Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Destin, Florida

Don't adjust your screen settings...the sand really is THAT white!

About this time last year we spent a few days on the Florida Gulf Coast and I put down a few impressions about Panama City Beach (http://disdatdudder.blogspot.com/2010/09/panamaw-city-beach-labor-day-2010.html).  This 4th of July, we drove another hour west, to Destin – a place we’re frequenting at least once or twice a year, since it’s relatively close to ATL.  

Aerial view of the Destin Harbor
I will not bug you with too many details about the place.  It is a nicer vacation spot than PCB, equally crowded, equally pristine beaches and emerald waters, with a slightly more upscale feel to it (not quite as trashy in  my opinion) and a bit more enhanced restaurant scene [albeit, not by much].

Nor will I publish too many pictures, for I don’t want to put myself in a position where I’d have to hire legal counsel to defend my actions… or incriminate myself more than I have already done in the past [in straight English that means we went with a bunch of friends, rented a house for a week, consumed exorbitant amounts of distilled or fermented ‘beverages’ and filled a few pages worth of ‘stories for the grandkids’.  In short, we had a blast – Romanian style!]

The Sandbar just under the Destin bridge is where everyone drops anchor and parties under the sun (yes, those spots in the picture are watercraft of all shapes and sizes)

So, Destin... 

From Ft. Walton Beach [where we stayed a couple of times at the Sheraton on the beach] to Miramar there’s a thin stretch of land that’s been overdeveloped in recent years and fell just as rapidly during the current real estate bust.  Yet, it’s a nice place to visit, plenty of ‘after-hours’ spots [after beach-hours that is] and a few elegant places as well (primarily the complex at Harbor Walk [more touristy] and Baytowne Wharf in Sandestin [a bit classier and well worth a visit]).  On this occasion, however, we didn’t venture out much; only left the house once or twice – except for the girls, who saw plenty of credit-card action at the local outlet mall J

A couple of highlights worth noting in this particular trip: the Big Kahuna Water Park [mandatory day trip on Sophie’s birthday] and a boys’ outing 45 minutes offshore in search for some fresh red snapper.

Years ago we took the kids to the local amusement park.  Bumper cars, mini-golf, rides going in circles, the usual… This time, the water park next door was on the agenda.  For the owners, it’s gotta be a veritable cash cow: fairly expensive [for what it has to offer] and by the looks of it none of the gate fees makes its way back into improving the place.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen an amusement park with so much rust, peeling or faded paint, and inefficient layout.  Not to mention the lack of organization or capacity control… But the kids have fun, and when one’s on vacation, these little things are easier to overlook.  I do have to say one thing though [in typical direct Adrian fashion]: if your body ‘volume’ completely stops the flow of water down the tube, or once seated a small crane is required to lift said body out of the inflatable ‘raft’, one should seriously reconsider their choice of beachside entertainment…

The free-for-all at the end of the river rapids ride
A day earlier, Captain Rocky took six of us on a 4-hour deep sea fishing expedition aboard the ‘Sure Thing’ out in the Gulf of Mexico.  The weather was perfect, and the water surface calmer than I’ve ever seen it before….which was a good thing, considering that any ‘choppiness’ coupled with the amount of booze ingested the night before would have been counterproductive to say the least…

Trolling for mackerel or bonito was not a viable option (too hot near the shore) so we went further in for red snapper.  Within a couple of hours we had 12 reds [overfishing the species limits the daily catch to 2 16-inch-or-longer per person] 3 scamps [a type of sea bass], one yellowtail and a rare black snapper.  Not too shabby, especially since only two of us experienced this type of fishing before!   Dinner that night was amazing…

So there.  Three or four days in Destin would always give you plenty of options.  For us, it’s always nice, since we have a few close friends who live in the area.  Watching the 4th of July fireworks from the beach, along with another 40+ friends who made the drive south was a nice added bonus on this occasion!


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