Formerly known as "Cruzers in Korea"

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Miami Vacation - Part 1

Tuesday, June 28, 2011
For me, a vacation ending is akin to having to eat a huge casserole of okra, popping a massive zit in the hyper-sensitive nose/upper lip area or running into a sliding glass door in front of a large group of people.  So no surprise that I'm writing this in a slightly depressed post-vacation stupor.  But like the great Dr. Seuss said, "Don't cry because it's because it happened."  Lots to smile about over the last couple of days with my brothers and sister and their kids while vacationing in southern Florida.

Before I forget, all you military folks need to check out the Armed Forces Vacation Club at  We used them for this vacation and it was simply awesome.  We stayed in a really nice vacation resort in Weston, Florida (near Fort Lauderdale).  Can't beat the price.  One unit was about 1500 square feet, two bedrooms, two kitchens, two living rooms and two bathrooms.  For a whole week, the unit cost $350.  We reserved two units for about a total of 3000 square feet, 4 bedrooms and room to sleep 16.  The Armed Forces Vacation Club has locations all over the world.  Check it out.  We're definitely going to use them again.

Without further ado, the summer antics of the Cruz family:

The pose at Fort Lauderdale beach.  This is right before my sister Darby saw a shark.  She had everyone hopping out of the water.  We even warned the lifeguard who proceeded to tell us that big tarpon like to cruise around the area and people sometimes confuse them for sharks.  I don't care what the local experts say, if my sister says she saw a shark, then it was a dang shark.  Fortunately, we didn't need to speed dial Roy Scheider or Richard Dreyfuss for their great white expertise.  No limbs were lost that day.  We did see a couple of brown butt whales though.

There are some fishing fools in my family.  Guilty!  Any good Cruz vacation will contain massive amounts of ripping lips of some largemouth bass.  Lee, we missed you bro.

My nieces have definitely caught the fishing bug.  That's Ariel on the left.  Or Ning Ning.  Or Ning the Merciless.  Or Ariel Assault.  Jena is on the right showing off the first catch of the trip.  Here's how much they love fishing.  They were getting up at zero dark thirty with me on most mornings to go fishing.  And were happy to do so.  I had a ball with them.  You can't put a price on the fish catching smile.  I was elated that they out-fished me on that day.

Jena showing off the big catch of the day.  Nice.  Notice her sporting the Bass Pro Shops gear.  Like I said, she loves fishing.

I caught this Mayan Cichlid on a spinnerbait.  These guys love nightcrawlers too.  Jena and Ariel were catching these guys all week long.

I caught this bass on a topwater Hula Popper.  Love the topwater.  I was disappointed that we didn't catch any Peacock Bass during the trip.  My brother Lee and I have vowed to take a trip to the Amazon to catch Peacock Bass.  Lock it in.  Championship.

Umm.  One morning, we had a visitor while fishing.  He didn't get too close but it's kinda spooky that the gators are out there.  Goes to show you how much the girls love fishing.  They still wanted to go after seeing this guy.  I won't even mention the snake.  No limbs lost this day either.

A nice bass caught by the fish whisperer.

One of my fears is that one day, I'll end up on the website, "People of Walmart."  Actually, I ain't skurd.  I love me some Wally World.  They've got live nightcrawler worms in the fishing section.  It would've been a different fishing experience for the girls without this great bait.   I'm feeling slightly more than redneck-ish because we hit Walmart three days in a row.  Notice the huge Extreme Big Gulp soda mug.  We used that thing as a worm cooler for our fishing.  Worked like a champ, although I highly recommend washing the thing before drinking out of it after a fishing trip.

Here's proof that we did other stuff besides fishing.  Nice picture.  The water was incredible at Fort Lauderdale.  We were thinking about heading to South Beach but decided against it in part because I forgot to pack my banana hammock.

Enjoying the beach with the boys.  It's moments like this that make the sand up the crack and the uncontrollable beach water nasal drip bearable. 

It's Super Ceej!

The pool at the resort was ginormous.  Very friendly hospitality crew too.  They'd go around handing out free popsicles for  the kids, had Wii games going on, bingo, water volleyball and other activities.  The most fun had in the pool though was the Cruz clan playing "Water Ninja." 

Jake first learned to swim in Miami from his Latin swim instructor that kept calling him Yacob.  Yacob seemed to have forgotten all of his swimming lessons while we were in Korea.  Fortunately, his aquatic skills have recently returned.  

CJ sporting the slicked back look.

The pool even had this nice waterfall.  Waterfalls are good for two things - jumping over in a barrel and serving as background for the pose.

Rachel Ray hit this empanada place for one of her shows.  We love it.

Some of the Cruz girls getting ready to chow down on some 'nadas.  

Only thing wrong with this picture is it needs about twice as much of the green chimichurri stuff.  We hit those empanadas, and we hit them hard.

Jake and Joel showing some cousin love.

I hadn't had this caprese pizza in years.  This is my favorite pizza in the world.  And yes, taking pictures of food is a Filipino thing - just like the rice cooker in the kitchen and the framed picture of the Last Supper hanging in the dining room of your Filipino friend's house.

We're not enjoying this food at all.

Eating together is such a happy event when the family gets together.

Jake lost one of his front teeth just days prior to this picture.  During the vacation, he lost the other front tooth.  He turned into a Jake-O-Lantern!

Alan, Danita, Jena and Joel - the Suffolk Cruz's.

Carol living on the wild side!  Don't do it!

That'll leave a mark.

The Honky Tonk Cruzers at the Riverfront in Fort Lauderdale.

Jake chilling with Uncle Awesome.

I photo-shopped some of the bird poop out of this picture.  Seemed like the right thing to do for my lovely bride.

Before this picture, I took Alan and Brandon to the Bass Pro Shop and Tate's Comic Shop as a diversionary tactic so Carol, Danita and Darby could set up for the surprise graduation party.  This picture captures us springing the surprise.  Darby even had the graduation theme music cued up.  Alan recently finished his degree from Liberty University and Brandon graduated from High School a few weeks ago.  

Congrats to Alan and Brandon!  Brandon will be joining the Army Reserve soon.  Boot camp!  That's Alan doing his Rodney Dangerfield "Back to School" impersonation.

Speaking of Rodney Dangerfield, he didn't get any respect but this pork shoulder surely did.   My brother Beanie cooked up this mouth watering lechon.  Amazingly, it was fat free.

To further escalate our pork intake for the evening, Beanie also made some delicious pork chops, complete with chorizo.  Add in some plantains, rice and beans for the south Florida flair and you've got a heck of a meal.

Gotta have a mojito while in Miami.  Darb says the steak sandwich at the Biltmore Hotel is incredible.
Well, since it's getting late and I haven't even mentioned Taboo, Zaboomafoo, Four Eyes, the other fishing expedition, the deck hand, Rick Flair and some other juicy morsels, I need to say, to be continued...

Hope you're having a great summer too.


Chuck Stevens

It looks like you guys had a pretty amazing experience. You definitely made the most out of your time! I'm busy planning a vacation to Miami for the family and was wondering what types of activities there would be to keep us busy. I could spend everyday on the beach but I know they'll need something to break up the days. I love the fishing idea and hopefully we can find some food that looks as good as the stuff you and your family were eating. I finally picked out one of the miami vacation rentals that works best for us, I can't wait to get down there!

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