On this Thanksgiving I have lots to be thankful for.

I hope you do as well. For me it is my wife of nearly 50 years, two great kids and their families, including three grandchildren. Team that with a long life filled with adventure and I don't know how I could ask for more.

One thing I never take for granted is being able to live here in Florida. Living in the Sunshine State is truly a gift (recent storms not withstanding.) My own home state of Louisiana was a great place to grow up and back then I could never imagine leaving. Somehow in my life I have managed to visit all of the original 48 states, a dozen or so countries and worked for 26 summers near the city of Chicago.

As a kid from the deep south, I was mesmerized by the sight of skyscrapers along the shore of beautiful Lake Michigan. The Chicago area provided us with great museums, entertainment venues and wonderful ethnic foods to explore. I loved it there, but, still, when I first came to Florida in the late 1960s, I knew I was home.

Briefly I tried to make the Tampa area home, but when I came to Daytona Beach to see the 500, I was sold on Volusia County. So many places to fish around a place so steeped in automotive history hit me just right. I met my wife in Ormond Beach in 1973 and married soon after. I was able to convince my parents to retire to DeLand. Lana and I continued to commute to Chicago and both of our children were born there.

Over the years we have managed to see most of Florida and our children sort of grew up with Disney World. When I first came to Florida, Orlando was kind of a nondescript little town – now look at it.

After a while I bought an old motorhome that was not very reliable, but, with my mechanical abilities, was able to tour most of the state. What fun we had! Feeding the tiny Key deer apple slices through the screen door of the RV was a thrill for us all.

Catching lobster and fish dinners was a treat and walking the streets of Key West to watch the sundown festival was great fun and would be a tradition for us. We caught snook in Fort Myers, specks in Lake Okeechobee and reds in the Everglades.

Since 1975, we have been taking an annual journey to Sebastian Inlet. Our son Landan and daughter Shayla grew up there and now their children are able to enjoy it.

Lana and I love the panhandle. Once on the way home from my high school reunion in Louisiana, we stopped in Destin for steamed oysters. As it turned out we drank a little too much beer, but soon the staff joined in and it turned into a party. We had a ball!

Cedar Key is a great stop for us and as soon as we moved here permanently in 1992, we began going to the Gulf for scallops. Crystal River or Steinhatchee would see us each July to snorkel in the clear warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Of course, we love Volusia County. Over the years I have fed my family with clams, shrimp and oysters from Oak Hill and the fish I caught around Tomoka State park. We have been able to swim in most of the major springs and love Matanzas Inlet.

Locally I have been a part of the antique car community for more than 30 years and was a judge at the world class car show at Amelia Island near Jacksonville. We have taken full advantage of this magical place. I hope you do too.

Dan Smith is on the board of directors of the Motor Racing Heritage Association and is the author of two books, “The World’s Greatest Beach” and “I Swear the Snook Drowned.” Email questions and comments to fishwdan@att.net or call (386) 441-7793.

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