Heading South

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March 8th 2019
Published: March 14th 2019
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So it's Spring Break time, and this year I decided that it was time to do the stereotypical thing for the week: head to south Florida. Specifically, I'm finally going to check out South Beach, but not for the party scene or even for the beach life. It's home to the largest concentration of Art Deco architecture in the world. And my loyal readers will remember how much I am in love with Art Deco. That is my motivating factor, and I was able to convince my buddy Jack to take the trip with me. It turns out that he has relatives in the area, so we're not going to have to pay for any lodging for the time we're in the Miami area. That's even more motivation to go to this destination.

The first two days of our trip have been pretty uneventful, but a couple of things were unexpected. We left on Thursday from Athens, around 1 PM. On the way south, we made an unplanned stop at Mercer University, my alma mater in Macon, GA. We were there for maybe an hour, but I had some fond memories. And it was nice to show it off to someone who had never been there. Lots of stuff has changed, but the old buildings were still there, and those were the places where a good bit of my formative experiences happened.

After that, we were on our way again, heading for Tifton. We had planned on staying there for the night, with my family, instead of going all the way to south Florida in one afternoon. And the evening was pretty relaxing, with free food and welcoming people. And when we got up the next morning, we stopped by Milady Bakery for their amazing donuts. They made the 4 hours to Orlando much more enjoyable.

Our first stop of the trip was at the University of Central Florida. Both Jack and I have a goal of visiting every FBS college football stadium. I had been to the stadium before, about ten years ago, but I hadn't had much time looking over the campus. The stadium also had changed names since the last time I was there; it's now called Spectrum Stadium. The campus is encircled by a ring road, so it's almost like an island that is contained within that road. It makes everything easy to find, though. We parked at the visitor center and checked out the student center, the library, and a couple of other large buildings. The school has only been around for a few decades (it was founded in the 1960s) but it has a large student population. Their student center has a Chili's inside, with a bar. We wondered aloud whether such a thing would even be permitted at UGA. It would certainly go over well with the students. We also checked out their campus bookstore, where I found my Spring Break hat for the week (a golden hat with UCF on it). It's my tradition to get a new hat at the beginning of any big Spring Break trip, and this one looked spring-y enough.

Then we headed back to the car to check out the stadium. On our way back to the car, we found Topper's, which is a different type of business than the one we were accustomed to hearing about in Athens, GA. This was a small ice cream shop on what we assumed to be the main quad near the center of campus. It had quality ice cream, and on one of the warmest days of the year for us so far, it helped cool us down. And then there was the stadium. It is much nicer than I remembered, but then again, since my last visit a decade ago, they have improved their standing in the world of college football--several conference championships, including claiming a national championship under quite dubious circumstances for the 2017 season. We had hoped to find some swag that had national champions written on it, but our quest was thwarted. We did get pictures of the banner displayed inside the stadium, though.

Our last stop for the day was West Palm Beach, where Jack's grandmother (and the rest of that side of his family) lives. It's going to be our home until Wednesday, at which point we will head further south to the Florida Keys. While here, our expectations are to relax, check out a few sporting events, and get some good eating done. While here, we get to enjoy the hospitality of Jack's grandmother. She had sub sandwiches waiting for us when we arrived, and we've got separate rooms, too. Apparently she's going to get breakfast for us every day, too, and has even offered to do any laundry for us while we are here. Looks like we have chosen wisely.

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15th March 2019

Florida in spring
Glad you are checking out all the Florida sporting opportunities.

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