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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride


There’s nothing like a beach Christmas!

We have never done Christmas on the beach before and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! Having great weather always helps though and yesterday was 21C, with sunny blue skies, and emerald green water. What a dreamy place to be on Fort Walton Beach, Florida for Christmas!

Beautiful sugary, white sand beach in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

Our plan yesterday was to spend some time beach walking before we started making our Christmas meal. We had a brief taste of the nice sandy beach the first day we arrived in Fort Walton Beach, but we wanted to go for a nice long walk and really enjoy the sand and the surf.

When we were walking to the beach we notified that one of our neighbours had a cute cover on the spare tire of his Jeep tow car.

That’s exactly how I’ve felt in this crazy trip across the country! RV THERE YET? Finally we were somewhere warm where we could relax and enjoy some sunshine and surf!

Yesterday we walked so far on Fort Walton Beach, that we ran out of people on the beach!

Imagine a beach on Christmas Day being deserted?!!! Well that’s exactly what we were dealing with yesterday.

Well not quite deserted. We found this great big blue heron just hanging around the beach near the sand dunes.

And these sand pipers running around trying to find something to eat in the sand.

A beautiful blue sky and emerald green surf to sit and enjoy while we sat down on the wall of sand on the beach.

There was literally no one around. Just a perfect white sandy beach to enjoy all by ourselves.

And we didn’t really have to walk too far to be by ourselves either!

This guy had 3 fishing rods set up trying to catch some fish. He apparently did catch something when we walked by him back down the beach.

This guy brought his kids with him and they were playing on the beach while he was trying to catch dinner!

There were a few more people on the beach as we got closer to the Island hotel where we cut through to get back to our RV resort. Still not as many people as I would ever have imagined on such a gorgeous beach, on Christmas Day!

Happy Beach walkers on Christmas Day!

As we walked back to Newman we were still in disbelief about how few people were on the beach. We found out that typically this time of year the weather is about 10 degrees Fahrenheit cooler, so there are less people who come to the Fort Walton/Destin area this time of year, because it is not as warm as the more southern parts of Florida.

Before we had left for the beach, I had prepared shortbread dough and put it in the refrigerator to chill. I was planning on baking the cookies after we got back from the beach, once the dough was chilled. Making Christmas dinner in an RV is definitely a lesson in organization, especially given the oven only has one rack and it is also a microwave, and we only have a 3 burner stove. That’s why having the BBQ with the propane tank was really going to be a bonus for me in getting our dinner cooked. I had it all figured out! We were going to do the frozen turkey breast in a pan on the BBQ and I would prepare everything else inside in Newman.

While the shortbread were baking I prepared the stuffing and cooked the carrots in orange juice on the stove. With stuff cooking, I next ‘topped and tailed’ the green beans to have them ready for steaming, and prepared the Brussels sprouts and bacon to go into the oven as soon as the shortbread came out. I also peeled the potatoes and had them ready to boil on the stovetop too.

Shortbread cookies for our Christmas dessert.

Look at the size of this potato I picked up at Krogers in Texas! Two of these potatoes were enough to feed a family of 6, much less the two of us!

As I was preparing everything inside Newman, I finally pulled the turkey out of the freezer to check the cooking time. The ‘Jenny-O’ frozen turkey breast apparently needed to cook at 375F for 3 hours. At this point I asked Richard to start the BBQ please, otherwise our meal wasn’t going to be ready for quite some time, unless we got the turkey breast cooking on the BBQ.

I had a ZOOM call set up with my cousins from Canada, Australia and England set up for 3pm central time, so I wanted to make sure that everything was cooking and ready, before my call. Richard got the turkey on the BBQ and then came in to use the washroom, while I was preparing the brussel sprouts and all of a sudden we heard a huge ‘BANG’!!! I looked at Richard and he looked at me and we couldn’t figure out where the noise had come from. A neighbour from two doors down came over to see what had happened, because he had also heard the loud ‘BANG’ and none of us could figure out what had happened. Richard wondered if our air bags on Newman had exploded so he went out to check. Nope. The air bags were fine and Newman was still sitting high off the back tires. Very strange. We wondered what that noise was, because it sounded like a gun had gone off, right outside Newman!

Richard finally went to check the turkey on the BBQ and strangely enough the BBQ had gone out. Richard tried to light the BBQ again, but for some reason the propane didn’t seem to be coming through the line and into the BBQ, even though the electric starter was working. Strange….

The 30 lb propane tank we picked up earlier this year at Costco in Courtenay, B.C. The tank looked fine.

Ok. Here is the problem! The line from the BBQ tank to the BBQ must have exploded some how and the BANG we heard was the automatic shutoff inside the propane tank. Richard texted St. Stephen to find out if the BANG we heard was really from the propane tank and should we dispose of the tank or what? St. Stephen said the tank was fine, but because the line was wrapped around the tank and we probably shook the heck out of the line driving across the country on bumpy roads, the line had become unstable and probably developed a leak. We definitely needed a new line though from the tank to the BBQ. Well with no car and it being Christmas with everything closed, I guess that meant we now had to cook the turkey in the oven inside Newman, or we wouldn’t be having turkey dinner for Christmas! Oh my goodness! Even on Christmas we can’t seem to get a break! This is the first time since Fanny Bay we’ve had the BBQ out of Newman and I guess we won’t be doing any BBQ until we can get to a store and get a new line. Yeesh! Luckily I had gotten a head start on preparing dinner and everything was cooked and ready to be reheated at the last minute, once the turkey was ready.

Trying to keep everything warm with a three burner stove.

The turkey breast was cooked in a lot less time than 3 hours and its a good thing we kept checking it, or it would have been very overdone!

Almost ready for our feast. The Jenny-O turkey that we cooked from frozen even came with its own gravy!

What a feast! Green beans almandine, carrots in orange juice, brussel sprouts with bacon, garlic mashed potatoes, stuffing (from a box, but I did add cranberries and pecans) and turkey with gravy and homemade cranberry sauce! YUMMY! A FEAST!

And of course a nice Pinot Grigio from Oregon, and Hawaiian sweet rolls that we love in Florida! Its a good thing we had a big beach walk, and no lunch, to be able to eat such a powerful feast!

We had a lovely quiet evening last night in Newman, listening to instrumental Christmas music on Spotify on our boom box. We had a nice Christmas and enjoyed touching base with family and friends around the world to catch up on how everyone is doing in these crazy times.

This morning I had a big workout in Newman knowing that we would also be having a big beach walk too! I really felt yesterday’s walk in my hip flexors today! Walking on the beach is definitely a great way to get in shape for walking a golf course again - which we will be doing as soon as we can get to Lone Palm - our golf course in Lakeland in the New Year!

Today instead of walking towards Destin, we decided to walk on the beach towards Fort Walton, which meant we had to walk under the fishing pier on the beach.

The Island Pier which was formerly known as the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier is located just steps away from the stunning sugar-white beaches and the vibrant green waters of the Emerald Coast. The Emerald Coast is the unofficial name for the coastal area of Florida that stretches 100 miles through five countries, Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton and Bay which include Pensacola Beach, Navarre Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Destin and Panama City. Beginning in 1946 for marketing purposes the coast from Fort Walton Beach to Panama City was named the “Playground of the Gulfcoast”. In 1952 the stretch of coast was dubbed the ”Miracle Strip’ by a local journalist and finally the term ‘Emerald Coast’ was coined in 1983 by a junior high school student who won $50 in a contest for a new area slogan. Some people also refer to the Emerald Coast as the ‘Redneck Riviera’ alluding to the strong Southern culture of the hinterland. Since January 2020 ‘The Emerald Coast’ will be dropped for a simplified logo reading “Destin Fort Walton Beach, Florida“ which is what the local airport is also called. If you like us, are golfers, there are a ton of golf courses to be played around Destin and Fort Walton Beach, but we didn’t want our stay here to be about golf. Sometimes its just nice to relax on a beach!

Heading for our walk today in the other direction than we went yesterday.

The water was beautiful to walk in today.

Richard had a FaceTime call with his mom Shirley today from the beach! It was nice to show her the lovely white sandy beach and waves, as we sat on the beach relaxing.

Sand castles on the beach!

Of maybe just bury someone in sand!

There were a few more people on the beach today, but everyone was spaced out nicely and hanging out with their families.

We decided to try and find some gelato after walking a long way today at the beach, but unfortunately the Italian ice cream place was closed for the day, so we had to cross the road and try and find another spot for some gelato.

Red Velvet ice cream. Not gelato like we wanted, but it was still tasty.

Yum. Two spoons too and only one small scoop to share. It was enough though!

We saw this spot where we bought our ice cream, right next to our RV park also had a mini putt course, so Richard went in to check out the cost.

The Mini golf course next to our RV resort which they wanted $13 each to play. We both thought that was a bit pricey so we elected to go back to Newman and get our bathing suits on and go to the pool instead.

What a beautiful 23C pool day!

It sure was nice to be able to put my bathing suit on and go for a swim. I had brought it with me and never worn it once on this entire trip!

Richard made new friends of course! The folks in the picture with Richard are from St. Jerome, Quebec. They had sold their home and bought a 5th wheel and are now living full time in their 5th wheel. They were going to be moving down to St. Petersburg, Florida on January 6th, as Destin is normally colder this time of year, and they want to be in warmer weather. The pool was delightful! No shock to the system to go in!

I finished up my 51st book of the year as we were relaxing by the pool. I’m really enjoying being retired and having the chance to read as much as I want to! Reading was my first love, before I found out how much I loved golf!

It is a good thing I bring my camera everywhere we go! As we were walking back to Newman after spending time at the pool, I saw this man who had his camera and was so close to a great blue heron, I just couldn’t believe it!

The heron really is very trusting to let the man get this close to him! I wished I could have gone down the stairs to get close too, but I didn’t want to scare the bird off for this man with his camera.

And I guess the man got a bit too close to the heron and he flew away!

It really has been a lovely stay in Destin, Florida. We definitely needed the break after so many days of endless driving, to get to Florida. I know we are both anxious to get to our home in Plant City. Richard has already put our lawn chairs, the BBQ and the propane tank away in Newman’s basement to prepare for our departure tomorrow. Tomorrow will be just like any other driving day, except we won’t get to Plant City tomorrow yet. We are staying tomorrow night in Lake City, Florida. You only realize how big Florida is until you try to drive it, and with at least an 8 hour drive to Plant City, there really was no point trying to do it all in one day.

Well our Christmas break in Destin, Florida certainly did end up being a ‘bang’ up time! No pun intended, but my goodness, to have our BBQ hose blow up on Christmas Day was definitely very unfortunate, but imagine how much worse it could have been if the propane tank didn’t have a built in safety valve in it?! Newman could have blown up, and that certainly would have been a lot more problematic, than losing a propane hose for the BBQ. If we went through all of the disasters or misfortunes we’ve had on our trip since we left home, I think we have enough to write a ‘what not to do’ guide for RVers! Maybe we could even get our own reality tv show “The trials and tribulations of R&R and Newman (minus) Jerry” Maybe the title needs some work, but you get the drift. It certainly will be nice to not be going anywhere for awhile, once we get to Plant City…but maybe we’ll get itchy feet and want to take Newman to some places in Florida we’ve never been before? We’ll see…..!!!

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