I finally became a pure tourist in the last day of my California conference trip. Although having transferred flights at San Francisco for quite a few times, this is actually the first time I stepped out of the airport and paid a visit to the city. Golden Gate Bridge is for sure, one of the must-visit sites. There are two things that you can always be impressed by California, the nice weather, and the beautiful flowers. And luckily I got both when I visited Golden Gate Bridge!
Walking along Ocean Drive at South Miami Beach. Miami is in many ways different from quite a lot of other cities in U.S. — the (always) warm weather, the laid-back attitude that you can smell in the air, the tough driving styles on the highway. No wonder Miami has the nickname of “the capital of Latin America”. I guess this is also why it’s always one of the top tourists’ destinations in U.S. It’s just an escape from the normal routine life — get tanned on the beach, enjoy some cool and “colorful” drinks at some random bars alongside the street, and maybe observe people come and go, imagine what kind of life they have behind them.
The second national park I visited in U.S., Everglades. It is well known for being the habitats for numerous precious species. During our visit, we saw various kinds of birds, fish and plants. But the two highlights of this trip: For the first time, I saw so many crocodile at the same time. Apparently, there are many subspecies of crocodile, and south Florida, including Everglades, is the only place in the world where American crocodile and alligator coexist. We even heard the sound of crocodile (kind of scary)! And, when we took a boat tour inside the park, we saw a fisherman caught a shark! Wow!
Yet another sunset. At Key West, the southmost part of US continent. People were waiting along the Mallory Square Dock for the gorgeous moment, and as usual, this is the best time for buskers to earn cheers and applauses — they dressed up as wanderers and sang with their guitars in their carelessly decorated “shelter”; they danced, laughed and embraced you with all their Latin America enthusiasm. And then came the moment. Most surprisingly, just at the moment that the sun fell below the horizon, all the birds (and they were a lot!) — which apparently hided somewhere before — flew out and soared in the sky. Amazing!
A couple of my college friends in U.S. planned a reunion party at Florida in March. Personally one of the highlights of this trip is the journey heading to Key West — the southmost island of U.S. continent — through U.S. Route 1. I’ve heard so many friends who had taken this fabulous drive telling me how enjoyable it was when you drove on the highway while being surrounded by the crystal-clear sea. And it was indeed very impressive! At some moment I almost felt that this highway was endless and we were driving into the deep center of the sea. The sea water was definitely the clearest I’ve ever seen after I came to U.S., which often reminded me of the sea at Sanya, Hainan. U.S. Route 1 actually connects many islands (“Florida Keys”) on the southern coast of Florida, and you can also get off the highway to take a visit at the islands — We had a tight schedule though so we had to drive directly to Key West, but we still got many chances to “window-seeing” those interesting sights, like the Seven Mile Bridge.
St. Augustine is said to be the nation’s oldest city. First explored and built by Spanish, you can almost smell the “European air” while walking in the streets: the Spanish architecture, the slow pace and the leisurely life. Among a number of sites to visit in St. Augustine, Castillo de San Marcos is a special one with its unique architectural design: It’s the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States and now it becomes a U.S. National Monument.
An exploration of the Great Tampa area starts with a walk along the white sand beach in the Honeymoon Island State Park (though it’s a pity that we can’t get access to the Caladesi Island via ferry due to the strong wind), followed by an unexpected lovely “journey” to a Hawaii-style family restaurant and finally ends at the stunning fabulous sunset at Clearwater beach. Clearwater is known for its incredible sunset, and surely it doesn’t disappoint me! The cloud is a little bit thick that day so the sun hides behind clouds most of the time, but as a “compensation”, we get an amazing evening glow!
A late September walk on the upper Gorge Trail in the Robert H. Treman State Park. The foliage began to turn into different colors, yet it’s still a couple of weeks from the peak time. There are tens of waterfalls along the trail, and this one probably has the largest drop — I can’t really take the waterfall as a whole in the picture, and here it’s probably only one thirds of it!