Florida & Beyond

September, 2012

Ed, Barbara, Jeanie & Ward

Harbor Walk Village, Destin, Florida

Destin, Florida located on Florida's Emerald Coast, an area of northwest Florida on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico

Dramatic sunsets, miles and miles of seashore and sugar-white sand all make Destin, Fla., one of the "Most Beautiful Places in America" according to Good Morning America.

Destin is named after Captain Leonard Destin, a New London, Connecticut fishing master who settled in the area c. 1845 or 1850.

All along the beaches & bays, Great Blue Herons creep along the shore searching for fish. The birds are extremely plentifully, active & easy to spot

The first condominiums in Destin were built in the 1970s, and construction continues today. Visitors play a large part in Destin's economy – the city's population of around 12,000 balloons to 40,000 during the tourist season.

The Emerald Coast offers 24 miles of pristine white-sand beaches. This sand, made up of pure Appalachian quartz, remains remarkably cool even in the heat of summer, and gives the waters here their trademark emerald-green color by reflecting sunlight back up through the surf

Ward with a collection of goggles that had recently washed up on the beach. This is my favorite, check out the barnacles.

Adventures abound, charter a boat for dolphin sightings, scuba dive among the natural and man-made reefs & wrecks; try parasailing, jet skiing or take the family to the water park for rides & slides.

Jeanie & Barb just finishing their enjoyable, usual morning beach walk

Decorative mileage sign, poolside.

Sextons Fish Market is your place if you want to experience some wonderful seafood. Whole & cleaned red snapper, grouper, flounder, shark, hahi mahi, and cobia are all there, on ice, off the boat that morning.

Ward, Barbara & Jeanie wishing that Memphis & San Jose had such an offering.

Harbor Walk Marina, huge flishing fleet, lots of shops, restaurants & all you need for an enjoyable and fun experience.

View from our balcony, a morning rainbow arches the horizon during a mild storm.

The Islander, the best!. Great location, spacious & confortable. Very short walk to the beach. Loved sitting on the balcony & taking in the sensationalt view of the Gulf.

Seaside, on one of the few cloudy days we had. Didn't slow us down at all. Enjoyed one of the best seafood tacos ever at Bud & Alleys Taco Bar. Explored the beach & town. Much to be taken in. Moviel location for the movie "Truman" and no wonder, everything is a picture postcard.

Coleman Pavillion & it's iconic tower is intended to serve as the gateway to the beach from the town center. It is set on a bluff 20' above the beach overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. One on many striking architectual marvels.

Seaside has gained fame for it's "new urbanism". One man's dream of how the beach always seemed to be able to pull families together.

The town center, (Victorian) surrounded by narrow streets, picket fences & pastel homes.

Nothing was better than a Ward catered BBQ

Enjoyed an amazing dinner on Ward's rotisserie. Meats baste in their own juices, locking in flavor and nutrients. The coolest BBQ grill ever.

Storm created small beach break

Enjoying the first of many excellent dining experiences in New Orleans.

Eat, was the name of this super-fine restaurant, & our waiter, Jarred Zeringue was surper cool. He was kind enough to write out a fig tart receipe for us.

A picturesque hair salon, kitty corner from Eat.

The street bands of New Orleans have got to be the best in the world.

The Smoking Time Jazz Club - On Royal Street New Orleans

Jackson Square, a timeless attraction in the heart of the French Quarter. Local artists paint, draw, create portraits & display their work on the square's iron fence. Some have been there for generations.

St.Louis Cathedral

Few cities in the world are so identified by a building as is New Orleans. The city is instantly recognized by the cathedral and its position overlooking Jackson Square. The Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis King of France is the oldest Catholic cathedral in continual use in the United States.

Ward & Jeanie on the Orleans Riverfront. Sweeping vistas, public art, family activities and jumping-off points for riverboat tours are all clustered here along a linear park and walkways.

The Skeeter, a fishing boat that rescued over 400 people after Katrina. An amazing story!

Ken Bellau, a 37-year-old New Orleans resident, home renovator and competitive bicyclist, rushed home from a South American bike race after Katrina struck to help find missing relatives.

Ward has fond memories of Jax Brewery, once a brewing & bottling house of Jax Beer from 1891 until the mid 1970's. Today the converted brewery holds exclusive & distinctive shops as well as nationally known stores.

The SS. Natchez, is a sternwheel steamboat. It was built in 1975, she is sometimes referred to as the Natchez IX. She is operated by the New Orleans Steamboat Company and docks at the Toulouse Street Wharf. Day trips include harbor and dinner cruises along the Mississippi River.

Robert Schoen's Old Man River, an 18-foot monumental stylized stone human figure made of 17 tons of Carrara marble, resides beside the Mississippi River in the French Quarter. Executed in 1991, the statue speaks to the river's power and majesty in its rounded, circular body forms, which convey a harmony of the work to its location. The river is connected through the openings of the legs and arms to the land.

The inscription on the plaque reads: "A Man with a Past / Arms reach empty handed, / God to a city in Love / with Water."

St. Louis Cemetary #3 is located some 2 miles back from the French Quarter, some 30 blocks from the Mississippi.. It opened in 1854. The crypts on average are more elaborate than at the other St. Louis cemeteries, including a number of fine 19th century marble tombs.

This is a favorite cemetery for burial of religious in New Orleans, with several tombs for different orders of nuns and priests. The tombs of the New Orleans restaurateur families of Tujague, Prudhomme, and Galatoire lay near to one another in the "Chef's Corner." The wealthy and well-known, such as famed architect James Gallier, has a monument here as does the United Slavonian Benevolent Society.

An excellent lunch at Chartres House Cafe, situated on the corner of Chartres Street and Toulouse Street, it is an attractive and buzzing restaurant and bar. The well stocked bar is at street level accessible through open doors on its two corner sides.

This is Loren, she was nice enough to let the girls onboard to pose for some pictures. She was also nice enough to offer us a free ride the next time we visited New Orleans.

Jeanie & Ward, ready for a night out, we have reservations at a restaurant in the French Quarter.

Larry Flynt's name is just above the marque, so you have a pretty good idea of what's in store

Walk on the Wild Side

Actually, the name of this bar is Beer Fest & the place to go if you love beer. They have 30+ selections of beer on tap.

Jennifer Jones, a Grand Marshal for various bands and events, poses for a photo.

We aren't quite sure if we should take Jennifer too seriously.

But, she is a genuine very sweet French Quarter eccentric who zooms from bar to bar on roller skates, often wearing a ratty fur coat and long skirt and trailed by a duck or two.

Barbara & Fats Domino, this photo taken for her brother Bruce, a huge, huge fan of Fats. Give a listen to Walking to New Orleans. He was born and raised in New Orleans and has a large fan base all over the world after the success of selling about one hundred million records, among them Blueberry Hill.

Everybody else went shopping for wine in the corner grocery store. I was entertained by Doreen's Jass New Oreans group. Very sensational!

Her clarinet blew me away. She deserves the title "Queen Clarinet".

Jazz New Orleans conveys the spirit, soul & voice of New Orleans.

Ward & Jeanie on our way to Jackson Square

Live music (presumably blues) every night plus a three-for-one Happy Hour from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m., as well as a balcony overlooking Bourbon Street.

Even though millions of people visit Pat O's every year, locals are the reason the doors stay open says Shelly Oechsner Waguespack, Vice President. "Locals are the heart and soul of what we are all about... Passion for fun and life."

The iconic Bourbon Orleans Hotel is located in New Orleans' exciting French Quarter. It has a rich history along with a vibrant present. A multi-million dollar restoration has positioned this historic hotel as an upscale haven for the modern traveler. 

Traveling from New Orleans to Fort Morgan, Alabama & approaching the Dauphin Island Bridge. The Dauphin Island Bridge is 3 miles long, and was opened to the public in 1982 after Hurricane Frederic destoryed the drawbridge in 1979. Dauphin Island is 14 miles long from east to west, and only 1 3/4 miles wide at its widest point.

Dauphin Island , looking toward the bird sanctuary. There is an incredible 347 species that have been reported on the island. Spring migration is the first landfall for many Neotropical birds who make the 600-mile flight across the Gulf of Mexico from the Yucatan Peninsula. Under adverse weather conditions, large flocks of exhausted birds of many species may seek shelter on the Island in a truly spectacular "fall-out".

Remants of the pilings from an older pier, probably damaged in a hurricane.

The ferry is located just 3 blocks from Fort Gaines. Wish we would have had the time to pay the fort a visit, but we were on our way to Fort Morgan to see if we could get a Rachel sighting.

Doing marine research for Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium, home of lots of good exhibits with a variety of fresh and salt water creatures - and great hands on displays for kids and adults. Outdoor boardwalk with beautiful views of the bay. Would definitely go to again if ever on Dauphin Island again.

Ferry approaching Dauphin Island to load up & make a 45 minute return trip to Fort Morgan.

First in line & first to board

On board - able to get out & walk around, beautiful scenery & clear skies.

Viewing back to Dauphin Island as ferry is under way to Gulf Shores & Fort Morgan.

Historic Fort Gaines famous for the call: "Damn The Torpedoes - Full speed Ahead!"

Great ride between two great places to visit, Dauphin Island and Fort Morgan, Alabama. You'll see a a few of the thousands of gas rigs in the Gulf and maybe some dolphins & other wild life.

This lens from the Sand Island Lighthouse is located in the museum/gift shop at Fort Morgan. A Fresnel lens

A little background history for "Damn The Torpedoes - Full speed Ahead!" One of the most noteable naval battles of the Civil War.

Dramatic painting displayed in the Fort Morgan Museum depicting the Battle of Mobile Bay

The Fort Morgan Museum

1833 is the year Fort Morgan was named - it was actually completed in 1834

As well as a historic Alabama Civil War Site

There's an abundance of wildlife in the Fort Morgan region.

Barbara & Jeanie manning up for a serious attack on you know who. More about historic Fort Morgan

Snowy White Egrets in flight

A beautiful shore line but in the path of hurricanes. Watch what happened during a recent hurricane.

Vintage navel air craft, World War II, flown by retired naval aviators.


Up at 5:00 a.m., Ward & I arrived at the Backlash for some deep sea fishing with Captain Jason Mikel, a 4th generation fisherman. Justin, the deck hand is preparing the boat for the best deep sea fishing you could ever hope. for.

Ward, ready to board. Locals like to boast that Destin is "the World's Luckiest Fishing Village." It's this access to deep water, and the fish that run there, that most accounts for Destin's popularity. Throughout most of the rest of the Gulf, it takes at least twice as long to reach these depths.

Sunrise on our way out of the harbor. Destin is home to over 140 charter fishing boats. This in itself is an indication of how productive and 'lucky' the waters off Destin are.

Collecting bait fish at the harbor entrance. A live bait will normally catch more fish than any other type of bait

Within a minute of dropping his line, Ward hooked a 30-35# Amberjack.

Working hard to bring Amberjact aboard.

Deck hand, Justin, is on the spot. He provided awesome support throughtout the expedition.

Removing fish from hooks was one of Justin's finest skills.

Tossing catch into container, eventually to be covered with salt & ice

He also took care of sorting, cleaning our catch as well as returning undesirable & illegal catches.

A look at some of the catch.
Salt water bottom fishing offers a chance to hook amberjack, white & black snapper, triggerfish & grouper of all sizes. Early fall brings mackerel, mai mahi, wahoo & tuna.

Ward, an experienced angler, displays a red snapper before returning his catch to the ocean.

Amberjack is hooked!

All you need to do is reel it in. Could be easy for most, but this was just about all I could handle.

One thing you must do during your stay is fish. Enjoy crisp air, clear skies, & moderate temperatures.

Racing back to the harbor. Captain Jason just did not like being passed this close to home.

This is the view of the Johnson's condo, The Islander, from the channel. You can just make out the roof line next to the pink apartments.


The Destin Fishing Rodeo was established in 1948 & is the ultimate fishing tournament. Last year more than 35,000 anglers from all over the United States competed in the month-long fishing extravaganza that kicks off annually October 1 & runs the entire month of October.

Harbor Walk Village from the deck of Backlash.

Leaving the harbor for open water to enjoy a parasailing adventure.

Picnic'ers enjoying the island. They beach their boat & wait for high tide to get re-launched.

Our days catch! Ward's is the biggest, mine is the next biggest.

McGuires Irish pub, walled papered with money.

Ed, Barbara, Jeanie & Ward Harbor Walk Village, Destin, Florida

Great place to grab some lunch, the Blue Parrot on St. George Island. The island is a long, thin barrier island in Northwest Florida, St. George Island is a serene and pet-friendly vacation spot. St. George Island State Park occupies the eastern end of the island.

The island is known for being quiet and tranquil due to its small size. Many occupants of the island rent out their homes during the spring and summer months.

Saint George Island's uncrowded, natural beaches are among the best in the United States; in fact, Saint George Island was ranked in the Top 10 Beaches in the US for 2011 and 2012 by Dr. Beach!

Twenty miles of beach on the gulfside and miles of marsh, inlets and oyster bars on the bayside.

The Cape St. George Lighthouse stands at the southern-most tip of St. George Island. It was demolished by a storm in 1995, but thanks to a major restoration effort it has risen again.

After the destruction to the lighthouse, Times editor John Lee inspired a local group to form the Cape St. George Lighthouse Society, & between local tourist, artistic donations & fundraising from the Florida Dept of State Grants, the group managed to raise over $200,000..

Ward is star gazing. He had no memory of this.

This is a new exhibit (2012) in the Lighthouse Museum. I'ts an audiio/visual story telling the history of the Cape St. George Lighthouse.

Interactive video telling how the community came together to accomplish an undertaking most people thought was an impossible dream.

How a powerful beacon is made.The light from the beacon can be seen for 13 nautical miles.

View from the Lantern Room, looking eastward along the Florida Coast.

The lighthouse provides a 360 degree view of St. George Island & the Florida Gulf Coast.

Looking north toward the Se. George Bridge that we crossed on our way onto the island.

The climb to there top takes 92 steps & then a climb up a ladder to the Lantern Room. The view from the top is worth it.

Santa Few River still showing effects from a recent storm causing the river to overflow its banks.

At the time of our visit, much of the bank remains under water.

This is the deck Jimmy recently built & completed. Now he's just enjoying the day with brother Ward & guest, Ed.

This is the deck Jimmy recently built & completed. Now he's just enjoying the day with brother Ward.

Jimmy's backyard deck. The nicest backyard deck I've ever seen!

The back of Jimmy's home. Kayaks line the beach.

This view gives you some idea of how beautiful & impressive the deck is. Check out its length.

Looking from the end of the deck toward the house & backyard.

A georgeous scene & there's a fish on the end of Ward's line.

Jimmy warming up, this is the next cover for Muscle Magazine.

What life on the river is all about.

Bend in the river. The Santa Fe at it's finest moment. A picture postcard, for sure!

Cardinals are a constant visitor

Catfish, caught by Ward, being returned to the river.

Ward & Jeanie, very beautiful..

Jimmy, the biggest, best & longest in the neighborhood. The one & only contact you'll need when it comes to 3 Rivers Properties.

Jimmy suggested we all stop & pose for a picture. We're on a bench Jimmy built on his nature walk trail, a part of his park.

Jimmy's old mailbox, the exact spot it landed after a recent flood. Jimmy & Susan decided to replant it. Now it's their entrance to their park. You wonder what discoveries lie beyond the road.

Indian camp where tribes met at the confluence of the Ichetucknee & Santa Fe Rivers. They made pottery & arrow heads.

The highest flood levels in the last 60 years. Marks represent levels at recent years.

Santa Few River as it passes Jimmy's house.

Here is Chief Spread Eagle identifying the second largest Cypress tree in State of Florida. It's in 3 Rivers Estates.

Barb & Jeanie enjoying a little afternoon relaxation.

. The Wood & Swink Old Store & Post Office. This is the oldest post office in the state of Florida. It is run by the Woods family (Johnson's relatives)..

The letter U.S. Congressman Cliff Stearns wrote urging the U.S. Postmaster General to keep the post office open. The post office remains open.

The Post Office in the news.

View of pasture, where filming of The Yearling took place.

Old Woods home

Entrance to tubing area at 3 Rivers Estates.

Jimmy's method of disposing of debris while clearing the land. Campfires popular with kids who cooked smores around the fire.

Jimmy's house from driveway.

The Santa Few, the most beautiful bend in the river.

Ward's rotisserie grill, an epic grilling experiencing.

Off Jimmy's dock at Itchetanee. This is the end of tubing, where it exits the Ichetucknee.

Karl cooling his belly in the Itchtuckee River.

Ed finally getting around to a morning swim in the beautiful Emerald Coast waters.

The Gulf offers the best water experience you could dream of.

Great way to start the day.

Ed & Barbara a walk on the beach, something we looked forward to every morning.

Best friends, Barbara &Jeanie

Ward & Jeanie, the most generous hosts ever, thanks a million!

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