Archive for January, 2012

Marineland, north of Daytona Beach

Whatever you say about Florida, when viewed from the road, most parts look uniquely Floridian.  There are streets and buildings that look like nowhere else.   I mean, what else looks like Marineland, from 1938?   California would never be so green.

Where else can you go for a hog hunt?   Where else but Daytona do guns and motorcycles get so incongruently mixed together?

Outside Daytona Beach

Somewhere west of New Smyrna Beach

Also outside Daytona Beach

My bike among the bikers; Flagler BeachAlso outside Daytona Beach

In this part of Florida, restaurants and bars frequently park a large motorcyle in front of their establishment, to show they are “biker friendly.”

This trip took me for three days from Deland in central Florida to the coast south of Daytona, then up the coast a hundred miles, through St Augustine, to Jacksonville Beach, where Tom picked me up.   I had a nice two days with Tom and Esther before taking Amtrak back up to North Carolina.
Many parts of central Florida exhibit a rural vibe, with early twentieth century buildings surrounded by Spanish moss.    Some parts of New Smyrna Beach and Daytona Beach also have such an ambience.

Older neighborhood, Daytona Beach

Outside Deland, Florida

Other parts of Florida exhibit brash sometimes Jetson-like architecture; this could be nowhere else but Florida.

Jacksonville Beach

Art deco Daytona Beach

Oceanfront modernism, Flagler Beach


You know this is Florida because Floridians practically invented the gated community.   Ponte Vedra Beach, just south of Jacksonville Beach, is home to the TPC golf tournament and is the epicenter of gated communityness.    There is one every quarter mile or so.

Largest gate in a gated community (at least that I saw!)

Florida is ground zero for the real estate crisis, and evidence of collapsed developments was everywhere.
Look carefully, only one house, lots of empty lots

Look carefully, only one house, lots of empty lots, underground utilities installed

 Once I got to Jacksonville, the hospitality was for real.  I hope to get back real soon.

Somewhere in rural Volusia county

modern art, Tom's backyard

modern art, Tom’s backyard

Esther & Tom

This is a good route to ride on a Sunday, when there is not much traffic.   Burlington has miles of empty textile factories; they have been here since the mid nineteenth century.  Most closed down in just the past ten years.  There are a few left operating still.   On NC87 from Graham to Burlington, there is a great stretch of modernist buildings in just a one / two mile stretch, including two of the same dry cleaning building.  There is so much optimism in these buildings.  Can you imagine that kind of optimism today?

Dyr cleaners in Graham NC

Oceanfront just south of Asbury Park

Sure, I know,  Joey Buttafuoco is from Long Island, not the Jersey Shore.   And I actually have never seen more than five minutes of the TV reality show Jersey Shore.   I did like the movie My Cousin Vinnie.

Is this Style, or what?

As a Southerner, this kind of style and lifestyle of the Northeast seems exotic to me.     So I wanted to see if for myself.    It was October, so the tourist season was over, but the weather was delightful and the wind generally at my back.

I had taken the “ferry” over from Manhattan to Belford harbor, near Sandy Hook, at the southern entrance to the New York harbor.  It was a small boat, really.   I was proud of myself for not getting seasick, as the waves and wind across the harbor made for a bumpy ride.

This trip was to be, in a roundabout way, a two day ride from Alex and Kristi’s place in Park Slope, Brooklyn;  to Betsy and George’s place in Princeton.  I rode down the Jersey Shore one day, spent the night in a cheap motel in Seaside Heights,  then rode the next day across rural / suburban New Jersey to Princeton.

What was really interesting is that each town, each municipality, had its own character.    Each felt like a separate culture of sorts.  Bruce’s Asbury Park was the most disappointing town.  It had mostly been torn down.  The Stone Pony was just a bar, with a Sunday afternoon band playing Marshall Tucker.

This  town just north of Seaside Heights had a unique character.  It belonged in some kind of movie.  Summer weekends here must be a great time.  Just jammed together and all.

Just north of Seaside Heights

I spent the night in Seaside Heights, which had a major boardwalk scene, a Bruce Springsteen thing much stronger now than that found in Asbury Park.   Sandy, we’ve got to quit this boardwalk scene too.   I also grew up with this stuff in Virginia Beach.   This place puts Seaside Park in Virginia Beach to shame.

The ride the next day all across the rural slash exurban part of New Jersey, from Seaside Heights to Princeton, was good cycling.  This sixty miles across New Jersey looked almost uniformly prosperous.

Boardwalk in Seaside Heights

Italian American Club, Seaside Heights

Italian American Club, Seaside Heights