East Coast Florida: Stuart and Palm Beach

Driving from Fort Myers to Stuart Florida 

Making the three hour trip from Fort Myers to Stuart last Sunday I drove through the flat and scrubby middle of Florida.  I passed fields of cattle, broken down greenhouses, dilapidated buildings, and a few small, dreary towns.  Just as I was feeling particularly depressed, I came upon Lake Okeechobee, some decent RV parks,  and more interesting topography.  Past the lake, there’s a stretch of road covered by a canopy of trees, quite pleasant.  It reminded me a little of the Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland. Not as dramatic, or as beautiful,  but a pleasant change from the frankly ugly scenery of central Florida.   

Sunset from the CatTails

Sunset Bay Marina Stuart, FL – Sunset from CatTails

Sunset Bay Marina, West Palm Beach FL

I was taking a few days to visit old friends living on their sailboat CatTails in Stuart’s Sunset Bay Marina for the winter.  The marina is well named – sunset every night (just add the cocktails and good company).   They have a tradition they call “docktails”  sharing drinks, apps, sunset, and stories with fellow boaters.  Most civilized. 

After spending three days of retail therapy, sightseeing, and lazing on the boat drinking Rumchatas!  I’m off to Palm Beach to spend the day with friends in Palm Beach.  The drive from Stuart is a smooth 50 minutes south, but Palm Beach could be a different planet.  

Mounts Botanical Gardens of West Palm Beach FL

Our first stop was at the Mounts Botanical Gardens of West Palm.  We were there to see a particular exhibit called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea. The presentation consisted of 10 impressive sculptures interspersed throughout a lovely garden.

The sculptures were made entirely of plastic collected by volunteers from the ocean and beaches. Children’s beach toys, boat parts, nets, buoys, flip-flops, umbrella handles, sunglasses and so on were artistically attached to a frame depicting something natural from the sea. 

It was fascinating to see people (including me) spend several minutes on each sculpture identifying the various parts.  Most people were shaking their heads at the amount of plastic we each consume, much of it ending up in our oceans, not recycled.  Let’s try to buy less plastic,  be sure to recycle, and let’s encourage companies to use less plastic on their packaging!

Downtown West Palm Beach FL for lunch 

After quality time at the botanical garden, we headed for Palm Beach.  It IS a different planet, and Worth Avenue is the capital. Cars, oh yikes, cars – we first stumbled on a Rolls Royce illegally parking, Mercedes, Bugattis, Lamborghinis, and Bentleys were everywhere!  Then there are the women, dressed to the nines, perfectly coiffed and made up, I wondered at their uncanny ability to walk with an air of “notice me.”   The whole picture reminded me of the Rodeo drive scene from “Pretty Woman” – and I was Vivian.  The little boutiques were positively threatening.  (smile)  

We ate lunch at restaurant Bice, it was lovely, with all the trappings, but frankly, the food didn’t match the decor or the address.  The people watching was good though. 

Society of the Four Arts Palm Beach FL

After lunch, we drove the short distance to the  Society of the Four Arts a few blocks from Worth Avenue.  We were there to see an exhibit of Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art Through Paper, I had no idea what to expect, but it turned out to be fascinating.   The artist made everything from paper, not only the dresses but the jewelry, shoes, hats, and even the gloves.

Description of the Project 

The description from the Society Website … “Five hundred years of fashion are explored in the breathtaking art of Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave. Painting and manipulating mere paper, she creates historic fashions that are trompe l’oeil masterpieces. Each sculpture is inspired by depictions found in early European paintings or fashion collections from around the world. Rarely seen in the U.S., this exhibition presents quintessential examples in the history of fashion—from the Renaissance finery of the Medici family and gowns worn by Queen Elizabeth I, to the creations of the grand couturiers of the 20th century such as Frederick Worth and Paul Poiret. Borchgrave to create a gown inspired by a painting from Peter Paul Rubens, “Portrait of  Charlotte-Marguerite de Montmorency, Princess of Condé,” from ca. 1610.  Both the dress and the original Rubens portrait will be on view at the Four Arts. While de Borchgrave’s work has been seen throughout Europe for more than 20 years, this is the first time American audiences can see her Les Ballet Russe series. In addition, organizing partner Frick Art and Historical Center commissioned de Borchgrave to create a gown inspired by a painting from Peter Paul Rubens, “Portrait of  Charlotte-Marguerite de Montmorency, Princess of Condé,” from ca. 1610.  Both the dress and the original Rubens portrait will be on view at the Four Arts.”   Isabelle de Borchgrave Paper art

The work was vast and amazing. 

After a quick tour of the city (the Breakers, oh my!) we headed back to the marina, our little heaven.  Glad to be back to reality. 

 

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About

I'm in my sixties with the world at my feet and thoughts mostly of "where to next?". I retired in 2017, sold my house in Massachusetts and most of my furniture and "stuff." When not traveling you can find me in Florida in the winter and Rhode Island in the summer. Travel has been a passion from a young age, over the years I've discovered I'm a traveler, not a tourist. I prefer traveling solo, with a travel friend, or small groups. Whenever possible I would rather spend time in one place rather than moving around. I'll never turn down an opportunity to go to France, but my travels have taken me all over the world. I've met some incredible people and had some fantastic experiences.

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