Day 50 Daytona Beach, FL to Cocoa Beach 82 miles 961 feet
David and I had another Captain Ron moment last night while trying to plan an alternate route from Daytona Beach to Cocoa Beach that followed the ocean and routed us through the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). Google Maps provided a fairly direct 49 mile route to the north gate of the KSC. If we rode through the KSC and out the south gate we could shave over 10 miles off our planned route. As an added benefit we would ride along the ocean, through the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, and through the KSC which is preparing to launch a Falcon 9 rocket to carry 4 astronauts to the International Space Station in 3 days. When I tried to map the route on RidewithGPS, it failed multiple times just short of the KSC, my guess was that the software somehow knew that we were not allowed to ride through the KSC while Google Maps thought it was OK. I plotted a route that came within a few miles of the KSC but then routed around it as a backup if I could not get through the North Gate.
As I stepped out of the Streamline Hotel to walk to breakfast, I noticed a brass plaque commentating our hotel. Built in 1940, it apparently was the first fireproof hotel built in Daytona and was used as an air raid shelter during World War II. More importantly to Daytona, on December 14, 1947, Big Bill France conceived of NASCAR in the rooftop garden lounge of the hotel.
Daytona was like a ghost town at 8 AM except for the line of cars at Starbucks. By the time I hit the road at 9, the cue of cars across the street at Starbucks had disappeared and now Daytona really looked like a ghost town. A few miles south, in Daytona Beach Shores, the traffic picked up and my view of the ocean was obscured by several miles of wall to wall high rises. The sun was still low on the horizon so the buildings cast a deep shadow on the roadway, depriving me of the sun’s warming rays. Those few miles reminded me of how hard it is to see the sun in Manhattan unless you are in Central Park or the sun is directly overhead.
Over the next several miles I encountered three unrelated signs that got my mind thinking about the classic Five Man Electric Band song “Signs”
Everywhere a sign
Blockin' out the scenery
Breakin' my mind
Do this, don't do that
Can't you read the sign?
The first sign was in the window of a store hawking $10 bathing suits and $5 tee shirts. They apparently had a side hustle as well.
LIVE TURTLES AND
LIVE HERMIT CRABS
When I was 7 years old, and still living in St. Louis, my parents bought me a pet turtle who I named Frisky, in fact all our pets while we were growing up were named Frisky. One day while I was at school my mom was cleaning Frisky’s tank over the kitchen sink when he accidentally fell down the garbage disposal. She felt awful but just went back to the store and bought another turtle, I think they cost something like 29 cents back then. After school I went to my room to play with Frisky and immediately knew that the turtle in the bowl was not Frisky. When I confronted my mom she instantly fessed up and apologized but wanted to know how I could tell the difference.
Kids are actually much more observant than grownups, something I would learn some 30 years later when I came home from a long day at work. When I opened the door to our apartment, my wife instantly asked if I noticed anything different in the living room. I pointed to the large birdcage sitting on the only table in the living room and asked if it was a new cage. Apparently we had owned that cage for months but she pointed inside the cage to our parakeet and asked if he looked different. I said he looked the same as he had for the last several months. She asked what color he was, which seemed like a silly question as he was obviously green. She asked what color he used to be and I responded, green of course. No she said, he used to be yellow. Oh I exclaimed, you had his feathers died green? No she replied, our yellow bird had apparently perished while having his nails clipped at the veterinarian and she replaced him with a green parakeet. As I said above, kids are much more observant than parents.
My wife was the real animal lover in the family. Since her passing, my only real “pets” have been a 3 foot tall wooden rabbit, named Robbie, and a life sized cast black sheep, named Pascal.
While my wife was alive our house was like a menagerie filled with pets of all varieties for the kids to play with. About this time of year, some 25 years ago, she brought home a pair of orange hermit crabs that she called “Halloween Crabs.” I’m pretty certain there is no such species but the kids loved them anyway and added them to their collection of pets. Most of our pets, except for the snakes, were free roaming and one day the crabs, I’m sure they had names but no one remembers them, wandered off and hid behind our piano, never to be seen again. To this day, I don’t know if they were eaten by our dogs or escaped out the back door and made it down to the beach.
The next sign for an alligator amusement park read:
COME HOLD AND FEED
I’m not really sure where to begin on this one. Had the previous employee been eaten by an alligator or was the position simply another casualty of the Covid related worker shortage. In the 60’s, I remember friends of mine having pet alligators that their parents had brought back from Florida for them in little cardboard boxes. After a few weeks my friends, or more frequently their moms, would tire of the creatures and they would invariably be flushed down the toilet. Eventually Florida banned the sale of these little alligators but not before an urban legend was born about them living and growing in the New York City sewer system. While there have been a few alligators discovered in or near the NYC sewers, they did not come from Floridian alligators being flushed down the toilet.
My final sign sighting was the most troubling as there was nothing comical about the 30 foot high billboard, loudly proclaiming:
CAR CRASH DOCTOR
I have seen literally thousands of such billboards for ambulance chasing lawyers but never one by a doctor. I’m guessing he must be a morally corrupt physician who is willing, for a price, to signoff on auto related insurance claims, most likely in cahoots with lawyer(s) of a similar ilk. These schemes cost the insurance companies and taxpayers untold billions of dollars each year. Additionally, many motorists with true injuries have trouble receiving care as most reputable doctors avoid these patients like the plague, less the be typecast as charlatans.
I crossed the Intercoastal Water Way for the first time over the new Dunlawton Bridge with a wide, well paved shoulder and a spectacular view of the Halifax river.
Once over the bridge my alternate route took me south on US1 for about 22 miles. The road was initially commercial but quickly became quite rural. There was a well paved 2 foot wide shoulder and for the first 15 miles a sidewalk/bike path. I turned off US1 and onto Kennedy Parkway, an essentially deserted road that I would ride for almost 20 miles. It is the approach road to the KSC as well as several wildlife areas and was in near perfect condition. I don’t think I saw more than half a dozen cars over the entire length and I rode in the center of the lane which was as smooth as butter. I rode directly past a huge geodesic radar installation that was in the process of being upgraded, potentially for the upcoming launch.
When I reached the guard station at the north gate of the KSC I was told in no uncertain terms, by a heavily armed guard that, I COULD NOT RIDE THROUGH THE KSC. He did not even want me to cross to the other side of the road to exit, he “requested” that I ride back right where I came from, the wrong way on a one way street. I asked if I could take a photo of the NASA sign and he barked back that I was in a restricted area and needed to leave IMMEDIATELY!!!
I rode west through some beautiful marshland in the Wildlife Refuge and even caught a glimpse of the Launch Command Facility in the distance
I crossed the ICW for a second time, entered Titusville, then rejoined US1 which I would ride till the turnoff for Cocoa Beach. I turned onto the Cocoa Beach Causeway and crossed the ICW for the third time of the day. This bridge was a drawbridge so it was much lower than the previous two crossings but the shoulder was barely 18 inches wide and bordered by a high concrete curb. Thankfully it was a short bridge and the remainder of the 6 mile causeway had a fine shoulder.
I stopped into the Cocoa Beach Fish Camp Grill, 5602 N Atlantic Ave, for an ice cold beer and an outstanding burger. We would return as a group for dinner and all the dishes where great.
Dinner was accompanied by a pair of dueling piano players taking requests from the audience. A group of older women at the table next to ours must have gone for the bottomless Margaritas and were singing along, more out of key then the musicians.
On the way out I noticed a few baby alligators in a tank by the bar.
Since the restaurant does serve alligator, I hope those guys are just pets and not like the live shrimp you find at fine sushi restaurants.
Fourteen states down, 1 more to go.
The Cumulative Totals
Feet Climbed 85,348
States Visited Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida
For more details on my route, see my Strava Link