This Novel Life

"Live the life you dream." -Henry David Thoreau

Category: Adventures

Graffiti Tour


Forgotten Dairy Farm

Somewhere in Tennessee…

The Places Where Your Secrets Hide

What would have been,

What could have been,

If we had been.

20. Quick Trip To Disney







18. A Beautiful Slice Of History

One of the most beautifully understated places I have ever seen has to be The Casements in Ormond Beach, Florida. When we first visited this area on vacation, I thought it was such a beautiful piece of property but never thought it would have such rich history behind it. It is now used as a Cultural Center for the city (my daughter takes yoga here), but it was originally built in 1910 as a private residence, overlooking the Halifax River.

In 1918 John Rockefeller bought the mansion to use as his winter home after being told by his doctors that Ormond Beach was the best place for his health. Today, pictures adorn the walls depicting all the great parties, visitors and Rockefeller’s life at The Casements. There is also a room set up to look like how it would’ve back when he owned it. Rockefeller died at The Casements in 1937.¬†After his death, The Casements became an all girls school, and after that it was run down and partially burned down. It was added to the National Registry of Historic Places, and remodeled (to almost it’s former glory) in 2009.

Looking towards the gardens & Halifax River.

From the second I took a tour of The Casements, I knew this place was special. It has a wonderful feel to it, like you’re tossed back in time for a few moments. I wish I could have been alive to see it at it’s prime. There is also a book that I adore, about Rockefeller’s life at The Casements, called Neighbor John. For more information about The Casements, click here.

17. I Miss You Saco

We lived in Saco, Maine for about thirteen months. It was one of the best years of my life. We had this little two story apartment on a street that had an island park (yes, an island that was a park) & it was within walking distance of the picturesque Main Street that I fell hopelessly in love with. We celebrated Madison’s fourth birthday in that apartment, I fell in love with photography in that town and we explored so much of it. We planned to buy a house there. But now we live in Florida.

Which I’m happy about, but oh boy do I miss Saco. Not Maine. But Saco. Such a great little town with such character and charm. We will be back someday, but until then, I have pictures from our favorite little trail/park, Riverfront Park & the Riverwalk.

11. Cassen Park & Bailey Riverbridge Garens, My New Oasis

When I lived in Maine I spent countless hours on the beach at my grandparent’s house. It was and still is my favorite place in the world, and when everything got too stressful or too emotional I could sit on the beach and everything would melt away. But now I live in Florida and I can’t exactly go to Maine every evening to unwind. So I have been desperately trying to find my own little spot since we moved, and I think I have finally found it in Cassen Park & Bailey Riverbridge Gardens.
The two parks, which in my opinion should just be one big park, are tucked away on either side of the Granada Bridge on North and South Beach Street. They are both tiny, Bailey Riverbridge covers only 2.6 acres and Cassen is 3.6 acres. So what’s so great about these little parks? To me it’s simple, the pier that loops under the bridge, and connects the two. What a great little spot! When I took the dog for a walk there yesterday, we even spotted some dolphins. I could easily spend a few hours getting lost in the view here.

Cressen Park, at the corner of Granada Boulevard & South Beach Street, Ormond Beach, Florida. It also has a little bait shop, which I think is easily the cutest thing ever. Plus they have ice cream sandwiches.

View from the pier, Daytona in the distance & a lone dolphin.

Looking on to the pier from the Bailey Riverbridge Gardens side.

The Bailey Riverbridge Gardens. A plaque outside the historic Pilgrim’s Rest Primitive Baptist Church located here says it is the site of the first North American Christian wedding.

10. Sunset on the Indian River Lagoon

Friday and Saturday nights in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, the Marine Discovery Center (not to be confused with the Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet, FL) delivers an amazingly beautiful sunset tour on the Indian River Lagoon. I found out about this on Friday morning, and at 4:15 that afternoon we were aboard their Discovery pontoon boat, where our extremely knowledgeable narrator Mark informed Maddy that she would, in fact, get to see her favorite thing (this week), dolphins.

The dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon are Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins.

We passed the dog friendly Smyrna Dunes Park, which I later discovered is a great place to spend a morning with the puppy.

The Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse, right before the sun started to go down.

Coast Guard ships.

On our way back to the dock.

Sunset on the Indian River Lagoon.

The two hour tour was an amazing way to spend a sunset. For more information about the Marine Discovery Center ecotours, please click here.

8. Sea Bean Hunting

Yesterday we set on an adventure to Gamble Rogers State Recreation Area in Flagler Beach for a sea bean beach hike. Yeah, I had no idea what sea beans were either. But after a twenty minute lesson by the recreation area we learned all about sea beans. It turns out they are seeds from plants and vines in various tropical locations. They find their way to the oceans and rivers where they are carried about until they make their new home tucked into seaweed on a beach. You can find them on the beaches in locations like Florida and South America, and some parks of the UK, among other places. There’s different kinds of them, but we had a lot of luck finding Sea Coconuts, which kind of look like golf balls, and which can be polished to look quite beautiful.

Flags at the beach entrance warning us of medium wind & dangerous marine life.

Maddy kicking around the seaweed to look for hidden sea beans.

Our unpolished collection. The big round balls are sea coconuts, the little red and black thing is a sea hamburger, and the flat maroon thing in the right corner is a sea heart (my personal favorite).

Sea hamburger, two sea coconuts and a sea heart after some polishing.

You can find more information about sea beans at