This where the next phase of the trip begins. Leah arrived in Auburn in time for services Wednesday evening, and we transferred all of my things into her car. Then we left an hour or two later for Destin, Florida, where we would stay for the next (almost) four days. Leah is a veterinarian, and she had a Continuing Education conference, so she invited our friend Meredith and me to tag along.
Leah and I got to Destin around 2 am Thursday morning. We stayed in a motel across the street from the big resorts and the beach that was about 30 minutes away from the Sandestin Resort where Leah would go every day for her conference.
Thursday morning around 6, Leah left for her CE training, and I slept in for a while. I woke up around 10:30 and killed some time until she got back. Once she got back, we changed clothes, and got ready to spend a few hours at the beach (YAY).
We ended up going to Henderson beach, a public state park beach that we expected to be fairly empty – we didn’t want to be in a crowd of people the whole time we were there because that’s just uncomfortable. Thankfully it was, and we had a little stretch of beach to ourselves, where we ate a late lunch of veggies, hummus, and fruit, and relaxed until dinner time.
Since we got out to the beach around 3:00-3:30, we weren’t in the hottest part of the day, and were able to enjoy the beach for a while without feeling too sticky from humidity. Plus, we didn’t have a schedule to stick to, so we just stayed out as long as we wanted to.
We wanted to spend as much time as possible on the beach that day, so we stayed out until around 6, then went back to the motel to clean up and get ready for dinner. We ate a late dinner at Smashburger because the restaurant we wanted originally planned to go to (Panini Pete’s) was already closed by the time we were ready to go. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and conversation, and then headed back to the motel to go to bed.
Friday was a busybusy day. When Leah was at CE on Thursday, she ran into the Padgetts, a family we used to worship with in Auburn. She gave Karen my number, and we decided to hang out on Friday morning/afternoon. I rode with Leah to the resort where the conference was being held and met Karen and her kids there to do some exploring. There was so much to do at this resort! We walked all around The Village of Baytowne Wharf where we saw a neat treehouse on our way to look at all the ships in the marina, and then we went on to find a little playground she thought one of her kids might enjoy. It took a while, but we got there and played Peter Pan on the pirate ship section of the playground. It started to get hot, so Karen left her oldest boy with me, took the baby with her, and went to get the car so it would be a quicker trip back to the Village. Once we got back, we went to a cute little pizza place (I wish I had pictures!) and ate before it was time for them to take naps.
I met back up with Leah and we went to find the Indian Temple Mounds and Museum of Fort Walton. We thought they would be a cool thing to see and something fun to do. Unfortunatelt, we didn’t make it before the museum closed but we did get to see the temple. It wasn’t quite as big as we expected, and we thought it would be the “real thing” instead of a replica but it was still educational and fun. We didn’t spend too much time there, and decided just to go back and prepare for Meredith to meet us at the motel.
On our way back, we found another public beach area at Elgin Air Force Base Beach that we decided to check out since we still had some time. It was nice and empty, and this is where we spotted the first beach wedding we would see on the trip! We collected seashells and found what we thought were either clams or mussels, but we weren’t sure which, and we just enjoyed the sunshine for a little while longer.
After our spontaneous beach stop, Meredith met us at the motel, and we all went to Lulu’s. (Leah and I were proud of how spontaneous we were on this trip because it’s completely uncharacteristic of both of us 😉 ). Lulu’s is a great restaurant that usually has live music and is right next to the bay, so we got to watch the sunset over the water while we ate and talked.
After dinner we went over the The Village of Baytowne Wharf to walk around and see what we could find to do. It was awfully crowded, so we just walked around for a little while, I showed them the treehouse and the marina, and then we made our way back to the motel. I believe this was also the night we stopped to get frozen custard from Shake’s. It was delicious, but we were all so stuffed that we could hardly get through it! We took our custard back to the room and Meredith unpacked, then we watched HGTV until time for bed (we watched A LOT of HGTV on this trip – and I’m not complaining).
Now for Saturday. This was one of the most eventful days we had. Saturday was the day that Meredith and I had planned to spend all day at the beach and in the sun. We got up that morning, got all of our food and beach toys ready to go, and were so pumped, then we opened the door to leave….and it was raining. Since we had to stop for gas and bottled water anyway, we decided to go ahead and leave. By the time we got to the beach it had stopped raining, but it was still very windy! We braved the wind, set up our towels and music – the works. We even saw the second beach wedding of the trip. It was overcast, but we didn’t mind because we knew we could still get some sun this way, and wanted to take advantage of the beach time we had.
Below are just screenshots from my Snapchat story (yes, I make those) that I took during our stormy beach day.
Then we heard thunder. And saw lightning – but it was way over the water, so we stayed put. The storm kept getting closer, with a little rain shower (that we thought would let up). So we just wrapped up in towels until it was right over us.
Finally we decided to go sit in the car until it was over. As soon as we got to the car, the rain start to pour. We just decided to have our lunch there and see what the weather would do. It stopped after about 15 minutes, so we gathered our things and went back out to the beach. This time the weather stayed nice, and the sun was out, so we enjoyed the beach until time to meet Leah for lunch. Once she told us she was headed back, we packed up and went to the motel where we all snacked for a while before going to Elgin Air Force Base Beach again to spend the rest of the afternoon.
By this point, it had gotten chilly, and we didn’t get much sun, but we did see dolphins! There were somewhere between 8 and 10 dolphins swimming just out on the edge of the ocean (close enough to the shore where we could see them well). We were all so excited! Seeing dolphins is one of my favorite parts about going to the beach – they’re such graceful creatures when they’re all swimming together. After this, we spotted the third and last beach wedding from where we were sitting. We spent some more time here until it got too chilly to stay, and then we left to clean up to go to Panini Pete’s for dinner. I love paninis, so that was delicious!
After dinner, we went to HarborWalk Village, which we were expecting to just be a nice boardwalk. It turned out to be an actual village behind a fancy hotel with shops, activities for kids, night life, and everything. I bought Widget some homemade dog treats while I was here. I also looked for something to get my husband, although the shops didn’t have much John Mark would like, so I didn’t end up getting anything else. The shop we liked the most was one that had kids’ toys and creepy animal masks and little souvenirs; we stayed in here for about 30 minutes.
This was an exciting part of the evening that I think we all enjoyed, but we were glad to get back to the motel to start packing and sleep before a long Sunday.
Sunday morning didn’t quite go as expected. Leah had some car trouble, so it took her a little longer than she was hoping to get to her last 7 am session. Thankfully, Meredith had her car, so they were able to jump off Leah’s car and get her where she needed to be. While she was at CE, Meredith and I packed the remaining luggage into Meredith’s car, cleaned up the room, double-checked that nobody left anything behind, and then we checked out of the motel.
Since we had a little over an hour to spare, Meredith and I went to breakfast at The Pancakery, which was delicious! She got an omelet and pancakes, and I got two giant Belgian waffles. We both got coffee and water. Then we headed to worship services at South Walton Church of Christ, where we met up with Leah and the Padgetts. This congregation was tiny, but so very encouraging; they were welcoming and I could tell they have a true love for the Lord. After worship was over, we talked to some of the other visitors and members there, then we went to McAlister’s Deli with the Padgetts. We enjoyed almost two hours of conversation with them, and then all of us had to get on the road. We all said our goodbyes and gave hugs, and then we left.
But before we left Destin, we stopped at Henderson beach one last time to get this picture of the three of us (how had we not done this already??).
Sadly, this ends our beach trip!
We were all going back to Auburn, Alabama for evening worship there, although Meredith drove separately from us. Leah and I had more encouraging conversations and laughs (and a few car troubles, which are all worked out now) on the way back to Auburn, and got to University Church of Christ early enough to talk to some people before we sat down. We met up with Alexander (my brother) again.
After services we talked to some more of our friends – I unexpectedly saw a few from Prattville, John Mark’s and my first married home, while we were there – and made our way back to meet my parents in Anniston (where Leah lives). This part of the trip also wasn’t without its events, but I’ll spare you the details and say that we made it Anniston by midnight with the help of Alexander and our parents! We dropped Leah off there, got a short tour of her home, and then were in Athens by 2:30 am, where I stayed with my parents until Monday evening.
My parents and I all went straight to bed when we got home (Widget had stayed with my parents and was overjoyed to see me – here are some pictures of his trip).
I slept in some Monday, and they got up the next morning to go to work. While they were at work, I spent some time outside with Widget, did some laundry, and then my long-time best friend Peyton picked me up; we got ice cream at a local ice cream shop and then drove around all afternoon just like we used to in high school. It was so fun and so needed! She also got to meet Widget – they instantly hit it off. 🙂
When my parents got off of work Monday, we loaded their car with the rest of my things and headed to Collierville, Tennessee so that we could meet John Mark halfway to our home in Arkansas (finally! 🙂 ). John Mark and I made it safely home by around one the next morning, as did my parents.
This whole, long trip was so fun! And not without text after text and FaceTime after FaceTime with John Mark. I’m so thankful I got to see so many of my old friends and spend some one-on-one time with both Leah and Meredith. It was truly an experience. 🙂