This blog continues with more of our time in Miami. Even though it was Spring Break time for college students, we decided to drive to Miami Beach. Rather than taking the interstate or turnpike, we took the scenic route Old Cutler Road. The drive was beautiful with huge trees including banyan trees as well as azaleas in full bloom. When we entered the Miami Beach city limits we began to see cruise ships and the traffic picked up. We drove down Ocean Drive and as expected it was pretty crazy with throngs of scantily clad college students crowding the restaurants, roadways and beach. We drove to the northern end of Miami Beach where it seemed a little calmer and after only a little time stalking for a spot, we found a parking space. There was a very nice boardwalk sheltered from the sun and we found walking on it much more appealing than the crowded beach in the hot sun. Pictures sometimes really are worth a thousand words so I will let the pictures do the talking. One college student from Kentucky managed to get in Bill’s picture. He told us he hated going back home to the cold weather the next day. He said he had had a great time in Miami but had also made some bad decisions. Sounds like stories I don’t want to know! Along the boardwalk we passed big hotels including The Fountainebleau, featured in the 1964 James Bond movie “Goldfinger”.
On our last day in the Miami area we visited the Gold Coast Railroad Museum. The museum is on the site of the former Naval Air Station Richmond, the largest coastline airship base built for World War II. The museum featured exhibits of passenger cars, locomotives, freight cars and cabooses. Many of the trains were open to tour and some had exhibits inside on the history of train travel. Our main reason for wanting to visit the museum was to see the Ferdinand Magellan, a National Historic Landmark and the Pullman car built for President Franklin Roosevelt and used by the president beginning in December, 1942. The train also carried Roosevelt’s body back to Washington after his death. The car has four bedrooms, a dining room and an observation lounge. There is 5/8 inch steel armor plating, three inch bullet proof glass and two escape hatches, one in the ceiling of the observation lounge and the other in the side wall of the shower in the presidential bathroom in the center of the train. At one time there was a special elevator installed on the platform for Roosevelt’s wheelchair but that was removed after his death. This train was also the location where Truman held up the famous newspaper headline declaring “Dewey Defeats Truman”. Four presidents used the train, with the last official use ending in 1954. Ronald Reagan used the train for one day in 1984 during his presidential campaign as part of a whistle stop tour. Due to extreme deterioration of the interior, tours of the inside have been very limited. But we asked about seeing the inside and the guide graciously offered to unlock the door and let us walk through. It was amazing to walk through the car and imagine the history that unfolded there. The guide told us Roosevelt’s casket was placed on the dining room table and we could visualize presidents waving from the platform. The inside smelled very old and much restoration still needs to be done to preserve this piece of history. According to the museum’s brochure they are waiting for funding.
We ended our last day in Miami by having dinner at Casavana, an excellent Cuban restaurant.
From Bill Baggs State Park to Biscayne National Park to touring Miami Beach to historic Gold Coast Railroad Museum, we had a great time in Miami!!
Next stop: Fort Lauderdale