2dB: Road Trip 2011
Road Trip 2011 for the Deichman Family was a rare Point-to-Point (rather than our usual "loop" with abundant freeloading on our wonderful friends and family). After more than two years as a resident of the Centennial State, Renee needed a beach....
So we set off for the best and closest beach we could find: Fort Walton Beach, Florida, 1,400 miles from home and nestled in the middle of the "Emerald Coast" of the western Florida panhandle. The water acts as a natural air conditioner, so the 90-plus F. temperatures and 80%-plus relative humidity was bearable. Also, the Emerald Coast has remarkably few bugs (unlike other parts of the Southeast) and the white sand is as fine as talcum powder. Our dear friend Nicole has a great place on Cinco Bayou, and was a wonderful host for our family of five. And each day she treated us to a different beach experience:
Day One: Fort Walton Beach (aka AlgaeFest)
Near the east end of Okaloosa Island's south shore, we parked by the Boardwalk for our first day at the beach. Sophiepeanut had a great time working with her new sand toys, with Dad helping her build the parapets for her Princess Castle.
Unfortunately, the algae count was especially high at this particular beach -- so we're still picking it out of the velcro on our swimsuits....
Day Two: Crab Island (aka the Partyin' Sandbar)
Crab Island is a sandbar just inside the Destin Inlet to Choctawatchee Bay. Boats will approach from the channel, then cut the engines to be walked into the "island". We got a primo spot near the middle of the sandbar, not far from the floating sound stage (with live music!) and floating volleyball court. The bar next to the stage was offering free Ziploc Margaritas, and "Helen Back Pizza Parlor" gave out free slices nearby.
Jarrett found several hermit crabs, hence the island's name:
And Sophiepeanut got to ride her own boat!
Day Three: Destin Beach (aka Fathers' Day Napping)
Need I say more?
While the ladies swam, Jarrett spent the entire time Boogieboarding or Bodysurfing:
Day Four: Cape San Blas (aka Shell Hunt)
Our "Mini-Roadtrip" on the day after Fathers' Day took us east along the Gulf coast, past Panama City (home to Hunt's Oyster Bar, our lunch stop shown above -- with the best Appalachicola Oysters to be found!) to Cape San Blas.
Since Cape San Blas is right at the bend in the coast, where the Florida Panhandle meets the Florida Peninsula, the currents are very dynamic. The Cape San Blas Lighthouse ended up nearly 100 yards offshore due to the shifting sand bars and ever-changing littoral topography, so they moved it to its present location (on one of Eglin AFB's test ranges). While the shelling wasn't quite as abundant as we had hoped, the beach did offer blissful solitude compared to our previous beach days....
Day Five: Spectre Island (aka Restricted Area Fun)
Nic, being a former Test Squadron CO, has knowledge of hide-aways unknown (and inaccessible) to most locals. "Spectre Island" is between the barrier island and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, just off the approach to the flight line at Hurlburt Field (home to the Air Force Special Operations Command, AFSOC). This deserted island offered another secluded beach, a wide variety of fish and crustaceans in the shallows, and another different beach experience than our previous four days.
Our return trip allowed us to do touch-and-go's at some old favorites, like Cafe du Monde in New Orleans:
... and a new favorite: Avery Island, Louisiana, home to the McIlhenny Tabasco factory:
It also saw Sophiepeanut (who is not yet three years old) log her 34th and 35th U.S. states:
(Sorry, Sean & tdaxp: Iowa still remains "unseen" by the Peanut M&M!)
While we wish we had the time to travel a few hundred miles farther to see our other Florida friends (or even farther to the OBX of North Carolina, and our Virginia friends), this was a fun and relaxing trip for all!