As I have in the past I'm going to be sharing with you the details of our week in the Florida panhandle. I am going to use a "10 things" list to do it.
These are not in any specific order just simply a list of our vacation memories.
Because it's less costly and more convenient than flying, once again, we chose to drive to Florida. But this trip would only be about 2/3 as long as our other trips to the Sunshine state.
It was 530 miles, each way. Because I enjoy a long road trip every once in a while, I didn't mind driving both ways.
Loaded with the clothes, sun tan lotion, and anything else we might need for a week at the beach, Paula and I opened our bag of cheddar cheese Combos (one of our travel traditions) and hit the road early on a Saturday morning.
Most of the drive there was along I-65. We passed one of my favorite landmarks at a rest stop just inside the Alabama border.
Along the way, Paula and I listened to Sirius XM radio and the first couple of chapters of the audio version of "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets".
Once we reached Georgiana we got off of I-65 and our journey south east took us on a series of county highways ending with route 98 aka Emerald Coast Highway. This would be our main thoroughfare for the week.
As we were on the Mid-Way Bridge which goes over the Chocotawatchee Bay, we saw a couple of things we'd been looking for...
...a beautiful sunset over the bay and...
...A welcome sign.
Ninety percent of our travel throughout the week was spent going up and down route 98 to and from Destin. The road is a divided highway that runs east and west. There are restaurants, shopping areas, and gas stations on both the north and south sides. This means one thing, a lot (and I mean a lot) of U-turns. I think I made more of them during this week than I have in the last 5 years combined.
The return trip was a lot of fun despite the occasional rain showers that ranged in intensity from a drizzle to a downpour.
Paula finished her second paperback of the week took during the trip. I listened to all or parts of 3 countdown shows on XM radio. One was hosted by a guy named Lou Simon. The other by the legend, Kasey Kasem. The third by a trio of the original MTV VJs. They were from the years 1966, 1974, and 1980, respectively.
Like I said there's nothing like a good long road trip but it's always nice to come home.
The residence where we spent our week was not the most luxurious of accommodations.
It was a condo in the Miravilla Resort.
It was located right next to the elevator on the 3rd floor of condo building #4.
We decided to rent it based on the cost its location relative to the beach. It offered most of what we needed and are used to while on vacation. It was nice but not fancy by any means.
For about the same price per night as a room at a "value resort" at Walt Disney World, we got a nice kitchen, 2 half baths, a shower and a small washer/dryer set up.
There was a set of bunk beds built into the wall along the hallway just outside the one bedroom. Of course we didn't need them so they were used mostly for storage. The bedroom had a king size bed but no TV; something that was a real disappointment.
The living room furniture was just a couch and a chair. The sofa was not uncomfortable but it could have been better. The chair needed to be replaced.
There was a wall mounted TV and a small table for eating meals.
We spent a lot of time in the condo, so I would have liked it to have been a little nicer. But it was okay. Next time we'll spend a little extra to get one nicer.
These next 2 things may seem like they are the same but they are not. You'll see what I mean.
The beach was only a 10 minute walk from our condo. It was the object of my wife's admiration and the reason we chose the Florida panhandle as this year's Destination (see what I did there?)
The shoreline along Scenic Gulf Drive was fenced off and available only to resort guests staying at the many vacation homes and condos in the area. Miravilla had it's own section of that beach accessed through their private gate.
An amenity that came with our rental; this access was one of the reasons we chose our condo. Another perk was the beach chairs and an umbrella set up and waiting for us each day. This was also a resort amenity.
Here's what we saw every day once we arrived at the beach.
We went to the beach, for at least an hour or more, every day that we were in Destin.
If I had to pick one picture to represent our entire vacation it would be this one, a POV shot taken from our little corner of the beach.
It was so nice just sitting there relaxing. I spent most of my time catching up on episodes of my favorite podcasts. Paula enjoyed reading. As I mentioned she managed to finish 2 books during the week. The beach was our vacation happy place.
We didn't go in the water very much (more on that in a bit) but we did enjoy watching the waves.
A couple of early evenings after 5:30 when the umbrellas and chairs put up for the night, we went through the gate and sat on a blanket down on the sand.
Our main reason for going at that time was to enjoy relative serenity on the seashore at of the end of the day.
Even though the sunset wasn't directly over the ocean horizon it was still nice.
We watched the birds and Paula lamented about not seeing many sea shells to add to her collection.
We also did a little bit of sand sculpting. Paula made a sea turtle.
And I made, what has become a beach tradition for me, a heart in the sand to help mark the place in time when we were there.
On Wednesday evening, while exploring the area we found ourselves looking to make a U-Turn on highway 98 west of the city. That's when we came across a very nice public beach that we hadn't noticed before.
We stopped and waded through the 50 foot path of sand to discover Elgin Beach.
Here's a link to my You Tube video I shot during our time there.
Our last day on the beach was Friday, May 12. While we had had excellent weather for our beach time the rest of the week, on this day it was different.
Here's another You Tube link that shows what the conditions were like that day.
Overall, I really liked the beach experience portion of our vacation. The only negative aspect of it had to do with the getting around on the sand.
Due to my personal mobility and balance issues, walking on the sand was very difficult and at times exhausting.
But that has more to do with my lack of attention to physical fitness than it does the beach.
The experience has actually served as a "wake up call" for me in regard to my future health and well being is concerned.
As I mentioned earlier, the whole reason for going to Destin was to finally give my wife an entire vacation centered around the beach.
Now I'm not sure how I'm gonna get her to take another one that's not spent along any of the 1300 miles of Florida coastline. But there's time to work on that.
"By the sea by the sea by the beautiful sea" (feel free to sing along) "You and me you and me oh how happy we'll be".
The spirit and lilt with which that song is written is exactly how we felt while sitting there in our beach chairs. It was so serene. Check out this video on my You Tube channel: Serenity By The Sea
Even walking along the shore was nice. My wife absolutely loved it.
But for me actually going into the surf was not such a good thing.
For reasons I won't go into, I chose not to wear my brace on my left leg when I went to the beach. This caused problems for me when I tried to enjoy going into the ocean.
The force of the waves coming in and their erosion of the sand under my feet on their way out reeked havoc with my already shaky balance.
I tried to go in for a swim on the 2nd day of our trip but couldn't keep my balance well enough to go in up past my shins. I kept getting knocked over.
It was both frustrating and embarrassing at the same time. I got to the point where I just decided to sit down on the shore and let the waves wash over my legs. Paula sat with me.
That may seem like a good alternative to swimming. It did to us at the time. But when we did that the ocean decided to play a nasty game of "push back."
Without going into too much detail, it involved a large and very uncomfortable deposit of wet sand and our swimsuits. Enough said.
After that day we were more than content to watch others as they ventured out into the gulf to enjoy a swim while we just relaxed to the pleasing sight and sounds of the waves.
In comparison to the miles of Gulf coast line along the Florida panhandle, the section of ocean we enjoyed on our days at the beach is very very small. But I can't imagine anyone else enjoying just sitting back and enjoying the ocean more than we did.
There you have 4 of the 10 things from my vacation I want to share with you.
Thanks for reading this post come back next time for details on food, films, fireworks and an incredible coincidence in part 2 of this series.