Monday, January 14, 2019

Exploring Ormond Beach in the cold

“Oh, the weather outside is frightful…” It is weeks after Christmas, but the line from that carol echoes in my head, because it is cold outside. Today it is in the 50s, quite a change from when we arrived at Tomoka State Park in Ormond Beach, Fla.,yesterday, amid temperatures in the sunny 70s.
The park straddles the Halifax River and offers many places for fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and hiking. (We will stick with the fishing.)
The monument to Chief Tomokie is erected in the Tomoka State Park. The chief is a mythological legend of the Timucuan Indians. The myth said he drank from waters that gave everlasting life..

Despite today’s chill, Jim and I decided to venture out and explore the area and perhaps dip our fishing poles. (We did that, but only briefly. Too cold! Brrrr.)

We drove south on U.S. Hwy A1A (the scenic highway that hugs the Atlantic coast all the way south) to Daytona, only about 15 miles away. Our mutual impression of Daytona Beach (my first visit): ugly square buildings. To be fair, however, we were only in the beach area of the city, and beach communities are traditionally very trashy and commercial. I suspect that the rest of the city (on the other side of the intracoastal waterway, the Halifax River) is much nicer. (At least, I hope so.)

The intent of our initial drive around the area was to find places to fish. We are constantly amazed at how well these smaller communities we have visited have developed riverside (and oceanside) parks, complete with fishing piers. For example, Ormond Beach has developed beautiful parks with fishing piers and sheltered pagodas on both ends of the bridge that spans the Halifax River. Daytona Beach has a fishing pier on the ocean. Neither community charges a fee to use these facilities.
Fishing pier on the Halifax River in Ormond Beach

A  second fishing area in Ormond Beach

Jacksonville is virtually surrounded by water—several rivers and the Atlantic Ocean—yet there are few good places to fish. As an example, the Atlantic Blvd. and Beach Blvd. bridges that span the San Pablo River would be perfect places to fish—except that to access the water you have to climb over some serious rocks (if you dare; I don’t).

Oh…and the fishing pier in Jacksonville Beach? Users have to pay a daily fee to fish, or even to stroll down it!

As Jim and I were driving around and exploring possible areas to fish, we discovered a hidden gem in Ormond Beach: The Casements, the winter home of John D. Rockefeller. This house has been restored by a historical society and is open to the public. It is used for meetings, weddings, and fund-raising. It is also open as a free museum with either a self-directed or guided tour. We learned quite a bit about this beautiful old house, as well as Rockefeller, whose source of wealth may be dubious but whose distribution of that wealth has done much good through various foundations.
The Casements, John D. Rockefeller's winter home in Ormond Beach, Fla.

After lunch at an excellent Greek restaurant, we braved the elements to fish—for about 30 minutes. The north wind was just too much, especially as the temperature dipped into the mid 50s. We finally called it quits for the day and went home to Thor to thaw out.

We picked up a lot of literature about Volusia County, in which Ormond Beach resides. If the weather (or at least the wind) remains too cold for comfortable fishing, we’ll do some more exploring tomorrow.

Until later,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

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