We left from home about 3P and drove straight down 45 S to Meridian MS where we spent the night then proceeded on to Okaloosa Island and our favorite place, Beach Bums Hideaway. This was our 9th stay there to be followed by our 10th Aug. 26 for 7 more nights.
We got off I 10 onto exit 31 and straight over to Navarre. Shortly after getting onto 98. we hit very heavy traffic. It was bumper to bumper all the way to Santa Rosa Blvd. I could see the Cloisters Townhomes, where Beach Bums Hideaway is located across the IC Waterway and what should have been a 8 minute max trip took 30 minutes. Of course it was the beginning of the 4th of July week, so I am sure that made a difference. When we return on Aug 26, it will be much later in the day as we will drive the 8 hours straight through. There should be no traffic at 11P.
It was great to see our usual greeting "Welcome Home Rodney and Vicki" outside of the Hideaway. After going to Publix to purchase groceries, I did venture down the the beach (only like 100 steps from BBH) across the new dune walkover. I still had on my traveling clothes which consisted of blue jean shorts and a shirt from my local Reef Club that said "I Glue Animals to Rocks". I heard lots of discussion within a family also on the beach about what this meant and how cruel I must be. I walked over to them and told them I had living reef aquariums at home and that I propagate corals in my tanks to save wild corals. Most corals I glue onto small pieces of live rock with superglue gel, hence the "I Glue Animals to Rocks". It was really funny.
Rain Rain and more Rain!! I would suspect we got close to 20 inches of rain the 2 weeks we were there. Okaloosa Island Santa Rosa Blvd, has no drainage and the water was quite deep in many places. We thought our little Prius was going to float at times. I only was able to get in a couple of beach days due to the rain. We had planned 3 days of diving the first week with Scubatech out of Destin with a planned 2 days week two. We did dive that Monday but knew the rest of the week looked dicey weather wise, so I want ahead and scheduled daily dives Tues through Sun. All were cancelled due to the weather. We did dive Monday through Thursday our second week, so we did get in our 5 days of diving. That final day was the most challenging dive we have done and we have been diving since 1977. The surface currents were ripping and it was hard to pull yourself hand over hand on the current assist line against the current to the anchor line. It did turn loose of you at about 7 feet and there was minimal current at depth.
The water, due to the flooding and run off, was not the beautiful clear blue green but was murky and at times muddy looking. We only had significant June Grass one day. Our final day was supposed to have been with 60% chance of rain, but it was sunny all day so I did get a beach day in. The water was very clear but looked like green tea and was much calmer that the rest of the trip. I spent the entire day on the beach. The beach behind the Cloisters is not crowded in the least. No beach set ups, etc. We get a close up place to place our umbrella and chairs.
Photo Shoot. The man who owns, BBH, Dave Davis (Old Man and the Sea Photography) was supposed to have done a photo shoot our last time there in 2012 but was ill. We agreed to get it our third week there in August but had to cancel that trip due to a hurricane heading into the area so we scheduled it for our last Wednesday this trip. . All his other evenings were booked up. But, you guessed it, it rained!! We did get the photos made our last day there and met Dave at Beasley Park at 7 am. They turned out great and we were fortunate enough to even get blue herons in the background.
Activities My husband hit golf balls a couple of times at Ft. Walton Golf Club and did actually play a game our last day there while I spent the day on the beach. We did take a drive to Navarre and took the road all the way to Pensacola. It seems like such a long drive and you could only go 20 mph due to bird nesting season. The desolate beaches and crashing surf were wonderful to see. I loved that part. It was July 4 and Pensacola was packed with bumper to bumper traffic. We were so glad to get back to Okaloosa! Like I reported before we dive with
Scubatech out of Destin. There is no one better to dive with. We love diving on the Sea Cobra with Capt.Nancy and checking in with Carla in the shop. We did drive to Marler Park and it was packed. The next day I read there had been a raw sewage spill due to the rain and Marler Park swimming areas were to have been closed but obviously the word did not get out because everyone was in the water the day we were there. It was a big deal down there. Dave leaves a paper at our door each morning and there was lots of finger pointing about why the no swimming signs were not posted earlier. We had planned doing a "Turtle Walk". This is new this year and started June 17. You go to an educational seminal in the conference room above the fire dept on Okaloosa followed by a walk on the beach looking at turtle nests. This is free but you do need reservations. This was planned on the evening we had done the strenuous dive and I was totally exhausted, so I cancelled.
Dining. For the first time we tried Pandoras Steak House for their Prime Rib special (Sun and Wed nights) for $14.95. It is on SantaRosa Blvd just past the light on 98 and is on the right next to Sammy's. This is for french onion soup, salad, baked potato and the best prime rib!! It was fantastic. We ate there both Sunday nights we were there. You need reservations. We went to Dewey Destin Harborside after diving two days. We love going there and watching the fishing boats come and go. We love their steamed shrimp with cole slaw, boiled potatoes and corn on the cob all for $10.99. We go there with our wet hair and swimsuit coverups and feel totally comfortable as we eat outside. We also at at Stewby's Seafood Shanty on Racetrack Blvd in Ft. Walton. We like the food there and I had the seafood platter and husband the grilled shrimp. It was really good and theirs were the best fried oysters I had this trip. I will admit we did go to Golden Corral one day at lunch only because we do not have one where we live. It is the usual buffet fare but they do stay packed. Our local Capt. D's have all closed and the one on 98 in Ft. Walton, has fried green tomatoes. Yummo!! We ate at McGuires one night. I had had my fill of beef for the trip, having eaten prime rib x 2 but my husband had not. He loves their strip which he said was good, as usual. I got the seafood platter and it was just awful. Cold, greasy, yuck! I have been told next time to get their fish and chips. I do love their freshly made root beer though. Sadly, it does not come with refills. We went at 6P and there was a 40 minute wait. However,since last year, the do have a nice terrace area, Vinnie McGuires where you can set and get a drink while you wait for your buzzer to go off. We ate one evening at Dewey Destin on the bay. My husband got their seafood gumbo (he says the best) and grilled shrimp and I got the Capt. Platter. I though the fish tasted like what we have at home and got to digging and there was no shrimp or oysters. They had given me a catfish platter! They made it right and got me the shrimp and oysters though. I cooked all breakfast the BBH. Our usual lunch was sandwiches, chips and drinks. We did eat 3, yes 3 key lime pies while we were there. Publix Key Lime pies are the very best!! BBH has no stove but does have a toaster over, electric skillet,microwave and crockpot and I brought an electric burner and a pot with us so we did fine.
Despite the weather and rain,we had a great time. We gots lots of rest, got to do lots of reading and did get all our dives in. We heard several people say they were leaving early due to the weather and if I was in a hotel room, I could understand. Although BBH is a studio with a murphy's bed, it is totally comfy so we never thought of leaving early and are looking forward to our return 5 weeks from tomorrow. I scheduled our 3 weeks for next year while we were there.
Sorry about the length of this, but in previous trip reports I have posted, people said they were hard to read and suggested I split them up someway. I home this works and is easier to read!!