Archive | January, 2011

Going Underground

We’re going to be off the grid for the next week or so . . . no cell phone service, no internet, no electricity . . . thus, no blog posting. Check back in a week and maybe by then we’ll have finished our margaritas and be back on a normal posting schedule. But then again, maybe not. Who knows.

Monkeying Around

Monkey Jungle, Miami Florida

Lets face it, people suck. So when we found a place with the advertising tagline “where humans are caged and monkeys run wild” we knew it was going to be worth a visit.

Monkey Jungle began 78 years ago when six Java monkeys were released into the dense South Florida forest. Since then, the original troop has grown to more than 80 members, all of which run free in a 30-acre preserve. It is one of just a few protected habitats for endangered primates in the U.S., and the only one open to the public. The monkeys forage for food in the wild, but they also benefit from scheduled feeding times that encourage the critters to congregate for public viewing. In addition to the Java troop, howler monkeys, black-capped capuchins, and about 125 squirrel monkeys inhabit the park’s “Amazonian Rainforest.”

A total of 30 species of primates occupy Monkey Jungle, but not all have free reign. Many of the larger species, like orangutans and gorillas, reside in traditional enclosures. These exhibits, together with a small aviary, make Monkey Jungle feel more like a traditional zoo than it is. But the aviary, at least, is actually a sanctuary for pet birds adopted by a non-profit organization created to rescue abandoned parrots. Abandoned, no doubt, by people who suck.

Monkey Jungle, Miami Florida

Wasting Away Again . . .

Posting has been slow recently because we’ve been stuck on island time in the Florida Keys for most of January. This picture (one of my favorites from our trip so far) was taken from our bedroom window in Grassy Key. It’s hard to get motivated when just sitting here is so rewarding. I imagine we’ll have more to say on Miami at some point.  But at the moment I have more pressing matters to address; like finding my lost shaker of salt.

Meet Me in Miami

South Beach beckoned, and we heeded the call–after stopping for lunch al fresco at the French-inspired eatery La Sandwicherie–during our first Miami outing. The mythic stretch of sand and much-hyped celebrity playground was a nice but pretty much regular beach. No star sightings, just a lot of tourists like us enjoying the sun and surf.

We found intriguing scenery in north Miami at the Cloisters of the Ancient Spanish Monastery, which made a picturesque backdrop for Brian to try out his brand-new, fancy camera.

The church was constructed in Spain in the 12th century and, in 1925, purchased by William Randolph Hearst and shipped to the U.S. in 11,000 wooden crates. They languished in a Brooklyn, New York, warehouse for 26 years, until a buyer came along and had the cloisters reassembled in Miami. Like a giant jigsaw puzzle, each numbered stone was placed in its original location.

Glory Days

Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FLI don’t recall hearing “Glory Days” playing anywhere in the Kennedy Space Center, but Bruce’s little ditty about geriatrics remembering their prime could be the theme song for the place. It shouldn’t be that way. This is the departure hub for all U.S. manned space flight. You’d expect its visitor’s center to be an exciting showcase for NASA’s visionary projects that are pushing the boundaries of human capability and turning science fiction into fact. But instead, we’re treated to exhibit after exhibit of forty year old accomplishments. The place is mostly a tribute to the Apollo and Saturn rocket program, which, in case anyone is interested, ended in 1975.

One imagines that when Eugene Cernan left the lunar surface in 1972 he fully expected that in the coming decades we’d make the moon our bitch. He had every reason to. In the prior ten years we vaulted from an embarrassingly earth-bound rocket program to playing golf on the moon. If the same rate of progress held through the succeeding decades, today we’d be fouling its surface with upscale condominiums and using it as a trampoline for jumping to Mars and deeper space. Instead, we never returned. Nor did we go anywhere else, for that matter. Sure, everyone got excited for a couple of days when we landed a glorified Roomba on Mars to vacuum some space dirt, but as far as heroic space exploration, we’ve done basically nothing in my lifetime. And as much as the Kennedy Space Center serves as a rightful tribute to the heroes of the Apollo program, it also stands as a depressing reminder of how little we’ve done since.

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