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Destin-ation

When last we met, I told you we'd just checked into our 10th floor room of the Hilton, overlooking the Gulf in Sandestin.
The sand really is both soft and white in this part of Florida, something folks have been telling me about for years. Thursday morning, driving across the street to the Bayside of the resort, Bruce finally got to put his kayak in the water, but not before a delicious breakfast in the hotel. One of the perks of being a traveling man is primo-status with the hotels he frequents. Adjacent to us sat a family with a beautiful little girl, mostly being ignored by her parents because they only have eyes for their phones!
It was really remarkable how little attention they paid to her--made me sad.

The kayaker/fisherman heading out to sea:
 I'm always surprised how often I see roaming cats wherever I go:
While Mr. Bruce was battling the wind, I rode my bike on the pristine bike path amongst the various villages, golf courses, lakes, and small ponds.
Oh wait, there's a leaf on the ground in this shot, probably one of only a few! Seriously, everything is perfect; the developers thought of everything for an idyllic life. Some folks apparently actually live there. Riding around, I thought to myself, this must be what utopia is. Not that I think I'd want a steady diet of perfect, but it was nice for a few days. Locking my bike (probably unnecessary), I walked a little nature path seduced by this:
Apparently that is one thing they can't control--the presence of birds--I saw nary a one. That said, it was pleasant despite the lack of feathered friends filling the air with their song. Not far from there, I saw a sign for "Joelee's Island," with an adjacent gravel parking area. Indeed, a bridge connected visitors to an island in the bay, left mostly in natural conditions.
Mostly because there are a couple of themed playgrounds here and there amongst the pine trees and palmettos. A nature trail runs along the shore line. Back on the mainland, I kept riding towards "Lakeside", passing flowering trees and attractive benches.
The weather, slightly overcast, was windy and comfortable. I met Bruce back by the water where he was resting in a comfortable chair beneath palm trees. Once out on the open water, that wind almost got the better of him, with only one fish to show for his efforts. I say show, however, I never saw said fish because he always puts them back.

Once our gear was loaded up we finally headed to Destin proper. I'm unclear what folks do or see there, but what we saw was the marina.
On the far upper right of the photograph, there is a bridge leading visitors to the barrier island you see in the distance. My zoom lens shows the lovely water color.
Destin, before becoming the go-to spot in the Panhandle, was a small fishing village. Apparently, the fish have not abandoned the place in spite of the influx of tourists.
Having lunch at Al's, overlooking the marina was fun--fried pickles on the menu! We headed back the ten miles to our place, me to do some reading poolside, although many folks braved the winds to sit directly on the beach:
Once back in our room, I looked from the balcony to see this wedding about to begin:
I wonder how they convinced the guys to wear those outfits?

Later we went back over to the Bayside for Bruce to fish in one of the catch and release ponds,
where he caught one little one as I read. See how pretty everything is? Although we walked around the Bayside Wharf area, which I think I told you looked like Downtown Disney, with a rock climbing wall, zip line, multiple themed eateries and even a carousel,
we ended our day back at the hotel for a little bite to eat.

Friday was overcast and misty with the promise of rain later, which on our drive home we encountered sporadically. Again we took the long way, this time a different route, taking us through the town of Bruce,
which was so small, we missed it on our way through. Pulling over, I ran across the street to get this shot of the entry sign we just passed.

If we thought the towns were small along the coast, the interior towns were even smaller. Bruce, for example, has about 500 residents. More wildflowers and lovely country scenery.
Eventually we came to Ocala where the traffic picked up considerably, staying that way pretty much the rest of the way home. We took turns driving the 400+ miles home, amusing ourselves by looking up obscure facts on our iPhones, county by county.
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