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2022 - October - Florida - Day 1

It's beautiful, it's bittersweet You're like a broken home to me

We were pleased that we managed to sleep through until 6.30am this morning considering the time difference we were adjusting to. The sun was just coming up as we pulled back the curtains to see our balcony for the first time. The sunrise was beautiful over the sea.

What we were not prepared for though was for Daytona Beach not to have any beach. The tide was very high and lapping against most of the hotels on the shoreline. Even more surprising was the amount of recent damage that had occurred to many properties including our hotel. Parts of the swimming pool area and car park had been completely destroyed. We assumed correctly (as we later confirmed) that this was due to Hurricane Ian (although the local we spoke to pronounced it as I-an which amused us).

The noise as we laid in bed from the waves below was very soothing. In fact, it was more like being on a cruise than actually being on a cruise.

Eventually we made our way down to breakfast where we had the usual Holiday Inn fare. We were told it was now high tide and that as the tide rescinded there would be the beach we had expected. As that though was some time away, we revised our plans to walk as far as we could along the beach until later, as we watched highlights of Rishi Sunak outside Downing Street on the USA TV news in the breakfast area.

We decided to drive from Daytona Beach Shores where we were staying to the more well-known and historic Daytona Beach and have a walk along the boardwalk. After managing to avoid a $10 parking charge we found a free 2-hour slot.

The whole area was geared for Bikers with bars and shops all on the same theme. It was quite tacky. Everywhere seemed to have wound down for the season and there were very few people around which suited us.

First of all, we walked out onto the pier which had a Joes Crab Shack at the end of it. Then we walked along the boardwalk in a Northerly direction. There were clear blue skies and it was a lovely temperature.

After a while Karen became desperate for a coffee. We passed several bars and restaurants but no coffee shops or cafes. Her need for caffeine grew and so we resorted to my phone to locate such a place. Incredibly in a country where sometimes you can see two other Starbucks from the one you are sitting in, there didn’t appear to be any for miles around. I can only assume the type of Biker clientele they attract don’t like coffee.

Eventually we came across a Dunkin Donuts and as their slogan goes – America runs on Dunkin. I found a seat outside and was most surprised when instead of coffee Karen appeared with two decaffeinated teas. Apparently, her need for caffeine had been surpassed by her need for a large tea to quench her thirst.

We wandered back to the car and headed back to the Hotel via a Publix which was on the way. We were supposed to just be buying sandwiches and drinks for lunch but ended up spending $147 dollars on goodness knows what. I will gloss over the incident which saw Karen accidentally knock an elderly gentleman working for Publix off a small stepping stool as she tried to reach for some cans of Pepsi. When I asked why she didn’t apologise she said that she had hardly touched him. She couldn’t see the irony in that as she said it wasn’t as if he fell to the ground or anything!

Our lunch was eaten on our balcony watching the streams on people now strolling along the beach that had now miraculously reappeared. Karen was keen to join them before the tide turned again so we found our way down to the beach.

We headed southwards to Sundown Pier which looked a long way away. It was a glorious walk on the firm but still wet sand and must have been a perfect temperature as Karen didn’t complain that she was either too hot or cold.

The devastation caused by the Hurricane was all along the shoreline as we walked. I had been under the impression that it had only hit the West coast not realising that the East Coast had also been in its path. Some of the properties must have been lucky not to have collapsed completely.

Apparently, many of them including our hotel shut down for days whilst their structural integrity was surveyed. There was repair work taking place everywhere with diggers and cranes being driven along the beach to get the necessary access which can only take place at low tide. Most properties no longer had access to the beach as their steps and stairs had all been destroyed. We walked past a ramp that you would have been able to drive down to get onto the beach where the tarmac halfway down had been taken by the sea.

After about 35 minutes we got to the Pier which was lucky itself to still be standing. The end out to sea had been destroyed as had the part connecting it to the land. There was lots of men and cranes trying to rebuild it already.

Back in the room I connected the VPN and logged onto Sky Sports to watch the Norwich game whilst Karen sat on the balcony. I shouldn’t have bothered as we were inept and toothless yet again losing to a Burnley penalty. Change in one way or another is needed.

For our meal tonight we decided to go to the only restaurant within walking distance which was a Red Lobster. It was though a longer walk than we thought. We were seated immediately and were just in time to order a couple of Margaritas from the Happy Hour menu. I had Garlic Linguine Alfredo with Chicken whilst Karen had Fish & Chips all accompanied as usual by the Cheese Biscuits which were delicious. It was all quite acceptable.

On the walk back I hit metaphorically hit the wall. I was totally exhausted and the travelling had caught up with me along with the jet lag. I slowly made it back to the room with Karen doing her best to keep me going. The time though was only 7.30pm and so I tried to read and watch TV for a while after having a glass of wine on the balcony but I was fast asleep by 8.30pm.

I always thought that age was just a number but it does catch up with us all eventually. I cannot just keep going like I used to at 100% power non-stop for days at a time. I used to think that there will be time to rest when I am older. That time is now approaching where perhaps we need to slow down a bit more. Mind you this is probably just the jet lag talking and bearing in mind we still walked 4 ½ miles in 29c in flip flops on our first day contributed as well.

So, our first full day in the USA this trip had ended, with a new PM at home and defeat for Norwich – same as other days so far this season.

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