On our last full day in Florida, we decided to take a gondola tour of Fort Lauderdale's canals and the New River. Our boat was small, but quite comfortable, and it had a quiet electric motor, making it easy for us to hear what the captain had to say about what we were seeing. Fort Lauderdale has many canal neighborhoods where you can pull up to the house in a car out front and sail away in the boat out back, or is it the other way round? Most of this area was once mangrove swamps, and according to our captain, when the canals were dug, the dredgings were piled up and contained within seawalls made from hunks of coral reef taken from just off shore, thus making the neighborhoods possible. The thought of living coral reefs being destroyed so that vacation and retirement homes could be built, made my heart sink. I can only take comfort knowing that way back when this happened no one thought they were doing anything wrong.
We'll start our tour at the marina where some of the more modest boats were docked.
One of the first houses we neared had a royal poinciana (Delonix regia) blooming next to the water.
What goes better with an orange flowered tree, than a gold trimmed boat?
The house where this tree was growing is available for 9.9 million dollars, and our captain said it was most likely a tear-down. The ibis convey.
This is the garage end of another home...
... and the back door.
This one reminded me of a movie set.
This house below was once owned by the Anheuser Busch family. It is also on the market at the reduced price 14.9 million, which is about 2,487,479 six-packs of Bud.
This house came with its own carillon surrounded by a pool.
I found it interesting that the palms were going in before this house was finished (I guess the homeowners have their priorities straight). I was also intrigued at how they were being established. Look closely and you can see tanks at the base of each tree with a tube leading to the crowns.
I can't believe I am going to say this, but after a week of staring at full, plant-heavy landscapes, I actually liked the seeing a broad lawn in this one. I just wish they had been considerate enough to coil their hose so it was not in my photograph.
Our captain told us that rocks forming the seawall of this home are fossilized coral from the west coast of Florida, which I was OK with since nothing living was destroyed. He also told us that there were no palms native to Florida, but he was nice, so I didn't correct him.
If I lived here, I know where happy hour would be.
The swing also offered a nice view of downtown Fort Lauderdale and the New River.
If you would like to see all my gondola tour photos you can click here.
Although I really enjoyed my time on the water, it has left me pondering the nature of wealth, especially now that I am home and much closer to the other America. I do not begrudge anyone who has come by their wealth honestly, whether it came through hard work, shrewd investments, or even through the dumb luck of the maternity ward. But how can the same society have people living in a run-down trailers on Appalachian mountainsides, or in a homeless camps here in Norfolk, also have others with vacation homes and pleasure boats worth millions? I am in no way advocating any kind of redistribution of wealth, but I want to know how we can make it easier for those at the bottom to pull themselves up, just a little.
This is the last post of my Plant Geek in South Florida series, and I want to thank you all for tagging along and putting up with the occasional opinionated commentary. I think I may actually have to write about something closer to home next time.