Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ft. Walton Beach Vacation Summary

Our family spent a week in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, this year.  Below are my notes of each day’s events – Sally has kept her own journal, so there is no telling what additional detail I’ve left out!

From FtWaltonBeach2009



The pictures can be found by following this link for Fort Walton Beach Vacation pictures.

Ft. Walton Beach Vacation, Day 6

July 10th, 2009


Up at 7:00AM, check out is at 10:00AM.   We eat breakfast, finish packing, clean the condo and leave Gulf Dunes by 9:30AM!

We stop at a “Tropical Department Store”, aka another tourist trap, for souvenirs. 

On the road back to Texas by 10:00AM.  We wave bye to Ft. Walton Beach. 

Stop in Covington, LA for lunch @ 2:00PM (right on schedule) – hey, its Chick-fil-a!

Stop for gas, potty break, and change drivers in Alexandria, LA – but forgot the gas!  Of course, Josh had to try out the bathroom there.  Actually, very clean bathroom in the downtown Alexandria (we got lost – err, took the wrong exit).  Kudo’s to McDonalds!  I think its a first!

Finally get gas on the other side of Shreveport, LA – nervously watching the gas gauge the whole way. 

We pull into our driveway at 10:30PM. 

Ft. Walton Beach Vacation, Day 5

July 9th, 2009


This morning over coffee, I got to see some lifeguard trainees.  All girls.  Yay!

Southern Star Dolphin Cruise today from 9AM – 11AM in Destin!  Destin is only 8 miles east of Ft. Walton Beach.  We parked in the public parking of the Emerald Grand and located the Southern Star’s stand along the harbor wall.

From FtWaltonBeach2009

The dolphin cruise was awesome!  Saw quite a few dolphins and a spotted eagle ray – I think I saw a shark, but I missed the sea turtle (wrong side of the boat).  The glass bottom feature of the cruise was a bit overrated, even when you see fish, you can’t see colors, etc.  Usually the boat is moving too fast to see anything through the small port holes.

From FtWaltonBeach2009


Unfortunately, both kids got sea sick.  Boo.  They didn’t throw up though, and didn’t really fuss much.  Very proud of what troopers they were considering it was a somewhat difficult situation.

We ate at Pat O'Brien's (Destin) – had crawfish tacos, muffalata sandwich and the best caesar salad ever!  I think it was the freshly grated parmesan cheese that made it pop.  The kids, of course, had chicken fingers.

We spend the afternoon on the beach, but pick up supplied for a movie and real popcorn (Rico’s Popcorn) for bedtime. 

Kids decided they wanted tattoos to remind them of the trip, so we walked down to Fudpuckers to get inked!  Hannah got a bear with hearts and Josh got a tank.  Sally’s tattoo washed off in the sudden downpour we got caught in while there.  This was the first real rain we’ve had since arriving at Ft. Walton Beach.  We wait it out under a patio umbrella until its light enough to walk back.

From FtWaltonBeach2009


This is our last night here.

Ft. Walton Beach Vacation, Day 4

July 8th, 2009


First one up – before 8AM this time.  I go to the local stores looking for ‘sun shirts’ – those shirts that have some UV blocker in them and are basically 50 SPF by themselves.  Find one for Josh, but no one else.

We spend the day playing in the surf, building sandcastles and picking up sea shells.

Hannah and Josh really took to riding the “Gnarly Board”.  Hannah can go the distance on it, all the way to the beach!  Josh just makes it look good!

I tried to help Josh with the board, explaining he had to lay down on it instead of just sitting on it like he wanted, but he wouldn’t listen.  First wave tipped him face first into the (soft) sand and rolled him in sand and water.  He refused to ride the board for a while stating that it was my fault (meaning Dad) for his wipe out.  He later rode the board again, but laying down on the board, and was successful in catching some waves!  He later came over to me and told me “Dad, you were right, I was wrong” – priceless!

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The sea shells were really nothing more than fragments of sand dollars, but Hannah did manage to find a really nice one – looked like a conch shaped shell that a hermit crab might have lived in.

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Dad burns more but Josh is fine by slathering him in sunscreen and making him wear his shirt.  Hannah and Sally continue to work on their tans.

Threatening rain today, but we don’t see any.

Walk to Fudpuckers for dinner – its a complete tourist trap.  Not like I didn’t expect it.  There was also some questionable TV on in the background considering half the crowd there was under 10.  Commercials for the HBO series “Hung” is not appropriate.  I don’t want to explain to my 8 year old what that is – luckily, she didn’t see it.

From FtWaltonBeach2009

We got our picture taken with a baby alligator – pretty cool.  Though you kind of feel sorry for the alligators.

Everyone was crashed after dinner, but I had been seeing flashlights on the beach at night and I wanted to see what they were seeing.  So I hit the beach around 9:30PM with my flashlight.  Turns out that the whole event was probably started by someone who lost their watch – everyone I passed the conversation went like this:

Me - “What are you looking for”?

Them – '”Same thing you are, I guess”.

Me - “I”m not sure what I’m looking for”?

Them - “Oh, OK.  Have a good night”!

I did see 3 crabs…kind of like horseshoe crabs, but they are very fast!

Oh, yeah…Capital One disabled my credit card.  Seems I forgot to tell them I was travelling – since I’ve used this credit card all over the world (ok – China and US) and never had a problem it never occurred to me. I was fine with them disabling my card, appreciative really.   What I was not happy with is that there was no easy way to re-enable it without navigating 5 levels deep of menu options on a crappy Black Jack II phone.  Once I got someone on the phone, it took confirming a few charges and we were back in party mode!

Ft. Walton Beach Vacation, Day 3

July 7, 2009


Up at 8am – first one up.  Trend that continues for the rest of the week.  Spend every morning with coffee on the patio and listen to the surf and people watch.

Sally took a walk on the beach while I waited for Josh to wake up so we can hit the beach!

Spent all day on the beach, except for coming back up to the condo for lunch.  We had sandwiches for lunch and pizza for dinner, followed by a movie and popcorn.  Don’t think we went to bed until after 10PM every night.

While on the beach, we built walls and imaginary castles and moats, only to have a rogue wave come in and tear it all down.  Fun!

From FtWaltonBeach2009

Kids and Sally bury me in the sand, which evidently exhausted me because I was first in bed.

Josh and I got sunburn on places we missed with sunscreen.  Ouch!   Hannah and Sally just got deeper tans.

Ft. Walton Beach Vacation, Day 2

July 6th, 2009


Woke by 9am, but got downstairs too late for the continental breakfast.  Ate breakfast at the Chick-fil-a in Covington, LA.

We left Covington in the pouring rain!  It was seriously, stop on the side of the road (we didn’t) kind of rain.  Which probably explains why I ran over a tree top that had snapped off and blown onto the highway.  This went on for about 30 minutes of driving rain travelling between 10 and 20 mph.

Before we knew it, we were finally out of Louisiana and in Mississippi.  There is an awesome bridge in Mississippi that I wish I had a picture of. 

We blinked our eyes and less than 100 miles later we are in Alabama.

Alabama was notable for the tunnel in Mobile and the U.S.S. Alabama, visible from the highway.

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We hit Florida by 2:30PM and Ft. Walton Beach by 3:30PM via exit 56!

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Checked into the Gulf Dunes complex (#406) which was pretty nice – didn’t know what to expect beyond 1980’s style furniture!

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We didn’t bother to unpack, except for swimsuits and hit the beach. 

The sand is everything that we’ve been told…talcum powder by the dunes and sugar by the water.  It was great!  Water was very clear but had little green algae looking organisms in the water that gave it a really green tint.


From FtWaltonBeach2009

We play on the beach until after dark 30.  We are starving at this point and try Fudpuckers but there is a 1 hour wait (there is always a 1 hour wait) so we head up the highway and find Floyd’s.  We ordered anything that sounded good off the menu:

  • Coco Loco Shrimp (sweet)
  • Kicker Shrimp (spicy)
  • Corn and Shrimp Chowder
  • Tuna Rolls
  • Shrimp Rolls
  • Emerald Coast (adult beverage)
  • Raspberry Daiquiri's
  • Miller Light
  • Chicken Fingers (of course)


We then hit Publix, a grocery store chain, and bought groceries for the week ($200 – ouch!). 

Ft. Walton Beach Vacation, Day 1

July 5th, 2009


Packed and left the house by 10:15am, which is no mean feat for our family!

Took Hwy 75 to I-20E and hit Shreveport, LA by 2PM.  Seems like it took forever to leave Texas…that is, until we entered Louisiana, where we took I-49S towards Alexandria, LA.  There are NO bathrooms off of I-49 between Shreveport and Alexandria.  Well, there is one.  In Natchitoches.  Don’t pass this one up!  Its the best place for a bathroom before Alexandria.

Since we missed Natchitoches exit, we wound up stopping in a backwater gas station well off the freeway – it was essentially a mobile home (no wheels) and a gas pump.   We had to buy something to use the restroom – silly me bought gas.  Of course, Josh can’t resist the Pavlovian response to a public bathroom and had to poop.  I could hear banjos the whole while…my only regret is that we didn’t get pictures.

Stopped in Alexandria, LA at a McDonalds – bleh.

Made it to Covington, LA by 6:30PM.  We stayed at a Courtyard by Marriot, room #311 and used points for it.  Total cost: $0.

Ate at Acme for dinner…the red beans and rice were phenomenal, but the Bloody Mary sucks. 

From FtWaltonBeach2009

We spent a fortune here.