Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Camino Real blog.

I didn't stay at the convention hotel during this trip, the Boca Raton Resort & Club, but at the Radisson Bridge Hotel, about a quarter mile away. On the whole, the Radisson was an ordinary hotel -- except that it was painted pink -- but I did have an excellent view from my balcony, which overlooked Lake Boca. All around the lake, which is really just an enlargement of the Intracoastal Waterway at that point, are clutches of high-priced properties, including condos, marinas and other hotels, including the BRRC complex, which is also pink.

I got to know that the route to the convention pretty well, walking back and forth on a sidewalk next to a narrow street called Camino Real, past the same condos I saw from my balcony. These properties were on the waterfront side of the street. On the other side, connecting streets sported cheaper rental properties. But probably not that cheap.

Walking along in the warm air was almost the only pleasure I needed on this trip, but it was pleasing to see the greenery, too, because South Florida is green even in January. I suppose it never really turns brown, short of a drought, and for that matter I'm sure the owners of the properties I passed would never let that happen. They'd drain the Everglades dry first, and probably are anyway. Just along the quarter-mile path between my room and the convention, I saw palms, banyan, cypress, funky southern pines, and a wide-bladed grass I never see up north, but which I remember from South Texas. Elsewhere I saw orange trees and bamboo.

The route to the BRRC crossed a small drawbridge over the Intracostal Waterway. A sign announced the Waterway as the work of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as I knew it was, and I had to wonder if those long-dead engineers had any inkling of the real estate value they were creating at that spot, most of it now probably in the hands of people busy being born in the decades in which the canal was dug. As far as the eye can see southward from the little Camino Real drawbridge are houses lining either side of the Waterway; big structures, and every jack one of them had a boat dock, and many had boats.

Often the bridge was up, or going up, when I wanted to cross. Boats of various sizes crossed under the open wings of the bridge. I did note, however, a sign that said -- I'm paraphrasing -- that if you were too lazy to lower a mast or antenna or something else on your boat that could be lowered, and still made the bridge go up for you, you'd be fined at least $1100.

On the west side of the drawbridge, the road opened up into a traffic circle, the only one I encountered during this trip. No sign of any kind indicated that the street heading north from the circle would take you to the BRRC. If you didn't know where it was, I suppose, you didn't have any business being there. The sidewalk leading to the Resort was also lined with greenery, passed a guardhouse -- the guard paid no attention to pedestrians -- and took you on to the full spectacle of the Cloister, or the original part of the BRRC. More about which tomorrow.



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