Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

The BIG move to Henderson Beach

Friday May 3, 2013
Site 25, Henderson Beach State Park
Destin, Florida




Last night’s rain made packing up a bit more work.

Luckily we are only driving 20 miles from Grayton Beach to Henderson Beach for the last of our 5 Panhandle state park visits.   That means we have plenty of time to wipe everything off and try to leave the water and the sand here.

Check out time at Grayton is 1:00 and we are at the dumpsite by noon.  I love these leisurely pack ups even if this one was more work because of the clean up. 



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After dumping and treating the tanks we go over to the boat dock area parking lot to pick up the dolly. I see this guy is working with a parasail.  I guess he’s practicing or something on land with clothes rather than a bathing suit on.  I’ve always thought parasailing looked like a lot of fun but he’s really putting forth the effort to keep this one in control. I wonder if I would be strong enough to do that.   Of course there is a lot of wind today but I guess parasails take a lot of wind to keep you aloft.   It is definitely cloudy, gray and windy today.

While we are hooking up the dolly he takes the whole thing apart and puts it away.  I was hoping he’d go on out, but no luck.  Has anyone ever been parasailing?


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I’m anxious to get going so I can get to my first stop.


We don’t bother to put Ruby on the dolly for such a short trip since I want to stop by Brusters and get my half gallon of JMC, which I do.
I’m a member of Bruster’s Sweet Rewards club which gives me one free cone for every 9 I buy.  My current card is filled up so my next cone is free.


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But I’m not going to get my free cone today since I’m picking up my half gallon.  I also belong to Sweet rewards Quart Club which means I get a free quart for every 6 I buy.  I do get that card stamped twice today and that fills up my quart card.  Now next time I come to Brusters I can get a free cone or a free quart.  Being a Brusters fan sure pays off.  :-)

My photographer is not with me so this is the best I can do to mark the occasion.  But Destin’s Brusters gets an A+ for service unlike the Panama City Beach location near St. Andrews.



BIG NEWS – I get my first residency payback.

When we arrive at Henderson and check in the woman at the desk notices I am a Florida resident and refunds the extra money I paid when I made my reservation before becoming a resident.  YES!!


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We are in site 25.  It’s a nice sized back in with great bushes and trees all around for privacy.  All the sites here are large and some are nearly gigantic.  There are 4 campground loops but all are close enough to Route 98 that there is constant traffic noise if you are outside sitting on your patio or inside with the windows open.  This is a very heavy tourist area with all the trappings you would expect right outside the park entrance which is fight on Route 98 across from a Walmart.


Here is a map of the campground loops.  Route 98 is just beyond the campground road.  We are in circled site 25.  There is one boardwalk to the beach for all 4 loops.  It is indicated near the bottom of the map by the dashed lines.

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After having some lunch, although it still looks  like rain, nothing but a bit of spitting is happening.   So we take a chance and go for our normal ride around the park to see where things are.


Notice Miss Carrie that we are wearing our helmets!

Don’t you love the ball cap addition?  :-)  Given the lack of sun I have no idea why we are wearing them, although it is at the same time, blindingly bright outside.  Or at least that’s why my eyes think as they squint away.  Blue eyes in bright light is problematic.


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The park is divided into two sections, the day use area and beach and the campground area and its beach.  Of course they are the same beach, just at two different ends of the park.  We are biking around the campground loops to see if there are any sites from which the road noise cannot be heard.  We find the answer to be NO.  


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There are some ENORMOUS pull through sites.  I just couldn’t stop laughing when I saw this rig in one of them.   This is a 75 or 80’ site at a minimum.  Obviously no one screens or cares if you need 50 amps or are 42’ long when you book the site.  This little rig is smaller than the kayaks it totes.


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After cycling around the campground we head over to the boardwalk access from our loop.


The boardwalk to the beach is long but wonderful for so many reasons.

The park has one very short 3/4 mile nature trail in the day use area and no bike paths or kayaking within the park.   So not being shoppers, we think the only show in town here for us is the beach.

The walk to the beach goes off from outside the bathroom.   It is a 1/3 mile boardwalk through the gorgeous sand dunes.  This is a lovely walk but a long way to tote beach gear.  Guess the cart will get some duty here when the sun comes out.   

This is a shot about half way along the boardwalk.  The walk curves back and forth through the dune and appears to be very sensitively placed to protect the dune.  Notice how long this boardwalk is.  That’s the end where the red flag is flying.  They have protected a very deep section of dunes.  I love it!!   I am happy to walk longer to have more beautiful dunes.


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And what a walk it is.  I sure hope others aren’t in too much of a hurry to see the beach to miss the beauty here.


Gulf coast lupine is in amazing abundance.  Hidden in nooks and crannies.  In multiple bunches right beside the boardwalk.

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At one point on the left there is a profusion of Indian Blanket Flower.


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We reach the end of the boardwalk.  The red flag is flying. 

The wind is whipping and the air is cool.  I’m feeling cold in my t-shirt and shorts.  Another woman at the end of the boardwalk is in long pants and long sleeves.

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But this family has clearly come here to enjoy the beach regardless of the weather.  Or perhaps they’ve built this really fine pyramid to change the energy.  They are the only ones here in bathing suits on this brisk day.


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As you can see from the first picture of the Indian Blankets above and from these that follow, the park’s beach is hemmed in by the resort city.  High rises on one end.  Huge beach houses on the other.



I am feeling very thankful to the Henderson Family.

We should all be very thankful to the Henderson Family for donating this one stretch of unaltered beach and pristine sand dunes so that we can know what the natural area looked like before development became the sole deciding factor.   There would be no dunes to enjoy if it were not for them.  I am sad to see that the city of Destin has no laws in place to protect its dunes.


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Looking west from the end of the boardwalk.moving to Henderson Beach 045 


A road through the dunes is abandoned??  Really??  Wow!

As we turn to leave we see this evidence of the '”original Route 98 which ran along the Gulf coast until 1990 when the two lane highway was closed to through traffic”. A sign on the boardwalk tells us that and further says “ Shorebirds preferred the gravel covered road shoulders as a nesting area.  The birds scratched out a small depression on the ground to lay eggs in “   I am amazed.  Am I to understand that a road got moved  because of nesting birds?   I will definitely clarify this.  I can’t imagine that it was not also due to constantly getting washed out and being unsuitable for continued commercial development.   But for whatever reasons a road is gone and a dune is here.  Sounds like a win/win.  Makes me smile all over.

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Soon the evidence of a road will have completely disappeared.  Amazing how Nature can reclaim areas.


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On the way back of course, we see things we didn’t see coming down the boardwalk.  

The bushy evergreen rosemary with its dark green leaves and and greenish yellow fruit is abundant.

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This low magnolia has just started blooming but soon will be covered with blossoms judging by the buds.  I sure hope we’ll be here to see some of it and maybe smell it.

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We return to the coach and


FINALLY after dinner it’s time for DESSERT! 


Bigger is better.  That’s what it says.  That means more is better too – right??

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  1. Can tell u are one happy girl with that quart of JMC!!! Beautiful flower pics!!

    1. I'm glad you liked the flower pictures Loree. I'm actually twice that happy is a 1/2 gallon! :-)

  2. Great tour. Destin is where our family went when I was a kid, remote and isolated with bright white sand. Hope you enjoy your stay there.

    1. You must have great memories. I can't imagine Destin as remote and isolated. I'd like that. The sand is still bright and white.

  3. Looks like a beautiful park!! Too bad it is so close to the road. We had the same problem at Jonathan Dickinson...just so much noise from the road;o(( But I am sure that JMC just made everything OK;o))

  4. How nice that the SP refunded your money. I wondered if you could get a refund through Reserve America and then realized that would never happen! Another benefit of being a Florida resident.

    I remember driving on highway 98 somewhere in that area where the road was being washed away by erosion and waves. The road was very close to the water.

    Enjoy your stay. Can't wait to see where you go next. We have always wanted to explore the panhandle more, but you have to be so careful there with the weather, it seems we just never found the perfect time. You're making me want to go up there!

    1. No refunds from Reserve America, I asked. It's up to the park I think whether or not they do. A definite benefit of residency if you spend as much time in the State parks as we do. There are a lot of parks to explore in the Panhandle. We've only scratched the surface.

  5. Those flowers are so pretty. is that beach and white? we don't have white sand on the PNW beaches. Do you have to share that ice cream with David or is it all yours?

    1. This sand is white and and powder fine. It is absolutely beautiful. David does share the ice cream although his diet requires that he keep his intake of sugar as close to zero as he can. I think it's one reason he's so skinny but apparently sugar feeds cancer cells and may be one reason the cancer rates are on the increase as people have in the past 50 years or so increased their sugar intake substantially.

  6. Great news on the park refund. Hope you have the same experience at future parks. Good to learn more about Henderson for our next trip to the Panhandle. The beaches all along that stretch are sure beautiful. Hope the sun comes out for you.

    1. It was terrific news. Fingers crossed about our next park but we are leaving Florida after Fort Pickens and won't return until December so it will be a long time before I find out. Thanks for your sun wishes. We can use them.

  7. That area has grown up so much over the years. Destin used to be just a sleepy little fishing village before tourism became the main industry.

    1. I would love to have been here when it was just a sleepy fishing village. It's hard to even imagine it as a village now.

  8. Amazing the flowers that grow in sand. Lovely!

    1. They are amazing aren't they Laurie. I'm glad you enjoy them too.

  9. Beautiful place. I love the panhandle area. Will have to check out this park.

    1. We've now seen 5 of the State Parks along the panhandle and they are quite varied. There is something to suit everyone depending on how much resort area you like.

  10. Now, now, Sherry. Us little guys like our space and privacy, too. I'll take a big pull through any day. Little trailers are more difficult to back in than big motorhomes and many people in the little ones have no spotters. Another great day at the beach with you. Don't want to make you jealous, but I have a Brewsters less than a mile from me. I try to keep my visits to a minimum, but gosh their waffle cones are great--my favorite flavor, believe it or not is vanilla. Plain ole me.

    Rich and I used to laugh when we were on the beaches of Florida. People who hit cold weather on vacation froze in their bathing suits, anyway. They were going to get their money's worth.

    I'll bet it's true that they left a portion of that road for the birds to nest. I was surprised when you went to St. George that you didn't mention the nesting area on the bridge. It may not be there any more. Dead birds all over the place--hit by cars. I wonder if they were able to move them. Hmmm…something to google.

    Have a great time. Hope the sun comes out for you tomorrow.

    1. THis was really a HUGE pull through as you could see. In that little trailer I would feel like I was out in the open, not snuggled in like some of the sites. But that's just me. Lucky you to have Brusters. have you ever tried JMC?? The little trailer is called a Car-go-lite. Have your friend look at Casita and Scamp. They too are little and light.

  11. Sherry, if that little trailer is still there, would you get the name of it? I have a friend looking for a small, light trailer to camp in. Because of an injury she can no longer use her aframe. Thanks. Couldn't find anything about the road, but I'm still looking.

  12. Now I know of a new way to supplement my retirement income. I'm buying some Brusters stock! You'll make me a rich man in no time... :cD

    We sure miss the Panhandle. Thanks for all the great pictures to tide us over until we get back again!

  13. Nice benefit of being a Florida resident; will come in handy when we really explore Florida and actually stay in some state parks next time.

  14. Enjoyed your Florida State park visits. We hope to make that trip this winter.

  15. The dunes are wonderful, too bad there's not more of them but glad some were saved. Ice cream sounds really good. Did you lick the bowl. ;)

  16. What absolutely gorgeous dunes! Love, love, love the flowers on them. I tell you, if we ever get to Florida, your blog is going to be my go-to source for where to go!

  17. Love the dunes. I did parasail once on my 40th birthday -- hooked up to a boat in Myrtle Beach. It was so beautiful and silent up there. Very lovely.

    Looks like y'all are doing well. I'm kinda' crazy here, so forgive my not commenting more often. Take care! -- Pam

  18. Beautiful Park- I have never been parasailing but I talked to a kid that gave kite surfing lessons in Texas and he said I would be strong enough to do it.

  19. Well, except for the road noise and the walmart - looks to be a lovely place. That's fantastic if they moved the road for the birds :) The flowers are quite pretty indeed. How wonderful that you got your Brusters - love those happy faces you get when eating it :) Great picture of you and dad WITH HELMETS! You know I approve ;)


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