Monday, December 23, 2013

Melbourne 31 Miles, Beaches 33 Miles


Platts Supermarket - 1955; compliments of www.westmelbourne.org.
The day's first brilliant sun rays blasted directly under the closed lids of my weary eyes. It took me seconds to realize why. We were heading dead east on old Highway 192 past Yeehaw Junction where a sign read Melbourne 31 Miles, Beaches 33 Miles. The sunlight's cutting light had finally edged its way under the two surfboards that had been shading my naked eyes. 

My neck was stiff and sore as hell. My flippin’ empty belly managed to grab the majority of my immediate, painful attention as I caught a lingering scent of siphoned gas from the neck of my shirt. Inherently, the sun's light dazed me. But it was the unique combination of gas vapors and Led Zeppelin's “Stairway to Heaven” slapping my nose and ears that directed my eyes to the front seat where Chris and Lester's heads moved in marvelous unison. Occasionally their heads thankfully blocked the sun's morning glare.   

Back then, Highway 192 was an empty two-lane highway winding through a part of Florida that hadn't changed much since the beginning of the last ice age. Bordered by the thick and lively Florida fauna and flora, the road's path was dominated by ancient live oaks dressed in resurrection ferns, Spanish moss and cypress trees punctuated in red orchids. 

This part of 192 was a lonely road slicing the St. John’s River south to north and inhabited only by cow pastures and Camp Holly. Compared to today's standards, very little stood between the west shore of the Indian River Lagoon and Yeehaw Junction, except for a solo traffic light stopping traffic at U.S. 1 and New Heaven in downtown Melbourne.

Much has changed since the mid-‘70s. Old Highway 192 has doubled its number of lanes, and there's much more traffic moving across it back and forth, and far more houses springing up along its course. But two things have not changed; those signs still read Melbourne 31 Miles, Beaches 33 Miles—and I still love surfing!


Rodney Smith, CEO of Little Pond Publishing;and author of Catching Made Easy and Enjoying Life on the Indian River Lagoon is a visionary and community leader who like to share his tales. Download these books digitally on Amazon, iTunes and Barnes and Noble by searching "Rodney Smith+Name of book"; or order the soft-covered books online!  See all of Rodney's upcoming events and exploits at www.rodneysmithmedia.com.