Sunday, September 14, 2014

Emerald Coast

Above--the view from our balcony. Can't get much more beachfront than that!! 

Our Florida trip came together in just a couple of weeks—it was born of one of those moments where we were daydreaming about vacations and I just happened to take it step further and check out some prices. We found this total gem of a rental house that had just been on the market for two weeks and had some super low prices to attract guests (totally worked and now its prices are hiked up high!).  As we got closer to our departure date we realized that it was silly to not take advantage of Labor Day weekend and so I contacted probably 100 different rentals asking if they would do a rock-bottom price to fill up a couple of empty days (this was three days before the dates I was asking about) and lo and behold, one guy took me up on it and so we ended up with a beachfront condo for two nights on Okaloosa Island, and then spent another six nights at Miramar Beach just outside of Destin.

We were so glad that we went down a couple of days early! It was so amazing to be RIGHT on the beach and we ate all our meals out there and slept with the windows open at night so the surf could lull us to sleep. Neil and I would go back on the balcony when the kids were asleep and just watch the waves in the moonlight. One night we went crabbing after dark and caught a couple of little ghost crabs with the kids before they went to bed. It was so wonderful! And we woke up to this view in the morning...

On Sunday after church we went down to the beach and tried to get a nice family photo while we were all dressed up.

I told everyone to make sure they stayed dry. Hah! We were standing a few feet away from the surf and then this giant wave smacked us right before the photo was taken.

Then we sort of gave up on staying dry.

When I was a kid we frequently went to an island just off the southern coast of North Carolina. I remember the moment when we topped the dunes and saw the ocean spread out before us as just being one of absolute incredible bliss. I intentionally walked behind my kids every day so I could see their reactions of complete and utter joy.

I have so many photos of so many different aspects of our trip, so for now I’ll just post some of my favorite sand-and-surf photos from both beaches. Both had equally pristine sugar-white sand, but Miramar Beach was our favorite—it had much longer and shallower entry (i.e. about 20 feet of water that was a couple inches deep before it started dropping off, which was sooo nice for Nathan), no yucky things like seaweed or sea slugs (it may have just been sheer luck but Okaloosa Island’s surf was SO full of giant slimy slugs and we didn’t see a single one on the Destin side!), and the water color and clarity was much better. I’ve read that during the summer months that Okaloosa Island is generally less expensive and less busy than Destin, so it just depends on what you’re looking for. It was really interesting to me to see the differences that just a few miles made (we also went to the beach at St. Andrews which is about 40 miles down the coast).

You can sort of see the slugs in this photo--see those brownish-green things by Jooj's boogie board? They were EVERYWHERE but on the third day we walked about fifteen feet down the beach and they were nonexistent there, so...probably just a tides thing.

 Here's a good one showing the different beaches and their water quality--the photo above is Okalaoosa Island and the one below is Miramar.

 Love that huge shallow basin of surf!

 Again...I seriously could not get over the zero-zero-zero entry part of this...(unfortunately, after a couple of days Nate decided it was way too tame and he would book it for the waves that crashed right over his head. He was happiest when either Neil or I went out in chest-deep water holding him and he would pull us toward the water whenever he wanted to go, which was like all the time).

One of my favorite photos from this trip.

Abigail spent almost every spare minute snorkeling. She found so many amazing (and huge!!) shells...and also got a killer double case of swimmer's ear!

Isaac built many, many, many amazing and complex castles, and was pretty insistent that I help him whenever possible (I did sneak in a few twenty-minute sessions in my beach chair with a book!)

One day Neil swam out to the sandbar and brought back a sand dollar for the kids to look at. They kept it in a bucket full of water and sand all day and tried to feed it clams and watched it wiggle around through the sand before we released it.

 I love this photo! (Sidenote: the sweet lifeguard complimented us on our sun protection. Cynic that I am, I thought that she was probably thinking, "You dumb tourists!" but she probably WAS sincere, since everyone we met was so polite and kind and generous!

 Love love love the sunsets there. They were amazing.

1 comment:

Kayli said...

Oh my gosh--- BLISS BLISS BLISS!!! I'm sorry, I can't think of anything else to say-- that looks perfectly blissful!

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