Tuesday, April 16, 2013

West Coast to East Coast of Florida: Days 11-20

April  4, 2012

The last port of call on my Floridian west coast tour was the Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater area. The weather was gray and rainy, not the right conditions for getting my rollercoaster fix at Busch Gardens or even the old standby of bathing at the beach. 

Twisted mind, twisted architecture- Dali Museum
So what can you do on a dismal day? Go to the movies or go to a museum, I chose the latter and visited the Dali Museum in St. Pete's. The building itself is interesting and worth a gander for the architecture, but the exhibit is what you go for and I wasn't disappointed. If you happen to go on a Thursday evening you can get a half price ticket for entrance from 5-8pm. Enough time to take it all in and not feel rushed. I recommend  partaking of the free audio guide headset to get a deeper appreciation of the art and a more in depth peek into the wonderfully warped mind of Dali and his obsessions with the atomic world, clocks and his muse. As a bonus, with the audio guide it's like going to a museum and catching a movie all at the same time!

April 5

Traveling back eastward I camped out at Kissimmee State Park. Unfortunately I didn't get anyone to kiss-a-me and even the wildlife seemed to be hiding from me, but it's always nice to sleep under the stars.

April 6-10

The following day I made it to Melbourne Beach where I would eventually meet up with a buddy that I hadn't seen since high school. While grabbing some dinner and watching the Flyers play another horrible game I quizzed the gentlemen on my left from Iowa about what I should see if I head through his home state. "If you like floating down a cold lazy river, we got them. Otherwise, not much else." O.K., I'll be sure to keep Iowa off of the itinerary! Then a guy sat to my right and after discovering that he grew up in San Diego and surfed, we hit it off right away. Rich would quickly become my newest best friend over the next few days, surfing together, sipping frosties, and capping it all off with a great dinner courtesy of his lovely wife. To boot I also came away with a great seaweed salad recipe and a freshly made batch for the road! A couple of other suggestions where he didn't steer me wrong were Da Kine Diego which has an "Insane Burrito" which is Huge! I was just insane enough to eat the whole thing in one sitting. Also, The Big Mansion in Historic Melbourne is a great roof top open air venue for sunset dining or drinks.

My high school buddy, Eric, hooked me up with a couple of great lures and the guys at Spectrum Surf Shop in Indiatlantic who were cool enough to let me park there for a few days. The first night there I ran into Spectrum's manager at The Monkey Bar. An entertaining place to say the least. Part surf bar, part rock bar, part country bar this place had it all. Hotties running around in their cowboy boots, halter tops and daisy dukes (gets me everytime), 3 live hard rock bands, pool tables and beer. What more can you ask for? Well how about, and I think every bar should have one of these, a mechanical Bull! I had to give it a ride and yes, I made it more than 8 seconds. I won't say if I rode one of the cowgirls, but I will say that if I did you can believe it would be for longer than 8 seconds!

April 11

Canaveral National Seashore- great spot for shell picking
Beginning a northerly track I moved on up to Cape Canaveral National Seashore. There I picked up my "America the Beautiful Pass" which will get me into all the National Parks and Federally managed lands. I headed to the southernmost point, maybe because I prefer the "road less traveled", maybe because I heard that it was a "clothing optional" beach! After a short bike ride I hit the beach and went for a swim as Mother Nature intended. It's amazing how fast the body surfing is without any unnecessary drag.

I would have camped out there for the night, but all they had available were island sites that you had to reach by canoe. The beach sites are currently all reserved for the Sea Turtles. As great as it sounded to camp out on your own deserted island, the water/wind conditions weren't great and I just couldn't bare to do it without my camera gear coming along. I also just couldn't risk it.

Mage wasn't quick enough to qualify! :(
Oh well, on to Daytona Beach, "America's Most Famous Beach" and home to "Bike Week" and the Daytona International Speedway. No need for a pit stop there as  I couldn't drive on the track, but I did do a few laps by it, "clean passes" if you will. One note of interest: the beaches there are of fine compact sand and very wide facilitating beach access for your car! Talk about a good parking spot!

April 13

On the way out of Daytona I attempted to make reservations to camp out at Ocala State Forest, putting in several phone calls that went unanswered. Thinking that they might be sleeping by the phone I drove there, but either no one was home or the one manning the office is a bear in hibernation! So I missed out on that. Ce la vie! 

Next stop, the haunted town of St. Augustine, first city of Florida, landing spot of Ponce de Leon!..........