my thoughts while on sabbatical
I guess I’ve been having so much fun that I haven’t had a chance to catch up this blog in a few days: since last Tuesday it looks like (Mexican again on Tuesday, same place as last time). And it’s not a bad thing that I haven’t written, because I’ve been having so much fun: the weather’s been great, for instance; and the beach here is amazing. It’s known for it’s large “swash zone” and so there is a lot of sand at high tide, or did I already say something about that in my last blog entry? Its been so long since I wrote I can hardly remember what I’ve said.
Since its been almost a week since I checked in, I probably should go back through the days and recall what I can remember about each one, which at this point will probably just be the basics. Tuesday should be accounted for on the last blog as that was the day of Ezekiel’s surfing lesson.
Wednesday we had a beach day in the morning, if I recall, and then took naps and headed to Orlando to meet Dad for dinner and see Sweet Honey in the Rock at the last night of Assembly worship. Traffic was awful, and we ended up taking some side streets and though we left much earlier than we had the time before we met Dad at about the same time as we had on Sunday night.
We went to an inexpensive pizza place inside a pedestrian mall area near the convention center for dinner and then to the convention center for the concert. At first we sat in front of the regular worship band about three rows back and I was excited to get “good seats”. Then, a few minutes later, I connected with Maureen and she told me that Sweet Honey was playing on the other side of the stage, so we changed seats and got where we could see the main event live.
Bob was with us for the concert, though Sweet Honey looked a lot skinnier than they have in seasons past. They were pretty overtly political about the Treyvon Martin situation, which, considering we were only a few miles from Sanford during the week of the verdict, you would probably expect them to be. We saw a few friends, and then left Bob thinking that we’d see him the next day and drove home, not getting back to Ormond Beach until about 11:30 pm.
The next morning we walked on the beach as a family (I think it was “miniature purple jellyfish day”) and when I went back in to check my phone Dad had texted to say he was sick and was going to drive straight home instead. We stayed on the beach and in the pool all morning. Actually, we spent a lot of time in the pool that morning because Eden finally learned to swim on her own with her floaty device on Thursday, and we played in the pool with her as she got more and more comfortable with it.
We had been planning to see the rocket launch on Friday morning, and we had seriously discussed driving down the night before and staying near the launch site so that we wouldn’t have to get up so early in the morning. I wasn’t sure what to expect: 100’s of people?; 1000’s of people?; 10,000 people? We looked at several places to stay in Cape Canaveral and Titusville, and I almost pulled the trigger on one with a heated pool. Finally, I called the park service and asked what I should expect that morning, and she told me that so long as we were at Playa Linda Beach by 7:30am we should be fine. So we decided just to stay at our place in Ormond Beach (its so much easier just letting the kids sleep where they are accustomed to sleeping) and get up early in the morning for the launch. That night we went out to eat (Hull’s Seafood Market and restaurant again, best fried shrimp ever) and put the kids to bed early.
Friday morning Niki and I got up at 4:45am, showered, got the kids up, and left at 5:30am. We stopped at McDonalds in Mimms(?) for breakfast, and drove into Titusville before entering the state park headed towards Playa Linda Beach. It was a $5 entrance fee at the gate, and the ranger told us that we could park at any of 13 parking lots along the beach, although with kids we would want to avoid the “clothing optional” part at the north end accessed by lot 13.
We chose to get out at lot 1 and walk south to the fence that bordered the space center. I carried the beach bag and chairs and it was a long walk for Niki and Eden. We were some of the earliest arrivals, but probably about 300 people were there all told. We set up our chairs at the fence so the kids could see and the kids and I splashed around in the water for 45 minutes or so until the launch time. Several military helicopters passed overhead observing the crowd.
When it finally came, I was looking down at the camera and so I missed the split second moment of ignition, but I looked up to see the rocket hang in the air for a moment after lift off and the blast through the clouds (there was a lot of cloud cover). We heard a huge roar, and then we saw another glimpse of the rocket through a space in the crowd and the smoke cloud it left behind was reminiscent of the Challenger disaster.
Eden was very entertained walking back on the beach, and we decided to drive back north along Highway 1 towards Port Orange, where we would access the A1A south towards what turned out to be the tallest lighthouse in Florida. It took awhile to get there but it was well worth it. I climbed to the top (200+ stairs) holding Eden and it was pretty scary because I was anxious not to let her fall. We took some great pictures and then drove back along the A1A though Daytona back to Ormond Beach. Kids nap time, early dinner (Alfies, right next door, best fried fish I’ve had here), back to beach in the evening as per our usual routine.
It was fun Saturday to be here at the pool and the beach while most people were checking out (Saturday is hump day around here). We asked the kids to go to the beach first, and immediately we saw something we’ve never seen before: the sand fleas crawling around through the sand in the little water pools that formed in the surf. Saturday was a terrific beach day for the natural setting, and Ezekiel and I took a nice long ride on our boogie boards down the beach later that morning before spending some time with Niki and Eden in the pool. Back in for nap again, then out to splash in the surf and boogie board again with Ezekiel in the afternoon. Ezekiel and I got in from boogie boarding and then almost immediately there was a terrific downpour, the heaviest we’ve had yet. Eden had just gotten up, and we started out for a restaurant that a new resident told us was one of his family’s favorites, but the restaurant was several miles up the road and the roads were so flooded that we turned around and found a pizza place near our house (Lenny’s New York Pizza, it was packed at 5pm on a Saturday night). We went back home and walked on the beach again before bed.
Sunday morning we got up and went to church: at Drive-in Christian Church in Daytona Beach. We would have been there on time (8:30am) except that our Google maps misdirected us again, so we were about 10 minutes late. It was really cool in that we stayed in our cars with the kids and just listened to the service on the radio. There were probably a couple of hundred cars there, too, in a large space that was once a drive-in theater, but it was a very “formal” service in a 1950’s Protestant worship style, with a squeaky organ and a robed “chancel choir.” The pastor’s sermon was a little over 20 minutes long and was solid and engaging, but everything was in such a particularly 1950’s style it seemed somewhat contrived. Afterwards we went to the fellowship hall for coffee and doughnuts, which was originally a concession stand for the drive-in theater. We talked to several members of the church, including the sound guy who told me details about the radio broadcast, etc. and I talked to the pastor, Bob, who asked if I’d go to lunch this week (I said, how about breakfast).
On the way back home, we drove onto the beach in Daytona for the first time using the drive on beach access. We drove along the beach for several miles watching people: pretty cool. When we got back, we gave the kids snacks and then went out to the beach where the waves were as low as they’ve ever been. For the first time, I took Eden out onto the sandbar and she and Ezekiel walked out there with me (it was that shallow, and right in front of our hotel!). it made me wonder: has the sandbar always been that accessible and I was just too wary to try and go out there, or was today a particularly calm day. A lot of other people were out on it too, more than ever before, so I tend toward thinking that it was a particularly calm day.
We went back to the pool with Niki and the baby, and then Ezekiel and I went back out to the sandbar for another hour or so. It was a perfect beach day – seems like it would be easy to surf on a day like this! – and I hope that we have many more like it before we leave.
Ezekiel and I played a game of LEGO Battles before Eden woke up, and then we went up the beach to the place that we tried to go last night but were flooded out: Snack Jacks up in Flagler Beach. This was the place that the guy told us about that was supposed to be the quintessential crab shack, and when we got there it was valet parking only and a 30 minute wait for seating, but it was right on the beach with a really cool “beach shack” vibe. Niki got the crab legs and they were reasonably priced and really good, but my fried seafood sampler was awful. For me it was more about the vibe, and if we go back I’ll just get a hamburger and be perfectly satisfied.
We are trying to eat at some different restaurants here, though, and not eat at all the same places, after not eating at a restaurant the whole time that we were in Apalachicola. I am going to have to go back to Hulls again before I leave, at least once, because they are the best seafood we’ve had yet (and also to Alfie’s for a fish sandwich sometime this week!).
Now only five more full days here before we leave, and we still have to go to LEGOLAND one of those days!