Ormond Beach on a cold January 2005
"Friday January 14th - continued - Ponce"
We stopped to eat at Blackbeards on the way out of New Smyrna. This apparently is a place that the local silver haired community goes for lunch. The people who sat behind us were greeted by name and the waitress asked if they wanted their usual chicken salad or if they wanted to order something else. They also have early bird specials which go from 11:30 am to 6 pm on weekdays. I don't quite understand that.
I had the special (fried fish sandwich with a choice of fries, Manhattan fish soup or new england clam chowder and I picked the clam chowder) for $5.99 and Bob had a hamburger. I also had a brulee cheesecake for dessert. It was good, but I was disappointed - the brulee part was just a bit blackened on the top.
We finally got to Ponce (which is a village, AND an inlet AND a lighthouse), and parked - then we realized that the entrance to the lighthouse was a little ways away. We started to walk over, but I thought that it was a National Monument/Historic place, and so Bob went back to get the car, thinking we could get it with the Golden Age Pass which I had left in the car.
Well it turns out that the lighthouse belongs to the county and is a Historic Landmark, but not administered by the NPS. So it was $5 admission for each of us (no discount for seniors) and $1 for a stamp for my passport.
The lighthouse is the tallest one in FL and is 175 feet tall. . It was still raining a little, so I took some film pictures in addition to the digital ones that I took inside out of the rain.
We drove down A1A through Daytona, and got to the condo (Plantation Island) at about 4:15. They've had some damage from the hurricanes and not all of it is fixed yet. The parking lot is quite small - Bob joked that we would have to walk everywhere once we got a good parking place. It took two trips with the little luggage trolleys to get everything up to the room after it stopped raining.
It is cold and Bob has gotten out his new windbreaker that we got him, and he's also gotten out the sweater we got in Bermuda. There is heat in the unit, but it has obviously not been run before as it stinks.
This is about the same size as the New Orleans unit except there is a TV in the bedroom and a couple of bedside tables. The closet is about 1/3rd the size of the one in NOLA though. This means that there's no place to put the suitcases, let alone the coolers.
Our room looks out on the ocean and beach and one of the pools. The patio pool is heated (the ocean one is not). There are a lot of mirrors to make it look like there's more space. We are on the 4th floor and there is an elevator which is good. (since the hurricanes - only one of them works) Local calls are 25 cents, so I may just leave the computer on line. We'll see how they like that.
We walked across A1A to the IHOP for dinner. The harried waitress said she could seat us but she was by herself and there was a soccer team having dinner so it might be awhile before we got served. There was one cook, and two busboys and that was all to wait on the whole place.
Eventually, I had 2 eggs, 2 pieces of bacon hash browns and 2 pieces of toast and Bob had French toast. We had hot tea, and the bill was $15.40. He left the exact change on the register because otherwise we'd have been there all night.
"Saturday, January 15th in DeLand"
Saturday was predicted to have occasional showers blown back to shore from the rains which dropped record amounts on central eastern Florida yesterday. Orlando got almost 3" in 24 hours, and that's about what they normally get for the whole month. It was supposed to be quite windy and cold like Florida thinks of as cold - i.e. about 65. In actual fact, it was not only quite windy but rained lightly the whole day.
So I decided we should try to find something that didn't involve boats, beaches, boardwalks or gardens to do. - maybe if we went a bit inland it would be dryer.
Bob found another J.C. Pennys in the Volusa Mall, but I thought we were probably going to have to wait until after January inventory for them to have a complete stock.
We left here about 10, and drove out the Ormond Beach bridge and along the river shore down to US 92 and then went west on 92 until we found the Volusa Mall - Pennys didn't have anything there that I wanted, so we went across to the AAA office to get maps. Now I have Daytona maps and central Volusa Co maps in addition to Orlando and St. Augustine.
On the internet, I found that Deland had an NAS museum which had WW II planes and memorabilia - it wasn't in the AAA book, but it looked like something Bob would be interested in. So we drove to Deland.
It turned out that the museum was in 2 parts - a small building on Biscayne which had been a chief's quarters and a hanger building at the airport. The roof on the small building started to leak in the hurricanes, and they took everything over to the hanger, and were just bringing it back. We went over to the hanger, and it was jam packed with stuff, including some experimental and Koren war planes.
There was an old man there (probably was a ex-chief) who talked about all the things in the building to us and pointed stuff out.
After that, we tried to find a place to eat and ended up at Moe's Southwest Grill. That turned out to be a burrito place which is a franchise operation. Every time someone came in the door, the folks behind the counter all yelled - in unison- "Welcome to Moes". Bob had tacos per usual, and I had a cheese quesidilla and chicken taco soup - a little over $10.
Then we headed for the Deland House Museum. Deland was named for Henry Deland who was a baking powder manufacturer from upstate NY. He never lived in the house (it was built by his attorney). Deland offered anyone who would come down and farm that if their crops failed in the first two years for any reason, he'd make their losses good.
And then of course there was a freeze, and making good on his promise left him without enough money to fund the Deland Academy which he had started. So his friend Stetson (who had made his fortune making Stetson hats) took over the school which is now Stetson University.
He (Stetson) used the building to house some of the school staff, and the house was later bought and substantially modified around 1900 by a professor. So the house is not the same as when it was built in 1886, and it isn't furnished with original furniture. It was very interesting though. We got a nice tour from a docent, and made a donation of $3.
We got a brochure for a walking tour of the historic district downtown, but it was rainy so we didn't do all of it, although I did go and take some pictures, and we saw the.Apollo Theatre which is being restored.
We drove back to the beach. I thought we might eat at Parks, but they have gone out of business. So we stopped at Publix and bought some groceries (Bob got fried spicy chicken wings, which I didn't think he even liked) and ate back at the unit.
"Sunday, January 16, 2005"
Sunday was a lazy day. It was windy and cold and rainy in the morning and didn't clear up until about 4 pm. So we stayed in the unit and I watched the playoff games (and I also watched the Pittsburgh NY game Sat night) and I played on the computer, and we just ate more of the food that we had on hand - didn't even go out for dinner.
"January 17, 2005 - Monday at Matanzas"
The day dawned quite windy and cold, but it was not raining although there were heavy cumulostratus clouds. So I decided it would be good to drive up to St. Augustine and meet our friend Norm of Bandersnatch - possibly Jan would not be at work because it was a holiday.
There were some things I wanted to do on the way up, specifically to visit Fort Matanzas (and get a stamp in my passport book), and see what Marineland was up to, and what they were doing at Palm Coast and visit the lighthouse.
So we had a late breakfast set off about 11:30. Marineland was first and they are in worse shape than they were when we came up last spring. Don't look like they are doing anything, although the sign says the gift shop is open. Palm Coast is building something huge on the ocean side of the ICW - probably a condo with boat slips.
We got to Matanzas about 1300. Bob was astonished at how small the fort was and absolutely refused to go over there in the boat and look at it. The people coming back on the boat looked really cold. We saw the video tape and got the passport stamped, but the nature trail was closed for the month of January for them to work on it.
The ranger who was running the boat trip (which is on the half hour and is free- and admission to the fort is free too) said they had a fire in the fireplace out in the fort. Although it was small it looked interesting. You can't go ashore at the fort except from the NPS boat on the ranger led tour. I don't know if we could dinghy to their dock and then take their boat over or not.
Apparently the history of the name (which means slaughter) was because the French established Ft. Caroline on the St. Johns River, and the Spanish thought that was a threat. The French (who were not only French but (gasp) Protestants) mounted an expedition to attack St. Augustine and came down south of the city to come in this inlet and attack through the 'back door' instead of coming directly in the inlet. However their boats were destroyed in a storm (probably a hurricane) and the Spanish found them here trying to march north to St. Augustine, and after the French surrendered, the Spanish killed them all except a few who said they were Catholic and some artisans that they wanted their skills at the fort.
When we left Mantanzas, we went on up A1A to the Beachcomber Restaurant where Norm had taken us once for lunch. This is a place that is at the end of "A" Street - right on the beach, although because of the cold, no one was eating outside. The sign at the door said "Shirt and Shoes required after 5:30 pm". We both had the special which was a meatloaf sandwich. I had the jalapeno cheese grits with it and Bob had home fries. The bill with tip was $13.13.
Afterwards, I went out and took photos of the beach - it was astonishing to me that the beach there is one way traffic. There were also a lot of signs about driving on soft sand, not going on the dune, no PWCs, no unleashed dogs, no diving in the surf, and warning of strong currents and dangerous marine life. As I was going back to the car I saw three surfers with full wetsuits come out and look at the water. I didn't see them go in though.
I called Norm, and he said that Jan was working and wouldn't be back until 6, so I made arrangements to meet them at the A1A Ale House. That would make it a little late for us to get back, but I had promised I'd come and see him.
Next we went to the lighthouse. It took us some time to find it as it isn't well marked off A1A. I wasn't interested really in climbing it. We went in to watch the video tape about it and there was a huge orange marmalade cat named Jeff (probably 25 lbs) who was lying on the bench, and he wanted to crawl into my coat with me.
Anyway, there was an admission fee for us Seniors of $4 each if we didn't want to climb the tower (for the grounds and museum in the lighthouse keeper's house), and I decided I didn't need to do that. So I wandered around outside the enclosure and took pictures.
"January 17th - continued - Castilo San Marco"
Then I want and took some pictures of the Gypsy Cab Co restaurant (where we had also eaten in the past) and also the alligator farm across the street.
As we drove across the Bridge of Lions, we saw a CSY like our boat at the marina. Bob said they didn't have standard trailboards, and they had ratlines, so I said I bet it was True Companion. We parked (after circling the area at least once) at a meter right in front of the marina. The meters take only quarters, but apparently give you about a hour for 25 cents.
We met Fred of True Companion coming up the dock, and went back to the boat and talked to him and Kathy. He was having alternator trouble which was why he was at a dock. I suggested that he go to Oyster Creek which would have been way cheaper but he said he didn't think he could get into the slip that they had. I gave them Norm's phone numbers to call if the guy that he had coming to look at the boat didn't know what the problem was. (They've apparently burnt up a couple of alternators)
[We went and looked at that slip later, and Bob said it would be perfectly possible but that people who anchored all the time like Fred and Kathy didn't know how to get in and out of slips very well. When I called her later, she said the problem had been solved.]
They came down outside from Port Royal to St. Augustine. Their friends who have a purple boat they bought 3 years agp were afraid to do that because they haven't installed an autopilot yet and would have to hand steer. (They have all the stuff to do it and just haven't - like they haven't installed any cooking facilities yet either.) Anyway, said friends decided to come down from Fernandiana in one day, and arrived at St. Augustine in the middle of a storm at 3 am, and then were almost blown into the Bridge of Lions.
Although we still had time on the meter, we unparked and went over and parked at a meter at the fort. (Fortunately, Bob had his quarters with him) The lady at the admissions office said she'd never seen a card with a sticker on it - this is the sticker that says you can get a booklet with all the attractions that are included in the pass by calling a number that's on the sticker. I haven't removed it because I don't want to get the booklet while I'm away. I think she thought I might have stolen the card or something.
We walked around the Castillo although we didn't go with the ranger led tour at 4. Bob found a place to stand out of the wind in the sun which was pretty warm, but I was glad I had both my thermal vest and my snow coat.
Then we drove around some more - I had hoped to see the Oldest Schoolhouse which I missed seeing the last time, but it is apparently on George St. which is pedestrians only.
So we went back and found a parking place along the seawall. I had wanted to take one of the trolley tours, but a) it was $18 each b) it was too darn cold and c) it said they only ran until 5 pm and it was now 4:50. So I didn't although I saw them running until after 6. I think they only sell the tickets until 5. We just sat in the car out of the wind and cold until 6.
At about 5:45, we walked up the street to the A1A Ale House, and sat down. Norm came in a bit after 6, and he went up to get a beer at the bar and brought Scottie (an old bearded guy who is living on his sailboat and apparently doing work for different people to earn a living) along with him. Jan came a bit later.
I ordered the cheese soup with vegetables, Bob ordered a chicken salad and Norm and Jan had naked wings with some dipping sauce. Bob paid the check for us all which even with 3 beers, and some wine for Jan was under $40 before the tip.
We didn't leave until 8:40 pm to drive back to Ormond Beach.
"January 18th, 2005 - Port Orange"
Tuesday: 2005-January 18: I got up about 8:30 to take pictures of the beach. They would be really cool, except there's salt on the outside of the windows and I can't figure out how to get rid of it. Today was the day that they clean the condos in the tower, but the lady came before I was dressed, so Bob said we didn't need any clean towels and he'd do the sweeping with the broom. We haven't been out on the beach to track any sand in and we really aren't that messy.
We left about 11:30 and drove down to Port Orange to look at the Seven Seas Marina and have lunch at Pat's Riverside Cafe. Specials included meatloaf and mashed potatoes. I had the turkey salad sandwich special for $3.65 and Bob had a regular menu 1/4 lb hamburger for $2.95 which was huge. We drank root beer ($1.15 with free refills), and the total bill before tip was $8.48.
Other specials which were listed on the pictured board were egg salad sandwich $2.99, a reuben, grilled cheese with a cup of soup $3.69, meat loaf dinner with mashed potatoes or meat loaf sandwich. Soups were chili, vegetable beef barley or tomato mushroom.
Then Bob walked over to he parts department to get a fuel hose for the MB. That took a fairly long time, because while the marina didn't lose any docks or boats in the hurricane, they did lose the roof off the big metal boat storage/parts building. So they had the hoses etc stashed in a storage building somewhere. And the guy that the parts lady sent to get the hose first went without a knife to cut it and then went with a knife that couldn't cut it and only on the third try took the knife that the parts lady told him that he needed.
We left there about 1:30 (after I found the bathroom and Bob used it), and went across to the Sugar Mill Gardens. When I went to their website later, I found that the gardens are officially re-opening after the hurricane on January 21st. But the gate was open, and the sign said they were open, so we went in. There's no admission charge - it is run by volunteers - although they ask for a donation.
We were greeted by another big marmalade cat, and walked around and looked at the plantings. They have native plants in groups - a group of palm, butterfly plants, etc., and they also have plants for sale (not that we need any of those). This was the site of the Dunlawton plantation, which was destroyed during the Seminole Wars in 1836. A lot of the sugar mill machinery is still there, and during the Civil War soldiers made salt here.
In the 50s someone tried to make a tourist attraction called Bongoland out of it, and since some archeology found some dinosaur bones, he put up life sized sculptures of the giant sloth, Triceretops etc. The idea was a bit ahead of its time (theme parks weren't really big yet), so the project fell through, but the dinos are still there. They even have dinosaur murals (school child style) inside the rest rooms.
We had a nice wander around until about 2:40 following the self guiding tour signs (although for some reason we missed the actual plantation foundations), and then we left and drove up to Ormond By The Sea where I had seen that there was a WWII Coastal Watch Tower - the only one still left in FL - they used to be all along the coast about 6 miles apart.
We discovered that we had seen it the previous day, but thought it looked too new to be WWII. In fact, it was built out of preserved wood with stainless fasteners and although the sign there doesn't say so, I think it was rebuilt in 2004 as that is when it was dedicated. At present, there aren't any stairs to access the tower. There were some guys using a metal detector on the beach and one lone sandpiper.
"More on January 18th - Ormond Beach"
Then we attempted to visit the Ormond Memorial Art Museum and Gardens, but the museum is closed this week as they are putting an exhibit up of Florida Icons and having a big party called "Starry Night" on January 21st.. The gardens were pretty, and I saw a big fresh water turtle sunning himself in one of the ponds, but I liked the gardens in Port Orange better. These were just gardens - no history or instructional signs. I think there were some I. pseudacorus, but I couldn't be sure as it was just buds and spent blooms.
There was a building in the garden at the parking lot which said it was the Emmons Cottage c 1885 of which we could arrange to take a tour, but it didn't look like it was more than two rooms and small rooms at that, so I don't know how many people could be accommodated, or what a tour could possibly involve.
I wanted to go to The Casements, which is the old John D. Rockefeller house, but Bob found that the last tour was at 2:30, and he wanted to come back when we could have a tour. So we went back to the unit.
We left about 6 to go to dinner. I had wanted to go to the Brickyard on International Speedway Drive where Charlie and Sandy had taken us, but Bob didn't want to drive that far. I didn't want to go to a chain, so I rejected Outback Steakhouse, Burger King, Olive Garden, Bennigans, Pizza Hut, Subway, Quiznos, Ruby Tuesday, and McDonalds. I actually had in mind to go to Shell's and that's where we went.
They seated us and gave us two waiters (although we never saw the girl after the drinks order). We got hot tea. The waiter asked us if we wanted bread, and we said - why do you ask, is it extra. He said no but that with all the low carb diets sometimes people didn't want bread. The bread was a small thin loaf, but he didn't bring a knife to cut it and I had to use my regular knife.
Bob had a half pound of fried scallops (with fries and cole slaw for $8.99) which he said were the smallest he had ever seen, and I had the coconut shrimp and grilled chicken combo for $12.99. This came with baby carrots and broccoli (but the broccoli ends were all brown) and home fries. I couldn't eat the chicken and brought it home. The bill including tip was $32.44
January 19th, I got up early and took a couple of pictures of the sunrise. The ocean appears to have calmed down a bit. Then we just stayed in the condo and watched TV. We saw the seagulls bathing in and drinking the oceanside pool. I didn't get organized to go to The Casement's until it would have been too late for a tour.
When Bob wanted to know what about dinner, I did persuade him to go to the Brickyard for dinner. There was a wonderful sunset as we went across the bridge over the Halifax River. I had a nice steak, and Bob had a pork BBQ sandwich. It was $24.78 and Bob gave her a $5 tip. She was very nice and efficient.
On the way home, he stopped at Publix and bought some windshield washer fluid and then because I'm almost out of Tylenol and they didn't have the arthritis kind at Publix he went to Walgrens where it was very cheap.
"Thursday, January 20 - Last Days at Ormond Beach"
This is our last full day and our last chance to go to The Casements. Even so, I didn't get organized until 11 am. I took a picture of the courtyard pool (the heated one) and noted that there were also shuffleboard courts. There are at last people playing on the edge of the surf and driving on the beach.
We parked beside the MacDonald House next to the tennis courts, and walked over under the porte-couchiere. The lady at the reception desk told us that the lady who gives the tours was just finishing one up and we could go on the next one.
The Casements was built by a minister that took its name from the many casement windows. It was opposite the Ormond Hotel which was an enormous wooden hotel built in 1768. Flagler convinced John D. Rockefeller (one of his partners in Standard Oil) that he should come down to Florida for the winter, and he usually stayed at the Ormond Hotel - taking a whole floor for himself and staff. One day he found out that another person who also had a similar amount of floor space and people was paying less than he was. When he asked why, the answer was that he was the richest man in the world and he could afford it. Bad Answer.
So in 1918, he bought The Casements, and he stayed there every winter, reading the paper in the morning and playing 8 holes of golf in the afternoon. His wife and children (except for John D Jr. and one of his sons) never came down with him, they stayed in NY. He died in that house in 1937.
After his death, they took photos of all the rooms for estate tax purposes, and those photographs still exist. The house does not have original furniture except for one room where they have documentation that the furniture there was actually in the house. Most of the wood was chopped up and burned by hippies who invaded the house. When the city bought the house, it was in horrible shape. (There are photos of that too) It is being used by the city for meetings etc while it is being restored.
On the third floor there is an exhibition of Boy Scout memorabilia and also hand embroidered regional Hungarian folk costumes. We also learned that Billy's Tap Room and Grill which was on the other side of the MacDonald House was Ormond Beach's oldest restaurant - it was established in 1822 by the man who used to run the tea room at the hotel across the street. Since by this time it was 12:40, we walked over to Billy's for lunch.
Bob had an egg salad sandwich and I had a crabcake which was extremely good with actual lump crabmeat and not a lot of mishmash in it. I ordered creme brulee for dessert, but they were out of it, so Bob and I shared a brownie fudge sundae. The bill was $19.65 before the tip.
I had gotten a walking/driving tour pamphlet of historic Ormond Beach at The Casements, so we spent some time tracking down some of the historic houses, such as one made of palmetto logs, and one made of mahogany from a shipwreck. Then we went back to the condo and I had a swim in the pool. The water was delightful, but it was a bit nippy to get out.
We went to dinner at the Olive Garden. I had stuffed shells with shrimp and Bob had lasagna. It was $26.42.
The next day, we checked out, drove back to Miami and on January 24th we continued our trip by visiting Biscayne National Park on the way to the Everglades.