There are places for me where I can't just pass through. Too many things or something so significant has taken place there that the mere mention will start a slide reel of moments. As I sit at the Beacon, contemplating a plate of shrimp and fish, reflections of our day at the beach take me much further back in time. I ate here as a small boy, ran down Flagler Avenue to the beach. My favorite burger to this day is at Breaker's, and I have loved every patch of sand that my sole has touched on this shore line. So much has changed that it hurts some times to reflect, and though the Beacon and Breaker's are mostly and gratefully intact, to my knowledge, no one has filled the void of other lost hangouts. Goodrich's, Sea Harvest, and Sea Treasure have all gone the way of the dinosaur. There are places that have filled that real estate, but not that feeling. I can no longer find a fresh fish sandwich that is so big that I can first remove a filet and eat it on the side before enjoying the rest. All that back then was at a lower price too, and it wasn't just quantity, it was well prepared. I keep staring out this window and I wonder if so much time has past that I no longer recognize some of the faces on this avenue. Hmm, and I wonder, with all this gray, the many pounds and worried lines, does Volusia county still recognize me?
I took the girls to a place that someone long ago had decided was worth protecting. As we walk along the boardwalk at Smyrna Dune Park, I listen to group in front of us, complaining about how barren this is, how hot and ugly the dunes are. One of the women said she wished they would have just gone to the pool. I also wished they had, because to me this is beautiful, and both the dunes and the mangroves are essential. This is the reality of a healthy environment, not the high rise where your pool is at. The mangroves are filtration and home to a myriad of fish, crabs, birds and other life. They, along with our estuaries, are the nursery for many of the fish and shell fish we consume. The dunes are our first line against weather, and it is there, in the many burrows, that you will find Gopher tortoises, the Eastern Diamond back, and land crabs. It is beautiful once you really open your eyes.
The inlet is fantastic, and here you can look across to the light house on Daytona side. There is a nice park over there on the north side of the inlet as well. The tide is moving out at the moment and the water is actually quite nice. We had tried to get in to the Springs earlier in the day, but it hit capacity before my car could make the booth. I love Rock Springs for the cool water, but this was nice, not hot and not cold, very easy to adjust to.
The girls wanted to wade out to the temporary island, or sandbar, so we loaded up our stuff and headed out into the inlet. We saw some blue crabs as we crossed the tidal pools and talked to a fisherman, who said the same as everyone else, they were only catching catfish.
Me and the girls were enjoying the water when a man and two women, identifying themselves as from Michigan, expressed to us some concern about what was in the water. Apparently one of the women had received a nudge by something in the water and she pointed to a dark figure that had moved over to me and the girls. I told her it was probably just a manatee, and stood up to where I could see better, and waited. They had seen news of a gator attack before they came down from Michigan, and so they asked if there was anything to worry about in here. I told her I had never seen a gator this far up inter-coastal, but there are multiple species of sharks. Her husband had apparently told her there were no sharks here. We waited and sure enough he had to breathe, so he came up, and we were rewarded with some relief and a beautiful manatee. The old fella had barnacles on the side of his face and other areas of his body. His tail was cut, and why he chose this spot I don't know, but he stayed around us for quite some time.
Ah the jetty, it was such a magnet to me as a kid. It was crawling with little crabs, a pan fish hook and a hand line would help you probe it's little caves. I watched a woman and her children look for treasures with their dip net. I remember, you could sometimes find a seahorse, an octopus, or file fish. It is a place to take care though, as my girls saw the hard way at a Gulf inlet. A young boy was playing on the rocks and fell into the many mussels and barnacles there. He was bleeding from head to toe, and could not stand on his cut feet. I picked him up but could not traverse the rocks with the extra load, so I jumped in to the water and carried him to his family. Nature is not without her teeth and thorns.
Drew, old eagle eye, found this urchin tucked inside the rocks. So many of the animals in here gave but a glimpse or a notion that they were there, but moved away too fast to get a picture or identify.
It was hot, and I could sense that my sunscreen had not held up so well, so we made the trek back down the walk. It is a beautiful boardwalk and definitely a wonder place to have your exercise in the morning or the cool of winter. It is a fun place to spend the day, wet a line, swim and explore. There are layers here to discover and knowledge of tide and time of year are helpful if you like to catch fish. Take care on the rocks, but don't leave without a peak into them. You may be surprised.
Forty years old and still in awe of the outdoors.