The Beach – Part 7

Kawabunga, y’all!

It’s spring time finally, and the Siberia like, arctic, colder than outer space temperatures – in the 50’s, are long behind us here on the First Coast. We’ve been enjoying balmy highs in the 70’s and low 80’s for the last few weeks. Which is a really great thing because just you try to find a stocking cap and gloves in Florida. It ain’t happening.

So I’m driving home the other day and I hear the ice cream truck nearby. They haven’t changed a bit since I was a kid, except for prices. This one had music that sounded like it was recorded on a cassette tape 37 years ago, played through an old school drive-in like speaker, with the sound quality of a 1930’s gramaphone. I couldn’t tell you the song I first heard, but what caught my ear was all of a sudden the song switched to Henry Mancini’s Pink Panther theme. The driver has excellent taste in music! I’m sitting at a stop light now looking for this ice cream truck because I’m dying to see the person driving, the one whose taste in music was really interesting given his day job and albeit strange for an ice cream truck. As the light turns green I inch forward only to spot the ice cream truck coming out of a side street about half a block a way.

You’re not going to believe this. You’ll think I’m making this up but I’m not.

As I drive past the ice cream truck I swear the driver was Ed! Obsessive compulsive Ed from the pizza joint. I couldn’t believe it. I did a double take as I drove past him and I could swear that it was him. I recognized the hair first, his posture next and of course the unusually clean arms. Oh, I laughed so hard. I figured he’d go back to Atlanta after being banished from Cabo Island Pizza, but looks like he stayed here.

And that reminds me. I have bad, bad new for y’all. Me – I’m devastated. I can’t believe this is happening. I found out on Tuesday night when I was at trivia. Cabo Island Pizza and Surf Museum is closing this Saturday. THE HORROR!

That’s my favorite place in South JAX Beach! They show surfing movies 24×7. They’re walking distance from where I live!! I’ll go there one last time, watch surfing videos and hope the next folks to buy the place re-open it as a surf museum. I’m sorry most of my friends didn’t get down here in time to visit that place. It’s an iconic pizza joint here at the beach. Gosh. I don’t want to believe they’re closing. I have no idea what I’ll do now that my hang out is no more. They’ve even been known to get people home who are too hammered to walk or drive even. I’m not saying that happened to me or anything. I’m just saying.

RIP Cabo’s.

A few weeks ago I went to the JAX Beach Seafood Festival. I was really excited. This was the first seafood festival I attended on the East coast and it was really fun. As expected, I walked along the beach to get to the Pavillion where all the fun stuff was happening. And because it was such a nice day there were all kinds of people out there.

I saw a man who looked to be about 93, with a beer belly that’d make Budweiser proud – or embarrassed I’m not sure, a pure white full beard and mustache down to about his belly button, beach combing with his metal detector and a HUGE drink on his waist holder drink thingie, wearing a red Speedo. You know I wouldn’t lie about such things. I tried to look away but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. oh, how I wish I had my camera!

Then I saw a guy with dreadlocks that were so long they dragged on the ground behind him. He wasn’t the least bit offended when I said I wasn’t interested in hearing about God just then. Maybe later, but not right now. He walked along with the biggest, most genuine smile, and talked to or said hello to everyone he passed.

And of course, there are the kids trying to learn how to use a skin board for the first time. I swear, parents do this on purpose just to be entertained or to submit the videos to AFV. For those of you who don’t know what a skin board is, it’s a flat piece of wood you throw ahead of you on about one inch of water, give or take. As the board is moving away from you, you run and jump on it and you can ride on the skin board about 20 feet or so if you land on it right. If you don’t land on it the correctly you either break your pelvis landing or you face plant really, really hard.

Well, there were kids-a-plenty on the beach that day and near everyone one of them had a skin board. You know it’s bad when you’re five feet away or so and you can feel the thud when the child lands after having fallen off the skin board. The good news is that they’re small, lower to the ground and lighter than adults. But still. Those were some tough kids. Brush them off, and off they go again.

And you know what else is way cool about going to the beach? The kids. Children playing in the water or in the sand is never a dull moment. Not ever. It’s fun to watch a group of them. One screams, then they all scream. One runs, then they all run. Then they scream some more, then back into the water they wade and play. And boy, do they take pride in their sand creations! Kids are absolutely adorable at the beach.

When I finally got to the Seafood Festival there was a band already playing, and there were hundreds of people milling about. And this is only about noon-ish. The usual vendors were there, people selling incense (I bought some patchouli), Rasta stuff, candles, and hemp clothing. I just loved walking around the festival! The seafood part – that was actually a little disappointing. After carefully considering my options I ultimately decided for the coconut shrimp. When the vendor handed me four shrimp on a stick I about had an aneurysm when the guy said, “Ten dollars please”. I don’t know what I was expecting exactly, but I wasn’t prepared for that. Ten bucks for four shrimp?

Did I just turn into my parents right then…?

I suppose if the food was good I wouldn’t have minded so much but it tasted like it came straight from the freezer. There were several vendors whose signs read, “Fresh Mayport Shrimp” but I can say with certainty, “fresh” shrimp do not have the same texture as the kind of shrimp you have to chip the ice off of after taking it out of the freezer. Sure. All seafood is “fresh” at some point, but this stuff wasn’t fresh from the ocean today. Or yesterday. So rather than get any more food I decided to hit up the beer tent instead. Though I’m not much of a Budweiser fan (that was all they had) it was nice and cold. I continued to walk around some more enjoying the sights and sounds and later meandered home via the beach.

I actually went swimming earlier that day too, for just a short while. While 62 degree water temperature doesn’t sound too cold, I can assure you it really, truly is. Especially if I’m not moving constantly. I haven’t been back in since autumn of last year but it’s up to 64 degrees now and holding, so I’m guessing I’ll give it a try this weekend. I cannot wait to get back in the water regularly!

As with the crazy party crowds I’ve mentioned, I thought that after these last few weeks I’d keep a running total of interesting things I find in or around my yard. I found a pipe, a dead fish, Waffle House left overs, a brake light cover, and an armadillo. The armadillo was alive and well and scared the heck out of me at five something in the morning. I didn’t even know we had armadillos here. I have a frog that lives in my garden and he’s there regularly. I named it Erebos since I only see him in the dark. There was also a four foot plus snake, which I believe was not poisonous.

I learned the hard way the other day to never do yard work in flip flops. Apparently, we have a rather large snake population, which I discovered firsthand while trimming a hedge the pampas grass. Fortunately we only have about three kinds that are poisonous and I doubt the snakes living in my pampas grass were poisonous. But the size of some of the snakes were a bit startling. It’s a good thing I don’t mind snakes else I’d have been on the five o’clock news.

JAX Beach has a lot of fun stuff coming up! The Jazz Festival is this weekend, all weekend, as well as a surfing contest both Saturday and Sunday. Guess where I’ll be? We have a beach volleyball tournament on the weekend of the 9th, a sand castle contest on the weekend of the 16th, another surf tournament on May 7th with a “fish rodeo” on the same day (I’m not sure how that works exactly), followed by another beach volleyball tournament on May 15th, and starting May 20th, the Moonlight Movie series starts!!! Those are free movies they play outdoors at the Pavilion on the beach.

As soon as I start swimming I’m sure I’ll have some way more interesting things to tell y’all.

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