ANOTHER MECCA: DAYTONA
Off the Florida coast at Daytona is where the Commodore went down leaving STephen Crane and several other members of the ship including the captain to get to shore. The small museum at Ponce de Leon inlet has parts of the ship on display and the local inhabitants who act as guides to the museum were quite thoroughly involved in the lore of the capsized boat and its famously near-dead survivors. We climbed the lighthouse to look out over the sea. A shark bumped Crane's boat and we did see a lone dorsal fin in the golden gloaming.
Most of the beach has become oversized hotdog stands, but this site has remained pristine due to Crane's accident as it was written in The Open Boat and in the less-celebrated journalism that accompanied the event. Crane spent two full days and nights trying to get to shore amidst the riptides. Wading in the water one can feel these riptides even today, and also see the snowy egrets walking along the shore next to Dionysian men covered head to toe in tattoos as they wait for the next motorcycle race down the very firm sand beach. Ponce de Leon inlet near Daytona has become a sacred site and has been nearly untouched by time over the last hundred years. It is surrounded by the detritus of the crummy coastal culture of the Florida beach basket-cases who live from moment to moment and from papaya to papaya.