You notice the Rosemary Beach boys setting out the beach chairs for the day. White gulls wheel overhead and land on the sand, shuffling their feet sideways, looking over their shoulders at you and settling their wings in close.
You head east, where the beach houses start to thin out. The sun has already begun its ascent, flooding the beach with warm yellow light. The gentle surf reaches for your toes as it slides up the beach and then quietly recedes. A splash alerts you to look out over the water and you see them: a pod of shiny black bottlenose dolphins just 100 feet away, already beginning the day’s feeding. You watch their graceful forms sliding through the water for a moment, then stroll on.
Nodding hello to a fisherman sitting in a rickety lawn chair with an ice chest and a couple of poles set in the beach, you duck under his lines and keep walking. There are a few other walkers out this morning, but not many. You count less than half a dozen within your view.
This is part of what you always love about being at Abaco Rose - the quiet, uncrowded feeling of having the beach mostly to yourself.
Within fifteen minutes you have left all the beach houses behind and are walking into the Camp Helen State Park natural area. It feels primeval, somehow – the tall grassy dunes to your left, nothing but empty white sand beach ahead, surf to your right. You see Lake Powell ahead, its mirror-smooth waters reaching almost across the beach to join the Gulf. You walk under the sculptural remains of an old wharf – nothing much left, really, but a few Stonehenge-like supports reaching to the sky overhead.
You pause at the point where Lake Powell comes within twenty feet of the Gulf’s waters. This is a magical place - your favorite spot! It’s shallow here, for a long way out into the Gulf. The low breakers skim silently over the white sand, creating intersecting arcs and ripples as they move smoothly toward you.
Looking out to sea you spy a shrimper headed out for the day’s work, with its booms lifted high on each side of the boat. A cloud of gulls is following the boat, squawking for handouts. A whoosh above – you look up to see an silvery F-15 coasting overhead, on a training run from Eglin AFB.
There’s a fisherman wading behind you into the shallows of Lake Powell and it looks as if he’s hooked something. A half mile beyond him you can see the highway bridge that carries U.S. 98 crossing the lake at its midpoint. At this hour there are a few early travelers intent on their journeys. You’re glad you are not with them, but here, barefoot on your favorite beach. The ocean breeze fills your nostrils with salt and sea and – freedom.
As you turn to walk back to Abaco Rose to see if anyone else is up, you start to notice the drifts of shells left by last night’s high tide. You pick up a few nice specimens, brushing the wet sand off them and dipping them into the water so their colors shine.
Strolling homeward with bare feet at water’s edge, you realize how far you can see on this clear, blue-sky day. Ahead are the Destin highrises just on the horizon, 20 miles away. Again, you congratulate yourself for choosing your beach home in the far less crowded environs of 30-A, at Inlet Beach. You turn to look the other way – and there are the highrise condos of Panama City Beach, twenty miles in the other direction. Whistling a little tune, you walk back to Abaco Rose. You are one of only ten people on this gorgeous beach, as far as you can see in either direction.
What are we going to do today?
Everyone’s up – the kids are having cereal as they sit on the high stools at the bar. The adults are gathered over coffee on the deck, idly tossing around options for the day’s activities. “Where have you been?” they want to know.
“Out,” you say. “What are we going to do today?”
“Well, we’ll go to the beach, of course. The kids want to build sand castles and bodysurf and pick up shells.”
“Okay,” one of the wives countered, “but what about one of those new restaurants we talked about for tonight? Do we want seafood – or maybe that funky Red Bar with the crab cakes to die for?
“We could just walk over to Rosemary Beach and check out Wild Olives…”
“I think Mexican, or maybe Italian…”
“Well, it’s a good thing we’re here for a whole week!”
We sipped our coffee reflectively, as a little breeze lifted the napkins on the table and brought fresh smells of salt air. Another raft of pelicans floated overhead.
“You know, the deep-sea fishing here is great, either going out of Panama City or Destin. Let’s check out a charter for tomorrow or the next day!”
“In a few minutes, I’m calling to reserve bicycles for all of us – they’ll deliver them to the house. This time at Abaco Rose, I'm going to ride the entire 19 miles of the bike trail down 30-A – and maybe ride through some of the State Parks.
“You know, with Rosemary Beach just next door, we can walk over to the village center and see if there are any new shops, maybe stop by Starbucks, and go to the post office. Oh, and let's pick up a bottle of wine for dinner tomorrow. Is that when we’re cooking in?”
The kids tumbled out onto the porch. “When are we going to the beach?” “Did you bring my snorkel?” “I can’t find my bathing suit!”
We smiled at each other. Time to get moving…
At lunch – more plans
We’ve strolled over to Rosemary Beach, and are sitting at one of the big round tables under its colorful umbrella on the sidewalk outside Wild Olives. The kids are munching down on burgers, grilled cheese, and fries, while the adults are enjoying salads and tapas.
“There are so many interesting things to see and do – for the kids, certainly, but me too.”
“Yeah, each time we're here I think about going to see that Museum of Man-in-the-Sea. Every time we drive by, I see all the cool undersea exploration equipment they have.”
“If things get slow by the end of the week, we might go over to Fort Walton and take in the Gulfarium…”
“What about Shell Island – St. Andrews State Park, where the shelling is so good? You remember that protected snorkeling lagoon where we saw all the tropical reef fish and the sea horses and - …”
“I don’t care what anybody says, I still want to go over to the Destin Commons – that cool open-air mall. The kids could see a movie, maybe, while we check out the stores.”
“Have we decided on a restaurant for tonight? I know we’re eating now, but these are important decisions!”
There is some quiet time to rest and relax in the peaceful luxury of Abaco Rose. As the ceiling fans lazily turn in the cool high-ceilinged room, the soft ocean breezes drift through the open doors and windows.
Later, somebody is doing a crossword, while you're checking your email using the highspeed wireless Internet. The kids just started watching a DVD movie downstairs on one of the flat-screen TVs. In a little while, you ’ll sit on the back porch and watch them in the pool. It’s great that it’s so close – not more than twenty feet away from the back door!
Later, everyone has gathered again in the Tower Room, drinks in hand. It just seems to happen, about this time every day. The wet bar, with its own refrigerator and sink up here are really handy. We discuss the day as the sun sinks slowly into the sea. As soon as we’ve seen it properly down, we’ll gather the kids and head for the Red Bar. There’s live music tonight. Tomorrow maybe we’ll rent a couple of kayaks, or perhaps a Hobie cat. But first thing in the morning, some of us will roll out the yoga mats in the Tower Room. Doing sun salutations while looking over the ocean as the sun comes up is fantastic!
Just imagine – this is only Day One of your Spring week at Abaco Rose! Your luxurious home at the beach provides for your every vacation need – and there’s so much to do, so much to explore! It's great, having a week here every season, year round. It gives so much more time to explore the area, and what a great place in which to unwind from the stresses of work and home!
It's delightful to live without a schedule... At Abaco Rose it’s okay to do absolutely nothing. Nap, read, rest, walk on the beach, write a bit. Visit with family and friends. Play a board game with the kids. Or just sit on the beach and watch the waves roll in.
Sometimes you putter around in the completely equipped kitchen. Or maybe barbecue on the large stainless gas grill outside. The little ones love going to bed in their own private bunk room, with the cozy built-in bunks.
As your week unfolds, you listen to music, surf the Internet, check the news or the golf match on TV. You play on the world-class pristine white-sand beaches, with clear blue water. Afterwards you rinse off the sand in the enclosed outdoor shower. Or maybe you sunbathe and enjoy the pool, reading that beach book you brought along.
Abaco Rose is everything you’d hoped it would be – and more! You can really relax here, enjoying the casual luxury, unmatched design and craftsmanship of your comfortable beach home-away-from-home. The only consolation, at week's end, is that you'll be back - very, very soon!
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