Friday, June 01, 2007

Biking to the Caribbean

Biking to the Caribbean may seem impossible. Because of the rich cultural diversity of Broward County, the Caribbean is almost as close as my doorstep. Want to join me on a bike trip to the Post Office?

This is the road just beyond the gate of International Village. I stay on the narrow sidewalk. Inverrary Drive is a two-lane road with lots of speed bumps, so I am pretty safe here. You can see a faux English Tudor structure on the left. The cinderblock apartment buildings are identical, except for the Disneyfication of the exteriors to vaguely resemble various European architectural styles – Marseilles, Bordeaux, Inverness and so on. A lot of these details blew off when hurricane Wilma came through in 2005, but the exterior repairs go on and on.

The ride gets dicier at the intersection where Inverrary Drive meets Inverrary Boulevard. When we find a name we like, we go for it around here. It’s kind of like Atlanta, where at least half-dozen streets seem to be named Peachtree.

Inverrary Boulevard is a four-lane thoroughfare with a grassy median. Cars mostly ignore the 30-mile-speed limit. There is a bike lane, but knocking down bikers is good sport in Florida. Our state took high honors for greatest number of bicyclists killed by cars in 2005, 124 out of 784 nationwide, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics reported in the November 21, 2006 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Three bicycle riders were killed during a three-week period at the time of that report.

The bike lane ends, but a sidewalk lies just beyond this entrance to another Inverrary subdivision of small homes with garages. Residents can have dogs there, which I would like to do.

This water feature, pictured below, with its rocks and flowering plants add a note of serenity to the ride. It’s a popular spot for newlyweds to have their wedding photos taken. The clever landscaping hides a major intersection just a hundred feet or so away.

Oakland Park Boulevard, left, is a six-lane divided highway with right-and-left turning lanes, thus eight lanes in most places. Run for your life! I mean it. Drivers are so mean that the traffic lights are calibrated to show you how many seconds are left to get across the road, like an electric-chair countdown. I walk my bicycle across intersections, my parents’ voices ringing across the decades.

I have to cross one intersection from the north to south sides of the road, and this one from the east to west side. See that little piece of white cement at the other side of the road? Look closely. Yep, there it is. It’s a sidewalk. Despite the heavy traffic on Oakland Park Boulevard, I will be able to finish the trip on this sidewalk and relatively safe access roads. I do not have a death wish. But maybe I should wear a helmet. There are maniacs out there on these roads.

Here is the strip mall that houses our little local post office. Not Caribbean enough for you? What about the Creole Diner and Juice Bar? The little store that specialize in island music? The ten-buck nail salon? Or how about the seafood restaurant where the men cook blackened fish on grills made from oil drums?

I stop at the So Loved Market before heading home to buy a bottle of water. Click on photo to enlarge to see sign. Amazingly, I see someone I know at the laundermat. Last summer, in brutal heat, I gave an elderly woman at the supermarket a drive to her apartment because she is nearly blind. She is such a sweetie pie, and I haven’t seen her since. She peers into my face but remembers me quite well. Her vision may be going, but she is still sharp as a tack.

There are two waterfalls and a small pond at this entrance to the subdivision, directly across Inverrary Boulevard from the pond I shot earlier. It is another great favorite of brides and grooms for their photos.

I am almost home. Once I turn on Inverrary Drive, a head wind combined with the slight incline is too much for me. I walk the bike for a while, until the ground levels. My packages are mailed, I’ve gotten some exercise, enjoyed my trip to the Bahamas, and had a nice chat. Mission accomplished.


Anonymous said...

Watch out for them gators. They'll tear ya apart and eatcha.

clifflad said...

From "Cliff" - Plymouth UK. An interesting site as I recently bought a condo on Inverray drive (The Manors) and walk up to Publix and around daily when there. Only recently gave up cycling after bypass surgery. Will be out in early March with my partner and 19 year old granddaughter. Send an e mail -"" and drop round for a cup of good English tea.