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Turtle Mound National Historic Site

by Michel Delos Santos

Turtle Mound National Historic Site is what is referred to in archaeological circles as a shell “midden,” which could be crudely translated into layman’s terms as a prehistoric mass of land, mixed with a mindboggling amount of oyster shells, to form the vaguely turtle-shaped hill we see today. But this east Florida beachfront Turtle Mound is no ordinary midden – it’s the largest shell midden of its kind on the American mainland.

This amazing National Historic site lies within Volusia County, Florida, only about 9 miles south of the laid-back seaside city of New Smyrna Beach on Florida State Road A1A, which provides one with magnificent views across the white sand beaches to the shimmering blue of the scenic Atlantic Ocean coastline.

The land upon which Turtle Mound casts its shadow is an archaeological site and a popular tourist attraction, garnering no little amount of recognition and admiration on September 29, 1970, when the United States National Register of Historic Places bestowed upon it the honor of placing its name on their list of prestigious sites across the country.

It is definitely worth checking out this massive mound of shellfish, sans fish, which, according the Volusia County website, spreads oyster shells across more than 35,000 cubic yards, stretches more than 600 feet alongside the banks of the Indian River and rises up to approximately 50 feet tall. There is scientific evidence that back in the good old prehistoric days, Turtle Mound scraped the sky at least 75 feet from the ground.

The majestic mound stood tall enough to serve as a landmark to some of the earliest explorers, mostly Spaniards, who sailed across the Atlantic to reach it. Turtle Mound, which is owned and operated through the collaborative efforts of the National Park Service and Canaveral National Seashore, remains visible from more than 6 miles out at sea.

To get there from the urban streets and sidewalks of New Smyrna Beach, just get yourself on the South Causeway Bridge (S.R..44) and head east toward the A1A. Once you’ve reached the S.R. 44, A1A confluence, head south on the A1A until you reach the National Seashore entrance. From there you should see some instructive roadside signs to follow, which will bring you right up to the “shell” as it were of Turtle Mound. Expect to pay a nominal fee for visiting the federal land.

New Smyrna Beach Waterfront Loop

by Michel Delos Santos

New Smyrna Beach has a lot of the attractions, features and characteristics of many of Florida’s fine cities. It soaks up the warm, tropical sunshine that is the state’s largely constant companion; it has luxurious condos and resort hotels; it has palm trees and unique boutiques and restaurants. But the feature that puts New Smyrna Beach in a category all by itself is what’s colloquially referred to as the “Waterfront Loop.”

The water in the moniker Waterfront Loop is the blue Atlantic Ocean, but it is not the only body of water to which the name refers. Along its mostly rectangular-shaped route, the Waterfront Loop either crosses or runs alongside the Intracoastal Waterway and the Indian River.

Another one of New Smyrna Beach’s signature features is what locals call the island, a thin, oceanfront strip of land that lies between the mainland and the ocean.

As it meanders along its nearly six-mile route, Waterfront Loop offers breathtaking views of Florida’s kaleidoscopic sunrises and sunsets; picturesque vistas overlooking all of that aforementioned sparkling blue water; and brings you right through the vibrant, pulsating heart of New Smyrna Beach.

With approximately 23,000 residents, the city itself is the ideal size for those who like to have easy access to most of the conveniences and varying entertainment and recreational options usually afforded to much larger metropolitan areas, but without a lot of the crowds, traffic jams and personal safety issues. It is this relaxed, laid-back atmosphere that NSB’s Waterfront Loop exemplifies.

When you are ready to experience the Loop for yourself, you will probably begin by taking a leisurely eastbound spin through the condos and townhomes that line both sides of North Causeway, heading toward the sea. Hang a right when you get to South Atlantic Avenue. If you hit Club Breakers, you’ve gone too far. Once you’re on South Atlantic Avenue, you will cruise parallel to the ocean as you head south for a few blocks until you come to the intersection of South Atlantic Avenue and the A1A (also known as the South Causeway). Turn right once again and you will be heading west on your way back toward the city. To complete the loop or go around again, you take a right onto South Myrtle Avenue. Then, take another right onto Mary Avenue and after a short, southbound jaunt on North Riverside Drive, you finally get to take a left turn at North Causeway to start your next lap.

However you navigate the roads along the Waterfront Loop, you’ll find that it’s one of New Smyrna Beach’s real gems.

5 Tips to Get Your HVAC System Ready for Summer

by Michel Delos Santos

As the weather begins to turn warmer and the trees, flowers and grass have regained full color, one of the critical household duties facing homeowners falls into the “necessary evil” category: Giving your Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) a little tender loving care.

Regardless of whether you enjoy this type of work or not, there a number of practical and downright vital reasons for you to stay on top of your HVAC maintenance. Perhaps the biggest reason is an old one – you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

If your HVAC system breaks down due to negligent maintenance, you will most likely find yourself sweating buckets this summer in your new sauna, the one that used to be your cool and comfy home. Mechanical failures and breakdowns aside, you will want to keep your HVAC in tip-top shape for financial reasons because clean, efficient equipment costs less to operate.

So, here are 5 sure-fire, no-nonsense, easy tips to get your HVAC system geared up and ready for the summertime:

1. Freshen up your filter – If you didn’t know this already, you need to understand that maintaining, cleaning and periodically checking on your HVAC’s filter is arguably the most important thing you can do to ensure it is running properly. It is also one of the easiest things to do. Filters tend to range in price from about $12 to about $40. Replacing them is normally as simple as pulling the old one out and placing the new one in its place. So, if you don’t want pollens, dust and all kinds of air pollutants, and you want to keep costs as low as possible, make sure you keep your filter fresh and clean.

2. Clean the area around the condensing unit – First, make absolutely, 100 percent sure that you turn off the power to the HVAC system! Then get rid of any and all debris, like blades of grass and dry leaves, in and around the unit. Take a look at the fan blades and clean them too.

3. Lubricate the fan motor – Once again, turn the power to the unit off. If the owner’s manual is handy, thumb through it and look for specific information about the motor. It should show you how to access the fan motor. There are usually a couple of oil ports located above the blades for you to drop in some household oil.

4. Check all air vents – Your HVAC unit could be running like a Kenyan marathoner, but if the vents are clogged or coated in dust, it defeats the purpose. Think of them as your last line of defense between you and dirty, dusty air.

5. Go pro – No matter how awesome you are at keeping your HVAC clean and well-oiled, unless you are a professionally trained and experienced HVAC serviceperson, you really should find a company you can trust and have their professionally trained and experienced professionals take a look at your HVAC on a regularly scheduled basis.

New Smyrna Beach turns 125!

by Michel Delos Santos

Happy Birthday - New Smyrna Beach turns 125New Smyrna Beach, Florida celebrates its 125th year as an incorporated city this summer, beginning with a time capsule presentation and sculpture dedication at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, June 8, at City Hall. Afterward, there will be a reception at the New Smyrna Beach Museum of History.

Tickets are required for the reception. They cost $25 apiece, and come complete with some tasty hors d'oeuvres and invigorating refreshments. And, if you are so inclined, you can take a tour of the Mary S. Harrell Black Heritage Museum.

There are a limited amount of tickets available for the reception, so it is recommended that you purchase yours in advance to make sure you don’t miss out on all of the fun!

After all, New Smyrna Beach is only going to turn 125 just this one time, so now is the time to get ready for it. And you can do that by stopping in at City Hall, located at 210 Sams Avenue, or New Smyrna Beach City’s Recreation Department, located at 1000 Live Oak Street, to acquire your tickets.

New Smyrna Beach in a Nutshell

Before you head on over to City Hall on June 8 for the kickoff of the big birthday bash, you can brush up on your New Smyrna Beach history here and prepare to have fun during the time capsule presentation.

The general area we know as New Smyrna Beach welcomed its first serious settlers in 1768. This hale and hearty bunch numbered approximately 1,225, the vast majority of whom were following the lead of a Scotsman by the name of Dr. Andrew Turnbull.

City historians will tell you that Turnbull, who enjoyed a side career as an entrepreneur in addition to his physician’s practice, acquired from the British Crown a land grant for the area. He and the settlers established their colony along the western bank of the Indian River, across from one of east Florida’s comparatively few coastal inlets.

Turnbull and the rest of the settlers thrived on the land, producing bountiful harvests of such commercially viable crops as cord, rice and cotton.

When the community of about 550 residents became an officially incorporated city on June 6, 1887, it went by the name “New Smyrna.” The “Beach” wasn’t tacked on until 1947, when the city took Coronado Beach under its wing. More than 23,000 people call New Smyrna Beach home today.

Times, Days, Events

The full schedule of events is listed below. You can also check out the city’s website here, or call 386.424.2175.

Saturday, June 9th Events at Riverside Park:

  • 10 a.m. – Kids fishing tournament
  • 10 a.m.-2 p.m. – Period arts and crafts, Atlantic Center for the Arts at Yurick Studios
  • 4 p.m. – Family games and activities
  • 5 p.m. – New Smyrna Beach high School Band
  • 5 p.m. – The Food Truck Bazaar/Gourmet Convoy
  • 7 p.m. – Firecracker 4-Mile Run
  • 9 p.m. – Fireworks over the river

Canal Street:

Sunday, June 10th Events:

10 a.m – Love in the Park, a community-wide worship celebration, Riverside Park.

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