I’ve said it before – March and April are my two favorite months in Florida. I’ve never been one to lay out in the sun, but I do love to walk on the beach and the Beach Walk on Miami Beach is lovely this time of year. It can be quite breezy with riptides, migrating sharks, and loads of jellyfish, all good for keeping the beach a bit quieter as far as I’m concerned. In this year of Covid, I am wary of the expected onslaught of spring breakers and those seeking refuge from the months of lockdown and frigid northern temps. But, I get it and understand their need to escape, I just hope they behave once they’re here.

Miami Beach is redoing its Beach Walk, removing the old wooden portion and replacing it with a wider, paved walkway. Trees are being removed and new plantings focus on more native vegetation with a goal towards added shade. Work is still in progress, and to check it out before the crowds hit town, we headed over on a weekday. Quite a few of the lifeguard stands have also been replaced, still among my favorite things to photograph, providing a good example of pics in natural light for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #138.

Lots of washed up debris provides a home to colonies of small sea creatures.

Illuminating Times

This week marks a year since our last plane trip home to Miami when life as we knew it changed. None of us could have foreseen we would still be in a worldwide pandemic a year later. I no longer predict or plan. Writing a travel blog without traveling is a challenge. I feel like most people don’t want to hear about places they can’t go right now (I know I don’t), so I’ve tried to keep these posts about things close to home or inspirational.   

Obviously, I miss travel, spending time with family and friends, or seeing a Broadway show. But as the months have passed, I find I long for many of the simpler pastimes I used to take for granted. Browsing in a book store, tasting free food samples, wandering through antique shops, sharing a Philly Cheesesteak sitting at a bar counter, live music, chatting with a stranger, and crowds. Yep, I even miss crowds, especially at the holidays.

Back in the Florida sunshine and receiving the first vaccine have made me more optimistic. This post illustrates that feeling, sharing some colorful pics from Illuminate Coral Gables. A wonderful, outdoor, carefully curated light exhibition throughout Gables’ downtown business district. There are eight distinctive displays and a fleet of wildly festive pedicab “fireflies”. If you happen to be in South Florida you can only catch the final few weeks, until closing on March 13. Lights are on Wednesday through Sunday from sunset until 9 PM, with an hour added on Friday and Saturday until 10 PM. Find a map and lots of info about the artists on the Illuminate Coral Gables website. If you miss this inaugural year, next year promises to be bigger and better, as originally planned before Covid-19.

Hang in there – and wear your mask!

Scanning a QR code at the entrance of this pedestrian street, allowed visitors to use their cell phones to experience an augmented reality feature among the 42 animal constellations hanging from the trees, in “Blue Light” by German-born postmodern artist Kiki Smith.
“Echoes of My Skin”, one of two installations by Caribbean-born artist David Gumbs, featured patterns that changed with pedestrian and traffic activity.
FIU Professor Jonathan Perez and seven FIU students put together this complex exhibit on the side of the Coral Gables Museum. “You Are Here” used video mapping and sound to look at the history of Coral Gables connecting that history with geography, climate, and ecology. I show a close-up here, so you can see some of the detail.
Ghostly images appeared through windows of empty storefronts along Miracle Mile, in “The Passage” by Chicago artist Joseph Clayton Mills.
A close-up of the wonderful “fireflies” by Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang.

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