A funny thing happened on the way to a whiskey tasting in Ft. Lauderdale….
Last month I attended my 1st TBEX (travel bloggers exchange) conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. As the name suggests, the conference focuses on the craft of travel blogging although I discovered I learned the most (and had the most fun) during the pre-conference tours of the area. Not only is it your chance to explore what may be a new city, it’s also where you have a chance to really connect with fellow travel bloggers and learn tips, tricks and new ways of approaching your blog. If you’re considering starting a blog or you publish one now and want to take it to the next level, I would highly recommend attending next year’s event in Minneapolis.
Now, on to the funny part…
I signed up to tour the Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center followed by a tour of Whiskey Creek. I do love my Jack Daniel’s and although I had not heard of the Whiskey Creek distillery, I felt it would be fun to expand my pallet (and hey, I was on vacation!). As I boarded the bus in the morning, I mentioned to Kim Butler, our guide and VP of Marketing Communications for the Greater Ft. Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, how much I was looking forward to trying a new whiskey and copping a buzz before noon! Kim chuckled and gave me a quizzical look then ushered me on to the bus.
The Oceanographic Center tour was quite amazing and it was fascinating to hear all that they’re doing to save our oceans (more on that in a separate blog post). As we boarded the bus to head to Whiskey Creek, I noticed everyone putting valuables (cell phone, cameras, etc.) into a water resistant bag (as a certified diver, I own several of the dive bags they were using).
Then I heard someone mention how much they were looking forward to kayaking to which everyone heartily agreed. I interrupted the reverie:
What kayaking? Aren’t we going whiskey tasting?
Alas, my new friends erupted into laughter before clarifying that Whiskey Creek is actually a BODY OF WATER and NOT A DISTILLERY. Imagine my surprise! I then asked Kim why she didn’t correct me when I got on the bus and she replied “I assumed you brought a flask with you and were going to take a few sips as we toured around!” Well, there you go.
So instead of whiskey tasting, I kayaked Whiskey Creek and actually had a blast!
Running along the beach in John U. Lloyd State Park, Whiskey Creek earned its name during the prohibition era, offering hiding places for small boats smuggling rum and whiskey. We took kayaks from the aptly named Whiskey Creek Hideaway (call them to verify how to get there as their signage is terrible). The walk from the parking lot to the Hideout was certainly part of the fun!
Hard to believe that such a beautiful beach could be the site of such hatred. In 1954, a section of John U. Lloyd Beach opened for African-American South Floridians although it would take another seven years of pressuring authorities to finally build a road to the beach which became the North Ocean Road.
Finally, we reached the Hideout and after climbing in, we rowed for over two miles! Being the non-sporty gal that I am, I was quite proud of myself! Whiskey Creek is a narrow, lush tidal waterway lined with mangroves. It parallels the beach and the intercostal for about a mile and a half and the only visible signs of man are a few footbridges that provide beach access.
When we exited the canoes, we found a hitchhiker:
I was surprised at what a great time I had! If you’re looking for things to do in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, definitely add kayaking along Whiskey Creek to your list!