|Photo Credit: LBTS|
This year in springtime, I enjoyed a two-week writer’s sojourn in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. During my stay, I laid my head on the pillows of ten different boutique lodgings that are adjacent to each other, a.k.a. Romance Row. I also took time to relax and reflect on my life’s passion – writing – and how the sea has always been my muse. It was romantic in the traditional sense, to be sure, as my beau also enjoyed part of this stay with me. But I also romanced the destination. Or perhaps more appropriately, the destination romanced me. I left a little of my heart in this seaside town. Here are my stories.
Sunday, April 17 - Saturday, April 30, 2016
Houses of Refuge
Florida’s east coast settlements have a long history of rescuing shipwreck survivors.
In 1715, a strong hurricane hit what is present day Vero Beach, shipwrecking eleven of twelve ships carrying treasure from the New World to Spain. Those who survived and made it to shore established a camp and received food and aid from local Indians, the Ais, who were hunter-gatherers. Today, the location of the camp can be found at the McClarty Treasure Museum just south of Sebastian Inlet.
Further south on Hutchinson Island stands the only remaining of ten U.S. Houses of Refuge built in the 19th century. Houses of Refuge were designated as havens for shipwrecked sailors and travelers. Today, it’s a museum listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Even further south sits a newer haven for modern travelers: Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Anyone wrecked from the daily grind can surely call the row of ten small lodgings in this Broward city “houses of refuge,” where locals are more than happy to help world-weary folks retreat and revive.
It's the Little Things
Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is a sweet spot I almost want to keep to myself, like a child greedily holding on to candy.
Sometimes, the quiet beach was enough to refresh my burnt out writer’s soul. The path of dunes guided me to the sea; she was beckoning me to listen to her simple song of waves and wind.
Sometimes, I craved company and ventured out from my comfortable beds to make friends with this curious and quirky place. I had to pinch myself. It’s as if I had I traveled back to a time before I was even born, some dreamy version of the 50s: I found exquisite homemade chocolates at a mom and pop shop, a seaside village square, a fishing pier, innkeepers who became family, food made with love and so much more -- the best of which was sometimes just nothing.
Nothing short of idyllic, really.
It took me a few days to decompress in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.
When you go into a dark room after being out in the bright sun your pupils adjust and you gradually begin to see things in the dark you couldn’t see in the light. My third eye, my intuition, opened up to the painfully obvious as I meditated in my cozy little apartments.
Lauderdale-by-the-Sea was protected by some miracle from the stressful grind I had just left behind in Miami-Dade, a place that thrives on a consumerist drudgery and gobbles up all my energy. The glaring absence of high-rise condos, massive parking garages, loud music and disrespectful people was truly liberating.
Yes, that was it: South Beach and Key West had the perfect baby, with none of the dysfunction of the latter city. Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is a functional haven for the Miami-wrecked because it has nothing to prove. It likes itself the way it is. I like it, too.
Houses of refuge, indeed.
Next story: Driftwood Beach Club
Disclosure: this travel experience was supported by The Lodging Association of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. All opinions my own.
All photos in this series by author unless otherwise noted.