May 272017

We spent much of yesterday showing my son Travis and his wife Geli around the area, and I think by the time we were done they realized they weren’t back home in Alabama anymore.

We started out at Sugar Mill Ruins in New Smyrna Beach, exploring what’s left of an old pre-Civil War sugar mill. Boy, the history they could tell you about if these walls could talk.

Then we drove into Port Orange and spent some time wandering around the Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens. This started life as another sugar mill, run on slave labor, before it was burned in 1836 during the Second Seminole War. In the 1950s an entrepreneur leased the property and installed a bunch of concrete dinosaurs to build an early day theme park called Bongoland. You can read about it in my blog post Jurassic Park South.

We spent some time walking down the paths and admiring the many kinds of plants, along with the old dinosaur statues that still remain. Then Geli spotted a living creature that was even more thrilling – this big owl sitting on the limb of a tree. He didn’t seem to have a care in the world, and certainly wasn’t bothered by us gawking at him and taking pictures.

Besides the owl, I managed to get a picture of a couple of other beautiful chicks, Miss Terry and Geli.

One of my favorite places in this area is the Sunglow Fishing Pier in Daytona Beach, so that was our next stop. Just before we got there two police cars and a fire truck came roaring past us with lights and sirens going, and when we got to the pier we found out that’s where they were headed. We thought maybe somebody had been injured on the beach, or possibly bitten by a shark, since this area is the Shark Bite Capital of the World.

But as it turned out, they were responding because of an altercation between a very dedicated though misguided young man who took objection to somebody hooking this fellow. I’ve seen a few stingrays in my time, but nothing this big.

Just how big was it? It took almost three hours for this gang of men to pull it out of the water and up to the pier, inch by inch.

And once they did and flopped it down onto the deck of the pier, the whole structure shook. That is one big stingray!

Somebody put up some sort of portable scale, and while I could not get close enough to see it myself, he said the scale’s capacity was 440 pounds and it exceeded that. The same fellow that caught this one said that a week or so ago he caught another stingray from the pier that weighed 600 pounds. And yet people are swimming around in the water with the sharks and critters like this! No thanks, I’ll stay on the beach and watch the pretty girls walk by, if it’s all the same to you.

When we left the pier we went to Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse, which went into service in 1887. Another place with a lot of history attached to it.

And tomorrow we will do some more exploring. We’re going to send these kids home with a lot of stories to tell the folks back in Alabama!

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of After The Fire, book nine in my pal George Wier’s popular Bill Travis mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – Don’t believe everything you think.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  4 Responses to “We’re Not In Alabama Anymore!”

  1. It’s sad that people believe Stingrays are dangerous. Treated with respect they are gentle creatures. We even swam with them on our honeymoon and were shown how to hold them without any problems.
    Hope he doesn’t just catch them for the sake of the kill.
    In 2015 i climbed to the top of the lighthouse and got some fantastic pictures of the area but we also had a young girl freak out when she suddenly developed a fear of heights.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It’s about time.

  2. Read about it here first and then saw it on a National News site. Wow! Nick with the scoop.

  3. That’s me Jason, always on the job.

  4. Statistically, you have a better chance of being struck by lightning than being attacked by a shark. I imagine those odds go up even further for sting rays. If you enjoy the water it’s stupid to let fear of a remote possibility keep you out of it.

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