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J family beach and baseball trip 2007
 
 
(Click on the images for a larger version.)
miami beach muscle guy
My folks rented a house near West Palm Beach for the family summer beach trip. Ilaria and I went a day early so I could check out Miami Beach first (Ilaria had already visited Miami last year with Elisabetta).

We flew JetBlue to Ft. Lauderdale and took a looong local bus ride down to Miami Beach. On the bus, Ilaria got to met some of the South's more interesting residents.

I wanted to spend more days in Miami, but Ilaria said it would be too hot, and I wouldn't like it. She was right it was HOT, and I complained a lot. However, in Miami a lot of folks go around with no shirt on - keeps you cool and let's you show off your bulging muscles
 
miami beach top optional
or your bulging mammary glands. I didn't realize this was an option at Miami Beach until I noticed this sign in my hotel room. Not a lot of ladies were taking this option (I saw maybe half-a-dozen as we walked around - Ilaria helped me find them with her keen eyesight for such things). However, we did see one lady that clearly was working hard to rid herself of tan lines only to replace the white-on-tan border with red-on-tan. Be careful ladies, seems it's best to ease on into this territory if you aren't experienced.
 
miami beach nice car
Just like the stereotypes,
 
miami beach pink car
there were plenty of souped up cars here.
 
miami beach ilaria
Thankfully, it was less painfully hot
 
miami beach clouds
on the beach.
 
miami beach hotel ocean drive
And our hotel (on Ocean Drive) was right across the street from the beach
 
miami beach lots of makeup
This lady here was making a commercial. Her camera folk didn't seem to like me taking pictures of her, but I was curious to see how she looked through a camera. She looks ok here, but in real life she had so much makeup on that I'm not sure how she held her head up.
 
miami beach architecture 2
One of the cool things about Miami Beach is that it has more culture than the standard blah American Beach. The Miami Beach architecture is based on the older Art Deco buildings (I'll show some in a bit), but even the new buildings aim for that lively colorful style sort of a postmodern deco - neodeco?
 
ilaria ice cream miami
Ilaria took an ice cream to cool off,
 
miami beach ritz
and then with what felt like a big storm coming on,
 
miami beach storm coming
we began a walk back to our hotel.

I don't like beaches. But I really enjoyed Miami Beach. It was full of people having a good time, lots of color, and (my favorite) lots of cool lifeguard stands. So let's begin our lifeguard stand series.
 
lifeguard miami beach 1
Serenity.
 
lifeguard miami beach 2
Haven from the approaching storm.
 
lifeguard miami beach 3
Too much symmetry? Too little...
 
lifeguard miami beach 4
America.
 
lifeguard miami beach 5
Grape juice and Kiwi.
 
lifeguard miami beach 6
Key Lime Pie.
 
miami beach storm approaching
Ok, the storm is approaching too fast; no more life guard houses.
 
ilaria J miami beach
Let's take one last pic together
 
miami beach trash can
and leave this wasteland.
 
ilaria pink
All of the bold colors must have inspired Ilaria, because she dressed in pink, which she never does.
 
miami beach nite
After changing clothes, we set out to experience the Miami Beach nite life. First impression - too much unnecessary honking on Ocean Drive.
 
clevelander miami
Ilaria told me that this outside club, the Clevelander, was supposed to be one of the best dance spots. But when we passed it (Sunday nite), it was pretty dead and they were giving folks a drink just to come out on the stage and dance.
 
hotel victor miami beach
All the old Art Deco Buildings
 
mc alpin miami beach
looked pretty snazzy at nite. But we were pretty dead, and retired early in hopes of
 
IMG  5220
walking around the next morning, which despite the scalding heat,
 
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had a nice blue sky.
 
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We took a walk south past
 
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the last fancy lifeguard house
 
IMG  5225
and then the fancy Miami Beach ends and starts looking like any other shabby beach in Florida.
 
ilaria miami beach palm tree
The meeting time with my folks in Ft Lauderdale (that's where they were picking us up) was fast approaching.
 
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So after a few more pics
 
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of art deco looking buildings,
 
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we went back to the hotel to pack our stuff.
 
versace mansion miami
On the way to the bus stop, I snapped a photo of Versace's mansion on Ocean Drive. He was shot here in 1997.

Ellie rode down with my folks, and they met us at the bus stop at Ft Lauderdale airport.
 
ellie ilaria florida
We drove to the house my folk's rented and the realtor lady didn't show up on time, so we taught Ellie Simon Say's and Red Light - Green Light.
 
ellie florida
Once the realtor lady showed up, she liked to talk quite a bit. This Southern chit chat wasn't very fun to Ellie, so we tried to find non-destructive entertainment.
 
dolphins stadium
We stayed outside West Palm Beach, because my dad and I wanted to watch some cardinals games. The Cards were playing the Marlins in a three game series.
 
marlins dolphins stadium
One convenient feature of the Marlins, is that they don't have many fans. You can buy tickets on game day in just about every section.
 
dad cardinals marlins
My dad and I planned on seeing all three games, but the first game was on the day we arrived at the rental house and by the time we got everything situated, we were tired and didn't feel like driving an hour down to the stadium. But the second day, we made it in plenty of time for the first pitch.
 
cards starting lineup marlins
Here's the Cardinals starting lineup. However the pitcher listed on that scoreboard is incorrect.
 
brad thompson marlins
Brad Thompson, not Kip Wells, was the real starting pitcher.
 
cabrera hanley ramirez
Cabrera was playing third and Hanley Ramirez was at shortstop for the Marlins.
 
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The nice thing about a new stadium is that you get little conveniences like decent-sized seats with cup holders.
 
J dad marlins cardinals
Ok, let's get this game started.
 
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I can't say it was the most exciting game.
 
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But it was nice to see all the folks I watch everyday on TV
 
albert pujols marlins cardinals
in person.
 
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In the end, the Marlins beat the Cardinals 4-0.
 
gray on beach
The rental house was about 5 miles from the beach. 5 miles is pretty far when you have two kids and all of their stuff to carry, so we only went to the beach with the kids one time.
 
ellie gray
But there was a nice pool in the back yard that we used a lot.
 
ellie swim
Ellie is really good in the water and swims like a little fish.
 
gray floatie
Gray is more like his uncle was as a little guy, and prefers to have a flotation device (though he can swim, he had only just started his swimming lessons; I didn't learn how to swim until I was 7 or 8; Jaimie and Justin Pickle had a pool, and I was the only one always stuck in the shallow-end - that'll teach ya how to swim pretty quick; I'm sure Gray will be a great swimmer next summer).
 
scott ellie pool
I just realized, I have very few photos of the older folks. Here's Scott. My sis and mom will have at least one shot later (opps, I'll try not to remove the ladies in my family next time).
 
gray ellie baseball gloves
My dad bought Gray and Ellie baseball gloves.
 
gray baseball
Gray is a pretty good ballplayer for a two-year-old.
 
gray ellie throw
When you play catch with little kids, they both need a ball otherwise one gets jealous. But why is it that they always have to throw the balls to you at the same time?
 
gray baseball bat
Here's the little slugger.
 
ellie baseball bat
And what d'ya know his sister is a lefty.
 
cardinals shirt J ilaria
My dad also outfitted the entire family with Cardinals shirts,
 
cardinals shirt faith family
so we could take a Cardinals family portrait.

After this photo, Ilaria was supposed to fly back home from the West Palm Beach airport. The rest of us were supposed to head to the last Cardinals game together. However, there were some massive storms on the Atlantic coast and Ilaria's flight was very delayed and looked like it might get canceled.
 
gray baseball game
So Gray, Ellie, Retse, Scott, mom, and dad went to the baseball game, and I stayed back so Ilaria wouldn't be stranded at the airport if her flight was cancelled.
 
J first house
Her flight was delayed long enough that I went to pick her up and take her to see the house I lived in from age 0 to 3. The neighborhood had seen better days. And my old house needed a new roof and a lawn mowing.

Ilaria's flight didn't get canceled, so after an ice cream (Ilaria) and a burger (me), Ilaria flew back to Boston.
 
J ellie gray
The next day my flight left in the early afternoon. Mom and Retse wanted to take pictures of me with my niece and nephew. We all went outside, and unfortunately two salesmen pulled up at that exact moment and tried to sell us something we didn't want for the rental house we didn't own. However, they caused enough distraction to make everyone freeze up and lose attention. Unfortunately, after a few seconds Ellie and Gray realized they were standing on scorching hot pavement. They began screaming at the top of their lungs, and the scene became utter chaos as some of us attended to the burnt feet while the rest of us tried to get rid of the salemen who'd clearly done enough damage. But after a short game of Red Light - Green Light, the kids were ready to smile again, and then I went back home to Boston.