Lifestyles of the Cheap and Frugal

Our Summer Vacation – Day 7

Lady Chateau yacht rental $875 per hr
Yacht Rental Option One – $875 per hour

If you would like to sample the “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” but have a budget more suited to “Lifestyles of the Cheap & Frugal”, I have discovered just the answer when visiting Fort Lauderdale.

The Intracoastal Waterway is a great way to legally take a peek into the living rooms of multi-million dollar homes in Fort Lauderdale.  Of course, most of the inhabitants are so wealthy they are out-of-town staying at one of their other multi-million dollar homes. To tour the Intracoastal Waterway, the first thing you need is a boat.  In our case, a boat that would  hold at least 9 people.

Option 1 was to rent a fully stocked yacht for $875 per hour.

That option was quickly discarded.

Option 2 was more in our price range:  Only $28 per person, $23 for age 65+,  $14 for kids, and free for kids that could pass for under 5.  For only $172, our party of 9 received All Day Unlimited Passes for an entertaining, unlimited on-and-off privileges, round-trip cruise of the Intracoastal Waterway on the fleet of Fort Lauderdale Water Taxis.

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Yacht Rental Option Two – $172 per Day!  BINGO!!

In addition to a relaxing, entertaining cruise complete with narrated history, educational facts, and gossip, we could also get off and tour different locales on foot.

This tour will make you appreciate the cost of living in Missouri.

The property taxes on one home we passed were $50,000 per month.  If you own a yacht and want to anchor it at an Intracoastal Waterway marina, the cost, depending on season, is $5 to $15 per foot, per night.  That means the 300-foot, $250,000,000 yacht Steve Wynn bought for his wife for her birthday could cost close to $4,000 just to dock for one night.

Homes and lots on the Intracoastal Waterway come at a premium.  Per our guide, one guy bought a home for $25 mil.  He then bought the house next door, apparently a fixer-upper, for $7 mil,  He then had it demolished so his dogs would have a place to play.

Our grandkids were fascinated looking at the large iguanas sunning themselves on the sea walls along the waterway.  As we exited our taxi to visit the Galleria Mall, the guide on the taxi told us confidentially that the Iguanas love to eat the flower buds on the surrounding bushes.

As we were waiting to reboard the taxi after boosting the net sales of the Galleria Mall, my son tossed a flower bud in the direction of a large iguana eyeing us from a seawall.  Like a flash, the formerly lounging iguana devoured the bud.  At first, one lady thought we had thrown a plastic straw to the iguana. Before a fight broke out, we educated her on the culinary preferences of the large lizards, whereupon she also began throwing flower buds to the lounging lizards.

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As the Flower Bud supply depleted, it appeared this iguana might be considering sampling either my grandson’s flip flop or his toes.

After working up an appetite feeding flower buds to iguanas, we walked 2 blocks to the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

A great place to eat inspired by one of my favorite movies of all time.

Then it was back to Boca Raton for a twilight walk by the sea.

As my ten-year old grandson likes to say, “Well, this has certainly been quite a day!”

And that's all I got to say about that

One Tyke Over the Line, Sweet Jesus

Day 6 of our Summer Vacation

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The Little Man Who Wasn’t There (wink, wink) joining me on the porch for an outdoor breakfast

When I booked our accommodations for our family vacation, I limited my search to places with at least 3 bedrooms.  Making the trip would be two sets of grandparents, one set of parents, and three grandkids ages 3, 7 & 10, who on vacations past have bunked on the sofa bed in front of the TV.

One review especially caught my eye.  The title was:

Family Friendly like staying at Grandma’s beach house

That sounded like the perfect place to spend a week with grandkids.  I booked a 3 bedroom unit for a week.

When I checked in to our condo, I was given a sheet of guidelines for our stay.  The final guideline was “A maximum of 8 guests per condo REGARDLESS OF AGE”.  It has been my experience that MOST places overlook a small child when tallying the maximum guests allotment, but apparently NOT at “Grandma’s beach house”.

We were one tyke over the line.

When I listed the names of all the guests, there were only 8 spaces.

I omitted our three-year-old grandson’s name.  He would be the easiest to hide.  In one review of the property I found a picture of a cute kid hiding in the cabinet.  I now understood why the kid was in there.

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This is not our kid.  Apparently another family was one tyke over the line and found a creative solution.

Our youngest grandson’s “absence” on our vacation brought to mind a poem by American educator & poet William Hughes Mearns.  In 1899, Mr. Mearns wrote a poem that was eventually set to music titled The Little Man That Wasn’t There.

It goes like this (with a few minor revisions by me):

As I was going up the stair
I met a (little) man who wasn’t there!
He wasn’t there again today,
Oh how I wish he’d go away!” (NOT!)

When I came home last night at three,
The (little) man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall,
I couldn’t see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
Go away, go away, at least when housekeeping is at the door.

Last night I saw upon the stair,
A little man who wasn’t there,
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away…

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The Little Man Who Wasn’t There – Fortunately there was no limit on kids at the beach!

I usually mention the names of the places we stay on vacation.

Not this time.  Although we had a great time, I’m not sure when the statute of limitations runs out on “exceeding the guest limit” in Florida.

Sure would hate for the “little man who wasn’t there” to start Pre-K with a record in juvy.

Sex on the Beach

Day 6 of our Summer Vacation

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The Beach Across the Street from our Condo

Our trip to the Fort Lauderdale airport to pick up our son and his family and shuttle them back to our rental condo in Boca Raton was uneventful.  Thankfully.  We picked them up at the curb in front of the baggage claim area where, in January of 2017,  Esteban Santiago opened fire on travelers awaiting their luggage.  Santiago was recently sentenced to 5 life sentences, plus 120 years.

Welcome to Fort Lauderdale!

Safely back in Boca Raton, we headed to our condo.  Last Valentine’s Day, Nikolas Cruz opened fire inside Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida – a dozen miles from where we were staying.

As they walked from the parking lot to check out their new digs, our grandkids were apprehensive.  Not about the history of shootings in the area.  They are used to hearing gunfire back in Missouri.  The difference is that when they hear gunfire near our home in rural Cole County, Mo., it’s just the neighbors taking target practice and not a reason to get scared.

What had them alarmed in Florida was the omnipresence of curly tailed lizards scurrying ahead of us to take refuge in the abundant beautiful green foliage along our path.

curly tail lizardThough curly tail lizards may look threatening at first glance, the kids soon realized these lizards were way more scared of them than they were of the lizards.

Not so, the large iguana’s they would be introduced to later in the week.

After carry-out pizza for dinner, the kids were eager to explore.  A walk on the beach was in order.

turtle nest marked

The route I envisioned would involve a pleasant one mile walk along the Atlantic from the beach in Boca Raton to the Deerfield Beach Fishing Pier  near where we had spent the previous night. From there it was just a block to the frozen custard place for dessert.  Then we’d walk back on a well-lit sidewalk rather than the beach where flashlights are discouraged because it might disturb the turtles.

Sea turtle next warning

As we left the wooden walkway that led from the street to the sand in front of our rental, something unusual caught my eye.  Scattered along the beach were what appeared to be miniature crime scenes – small areas blocked from beach traffic by orange tape.  We soon learned that each of these “crime scenes” was actually a protected turtle nest containing eggs fertilized following courtship.

That courtship might include multiple male turtles fighting over a female.

In some cases, I learned, all the turtles ended up with a prize.

Unlike humans, female turtles may mate with multiple males.  Ok, that part is like humans. But wait – there’s more.  According to the SEA TURTLE CONSERVANCY, “Females may mate with several males just prior to nesting season and store the sperm for several months. When she finally lays her eggs, they will have been fertilized by a variety of males.

A question came to my mind:  Is this the kind of behavior to which I want my grandkids  exposed?

They could not have cared less.

As the sun disappeared  over the condos, my grandkids were far more interested in  looking for seashells along the beach en route to the custard stand rather than learning the gritty details about how we get baby sea turtles.

Ninja Turtles may get all the publicity, but, as it turns out, these sea turtles see their fair share of action, too.

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A Party of Two Becomes a Party of Nine

Our Summer Vacation – Day 5

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Deerfield Beach at dawn

I woke up before dawn on Day 5 of our vacation.  It would be a busy day and I needed a good breakfast.  While my wife dozed, I hiked two blocks to a 7-11 and procured a large, dark roast coffee and a bear claw.  From there it was a short walk to the beach to await the sunrise. On the way I passed other insomniac geezers, many accompanied by small dogs.

1300 miles away our son’s family was on a shuttle to the St. Louis airport.  We had transported most of their luggage with us so each of the five of them were only encumbered with a small carry-on.   Our grandkids were already excited about coming to the beach so I imagined the added adventure of boarding an airplane had the needle on the excitement gauge bumping the red line.

St Louis airport

It was our grandkids first time to fly.  It was also their first time to hear the phrase “flight delay”.  Before they boarded their plane in St. Louis an announcement was made that their connecting flight in Atlanta would be delayed 2 hours due to bad weather.

As soon as they were airborne a kid in the row in front of them barfed prodigiously all over himself and his mom.  An unlucky guy who had procured a window seat in the same row managed to avoid the projectile vomit stream but was treated to a full measure of the smell as it began to waft throughout the plane.

“I LOVE THE SMELL OF VOMIT IN THE MORNING!” said no one, EVER!

Meanwhile, back on Deerfield Beach, I was enjoying a glorious sunrise, along with a optimum dosage of  salt air, sugar, and caffeine

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Sunrise over the Deerfield Beach International Fishing Pier

It would be a busy day.  As soon as the sun was up, I grabbed a cup of coffee for my wife and headed back to our room.

We would need to pack up from our one-night Airbnb rental, meet up with our grandkids OTHER set of grandparents who were someplace between Orlando and Fort Lauderdale headed south, form a two-car parade to pick up our son’s family at the airport, then, proceed en masse to check into the three bedroom condo I had reserved for the next seven nights in Boca Raton, Fl.

After sleeping in a different bed each night for the past 5 nights, we would now sleep in the same bed for seven consecutive nights.

Throughout the day we received updated ETA’s on our grandkids flight.  2:20 pm eventually ended up being 4:40 pm thanks to Mother Nature’s shennanigans.  Though we were eager to see them, when it comes to air travel and flight delays, rather than getting frustrated, I always recall the wisdom once imparted to me by a hot air balloon pilot:  It’s a lot better to be down here wishing you were up there than up there wishing you were down here.

Next stop: Fort Lauderdale airport