brought him into port — and he
never left. He’s raised a family here
and says he couldn’t imagine living
anywhere else. “This,” he says, “is how
all of Florida used to be.”
I eagerly await our next day in
Old Florida.
Testing the Waters
Yesterday we watched the boats; today,
we’re totally on board with getting on
board. Back at the marina, as fishermen
tend to their boats, Kat and I reserve
a dolphin-watching tour aboard the
Southern Star
.
Before long, we set sail on a glass-
bottom boat from Destin Harbor. The
two-hour tour, which takes us as far
as the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico,
is very family-friendly. There are
oppor tun i t i e s to
feed the sea birds,
and at one point,
children are given
the chance to steer
the vessel. The high-
light? As we pass
the jetties, a pair of
frisky Atlantic bot-
t l e no s e dolphins appear, riding
the breakers like surfing teenagers.
Animal Behavior
On our third day, we venture west of
Destin. U.S. 98, also known as the
Miracle Strip Parkway, crosses the
Brooks Bridge over the Santa Rosa
Sound to
Okaloosa Island
. Although
Eglin Air Force Base owns most of
its beach, the military allows public
access to undeveloped areas, and
there are pull-off areas to park along
the side of the road. It’s well worth
taking time to observe this delicate
environment, which also provides a
critical nesting place for sea turtles.
While you’re in the area, be sure
to drop by the Gulfarium Marine
Adventure Park. Open daily from
9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., it offers enter-
taining aquatic shows and interaction
with animals such as seals, turtles,
and otters.
Revealing the Skeletons of
Our Past
The next morning, we drive west
again — this time to Fort Walton
Beach — ready for an insightful his-
tory lesson.And we’re going way back.
We learn that Fort Walton’s fresh
water and abundant fishing attracted
Native Americans, who left behind an
Steve Larese
Be warned — Destin’s powder-sand beaches might spoil you for any other.
INSET: Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is home to several species, including
otters, sea lions, and seals. FACING PAGE: When in Seaside, do as the locals and
leave your car behind. You can easily explore the town’s remarkable (and
movie-famous) scenery by foot or bicycle.
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Spring 2013
53
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