Returning to Vero Beach with Shells on my Toes

Nine Fifteen Twenty Fifteen:  A Ryder truck a tad too big for my driving pleasure with my car hitched behind.  This big’ish rig and I headed West on Route 60, turned right on 95 and drove North until well past night.  Carrying myself and my things back to Virginia; back to the future; back to be a Mom to my youngest, back in the VA for her final two years of high school.  Bittersweet day.  Goodbye Vero.  Hello again to my second Virginia girl.  Those two years have been both the toughest and most rewarding two years of my life.

Both my sweet Virginia gals are embarking on exciting new school adventures.  My youngest moves to Richmond to attend Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Arts.  My first born is off to the Netherlands to attend a brand new University.  My day job of the last 21 years is over; Mom is fired.  Yay ME!

Naturally, I packed my car once again and aimed it due South on 95.  Next stop, Vero Beach! Hard to stay away from Paradise by the i95.

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One of those things in life.  When you cannot imagine being anywhere else, you just GO.

So, here are the TOP TEN reasons I came running back to Vero Beach:

1. Beach, beach, BEACH.  South Beach. Atlantis Beach. Humiston Beach. Conn Beach. Jaycee Park BeachVero Beach Hotel & Spa Beach.  Sharkbait’s Beach get-ups. Beach under the Rail at Waldo’s.  What the heck do I love so much about these beaches?  Well, SALT, salt spray, waves, water, fish, fisher-people, turtle nests, QiGong, sunrise, sunset, shells and the many gifts from the sea.  Then there’s dolphin, tarpon, mullet runs, sharks, spinner sharks, pelicans, terns.  Lifeguards, lifeguard towers, SUP boards, surf boards, skim boards, boogie boards, boardwalk boards.  By now, you should get the drift – I never get bored on or looking upon the BEACH.


2. ‘I Got the Music in Me’ and am sometimes a very happy Dancing Queen!

Music, Music, MUSIC. Vero has such an AHMAZING amount of wonderful music and musicians ALL YEAR LONG & in so many venues.  Concerts in the Loop. Howl at the Moon.  Vero Beach High School’s Marching Band & VBHS’s Orchestra & String students. Collins & Company; Bobby G/Bobby & The Blisters; Uproot Hootenanny.  Downtown Friday’s & Saturday Nights Under the Stars. Anyone playing, picking, (Bibble?!) strumming and/or drumming at the Driftwood.  Where’s Waldo’s???  New faces taking the risk to play in front of Lemon Tree & Cravings.  Saturday Farmer’s Market.  So, though I may not dance each and every time I am lucky enough to catch the live music, you never know (nor do I always) when the urge will strike.


3. Cravings for All the Delicious Food, Food, FOOD in Vero. Breakfast at Chelsea’s on Cardinal, at Kountry Kitchen, the Lemon Tree, CJ Cannon’s, Mulligan’s local’s special & oh that Green Goddess with protein at Cravings! My Cravings obsessions extend to their cookies, soups, ice cream, croissants and a most excellent WiFi connection. La Tabla for absolutely EVERYTHING on their menu and the photos and their staff and the most excellent WiFi free spot to eat or simply sip a coffee in Vero. Tres Hermanos tacos anytime, any day of the week; the Mole on certain Saturday’s is better than even Mole in Mexico. Citrus Grillhouse for lunch or dinner with a view. Dario for happy hour, bar food, late night, their staff, the family and all the great people you meet at their bar.


4. Surf & Dive shops.  Deep Six for ALL their stock of everything.  This place is MORE dangerous to my financial stability than Nordstrom’s used to be.  I love so much there:  bargain bikini baskets, hats, rash guards, SUP gal wear, knee socks, shoes, shoe sale rack, ukuleles, real sun-protection sun glasses, toys, toy VWs, reading glasses, lip protection, the staff……Then, over the Wabasso Bridge, just past the ELC, is the Wabasso Beach Shop where I can lose my whole paycheck on really cool SUP gal wear and Beach toys and surf boards and the 75% off room and their frequent buy some, get more free specials.


5. The 32963. (Once upon a time the 32960.) Riverside Cafe & the coi at night. Vero Tackle. Paddles by the Sea. Boats, Boats, BOATS. The Barber Bridge. The Christmas Parade. The Clydesdales. THE party of the year at Callie Corey’s house. Ocean Drive. Cardinal Drive. Flamevine Lane. Eagle Drive. Casey’s Place. Nino’s. Salt of Vero.


6. Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy Hours.  Riverside Cafe. Darios. Citrus Grill. Heaton’s Reef. Filthy’s. Vero Bowl Lanes & Lounge. Kelly’s.  If you want to get happy farther afield, drive (or use Uber or a designated driver) and don’t miss Little Jim’s & the Tiki Bar in Ft. Pierce.  In Sebastian, Salty’s, which happens to be next to my fave place to see and buy fish AND eat Lionfish tacos – Crab E Bills.  Talk about a phenomenal place to buy the freshest fish anywhere & learn about the Sebastian water-front throughout its history.  If you are sweet and nice and lucky, Crab E Bill himself may share a fish tale or two.

7. The 32960. Yes, some of us don’t really like to leave ‘the island’ BUT you are missing so very much if you don’t venture to the west. 14th Avenue for a start. 14th Avenue for a middle and 14th Avenue for an ending as well.  Vero has a GREAT old town, downtown that is getting better ALL THE TIME. Some of my faves: Seahorse Lane Boutique, Tea & Chi, Fish Shack, Southern Social, Tiger Lily Art Studios and Gallery. How about some Pickleball on the courts at Pocahontas Park?


8. Pineapples & Citrus & Cattle. Vero’s roots are agriculture.  The Spanish brought their citrus trees and their cattle and their small horses that are adept in our scrub lands and woods.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Pineapples in Vero?  Yes, indeed. There is quite a history behind pineapple groves here in Indian River County.  Today, the MOST delicious pineapple you may ever taste is grown here, off Route 1, in Wabasso. Nature Farms.


9. The Indian River Lagoon and the A1A.  The A1A needs no further explanation.  Jimmy Buffett sings about it often. Our Lagoon is the second largest estuary in the USofA (the Chesapeake gets top billing) and one of the most biodiverse environments in the world. Truth.  If you want to learn more, DO visit the Environmental Learning Center AND DO take their Eco Cruise, Captained by a well known Mariner, Scott Corey.  Every year there is a GREAT charitable tournament, Lines in the Lagoon, organized by Vero youth who have grown up playing on and around the Lagoon.  Ever heard of a Spoil Island or Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1903?


10. SUP‘ing Year Round.  Yup, I am an addicted SUP gal and is Vero ever the PARADISE for this sport called Stand Up Paddleboarding.  Save your pennies though ’cause it takes more than a few clam shells to get your own SUP gear.  But DO visit Dragonfly Boat Works and SeaSupGo to check out all there is to offer and OF COURSE to buy all you need to SUP.

I have been SUP’ing on the Lagoon; in the ocean; circled the flagpole marking the wreck of the Breconshire.  Commissioned in Scotland in 1892, the ship sunk in 1894 in 12 feet of water, on a moonless night in Vero, when the ship’s mates thought they were 3 miles offshore. The Breconshire had been on a voyage out of New York Harbor enroute to Tampa to pick up an undisclosed cargo.  Now you know why the flagpole is out there, front and center, on one of Vero’s most visited beach.

I could really go on forever and a day about the Paradise we call Vero Beach but I shall end this love fest by saying:  it is the Pirates and the People that I meet in Vero, whether they are born here or come here, that keeps me hooked.

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Nancilee Wydra
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