I don't know if it's the promise of spring, the sunny (although still chilly) day, or the prospect of our yearly visit to our timeshare, but Florida has been on my mind today, specifically New Smyrna Beach. I've written about NSB before, but I just have the urge to daydream about it a bit today. Thanks for indulging me!
Located about a half an hour south of Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach has all the beauty of an Atlantic coast beach, with none of the spring break crowds. With less of a party atmosphere, it's the perfect place for us to relax, unwind, and recharge our life batteries. As we drive over the causeway bridge and head into town, I'm already anticipating the ocean breeze, the sound of the waves, and the cries of the gulls. While the beach can get a little crowded on the weekends, during the week the crowds are sparse. We love to take walks on the beach and see all the water birds, including the pelicans flying in formation overhead. We look for interesting shells, and watch the tiny little clams burrowing into the sand.
New Smyrna has some wonderful places to eat, including a really nice place called The Riverview. We go there sometimes, but our two favorite places to eat are The Breakers and JB's Fish Camp. The Breakers is right down the beach from our timeshare, so sometimes I just put on a T-shirt over my swimsuit and we walk down there. A visit to NSB isn't complete without a Breakers burger. JB's Fish Camp is on one of the channels, and my cousin Ron (who lives in Florida and has spent time at NSB) recommended it to us years ago as a place where the locals go. It really is a fish camp, so after you eat, you can buy your bait and head out to go fishing, if you're so inclined. There's a dock there, and it's fun to sit outside and see people ride up in their boats and come in for a bite. The decor is sort of Friday's on steroids, with all kinds of stuffed fish, boating paraphernalia, old license plates, and a bunch of other junk. We usually get some raw oysters and then whatever seafood strikes our fancy. I've had some great fried shrimp there, and I recall a crab cake sandwich with great fondness....
Our timeshare is basically a two-bedroom apartment, and the kitchen is stocked with dishes, pots, and pans, so most of the time, we make dinner there. There's a place in town where we get fresh fish, and it's fun to pick out the "catch of the day." Our first night there, or at the latest, the following day, we stock up on groceries for the week, and over the years, we've figured out pretty closely what we'll eat in a week. The building we stay in is two stories, right on the ocean. We usually try to get one of the units on the second story, as close to the end as we can get, so we can look out on the ocean. One year we were lucky enough to get the unit that faces directly on the ocean, but that one is hard to get--but we also have many more years to try!
The town itself is small, with a historic downtown area with lots of art galleries. The usual tourist trap beach shop is present, but there are some surf shops where we've found some good deals on clothes. We usually spend an afternoon walking through downtown and going into the little shops. I'm thinking that this year I would like to buy a piece of pottery, perhaps a vase. Some of the art is too pricey for us, but you can find some neat things for a reasonable price. Not much of a night life in downtown NSB--there might be one bar downtown that has live music on the weekends. There are places further out from the beach that have more going on, but that's not why we go to New Smyrna. It's strictly about R&R time for us.
Turnbull Bay Country Club golf course
Our days are spent sitting on the balcony, reading our books. I usually take a puzzle book along, too, just to change it up a bit. (I'm such a wild woman!) We'll spend time on the beach and in the ocean, but not all day. I don't care to get a sunburn and be miserable. We toss a frisbee around sometimes. Ken usually plays a round of golf--Turnbull Bay is their nicest course--and I drive the golf cart. Next year, I'll have practiced a bit, and I'll play, too! Sometimes we take a drive and look at the old motels, or some of the big houses in the really nice area of town, or a drive up to Daytona to check out New Smyrna's touristy sibling. At night, after dinner, we'll sit out on the balcony again, with a candle burning, and listen to the waves and the little snippets of conversation coming from our fellow travelers. In the summer, there are no lights allowed on the beach at night, because it's turtle nesting time, and lights disturb and confuse them. Hearing the rushing waves in the darkness is a very soothing sound, but also a reminder of how awesome (and I use that word in the literal sense) nature is. Even more awe-inspiring is watching a storm roll in off the ocean, massive black clouds piling up on the horizon, and flashes of lightning in the distance. The overhang on the balcony is a large one, so we can usually continue sitting outside even when it's raining. On checkout day, our tradition is to head down to a local park that is on an inlet, and we watch the manatees. We usually get lucky and also see dolphins leaping out of the water. Sometimes folks are crabbing off of the pier, and it's fun to watch the little crabs go after the bait.
I look forward to it every year, and just thinking and writing about it provides vivid memories of sights, sounds, and smells. I love summer in general, and summers at Nutwood are special in their own way, but spending a week on "our" beach in Florida is a feeling all its own. This will be our first visit to NSB post-retirement for me, so it will be a celebration of sorts. Not that anything will change during our week. We'll still walk the beach, we'll still have a burger at Breakers, we'll still enjoy being together at our special place, and the waves will still roll in.