Soul Food at SWIM near Miami, 1998-9
A 9-day trip into 1999
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1998 December 24
An ice storm struck! 400,000 customers in the Richmond-Petersburg area without electricity for days. We left just as the ice storm outages began, escaped from Virginia in our Utililitarian Sunrise Van and made it to Hardeeville, SC.
1998 December 25
Christmas Day found us at the home of a friend near Tampa where we relaxed and took a trip to the Withlacoochee River, reflecting the woods around it.
1998 December 26
We arrive at Camp Owaissa Bauer, southwest of Miami. We unpack, prepare to stay for a week, and attend the opening circle. It is a balmy night under a half-moon; we danced and sang songs at a campfire.
1998 December 27
Today we went out on a trail near camp and found some interesting wildlife there, as well as the openings to some caves. Later in the morning, someone painted my face with watercolors. In the afternoon we went to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and saw many cougar and a couple of tigers romping in a tub of water.
1998 December 28
We went to Miami Beach in a van to see the Art Deco architecture there. The buildings here, such as City Hall, have a definite style to them and are painted in unusual and pastel colors associated with the old TV show "Miami Vice". In the afternoon we went sunning and swimming on the beach as I watched the clouds billow up into a fierce thunderhead which pelted us with torrents of rain on the drive back to camp. When we arrived at camp, there was no rain at all!
At night we danced and gambled at our annual casino night where we gambled all of our play money away; it did not matter, we would get more!
1998 December 29
I went on a sailing trip on Biscayne Bay today. We went to a marina south of central Miami where we boarded a 30-foot sailboat to go out into Biscayne Bay. As we went out, we could see Miami in the distance. We went to just west of Key Biscayne and returned, stopping along the way for a swim in the middle of the bay. The water was never very deep, and at one place we grounded; however, we were able to shove out of that one. One of the sights was the Nixon compound on Key Biscayne; another was seeing several houses constructed over the shallow water on stilts.
1998 December 30
Today, even though we were south of Miami, we went even further south, south until we ran out of land at Flamingo. Today was a day for birds and alligators, like this one bugging his eyes at us when we ate breakfast at a wayside. Birds came in wild profusion, like this anhinga, or this collection of four birds in one tree. Plant life was abundant in the Everglades as well, including these flowers. In the afternoon, we went to the Fruit and Spice Park, which features trees of experimental fruits of all kinds.
1998 December 31
The next day we went to Black Point, known for its abundant supply of wildlife. We did not see a manatee this time, but we saw plenty of birds and I wandered out into the water which had submerged the tip of the spit at high tide. It was New Year's Eve, and we danced our way into 1999; when the New Year came, they played first "Auld Lang Syne", and then "1999".
1999 January 1
Now that it was 1999, it was time to go home. So we packed our stuff and headed on home, but not before we had one last closing circle. On the way home, we stopped to tour the NASA launch facilities at Cape Canaveral.
1999 January 2
We drove through the night, going further into the night and the gathering Northern cold, and into the daylight. At 11am on 1999 January 2, we made it back home. But it was a great trip, and we eagerly await next year's Southeast Winter Institute in Miami, which will be the largest Unitarian-Universalist gathering to greet the year 2000 and the millennium.
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