Our travel day began with a trip to the drugstore to help treat my kidney stone and make it easier to pass. After getting that all straightened out, we needed to get going! Thankfully, we had a shorter travel day, so our late start didn’t impact us too much. The skies were clear and sunny, and the winds had died down, so we had a wonderfully uneventful traverse from Louisiana to the Florida panhandle.
Destin West RV Resort
The main drag between Fort Walton and Destin is called the Miracle Strip, and our RV park was right off of it, between the road and the bay side. The Destin West RV Resort is smaller, but clean, and conveniently located. They have a pool, communal fire pit, showers and laundry on site, and the landscaping between sites provides a decent amount of privacy. There are also some high top tables on the bay side where you can sit and watch the birds, boats and waves, which we did a few times. The only issue with this location is that it’s loud and there is no escape from the traffic noise. Otherwise, we enjoyed our stay here.
Celebrating Matt’s birthday
Given how cold and snowy the Midwest and Northeast have been, we were grateful to have been able to spend Matt’s birthday in sunny Florida. Matt loves poké, so we found a place called Taiwan Ice Cream and Poké to pick up a few bowls and take them to the beach. This place uses rice as its base, which I thought was a bit unusual, but we did get to pick out all of our toppings. We popped over to the Henderson Beach State Park, enjoyed our lunch at a sunny picnic table, and then walked down to the beach to explore.
This natural landscape is juxtaposed with condominiums, beach houses and strip malls surrounding it, and offers a campground, playground, boardwalks to the beach, and a 3/4 mile nature trail. You can picnic, swim, fish, walk the beach or even have your wedding here. Because it has been unseasonably cold, the sand was chilly, but it was still nice to feel the soft, white sand under my bare feet. The wind was really strong that day, and with a surf advisory in effect, we decided to head back indoors to warm up.
On our way back to our trailer, we stopped at Smallcakes of Destin to pick up another one of Matt’s favorites: red velvet cupcakes. 😋 I think Matt’s eyes were bigger than his stomach, because he picked out quite a few cupcakes. Though the cake was very moist and delicious, we were disappointed in the frosting…there was no cream cheese frosting on the red velvet cupcakes. In fact, all of the cupcakes seemed to have the same, very sweet buttercream frosting, which wasn’t our favorite. Maybe next time he’ll let me make them instead. 😉
To cap off our evening, we went to the Louisiana Lagniappe for dinner. This place was packed, so we were glad we got there on the early side and didn’t have to wait too long for a table. The staff was friendly, and instead of serving bread at our table, they served us hush puppies. We both chose fish dishes and I also ordered a cup of crab bisque. Everything was a bit on the heavy side, fried and greasy, so we only ate about half of our dish before we were full.
To top off the evening, I was surprised by a gray tabby kitty outside of the entrance to the restaurant, looking expectantly at me to hand over some of my leftovers. 😸 I pet the kitty a few times, but kept the leftovers to myself. All in all, it was a low key day, which is exactly what Matt wanted. ❤️🥳
Next door to the RV park is Wild WIlly’s Adventure Zone, an arcade with mini golf and a ropes course out front. We popped over one evening as the sun was just starting to set. They offer two mini golf courses: the pirate-themed Islands of Tortuga or Jurassic-themed T-Rex Island. Both are pretty cheesy, with motion sensored animatronic figures that talk and move. However, the courses are some of the better maintained ones we have seen, so it could be a fun outing if you are staying nearby.
Eglin Air Force Base Hike
To cap off our stay, we found a nearby hike on Eglin Air Force Base, called the Timberlake Trail for hikers and cyclists. If you look at the GPS map for this trail, it looks like some sort of tentacled sea creature or an outline of a tropical bird with its zigzag route. 🦑 However, there are more direct routes surrounding this trail as well as another trail on the other side of the Lightwood Knot Creek that you can take to Timber Lake. The trails were well marked, our route having red markers and the more direct route having blue markers, though I suppose it might be a difficult to follow if you are color blind, so use a GPS map to stay on track. 😳
I was surprised and delighted to discover that this area was filled with a wide variety of fungi, lichen, and moss, including a lion’s-mane mushroom, Christmas lichen, and Evan’s deer moss. The trails are primarily a combination of pine straw and firm sand, and the routes are relatively flat. Just FYI, the air force was performing drills during the morning, so there were lots of jets taking off overhead and the faint sound of heavy artillery being used nearby. However, the activity did subside in the afternoon and it was an otherwise peaceful hike.
As we headed back to the trailhead, we decided to extend our hike by heading to Timber Lake, where we did see more foot traffic and a few cyclists. The lake has picnic tables surrounding it and is accessible by an unmarked dirt road as well. We stayed for just a moment before heading back since it was getting late and our feet were tired. We enjoyed our little hike and I recommend it if you are looking for an outdoor adventure that isn’t on a beach. 🍃🍄
Our time in Destin was definitely more relaxed compared to our action-packed days volunteering in Louisiana. I attended to a few doctor’s visits and we did more future trip planning to stay on track as we head up the Appalachian mountain range come next spring. We will continue to hunker down here in Florida for the remainder of February and hope the winter storms subside by the time we head north. 🤞 Our next stop is Tallahassee, the state’s capitol and also home to Florida State University.