A month in Florida in late September, camping beside some of the best beaches – what could be better? It’s that retirement dream we all have while we are grinding through a tough week at work. Well, that’s what this trip is for us – or was planned to be. As you no doubt read in the earlier posts, Hurricane Sally had other ideas. But once we finished our panhandle “camp-around” to avoid the tropical storm and flooding we were back on track at Panama City Beach and now are actually set to leave Henderson Beach State Park in Destin after nearly two weeks in a wonderful campground.
Racoon River was a good stay for 4 days, since it was just a block from the beach. And yes, we did see a couple of raccoons trekking across the road one evening. The weather started to cool down into the 60’s and 70’s and it continued to be pretty breezy and overcast, but we rode bikes and tried to get the best of our beach time. Within biking distance was the Shrimp Basket, so we ordered a take-out meal of fried fish to enjoy back at camp. Breaking camp was easy and the short drive to Destin meant we were settling in at Henderson Beach early in the day. There are only 60 campsites here, so you have a lot of privacy. It can feel like you are in the middle of a scrub pine woodland – until you hear music and voices from the club level of the condos that are barely 200 yards away. Even though we enjoyed a Saturday evening wedding reception from afar (“I present Mr. and Mrs. …”), it was a wonderful, spot and a generously large pull-through.
The 10 days we spent here were different each day. Things started off overcast and breezy, somehow the remnants of the tropical storms Sally and Beta. We had double red flags keeping us out of the water a few days, so we drove to the public beaches of Miramar Beach one day.
On the not-so-great days we did some shopping and searched out WiFi service. We can’t pick up any over-the-air television stations, so it’s a good break from whatever is going on in the world. We drove to Destin Harbor and walked the shops. Once the rough water and waves cleared, along with lots of debris in the water from the storms and flooding, we were back to awesomely clear, smooth water. Some quick hits on what we have been up to:
- Lunch at Back Porch beach bar was amazing – huge fish tacos, filet of red snapper, smoked tuna dip and baked oysters with crab and cheese (actually went twice)
- Steak dinner at camp, complete with long sleeves and sweater!
- Beautiful sunsets
- Lazy days at the beach with flat, clean, clear water to splash around in
- Watching pelicans and osprey dive for fish
- Evenings around the (propane) campfire
- A couple of skates in the water (yeah, Doug stepped on one that fluttered out of the sand and we watched it swim along and then disappear back into the sand)
- Only one sighting of dolphin this whole trip
- Watching the shorebirds
- A visit to Destin Brewery to have a flight of beer each (and get that fridge sticker!) Good brews!
- Too many trips to the WalMart across the street for WiFi and incidentals – one for long sleeves and pants, since the temps got down into the 60’s. All Doug brought were shorts and tees – it’s Florida after all!
- A video call with our grandsons from the beach
- Long, long walks from the campsite to the beach via a lovely path and boardwalk. Doug finally hooked the beach cart to the bike for part of the mile long trek
- Plenty of aircraft – both from all of the coastal air bases but also from the tourist helicopter rides across from our camp
- Walking Destin Harbor and spotting a frigate bird high above (joined by an osprey, for comparison)
- The latest way of advertising to the beach crowd – floating billboard
- Doing a load of laundry at the bath house (it’s been a couple weeks, after all)
- Finding out that there IS WiFi at camp at the bath house, but on the last day
So as we dust off the sand, disconnect the water and electric, pull in the slides and pack up the bar once again we are off to one quick night at Falling Water SP (again) on our way to Anastasia SP on the Atlantic coast at St. Augustine. We will definitely put Henderson Beach SP back on our camping list for the future.
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We’ve had some awesome beach days here in New England as well..the windy ones are good for Brian’s kiteboarding adventures. However, NO frigate birds (love them!) and no floating billboards good grief. Good to see you guys sunning and funning!