New Smyrna Beach was definitely our next stop to visit Jimmy. We have stayed here before and there are two large parks that we were sure would have space. But no, it was again a challenge to find a spot near by and ended up in Oak Hill about 20-25 minutes south of NSB. Of course, we did not realize we were looking for a spot with our time starting right before bike week in Daytona… Riverwood RV Park is nice and right on the Indian River/ICW and Mosquito Lagoon. They don’t publicize the Mosquito part very much and they were not a problem until the last week. Guess that is part of the reason everyone leaves FL the first of April.
This has been a very therapeutic visit for us. It has been very hard coming to terms with Mom’s death, but, spending time with Jimmy in places she loved and sharing stories with him has been helpful for us. The stories are to numerous to share, but we can share a couple of the places.
I can’t believe I didn’t get a picture, but Pappas Drive In was their favorite breakfast spot and we enjoyed breakfast there most every day. Mom and Jimmy used to ride their bikes to breakfast at Pappas every morning during their winter visits. Every waitress knows them by name and the food is really good. They also still operate as a drive in with curb service and everything!!!
Another favorite spot is Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge on the largest barrier island on the Florida coast. It also houses the Nasa Kennedy Space Center which could explain the pristine condition of the island, it has been protected for a long time. Bird watching, manatee sighting and alligator counting are favorite activities.
Daytona was also a nice drive after breakfast, sorry I didn’t get pics of all the motorcycles during bike week, we avoided the busiest days, but got the gist. It is amazing how little beach is left at Daytona, they started the Daytona races on the beach before there was a track. So, they could at least make a circle on the strand. Picture below is at low tide, high tide the water is up to the sea walls. A lot of high rises with very little beach to share or protect. They did just have a hurricane so I might be overreacting, hope the beach has a great recovery.
The very south end of Daytona is the Ponce Inlet which separates it from New Smyrna Beach (Coronado Island). There are jetties on both side of the inlet. This is the inlet that feeds the mosquito lagoon and the northeast side of Merritt Island, southwest of that is the Indian River Lagoon and the next inlet south is around Coco Beach so the ICW and Lagoon waters travel quite a way from the ocean.
Driving on NSB strand is always part of the ritual. I really like the driving on the beach idea. Freeman park on Carolina Beach is much the same, but not as organized. Guess with Daytona and history in general they have learned some lessons Carolina Beach might want to look at.
One of Moms favorite activities was kayaking and we had the opportunity to kayak right at the campground with Jimmy, Diane and Ray. It was a nice paddle and even a manatee visited at the dock before paddling, mom checking up on Jimmy and us.
Our kayaking partners are very dear friend of Mom and Jimmy. Ray and Joni; and George and Diane have been wonderful years past and this year especially. We really enjoyed not just meeting them but getting to know them on this visit and we are eternally grateful for their love of Mom and Jimmy.
We are very fortunate to have had this time. The flexibility of retirement is amazing and very welcome. After spending so many years chasing the almighty buck, it is very refreshing chasing our horizons!!! Peace and Love!!!