Normally when we get somewhere we spend relatively little time at the campground. Except for when we are in national parks, we’re usually just maintaining a site as a base of operations while we go do other things. But a few parks are exceptions, such as this one. I don’t want to rub it in for my northern readers, who have recently been plunged into the harsh reality of a long dark winter with the end of Daylight Savings Times and the beginning of November gloom in many areas … but it has been so ideal here at Henderson Beach that we’ve simply had no motivation to go elsewhere.
I mean, the weather is perfect, the campground is half empty, there are no bugs, the beach conditions are superb, and absolutely nothing has happened to disturb the peace all week. Why would we leave?
In fact, that’s the question we have been asking ourselves today. I paid for four nights and that means are scheduled to leave on Thursday. But we’ve kicked around some ideas for our next week and realized that we really could stay here for one more day before the weekend crowds show up. So I’ll go to the campground office in the morning and see if they’ve already sold our site to someone else.
It’s a nice site, but then they are all nice here. We’ve got a huge curved pull-through that could easily fit two Airstreams our length. The natural Florida seaside greenery provides a nice privacy hedge. We could be nudists in the trailer all day with the curtains open and nobody would notice. Sounds like fun, but at night it’s a little chilly for that.
With no motivation to leave the campground, our trips afield have been limited to laundry and a half-day I spent at the local Panera Bread borrowing their high-speed Internet. If we get tired of being around the Airstream, the beach is a three-minute scenic stroll down the boardwalk. Every day we’ve gone there in the late afternoon to search for shells and build sand castles, and stayed until the last vestiges of the orange sun sink into the sea around 5 o’clock.
So today we roused ourselves around lunchtime to at least see something in Destin, and that something was a gelato shop. Gelato, as they will tell you, is 93% fat-free, which might make it sound healthy but doesn’t that mean it’s 7% fat? Well, no matter, gelato is really good stuff and we eat it whenever we encounter a city that has it. Half the fun of gelato is that it comes in a wild variety of flavors, so making your choice is a momentous decision worthy of a solid ten minutes of pondering and sampling.
Eventually I settled on two scoops of creme caramel, while Emma got a hazelnut chocolate on top and frozen vanilla with mixed berry on the bottom. Eleanor had pistachio, chocolate with hot chili pepper, and Italian butter pecan. All were good, but I thought the chili spice in the chocolate was a little over the top. Eleanor loved it.
It was tempting to bring a quart home with us, but our little RV freezer is already packed full. Eleanor has been stocking up on various “things” in freezer bags. I can’t tell what anything is, except the ones that are clearly labeled, and even those are mysterious to me. They’re not actual ready-to-eat foods, they’re all ingredients of other things. So I’m basically shut out of the freezer, because I don’t have a clue what to do with mirepoix and such things. It’s a test of trust — I have to be confident that someday all of those odd little packages will become fantastic edible meals on nights when we are boondocking and need something for dinner that is convenient and good.
Having completed our obligatory expedition onto the strip of Emerald Coast Parkway (Rt 98) that defines Destin, we felt justified in returning to the Airstream and the beach. Emma built one more small castle (doomed by the rising tide, as all of them have been) before sunset and that was it for the day.
Nights are becoming noticeably longer, even down here in Florida. This time of year we tend to watch more movies, because it’s usually chilly outside after sunset even in the south, and there’s often little else to do after dark in the kinds of places we camp. When we were full-timing, this was the most challenging time of year. It’s hard to keep an active kid entertained and not exploding with excess energy all winter in 200 square feet. Sightings of available child-playmates are rare in campgrounds this time of year. Looking back, I wonder how we did it.
Looking down the road, I see some things between here and Tucson that I am looking forward to, but the next 600 miles or so won’t be much fun. As I mentioned before, we’re going to give Louisiana a pass this time through. (I lived in Baton Rouge for five years and explored the state quite a bit, so it’s not a huge loss this time.) That means we’re facing some long dull days in the car. It’s easier to stay right here at the white sandy beach than face the reality of our next few hops. It would be nice to stay here and soak up the sunshine & peace forever. But reality intrudes on every fantasy eventually, and the long nights are a hint that we need to get going.