We got up around 8 and had breakfast by the hotel pool again, and then left Key West (with one little bit of backtracking, because we had left Mark’s all-important hat behind at our breakfast table). We checked out Higgs Beach on our way out of Key West, but we were glad we didn’t try to walk there yesterday (it would have been quite the hike, and the beach was just full of bark and algae for miles, presumably from the recent storm, so it wouldn’t have been fun to walk).
We then drove the 100+ miles off the Keys, had lunch about an hour after we hit the mainland (at a Panda Express, nothing special), and then headed straight North on the Florida Turnpike for another 4 hours or so, headed for Cocoa Beach. We had no traffic issues whatsoever, but drove through a couple of downpours before we left the last bit of the storm system behind. It was still a mix of clouds and sun with temperatures in the mid-80s, but very nice. We got to Cocoa Beach via the fun Causeway across Merritt Island and to Cocoa Beach around 4 pm; the hotel is a large and anonymous Comfort Inn at the North end, and I was all ready to be a bit disappointed because it looked pretty blah and like it was last renovated in the early 80s, but a) we have this enormous two-room suite with view of the ocean, and b) we are really just half a block from the beach, which is all soft sand for miles in both directions, with a nice cool breeze and a mild but wonderful Atlantic surf all along. We settled in, then walked down to check out the beach, and decided to go eat something and then return to the beach for a quick dip into the water. For dinner, we had piled-high focaccia pizza at this New York pizza place that also served enormous 26-inch pizzas at a couple of tables. It was good but not fabulous, but we might go back for a salad, since it’s right across the street and we are here for three nights. We also stopped by the famous (obnoxiously famous—there were billboards ever since we crossed the Georgia border five days ago) Ron Jon Surf shop, which is right down the street from us, to buy a little waterproof container for a driver’s license, a few dollar bills and a hotel key.
Then we went to the beach and splashed in the surf for quite a while (the water is very shallow and we couldn’t go out far enough to swim; I don’t quite trust myself to swim through crashing waves), and then walked along the beach, watching sun and clouds go by. We went back to the room to clean ourselves up and walked around some more, finding some very nice frozen yogurt and walking back on a wooden board walk above the beach, watching the waves crashing on our left (east) as the sun was going down on the Western side, with this ridiculously color-coordinated sky, pink clouds on baby blue, to match several of the buildings around here. We were back around 8:30 and decided to call it a day – it was a lot of driving for Mark, and true to form, we didn’t last far into the evening. But it was a wonderful first half-day here, and we like the beach here a lot!