Tag Archive | Florida

A Salty Dog, South Walton, & a Romantic NYE

DSC_0577 Captain Pam Smiile N Wave

On a spring visit to the Destin/Santa Rosa Beach area of Florida, Russell and I, craving a hearty sea adventure, headed west to nearby Destin Harbor for a relaxing gulf catamaran cruise with Captain Pam Kane and Smile N Wave Sailing Adventures.

Some might say Captain Pam is a salty dog. As a girl, she even missed days of school to help crew on a friend’s sailboat to feed her passion.

Her 31-foot custom built catamaran equipped with 43-foot mast, and Bimini top, offers tours for swimming, snorkeling, visiting the grass flats, searching for sand dollars, and romantic sunset cruises. Even though it was a cloudy day for us, we still enjoyed our time on the water, hiking out on the aqua-colored net, feeling the cool sprays of ocean on our legs, and getting to know more about Captain Pam.

Pam started sailing about thirteen years ago and calls the ocean “God’s bathtub.” “If you can’t be happy on the water, you probably can’t be happy anywhere.”

“On moonlight cruises, it’s so peaceful. The dolphins are usually active, and meteor showers are common. What’s neat is that there are more than 30-50 dolphins all local to the area.”

The more Pam and I talked, the more I felt like I’d known her for a long time. She just had one of those easygoing personalities, ocean spirits, and sweet souls.

Her greatest joy is witnessing excitement on people’s faces, especially first timers  – first time sailing, and first time in the gulf.

“People love relaxing, and the quiet solitude of being on the water,” Pam says.

So if you’re in the Destin area, go support a local business. You might just have the time of your life.

(The story on Captain Pam didn’t make it into my published AAA Southern Traveler story, but check out the story below to see what did.)

AAA South Walton Style pg34 Nov Dec 2017

AAA South Walton Style pg35 Nov Dec 2017

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Silver Springs and the Summer of ‘61

One of the best things about summer as a kid, were family vacations with Mom and Dad.  Vacations allowed me to (1) be a free spirit, (2) explore, and (3) wade in the tepid waters of the Gulf or Atlantic, and sometimes tip-toe in the Great Lakes’ frigid waters.

Oh how Mom and Dad embraced Florida! From Jacksonville’s soft sand beaches and Aunt Mary’s crab boils, to St. Petersburg’s old forts, and Miami Beach’s Art Deco District. Mom and Dad loved it all.

Recently, I found a black and white photo of Mom and me posing on a concrete bench at Silver Springs, Florida.  A glass-bottom boat was the background scenery.  Mom and I wore matching white leather huarache sandals. I loved those sandals.  (My brown leather softies purchased as an adult, even outlasted my first marriage.

Mom and me- silver springs001I was eager to discover the underwater world at Silver Springs, a popular tourist attraction.  My white huaraches and I stepped foot onto a glass-bottom boat for a tour of the Silver River, lead by an official ‘Captain’.  With glistening views of the sandy bottom and sea shells, the day was unforgettable.

Shortly after I discovered the snapshot in my cardboard box of memories, I read a story the St. Louis Post Dispatch ran by Alan Youngblood of the Ocala Star Banner.

The exact same boats I remember in their heyday, appeared as the backdrop for the photo in the Post, with cypress trees, bushes and a park bench in the foreground.

copyright Ocala Star Banner

copyright Alan Youngblood, Ocala Star Banner

In the 1960’s the popular TV show Sea Hunt was filmed at Silver Springs, as well as countless movies. The attraction recently reopened as a state park. The article mentioned the glass-bottom boats are still a feature for park visitors.

Over the past year, millions were spent to preserve the springs with different anti-pollution projects.  Apparently, the water clarity disspated due to nitrates infiltrating the spring water.

I’m curious to see now, if the springs are pristine, clean and full of interesting fish and bird life — the way I remembered them as a child.

And I’d like to think that the same concrete bench — the one Mom and I sat on, decades ago – is still waiting for me….to make new memories.

(I’ll need to buy a new pair of huaraches for the trip.)

 

 

 

 

Backfire on the Beach

Just about every other year Mom’s side of the family would make the trek in July to a familiar spot in the Southeast United States — Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.  This would be the first time hubby and I joined them.

During the day, we’d bask in the crystal waters and bake our Midwestern ivory skin in the hot sun.

On the Fourth of July, the family pulled together their culinary skills.  A cookout was inevitable with all the regular holiday fixins’ – BBQ’d burgers and hot dogs, potato salad, coleslaw, and a red white and blue cake (with sparklers).

After dinner and cleanup, we gazed upward as the sky turned a cornflower blue to a blue violet hue.   We collected our beach chairs and loungers, and drug them to a comfy spot on the sand in anticipation of the spectacular show awaiting us.

The stunning view of fireworks lit up the night sky — Destin in one direction, and Seaside from the other.  There were rosettes, stars and fish designs high in the atmosphere.  And the colors — neon green, gold and cranberry red.  Phenomenal.

My second cousin, Matt, brought his own fireworks — four grocery bags worth.  He said he’d ‘got a good deal’ for the whole shebang by trading pizzas for them.  He used to manage a pizza joint back home.

Well, I wished I’d brought a protective suit to wear.  No tellin’ what direction those noisemakers were headed.  Satellite launchers and cone fountains dive- bombed the beach.  No ankle, eye, or armpit was safe.

I laughed hard.  And wished I’d brought a Depends!

After the display (which took close to two hours), we collected debris from the beach.  Grabbing a cold beverage from the cooler, we settled into our chairs.  The adults watched as the kids spun sparklers in perfect circles.   Others (including me) made cool patterns by placing sparklers strategically in the sand.

We talked.  We shared.  We laughed.

At evening’s close, one by one, we retreated back to the security of our rental condos like tiny hermit crabs.

Since then, the family dynamic has changed in more ways than one.  As I think about that day, I realize it was the ‘best’ Fourth of July.  Many elements made up that fun and zany memory.

The beach.  The fireworks.  The sky.

Family.

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