It’s really hard to believe it’s already the well into June. The last few weeks have been quite a whirlwind. Wow… barely four weeks ago I was living in California and now I’m living in the Northernmost Caribbean. Yeah… it’s been quite a few weeks.
Finding a place to live here turned out to be a challenge. First I had to drag a U-Haul trailer, with all the stuff I would need for survival, all the way across the country. I arrived in Fort Walton Beach on the evening of the 20th. Almost as soon as I arrived I couldn’t help myself… I had to go to the beach. So trailer and all I went down to the “Boardwalk”. That’s my favorite place in Fort Walton Beach. I just had to go see the sugar white, powder soft sand of the Northernmost Caribbean. Oh… those luscious white mounds at the Fort Walton Beach. Errrr…. mounds of sand.
My first order of business was to find a place to live… that is, after visiting the beach. That turned out to harder than I thought. I really, really wanted to be within walking distance from the beach… and crawling distance from a local watering hole. When I was in Key West last year, I could stumble out of my place into any of several watering holes down on Duval Street. This year it didn’t look as if it was going to work out that way.
Trying to find a place at the beginning of summer isn’t a good plan. Every place I went seemed to be overburdened with folks looking for a place to rent but they all seemed to want durations ranging from a week to a month or two. But… in Florida, anything less than six months is considered a “hotel” and is taxed at 10.5%. So most of the “regular” places… apartments and such… require at least seven month long leases. I knew this from the beginning, but it seemed that thousands of people have descended on the area not knowing anything about this. So all of the places I was looking at were plagued with people clogging up the offices.
To make a long story short… the place I really wanted to stay was full and the only thing I could do to get in there would be to get on a waiting list. Well, there was no way I could stay in a motel/hotel until some day in the future when something would be available. So, I expanded my search to other areas along the Emerald Coast.
Hummm…. the name, “Emerald Coast”, was dreamed up by the chambers of commerce all along the “Northernmost Caribbean”. They got together to come up with a name that would attract tourists. Before they came up with “Emerald Coast”, the only semi-official name was the “Miracle Strip”… and “Miracle Strip” was really only used for the area around Fort Walton Beach. The name people used a lot for the region and beaches along the ocean was the “Redneck Rivera”.
Well, the Chambers of Commerce couldn’t let it stay known as the “Redneck Rivera”. So, they went through a long campaign to make the name “Emerald Coast” stick. And the world “Emerald” does a good job of describing the color of the water just a few yards off the shore. So not only do we have those luscious white mounds… of sand, we also have the emerald water. Just the same, I like the “Northernmost Caribbean” better and that’s what I’ll use from now on.
Anyway… my search for a place to live went all along the Northernmost Caribbean from nearly Pensacola to the West and Panama City to the East. Finding a place to live was hard work so I had to stop in to have a frozen concoction to help me hang on.
Finally I found a place I could move into right away in Panama City Beach… the place where tens of thousands of college students flock every Spring Break. It meets all of my requirements… I can walk to the beach and crawl home from the nearby watering holes. I’m even close to a Margaritaville cafe… not close enough to crawl, but close enough to walk. Since they have live entertainment there every day, I suspect that I’ll be spending more than the occasional visit there to have a frozen concoction to help me hang on.
The place I ended up with is… well, paradise. This is my back yard. You can’t see it in this pic because it’s dark, but the tall buildings in this pic are right on the ocean.
I suspect I’ll have lots of visitors.