If you were to look at coastal Ft. Lauderdale from the air or perhaps on a Google map, it would look like a lacy doily. We have never visited a city that has so much internal coastline. All the manmade canals and waterways eventually connect to the ocean, but they offer safe and protected harbor for the countless yachts that are moored here. Since the 1930's anyone who's anyone has had a waterfront home here - movie stars, tycoons, and top athletes. The older homes are a bit more modest, but today most folks who buy a home here, knock down the previous mansion and build their own from scratch. Keeping up with the Joneses is the mantra here.
We bought an all day ticket on the water taxi (really a hop on/hop off boat) and toured the area with our jaws hanging open. Double digit million dollar homes with double digit million dollar yachts parked out front - each one more spectacular than the one before. Some yachts were just here for a visit; they only pay $1,000/night for the privilege of mooring. We looked hard for signs of the recession we are supposedly in, which has hit Florida especially hard. There were some for sale signs and some empty store fronts down town, but for the most part, life here appears mighty fine.
It was sad to hear that many of the fine residences we passed are rarely occupied. The people who own them are so wealthy, they have homes in other parts of the world and they only stop by occasionally. And then there are people like Bernie Madoff - three of his yachts were found in storage here. It is easy to speculate that some of the opulence we saw today could be from ill gotten gains. Nevertheless the views were amazing.
We're here during the low season between Thanksgiving and Christmas and things are so quiet, it's almost spooky. Down town the main shopping area was blocked off for cars as workers decorated for the holidays and that made it feel even emptier. It's always fun to see Christmas decorations in the tropics. They lay out white carpets to simulate the snow that will never fall. Booths with large inclines were set up to give kids the experience of skiing down a slope. And here we are trying to escape all that. The local weather forecasters are in a tizzy about the approaching cold front. That means it's going to be in the low 70º's. Hope we can handle it.