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A Visit to Cocoa Beach on the Florida Space Coast, Part Two

A Visit to Cocoa Beach on the Florida Space Coast, Part Two

Since the previous night’s entertainment had not kept me up too late, I arose early and enjoyed my cup of tea while sitting on the balcony watching the morning surfing dudes trying to catch very small waves and a grandmother supervising three youngsters, one digging a hole to China, the other two kicking the sand back in. An hour later, we went and had our free continental breakfast, otherwise known as the feeding frenzy.

Free food seems to turn people into territorial animals. One family unit commandeered one of the two available toasters, so the rest of the crowd had to wait politely while Dad cooked up each child’s bagel (or toast), then did the same for his brother’s family. One of his kids later complained about the slim pickings (3 kinds of cereal, hard boiled eggs, the usual pastries…not the fanciest, not the sparsest I’ve seen) and Dad responded (in a loud voice) that if another Democrat got the Presidency, she’d better get used to it. Lovely. Threaten your kid over breakfast.

We did not go to the usual Cocoa Beach sites, such as the Kennedy Space Center, opting instead for beach time and just one or two stops, but there are plenty of attractions on the Florida Space Coast to appeal to all tastes, from the Ron Jon Surf School to the Cocoa Beach Spa to children’s attractions, such as The Dinosaur Store Adventure Zone.

There are numerous nearby parks, including the don’t-miss Thousand Islands Conservation Area in the Indian River Lagoon. Ninety percent of the conservation space is accessible only by boat, and kayaking and canoeing are popular here. I believe the Earth Day Festival is this weekend, April 20th, from 10 AM to 3 PM, in nearby Titusville. Whether your interest lies in learning more about the Indian Mound Station Sanctuary, Buck Lake Conservation Area or the Grant Flatwoods Sanctuary, the Florida Space Coast is steeped in Florida nature and historical preservation. And, really, who wouldn’t want to check out the Enchanted Forest Sanctuary?

Even though we did not visit Cape Canaveral, I thought I’d share some images of previous space shuttle launches. Usually all I get to see are the contrails:

Shuttle's Contrail

The February 2010 launch:

Space Shuttle February  8 2010 #2

Space Shuttle February  8 2010 #4

Space Shuttle February  8 2010

We zig zagged our way home using the smaller back roads. 441 is an interesting road, lots of back country, few lights, no cars. Some orange groves, but mostly dairy land…one VERY fancy ranch (on a different state road…can’t remember which one) with giant golden statues of stallions, some reared up on back legs, front legs pawing the air, on either side of the double wrought iron gates. It was a sod ranch, so it was hard to tie horses and sod together until I settled on fertilizer.

Too soon, we were home again, dreaming of our next Florida escape!

 

Florida’s Space Coast Destination: Cocoa Beach

How to Find Peace and Solitude in Florida’s Space Coast Destination Cocoa Beach

Welcome, new readers! This blog explores varied and beautiful areas of Florida. While my emphasis is on quieter, out of the way spots, we sometimes find our solitude in crowded areas. A recent trip proved that theory true. After a stressful week, we looked forward to loading up the T-bird and heading out for a few days. Destination? The Space Coast on the east coast of Florida.

The trip up was the usual wild ride on I-4. Traffic wasn’t too awful, but there are always one or two drivers that leave you shaking your head and wondering how they’ve been able to survive this world so long. There was Mr. Lawful Citizen, messing up traffic for miles because he’s going the speed limit and is going to make the rest of us drive slow, too. He was in the middle lane, nose stuck up in the air and just so pleased with himself. Everybody had to maneuver around him. At the opposite extreme, we also shared the road with Mr. I’ve-Got-a-Big-Truck-and-Know-How-to-Use-It, who tailgated while weaving in and out of traffic, getting nowhere fast.

I also spotted a lot of people who were texting while driving, but that bad habit may soon be a thing of the past, as Florida joins 44 other states and outlaws the practice. Unfortunately, texting while driving in Florida is a secondary offense so the person must be stopped for another reason first before the driver can be charged with texting and driving.

Cocoa Beach Light Show

After stopping in Orlando to visit our son, we headed for the east coast and managed to snag a lovely suite directly on the ocean in Cocoa Beach. Unfortunately, our late departure from Orlando meant a late check-in, so our nightlife consisted of a quick trip to the poolside bar for a couple of drinks to be carried back to our room. We sat on the balcony and listened to the waves and enjoyed the feeling of chilled skin.

The entertainment came to us. Turns out our end unit overlooked the beach AND the public beach access, which turned out to be the hangout for the hip hop crowd, who opened the van doors and turned up the volume on the boom box. I thought it would be a disaster, but the music, while a bit too “new-age” for my taste, wasn’t obnoxious…some had sort of a concert sound to it…maybe it was techno…who knows?

The kids themselves weren’t loud and when they began their light show with lasers, I thought they were quite creative. They’d play the laser light over the sea grape leaves, making them look as if they sparkled, and then shine the lights over the waves or shoot them in long lines down the beach access lane. Fun to watch from six stories up and I was sad to see them move down the beach, but also glad I wasn’t going to be kept up until the wee hours of the morning.

Part Two of our visit to Brevard County will be posted tomorrow.

What Comes to Mind When You Think of Visiting Florida?

What comes to mind when you think of visiting Florida? Do you envision the international shopping at the malls in Orlando or making the scene in Miami? Perhaps your preference is for the relaxed “Old Florida” friendliness found in the panhandle or the gracious hospitality of Mount Dora. For those who feel kinship to sea life or sunbathing, our beaches stretch for miles and our coral reefs reveal stunning mysteries in gemlike colors. All things cultural tempt some to Florida’s west coast, also known as the suncoast, where a focus on the arts offers a wide variety of entertainment choices. From there, you might venture north, up the Nature coast and around the bend, feasting on scallops and oysters, or south to Seminole reservations and airboat rides in the watery Everglades.

Sport fishermen and golfers love the wide open expanses our tropical peninsula supports and water sports, from sculling and offshore racing to surfing and swimming with dolphins (or manatees, if you prefer), attract thousands here each year.

Most people, especially families, tend to visit Orlando’s tourist attractions first, and there’s good reason for it. Besides a little mouse-bonding (I highly recommend the theme-related breakfast buffets where your kids can meet Disney characters without the jostling crowd making it difficult), there’s much to be learned about our environment at Sea World (okay, and a lot of fun, too!). Islands of Adventure, Discovery Cove and Wet n Wild Orlando will help burn off any residual energy.

My Favorite Florida Spots for Relaxation

But I suggest that you also consider discovering Florida’s lesser known treasures, oftentimes a cheaper alternative with an added bonus of fewer crowds. Of all my favorite “mini-vacation” breaks, finding out-of-the-way, oftentimes unusual, restful spots in the state allows me an escape from the day to day stress of running my own business and was especially key to retaining my sanity as I helped my mother as she developed the symptoms of dementia. Now I am an empty-nester and our getaways are less rushed, giving me time to absorb the ambience of a particular setting. Rather than cramming in a lot of useless information, I hope to convey each spot’s unique “vibe”, from the wild and open gay pride parade in Key West to the nighttime sounds of the Ocala forest.

This website is not just a travel brochure or a Florida tourist attraction map, however. Along the way, peppered in amongst the descriptions and recommendations, I’ll be sharing some thoughts on nature and of life, as well as family history, from settlement in Florida before Statehood to date. Photos will range from vintage to modern, but each will tell its own story.

I’ve been asked if I worry that revealing these gems will cause a great migration that ruins ambience, but I’m not really worried, since most people will satisfy themselves with armchair daydreams. And for those brave enough to get off the beaten path and flexible enough to accept beauty in its natural state, I say, “Welcome, fellow adventurer! Glad you made it! Now, pull up a seat. The sun’s about to set and I have a story to share with you.”