Get The Picture? By Sherry Hopkins

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 1, 2009

Peaceful vacation stays within budget

Last week Dear Don and I were on vacation. We traveled southeast to Florida and after seven hours or so, checked into a hotel in Pensacola Beach. We made that our point from which to travel further east along the beach highway.

Our first day there we walked the beach and found a great local place to eat peel-‘em-and-eat- ‘em shrimp, corn on the cob and new potatoes. Peg Leg Pete’s was just what we had been dreaming of since the week before we left.

The next day we went to Navarre Beach, a secluded and pristine part of the panhandle.

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There was a convenience store, a bar and one café. The only other structures were beach houses, mostly for sale or rent. The sand on Navarre was the whitest we had ever seen. We walked up and down the beach picking from hundreds of shells that had washed ashore. It was a beautiful warm day and we were alone as we walked and hunted. We took off our shoes and waded in the tide. It was a perfect time.

We then traveled on to Fort Walton Beach where we parked and walked the main street area. There were a couple of gift shops and a museum. It was getting close to lunch time so we went on to Destin where we ate a great lunch at Another Broken Egg, a café that serves breakfast, brunch and lunch.

After lunch we drove into Destin. There is really not much difference in beaches between Pensacola, Fort Walton and Destin. Lots of souvenir shops, seafood restaurants and massive condos that obscure the landscape. It seemed very crowded and not at all the peaceful setting that we were expecting.

Navarre in its quiet serenity, was strikingly different and much more to our liking. On the trip home we contemplated renting one of the beachhouses for our 30th wedding anniversary coming up in 3 short years.

We watched sunsets and sunrises, we watched as a storm system developed quickly. It looked as though someone was literally covering us from above with a big black blanket. The brewing storm sent tourists in all directions to get pictures. It was a sight to behold I must say. We watched from just outside our room as dolphins frolicked in the white caps. Don says our room was 500 feet or less from the gulf.

We ate breakfast and lunch in our room except for the trip out to Destin and only ate dinner out. It worked well for us and we saved a ton of money. We had saved separate for this trip and not one penny came from any bank account, I’m proud to report. In fact our budget will benefit from buying fewer groceries, gas and using little or no electricity the week we were gone.

Speaking of budgets, we are right on track and doing well. We have still been able to add to our savings account each month. As we go into this fifth month we are encouraged by our progress. Our challenge now will be to keep the electric bill as low as possible in the upcoming summer heat. I have planted a few vegetables to help with meals and I’m enjoying finally being able to get out and work the yard on a regular basis. I doubt my enthusiasm will continue into July and August.

With these 80-plus degree days it seems as though summer has arrived weeks earlier than expected.  I’ve complained enough about winter though to know that I will soon be complaining of stifling heat and humidity. You get the picture.

(Contact Sherry at