We knew we were in a new place, as soon as we stepped out of the airport our sunglasses fogged up. Yep, a little after noon in Destin Florida and the temperature was 90 degrees and the humidity was racing it towards 100.
We are lucky to have some great relatives in Destin. Our cousin Ali is a nurse in the Air Force at nearby Eglin AFB. And her parents, Ken and Mary from Durango, just bought a condo on the beach there to be closer to Ali, and we’re super kind to let us use their truck. So by being able to stay with Ali and have a truck to use we were set to spend a couple of weeks with our toes in the sand.
After sleeping off the jet lag we soon found ourselves helping Ali lower her Waverunner into the water. Day one and we were skimming across the water at 40 mph. Ali has a kick ass, ride that easily propelled all three of us at one time. After a couple of hours on the ocean we were tired and sun kissed.
Our days primarily consisted of deciding which watersport we wanted to do that day (primary choices being ride the Waverunner, standup paddleboarding, relaxing on the beach, snorkeling, deep-sea fishing and scuba diving) , taking Murphy the dog for walks, going to the gym, and planning and shopping for dinner.
Ali’s schedule allowed us to spend some time together, but not as much as we would have liked. While we were there she switched to night shifts which made it difficult to spend time together. Ken and May were still wrapping things up in Durango so we were not able to see them until our last day in Florida….
During our stay we were able to complete our open diving certifications! Over the course of two days we made four dives from a boat off the jetty that guards the entrance to the main bay. It was amazing how quickly and easily we descended to 50 feet. We were shocked to learn that once we were at depth it really did not feel any different from being at 10 feet.
During the first two dives we completed all of the skills that we needed to demonstrate, the most dreaded being taking off your mask completely at the bottom, put it back on and clear out the water….we both sailed through all the skills on the first try. Over the course of those four dives we saw a few cool fish, crabs and even a stingray. We were just so happy to have them done and have done them in warm water. We also completed a three-hour class and certification that allows us to use a higher concentration of oxygen in our tanks, which basically allows you to stay deeper longer.
With that one “to do” item done the rest of our time was to play and relax. We did try to go for a run one morning, but in less than a mile I called no joy as the combo of heat and humidity was crushing me. I am not sure we ever acclimatized to the conditions down there. It is tolerable when you can get in the water, otherwise it is punishing. It later turned out to be good preparation for Uganda.
Ali had a friend, Katie, staying with her for a while. So one day the four of us hopped in the car and made the four-hour drive to New Orleans (NOLA). Katie had been there once, the rest of us never had. It was not what I expected. The old world charm, culture and architecture was neat to see and experience. But the filthy conditions, the horrid smell of the touristy area combined with Bourbon Street primarily consisting of non stop, very repetitive, slushy bars and trinket shops left us all a little let down.
Once you migrate away from Bourbon Street the experience improves. Overall we had a good time exploring new places and things and just hanging together. Ali being able to line up a kick ass hotel from which we could walk to most things really helped.
With our August 11th departure for Africa drawing near we hopped on a plane back to Denver. We spent our last couple of days states side with family, seeing friends, we sold Liz’s truck and made the tough decisions as to what would fit into our backpacks that would get us through the next five months and multiple countries.
I often pondered what we were doing with ourselves. Suddenly I was asking myself and Sean, “don’t we have a purpose?” Like I needed a reason to just be relaxing with family. So we got some great advise from our tribal elders, “lower your expectations.” And that advice is what we took into East Africa.