This morning at our hotel in Destin Harbor we were visited by Tim the Baker who was passing through the area after having just completed his final leg of the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail. Woohoo! It was an honor to meet him, and it was fabulous to pick his brain for almost two hours about the trail. He looked healthy and strong and was beaming as he shared his paddle stories and campsite tips.
John and I then left our hotel, in no real hurry since we only had 6.5 nm to go to our first stealth camp. “Stealth” as in secretive, with the hopes of not being kicked out.
Tim the Baker was paddling 20-30 statute miles (17-26 nm)per day. He’s 49. With the wind in our face, we try to stay under 10 nm/day.
And along this stretch there isn’t any full-fledged, legitimate camping available. Thus our stay at the hotel last night. But he was able to confirm the feasibility of our camp choice for tonight, as well as tell us about one for tomorrow night. After that we should be back on the trail.
At the end of Destin Harbor, across from the Harbor Walk I photographed yesterday, and right before crossing under the East Pass bridge heading back into Choctawatchee Bay, we passed a large sand-moving operation. John guesses they’re moving some of that gorgeous white sand to nearby beaches which were stripped of their sand by hurricanes in preparation for the money-making onslaught of Southern Spring Breakers (of which I was one, back in the 1970’s when I lived in northern Alabama for a few years).
John and I went north under the bridge and turned east, hugging the coastline past homes with docks. And docks with birds that take off as you approach, pooping and stinking up a storm. We learned to leave a bit of distance as we passed.
Some docks had impressive boat houses. And other docks just had impressive houses. One would think the USA is only made up of opulence if all they saw was the homes along waterways, whether here or in Puget Sound or the San Juan Islands of Washington State. Note the infinity pool spilling over in front of this home we passed today.
And then we arrived at our tiny stealth camp. Under the bridge which heads north from Destin and across the bay. Under the huge American flag at half mast. Under two elevated powerboats. Near a marina and Lulu’s restaurant where John and I ate on our reconnaissance trip through here a few weeks ago. And tucked in alongside a beautifully landscaped golf course.
We have our camp chairs out, reading, waiting for nightfall to set up our tent. When the wind shifts a certain way we smell a dead animal nearby. At first I thought it might be me but John assures me it’s not.
See the little sliver of sand to the left of the golf course’s sea wall and John? Right below the flag and the bushes? Shhh. Don’t tell anyone we’re here.