Sunday, October 4, 2015

Back Home

Alan and I made it home with no drama or detours!  

Our trip to this part of Florida was supposed to be our last trip "home".   The reasoning behind this was that the world is big and there are so many places we have not yet visited.  It all made so much sense and was the reason behind the title of this blog. Instead of being my Swan Song and last time visiting the Northwest Panhandle of Florida,  I decided to call this My Heron Song.  Just a little play on words.  But the joke was on me.  What I had forgotten about is this wonderful part of the world is my home, not just a vacation destination.  How silly was I to even consider that I would voluntarily not return?  Of course, we don't know if or when we will return, but our intentions are that we will!

We had so much fun catching up with friends and family, going to my favourite places, beaches and restaurants. Then also discovering new places and experiences, like LuLu's in Destin.

Alan and I had a blast in Tallahassee, both at the Florida State Football game, then with our family when we all gathered for a delicious dinner at Nancy Anne's house and spending the night at Tommy's house in Morgan's darling room.

Then also, meeting up with my Tri Delta sisters for Sunday Brunch.  That was just a such a special afternoon.  It was great to see Carmen and Nan again and to meet Nan's husband.

Catching up with another sorority sister, Joni and her husband, in my own home town was amazing.  We had a bit of an adventure finding a restaurant but the bumpy start ended up being a wonderful evening.

High school friends?  Of course!  A trip home would not be complete without spending some time with Jon and, this time, with his wife.  We only managed one dinner together, but the evening was fantastic.  I had met Louanne before but had never been able to spend any quality time with her.

And then, seeing another friend I had not seen since graduation - Gail!  We had a blast meeting up before Niceville's homecoming game.

Morgan came up for the weekend of her 20th birthday, which was amazing and very special.  

We also squeezed in two trips to see the Blue Angels in Pensacola.

Very little time to spend time on our own, but we did have about 3 days with nothing to do and no one to do it with.  Finding ourselves sitting on a dock on the bay, well not on the bay exactly, but just as relaxing and special! Just watching the birds and the boats and not the clock!

I must admit - I cannot wait to go back!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sunset at the pier

I was so focused on posting the last blog about our relaxing day that I forgot about going to the pier for sunset!  But then, the pier has been such a major factor of our time here, I think it is only right for sunset at the pier to have its very own post!

Unfortunately, the sunsets towards the end of our trip were not as spectacular as at the beginning.  But, in this setting, they are all amazing!

Here are the photos I took on our last evening visit to the pier.

Had to post at least one surfer photo!

Sea Turtle sightings were fantastic this year.
Maybe only one a day, but I feel lucky to
see one a trip!

First padlock I have seen on the pier.
It will be interesting to see how
many more there will be the
next time we are over!

Harbour Walk in the glow of sunset

Another first!
The first time I have seen anyone use the
beach volleyball nets!


To me the sea is a continual miracle; The fishes that swim–the rocks–the motion of the waves–the ships, with men in them, What stranger miracles are there? 
Walt Whitman

Sunday, September 27, 2015

our first attempt at relaxing and doing nothing!

After so many days of visiting people and being here there and everywhere, Alan and I decided to try doing virtually nothing, with no plans and no need to look at our watches or meet any deadlines.  I feel we did fairly well.  The first thing we had to do in order to accomplish this was to change our plans for Monday!

We intended to take a dolphin cruise and then drop in at our friends, John and Louanne's house.  But we didn't do this!  Sadly, it meant we will have to wait until our next trip to this area to be able to visit the famous balcony where John posts his "beach reports".   But I hope they understood we just needed some only us time.

Looking across the Bay, there is Harbour Walk, Destin!
Monday we went under Brooks Bridge on the Fort Walton Beach side.  The sunrise was gorgeous and it is such a positive way to use the fact that we continue to waken up too early.  I guess you could say we are still a bit on Scottish time!
What can I say about how beautiful this is?

After sunrise,  it was too early to start shopping but we also needed to find the recycling place for all our bottles, cans and paper collected during our stay.  After so many years of serious recycling in Scotland, we just could not force ourselves to simply put them in the trash.  It was difficult to find these bins and no one we asked knew where they would be either. So we had to resort to going to McDonalds for a second breakfast just to use their internet!  Turned out, the place we were looking for was in the Landing Park, virtually next to where we were staying!

Once we did our "civic duty" we took a long time to just smell the roses. Well, no roses were near this park, but we sat on a bench on a dock and watched the water roll by, along with various types of boats and the people in them.  It was wonderful.  Why didn't we do this more often?  Why wait til almost the last day to find this peace?  Story of our lives, but maybe when I read this before returning to Fort Walton, I will remember and we will start as we mean to continue! Here are a few photos from then:

Looked like he just rowed in for a paper and a coffee!

A different view of Steamboat Landing from the Landing!
The white buildings...

Did I mention watching the dogs too?
They were having so much fun!

After this peaceful start to the day, we headed off the Silver Sands Premium Outlets. We have been so busy this trip we have not really shopped at all.  Not like us but we have been too busy having fun and catching up with friends so compressed shopping time is a small price to pay!

Loaded Potato Skins
Since shopping is serious business, we had to have an unexpected lunch break at Cheeseburger in Paradise, another of Jimmy Buffet's restaurants, or at least it used to be.  According to our server, he sold the chain a while ago, but it still feels authentically Jimmy Buffet and the menu is fabulous!  One of our favourite places (again). This is beginning to feel like a Buffet family tribute eating tour!  We didn't mean to fill ourselves up and only ordered an appetiser called Loaded Potato Chips. These were really fantastic potato chips (or crisps if you are British - similar to Kettle Crisps), with sour cream, green onions, tomatoes, melted cheese and chopped bacon.  Thank goodness we split an order because it filled us up so much, we could not eat any more for dinner later!

On the way back to Steamboat, we stopped at the harbour and had great timing!  Some charter fishing boats had arrived and it was really interesting to see the fish they brought in!
4 Amberjack and 1 Barracuda

Then it was time to stop at Margaritaville to refresh ourselves with a non-alcoholic daiquiri sitting  at our "local" on our regular seats and watching the boat traffic again.  Such a peaceful and beautiful place to recharge our batteries.

"On the beach, you can live in bliss."
 Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Morgan's Birthday - Day 3!

Pelicans at Destin Harbour

As usual for Alan and me, the day started with a walk on the pier.  There wasn't much activity on the pier this morning so we didn't spend much time there.
Morgan taking a picture of one on the pier herons.

On the way to Harbour Walk in Destin, we stopped on the Okaloosa Island side of the bridge. This is a lovely place to sunbathe or relax.  A quiet beach right before you get to the busy holiday destination of Destin!

Looking out from this beach and under the bridge, you can get a different view of Crab Island.  Whether you see it while crossing the bridge or looking under the bridge, the impression this place gives is just fun!  There are almost always people there, either in boats or appearing to stand in the water.  At one time, Crab Island was a real island, but drifting sands caused this to essentially disappear and it is now an underwater sandbar.  Adults can stand in water about shoulder height.

It is odd to see the little shops, bars, and even a soft play area for kids. These appear to be permanent structures, but are basically floating on top of the sandbar.  I imagine they are anchored somehow.

I have never had the pleasure of going to Crab Island since I don't know anyone who owns a boat there and would be hesitant to rent one!  But it is fun to see all the activity whenever I cross the bridge from Okaloosa Island to Destin.

Then is was down to Harbour Walk in Destin to have a look at the charter boats and shops there.

This is such a different Florida feel but it is just as valid as the Scenic Highway we did yesterday.  Something for everyone in this area!
Just having fun!

Sitting at what was to become our regular seats on
the corner of the Landshark Lookout,
third floor balcony of Margaritaville! 

Before going back to Steamboat Landing, we stopped at Margaritaville and had a drink on the Landshark Lookout. What a fabulous place to sit and watch the boat traffic - and there was a lot of that!

I think a person could really sit there all day!  In fact, on our last night, Alan and I went back there twice in the days after Morgan left!  She introduced me to non-alcoholic daiquiris!  Since I love the taste and don't care about the alcohol, this was the perfect thing to sit and drink at the Lookout!  Thanks, Morgan!

Then it was time to bid farewell to Morgan.  It was nice to have her back for a while and I hope she enjoyed her visit as much as we did.
Crab Island on the other side of the bridge

However, the fun does not stop when one person leaves.......we had plans to meet one of my sorority sisters for dinner!  I had not seen her since I graduated from FSU in 1976!  Joni has only recently moved to the area and it was very lucky that we could get together and catch up with so many years!  I hope both our husbands did not feel too left out!

Joni had very kindly offered us a place to stay our first night since we would not be able to check into Steamboat until Friday.  However, with the chaos of getting stuck in Texas this did not happen.  We were very grateful for the offer and also the various phone calls she made when we needed to contact people then.

Joni, Brent and me after dinner

We decided to try again to get together and our original plans were to meet at the Hightide Restaurant, which we could walk to from Steamboat Landing.  Of course, it is over Brooks Bridge and at 5pm this was still a very hot part of the day. So you can imagine how my heart sank when we realised it was not open on Sundays!  This disappointment did not last long though, Joni and Brent drove up and we went to Harbour Docks in Destin instead!  Alan and I had never eaten there before and it is always fun to go to new places!  Not only was the food delicious, the company was fabulous too.  And then I was able to invite them over to our place for birthday cake!

Another perfect day in the land of the most beautiful beaches.  Does it get any better than this?

"Don’t grow up too quickly, lest you forget how much you love the beach." Michelle Held