Monday, December 5, 2016

Beach day

11/21 We went to Hollywood Beach early on Monday and had better luck finding a parking spot. We even packed a lunch. It was an enjoyable day. I was able to get out in the sand on one of the mat walkways. They don't go all the way to the water. Becky asked the lifeguard about a beach chair and he said they had one but it was broken at the moment.

 I met an interesting woman who was living in a small hotel room while getting cancer treatments. She came here from Texas and complained about having to pay a lot of money for the room only to have the heat and a/c not work, as well as not having an actual kitchen. Other than that she was in excellent spirits and said she didn't think she had much longer to enjoy this world. 
 I watched her walk around the boardwalk and sit on the seawall and drink a coke. She came out on the sand and was so happy to be able to walk without shoes on. She had me take a picture of her and send it to her daughter because her phone died. I was happy to do it for her.

Shake-A-Leg Miami

Shake A Leg Miami is a nonprofit established to teach sailing to the physically challenged. Established in Rhode Island, the program moved to Miami in 1990 and has grown to serve the mentally and physically disabled as well as kids who have economic challenges.
I first read about ShakeALeg several years ago when I became interested in sailing. Since we are spending the winter here what better time than now to get involved.
Our first trip to the marina was on a spur of the moment deal. We drove down and spoke to the activities director, Cars. He told us about the program, showed us around the facilities and made us feel welcome and at home. He also mentioned that the next Saturday was a chance for veterans to come out and sail or ride the pontoon boat along with a barbecue luncheon.
I called my buddy Don Thomas and asked him if he knew about this. He said no but he and his wife would join us on Saturday.
Saturday, Nov 18 was a beautiful day but there wasn't much wind. Don and I were the only veterans to show up. We took the pontoon boat ride around Biscayne Bay and enjoyed the beautiful day.
The hanger in the picture is labeled US Coast Guard but is on loan to ShakeALeg.  Rumor has it the hanger once belonged to Pan Am Airways and they flew seaplanes from that very hanger.
 The little 20' sailboats you see along the dock are all trainer boats made accessible with custom seats which allow the sailor to swivel from one side of the boat to the other when tacking.

Donald "Donny Four Wheels" Thomas and his wife Robin

 Our Captain motored us across the bay to Hurricane Harbor on Key Biscayne. This is the home of multimillion dollar homes and boats. Many of them are only used seasonally.

 This helipad was used by Nixon when he came down to visit. Its still used by the owner of the estate.

The house where they filmed Scarface. Say hello to my little friend!

ShakeALeg founder Harry Hogan.
Downtown Miami
 This is Villa Vizcaya built by James Deering of the Deering-McCormick International Harvester fortune. Built between 1914 and 1922 the property once consisted of 180 acres of shore line and mangrove swamps. Today the property is only 50 acres and is ward of Miami-Dade County. It is currently used a an art museum and hosts many weddings and events on the property.

A giant sunken Spanish ship built from stone to help protect the property.

One giant orange iguana hangs out on the boat. Wish I had my other camera. All I brought was the cell phone.

Coral Gables.
 The Impossible Dream is a 60 foot catamaran built to be fully handicap accessible and designed so the original owner could sail it single handed from the bridge. Check out the pics on the website as they are way better than what I could take. ShakeALeg acquired the boat and uses it to promote sailability for the disabled.  
One of the coolest things about the boat is the elevators that take you down into the outside hulls for access to the bathrooms and the bedrooms. The elevators fit into the floor of the hull and there are stairs for able bodies to access the facilities. 

When we got back from the boat tour the wind had died off and sailors were having a hard time making headway. I asked about the barbecue and they told us no one was cooking today. That was a frustrating because they had told us food would be available or we would have packed lunches and snacks. We ended up going to Monty's Restaurant for lunch with Don and Robin. We decided not to sail and parted ways for the afternoon.
We drove up Miami Drive and turned east on the Rickenbacker Causeway out to Key Biscayne. At the end of the Key is Bill Bragg's Cape Florida State Park. Its a nice place to get away. They have beach wheelchairs on request. The beaches aren't cleaned and groomed so you'd dodge lots of driftwood.
From the parking lots, a wheelchair user can access several boardwalks over the dunes but not all the way to the beach itself.
 At the far parking lot on the point, there are lots of little fishing piers.

 This walkway is hard packed sand. I was able to move along it with ease. Lots of foot and bicycle traffic keeping it compact.
 The infamous Miami stilt houses. Most of them have blown away in hurricanes or been destroyed over time. These have power and water hookups. There is a cool scene in Bad Boys II where they go out to the houses.