Friday, October 11, 2013

Florida - The Emerald Coast

We put down our carpet at Henderson State Beach Park in Destin. We found it to be one of the best run parks we've visited. Everyone, from the hosts to the rangers, were friendly and genuinely appeared to enjoy being there and were very helpful. We checked in, pulled into our spot and were in the process of setting up when the campground host stopped by to see if we needed anything! The campground has four loops with a path in the middle that leads to the beach. Since the dunes are protected by Florida law, there is a wooden boardwalk to the beach. There are showers to wash off the sand before going back to the coach. The restrooms were spotless...only negative is they didn't have sewer hookups at the sites....

Most of the sites are "L" shaped with parking for your coach and a large sitting area behind it. Each site was immaculate with the hosts cleaning and raking it after each guests departure.

Each site has a picnic table, and is very private. They also provide a clothesline to hang your beach towels on when you return from the beach. A nice touch.

A must stop is right on Emerald Highway, Destin's main highway. Fudpucker's is a restaurant featuring hamburgers, fries, fish and chips and typical fast food fare. They also have Gator Beach, a place to watch live gators. Admission is free.

This is Pearl. She is a rare Albino Alligator. How rare? There are fewer than 50 in the United States. They are pure white with pink eyes, caused by a mutation of their skin pigment. These “ghosts of the swamp” have an estimated survival rate of only 24 hours in the wild due to their sensitivity to direct UV radiation and blatant inability to blend in because of their lack of camouflage coloration. She must be kept indoors.

While Pearl must be kept indoors to protect her skin from the UV rays, Gator Beach has plenty others to keep you occupied. You can purchase pieces of raw chicken if you'd like to feed them. To do so, place the chicken on a string attached to a fishing pole and watch them attack it. They can also jump into the air about the length of their bodies.

Many colorful restaurants in the area offer fare to match anyone's taste. Each with it's own unique flavor.

There are many hotels, motels, apartments and condos such as this one overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

Along the Emerald coast is the "Boardwalk", a collection of eclectic shops and restaurants. Here, one can go parasailing, rent bicycles, take a helicopter tour, eat and/or shop to your heart's desire.

We found many upscale hotels along the Emerald Highway. This one was along the Riverwalk area, and reminded me of Venice.

Walton Beach is just west of Destin. This huge condo complex welcomes you to their beautiful City.

Destin is also home to the Gulf Islands National Seashore area. It stretches from Florida all the way to Mississippi, and includes 7 islands. Much of the seashore was damaged or destroyed by the hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005.

This pier, damaged extensively by the hurricanes of 2004-05 has not recovered and most likely never will. It sits as a silent sentinel to Mother Natures power.

Back home as the sun was setting over the Henderson Beach area.
 I thought the sun shining on the cloud formations made a unique backdrop to the white sands of the Gulf of Mexico

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