Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Destin FL

We headed to Destin FL on Thursday morning but had to stop at the Waffle House before we got on Interstate 65. YUM, YUM, pecan waffles. Weather was terrific. We stopped at the Ava Maria Grotto in Cullum AL and it was amazing. I am going to do a separate post dedicated to this leg of the trip when I get the photos, so stay tuned. I got the idea from Margie and checked out Roadside America. If you are ever that way and you have time, I highly recommend stopping.

Since this was a trip to visit a timeshare with Theda, we had to stop to check in and get all the paperwork at a Wyndham Resort office before we could check into the Country Inn & Suites. Why Wyndham doesn’t allow its potential buyers to stay on property is beside me but oh, well, we had a suite, nice pool & hot tub. It just wasn’t on the Gulf.
After checking in we went to Long Horn Steak House to eat, it was yummy. Theda got the big prime rib and I ordered a side of shrimp and salad and a perfect margarita and it was, perfect that is.

Next day was the appointment for the timeshare tour. Country Inn & Suites has a deluxe contentinal breakfast so that took care of us all week. After breakfast we went to the pool and hung out until it was time to get ready for the tour. After the tour (she didn’t buy), we went to the Henderson Beach State Park for the rest of the day. Here is what the website has to say about it:
Pristine white sugar sand beaches and more than 6,000 feet of natural scenic shoreline border the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Natural features of the park include sand pines, scrub oaks, and dune rosemary. Boardwalks provide access to the beach for swimming, sunbathing, and fishing. Two large pavilions allow for picnicking and grilling. A playground is the first stop on our nature trail and is sure to be a success with the kids. The nature trail provides visitors a rare glimpse of the coastal dune ecosystem and abundant wildlife and is pet friendly. Camping at Henderson Beach State Park provides 60 campsites that are located in our secondary dune system. The sites include water and electric hookups and access to air conditioned and heated bathhouse facilities. A separate beach access boardwalk with outdoor showers and a playground are included in our campground. Henderson Beach is A.D.A accessible and includes beach wheel chair availability. Visitors can enjoy truly breathtaking sunsets while relaxing by the warm crystal clear water of the Gulf of Mexico. The park is located just east of Destin on U.S. 98.

ALERT! ALERT! One thing about the beach is that the yellow and purple flags were flying. That meant that currents were cautionary (yellow) and marine life was present (purple), jelly fish were everywhere. Theda is allergic to stinging critters, she had her Epi pen but I sure didn’t want to have to use it and I had been stung at Fernandina Beach and didn’t want to experience that again, so we decided to just sit. Needless to say we did not go in the Gulf but we had our beach chairs and sat for a while and I had my book, the breeze felt cooling to my skin and all in all it was a fine late afternoon way to just chill. We were able to see a partial sunset and I say partial because there was a dang high rise building in the way.

Next day was christening my kayak, Sea Eagle (SE), and that was fun. Not in the gulf but in a river. Theda and I drove to Blackwater River State Park because, according to the website, (A favorite destination for canoeists and kayakers, Blackwater River offers opportunities for a variety of outdoor recreation. The river is one of the purest sand-bottom rivers in the nation, making this park a popular place for swimming, fishing, camping, and paddling.) we, well I, thought it would be smooth & calm and a great place to play around w/the SE. Well, let me just tell you, was it clear? Yes; sandy? Yes; smooth? NO. It was not whitewater, but if we had quit paddling for longer than 30 seconds we would have been down stream quite rapidly.

It took about 15 minutes to get the SE unloaded and pumped up. The weather was quite hot and humid, so we sat for a spell and had a bottle of water before we carried the SE to the water. I had bought a 12X16” DryPack at Bass Pro Shops that is a waterproof, clear, multi-purpose case for everything you don’t want to get wet. So I loaded that with cell phones, T’s cigs & lighter, snacks, things like that and took a carabiner and affixed it to the rope on the SE. (I highly recommend this easy to open/close DryPak, it works.) We had taken the small cooler with water & soft drinks and some snacks so that went into the SE. Then we loaded the Sea Eagle with the paddles, cooler, it was just so much fun. Here are a few pictures of us trying our hand at us kayaking.

We carried the SE to the launch site, not too heavy and not too far, and entered the FREEZING water. Never thought it was going to be that cold. It was almost as cold as the Hiwassee River in East TN. We were just not prepared for it to be that cold and of course, we were quite warm. So in we go. We pushed SE over to the island in the middle, the water was only about three feet deep so we chose to not use our personal flotation devices (pfd).

I got in and then Theda got in. Okay folks, neither T nor I are tiny; in fact, you could say, well, we are plus size girls but, that’s okay because SE is rated for 500 lbs. We are getting all comfortable and finally get our strokes going together so that we are making some headway and Theda stops paddling, she’s in front. She starts leaning back like she is straightening her body, well, she has a cramp she is trying to work out and I can feel us starting, oh, no, here goes, watch it Theda, over we go!!! Into the cold water, we had made it to the bridge and here we are in the water, hats, cooler, DryPak and all. I come up and said what happened. Then she told me about the cramp. We were laughing and I kept saying where’s the cooler. We tipped the boat back over and there it was, it never moved. Everything in the DryPak was dry, so it works and if it hadn’t been clipped to the boat it would have floated down the current to who knows where. Oh my, that was too funny. After we got settled we decided to go it one at a time. I paddled around and then she did. It was a trip.

We decided to sit and rest and relax a while. All of a sudden it started to rain. It was a warm rain and the contrast from the cold water was quite nice.
We paddled around some more and then it was time to leave. By this time the sun came back out and we were able to get the boat dried out a little before folding her back up and putting her in the back of the car. Not a tough job. I can’t wait to use her again.

At each of these state parks, we had to drive around and check out all the campgrounds. All were nice and I can’t wait to try out the one in Henderson Beach SP. Check out the FL state park website for more pix and details about them. I have decided that I either need a scooter or a bicycle to get around in some of these big camping areas. Lots of walking if I stayed there now.
On our way back to the hotel, we stopped to eat. Theda had received a $50 gift certificate for AJ’s seafood. We ordered the steamed crab legs & shrimp for 2. It was the best seasoned crab legs I have ever eaten. There were about eight crabs worth of legs and about 48 huge shrimp. More than two could eat. Corn on the cob and new potatoes were also part of the meal. I think you could say we had our own crab boil. We peeled all of them and took some back with us. Yummy! You must check it out if you are in the Destin FL area.

Next day we headed for home about 11:00 and got back into Nashville about 8:30 pm. We paid $3.79-$3.99 for gas. Went exploring, not lost, a couple of times but we looked at it as an adventure. Almost ended up at Elgin AF Base but when we saw guards, we realized we were in the wrong place; a U-turn was in prompt order.
Have you ever been to Navarra Beach? Beautiful little place. We checked it out, no camping but it was a nice place to spend a little time. My friend Sandra and her sister, Carolyn, had spent a week at one of the penthouses on the beach so I wanted to check it out. I may stay there sometime.

Reality set in, back to work on Monday. Sure can’t wait till retirement and I don’t have to worry about going back to work.

1 comment:

beckles1 said...

Sounds like a great trip. Were you ever able to get in the ocean? Or did the jelly fish hang around all weekend? Did the sand feel good on your feeties?!