Sunday, December 17, 2017

Other end of town

It is infrequently that I bike to Daytona Beach from Daytona Beach Shores. To a degree Daytona Beach lives up to its notoriety for circumstances approaching the Coney Island amusement park theme. Normally I go south on the beach through Wilbur-by-the-Sea to Ponce Inlet which is considerably more reclusive.  Today however I was drawn northward instead.  Primarily the reason was that the wind was from the north and I always prefer riding out against the wind so I have the benefit of it at my back when returning (something to do with the Protestant Work Ethic I suspect).  Besides I had previously lounged in the sun by the pool (face upwards) for over an hour so it made sense to alternate to cook my other side while riding north.

The central focus of Daytona Beach is its grand entrance onto the beach from International Speedway Blvd flanked on the north by Daytona Beach Boardwalk and on the south by Sun Splash Park.  In between are numerous resorts, beach clubs, shops, bars, restaurants and resorts. What holds it all together is the Daytona Beach Main Street Pier (a large wooden pier with a seafood eatery).  Nearby are circus-like contraptions designed for short-lived thrills.  This area attracts the bulk of tourist traffic and the beach there is normally alive with sunbathers, swimmers, surfers, cyclists, walkers and dawdlers.

Submersing oneself in this bubbling environment on a hot, sunny day is an experience filled with endless sensations and curiosities. There are children running about, shouting; surfers proving their skills and failing; attractive young people of various races lounging on the beach, playing games and congregating; fishermen with their complicated gear on rolling devices; old men and women with protuberant bellies and thighs to match; lovers of all ages walking on the beach hand-in-hand; and striped blue and white umbrellas and lounge chairs. The whole is characteristic of what has become the singular flavour of Daytona Beach, America's most famous beach resort.  Oddly the vehicular traffic on designated parts of the beach is the least noticeable feature of the place.  If I notice anything about the traffic it is that the automobiles (which not surprisingly include those makes and models one would expect to see upon a beach - Jeeps, convertibles, trucks and SUVs) creep along the beach so slowly as to appear preposterous.  In spite of its purported liberality, the beach is strictly overseen by the ubiquitous beach patrol (which among other prohibitions restricts speed and location of vehicles, dogs, drugs and booze).  What I have seen so far of the motorcycle crowd is that they are sophisticated aficionados with expensive toys.  I presume the same can be said of the car racing crowd.

As I cycled past the large pier the congestion on the beach began to melt incrementally. Though my inquisitiveness to go further was great I had to force myself to turn back so I didn't overextend myself.  I can only imagine how far one can continue on the beach before it becomes impassable.  Next year we've contracted an apartment closer to Daytona Beach and I suspect I'll wander in this direction more regularly.  It is pleasing to know there are as yet undiscovered venues at the north end of the beach.  I confess that as much as I appreciate the tranquillity of Ponce Inlet I am uplifted by the more spirited social surroundings of Daytona Beach.  If nothing else the historic beach life of the area is worth investigating.

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