I have heard it said that springtime at Shuangxi is yet lovely. I intend to sail there in a dainty boat.
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by AnotherChris  July 28, 2010 12:34 pm

So, as I indicated previously, I had tickets to the Antiques Roadshow on July 10th in Miami Beach. It was to be a short 7.5 hour drive, but three pretty significant accidents in Friday night travel traffic pushed that to closer to 9 hours. The last accident happened just before I reached it and a few of us on the turnpike stopped to help the couple involved out of their car and make sure they were ok. Surprisingly, considering how many times their SUV rolled, they had only a few minor scratches. Also, I met a rather nice lady from London (by way of Newcastle) at the Earl of Sandwich in Port St. Lucie and I hope she enjoyed her vacation in the occasionally lovely state of Florida.

After those bits of excitement, I made it to Miami Beach where I was surprised to find my hotel was smack dab in the middle of the historic Art Deco district. Miami Beach The lovely Wyndham Garden Inn was my residence for the weekend. The room was somewhat small, but the hardwood floors and mammoth bed were great and, as far as hotels go, this was one of the greatest I’ve ever stayed at. The elevator was wonderfully old with a pull cage door and despite the fact I usually hate elevators and was only on the second floor, I was using it constantly. Definitely an A+ for the atmosphere of the place. The famous 11th Street Diner was right across Washington Street and I was pleased to find they had Taylor Ham on the menu. Miami Beach Any of you from the north-east or with relatives up there will likely know what I’m talking about. The service there was top notch and the quality of the food was excellent. I highly recommend stopping there if you have the opportunity. After a spot of late night breakfast, it was time for bed.

Originally the plan was to get up early to get some pictures of the surrounding area before grabbing the painting I had brought and heading over to the Antiques Roadshow. Rather foolishly, however, I failed to set the alarm and ended up sleeping until almost 11. Once I finally managed to haul my carcass out of bed, I wandered back over to the 11th Street Diner for another Taylor Ham sandwich and then back to the hotel to get ready for the Roadshow. I grabbed my over-sized painting, camera bag, and iPad to keep me occupied in line, waited for the valet to bring my car and headed over to the Miami Beach Convention Center. Miami Beach It was rather windy that day and I nearly decapitated some poor senior citizen as I struggled my way indoors with all my stuff. Once inside, I saw that two massive halls of the convention center were in use. The first had the initial lines, broken up by ticket time, and the second housed the item specific (paintings, toys, etc.) lines and the actual filming set. I checked with security and found out that we were not allowed to take photos inside the actual set, which sort of negated the whole purpose of lugging my camera equipment.

With the massive crowd in the convention halls, the air conditioners were unable to keep the temperature down and we were not allowed to bring in outside drinks. Miami Beach - Aniques Roadshow It was understandable, considering the convention center does need to make money. But as I was by myself I couldn’t leave my stuff and grab a drink from one of the vendors set-up inside and after 7 hours of standing in the humidity I became a very close acquaintance of one Mr. Dehydration. There were some nice people in line and I had numerous quality conversations during my wait, and eventually I did get to meet with an appraiser. I wasn’t there to find out how much my painting was worth, instead I simply wanted to find out the artist. It being a piece of commercial art, the artist had used a pseudonym that was mostly illegible. I’m quite fond of the painting and wanted to try to track down similar pieces. Miami Beach - Antiques Roadshow Unfortunately, the appraiser was unable to locate any information for me but she did spend more than my allocated two minutes looking so I appreciated that. Instead of immediately leaving as my increasing thirst suggested I should, I lurked around the perimeter of the set and took as many pictures as I could before security asked me stop. One of the local volunteers was doing the same thing, but using a phone he didn’t attract as much attention as I did with the full Nikon rig.

The rest of Saturday night and most of the next morning were spent taking photos around the hotel before hitting the road around lunchtime Sunday. On the way into town, I noticed a sign for the ‘Morikami Japanese Museum and Gardens’. In the excitement of the Roadshow, I had forgotten about it until on the way back. Being suitably impulsive, I decided to stop. Lots of construction in Boca Raton, however, hid the sign at Jog Road and I ended up driving all over town before finally decided to stop and leech someone’s WiFi long enough to pull up directions on the iPad. After a good twenty miles of driving I finally made it there. Morikami Japanese Museum & Gardens The museum was beautiful on the inside, with display pieces dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries. Interestingly enough, they also had a big display of Kaiju with hundreds of figures from Godzilla and Ultraman all over the place. Unfortunately, there was no photography allowed in the galleries, so I headed out to the gardens to take a few hundred pictures. The walk through the gardens was about 7/8ths of a mile which would have been quite pleasant in the fall or winter. In the midst of summer’s iron grip, and still not fully recovered from my dehydration the day before, it was not as fun as I would have liked. I ended up having to breeze through the last bit of it rather quickly in order to grab a drink and prevent the evil Mr. Dehydration from gaining the upper hand again. Morikami Japanese Museum & Gardens All in all, it was a beautiful place and the people there were overwhelmingly helpful and friendly. Oddly enough, the only actual Japanese people I saw worked in the café. If you find yourself down that way, it is definitely worth checking out. You can get more information about the museum and the upcoming events there here: Morikami Japanese Museum and Gardens.

It was an interesting trip and the fine folks and the Wyndham Garden Inn, the Antiques Roadshow, and the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens made it tons of fun. More pictures of the trip can be found here, if you’re so inclined.

Overall, the whole shebang rated an easy A on the trip-o-meter.

Trip-O-Meter: A

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