Following Hurricane Matthew - Winter 2017 travel blog

Ponce lighthouse

out buildings

a long climb

view of Daytona

inland waterway

freeing a sting ray

beach entrance


more gulls

even more gulls

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more gulls

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beach drive

The coast of Florida is lined with light houses. In these days of automation and GPS, many of them are obsolete and have fallen into disrepair or disappeared entirely. But the lighthouse at Ponce Inlet, just south of Daytona Beach is a jewel that has been lovingly restored to its former glory. Its color is unique - the same brick red as the bricks that were used in building it. It was run by a staff of three keepers and they and their families lived in separate homes that have also been restored to their former look. Each home functions as a museum, highlighting the history of the place, the hair raising rescues conducted from here and what life was like around here from the 1880's until the 1930's. The site also has a collection of ramshackle boats that Cubans fleeing their country used to float to freedom. Initially, they were very flimsy because they expected to be rescued by our coast guard as soon as they were out of Cuban waters. More recently, we had a "wet foot, dry foot"policy and Cubans had to reach US land in order to be able to stay. The fact that some boats came ashore here so far north of Miami, floating with the Gulf Stream was chilling to contemplate. Of course, since Obama begun the process of normalizing relations with Cuba, they are able to apply for visas and immigration just as citizens of other countries do, unless they are Muslims, of course.

We went to the Daytona board walk, which was kind of a snooze. The roller coaster was not even running. Perhaps this town doesn't get going until later in the spring. It looked like the local shops were gearing up for Bike Week. The weather here has been wonderful, but we know that it can be much colder in February. People were fishing from the pier and one man caught a sting ray, a fish he had no intention of keeping. It nearly snapped his pole as he walked it toward the shore, beached it, and removed the hook from its mouth. It was great to see it swim away as soon as it was free. He was careful to avoid its stinging tail.

Another "must do" in this area is driving on the beach. This must be a gold mine for the communities here. A day pass costs $10; an annual pass $100. The driving lanes are well delineated and the speed limit 10mph so that people laying on the sand with their beach towels don't get smooshed. By the time we finished the drive the gulls began to return to the beach from their day at the garbage dump, so we had to stop and photograph them again. The huge flocks of birds kept coming and coming. Mind boggling.

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