I showed up for my boat tour about 45 minutes early in order to observe the other tourist as they arrived and be one of the first to board the vessel known as the Island Queen; Miami’s original sightseeing cruise. Folks began trickling in about 30 minutes before departure time and a crowd began to build as we got closer to our start time of 2 PM. I was one of the first to board after being greeted by the crew and our guide. I decided to search for a good seat on the upper deck so as to hopefully see more during our 1 & 1/2 hour excursion. I took a seat near the front of the boat and close to the side to hopefully see just below the boat just in case we were joined by one of the any dolphins that call these waters home. Note: Now you know why my favorite pro sports team is called the Miami Dolphins!
Our guide was a female who spoke good English so that concern was squashed soon after she introduced herself. We began our tour by heading north and by a yacht known as Fountainhead which our guide pointed out was owned by billionaire NBA owner of the Dallas Mavericks Mark Cuban. We then traveled under the Port of Miami bridge, pass the American Airlines Arena -- home of the Miami Heat Pro Basketball team -- and the new Museum of Science building on the left. We then traveled under I-395 which is in the process of a $80+ million-dollar expansion beginning in late 2017. It takes you to Miami/South Beach and is known as the MacArthur Causeway in honor of General Douglas MacArthur of World War II (1939 - 1945) fame. I crossed this bridge many times during my junior and high school years in the mid to late 1970’s and remember when the Goodyear blimp was parked where the cruise ships now dock on Watson Island.
Our guide then pointed out the new Arsht Center for performing arts northwest of the Venetian Causeway and mentioned that it was home to the Miami Ballot. The center is named in honor of Ms. Adrienne Arsht, banker and philanthropist. Next up and located just before the Arsht Center is the site of the old Miami Herald Newspaper which has since moved to Doral -- which is just west of Hialeah. I have several relatives who have worked at that newspaper since about the 1950’s/1960’s to include my late Uncle Israel Curtis who is the first Black pressman employed. His son (my first cousin) Kenneth J. Curtis worked there from the late 1970’s/early 1980’s until his recent death on Tuesday April 11, 2017. His sister (also my first cousin) Terry Curtis worked there from the early 1980’s until 2015.
Next we headed to Baker’s Drive Inn which opened in the 1940’s and the now famous city-owned Domino Park that is open 9 AM - 6PM seven days a week according to our guide. Can you guess why it is called Domino Park? They have a mural of some very interesting-looking men painted on the wall that should be worthy of a closer inspection. Dr. George then pointed out the names of some famous and some well-known Latinos that are inscribed into the sidewalk bricks known as the Walkway of Stars which began in 1989. I spotted the one that listed Sammy Sosa (Chicago Cubs) whose record-breaking pro baseball home run derby with Mark McGwire (St. Louis Cardinals) in 1998 is now mired in controversy due to doping rumors.