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Destined for Destin…

by Stephanie Casher on July 25, 2006

Today was the best day on the road I’ve had since the Nudist Hot Springs in Colorado, lol. I decided to leave New Orleans a day early because of bad weather (torrential rain), lack of stuff to do (it’s just not the same ya’ll) and an overall vibe of not feeling “safe” (it didn’t help that I seemed to end up deep in the hood whenever I decided to improvise on my driving tour, LOL). So I checked out of the hotel early, picked up a beignet in the French Quarter (YUM!), and set off for Florida…

On the way to Florida, I decided I wanted to tour the Gulf Coast… Man, Eastern New Orleans looks a lot worse than downtown New Orleans did. Just a ghosttown with empty buildings and broke down houses all along I-10. But I didn’t glimpse true total devastation until I got to Gulfport, MS and Biloxi. Oh my God. Most of the media coverage focused on New Orleans, but Gulfport was the true epicenter of Hurricane Katrina… And I’m sad to report that Katrina completely LEVELLED that town…

All I saw along Hwy 98, what I imagine used to be a gorgeous coastal town, was wreckage and empty lots. All the homes were gutted and blown out, all the businesses gone. But for some reason, many of the signs remained, marking what USED to be there. It was creepy. You know its bad when even the rich folks aren’t bothering to rebuild. Huge mansions and upper-class neighborhoods, what used to be prime real estate, and its just been destroyed… I looked into the shells of vacant apartment buildings, windows all blown out, and furniture still sitting in there almost a year later… I can’t even imagine what it looks like in the more impoverished areas. Broke my heart.

I know the World Trade Center bombing was bad, but I really think Hurricane Katrina was the most destructive thing to ever hit U.S. soil… God Bless the Gulf Coast…

After that, I continued east through Alabama and into Florida. I LOVE FLORIDA!!! Oh My God – if it wasn’t hurricane territory, I would move here! Florida wasn’t even on my original tour itinerary, but when John and I were at a drive-thru Starbucks in Colorado, we got to chatting with the woman serving us our coffee, and when she heard I was on a cross-country road trip, she told me I had to stop in Destin, FL. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but filed it away… A week later, Cousin Doug also suggested that I stop in Destin, FL. That’s two plugs — had to be Fate, right? So here I am driving along, pointing my car in the direction of Destin…

Goodness was Destin beautiful! White sand greeted me the second I got within the city limits and I immediately pulled over at the first beach I saw. Got out, took a swim in the warmest, clearest water I’ve ever seen, and just felt so happy to be swimming in the ocean on a sunny day on the coast of somewhere beautiful… I had a wonderful, spiritual “I am so blessed” moment, and then all of a sudden I hear the Rascal Flatts song “Me and My Gang” floating on the breeze.

I turn my head and there is this guy in a boat parked along shore with the country music cranked up. Nice! Then Faith Hill’s “Breathe” came on, one of my favorite songs, and it was like serendipity… I had to swim over and thank the man for providing such a lovely soundtrack for my swim…

Well we got to chatting, and he offers me a wine cooler, and then asks if I want to take a ride in the boat around the bay… Oh Hell Yeah!!! So I gathered up my stuff, hopped in the boat, and we cruised around for the rest of the afternoon on the open sea talking, drinking, and bumping country music. It could not have been a more perfect day! Mark was so awesome and nice and we had the best time… I swear, it is just one adventure after another… To say I’m having the time of my life is a huge, huge understatement…


Tomorrow I head out to Savannah, Georgia, where I will be putting my foot in the Atlantic Ocean, having officially made it from COAST to COAST. Wild. Just Wild. You just can’t make this stuff up people…

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