Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Miami: Cuban food, Pan Am, Marlins

My parents have a goal of attending a game at all the Major League Baseball stadiums. Every other summer or so, Eryn and I hit the road with Mom and Dad to check a couple off the list. (Brad isn't a baseball fan and stays home to save his vacation days for more exciting things like mountain climbing)

This year we planned a swing through Florida and Georgia. And because three of us work in schools and don't get vacation time, it has to be in July. Florida in July. Ugh!

We flew July 8 - the day the entire United Airlines computer system went down. SO... we ended up getting in really, really late. And because our 2-hour layover turned into a sprint-to-the-next-gate-and-beg-them-to-reopen-the-door layover, we didn't get dinner. We landed in Miami and drove to the nearest 24-hour fast food. McDonald's Filet-O-Fish at 2:30 a.m. eaten in the rental car because we were starving. Prefect!
Fortunately, that ended up being the only big logistical snafu.

Up the next morning for oatmeal and a quick treadmill run. Had to make sure and keep the streak going!
We didn't have anything planned other than seeing the Marlins play, eating Cuban food and seeing some Pan Am stuff. Alana, a University of Miami grad and my friend from my TV days, suggested Versailles in Little Havana.
The line out the door told us it was the place to be!
No non-meat options, so Eryn and I went for seafood. I had the fish filet (huge!) with yellow rice and sweet plantains. It was very good, especially the rice:
We were totally stuffed but had to try the flan for dessert:
Then we made our way to South Beach - the land of the beautiful people! We lucked out and grabbed a parking spot right by the beach. Then we had to put our feet in the Atlantic Ocean. No one had suits, so we settled for standing in the very warm water:
Just gorgeous!
See all the seaweed? It was really different from the stuff we have here. Kinda tickled our feet:
Then we decided to check out how the 1% lives. These mansions have YACHT parking - like full-on ocean-going yachts. Mom looked up one home for sale and it was $12 million! And each driveway was filled with very high-end cars. We were stunned at the wealth.
It pretty much dumps rain each afternoon in Florida. We had our first encounter on the drive from the island to Marlins Park for the main attraction. Fortunately the storm was short-lived. 

The funniest thing was the stadium neighbors who were charging $10 a pop to park right in their front yards. Several generations were in the street flagging down drivers and then lining up cars across the front of their homes. We gladly paid to park right across from the game.
We had excellent center-field seats:
And Ichiro plays for Miami!!!
Miami: check!
Friday was Pan Am day. But first, an easy 6.25 miles on the 'mill:
My grandfather spent his career working for Pan Am, a true commercial-airline pioneer. Having grown up flying with his father, Dad has always loved the now-defunct airline, which had it's East Coast hub in Miami.

Another company purchased the Pan Am International Flight Academy and kept the iconic name. There was a little store/museum inside, so we had to go:
Dad was so happy to be there!
Tons of photos and artifacts:
A model of the 747, one of the planes Grandpa flew:
Grandpa was the flight engineer, the third man in the cockpit. The pilots sat in those front seats on the left, and Grandpa sat right behind them at that huge panel of dials and gauges and such:
Dad wanted to take this home:
Dad bought a bunch of books and a couple trinkets. All smiles :)

Next was a store that has some Pan Am displays:
Then we went to Miami City Hall, which was the Pan Am seaplane base back in the day. (source) Stunning views:
The city across the bay:
The decoration next to "Miami City Hall" is the original Pan Am logo:
After our Pan Am adventure, it was time to hit the road for St. Petersburg for Friday night's Rays game...


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