This is coming in bits and pieces, but that shouldn’t be much of a surprise given my schedule…
Okay, so now it’s Sunday, January 28th. We’re in Ft. Lauderdale. K and I get up, grab a McBreakfast (the seniors heading for on cruises that morning — mostly Holland American, aka God’s Floating Waiting Room, from the luggage tags we saw — had taken over the Hampton’s breakfast area), and head down I-95 to Miami. Our destination: Parrot Jungle Island, on one of the several man-made islands in Biscayne Bay between Miami and Miami Beach. This is a parrot-oriented park, and we went for a quick featherhead fix, as we miss our Scooterbird, yes we do.
Well… they have birds and birds and birds and birds and birds… just inside the gate is a photo area (sponsored by Kodak, go figure…), and several Moluccan Cockatoos, assorted Macaws, and 6 absolutely gorgeous Blue Hyacinth Macaws are hanging out there.
There are birds on perches with little shelters all along the walkways. Vending machines (like old gumball machines) dose out bird kibble for a quarter so you can feed them if they’re interested. There are several aviaries with different birds along the way. One unidentified blue parrot just wanted skritches, and I was happy to oblige. Another aviary had two sulfur-crested cockatoos, who both said “Hello!” when K and I approached. One came right out to the front of the aviary for skritches; when offered some of the kibble, she asked “Cracker?” — of course, I didn’t have one — and didn’t want the kibble. Can’t blame her. She said “Goodbye!” when I told her I had to go.
Several of the birds at Parrot Jungle are rescues or birds once owned by people who either can’t take care of them anymore or are deceased. Since the bigger parrots can live 70-80 years in a domestic setting, this isn’t entirely a surprise.
There’s a bird show, with macaws, cockatoos, a Andes Condor, and a Cassowary. There’s also an area with free-flying macaws and… spider monkeys. You go through a kind of airlock to get in there, and the attendant (and signs) caution you to not touch the animals.
So I’m watching the spider monkeys, when one of the cheeky bastards jumped onto my leg. “K, umm, I have a monkey.” “Don’t touch him!” “I’m not, but he’s touching me!” The monkey grabbed the map of Parrot Jungle sticking out of my pocket and jumped back onto the climbing rope and then into their enclosure… I told the attendant what happened, and she just sighed. This is obviously a common occurrence, and I can only think of how may wallets, sets of keys, cell phones, etc. that monkey has stolen…
Parrot Jungle also has some reptiles, including a big croc and an albino alligator, and a number of snakes. K didn’t go near the reptile house. She doesn’t do snakes. They have a 900-lb liger (half lion, half tiger). There’s a little petting zoo. There are orangutans. There are flamingos (hey, it’s Miami. Flamingos are de rigur). We had a good time there.
When we’d seen the park, we headed out, and K wanted to drive down Ocean Drive on Miami Beach, so we did. Slowly. Very slowly. It was noonish on a Sunday, but it was the Sunday prior to the Super Bowl being held in the area, and it was PACKED. Various event functions were being set up on the beach. Our Grand Prix was decidedly pedestrian. Told K we should’ve gotten a Ferrari for the day, just to fit in… she wasn’t buying it, though.
Back on I-95 eventually, and back up to Ft. Lauderdale. We headed a bit west to Sawgrass Mills, which is the biggest damn outlet mall I’ve ever seen. They also have quite a restaurant selection, including Cheesecake Factory, a PF Chang’s, and… Legal Seafood. K found some vegetarian stuff on the menu she could eat, and I tucked into a plate of wonderful fried clams. Yep, clams. But not the overcooked, tough, stringy ones you sometimes get. These were tender and done Just So.
We scoured the mall for a couple things K was looking for (a replacement tote bag for the one that had the strap tear off on Saturday, and a comfy pair of shoes as her tennies were rubbing her toes weirdly), but no dice. Ahh, well.
We also checked out another area shopping destination a bit south in Weston, but it wasn’t really well-populated just yet.
Then, back to the room… or at least back to the hotel. Seems our keys no longer worked in our room… Had to take the World’s Slowest Elevators back to the desk to have them reprogrammed.
We decided to have a Papa John’s pizza delivered (it’s something of a tradition… we’ve done it every year we’ve ever stayed at that Hampton Inn) for dinner, and made sure all our cruise paperwork was in order and all our luggage was also properly identified before tucking in for the night.
Tomorrow, we’d check out of the hotel and head for the ship.
Next installment: a great diner in an unlikely location, setting sail, and the first day at sea.