Saturday, February 4, 2012

February 3, 2012 - The Wind Beneath My Wings

Warning Sign at the entrance to Haulover Beach

Two songs came to my mind with regard to today's blog. The first was the Drifters' 1964 hit, "Under the Boardwalk," which wouldn't leave my mind all day, but alas, if Miami Beach has any boardwalks, I've yet to find them. As I went through my photos from the day, I asked just who would go to a nude beach and take photos of birds? Well, that brought up Bette Midler's great ballad, "The Wind Beneath My Wings," appropriately enough from her 1988 film "Beaches."

The wind beneath my wings, for the past four years, has been Kevin, to whom I owe so much. Kevin isn't really into showing off his body, so I was quite surprised when he suggested that he would like to go with me to Haulover Beach, the only legal nude beach in south Florida. The beach is located about ten miles north of Island House, and there is a city bus that will take you there, but I'd found plenty of things to occupy my time while Kevin was at his conference, so with our time in Florida rapidly coming to a close, it seemed as if it were now or never. And as a card-carrying nudist, I guess it had to be now. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Neither Kevin nor I slept very well Thursday night. Friday morning we arose, groggy but alive, and decided to head out for breakfast. I prevailed on him to try my Tapas del Mundo find, and sure enough, Jason was right out front to greet us when we arrived. I also spoke with the owner, Roy, and Kevin and I headed upstairs to break our fast on the upstairs deck. Now Kevin does not eat eggs, and the breakfast menu at Tapas was largely egg based. But they did have a "signature dish" in French Toast, so Kevin ordered that and I had an "Argentinian Breakfast" which was pretty much the same thing I ate for breakfast every morning the summer I lived in Paris. Three croissants, toast, a latte, and orange juice. It took me back to my student days, I can assure you of that.

After breakfast, Kevin and I walked to the convention center where he had a half day of meetings, and when he went inside, I headed off to find another geocache. This one took me through Collins Park, another lovely spot I had not yet visited, and right up to a branch of the public library. Now whether there is really a cache there or not, I couldn't say. All the parking spaces around the library were filled with large trucks and police cars as someone was filming something in the immediate area. With all that activity going on, there was no way I was going to get on my hands and knees and crawl around looking in the dirt.

Heading back to Island House, I decided to walk the beach, so I hit it a bit north of where I usually spend beach time, and started walking south. I got a few people shots, lots of shots of shining white buildings bordering the beach, and birds--mostly gulls, but a few pigeons as well. Also lots of shots of beach umbrellas and windbreaks in colorful patterns spread across the beach by the various resort hotels and the local beach vendors. It was sunny, warm, humid, and by the time I opened the door to our Island House room, I had to peel my tank top off. I could have probably wrung water out of it.

The Wind Beneath My Wings, Kevin Kerr

Lack of sleep the night before dictated a mid-day nap, and after awakening, I put the final touches on the February 2nd blog, finishing just as Kevin returned from his final meeting. We picked up the car and drove north, following TomTom's directions to Haulover Beach. Now I've been a practicing nudist since college days, and a member of various nudist groups since the 1990s, so I was familiar with the name "Haulover." This, remember, is my first time in southern Florida, so I'd never visited it, and had no idea what to expect.

Even in a convertible with the top down, it's a long, slow drive from South Beach to Haulover. We passed some pretty fancy houses, even fancier hotels, the largests synagoges and Jewish Schools I've ever seen, and more than a few men dressed in black with their heads covered. Some parts of the area look quite a bit like the pictures I've seen from Israel.

We passed Cuban restaurants, Brazilian restaurants, a Peruvian restaurant, and a Kosher market. The language you hear on the street is almost never English, or if English, a heavily accented version. We passed Trump Tower III, Trump Tower II, and even Trump Tower I. A lot of money has gone into developing Miami Beach, and the north end is nowhere near as shabby as South Beach. The real estate meltdown has had a major impact on Florida, but I had to wonder just how much the gated homes we passed would go for in today's market.

Eventually we saw a sign for Haulover Park, then another for Haulover Beach. There is no parking on the ocean side of Collins Avenue, so we had to make a U-Turn and park by the boat ramp. From there we followed a plank sidewalk (so, I did see one boardwalk in Miami Beach), crossing under Collins Avenue, through heavy vegetation, till we came to the sign that I show above. Roughly one hundred feet beyond that sign, there is another one to match, and I wish I'd had the courage to photograph it, because directly behind it was a naked man, talking on his cell phone. Funny, the sign didn't say we'd encounter nude chatters.

Your Faithful Scribe, Body Surfing--and yes, I'm nude

Once on the beach, I stripped down immediately, and headed for the water, having handed the camera to Kevin. He got several pictures of me in the water and just leaving the water, but you'll have to be content with the one above. You'll also find no pictures of naked people in this post. Yes, I did take them, but I'm not foolish enough to publish them in something that just anyone can read, am I?

Drying myself off, I grabbed my camera and headed out in search of interesting shots. Still naked, I met a man from North Carolina, also naked, and we discussed weather, nudity, the lack of people visiting Haulover on a cloudy day, and a few other topics of mutual interest. Kevin joined us (still fully dressed) and I snapped the portrait posted above. I was on a quest, however. While playing in the water, I'd spotted a type of gull I'd never before seen. This one has a very distinctive black patch on the back of its head, and a bright yellow bill. I just had to capture one with my camera. Sure enough, another of its kind came along, and I started shooting. When I dropped to my knees to get a closer shot, it startled the bird, which in turn flew off. Oh well. And it just struck me, the black patch on the back of its head--could that be an avian yarmulke?

A Royal Tern
My favorite shot of the day (2/3/12)

While I could have spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach, I sensed that Kevin was ready to move on, so reluctantly I put my clothes back on, and we headed to the car. We hadn't yet had lunch, and it was approaching 5 pm, so a meal was definitely in order. Kevin grabbed TomTom and started fiddling with it, showing a bit of frustration in the process. I asked what he was trying to do, and he asked me how to find restaurants on the gadget. I took it away from him, and asked where he wanted to eat. I shouldn't have been surprised when he said "Olive Garden." There are so many wonderful eateries in the area, but Kevin is not an adventurous gourmet, so I capitulated. Entering "Olive Garden" into TomTom's search engine, we soon were en route to dinner. I joke that I know exactly what Kevin will order in any given restaurant, and if it's Italian, he'll have shrimp with linguine and alfredo sauce. Doesn't matter what the menu says, that's what he'll have, and indeed, that's what he ordered. I tend to look for new items, or at least items new to me, and my dinner was Shrimp Mezzaluna--shrimp with ravioli. Delicious.

Thanks to TomTom we found our way back to Island House, where we called it a night. Wonder of wonders, Kevin suggested going back to Haulover on Saturday--our last day in south Florida. Stay tuned for further adventures.

The Wind Beneath My Wings in his rented Chrysler 200

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