I promised a report and here it is:
We're back and we loved it.
We left on Wed. right after Dennis. The condo on Okaloosa was in great shape and the pools were open. The water was a little cloudy at first, but really no problem. Our first full day was overcast, but we used that as an opportunity to see the area, drove down to Seaside and stopped to lunch along the way. By the time we worked our way back the clouds were clearing and we got our first sunburn.
The remainder of the trip was just great. I know the beaches were not up to the standard that regulars would expect (we have only been in Naples & Keys before), but they were still beautiful and fun. Okaloosa was in pretty good shape as most of the coast seemed to be. The properties right on Destin beaches were really hurt the most from the beach erosion - truly, our sympathy to you guys. But everything else was O.K. The fast clean up by areas services was very impressive.
Everywhere we went people were friendly and very pleasant. A lot less uptight than I would have expected. We kept hearing, "This is our first _____ since Dennis. We aren't quite up and running yet." Which meant for us smaller crowds, less waiting, no lines... no problem! Ever since then, when something isn't quite working out as expected we just say, "Well, it's all because of Dennis!" (My laundry didn't get done today because of Dennis.)
My only complaint may seem trivial, but restaurants were really overpriced for a mediocre quality of food and service. And, I was really looking forward to some good oysters on the half shell. Oh, well.
In contrast, we stopped overnight in Gulf Shores on the way home. That area is still struggling to overcome from last year. Property damage was staggering in comparison to Destin. The beachside hotel we stayed at had only been reopened 10 weeks ago. Many still aren't. But, they are working at it and again we enjoyed everyone we came in contact with. Other people were there and we were glad to make a small contribution to their comeback.
I was really totally appreciate this forum. I really gained valuable info. Our whole family is glad we went ahead with our plans. Thanks for all the postings. I wish I could turn around and go right back. One thing for sure, if I ever get a chance to move there I'll know to ask about construction methods. It's kind of like The Three Little Pigs - it's all about choosing the right building materials.