So when we got off the plane in West Palm Beach and walked outside, I was shocked at the temperature. I mean, I know that people winter in Florida because of the weather, but as we walked outside it was 82 degrees and humid and suddenly the pants and light sweater that were a bit cold in New York were much too warm. Tanya and Bucky, Aviva's parents, picked us up and we drove back to their place in Boca Raton. Their home is in a golf club development, meaning that all the houses are built around a golf course and every backyard offers a nice view of a different hole. Bucky and Tanyas was no different (though I would not see this until the next day), with a beautiful view of the course just past the pool and the beautiful flowers).
Although we got back to their place around 1230 am, Bucky was still eager to show me around their beautiful house. The place is gorgeous, full of large, well-lit rooms, beautiful art work and sculpture and brightly-colored, plush furniture. The was a lot of art work, Bucky is a collector, and a number of fantastic sculptures and other things, including this wonderful Asian style metronome.
We went to bed and woke up around 1030, just in time for the full body massages Bucky and Tanya had gotten for us. Terri, their massage therapist, is a family friend and she spent a good hour on each of us. Gotta say, I have not been that relaxed in a long while. While Aviva got rubbed down, I sat in the kitchen with Tanya and housed two wonderful mangoes. Once Aviva was finished it was Tanyas turn, and while she was being massaged, we grabbed some food. Tania always has the best fruits and vegetables in her fridge, and after we ate we headed out to a nearby mall to pickup some camera equipment I needed.
When we got back, Bucky was sleeping and Aviva, Tanya and myself headed over to Morikami, a massive Japanese garden about 10 minutes away from Boca. The grounds were beautiful, containing several rock gardens, a bonsai garden, a series of interlocked streams and large ponds containing carp, turtles and otters. Aviva and her mother walked ahead and I took pictures, playing with my new filters, and enjoying the incredible scenery. The collection of bonsai surrounding the museum in the center of Morikami was pretty incredible, with a variety of different trees. We spent around an hour cruising around the gardens, then headed back to her parents and took a quick nap before heading over to some friends of Aviva's family for Shabbat dinner. Dinner was great, and so was the company. Their kids were 5 and 3 and incredibly cute, saying the motzi and the blessings over the wine and spending the evening playing with an incredible variety of toys and electronic games. We hung out for a few more hours and eventually went home around 2330, where I did some research on the Everglades for the trip I would be taking the next day and then we all went to bed.
The next day I woke up and spent the day in the Everglades, wandering around different hammocks between Homestead and Flamingo, taking pictures of alligators, tons of birds and lots of (for me) odd vegetation. Aviva got up and bit later and went to a tennis lesson with her mom and then shmied around in the afternoon, helping her mom prepare for a dinner party that night and hanging out with her friends Kate and Sam, who were staying for dinner. When I got back around 630, I quickly cleaned up and then joined everyone for Bucky's incredibly strong apple martinis. Aviva's Uncle Steven and his wife Sandra had already gotten there, and soon her other friends, Jeremy, Kim and Ben showed up. Dinner came soon after and it was a wonderful, raucous affair, with lots of wine and shouting and fantastic food ... of particular note was Tanya's brisket, which was amazing as always (Aviva had to beat Uncle Steven back from eating all of it immediately just so everyone could get a single piece of brisket), of which there is never enough. Much wine was consumed and everyone got tipsy and more rather quickly, yelling about what food they wanted next and trying to find space on the table to put one of the many plates of turkey, sweet potatoes, stuffing or vegetables. Uncle Steven would bellow periodically from his end of the table, demanding this or that, and various discussions sprang up loudly between just about everyone about just about everything.
After dinner there was a gender-divided game of Cranium in which I did not participate (needing a few minutes alone with myself and my nice Balvenie Doublewood). I would have joined later but the girls were kicking ass just then and I think they just wanted to continue to crush the guys. We all hung out through the end of the game, in which the girls triumphed, and soon afterwards, Jeremy, Kim and Ben took off to head back to Miami. Kate, Sam, Aviva and myself hung out for a while afterwards, watching V for Vendetta until about 2 in the morning and then went to bed.
The next day, after I accidentally walked in on Kate and Sam in the bathroom (fortunately they were only brushing their teeth), we all hung out for a bit in the guest room. Kate is quite a photographer, and she gave me a lot of pointers on photography while Aviva and Sam chatted. Tanya and Bucky got up while we were chatting, and the six of us went to an amazing brunch at the communities clubhouse. An omlet bar, a waffle bar, a salad bar, hocks of ham and turkey, mountains of bagels with lox and whitefish, and fantastic desert tray. It was a wonderful meal, not just because of the food but again because of the truly excellent company. After brunch, Kate and Sam took off for Miami and Bucky took a nap, while Tanya, Aviva and I walked the 3 mile loop around the neighborhood. Once we got back, Aviva and I took a quick dip in the pool, then I took a shower and Aviva hung out with her dad in the backyard for a while. Then it was back to Palm Beach Airport (a surprisingly clean, fancy airport with a golf course in the concourse) and back to the grind in the Bronx.
A perfect, relaxing weekend away ...