Several months back I wrote an entry about my memories of vacations at Daytona Beach, Florida. I wondered if going back now, in my mid-fifties with my second wife and no kiddies, would provide me with some sense of nostalgia about vacations past. Oddly enough, an opportunity came out of the blue a few weeks ago for my wife and me to take a long weekend trip to Daytona. We are fortunate enough at this stage of our lives to be able to afford better accommodations than I could ever have enjoyed in previous decades. There aren’t any real five-star resorts in Daytona, but there are a few four-star places that are a cut above the rest, and we found a nice one at the small beach community on the south end of the area called Daytona Shores. In fact, the resort is simply called The Shores, and it was surprisingly comfortable if not luxurious, with several amenities you wouldn’t find elsewhere in Daytona.
My wife had never been to this beach, and she was curious to see my old haunts — the places I have told her about over the years. Some of the places, like the old apartments and hotels my family stayed in through the years, are no longer there. They are either replaced by other buildings or remain vacant lots ready for development. I was wondering if the highly-commercial, dare I say cheesy, atmosphere of Daytona was going to be over the top for her. Not at all. She loved it, and we were talking the whole time we were there about how to make long weekend trips work, returning to The Shores. The Boardwalk at Daytona has changed so much over the years, with an outdoor mall, new and extravagant rides, and huge hotels towering over the beach. However, some of the old arcades that my sons spent many hours and dollars in are still there, dirty and hot and smelly as ever. And of course, the ancient bandshell is still intact, where we heard a couple of bands playing. A real blast from the past was going in the salt water taffy store that has been in operation at the same location since before my wife and I were born. We filled up a plastic bag of taffy and both bought an ice cream cone — it was like tasting memories.