ocean water. Afterwards we showered and headed for an early dinner at our favorite restaurant, Capt. Charlie's Reef Grille a few more minutes north in the town of Juno Beach. We got a table immediately which was fortunate because by the time we were done with our excellent fresh seafood meal, there was a line out the door as usual. We grabbed a bottle of champagne on the way home and finished the evening on our balcony listening to the waves crash on the beach below. What a great way to spend a Monday, let alone Valentine's Day. Feb. 15th - We awoke to the sunrise on the beach which was bittersweet because even though it was beautiful, it also marked the start of the day that we knew we were going back home. We reluctantly dropped off the beautiful Mustang convertible and flew back to Atlanta from the West Palm Beach airport near our hotel. The drive back to Nashville was uneventful with a stop in Chattanooga to see Ashlee's mom, sister and our niece, the lovely Ella.
A great little trip with some excellent red, green and blue memories.

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