Day 52 Cocoa Beach, FL to Vero Beach 53 miles 499 feet
I started a bit earlier than usual as I was trying to get ahead of an incoming weather front. At 7:30 it was already blowing 10-15 mph from the south west and was expected to increase to 25 mph with gusts to 40 by 1PM. I had already plotted and alternative route between the ocean and the Intercoastal Waterway, along A1A, all the way down to Vero Beach. This was not technically on the ECG and meant our van would not be supporting me, but it looked like a much prettier route. Leaving Cocoa Beach at 8:30, I encountered a fair amount of traffic from folks heading to work and school busses delivering kids. Once I was well south of town the traffic dropped off dramatically. The wind was starting to build so I put my head down, dropped the hammer, and started to sprint to Vero Beach. I did not stop along the way to take photos, not that there was much to photograph. The only sites I actually noticed were the Patrick Space Force Base a few miles south of Cocoa, and the sign for the city of Melbourne, about 15 miles farther south. I spent a fair amount of time in Melbourne when my son attended a boarding school down there.
Once south of Melbourne, A1A really became deserted. Initially the shoulder was not that wide but there was an 8 foot wide, well paved bike path just to the right of the road and it was protected by a grass embankment. After crossing the drawbridge over the Sebastian Inlet, the shoulder widened to a dedicated, marked bike lane, in addition to the paved side path.
I made it to our hotel at 11:30 and luckily my room was ready. Walking through Vero Beach enroute to lunch I noticed a marked changed from the last several tourist towns we have stayed in. Gone were the pickup trucks, tattoo parlors, vapor shops, cheap souvenir shops, amusement parks, arcades, and stores hawking bathing suits for $10 and tee shirts for $5. Instead, I found rows of foreign cars, art galleries, home design stores, high end kitchen supply stores, fine jewelry stores, and designer women’s clothing boutiques selling $200 bathing suits and $300 tee shirts.
The crowd was also much different, instead of young, loud, and dressed in trashy clothes, they were several decades older, engaged in quiet conversations, dressed in fine beach attire, and clearly several social statuses higher. The music I heard emanating from the oceanfront restaurant decks was that of Jimmy Buffet and Zac Brown instead of Lil Baby and Lil Wayne. Vero Beach clearly does not need to post signs advising you not to enter a restaurant if you are carrying a firearm or wearing your pants down around your knees.
I had lunch at Chelsea’s Gourmet, 3201 Cardinal Dr, a gourmet speciality shop like any in Manhattan or East Hampton. I had a turkey with bacon, tomato, field greens, and avocado on fresh farm bread. I walked back to the beach and right past the restaurant I had dinner in 15 years ago with my son and my parents after the Daytona 500. The surf was crashing up onto the beach with the incoming tide so I chucked my sneakers and went for a walk on the sand and into the emerald green water.
My mind instantly went to Zac Brown’s catchy beach tune, “Knee Deep”
Wishing I was knee deep in the water somewhere
Got the blue sky breeze and it don't seem fair
Only worry in the world is the tide gonna reach my chair
Sunrise there's a fire in the sky
Never been so happy
Never felt so high
And I think I might have found me my own kind of paradise
Dinner was at Mulligans, 1025 Beachland Blvd, high quality seafood and steaks on a deck overlooking the crashing surf.
Fourteen states down, 1 more to go.
The Cumulative Totals
Feet Climbed 85,847
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