It is a mixed blessing to regret leaving a place. Which is precisely how we felt today upon concluding our stint on Longboat Key. Around nine-thirty o'clock this morning the bellboy loaded our things into the trunk of the car. As he did so we willingly and somewhat mournfully shared with him - a young chap who happened to be a native of nearby Sarasota - that this was our first but not our last visit to Longboat Key. My former reservation about the Gulf of Mexico - namely, that it doesn't compete with the intensity of the Atlantic Ocean - had completely evaporated. Everything we had seen of Longboat Key imparted nothing but the most positive impression. Though I have no doubt the adjacent barrier islands (Anna Maria Island, Holmes Beach, Bradenton Beach, St. Armands, Bird Key and Siesta Key) have their own special allure I can't imagine - unless I am utterly insatiable - that there is much to surpass the enchantment of Longboat Key.
As a result it was a muted drive home across the peninsula to Daytona Beach Shores in northeast Florida. It didn't help that our departing tour through Sarasota only added to our attraction. Nor I suppose that the weather was absolutely perfect! Yet when - a mere three hours later - we were roving down Daytona International Speedway (Route 92) to Atlantic Avenue, my lament upon leaving the Gulf of Mexico dissolved. I saw the Atlantic Ocean and instantly renewed my erstwhile favour of it. Daytona Beach and Daytona Beach Shores are noticeably different from Sarasota and Longboat Key; but the differences only heighten their singularity and individual appeal. I believe it is fair to observe that Longboat Key has a more sophisticated character than Daytona Beach Shores but that doesn't diminish my appreciation of the small-town feel of this tiny barrier island, its tranquillity and accessibility.
Pointedly I remarked upon approaching our digs that it was reminiscent of returning to our home in Canada (where we live in a small community about the same size as Daytona Beach Shores). Absorbed in the novelty of Longboat Key I had momentarily forgotten the seductiveness of Daytona Beach Shores. Over the past two months while rambling about the area I have stumbled on places which are indescribably appealing.
It only magnified our delight to recover the comforts of home to find in our postbox a Christmas card from the concierge of our condominium association, proving once again that the texture of any alliance is so much more than mere things. This comparative dilemma is certainly not the first we have experienced over the years when traveling about the State of Florida. Last year for example we were smitten by our experience in Key West. Likewise there were wonderful times spent in Jupiter Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Boca Raton and Ft. Lauderdale. Each one of those places is memorable on its own merits. This recognition is part of the burgeoning realization of the very special quality of so many parts of this State. We are proud to acquaint ourselves with these discoveries and consider it a great privilege.