Category Archives: Vacations

Destin, Florida: Day Two (Monday)

Monday, Monday, Monday. Ah Mondays… They don’t feel like them when you’re on vacation. The next morning was beautiful. Breezy, sun was out along with patches of clouds. It was still quite windy and the waves were still getting kicked up a bit. After taking what would become my requisite morning sit on the balcony with breakfast (Lucky Charms, which taste more magical on the beach), we went for a bike ride around the SanDestin resort.

Over the last 9 years, so much has changed scenerywise at SanDestin. There’s a bunch more buildings and new developments. There’s still the same golf courses and many ponds (72 is what I heard from a guy we met who does bookings for the resort). In fact, all of the ponds are supposedly stocked with large mouth bass from Bass Pro. We crossed under the road (you know, the one and only road) to the bay side of the resort and biked around there. It was quite hot for early in the morning, but it was just so beautiful to be out biking. I will just let the pictures do all the talking…

After we got back to the condo, it was a quick lunch, and then down to the beach. 🙂

I brought my (little) camera down to the beach. I had gotten it the week before the trip. It’s a Sony DSC-TX5. It’s an awesome little camera that shoots 720P HD video and is water, shock, drop, freeze, whatever-proof! It’s my new take-everywhere camera. I was so hesitant to put it in the water that I tested it before dropping it in the ocean. As you can see, it was up to the challenge!

Obligatory sunset pics:

For dinner, we went to McGuire’s this Irish Pub/Steakhouse. It was pretty packed, well for a Tuesday. No waits, but definitely pretty full. It was a really neat restaurant. The staff was super friendly and the place had a nice atmosphere. I’ve never been to Ireland, but it’s probably just like it. It’s dark inside and the walls (and ceilings) are plastered with signed dollar bills left by visitors over the years. They are known for their homeade beer, root beer, and amazing smoked prime rib steak. They just give you so much to eat there.

To the left is a neon sign that says Men’s room. Most people got tricked by this 😀 LOL.

Stay tuned for Day Three! Continue reading Destin, Florida: Day Two (Monday)

Destin, Florida: Day One (First Day at the Beach!)

I went to bed after midnight the previous night but managed to get up at 8. Church was at 10:30 and I wanted to leave time for breakfast at Donut Hole. So after, I got up, I did my usual routine of checking the internets to see what I missed from the day before. As it turned out, the best place to get reception was on the balcony. Works for me! It was a beautiful day outside. A bit windy and cloudy (actually quite cloudy with big dark clouds). The waves were surprisingly loud but very pleasing. It’s something I would never get tired of hearing. It’s great too because day or night, there’s waves, it’s not like birds where they quit chirping at night (mostly). I could definitely get used to working on the balcony at the beach. Too bad all good things must come to an end. But for the week, it was mine to enjoy!

Could get used to this!

After some light browsing, we headed to Donut Hole which was just down the street. Actually everything is just “down the street” in Destin. There’s one main highway (98) that spans the entire region with the Gulf to the south and the Bay to the north so things are easy to find and get to. When we pulled into the parking lot, it was jam packed! The line was way out the door into the parking lot. Somehow, we managed to find a spot at the door, but there was no chance we could get a table before church so we just grabbed a couple donuts and headed back to the Condo. I got my favorite donut, an old fashion glazed donut which has a cakey dough instead of a light Krispy Kreme interior. This donut was even better than all the ones in Tim Horton’s up in Canada.

So at The Church of the Resurrection, we were just barely on time, perhaps a minute late. But being so close to the beach and having a lot of tourists, they seemed pretty chill and turns out we were right on time and had a couple of minutes to spare. The church is very close to our Condo and only maybe 5 minutes away. It’s sort of hidden on a small road and is surrounded by trees. The building is this gorgeous massive dome-shaped structure and it’s circular inside with the alter at the middle. The mass that Sunday was for the Ascension which was moved from that Thursday. That’s one of the things I love about being Catholic, it’s universal. Everyone hears the same readings and we celebrate the same Feast days all around the world. After mass, there was an announcement. The priest was celebrating his 50th birthday and the deacon his 25th year (I believe) as deacon. To celebrate, two large cakes were brought out and the served cake and juice after mass! How cool. Get to have my cake and eat it….. and I love cake.

After mass, we went to eat brunch at a place called Callahan’s. They supposedly have good crab cake brunches, but on Sundays they have a special Sunday brunch menu, which didn’t have it. They did however had some delicious sounding omelets and I chose the steak one with an English muffin and potatoes. Other than the steak inside being a bit salty (but it did add a lot of flavor), it was all really good! And the service was excellent. If you like breakfasts, the Destin area is the place to go. There are so many awesome places to have breakfast and Sunday Brunch.

After lunch (brunch), we went a little further down the street to Sexton’s, the number one seafood market in the area (yes, better than Destin Ice). On $5.95/pound special were 8-12 count jumbo, freshly-caught Gulf shrimp. We bought two pounds along with some cocktail sauce. It would be part of our lunch the next day. Then we started heading back down the road towards our condo and stopped at Walmart to grab some milk, bread, cereal, sandwhich meat, chese, soap, you know the essentials. It’s nice having a Super Walmart so close. You can just buy everything you need and bring less. Actually, this was the very first Super Walmart I have been in. It was there before they all opened up everywhere in Dallas. Hard to imagine a time when Walmart didn’t sell groceries huh? Believe it or not, it’s still like that in Canada lol.

So after we got back to the condo, we headed down to the beach. It was still cloudy and stormy looking, but started to clear up in the evening. Since there was no sun, it wasn’t hot, just warm, windy, and humid. The waves were really getting kicked up from the wind and it made for a fun time at the beach. I had never seen waves quite like the ones that day. It was fun though since you could ride them on a boogey board, probably the next best thing I would imagine to actual surfing (something you definitely can’t do in the gulf since it’s normally so calm).

For dinner that evening, we went to Bayou Bill’s, a Cajun seafood restaurant (just down the street – a few miles). My dad got a towering bucket of seafood (crabs, clams, oysters, shrimp, corn cobs, and potatoes) and I got the fish of the day which happened to be grouper (hurray!). It was incredible! It was my favorite dinner of the trip. If I had known, I probably would have savored it more, but it was just too good. It was lightly fried, topped with peppers, onion, tomato (or are those carrots?), garlic, scallions (green onions), and mushrooms over rice with hush puppies (double yay!) on the side.

Sunset Day 1

That night when we got back, I wanted to experiment with some long exposure pictures lit by the cloud-covered moon and lights along the beach. Here’s a couple that I got after a 2-3 minute exposure.

When I took this it was pitch black outside. Kind of eerie feeling with the water being so smooth.

Destin Florida: Day Zero (Driving)

I just got back from a 1 week trip to Destin. It’s the first trip of two for this summer. Last summer was all MCATs and now I get a chance to take a break. It’s interesting, we planned to go right when my exams finished and booked the condo the day before the oil spill. What timing! We were so worried that there would be oil on the beach or make landfall when we got there and have to leave (since it’s classified as a toxic substance). Luckily, the weather was gorgeous and so were the beaches! The white sand was still white and the water still blue and turquoise. It rained only a little bit (I hear Dallas had more, glad I missed it) and we were able to lie on the beach everyday!

I have a bunch of pictures that I have gone through and am now back-logging (blogging :o) about them. I’ll just go day-by-day, till I’m done. The first day (zero), is the drive to Destin. We left at about 7 something and the drive was about 12 hours (~750 miles, give or take). I drove the first part to Louisiana, which was surprisingly closer than I remember from when I was little sitting in the back. I remember Texas just going on and on forever, but it turns out, Louisiana goes on and on forever, when you’re cutting across the biggest chunk on Interstate 49 (I49) from Shreveport to Lafayette and then to Baton Rouge on I10 to I12.  After that, it’s on to Mississippi which isn’t too big, Alabama which is even smaller, and then Florida, where it’s about an hour (depending on traffic, which we hit) going into the city to Destin (just passed Pensacola on the panhandle).

So anyway, on the LONG drive there, we encountered clouds, rain, sun, more rain (+ storms), and sun, and more clouds (sometimes within the same hour). It made for quite an interesting drive. At one point, the GPS directed us off the main interstate onto a smaller road, which looked shorter. It was riddled with traffic lights and slow-speed areas through small towns. What a mistake that was. It also happened to pour and storm the most on that leg of the trip and the roads weren’t as good as the interstate we left behind. If you think you know better, you probably do, just go with your gut and let the GPS guide you from there. We only stopped for gas and short breaks. Considering the rain, we made good time, but it was still exhausting.

The first leg of the trip that I drove to Louisiana
Storms ahead.
It got quite nasty for a good 10-15 min as we drove through it.
But alas, there was blue skies ahead
3 mile traffic jam due to construction, glad we weren't in it!
Alabama Tunnel
Leaving Alabama, starting to look more like Florida
Ah! That's the Florida I know, the Sunshine State!

View from the door
View from the living room

So once we hit Florida, it wasn’t too much longer until we got to our condo. We had seen pictures of it online and it looked pretty nice, but when we got there it was REALLY nice. It was also nice to be able to kick back and stretch on the couch. Here’s what the kitchen, dining, and living room area looked like. The newly-renovated bathroom was really nice with all the stone and tiles and clear glass sink bowl above the counter.

For dinner, it was getting late and surprisingly, the few restaurants we called (the highly recommended Goatfeathers Seafood) were just about to close, and it was only I believe 9 something, on a Saturday! We found this Thai restaurant (one of my favorite foods) that was still open and ate there. I got my usual pad Thai and it was really good! It was really authentic and had a nice flavor and spice to it. Before heading back to Sandestin where we were staying, we went over the “Baytowne Wharf” on the bay side of Destin to check it out. It’s this really cool place, built partially on a boardwalk around some ponds where there’s a ton of nightlife and music.  Here are some shots of that.

Live music
wedding party going on
Last but not least, a shot of a bar from a bay pier