Friday, January 24, 2014

More Sun, Sand and Surf in the Sunshine State

I know you've been holding your breath waiting for the next episode of 2014 Road  Trek #1. Yes, we left off in Florida at the Love Travel Center in Ormond Beach. 

Day #11

I opened my baby blues on Thursday morning and prepared for another day on the road. Today was going to be my day (or two) to enjoy Daytona Beach. I have fond memories of Daytona Beach.

I spent a couple weeks of the summer of 1964 in Daytona on the last vacation I ever took with my family (father, mother and two younger sisters). We stayed in a motel on the beach. For some reason the El Caribe pops up in my head, but to be honest, we're talking nearly a half-century ago. It was also the summer, after diving into the motel swimming pool; I bashed my nose into the bottom of the pool (still have the scar as a trophy) that led up to me meeting a cute waitress at a local restaurant. Her name was Jane Kinsey (that I remember positively) and she was a champion diver at her high school in Daytona Beach. Yes, indeed, a real native Floridian girl with blond hair and blue eyes and a surfer girl figure. 

Yep! That's yours truly next to the pretty girl. I was a scant 145 pounds soaking wet back then and I had dirty blond hair. This photo is 49 1/2 years old. Obviously, it was done on film and whoever took it had their finger over the lens partially. Needless to say, Jane made my vacation a much more enjoyable experience. I went back to Daytona Beach the next two summers (between my sophomore and junior and my junior and senior years in college) to hang out with Jane. Lots of stories, but not for this article.

Unfortunately, Daytona had changed a lot over the years. Not so much in the way Atlantic Avenue looked, but in the amount of traffic which had increased, even in the winter and one can no longer drive on the beach without paying a stiff $5.00 fee for the privilege. It was either overcast or raining most of the day and frankly, I actually became bored with the place. So, I decided to move on down the coast. 

The next challenge was finding a place where I could park overnight in My McVansion. After some research and phone calls I settled on the community of Titusville, despite the fact that there was a no overnight parking ordinance in effect. I headed to the Walmart where the woman I spoke with on the phone said they liked us RVer's; it was the city that had their undies bunched up. But, she said the city very seldom enforced the ordinance and I should be fine there. I drove down AIA along the coast whenever possible and arrived in Titusville later that evening. I set up My McVansion for sleeping duties and closed my peepers for the night.

Day #12

Friday was a nicer day and I called ahead to my friend, Richard Rosen, about getting together later on Friday or on Saturday. Saturday seemed the preferable choice and so we made a date. Besides seeing Richard, I was planning to visit his brother Art Gliner, a friend and colleague of mine for over 30 years. Unfortunately, Art was stricken by the early stages of some form of dementia about six years earlier. Richard had helped Art and managed his affairs until about two years ago when it seemed prudent to move Art to Florida.

So, Friday was a relaxing day. I took my time heading further down the coast. Richard lives in Sebastian, Florida. I passed Port Canaveral where the Disney and Carnival cruise lines have terminals as well as there being a freight terminal there.

I decided to find a park along the beach to take care of some work.

I caught some surfers in action . . .

and a Mickey Mouse cruise ship from Port Canaveral sailed by.

 Then I drove through some of the space program communities that sprung up during the late 1950's and 60's around Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center. I also did some research as far as a place to stay Friday night.

Once again, most all the communities in my direct path of travel were not RVer friendly. But, I chose Vero Beach to take a chance on (turned out to be a good bet). So, continuing down A1A as much as I could, I headed for Vero Beach, the next town past Sebastian.

It turned out to be the right choice, again. I decided that I had a taste for barbecue on this Friday evening. So, I began watching for what I hoped would be a localized barbecue restaurant. Finally, as I was driving into Vero Beach, such an establishment appeared from the dark of night. It was time to fill the void in my stomach, which had begun growling by this time. 

Behold! Here is Woody's Barbecue. 

It is a family style restaurant with moderate prices and very good barbecue. I wouldn't rate it as the best barbecue I've ever had, but it was much more than just good. 

My server, Heather, was with child. I inquired and she said it was to be her third bundle of joy. Now, Heather didn't look old enough to be the mother of two, soon to be three. She took good care of me. 

The restaurant was busy and fairly noisy with lots of kids livening up the atmosphere. 

It didn't take very much time for my order to come out and here is what I was presented with. 

This was a lot of food. There was barbecue chicken, turkey breast, ribs, beef brisket and pork. Yes! I chose a sampler platter and tried all their different barbecue sauces, too. When the smoke cleared, my plate was cleaned and I received my check, I was presently surprised that it was quite economical for all the food I received.

I left Woody's and was off to the "Walmart Motor Inn" for another night of elicit rest since Vero Beach had an ordinance against overnight parking. I settled in, shut my eyes and no one bothered me all night.

Day #13

So, it's Day #13. I contacted my friend, Richard Rosen and arranged a time to meet up and visit with my other friend and colleague (and Richard's brother) Art Gliner. As I mentioned earlier, Vero Beach turned out to be a perfect place to spend the night since my friend Art was in Vero Beach. I didn't know that until Richard and I arranged to meet up.

At a few minutes after 11:00 AM I met Richard at The Place. 

The Place is an assisted living community in Vero Beach and it's where my friend, Art, now resides. It's a very nice place and provides a variety of apartments for the various residents. I'm not sure of the full scope of the residents, but at least some of them are dealing with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, such as that which has befallen my friend, Art. It was both, wonderful to see Art and sad at the same time.

Art is a very healthy looking man in his later 70's. Unfortunately, a form of dementia began to set in about six or seven years ago. Art is someone you can only describe as a self-made man. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York City, he dropped out of high school and joined the Navy. He most likely earned a GED sometime back during that early period of his life and after the Navy he went to a broadcasting school and became a radio announcer. Art had a great, soothing radio voice. Over his lifetime he worked as a radio announcer/DJ/personality in several U.S. markets, eventually ending up in Washington, DC where he ended his career as a classical radio announcer on the, now, defunct WGMS AM & FM combination.

Along the way, Art became a student of humor and became very active in both collecting all kinds printed, audio, film and video materials of the great humorists and comedians of our time and archiving/cataloging all these materials. He was also very careful with his financial resources and founded the Gliner Center for Humor Studies at the University of Maryland. He endowed the center and donated his entire cataloged humor collection to the Center. Art was also a good friend with many well-known and lesser-known humorists and humor authorities including Bob Orben, who was President Gerald Ford's head of speech writing as well as a writer for many celebrity humorist/comedians like Red Skelton and the author of tens of books on humor as well as a highly acclaimed humor newsletter. He was a member of the National Speakers Association for several decades (which is where I met Art) and a charter member of the DC chapter of the NSA (formerly known as the National Capitol Speakers Association).

So, when I stated that this was a sad time for me, it's because I knew Art when he was sharp, witty and collaborative with so many of us. He served with me on the planning committee of the Veteran Speakers Retreat, an that has occurred each year for 26 years and of which I was the coordinator of for the past 12 years, with Art's assistance for seven of those years. Now, my friend didn't know who I was, though he was very friendly. He can speak, but can't put together rational ideas and thoughts. He is unable to make most basic decisions for himself. I can't imagine what it's like for him to be a physically, fully functioning, healthy adult man, yet have a mind that has failed and doesn't allow him to make the most basic decisions. Fortunately, he probably doesn't realize any of this. And, he's very fortunate to have a brother who has and continues to take great care of him and make all the necessary decisions and choices for Art's welfare. I did enjoy a wonderful lunch at a seaside restaurant with Art and his brother Richard. Richard is on the left and Art on the right. I'll remember it as will Richard, unfortunately, Art will not.

Richard and I spent a couple more hours talking, not only about Art, but some of our philosophical views and concerns about where our country and society is heading at a lovely waterside park. We certainly didn't solve the problems of the world, but at least we accept that they exist. After we parted ways I determined that I was going to head down to Ft. Pierce, Florida, the first RVer friendly community in the area. So, I headed south about 16 miles to the "Walmart Motor Inn." Upon arrival I discovered that this Walmart had about a dozen RVs and vandwellers at both ends of the parking lot. For whatever reason, I chose the right end of the parking lot, selected a space that appeared level and parked. There was a vandwelling young woman, I believe her name was Joyce, parked there and she was chatting with a French Canadian gentleman from Quebec who was vandwelling in a recent model, white Dodge Grand Caravan mini-van. I joined in the conversation for a while. Then we all went out own ways and I set up for the night. Shortly thereafter it was time to close my peepers and say farewell to Saturday.

In the next article on this trek I'll fill you in on Days #14 thru #18.  


Fireman428 said...

Great post Ed, just seeing the sky and sea and flora brings back warm mémoires for me. Sorry to hear about the condition of your friend, I hope you provided him at least a spark of the good times gone by.
I'll be continuing to "ride along" my friend.
Smooth roads and safe travels
~~Dan ~~

Ed Helvey said...

Thanks, Dan --

Glad you're enjoying the "ride along." I'm in Port Charlotte currently visiting another blog reader, parked outside his house listening to some great doo wop and checking the email. Life is good.

I did my best to jog my friend's memory, but nothing registered. I did my best to make the visit a pleasant experience for him. I wish I could say make it a memorable experience for him, but that doesn't seem possible any longer. There is just so much we don't understand about the human brain.