This is the view from our condo in Destin, Florida this summer. It’s the fourth time we’ve rented at the same place (2009, 2011, 2012, 2013). Every room has an ocean view; usually we stay up higher on the tenth floor, but this year we got a better rate on the third floor. We were right above the pool and bar this time. The pool connects to a skywalk that leads to the beach. It’s so nice to step out on the balcony, see the sea, and breathe in the ocean air.
My first day on the beach was quite exciting. I was standing in these shallow waters above and playing frisbee with my husband and son. They were in foot deep water, and I was up to my waist. My husband started yelling, “Susanne, shark!” and pointing at a shadow under the water coming right at me. Sure enough it was a shark. It looked like a juvenile, possibly a bull shark about five feet long and kind of skinny swimming back and forth sideways as it came over to investigate me. A million thoughts raced through my mind in that instant, and I intuitively knew I had no chance of getting out of the water faster than it would reach me. So, I froze and stood still. I raised my hands out of instinct as if to say “I surrender” and just stood still while it came right up to me. All I could say was, “what do I do?” It came right up to me and then turned and proceeded down the shore. That’s when I got out of the water and people were chasing it down the beach, myself included, yelling “shark!” alerting other people to get out of the water. Luckily, it wasn’t hungry for humans that day.
The experience reminded me that I’d previously dreamed about a shadow under the water that turned into a shark. In my dream, it came right at me and was so close I could see its face and teeth. Just like in real life, in my dream it swam up to me and then went around me and kept swimming. I wonder if that was a coincidence or a premonition?
Later that week, we heard from other tourists that people saw a hammerhead shark in the waves too. We talked to some locals about the shark sightings, and they said because it was raining for about ten days before we got there, the water was murkier. Sharks have bad eyesight, so when that happens, they are forced to come closer to shore to look for food. They thought the shark coming up to people and then swimming away was its way of saying, “get out of here!” I know that every time we get in the ocean, we are entering their habitat, so we can’t really complain about seeing them. Although, I am not used to seeing them at all much less in such shallow water. It was scary but exciting, and thankfully nothing happened. We’ve only seen them once before when we were in South Padre Island in Texas. The lifeguards there said they are very common to see there.
This is a panoramic view of the oceanfront in front of our condo. I’m in love with the sugary, white sands and the turquoise waters. As soon as my feet hit the hot sand, my breath slows and my worries start to fade away. I love sitting in the beach chair in the sun and shade and just listening to the sound of the ocean and feeling the salty breeze. It’s so peaceful and soothing to my soul.
This is a picture of the bridge leading to Destin Harbor from Okaloosa Island, taken from Harry T’s restaurant on the harbor. We go there every year and visit with my friend who lives nearby. We are friends from Virginia. I live in Texas now, and she lives in Florida now, so we only get to see each other during beach vacations.
We took a seashelling cruise and got to see some dolphins in the water near Destin Harbor. I’ve seen them before, but I never tire of it. They are so beautiful and playful in the water. It’s amazing to come so close to wild animals in their natural habitats. I’m happy my kids have been able to see them a few times already in their lives.
It rained one day while we were there. Of course it was disappointing because we lost a day on the beach. But, all was not lost as we did go down to the pool and hot tub. Even in the rain, it felt wonderfully refreshing, and it still felt like vacation. I tried to think of the last time I sat in an outdoor hot tub. I think it was all the way back to 1989 when I was in Aspen, Colorado. That time, it was snowing outside as I enjoyed the hot tub! The beach was still quite beautiful in the rain, just a different kind of beauty.
This is a picture of me and my husband taken on the seashelling boat. I think this is the third year we’ve done this activity, and we really enjoy it. It’s a short boat ride over to another smaller island where they anchor the boat and then people wade through the shallow waters collecting seashells. The water was murky this year because of the rain, but we still found many beautiful shells. And I’ve noticed the shells change from year to year! I use them to decorate my house and have also made picture frames with them. It’s a very family friendly activity and it’s not very expensive either.
The sunset was gorgeous the night we were on the boat. First the sky filled with pastel hues reflected in the water. As the sun went down the sky turned more red and pink, and the reflection in the water was so picturesque! These kinds of scenes inspire me to paint.
These are some of the shells we collected this year. The big brown spiral one is my favorite. In fact, I love all the spiral shaped ones the best, but they are all so different and complex it’s hard to pick favorites. My son asked how seashells are made, and I thought that was an excellent question. I looked it up and read a bunch about exoskeletons and such. Being a math person, I also find it amazing that the spiral shape is so commonly found in most of these designs. It’s just another example of form and pattern in nature. Spirals represent the Fibonacci sequence and the golden ratio and are found all over the natural world including pineapples, pine cones, sunflowers etc.
My husband and kids took a private fishing trip too. I’m not into fishing, so I didn’t go with them. I used the time to have lunch with my girlfriend again and lounged on the beach all day! I included this picture because it reminds me of a line from one of my favorite songs, “Wildflowers” by Tom Petty. “You belong among the wildflowers. You belong in a boat out at sea. Sail away, kill off all the hours. You belong somewhere you feel free.” I feel free and inspired when I’m in nature, whether it’s on the water or in the mountains. I would have loved to have gone on the boat with them if they didn’t have to do all the killing of the fish parts!
On our last night there, my daughter and I took some fun pictures on the beach. She did a bunch of dance moves, and I did some yoga moves. This one is called ‘tree’ and it was difficult to balance with my foot in the sand like that. I love doing yoga because while it’s challenging it’s also gentle on my body. I’ve had five surgeries on my right knee and two on my right ankle, so I don’t do many of the physical activities I used to enjoy. Doing yoga helps me stretch, strengthen, balance, and center. I feel calm and positive after I do yoga. One day, I would love to take my yoga mat down to the beach and practice there! I did bring my yoga mat on vacation and rolled it out in our master bedroom. It was a smart idea, because without it I would have done far less of it.
This was the last picture I took right before we got in the car to drive back to Texas. I said ‘thank you’ to the sea for all the gifts we received that week and spent several minutes with my eyes closed cherishing the feeling of being there. The ocean is my happy place, and I try to keep that centered feeling throughout the rest of the year. It’s too bad beach week only comes once a year, but we do have to work to make a living. Traveling to other places is so refreshing though. When we get home to our lovely home, it’s like having a whole different perspective after being in a different place for a while. One day, I hope to be able to retire close to the ocean so I can grow old in a place I love!
Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!