Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Love Story

On this Valentine's Day, a great love story was told  during winter Olympic games

It was about Olympic Skeleton silver 
medalist Noelle Pikus-Pace. She retired after 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics wanting to be with her family and have more children. She had a miscarriage during the pregnancy of her third child, which was devastating. To overcome this devastation, she wanted to be pregnant again, but she took her husband's suggestion to return to the sport she loves and excels, to chase that elusive Olympic medal as a family. 

This is how they made it work. She trained at home: getting up really early to have endurance training, then taking care of kids, sending older one to school; weight training in the basement with younger one lingering around. When she went to world cup tours, the whole family traveled with her. On this Valentine's day, she finished her last run of the skeleton competition at Sochi, sensing that Olympic metal within reach, she climbed the stand to celebrate with her family, children in arms, kissing, hugging her husband, and keep shouting "we did it" "we did it".

I was so happy for her and her family that she realized her Olympic dream with.her family on this Valentine's day.

This story exemplified my belief that love in a marriage means being together, sharing one life. As we share our burdens, the burdens are halved, as we share our pain, the pain is reduced; as we share our joys, the joys are doubled, as we share our happiness, the happiness is amplified.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

South Florida Trip Plan

The main attractions at south Florida include Miami, the Everglades, Florida Keys and Florida Bay. Our trip covers only the Everglades and Florida Keys. The best time to visit South Florida is the dry season, or December to March.

Day 1: Fly to Fort Lauderdale (instead of Miami for lower airfare)

Drive to Miami area
visit Biscayne National Park (currently boat rental and many recreation service not available)
Stay at Florida city or Homestead for easy access to the Everglades National Park

Day 2: Visit the Everglades and Big Cypress Preserve

Morning: Mangrove Wilderness boat tour at Gulf coast visitor center - migrating birds and potentially alligators

Afternoon:  short stop at H.P. Williams Roadside Park - small and beautiful, wild life viewing; Loop                  road scenic drive 
                 short stop at Oasis visitor center - small and a lot of alligators by the canal

                 Shark valley visitor center  - beautiful, plenty of wildlife - alligators and birds
                                                          17 mile biking trail or take a guided ram tour 

drive to Key Largo


Kayaking in the morning

Snorkeling trip in the afternoon or 
Glass bottom boat tour to view coral reef in the afternoon

Day 4: Key West  (120 miles from Key Largo)

stops frequently on the way to view various roadside vistas

Bridges - 7 mile bridge and etc
Curry Hammock State Park - decent beach, good place for kayaking and/or camping
Bahia Honda State Park - a must visit: beautiful long beach
Key West 
- various vista - southernmost point, beaches 
- sunset pier to view sunset

Day 5: Key Largo

para sail in late morning
relax in hotel
ride with dolphin in the afternoon

Day 6: the Everglades - Flamingo Visit center

38 mile scenic drive various stops along the way

Anhinga Trail is a must–see! This .8-mile loop trail offers one of the best opportunities to view wildlife, including alligators and birds, up close

Flamingo - wild life viewing  - view alligators and crocodiles at one location, numerous migrating birds, manatees, boat tours

drive to Fort Lauderdale area for next day early morning flight - enjoy some Cuban cuisine  

Day 7 - go home

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are a chain of small islands (archipelago) extending from the southeastern tip of Florida peninsula about 120 miles southwest into the sea. It separates Gulf of Mexico on its west from the Atlantic Ocean on its east. The portion of Gulf of Mexico close to the continent is also called Florida bay.

Best things to do at Florida Keys for us include snorkeling, para-sailing, kayaking, strolling the white sand beaches, looking at the sea, enjoying the sunshine and sea breezes, and watching the sunset at Key West.

Our plan to have a snorkeling trip from John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park was not realized. It was a beautiful sunny day. But when we were trying to book the snorkeling trip we were told that the wave at the snorkeling area was high, and as novices we should not take the trip! Instead we took a glass bottom boat tour to see coral reef. The coral reefs were beautiful but the choppy water made the tour less than ideal. 

Kayaking along the shore in the maze of mangroves was fun.

 See how shallow the water is at some places near the shore at the park. It looks like a paradise.

The best place to parasail might be at Key Largo where, on a sunny day, one can see the Everglades and the Keys at same time. The day we went to parasail was a cloudy day. The rest of the family flew into the sky via the parachute and I stayed on the towing boat to take pictures. Parasailing was truly a thrill. I regretted my decision not to participate -now I have to wait for sometime for next opportunity.

When it is Sunny, the beaches along the shorelines at the keys are absolutely beautiful: white sand, coconut trees, and emerald green sea.

Watching sunset at Key West sunset pier was an experience unlike any other sunrise/sunset watching we had before - the sea, the birds, the sails and boats, the large expectant crowd, the atmosphere, and the spectacular process of the Sun disappearing from the sight.

Notes: Key is derived from Spanish Cayo, meaning small island