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The Big Beach Walk, Part 2 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kim Ogren, BT Contributor   
March 2020

Fort Lauderdale to Surfside, and an ice pack for the knee

I Pix_GoingGreen_3-20did minimal planning for my highly anticipated saunter from Fort Lauderdale to South Beach -- 23 miles in two days. Daddy O’s popped up on my Internet search for overnight accommodations. It was kismet -- a small, boutique hotel with a very reasonable rate, located on an island I would otherwise never have seen, a few blocks from Surfside’s quaint downtown, roughly halfway through my walk, and with the same name as my nickname for my father.

I gave myself permission to view the state’s online beach access mapping tool to keep my options open.

I filled a small backpack with a change of clothes, toiletries, a camelback with water, and my copy of The Wander Society for continued inspiration. I checked the train schedules to make sure I could get to my starting point before noon so that I could end up in Surfside around dinnertime.

In the morning I walked out my condo and took about 100 steps before I turned around and emptied the backpack of everything except water and a camera.

The minute I stepped out of my Uber at the northern tip of Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park, looking out at the cruise ships of Port Everglades, and stepping into soft sand, I was relieved that I’d jettisoned all the weight from my pack.

Even though I felt far removed from anything I’d experienced, the easy MetroRail to TriRail to Uber reminded me I could access anything I needed at any time. It was striking that perfect balance between accessibility and adventure. With little effort, I’d walked one block from my home to the UM Metrorail station to the new intermodal center at MIA, where I transferred to TriRail and got off at the FLL stop. I waited two minutes for an Uber and took the fifteen-minute/$10 ride into the park. All told, it had taken about an hour to be on a beach I’d never seen before.

I stepped into a very warm humid onshore wind, navigating sandy paths in and out of the shady sea grapes. I felt like I was on the soft tropical Caribbean beaches of Costa Rica. I focused on a gentle but free stride, and within 30 minutes or so, my pain and stiffness subsided. Discomfort fell away and I felt easy in my body for the first time in a long time.

I took deep breaths of fresh air, felt the warmth of the sun, and watched the waves hitting the beach. Having those first few miles in a mostly natural setting was a nice way to start my exploration.

Then the kitschy beachside communities of southern Broward County opened before me. All through Dania Beach and north Hollywood, I shared Surf Road with other walkers and cyclists. Dania Beach reminded me of Venice, California, with its mix of gentrified and original houses on blocks. It was delightful.

Next I encountered Hollywood’s broadwalk -- the 2.5-mile destination for every mode of human and battery-powered transportation you can imagine. Walkers, runners, rollerbladers, skateboarders, bicyclists. There were recumbents, wheelchairs, strollers, and those walking bikes, too! It was a scene. Thousands of tanned, leathered retirees without much care walked or rolled by on the wide walkway. I enjoyed an unbelievable stage performance with a cane-swinging fellow crooning “Never on Sunday” into a PA system. Throngs of onlookers, sunbathers, and dancers enjoyed the scene.

Just before Hallandale, the sidewalk ended and the series of Trump towers began. I was relegated to the narrow sidewalks along a highway. Eventually, though, I arrived at the county line, after which, walking space narrowed more. A new sidewalk on the west side of the road in Golden Beach was enveloped by single-family homes, landscaping, and no beach access.

In Sunny Isles Beach, I was able to walk in the sand. The tide was lower, exposing packed sand. The condos on my right provided some shade. By Haulover Park, I was tired. My knee ached. My hips hurt. I looked for sidewalks, but I was trapped on the beach until 96th Street, which was my welcoming route to Bay Harbor Islands, just steps from Surfside’s downtown. I had a refreshing sushi dinner at a popular restaurant and checked into my room for the evening. (Daddy O’s is now The Landon.)

My “fakebit” read 41,749 steps, 17.95 miles. I was thrilled with this feat. After a hot shower, I rinsed and spread my quick-dry clothes on the air conditioner. I climbed into the big bed with tons of pillows and placed a bag of ice on my knee. Stretching out felt like heaven. I reflected on what a wonderful experience the day had been -- a solitary day in which I experienced that reverie I was looking for. A walk for walking’s sake. It was just what the doctor ordered.

 

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