From Santa Rosa Beach to Seaside
Tuesday morning held the promise of dissipating fog and potential sunshine so off we went exploring again. This time we headed east on Route 30A towards the community of Seaside which was about 7 miles away. As we drove along, although not as crowded and overbuilt as Destin, we passed a lot of beach houses, condo complexes (they all seemed to have the word “Preserve” or “Sanctuary” as part of the development name), apartment houses and a few restaurants and small retail shops. We passed by Stinky’s Fish Camp Restaurant (such an appetizing name of a place to go to for a dining experience) which was recommended to us by the man with the two dogs who rescued us from our wrong turn on Monday.
According to Wikipedia, “Seaside is an unincorporated master-planned community on the Florida panhandle between Panama City Beach and Destin. Being one of the first New Urbanism style cities in America, the town has become the topic of slide lectures in architectural schools and in housing-industry magazines, and is visited by design professionals from all over the United States.The town rose to global fame as being the main filming location of the movie The Truman Show.” Reading this was very interesting to us because the first thing we said when we arrived there was that it had a similar feel to Disney’s planned community of Celebration.
Of course, on the way there we were on our usual hunt for a breakfast place. We had picked out a place named “Gravel Road” but when the GPS lady (Mrs. Google) took us there, that address was a “Bow Wow Meow” shop. Kibbles and Bits, Alpo or Meow Mix for breakfast – no thank you! So we ended up at the Great Southern Cafe at the Seaside Town Center. It looked cute but we didn’t get a chance to look at the menu before we went in. Well, it turned out to be a gourmet although somewhat pricey breakfast. Rob had the homemade corned beef hash and I had their Cafe Benedict which was fried green tomatoes on an English muffin, topped with perfectly done poached eggs and real hollandaise sauce. Both were served with gouda cheese grits. Very yummy! Although I have to say, we probably spent as much on breakfast (prices ranged from $10 – $15 per dish) as we have on dinner. Oh well, compared to our breakfast at the Donut Hole where the mediocre omelet was $8, it was comparatively a good deal. Tomorrow we’ll be eating at the Quantum Discovery Cafe with omelets prepared by Chef Linda!
After breakfast, we walked around exploring the “town center”, the shops and Seaside beach. In the middle of the town center is an amphitheater where they apparently have a Farmer’s Market each Saturday and a variety of events and shows. Between the amphitheater and 30-A is the “Airstream dining” area. Five bright, shiny (well mostly) Airstreams in assorted sizes line the main street, each with it’s own specialty from the Barefoot Bar-B-Que to Wild Bill’s Beach Dogs to the Melt Down – Gotta Have Grilled Cheese to Frost Bites to the nameless one that served smoothies and other healthy foods. Each one had seating outside so you could sit and enjoy your goodies. Sure beats the usual hot dog wagon! Maybe we should have skipped breakfast!
Across the street were some more little cafes and shops bordering the beach. And I even found a very debonair pirate!
One thing we found noticeably different here vs. southern Florida is the home styles – it seems that many of the homes here would not be out of place in New England except for the bright colors and the hurricane shutters. Most were of wood frame construction with painted wood siding (and these are multi-million dollar properties), although some had brick or stone veneer with metal roofs. Perhaps since the panhandle is slightly cooler, bugs aren’t as big a problem as they are in other parts of Florida? In southern Florida, we found the preferred construction technique for higher quality homes is normally stucco over cement block with a tile roof.
From there, we headed back towards Santa Rosa Beach and Topsail. The sky was still blue and it was partly sunny so we wanted to ride our bikes down to the beach. By the time we got back though, the fog had moved in again but we went anyway.
We noticed as we drove in, that Paula and Boyd (who we met at Fort Wilderness) were sitting outside their unit on Palm Circle so our first stop was to say hi to them and thank them for telling us about Topsail.
Then away to the beach we went. Although we would have enjoyed some sunshine, the fog created a somewhat mystical aura over the surf and sand dunes. We parked the bikes in one of the many available bike racks and proceeded over the 0.3 mile long boardwalk to the beach. We walked along the shore for a distance then sat on a bench for awhile listening to the waves crashing against the shoreline. While we were there the sun would pop out for a minute but was quickly enshrouded by the fog again. Despite the weather the beach was much more crowded than our first visit – at least 10 people were there! But there are miles and miles of it!
We finally headed back to the hacienda. I worked on our blogs while Rob took another bike ride, taking the park map with him so he could mark which sites we might like to reserve when we visit here in the future. Then he revisited Campbell Lake via the bike path and decided to try the Deer Track Trail – Rob reports this was unpaved and sandy so was tough going and not for casual bike riders (but he did see some white tails).
About 5:00 p.m., we invited our next door neighbors, Dave, Barb, and their very well behaved English Setter, Max, over for cocktails (not for Max of course) by the campfire. They are from Minnesota and have done a lot of traveling in their 5th wheel although they are considering moving to a motor home at some point in time.
Very nice people – we thoroughly enjoyed visiting with them and sharing our RV experiences. They pretty much only stay at national or state parks. One of the places they have been to that they recommended was Bull Run Regional Park in VA which isn’t too far from Washington D.C. It was a little after 6:00 p.m. when they embarked on their long walk back to their unit next door.
Rob and I continued to sit by the fire for awhile. Since we had not had supper yet, we decided to roast some hot dogs and rolls over the fire. Boy did they taste good! No marshmallows or S’mores for dessert though! It was getting pretty damp and cool so we finally called it a night and went inside.
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