December 4th, 2016
Flagler Beach, FL
Today I was Thea’s guest at the Flagler Beach Art and Wine Tour. Having spent a number of vacations on Ormond Beach as a child, then a teen and eventually an adult, I was familiar with Flagler’s’ location, but had never visited. If you’re following along, I’ve now spent a day visiting the beaches south of Daytona and now north. I don’t have any plans to visit Daytona though.
We arrived in Flagler and I began to think how similar it was to Ormond . The brightly colored buildings, the smell of the ocean’s salty air, but mostly it’s the approach. To get to these beaches, you have to cross the bay. This requires you to drive up over a bridge, usually a high bridge, where you immediately see the end of the continent and everything in front of you is ocean all the way to Africa or Spain if you look slightly north. As a kid born in the suburbs, the first time I saw this I was struck with awe. Even when I finally reached the California coast or the Gulf of Mexico later on in my life, it did not hold the same awe as the first time we turned left onto Granada Boulevard off US1 and crossed that bridge. In fact, I often wonder where the name Granada Boulevard came from because I would swear it’s because it faces Granada on the other side of the globe.
We pulled up into a sandy parking lot behind a building off Moody Boulevard. The parking lot was filling up and a colorful door marked the back entrance to the Ocean Art Gallery. Once inside, I meandered around gallery sipping wine and admiring the local artists work hanging on the wall. It was then that I was introduced to another guest. This guest and I had something in common, were both down here from Vermont and both of us were visiting. Much of the art was very bright and colorful and I found it very interesting to the contrast of Vermont where the colors, no less spectacular, but are much softer on the eye. By the time I made my rounds inside, the buses outside were ready to load up and take us all on a tour to some local artists homes and a wine and cheese shop.
Our first stop was to the gallery of world-renowned sculpture artist Paul Baliker. Artists have such a wonderful gift. Being able to look at a blank canvas, object or in this case, drift wood and not only envision the piece, but possess the skills to build it. Some many have the skill, but not the vision while others have the vision, but not the skill. When the two come together, its beautiful and here we are standing in the gallery of an artist who very much possesses both. All around us were completed works, works in progress and works waiting for vision.
Our next stop was to the Hammock Wine and Cheese Shoppe for refills on our wine and listen to some nice live music as we perused through the shop examining various art pieces displayed on their walls.
I was enjoying the bus ride / sight seeing tour and had hoped we’d have more studios to visit, but we’d come to the end of the tour. There was another one originally lined up, but he had to cancel the tour visit at the last minute due to health issues so we returned to the Ocean Art Gallery on Flagler Beach. We headed back inside the gallery where we were treated to more live music by the talented Jessica Nedelisky. After grabbing a little more wine, Thea’s friends and I headed out to lunch at the Funky Pelican.
The Funky Pelican is a local landmark of sorts. The city owned building is located right on the beach and is part of the Historic Flagler Beach Fishing Pier. While Restaurant opened in 2012 after a long vacancy the pier has been a landmark since opening day July 4th 1928. Sadly, just 8 weeks later, it would be damaged by a storm and has repeatedly been damaged by storms. Hurricane Matthew left its mark on the pier too; shortening the 806 foot long pier with a T head to 571 feet. It remained closed as we enjoyed our lunch feet from the pier entrance.
After lunch, we said goodbye to Thea’s friends and Thea took me on a tour north to find the homes on stilts I remember fondly as a kid. The area north of Flagler had changed drastically and had also suffered some significant damage from Hurricane Matthew too. After my tour of the Stilt Homes, we headed back to the lake house. I’d be heading out the next morning for a Miami bound train.
Enjoy the pictures.