It’s Squib Saturday. Time to share the best, most interesting (or most entertaining, or most outrageous) tidbit of information I’ve gleaned from all the stuff I’ve read –or done– this week. Today: Trump causes (a little bit of) traffic chaos for locals on A1A
I had not yet read the local newspapers or watched the local news on TV when I set out on Wednesday morning, for my 8am tennis game at Phipps, an ocean front Palm Beach Town facility. So, I had no idea how bad traffic would be. I wasn’t even sure Trump and family had arrived at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s winter resort which is also a private club.
Typically, I drive into Palm Beach from our condo on the Intracoastal across the Flagler Memorial Bridge onto Royal Poinciana. Driving past favorite restaurants, Cucina and Testa’s, I turn right onto South County Road, drive past the Breakers with its magnificent golf course spread on either side, and turn at the Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church (oldest house of worship in Palm Beach) onto South Ocean Boulevard. I then follow the narrow-ish highway, also known as A1A, around the shoreline with the ocean to my left and magnificent mansions to my right. To reach Phipps I need to drive past Mar-A-Lago. Here, the road is a two way lane, and there is no other route, at that point on Palm Beach, to drive South.
Safe Little World
My first novel, Scandal, was set in Palm Beach. This is how I described the town in my first crime thriller: “Residents of Palm Beach lived safely and securely in their own little world insulated not only by money, but also by geography. The spit of sand on which the town sat was bordered by the ocean to the east, and was separated from the mainland by the Intracoastal to the west. There were only four access routes into the town, three of them were bridges across the intracoastal that could be automatically raised by the police at the first sign of trouble.”
This week the local supermarket is selling champagne and caviar (see photo); town beach parking is $5 an hour (as it always is), and Jimmy Choo’s shoe shop on Worth Avenue has a window display of decorative macarons (see photo) which attracted shoppers (median age of Palm Beach population: 68.9) looking for pill boxes.
The town is considered a Republican stronghold. In the precinct where Mar-a-Lago is located, Trump took 64% of the vote — a dip, nevertheless, from 2012 when 78% of its voters went for Mitt Romney.
My Photos from Thanksgiving
On Wednesday morning, I saw the flashing lights of police cars and security vehicles as I curved around the road towards Trump’s estate. There were local police cars, sheriff’s department vehicles and black SUV’s alongside the road, and positioned strategically in the driveways of neighboring mansions. Traffic was moving slowly, but it was moving.
Available On Request?
I slowed as I drew parallel to the first car with flashing lights, and rolled down my window and asked if there would be actual road closures at any time over the weekend. The driver said, no. No closures –except when the President-elect was leaving or returning to Mar-a-Lago.
He then gave me a detailed schedule of the comings and going of the President-Elect over the Thanksgiving holiday so I would know when A1A would be closed, so I could take an alternate route to my tennis game.
Just kidding. Of course he didn’t.
Subsequently, the Palm Beach Daily News, known locally as the Shiny Sheet and local TV news stations produced reports about the security zones on the Intracoastal around Mar-a–Lago; about armed US Coast Guard vessels patrolling and escorting boaters who entered the security zones, about restricted airspace — — and about the vehicle searches of Mar-a-Lago members ($100,000 non-refundable initiation fee, and $14,000 annual dues ) who arrived at the club for Thanksgiving festivities.
Friday noon-time, I stopped at Bingham Island on the Southern Boulevard Bridge where local TV news crews had set up shop, lounging in fold-up chairs under canopies protecting them from the Florida sunshine. I had noticed less law enforcement activity around Mar-a-Lago. The armed US Coast Guard patrol boat seemed to be idling in the lagoon; fishermen were back fishing across from the estate grounds; and commercial jetliners were taking off from PBIA and roaring over Mar-a-Lago again.
I asked the group of newsmen if this meant Trump had left Mar-a-Lago; did they know if he had actually returned to New York that morning as originally planned? “We’re over here, and he’s across over there,” replied one of the members of the ever-vigilant local media, “we don’t know.”