Friday, July 29, 2005

Parallel Universe

Moving sucks. As Russians say - oдин переезд как семь пожаров or something like this (after all, I haven't been back to Mother Russia for over eight years). The whole experience is like living in a parallel universe for a couple of days. In this universe you eat pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, use paper cups and plastic forks, and wear same T-shirt two days in a row. In this parallel universe everything is done on the floor - sleeping, eating, watching TV, and even typing this blog, since all the furniture is already in the truck. It's almost like urban camping experience - we sit in a semi-circle in the clearing, on the floor, surrounded by a forest of boxes. Ordinary stuff, like spatulas and silk orchids that stick out of the open boxes throw odd shades on the walls. The TV screen glows softly in the middle, drone of the "talking heads" is cricket-like. Kumbaya, oh Lord, kumbaya...

Until Monday then, boys and girls. Wish us safe passage and попутного ветра.

Monday, July 25, 2005 July

Ok, so as promised, here's the account of our trip to the Everglades.

So Everglades is huge, some one and a half million acres. Most of it is a total wilderness - no roads, no trails, no human presence. There's a 37-mile long two-lane road that goes through the park, from Homestead to Flamingo. Along it there are several stops, some more entertaining than others, that serve as getaways for hikers, kayakers, and even casual walkers. The guidebooks are quick to point out that Everglades are teaming with exotic wildlife, such as panthers, alligators, and rare birds. Of course, most of these animals are hard to spot (we only saw 2 alligators there). The one animal that makes itself known and presents itself in abundance is a mosquito. Somehow the brochures fail to mention the extent of mosquitoes' presence in the park. And naive tourists like us tend to trust the brochures...

Here's what one of the guidebooks says about a short trail accessible from the Royal Palm stop: "The Gumbo Limbo Trail, a 1/2-mile jaunt through a tropical hammock, begins near the end of the parking lot". Nowhere does it say that billions of mosquitoes that inhabit every cubic inch of space on this trail will mount an attack on you body. And the only ones who are bothered by the stench of the industrial strength insect repellent is you and your buddy. Oh, wait, no it's just you 'cause your buddy ran off at a fast clip, his mosquito-covered t-shirt disappearing in the dense hammock, arms flying wildly around his head in a vain attempt to scare the bugs away. The park brochure has the following to say about this experience: "DO NOT FEED WILDLIFE".

Anyway, we survived this experience and drove on to a famed Pa-hay-okee Overlook. No mosquitoes there, but no overlook either - it was closed for repairs. We decided to skip the rest of the stops and to drive straight to Flamingo. At first it was great - beautiful view of the Florida Bay, cute little cottages, small boats bobbing on the water. And then we got out of the car... Ok, here's me trying to hide from mosquitoes under a palm throng.

The moral of the story is Everglades sucks in summer.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Last Weekend in Ft. Lauderdale

Yes, it's almost time for us to move back to Daytona Beach - only 4 more days. I have mixed feelings about moving back. Of course, I'm glad because we won't have to pay both mortgage and rent. Plus I have friends in Daytona. The beach is much closer and a lot nicer in Daytona as well. But at the same time I feel a bit sad about the move, since there's always so much to do and see here!

So this weekend we decided to not waste any time on grocery shopping, cooking, or cleaning. Instead, we wanted to get out of the apartment and explore. We started on Friday by going to the movies to see the Island. Let me tell you, boys and girls, don't waste your money, wait for the DVD release. Here's a quick run-down: a couple of clones run away from an evil doctor/owner of a cloning facility. Of course, tons of stuff gets destroyed, a lot of people get killed quite needlessly, and the clones fall in love with each other. Basically, wakefullness (lots of action) without detectable awareness (no mental effort went into writing the script) - persistent vegetative state.

After the movie we went to the Sofa Kings Sports Bar, an R-rated bar with scantily clad dancers pretending to be naughty schoolgirls. Obviously, 11:30pm was too early for a Friday night, since the place was not too busy. But things started heating up as the girls played the Twister and danced on the tables. Our cash money ran out after the first round of drinks, so we couldn't tip the dancers. Watching them shaking their money-makers for free seemed a bit unfair to the hard-working ladies and so we left.

On Saturday we woke up late and decided to go to Miami Beach. I was anxious to re-visit the Art Deco distric and to show it to Chris. Once we got there, two things became apparent
1) Chris had no interest in Art Deco
2) It was increadibly hot

This left us with only one choice - to go to the beach. I'm not going to describe how gorgeous the beach was or how warm and blue the water was. Just look at the pictures.

And on Sunday (today) we went to the Everglades. Hmm, that's going to be a separate entry since I have a lot to say on the subject.

In the mean time, my brother returned from California and posted some really cool pictures of his trip here: Arkadiy's pictures. Check them out NOW.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

This Little Piggy

... we finally picked up our piggy. Now we can start saving money! Hurray, we're going to be rich now!!!! Except first we stopped by a beer-garden for some wurst (quite ironic if you think of it). And then we even had some gelato, which, by the way, did not taste much different from a regular ice-cream.

So, here's our little piggy, in all its glory. Chris painted one side and I painted the other. It's up to you to figure out which one. Shouldn't be too hard, right? Here's a hint, just in case: Chris is really into investments and my biggest hobby is travelling.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


FRIDAY NIGHT - Release of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince". We just wanted to see the crowds, so we went to the Barnes&Noble at midnight.

SATURDAY - we went to Joe Picasso's on Las Olas and painted some pottery. We chose a piggy bank so it would inspire to save money for future travel. But we had to leave our piggy there until Wednesday, so - no pictures.

SUNDAY - wanted to go to the Science Museum to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But all the shows were sold out. So we just walked around the Riverfront and looked at how we will live when we are millionairs (thanks to our new piggy bank).

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Dinner and Dancing

Traditionally, Wednesday nights are our coffee outings to a local Barnes&Noble. And since each small mint mocha frappuccino is 190 calories with 30g of sugar, it calls for an extra cardio prep beforehand.

However, I do get bored with regular jogs around the neighborhood. So today I tried Crunch Dance workout. Man, it sucked! I can't believe how uncoordinated I am. I got messed up during the warm-up! So I quickly switched the DVDs and finished strong with Crunch Boot Camp workout.

Oh, here's a quick vegeterian recipe:

Combine 2 cups of uncooked lentils, 2 14oz cans of chicken or vegetable broth, 1 1/2 cup of water, 1 cup each of chopped carrots, celery, and onion, 2 teaspoons of curry spice, 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, and some black pepper in a large pot. Bring to boil and let simmer for about 30 min or until lentils are done. Then drain. Mix 1 cup of light sour-cream and 1 chopped tomato and use as a topping on this dish. It's really tasty and very healthy.

I would love to write more, but the Daily Show with Jon Stewart is on. Gotta go.

Monday, July 11, 2005

A Trip of the Lifetime?

To all my friends and relatives that LOVE to travel - wanna pick it up a notch?

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Things To Do on a Rainy Weekend

The weather is pretty crappy this weekend because of the hurricane Dennis. Even though it's going throught the Gulf, it manages to bring rain and wind to the entire South Florida.

That's ok. We decided that it was time to do something more culturally elevated than snoozing on a beach blanket. And so we went to see "War of the Worlds"! All the future members of my not-yet-existent book-club would agree that the book is SO much better! However, cudos do go to Steven Spielberg for sticking to the original Wellesonian tripod machines equipped with death rays and for casting Dakota Fanning.
The one thing I learned from this movie is that in case of an allien invasion Chris and I are screwed. There's no way we can make it from Ft. Lauderdale or Daytona Beach to Boston (by the way, why Boston?).

Oh, another thing that I learned yesterday which might be of higher practical value is DO NOT BUY CHEAP SUSHI! A 6 rolls mix for $18.50 sounds too good to be true and it is.

However, you can never go wrong with free stuff. Even if it turns out to be crappy, so what - you got it for FREE. But there is nothing crappy about Museum of Art here in Ft. Lauderdale. And thanks to something that's called BankAtlantic, it's free for all any day of the week until the end of September.

Friday, July 08, 2005

The week is almost over

What a slow week! Even having a great 4th of July Monday did not help. I am not even sure that I can come up with the 10 great and more or less significant events that happened in my life this week...

EVENT OF THE WEEK: 4th of July

FOOD OF THE WEEK: Duck curry at Thai Thai restaurant

DRINK OF THE WEEK: IBC Cream Soda (down with the Diet version!)

WORD OF THE WEEK: SHUTUPik (Thank you, Dad)


HURRICANE OF THE WEEK: DENNIS and STOP WORRYING about us - it's going to Alabama.

THUMBS DOWN OF THE WEEK: Legal Seafood Restaurant because "They take great pride in making their dinner cost much." (Henry David Thoreau)