Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hugh Birch State Park of Fort Lauderdale

As Fort Lauderdale turn 100 this year, I have been exploring some of its historic "gems". One "gem" is Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. This state park is located on the barrier island of Fort Lauderdale Beach.

Over 100 years ago, the barrier Island of Fort Lauderdale was lush with mangrove swamps, thick Florida hammock (think jungle), and wildlife. At the turn of the 20 century, there were very few people living in Fort Lauderdale. A couple of families had trading posts that traded with the Seminole Indians. Other inhabitants included military personnel and  adventurers.

In the 1890's Chicago  attorney Hugh Taylor Birch came to south Florida  and bought a big chunk of Fort Lauderdale beach for $1.00 an acre, owning a 3.5 mile ( 5.5 km)  stretch of beachfront. In the 1940's Birch  built a 180 acre estate tropical paradise called Terramar (land to see). In 1941 Birch noticed the rapid development of Fort Lauderdale and  decided to donate his estate to the Florida Board of Forest and Parks.

The park is an oasis. Nestled between beach and the intracoastal waterway, there are trails, mangrove swamps and  feeling of how Fort Lauderdale looked before development. The Park Rangers often make comparisons to New York City's Central Park. Both parks are an urban oasis set amongst busy cities.

Like Central Park, there are runners, rollerbladers, and bicyclists. I often run through this park, and enjoy the the solitude and shade. Bike and canoe rentals are available.  There are races and marathons that also use the park as well as other activities. The park is also a great place to escape if you get tired of the beach; just cross the street (A1A), and there is an entrance near Sunrise Blvd.

A1A Marathon and other races meander through the Birch State Park. Great place to picnic, run or just hang out!

The Details:
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
3109 East Sunrise Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
Open 365 days a year, 08:00 am to sunset
Access is available on A1A as well as Sunrise Ave.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Peter Pan Diner of Fort Lauderdale

"Second to the right, and straight on till morning." That, Peter had told Wendy, was the way to the Neverland

Peter Pan Diner's kitsch 70's decor mixed with pictures of Hellenic ruins is reminiscent of many Greek restaurants throughout north America. The Peter Pan diner is open 7 days a week and 24 hours a day. The clientele is as diverse as the menu. Gay Wilton Manors gym boys mingle with older retirees from condo high rises, while post party people melt there hangovers with a nice hearty breakfast!

Mike and I,  like to enjoy a  diner breakfast once in a while, and the Peter Pan is always at the top of the list. The location is great, just blocks from Wilton Manors, on the corner of Oakland Park Blvd and Dixie Highway. The restaurant is large, with a breakfast counter and two large dining rooms. There is also a cozy sports bar where one can enjoy a beverage and a meal while watching sports.

The Peter Pan diner has an extensive menu, for lunch and dinner, and a generous menu for breakfast. With most meals for breakfast under $6.95 its quite a bargain for South Florida.

I always enjoy the omelets  at the Peter Pan. Today I tried the "lox and onion" Omelet. I like lox and thought that it would make a nice combination with a toasted bagel. The omelet was light with a generous portion of salmon lox. The meal also came with a side of home fries As always, the potatoes were grilled and had a savory breakfast taste to them! This past winter I have tried many of the breakfast omelette's at the Peter Pan, and they are consistently good!

Mike ordered the French toast  with eggs, sausage and bacon. This was one of the daily specials. As always, the French toast was light and fluffy sprinkled with powdered sugar.
The service is consistently fast and efficient. The bevy of older female waitresses work the dining rooms fast, dispensing bottomless cups of coffee and platters of food. Our waitress, Eileen was quite friendly and efficient.

So if you are visiting Neverland Florida, and you want to catch a decent breakfast, this would be a good choice.

The Details:
Peter Pan Diner
1216 E Oakland Park Blvd
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33334
Telephone: 954.565.7177
Open 24/7, Always Open

Menu is extensive. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Greek influence. Plenty of parking.  Prices very reasonable. Major Credit Cards accepted, but not travellers cheques.

Blogger/Innkeeper/Runner, Greg enjoys a heary breakfast at the Peter Pan.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Happy Martin Luther King Day

The time is always right to do what is right.
     -Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Its hard to believe how far we've come. Yes, there is still more work to be done for civil rights. In my lifetime things have changed dramatically in this county. In the summer of 1961 (the summer I, and Barack Obama were born), blacks were not allowed to swim at the Las Olas section of  Fort Lauderdale beach.  Yes, the beach that I enjoy and run on virtually every day in the winter. Hard to believe.
Police tell black Americans that they are forbidden to use this section of Ft lauderdale Beach, 1961.

How can you exclude people from enjoying a public beach? On July 4th, 1961 a group of young black men staged a "wade-in" on the beach at Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale. The protest was organized by civil rights activists,  Eula Johnson and Von Mizell. Police officers were called to enforce the segregation laws, and told the young men to leave the beach.

I often wondered how racial discrimination on Americans was justified.
The section of  Fort Lauderdale beach that blacks were prohibited from attending is mere feet away from  the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Is  this good sportsmanship?

Its fitting that we honor Dr King's legacy for non-violent peaceful change. We should also those brave Americans that conducted a "wade-in" into a free public beach.

Dr Kings message is timeless: Freedom. Freedom to vote, freedom from poverty, freedom from racism, and Jim Crow laws. Freedom to be together with the one the one you want.  And freedom to experience the hopes, and dreams that is America.

During the early 1960's it was illegal for people of different races to co-habitate in Florida. It was also illegal for blacks to marry whites in Florida.  Yes, Barack Obama's parents marriage would not be recognized in the state of Florida. And today, many  marriages are still not recognized in Florida and many other states.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fort Lauderdale Rental

Walk to beach villa rental, available Now....
Once again, New England and New York are getting pounded with unrelenting snow, and it's days like today that I am  often asked, "Where should I stay, while visiting Ft Lauderdale?"
Well, now I know how to answer that question. My friend Jay, has a nice two bedroom, two bathroom "villa" type unit available near the beach.

The unit features a yard, a shared pool, and is only 150 yards from the beach. It's an easy walk to the beach, and minutes from  trendy Las Olas Bloulevard.

Washer and dryer on property. Full kitchen, livingroom and ensuite bathroom in the masterbedroom. There is plenty to do, with lazy days by the beach or taking it easy by the pool.

Unit is available by the week, month or for the season. For rate quote, call Jay @ 954.551.8621 or email him @

Unit is located on 33rd Ave and 23rd Street, next to the popular former gay frinedly Sandra Lee Motel.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chopstix Chinese Restaurant Review- Wilton Manors

Mike and I like to get take-away Asian food one night a week or so.  South Florida is not known for great Chinese food. At best, Chinese food is marginal in Fort Lauderdale. Yes, there are various Thai restaurants in Lauderdale and Wilton Manors, and many other ethnic food haunts, but finding a good Chinese restaurant is an arduous task...

Today we decided to try a new Chinese restaurant that opened up this month in Wilton Manors. The name is a bit kitschy: Chopstix

The restaurant is located in five points section of Wilton Manors, near hot spots like: Rosie's and Starbucks. The establishment is in a strip plaza with  five tables. Virtually all orders are take-out.

The best part is that you can peak into the kitchen and see owner, Ken cooking away.  Ken hails form mainland China and is new to south Florida. His cuisine is american-ized New York style Chinese take-away. Owner Ken was eager to show me through his clean kitchen, Samantha, his helper informed me that they do not use MSG. Basically, Chopstix is a take-out kitchen; there is no liquor license and no servers.

Pround owner, Ken shows me his kitchen!

I tried the Mongolian Chicken. I was informed that this is one of the house specialities. The chicken was thinly sliced and served  with on a bed of noodles with onions and scallions with a sweet sauce. Mike got the Shrimp Hunan. This dish had fresh shrimp and fresh vegetables with a brown sauce with a "kick".

Mike also tried the Beef with Broccoli. the vegetables were fresh and the portion was ample.
Overall, we enjoyed Chopstix and look forward to trying other items.

The Details:
2603 N Dixie Hwy
Wilton Manors, FL 33334
Telephone: 954 563 9902

Take-out restaurant. Prices are modest. There are coupons in the take-out menu. Open 7 days a week.
Most major credit cards are accepted. Chopstix has an extensive menu with traditional American take-out Chinese items, and they do provide customers with customary take-out chopsticks!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pompano Beach

I am often in Pompano at the Aquatic Center for swim practice, but rarely make it to the beach in Pompano, so today I decided to check out Pompano Beach!
The greater Ft Lauderdale area has many beaches stretching from Deerfield to Hallandale. Pompano Beach is north of Fort Lauderdale Beach.

Pompnao Beach is right off of A1A north, with plenty of metered parking. The beach is almost never crowded.
The beach is wide with small dunes, and stretches for miles. The sand is soft, and the water is warm (because the gulf stream bends and goes right through Pompano and Ft Lauderdale Beach).

There are many types of birds, that forage around the dunes and pelicans galore. This pelican was sitting on the fishing pier waiting for leftover scraps!

Pompano is named after the saltwater fish that is native to the south Florida ocean. On the pier there is fishing and sightseers. The beach also has bathrooms and a concession stand.

 The water is deep in Pompano and there are plenty of lifeguards!
I like being near or in the ocean. I thank my mother and father for my love of the sea. Since I wash a child, I have always been within a few miles ( feet from the ocean!).

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year 2011

The first ray of light shines as a welcoming beacon!
Challenges and new adventures lie ahead,
As revelers ring and cheer the new year.
my resolutions remain clear:
My mind, body and spirit to remain free for one more year.

My desire  for wanderlust is always there,
it carries me to new places, and back to familiar faces.
The sun will guide my feet from shore to sea with fun and velocity.

Freedom is strength  that enables me to  see truth and integrity.
yet,  the same freedom blinds and binds oh, so many....
With distractions of cerebral noise that clogs their sensors, that disables many from simple pleasures.
Yet, I strive to keep  my body and mind clean from lethargy,
as I  search the earth to discover life's simple treasures....

Happy new year 2011