My wife was taking her arthritis medicine at the doctor's so I had a few hours to myself in the Big City. Hours spent to amuse my dog of course who was riding in the back like the princess she has learned to become. I saw Matheson Hammock Park on the map which said it was fifteen minutes away. It was the work if a few moments to plug the park into my iPhone's GPS and we were on our way through the tree shaded avenues of Coral Gables.
You'll hear people tell you they don't need GPS and they are right. But if you have not too much time and want to get where you are going without taking serendipitous side streets, then GPS in your start phone is fabulous. I love it. I have no problem traveling at random and coming across surprises but when you need to be somewhere, GPS does the job. It got me there with ease.
Well it got me to a gated community which seemed to give access to the park. The guard at the gate wrote down my tag with a pen using great care and I wanted to ask if they didn't have closed circuit television to protect the homeowners' valuables...but in the event I just asked if this was the way to the park. Continuing in the tradition of this very peculiar place she handed me a mimeographed street map, a series of unintelligible scribbles badly copied onto a sheet of bright yellow paper.
I drove up and down with princess snoring on her bed in the back, her fan moving the air conditioning around to keep her comfortable.
The views across Biscayne Bay toward the Emerald City we're quite lovely and I spent a few minutes loitering illegally I might add. There was a big red sign that ordered no parking or loitering. I did both.
I expect these people get bored by these views. Certainly I didn't see anyone out enjoying them like I was. Mind you I didn't see anyone calling in a loiterer either. I figured I'd better get while the going was good.
I passed a few peons doing their jobs, gardeners and landscapers principally. A young woman who looked like an Indio from south of the Rio Grande holding a cell phone to her ear in one hand while her other hand was taking care of a leash with the bosses hound on the end. I rather castrate myself than delegate dog walking duties. It's my favorite way to unwind, me and Cheyenne together and alone with our thoughts. What an interesting life story that young woman must have, living in a world where we take better care of our dogs than much of the world can give to their children.
The map below shows my meander in the canal area at the bottom of the map. A close look will reveal I was an idiot as I was circling the nature preserve not the park of the same name. Matheson Hammock Park was at the north end of the big green splodge. A GPS can only do so much and stupidity is often insuperable. I got there in the end though despite myself.
I'll bet it's a pretty place. I know the entrance is. I did not get past the barricade a half mile past the entrance. "No Dogs." Well screw you lot - I pulled a U-turn And went back to the entrance. You know what? I remembered this place. I was here once years ago, bloody hell probably 25 years ago now. I remember the situation well. I was meeting a friend in Coral Gables where I was living on my boat at anchor. I decided to go for a picnic and I was at one of the picnic tables having lunch and reading a book when I felt a sudden sting on my leg. To my horror I had a trail of fire ants climbing up from their nest into which I had inadvertently parked my foot. They bit me from toe to thigh and all the way up to, erm... That soft delicate fold of skin at the top if the leg. I had dozens of fierce red welts. It was agony. I had do many bites the fire ants gave me a fever. I went home to my boat writing in pain and rested for two days to get over it. Luckily I was unemployed at the time. My first and worst encounter with fire ants. Thankfully they are relatively rare in the rocky ground of the Florida Keys. They are there but not like in the sandy soil of mainland Florida, where they are everywhere. Far worse than alligators if you are looking for a scary Florida critter.
My own scary critter wanted a walk after all that pointless driving so I indulged her of course. She soon regretted it. It was 92 degrees but an air conditioning outlet did its work for her damping the ground with runoff water:
I wish I liked Miami more than I do but it's a city that is a challenge to love.
A reminder: the podcasts have been going great guns at Travel and Safety (LINK) . This week I interview Michael Robinson about traveling in style but I am quite surprised to realize there are almost a dozen half hour interviews with travelers of all sorts on the website. Check it out and give ita review. You can listen by hitting the button at the bottom of any interview subject's bio: eith through iTunes or Stitcher. My engineer says rating and reviewing should be a snap. The interviews themselves are great fun to record with all sorts of details aboiut getting around locked away in each story. Enjoy!