Earlier in the month I began my trek once again across the country. This time I took the traditional Route 66 which allowed more in-the-car views of the northern states of the mid-west. My destination on this drive across America is Huntsville, Alabama. The area is right next to Redstone Arsenal and the technical work is mainly military. Guess what yours truly will be working with?
Huntsville's claim-to-fame might just be that it is where space-camp is located. One of these weekends I would just have to visit the space museum and do the tourist thing. Huntsville is also located smack within Madison county and we've barely skirted the touchdown of several tornadoes within the past month. When the winds got a little high, I was actually overwhelmed by the whirling sirens coming from the direction of the arsenal region.
Unfortunately I don't have access to the base so this view as well as what goes on behind the perimeter is out of my reach.
It's time to say my farewells and goodbyes to Florida. I don't think I'll miss the humidity, lizards, or hurricanes. However, I did meet some friendly people on the way. The following will be my trek back to silicon valley land. No more sunsets into land, welcome back sunsets that gradually disappear into the ocean.
A really high view of the Nassau port.
The Atlantis casino.
The big ole aquarium at the bottom of Atlantis.
Some pictures of JAX beaches during the winter.
Lifeguard NOT on duty for the winter
Too cold even for fishing on the pier.
This birds-eye view shows Jacksonville and its nearby beaches. The surf has been pretty high these past weeks and the water is starting to cool down. I try to make it out to JAX beach every weekend but need to make time to explore Atlantic Beach as well as Ponte Vedra.
This is detail of the SouthSide area near the Turner Butler Blvd. I'm exploring San Jose blvd since it borders on the river (nothing related to San Jose, the city, of course).
Ok, time to go catch some waves and rays before the sun goes down.
(August 30th) It was my second day in moving to Jacksonville and as I was flipping the pages of the local rag, I noticed that Anna Nalick was playing in town today. The newness of the city smacks me in the face and hurricane Ernesto was supposed to hit us tonight. My first thought was, I didn't want to go poking downtown in a strange city so soon. It soon dawned on me that Anna wouldn't come around this way again anytime soon so I took the plunge and went searching for the dive. The place was called Jack's Rabbits that lies in a run-down section of town and behind a single red door. (Looking around, no blue door was to be found)
The crowd that waited for the show was pitifully small. There couldn't have been more than 100 people at the show. And like Anna said later on during the show, "it's a smoky little bar". Maybe it was a blessing in disguise because many concert goers were just well within 2 feet of the stage.
Joshua Radin openned up the set. His music was fully acoustic guitars and he played the set in a wonderfully humble manner. He had one backing guitarist and a girl as an accompanying vocalist (she was pretty cute, by the way). Josh sat in a chair right in the middle of the stage and played some material from Zack Braff's TV shows and movies. His music was mellow, sad, and comforting. Unfortunately the Jacksonville crowd was a little too loud and I felt bad as the band noticed the interruptions during the songs. The acoustic set was lovely.
Anna Nalicks gives a great live performance as she saunters on stage fully comfortable in the strength of her voice. She banters with the crowd in a cheerful manner. There were a few false starts in some of her songs as the band's electric equipment and her microphone flakes out. However she recovered on-stage quite nicely and spurted out some F words that fit the occasion. I was close enough to the front to notice her prominent cheekbones, skinny nose, and the big ugly ring she wears on her index finger. This is an unfortunate comment but she is just not photogenic. Quite the opposite, she looks better in person than in her pictures and videos. It could be that her personality gives a 3-dimensional wholeness which is different than many people you see on stage. As you can imagine, she played most of her album. Everyone was waiting for Breathe and there wasn't much clamor for Wreck of the Day. Too bad because that was the best heart-wrenching track. I snuck out in the middle of Bleed into what's left of Ernesto in an attempt to avoid the departing crowd.
An image from high above of this South Florida city called Miami:
Some pictures of the tourist trap that South Beach has become.
It was a cloudy day and there wasn't too much sun. The 2006 hurricane season is about to start; need to find me some wood to knock on.
Barely two minutes that it takes for the sun to disappear off of Kendall looking out towards Krome:
Tattoes are quite the rage in Miami. Women are truly smitten with the ink, even more than the men.
Obvious places for the marks on women are: the small of the lower back and behind the neck. The ones that are on the lower back go well with tummy-revealing T-shirts as well as low-cut pants. Some ladies can get away with a small mark high on the breast. With guys, it's typically on the arms and chest. The portrait above is from Kat Von D of Miami Ink
I feel like a virgin with unmarked skin.
I spoke to someone at LA Fitness yesterday. I apologized for not knowing Spanish. He is Colombian and tells me he is starting to learn English. We stutter on in broken conversation. He has lived in America for 17 years.
It feel like I am in another country.
As luck would have it, I have just moved to Miami to pursue a new contract. My path heads straight down through Naples and across the Florida everglades to the southern city next to the Atlantic. It is quite time to say goodbye to Bradenton and none too soon at that. I am getting up there in age but it is nothing compared the sheer number of wheelchairs and carry-around oxygen tanks that I encounter so frequently. It may have mentioned it before here, the elderly population in Bradenton and Sarasota is extremely high. One day, I may look back and laugh and sneer at my own comments, but for now it will just dangle in the wind.
What can I say about Miami at an initial glance? It is young. The Latin women are soooo sexy. Additionally, they certainly dress up very nicely "in black" when going out at night. One word: "Curves". Miami is such a great place to learn to appreciate this. Being sexy without trying to be so is certainly worthy of respect. Having just driven around Coral Gables in the early morning, my thoughts are that.... you ain't seen rich until you have seen Miami. I will kick myself in the head until time is made to visit all the popular and touristic things like South Beach and Key West. For now though, my hands are full in trying to absorb the local atmosphere and culture.
The food experience in itself will be a good adventure. Cuban food abound and I am starting to try my share of fried plantains and tender shredded meats of various types. There is yet Peruvian, Argentinian, Colombian, Jamaican, and Venezuelan food to go. Five minutes ago, I just stood in line to buy Cuban pastry and Cubano coffee at this very local "no-sugar pastry" place. My attempts to communicate in English "can I have this, this, and this...." just invite sneers from the many women in line. Spanish is the verbal currency of exchange here. Not knowing Spanish is like not having a right arm. My sister-in-law Susana have told me this, but there is nothing like seeing it for yourself. Being Asian does make me feel so out-of-place.
Hurricane Wilma is about to be on top of us within hours. It is now 7:51am in Bradenton near Long Boat Key. The branches from large trees are having a field day as their arms wave wildly amidst the strong winds. The rain is moderate, not heavy.... but winds are picking up speed. The streets are filling up with water because I can see cars heavily splashing as they drive by. This will mean that the smallers streets will be quite flooded as their drainage systems are not that good. Wilma sure is taking her time because I have read that landfall was at 6 am in Naples.
There goes the trees again with their wild arms waving madly. If I didn't have a brain to be afraid, this would make for a pretty good comedy. My apartment gets a full window view of the storm. In my mind, I am imagining that these trees could easily be uprooted and fly right into the living room. There would be shattered glass flying in every direction. The blood image rolls around, but I dismiss it promptly.... too intense. It sure would make a spectacular action movie scene though.