Sunday, October 13, 2013

THE EMERALD COAST AKA THE REDNECK RIVIERA


Our time in the panhandle of Florida has always been exciting and special to us.  This time we will be meeting several friends and celebrating several birthdays, and definitely enjoy eating some fresh Florida seafood.  I did not make up the title of this post.  We left what is called the "Forgotten Coast" and now we are on the "Emerald Coast", sometimes affectionately referred to as "The Redneck Riviera".  
Miramar Beach, FL

Santa Rosa Beach, FL 2013 (before the storm warnings)
We make annual reservations to coincide with the annual Seaside, FL Community Yard Sale, one of the most enjoyable outside markets we've ever seen.  Little did we know that all that would come to an abrupt halt when the weather gurus started talking "tropical storm", "hurricane", or worse.  If you're in a motorhome, you have lots of options when this happens and we started thinking what our options were if Tropical Storm Karen landed where we are staying (which was where the storm models initially indicated).  Drats.
We're planning to move to higher ground if the storm approaches!
 When we arrived the weather was perfectly gorgeous.   If you were in Florida, Lousiana, Alabama or possibly Texas, you didn't stray far from a television or a weather station.  After one week at beautiful Miramar Beach, at a campground called Geronimo RV Resort, we drove 6 miles east to spend the next 2 weeks at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park Campground in Santa Rosa Beach, FL, and upon arriving were informed the campground may be evacuated if the storm kept moving as predicted.  It sounded like it would be a few hours and we would probably be wiped off the map, so we started making serious preparations.  In a few moments our plans were changed.  The Seaside Community Yard Sale was cancelled.  Flags prohibiting swimming were flown at all the beaches.   This area is a popular wedding destination so all the weddings were moved from the beach settings to tent settings, or put on hold altogether.  Our plans, should we be evacuated, were to drive north to I-10, and then head east until we were out of path of the storm.
The storm is changing the appearance of the beach.

Dark clouds, wind and choppy water starting to materialize

Add to the choppy water there is also some erosion

Ominous clouds and wind

There are probably more sand dunes after all that wind.

Beautiful cloud formations with all that wind.
 We weren't evacuated.  The storm consisted of one day of rain and enough wind to blow pine needles everywhere.  There is so much more advanced weather warnings today than we ever had when we were growing up in Florida.  However, this area and all the coastal areas spanning from Panama City, FL to New Orleans, LA experienced substantial financial losses from a storm that never materialized.  Lots of cancellations meant a very dreary weekend for the restaurants, hotels, and shops in the area.   
An additional blessing - beautiful sunsets!

We enjoyed so many beautiful sunsets with the approaching storm.

The weekend is here - no storm and potential visitors aren't coming

The beautiful Choctawhatchee Bay on the north side of Destin

Condos on the Choctawhatchee Bay near Baytowne Wharf in Destin

RV says I do this very well!  
We've enjoyed spending time with our friends and going back to some of our favorite places.  We don't know about you but when we go to a new geographical area and want to know what locals think of restaurants and cafes, we always refer to the tripadvisor.com website.  Along with recommendations of locals we usually try to utilize this resource to find exceptional value for our money and find that most of the time we agree with the opinions and reviews that individuals write about local establishments.  There are other sites for reviews who do a great job as well, but as we travel all over the country we find that Trip Advisor has consistently been a reliable resource.  After being fulltime RVer's a couple of years we enjoyed the reviews so much that we now write reviews which are posted about all the restaurants and places we visit wherever we go.   Submitting our opinions are strictly voluntary and we receive no remuneration, but we'd like to think we have helped someone new in an area as much as we've been helped.  By the way, we've uncovered some real hidden treasures thanks to tripadvisor.com that we never would have found otherwise.   There is also a free mobile app we have installed on our smartphones.

Next blog we will share a little about who is also sharing our site at the campground.  There doesn't seem to be a problem.  I'd rather deal with him than one of the hungry bears roaming around here after dark.




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