I Guess I’ll Pack Up My Mind

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For spring break 2017, I took my daughter Lana and her boyfriend Michael on vacation.

Another long road trip to Florida…

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I thought about going to California, but that is WAYYY too long to drive, and airfare for three people was a ridiculous price.

Florida has the nicest, clearest water within decent driving distance.  Besides, Lana and I are now quite familiar with the Emerald Coast.  It felt like our “home away from home” when we crossed into the area…

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Last time, we stayed in Destin proper, but this time, we rented a condo right on the ocean on Okaloosa Island…

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The place was clean, affordably priced, and they even welcome pets.  It’s called Sea Oats, for anyone interested.

And did I mention it’s right on the water?…

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Jumpin’ Jack Lana.

Inside the condo…

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We each had our own bathroom.  This was mine (above).

My bedroom, below:

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First thing we did after unpacking was unwind with a nice dinner at a restaurant on the pier…

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Food 8

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Looking down through the pier (don’t jump).

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Sassy.

Each morning, I could be found at the same place:  on the beach with my coffee, watching the sun rise and looking for shells…

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The rules are simple:  if the shell is occupied, it goes back.  No harming the sea life!  This little guy was home, so I placed him carefully back in the water.

Hello, little guy…

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These were empty…and made beautiful additions to my collection:

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Such bounty!  By the end of the week, I’d found so many beauties.

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I’ve collected from the north Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea.  Next time I hope to hit the Pacific…or another foreign beach.

After seashell collecting time, I’d lace up my converse and hit the pavement to explore across the bridge in downtown Fort Walton…

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This place (Taste, above) had amazing eats.  Speaking of amazing eats, downtown Fort Walton has plenty, including this bistro (below), where the three of us had the BEST dinner one evening…

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Also phenomenal — this Filipino restaurant…

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Dessert after lunch was always at the same place for me…

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All the eastern European chocolates and other goodies my little heart could desire.

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ENOUGH FOREIGN CHOCOLATES TO EAT ON THEM FOR MONTHS.

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And I always hunt for THE coffee house.  Found it —  Maas Coffee Roasters.  I hit it every day, and brought some of the beans home with me.  Gold.

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A few more great places in Fort Walton:

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Artesano, which has lovely, locally-made crafts and works of art.  I bought this beautiful cup (below) that was made by potter Mercedes Rodgers of Full Circle Gallery…

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This record store (below) is OFF THE CHAIN.  The best vintage and new vinyl collection I’ve seen in a while.  Lots of jazz, but also any other type of music you’re interested in.  Friendly owner, too.  I bought a few things here.

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Wonderful park on the water, with a playground that Lana and Michael enjoyed…

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After lunch and shopping in Fort Walton each day, it was time to head back to our Okaloosa Island condo and THE BEACH. 🙂

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Lovebirds.  ❤

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I always take some goodreads with me.

Ahhhh, when that water turns emerald!

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In the evenings, we’d head to Destin to have an “adventure” and some dinner.  One of these exciting activities – and a first for us – was parasailing…

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Meet the crew!  These are the guys who took us out into the gulf, hooked us up to our parachute, and took us up, up, and away….

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Parasailng Boat Ride

Before we knew it, all three of us were strapped in… and about to be very surprised when a gust of wind sucked us up into the air…

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Parasailing Captain

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And then you’re several hundred feet in the air, looking at EVERYTHING.  It was peaceful and gorgeous.  Such a great experience.

Afterward, we had dinner at Fudpuckers, where Michael demonstrated why he is the video game king…

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So many winning tickets.

Another evening, we went on a dolphin cruise.  I’ve been on a lot of boats, but this was our first time on a sailboat…

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A beautiful tour, with many dolphin sightings.

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The loveliest of creatures.

Okay, so two things happened when I was getting off the sailboat…1) I slipped and tripped and almost broke my neck, and 2) my wallet fell out of my bag in the process, and it went INTO THE OCEAN.

Yes, really.

My driver’s license, credit cards, EVERYTHING.  It went right into the fucking Gulf of Mexico.  😦

The good news:  it floats.

The captain of the boat went into the water and caught my wallet as it sailed off into the sunset.  I gave him the biggest tip and couldn’t say thank you enough.  My cards and money were all soggy and wet, but the day was saved, thanks to the amazing crew!  #BlessUp

On yet another evening, we headed to The Harbor Walk, where we zip-lined for the first time…

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Above:  Michael and Lana getting suited up before climbing the zip-lining tower…and both looking like “what the hell have I agreed to?” :-/

You climb the shorter tower, zip-line to the second tower – which is MUCH taller – then zip-line back down to the first tower.

Here is a view as we were climbing up the shorter tower…

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And here I am (above) getting strapped in and preparing to be pushed off the edge.  NERVOUSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

Of course it was fabulous, though.  🙂  We loved it.  I have video, but it won’t post to this page.  Oh, well.  Try it if you’re in the Destin Harbor and you get a chance.

Dinner that night with these two lovelies…

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Happy Lana and her giant hair bun.  The bun is LEGEND.

I enjoyed seeing these two kiddos smile all week.  And THEY did something for me which I did NOT expect.  They completely surprised me with a SPA DAY.  They said it was “just because” they love me and I deserve it, and they wanted to thank me for taking them on such a great trip.  They scheduled me for a facial, a pedicure, and a 50 minute full-body massage.  I’ve never had a massage in my life!  I cried…

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The spa staff were amazing, and I was pampered for several hours…I felt like a queen when it was over.  I’m so thankful.  It was one of the best afternoons of my life.

So many good times, so many photos.

Here are some more random Okaloosa/Fort Walton/Destin moments…

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Starfish 2

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On the drive back home, we made a stop in Pensacola, Florida to see the lighthouse — the “Pensacola Light”.  Built in 1859, it stands over 150 feet tall, 190 feet above sea level…

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The climb begins…

so many steps.

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And more steps.

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And yet more steps.

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And you have to take a break because there are so many steps.

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177 steps, to be exact.

FINALLY…

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We made it!  What a fantastic view.

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After the lighthouse tour, we had to say goodbye to “The Sunshine State” and head home.  😦

I’m sure going to miss the Gulf of Mexico and northwest Florida.  They were good to us.

I had an amazing time, and can’t wait to travel again.

After posting all those photos, I’m exhausted.  It’s bedtime for me…

Until the next blog,

Jenn

xo

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