Such wanderings are on my mind today because last week I did some wandering of my own, venturing well beyond my Dania Beach condo for a few days. I did this for a very specific reason. Ever since I was seven-years-old growing up in suburban Detroit, I've wanted to visit Lakeland, Florida to watch my Detroit Tigers in spring training. After nearly 26 years as a Greater Fort Lauderdale resident, I finally decided 2015 was the year.
My goal was to see my baseball team fielding their grounders, shagging their fly balls, smacking a few in batting practice - and, I sincerely hoped, to meet my all-time baseball idol. The great Hall of Fame Detroit Tiger, Al Kaline. So I hopped on I-595 near the airport and headed west, out to the expansive Everglades only a half hour from downtown Fort Lauderdale. Still in Broward County, I slid on to U.S. 27 north and drove for the next five hours. I passed miles and miles of more Everglades before motoring into sugar cane country as I approached central Florida, then through endless acres of orange groves and still more acres of cattle ranches not far from the pretty lakes around Sebring. On the way, I spotted two bald eagles nesting high on a power pole. I stopped at a funky roadside restaurant in the middle of nowhere for barbecue beef. I rolled slowly through small towns and large farms until at last I landed in Lakeland. The weather was much colder than in Fort Lauderdale but I did my thing, watching my guys field their grounders, shag their fly balls, smack a few in batting practice. And yes, I actually met and briefly chatted with Al Kaline, who graciously posed with me for a selfie despite the bitter wind. I'm back in Dania Beach now and I'm very glad to be here. It's warm and sunny, my windows are open and I'm wearing a t-shirt instead of a heavy sweater and leather jacket. But my getaway was a reminder that tourists also may enjoy exploring during their time in Greater Fort Lauderdale. Exploring within Broward County, perhaps exploring some outside it too. Florida is a uniquely beautiful state - so come to Greater Fort Lauderdale, stay in Greater Fort Lauderdale and consider taking a short trip beyond. You'll discover that Florida really is only a short drive away.