Scenes from our vacation, part 2: Skunk apes, swamp photos, South Beach, and supper

Skunk apes

From lunch at Joanie’s Blue Crab Café (seen in the last post in this series), we continued down the Tamiami Trail to our next stop: Skunk Ape Research Headquarters.

Those of you not from Florida may be asking: “What’s a Skunk Ape”?

Simply put, it’s Florida’s answer to the creature of popular legend known in other places as Bigfoot, the Yeti, or Sasquatch. It’s described as a large ape-like creature with glowing eyes and a strong, unpleasant, skunk-like stink. Skeptics have said that it’s probably a misidentified creature, possibly a black bear or an escaped orangutan.

But not Dave Shealy, who’s behind Skunk Ape Research Headquarters. He says that when he was ten years old, he had his first of three confirmed sightings of the creature, and for the past 30 years, he’s been researching these mysterious creatures.

Depending on your point of view, Skunk Ape Research Headquarters is either an amusing sideshow tucked into the Everglades or an overlooked center of serious research. If you’re having trouble deciding between the two, ask yourself this question: how many places of serious research have a gift shop as their lobby?

The place also has a reptile and exotic bird exhibit, but we simply opted to stick to the gift shop, where I made this purchase:

I thought I might need it for a second line of work when this “computers” fad blows over.

More on Skunk Ape Research Headquarters:

Swamp photos

Another unexpected gem in the swamp is the gallery of photographer Clyde Butcher, who’s famous for his large-format black-and-white photos of the Florida landscape. If you’re ever going down the Tamami Trail, make sure to stop by the gallery and get a look at his gorgeous, giant photos that so wonderfully capture the beauty in this state.

We talked with the people at the gallery and learned that Butcher recently suffered a stroke. The told us that he’s resting, recuperating, and raring to get back to what he loves and does best as soon as possible.

This is a gallery in a swamp in Florida, so they’re entitled to a little swap humor in their gift shop. Perhaps I should’ve bought this T-shirt:

Further reading:

South Beach

The Tamiami trail evaporated into Miami’s suburbs, and soon after that, we were on the bridge to Miami Beach, where we arrived at our hotel, the Cavalier:

The Cavalier is one of the art deco buildings on Miami’s South Beach, and it’s gorgeous not only on the outside, but on the inside as well. Here’s its lobby…

…and here are a couple of shots of our room:

The Cavalier doesn’t have its own parking, so we had to put the car in a lot a couple of blocks away, which gave us a chance to quickly explore the neighborhood…

…but we couldn’t do it for long, because we had a dinner appointment.

Find out more:


We caught up with our local friends Bob and JR for dinner at the “wood fired, Asian inspired” restaurant KYU in Miami’s arts/hipster district, Wynwood.
KYU is one of the hottest restaurants in Miami; Miami New Times has said that it’s quite tricky to get a reservation between 7:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. at the place, no matter what day it is. Luckily for us, Bob and JR are pretty well-connected, and landed a table for the four of us at 7:15 on a Saturday night.

KYU gets its name from both the English word barbecue and its Japanese equivalent, yakuniku (it literally means “meat on the grill”). They have a lot of great food here — we ordered plenty and shared it family-style — but what I was interested in was the Thai fried rice. Here’s Miami New Times’ description:

A signature dish at Kyu is Thai fried rice, which pairs well with any of the barbecued meats (duck, brisket, baby-back ribs, and short ribs). Lewis didn’t want to fry the rice in a wok, so he took a cue from the Korean favorite bibimbap and decided to prepare it in a stone pot — then have all the ingredients mixed tableside. The result is crispy and crunchy rice with a lovely element of creaminess. Guests can enhance the dish with king crab or pork sausage, though the latter was devoid of any interesting flavor.

We had the king crab version, and it was amazing.

If you want to know how good the food at KYU is, take a look at these happy diners’ faces:

Bob, Anitra, JR, and me.

Bob, Anitra, me, JR.

Recommended reading:

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