Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Beach @ Daytona and Points South

Originally posted April 7, 2015

The beach at Ponce de Leon Inlet - souht of Port Orange and Daytona on Florida Highway A1A.
  The Beach … it sounds so simple to say, everyone knows what you mean and yet those words clearly describe what it is .. or do they? Is it the end of dry land? or the beginning of the ocean? Perhaps it is a meeting place for seagulls, sandpipers and other birds to commune with each other and talk about their day. I noticed the birds seem to look out to sea as we people do. What are they looking for? What do we seek to find .. out there? Does it seem to be a connection with the infinite as astronauts peer into deep space? What is it about the power and the rhythm of the thrashing waves that captures our attention and imagination? What is it about the smell of the off shore breeze? What is it about this type of place that makes us want to BE there?

Well, I don’t know either, but this is a travel blog not a philosophical discussion. Its way over my pay grade to discuss that way, but whenever I get near a beach, it becomes an imperative that I go there .. and go there now.

As a guy who grew-up in a landlocked state, my “beach” was the swimming pool at the local Family YMCA, where my mom took us as kids. The beaches of rivers and lakes where dad and grandpa took us to fish and swim were neat places, but didn’t have the spectacle of an ocean beach. I had never been to the ocean, at that point. I didn’t know. It wasn’t until after Marine Corps Boot Camp in San Diego that I first saw the Pacific Ocean beaches of Camp Pendleton, California. That’s when the ocean first “hooked” and reeled me in. From that day in 1970 forward, I wanted to be near the beach as often as I could. Visiting the Atlantic Ocean was going to be a treat. I’ve often heard of these beaches, but everyone describes them differently.

I had to snap and "I was actually there" photo at Ponce Inlet beach.
Near sunset on Ponce de Leon Inlet beach. Like many beaches in the area, one can drive and park there to enjoy your day. (Self-timer propped on a post.)

Somehow, “Man, there were chicks everywhere!” doesn’t describe Daytona Beach at any other time than at Spring Break, which was my first such Florida “beach” report. I couldn’t quite picture the fine, white sand compacted enough to drive on. I couldn’t smell the breezes, feel the warmth of the sun or wiggle my bare toes in the sandy surf. I “see” in my mind’s eye only lovely long-haired 1960s girls in two-piece swimsuits glistening with the hunger-inducing aroma of Hawaiian Tropic suntan oils. I heard only Beach Boys music. Today, wasn’t like that at all. It was so cold on the beach, I saw no such thing this day – for sure.

In the days ahead, I would re-visit the beach many times in different places to the north of Ponce de Leon. I came down here to visit the tallest lighthouse in the state. I did that, but as I was ready to turn left to go back to camp, my car suddenly turned right and headed straight for the sand and for the beach. I took several photographs, but the images failed to live-up to the physical imagery of the real beach. I doubt if a 180 degree peripheral lens (if there is one) could capture it. A photograph is a frozen moment in time, but the ocean never stops moving. I stayed for quite a while, .. watching, .. listening, .. waiting for nothing in particular, looking at everything – taking it all in. I just wanted to “BE”. My feet were not stuck in the sand, but they could have been anchored. I had to be off the beach by sunset (the rules), but I didn’t want to go.

I stood in one place for so long, this little sandpiper seemed curious. Tentatively, he approached me, then circled back the other way only to turn about and walk toward me again. I’m not telepathic, but it seemed he wanted to tell me or ask me something. I made no aggressive moves, but kneeled down on one knee. I thought I’d better get the shot first, talk later. That’s the photographer in me, not the naturalist. With the soft click of my Nikon shutter, he had changed his mind and walked hurriedly away. He cast a long shadow, which indicated it was time to go.

This little Sandpiper and I shared "a moment" on Ponce Inlet beach.
This little guy walked right up to me in a hesitant, zig-zag manner before stopping a short distance away making direct eye contact. I knelt down on one knee to get this picture. Satisfied that I was no threat and had no food, he casually walked away. These little meetings with nature are very precious to me.

As a parting thought, (with no relevance to anything I’ve already said), wouldn’t the beach be the perfect place for a church? Not the building kind with stained glass windows, granite altars or strewn with Holy relics and symbols, with choirs and baroque pipe organ music – just a simple beach towel, your closest friends and the warmth of the sun.

Later, I’ll report on my day at the Lighthouse. I’ll have a lot more photos there.

Thanks for your visit. Comments are welcomed.



  1. yep, that'd be you! :) gr8 pics but you're right its hard to capture the awesomeness of just being there.

    B.E.A.C.H. (Best Escape Anyone Can Have!)

    1. I like that acronym. Gonna make a t-shirt. Make a million damned dollars. Split it with ya!

  2. you do that! somebody probably already has dibs on it though :)

    1. Probably, but you can copyright are, but you can't copyright an idea. Create a neat design, then sell that.