Thursday, May 30, 2013

Scenic run in Coral Gables

It's Joe again with a guest post for you! Keeping with the same theme as the past post, one of the things that I will miss most about Miami is the beautiful stretches of shaded sidewalks and scenic views in Coral Gables. Over the past three years, I have run over 2,000 miles through just about every block in Coral Gables. I'll have some nice running territory in Seattle, but I'll really miss the 7-8 month winter running season in Miami.

For this post, I made up a 6 mile loop through one of the most scenic parts of Coral Gables. There is some cool stuff in the southern part too but

Here is the link to the map of the route from May My Run:

The map of the route looks like this:

It starts and ends (green and red pins) at the corner of Almeria and Segovia. I finished this route in 65 minutes but it can be much faster if you aren't stopping and taking pictures all the time!

Here is the picture of the starting point:

This block is like many others in Coral Gables: it has the characteristic pink sidewalks and tree canopy. These trees are Mahogany trees: they keep their leaves year round and have large wooden seeds that break apart when they hit the pavement (or sometimes my car...). The best older trees are located in the northern half of the city, the southern half has younger trees that were planted after Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

At the 0.4 mile point (red star on the map) is the Coral Gables city hall with the statue of city founder George Merrick:

Merrick founded Coral Gables in 1925. He carefully planned Coral Gables and named it "City Beautiful" which followed the social movement by the same name which hoped to bring social order and a higher quality of live through urban design. Many of the buildings in Coral Gables follow the Mediterranean revival style and the streets are often named after cities and towns in Spain.

Just across from the City Hall, you can catch a glimpse of Miracle Mile, the main shopping district in Coral Gables. The business district is also located in that general area:

I prefer not to run in that area because there is too much traffic and too many people walking and texting and not paying attention to their surroundings.  Most of the restaurants are upscale, but Cibo Wine Bar is definitely the place to go if you want a nice dinner. 

Moving on, I then made a sharp turn and headed back toward the west to the Granada Golf Course (purple star on map) which is only 0.75 miles from the starting point: 

The golf course is my favorite spot for a short run, it is only about a 2 mile loop around the road that circles the golf course, Greenway Dr. This general area is very popular with walkers, runners, and bikers in the mornings and evenings. 

Following Coral Way, I reached the Merrick House historical site directly at the 1.0 mile pin on the map:

Merrick's residence was completed in 1910 and features a "coral rock" facade which is actually oolitic limestone. Real coral rock has actual coral fossils within it.  The oolite is porous and comprises most of the bedrock around Miami. The rock for this house and many others in Coral Gables was dug from what is now the Venetian Pool (see later in run). 

Merrick House is also located along Coral Way, which is one of the more scenic roads in Miami. Coral Way is lined with live oaks:

I followed Coral Way a few more blocks before turning right on Granada Blvd and heading back through the middle of the Granada Golf Course. The west side of the golf course features some amazing Banyan Trees (yellow star on map):

The Banyans are actually a type of ficus (fig), with large leaves and jungle-like vines. Unfortunately, Banyan trees do not handle strong winds very well, so they really shouldn't be planted in hurricane-prone Miami.

At 2.1 miles (green star), I passed the Alhambra Water Tower which underwent a full restoration in 1993 and just recently received a new coat of paint:

The water tower hasn't served any practical purpose since 1931 but it does look cool.

Just one block to the west of the water tower is a parkway called Country Club Prado:

I really like running on Country Club Prado because it is less crowded (traffic and pedestrians) compared with the nearby golf course. I didn't run through the whole parkway on this run, but it goes all the way up to 8th St. (Calle Ocho from the Pitbull song) and has fountain at the north end which is a popular place for wedding and Quinceanera pictures.

For this run, I simply followed the parkway south across Coral Way took a left on Sevilla St. Just past the 3 mile mark (light blue star) is the Church of the Little Flower:

I've never been inside but it opened in 1926 and is a historical landmark.

Just down the street from the church is Coral Gables' most famous landmark, the Biltmore Hotel (dark blue star on map):

The Biltmore is popular with tourist groups who like to take photos just to the left of where I took this picture. Rates start at $300-400 per night so we never stayed here, although rumor is that the weekend brunch is really good and at least somewhat reasonably priced. On the 4th of July, they set off fireworks next to the Biltmore and everyone sits and watches from the golf course behind the hotel.

Columbus Blvd, another one of my favorite roads, is located directly in front of the Biltmore:

Columbus has a banyan canopy and is close enough that I can reach it when walking the dogs.

From Columbus, I took a right on Almeria and followed it east almost back to the starting point. At Granada, I turned south and took a picture of the De Soto Fountain (purple star on map):

Directly adjacent to the fountain is another very famous landmark: the Venetian Pool. The pool originally provided the limestone for many of Coral Gables' historic buildings. Now, it is one of the more picturesque places in Miami, you can even rent it for special events and weddings. Since I ran in the evening, it was already closed for the day:

Just one block south of the Venetian Pool is one of the original historic buildings from when Merrick designed the city:

This is one of around 80 that were actually built. Originally, Merrick planned around 1,000 but the 1926 Miami Hurricane and the subsequent real estate market crash ended any hope of getting them all built. Unfortunately, Merrick also lost his fortune in the collapse and retreated to the Keys in 1928. 

The next part of the run goes through a residential neighborhood. It is one of my favorite areas for walking the dogs and features a few houses with impressive trees (can you tell that I like trees by now?). Sadly, one of my favorite trees in this section recently died and was cut down.

Eventually, around the 5 mile mark (black star on the map), I reached the Coral Gables library:

The library is surrounded by trees and a butterfly garden. Directly adjacent to the library is the War Memorial and Youth Center, which features a large field that is always crowded in the evenings:

At this point, I go a little out of my way to reach the pink snail statue at the pink star on the map:

According to the local papers, the snails are made of recycled plastic and were originally placed on Miami Beach. However, one night a snail somehow ended up taking a swim in the ocean, so they were relocated to Coral Gables. 

Segovia St serves as the home stretch for this run:

In the past two years, the city added a median, bike lane, and hundreds of oak trees to Segovia St. For now, it still has too much sun for my liking.

I'll really miss running through the Gables, if you ever get a chance to visit Miami, make sure to stop by Coral Gables and check out some of these landmarks.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Things I'll Miss and Things I Won't...

We have been in Miami now since August 2010.  We're leaving at the end of June 2013.  We're just two months shy of three years.  Don't worry, I'm not wishing to spend any additional time here!  The impending departure has both J and I waxing poetic on some things... and saying, "Oh my God, I won't miss this!" on other things.  So, I thought I'd do a quick catalog of what I will miss and what I won't miss.

I'll Will Miss You...
  • No snow.  I hated getting up early to brush my car off.  I hated driving in snow.  I had a couple of close calls thanks to a car that lacks ABS breaks.  I didn't like driving in fog, either.  
  • MY CAR! We're not taking it with us to Seattle.  I'm really mourning this loss.  To me a car represents freedom.  And I own it fair and square.  It is mine, and soon it won't be.  I have to learn stick-shift in order to be able to drive in Seattle because J's car is manual.  I hate riding the bus (I get terrible car sickness and the smell of buses makes me woozy) but I'm going to have to take it in to campus for work three days a week, so I'll have to get used to it.
  •  Free time.  I won't have time to tinker or read when I'm struggling to keep up in school work.  I did a good job of making the most of my free time in Miami.  I read oodles and oodles.  I also volunteered almost three hours every week.  I'll be happy to get some time to watch my favorite shows when I'm not doing school work, work work, or sight seeing!
  • Craft Night.  I enjoyed having people to craft with.  We didn't do it every week, but we did it fairly regularly and I liked feeling like a part of a family, even if it was for two hours on a Tuesday.  Crafting, for me, is enhanced by chatting while my hands are working.
  • Living 7 blocks from the library.  In Miami I learned how to request books and I utilized the service to the fullest.  It saved me a lot of money to borrow books.  Reading copious amounts helped ease my loneliness here.  In the last year and a half, I've kept myself so busy with reading and volunteering that I don't feel lonely anymore.
  • Living in Coral Gables.  It really is "City Beautiful."  The trees are gorgeous and I felt at ease living under their green canopy.  I don't know that I'll ever get to live in such a tree-filled neighborhood again.  The buildings are gorgeous and I'll miss gawking at them too.
  • Bougainvilleas.  Always colorful, no matter the time of the year.  Seeing as I don't plan on living in such a hot, humid place again, I will really miss them.
  • My 2 bedroom apartment.  We're downsizing and yet our fur-family grew.  While we strove to be minimalists, we still acquired stuff.  We're selling as much as possible, but sometimes I feel bogged down.  Where will this junk go in our new place?  This was also our first place as a married couple.  We made it home and all of the furniture matched and was new (thanks to wedding money and the reasonably priced IKEA). 
  • Croquetas.  It took me awhile to fall in love with them, but now I look forward to mornings when I have time to stop by Bustelo or even Publix for the $0.69 breakfast treats.  
  • LAN Pan Asian Cafe.  J and I go here on the regular and we've taken several people to it.  Yummy Asian Nachos.  Yummier sushi platters.  Great service.  Reasonable portions for a reasonable price.  It started to feel like "our place."
  • FIU Friends/Family.  The ladies in my office feel like my family away from MKE.  I've celebrated holidays and birthdays with them.  They've been there for me and laughed with me.  We've disagreed and we've made up.  They made me feel welcome in this hard city.  I'll miss some of the students I work with, too.  They were the closest to me, age-wise, so I always enjoyed chatting with a few of them.  I'll also miss some of the teachers.  Many of them did things to make us feel appreciated.  Many of them made me laugh.  I learned a lot during my two years in the real-world working.

Goodbye and Good Riddance to...
  • Rude Peeps.  This city is known for being really rude.  I'm not going to miss all of those people that acted like butt-munches.
  • Healthcare.  J and I received some really horrible service regarding healthcare down here (both of us, multiple times each).  My dogs get better care from our vet than we got from some doctors.  I do have two good specialists I see, but it took me a long while to find one of them.
  • Identity Theft.  South Florida is notorious for it and between J and I we've had our Credit Card/Debit Card information stolen/compromised five times.  So frustrating.  I hate the bozos who do that kind of stuff.
  • Dumb Drivers.  Okay, we don't have the worst traffic in the country, but I think we have some of the cruddiest drivers.  They pull fast and dangerous moves.  They are always on their phones or having animated discussions with others in the car.  I see a fender bender (or more than one) almost every day!  ..and I only drive to work and back and while keeping errands to a minimum.  The month I worked that terrible job in Fort Lauderdale frayed my nerves with the commute alone.
  • The Heat (temperature, not the basketball team... but I could care less about them too.) Oh. My. Word.  I am a sweaty individual.  My dad and brothers have the gene too.  But I'm a girl.  I'm not supposed to be this disheveled looking!  I avoided the outdoors so much that I'm really pale now.  The lightest colored Too Faced BB Cream is called Snow Glow and it is too dark for my pasty skin.  But I don't worry too much because it doesn't stay on me long since I'M SO DAMN SWEATY ALL THE TIME.  Ugh.  
  • Mold/Mildew.  It's humid and we live in an old apartment with cruddy A/Cs and no fan in our bathroom.  A neat-freak like me finds this to be a nightmare.  I know Seattle will have it's fair share of mold/mildew (everything is covered in moss there), but we're moving into a newer place that will have fans and less build up gunk.
  • DUST.  A/Cs seem to kick up a lot of dust.  My work desk is dusty and my house is dustier.  I now know that I cannot own dark furniture without going crazy.  It shows every speck of dust and cat hair.  We eventually shaved Tashi to cut down on her tufts of hair flying around and because she is hot too- she's sitting in front of the A/C as it is on full-blast as I type this.  In our next place I am planning on lighter furniture.  Hopefully there will be less dust.
  • Lizards.  They're fast and they make me nervous.  But their not fast enough that I don't see their little corpses once in awhile.  It totally skeeves me out when they get in the apartment.  Give me spiders and snakes any day.  Yuck.  Enough said.
  • Six months of summer.  I could file this away with The Heat, but I miss the change of the seasons.  Right, I know I said I don't miss snow.  But I miss colorful Fall and pretty Spring.  
  • Lack of Comfort Food Restaurants.  There will be too many of these in Seattle.  I'm going to have to practice self-discipline.
  • Lack of Quality Craft Supply Stores.  But, I won't have time for this stuff in Seattle, so, oh well.
  • Crummy Target Stores.  I don't know how corporate Target doesn't shut these locations down and start again from scratch, but I certainly hope Target is better in Seattle.  
  • Crummy Shopping, in general.  I have the damnedest time finding clothing that I like down here.  Here's to hoping I won't struggle as much in Seattle.  Also, shopping is the Miami past time, so no matter when you go you can count on the malls/stores being frustratingly full and you might have to pay for parking just to buy your junk.
So, there you go.  Things I'll Miss and Things I Won't... I'm sure I'll have more to add as the next month and couple of days progress, but that's how I feel for now.  :)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Garlands Galore!

Despite the craziness that is moving cross-country (while still working full-time), I've still been trying to make things.  I've been getting lessons from my Craft Night friend on how to use and maintain my sewing machine.  I made my own dust cover and I've started making garlands.  Garlands are very easy to make and they help me practice a basic stitch.  I don't have to worry about them being perfect and they are very fast. 

Pardon the terrible pictures, but that's what happens when you work on projects late at night and have cruddy lighting.

These are called yo-yos.  I did not make them.  My friend's sister made them out of vintage fabric before she passed away.  My friend generously gave them to me so that I could make things with them.  I think they are so cool and the fabric is really inspiring.

A picture of the whole garland.  It is very cute.  I can see why people like to make garlands for parties, showers, and kid's rooms.

This was the first garland I made.  It is just purple fabrics and felts cut into 2" x 2" squares.  It doesn't go with the colors in my apartment, but who cares, I'm moving.  Please pardon my dusty blinds.  I hate those blinds.  They are such a pain to clean.

Another garland that uses yo-yos, felt, and fabric.  This one has more of a mixed media feel.

The picture doesn't do it justice, but the color scheme is cute: purples and pinks.  I have mostly purple fabric on hand right now from my first garland, but I'm looking forward to making more with brighter colors.

Here is my dust cover!  My friend helped me sew it.  It is my first completed project that I didn't have to revert to stitching by hand.  And it helped me learn how to take the pieces of my machine apart so when I had a jam making the first garland above I was able to fix it myself at home.  

I'll blog about something more substantial later, but I'm proud of my little sewing projects, so I figured I'd share.  J will share a post about his unique perspective on Coral Gables through his long runs.  In the meantime, look at this crazy figure:

3600 views in the lifetime of this blog!  I started it in September 2010.  Who is looking at this website other than my friends and family?  I have no clue.  Feel free to leave a comment and say "hi" if you'd like.  I'm sure most of those clicks are people losing their way on the internet, but still, 3600 views!  Crazy.  Actually, most of those might be my mom. ;)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Slow Down, Rocket

Boy oh boy.  Work was sure crazy since I got back from Texas.  This last week it finally felt manageable.  In the meantime, my inner organizational fairy has turned into a nasty sort of sprite and has decided that it is better to kick it into high gear for the move.  I'm freaking myself out with the amount of time I have left.  "Why, Becca," a rational person may begin, "don't you have almost two months left?" To which I reply, "NAY!"  When I calculated it, I took out work hours, and then completely cut out the days where I do Craft Night, Volunteer, or have other obligations or errands in the evenings (because, hey, you know I still LIVE here).  Which sometimes leaves me with two work nights a week, plus the weekends.  Now, that would be fine, minus the fact that I'll be on puppy-duty next weekend and not in the least bit able to pack, organize, or clean as hard-core as I have been going.

I should let up.  I've done something to my back.  I didn't tweak it.  It's just this general achey sort of all over pain.  Perhaps it is the pain one experiences from working out?  I wouldn't know.  It's a deep pain where even sitting on the couch up-right typing this hurts.  I was working hard yesterday sweeping, dusting, organizing, packing, unpacking, repacking, evaluating, pulling things to be sold on Craigslist or Etsy or Amazon, stacking, piling, re-cleaning because I inevitably made a mess... and that was all after a full morning of running errands with J to get supplies for a garland I want to make and beads for a top-secret project I've been gladly assigned to and grocery shopping.  Last night I was so wired (AND sick with food poisoning - I curse you forever Chipotle) that I couldn't go to sleep until 2:00 AM so I just stayed up working on my secret project.

This morning I woke up and could barely get out of bed.  Of course my inner-jerk insisted that 7:30 AM was the last I'd see sleep.  I immediately got pissed off at how dusty my room was so I hobbled around sweeping, spraying, and dusting.  I wasn't kidding when I said my nice inner fairy turned into something more sinister.  Back off, lady!  I'm in pain!  But she's not satisfied, no.  After a trip to the dog park (to wear them out so we could get even more stuff done!) I set on listing more books on Amazon and revamping my Etsy page.  I've learned the hard way: take photos with natural light.  Your products look so much better.  That took me a few hours.  Feel free to check out my new stuff:

I added some of my story on my new About page:

Do you like the picture of Lily on my About page?  I haven't shared it on my blog yet.  Here is a better version of that picture.  She sometimes doesn't realize her tongue is sticking out.  It is so funny.  Silly Lily.  It is a very accurate portrayal of her personality.  She is so bubbly and loving.  Everything is automatically the best thing ever.

She reminds me of Einstein.

Here is another one of my favorite pictures of her.  I was working diligently on my computer a couple of months ago and she was not satisfied unless she was on my lap.  I really love the Photobooth option on my laptop because I can get a lot of candid pictures of the animals when I am cuddling with them.  This picture was an example of perfect timing. 
I am giving her a hug and hiding my face at the same time because I didn't look so hot.  God, she is the cutest.
Lily doesn't usually sit still long enough for cuddles, but today is an exception.  Sundays are dog park days (though we -and they- miss our friends that we used to meet up with regularly) and it wears them out.  It makes for a slightly calmer household.  Whenever I sit down, Ruby is right by my side.  It's like she and I have magnets in our bodies or something.  We're copacetic creatures.  She finds a spot that maximized body contact.  J knows that she sees herself as my BABY.

Ruby making herself as tiny as possible and sitting right next to me.  I had to hold my laptop above her to get this photo, but you get the idea.

My other cuddle monsters.  Oops, aim was off, got too much floor.
That's a better picture.  Lily had her front leg around Tashi at one point.  Tashi surprises me.  Now she gives Lily kisses.  There have been some changes in her demeanor since she lost her companion.
I think I am going to take a cue from my pets and take the rest of the day easy.  I hate feeling like I have no weekend when I get back to work on a Monday morning.  And I have obligations on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evening this week.  Sigh.  Plus, it is getting hard to type.  I went to lay down and animals shifted around me...