Destin Commons Playground and Shopping Area

When I moved to the Destin area, I was thrust into a temporary stay-at-home mom life. My busy two-year old needed outside time and playgrounds and kids…and I needed adults. I searched online in the Destin area playgrounds and didn’t find much. I asked neighbors and explored and found great playgrounds, which were a life-saver. This is the first review of my playground series for the primary playgrounds in my rotation for those new to the area and those visiting on vacation.

If you are new to the Destin area or you are visiting and need a fun, physical outlet for your kiddos, the playground at Destin Commons is fantastic. From a 2 year old’s perspective, everything is happy pirate and nautical. Mac loves the colorful pink and yellow ray he calls Mr. Ray, from the movie Finding Nemo, the boat because…it’s a boat, and the cannonball pile from which he thankfully still has not jumped off the very top. I keep waiting for that one.


The playground equipment is typical of what one sees at many malls these days: soft foam sculpted structures that are bright and colorful. The ground is padded as well. Pirate and nautical themed benches surround the border of the playground and there is a clear view of all play structures – very open. 

Mac was able to handle most playground equipment at the Destin Commons playground very well, so I have been able to sit, watch, and relax and not have to follow him around. It’s nice for quieter days after there’s been a lot of activity and we need a day to recoup, yet he still needs entertainment and activity.

If you’re visiting and want to go to a movie, there is an AMC directly across from the playground. A children’s train runs most weekends, and tickets are $4, although that may have changed during season. There are plenty of stores to tempt: Pandora, Brighton, Sunglasses World, Sephora, H&M, Guess, Hollister, Build- A-Bear Workshop, Bass Pro. It’s an outdoor mall, so there is an abundance of shopping, including some adorable boutiques. You can visit the Destin Commons website here


We moved here in October. Leave it to us to move to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and not be able to go in the water because of cooler weather. Yes, this is north Florida and temps can get into the teens. We love the water and often say we would live in the ocean if we could. Despite the colder weather, we did log in plenty of beach time on a few of the rogue, warmer days.

When the weather is rough, we loved going to visit Bass Pro, let Mac climb in and out of boats and on the side-by-sides, and dream of future warmer days.  (Please always attend your child if they’re on any equipment for their safety, and to teach them to respect property.) Mac loves to see the fish – they have an enormous Grouper he loves, a huge Red, and three Jacks. There is a cool doamed window kids can sit in and feel like they’re in the water with the fish. Bass Pro in Destin Commons is two-story wonderland of fishing, hunting, and camping goods and other outdoorsy merchandise. We like to visit the playground when the weather permits, and then we may stop at El Jalisco for lunch, but that’s when we’re there in a weekend family outing.

Last week we had more warm weather after a cold front had passed through. When I took Mac to Destin Commons, We approached the playground and I heard it before I saw it: water! The splash pad was up and running! It’s spring break, so tourist season is in full swing. I knew he wouldn’t leave dry. I had no bathing suit for Mac and no towel in the car. Hadn’t I figured that out by now? Toddler life in a beach town? Have bathing suit, have towel, will travel? Come on, now, Janie.

My kid. After I told him we would go to the playground, first, and then maybe the splash pad, he agreed and ran to the playground. He played for ten minutes- maybe fifteen. I had my eyes on him the entire time, and I saw it. The stop, the little blond head turned toward that rushing water, and he darted to the water. All I wanted to do was remove the shoes and socks for which I had no replacements! Like a slow-mo action sequence in an action film, and I bolted after him…the shoes! Take off the shoes! I jumped from the bench, leaped across the playground, dodged children, yelling his name. Did I actually think I would catch him? We had other errands to run and planned on meeting my husband, Mac’s daddy, “AP” for lunch. I did have a spare change of clothes and a pair of his sweatpants, which substituted for a towel. 


He had a blast, of course. A dozen or so other children were politely playing on the playground. My child was chasing the sprouts of water, soaked through, head to toe, having the time of his life. We later went about our errands and lunch, and he got carried everywhere. I now have a spare pair of flip flops in his clothes bag.

If you visit the playground during the spring and summer months, be prepared for spontaneous water escapades and enjoy.

Love, J.

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Paddle Boarding – Anything but Boring!

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Saturday, the water at Dune Allan Beach here on 30a looked like northern lights had infiltrated the water. The array of colbalt, aqua, green, and blue appeared absolutely majestic. The sandbars that rose in two stripes of pale terquoise gave a lighter end of the blue spectrum and a place on which to stand and observe the surroundings. On the first sandbar, we clearly saw a sting ray swimming about seven feet from us. Once I pointed it out, crowds on the beach came to observe.

The water has been rather chilly, especially since we had a cold front pass through last week. I don’t mind getting in, however, especially when the sun is out. I have spent my life swimming in the natural springs of north Florida, and I’ve surfed the Atlantic in cooler months, so I am used to the colder temperatures. Come late summer, some days the gulf is so warm, I prefer swimming pools, cooler, spring-fed rivers, and boating farther out in the gulf.

While we were relaxing and playing on the beach, a man who as about our parents’ ages came off the water with his paddle board. We asked how his session was, and after chatting for a few minutes about boarding – paddle, surf, and the beach in general – he offered us the opportunity to try out his board. I have known I wanted to give paddle boarding a try, especially after watching paddle boarders catch some nice rides. My husband insisted I go, so I did. I don’t know why I was surprised our new friend, Dave, who was down from Tuscaloosa, AL for the weekend, offered up his paddle board, but I was. It was good old fashioned southern hospitality and the surf sharing culture in action.

Strapping on the leash, guiding the board out onto the water, parallel to me and perpendicular to the shore, I felt right at  home. I hopped up on the board, but stayed on my knees. The paddle – the inverted side is not the side that pushes the water. It’s contrary to what one might think.

Kayaking and surfing all in one! Brilliant. With my years of kayaking our rivers back home- I paddled out well. The boarding differences were another challenge. Okay – can’t lie down because you have the paddle; control with your core and legs while kneeling but not while lying down; paddle and don’t run into those kids!; don’t stand up because it’s choppy and you have your prescription sunglasses on- can’t lose those.

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An audible, “I’ve got this. I can do this,” sent out to the vast blue stretching in front of me. Nothing but ocean. I was alone. Isolated. In no time, I was on the second sandbar, my destination. It was fast! Easy compared to paddling on a surfboard through wash and chop.

Before I moved to Santa Rosa Beach, paddle boarding seemed boring. Dullsville. Why work for no fun? No waves? In surfing, your willing to kill yourself paddling out to soar back in on a killer ride. Who wanted to paddle flat water, endlessly?

I figured I’d give it a try…sometime. When there weren’t waves. SUP yoga looked like a fun challenge. But, in general, paddle boarding looked tame.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

On the way back in, I felt a few lilts of the board. It was nice – not a crazy rush, but fun. I will be able to catch waves one paddle board here on the gulf on a quiet day. The clarity of the water and view of the ocean and shore while moving slowly over the water is spectacular. Paddle board stoke, baby! I have it! Really…I know I sound cheesy, but who cares.

The coolest thing about boarding and kayaking – you can get to places in nature you never could by foot or boat. I have always said that about kayaking, and I see it with paddle boarding. I am looking forward to exploring some of the freshwater rivers and gorgeous and rare tidal pools unique to this area.

I have a lifelong love affair with water and nature. I am so glad my husband and son do, too. It makes the Florida life so much better, after all. I’m happy to add paddle boarding to my water exploration.

Aloha.

 

Namaste Newbie


I admit, I am new to yoga even though I’ve been doing yoga for years.

I’ve been “doing” yoga…not “practicing;” thus, I am a newbie, a rookie.

While I have enjoyed yoga in my life as a yummy workout, complete with all things a childhood ballet dancer and cheerleader holds dear: stretching, lifting, balance, strength, movement, I haven’t begun to grasp the benefits of the deeper side of yoga until lately.

Yoga, and my physical therapist, saved my back. I am able to run and play with my two year old, I feel amazing, and I don’t wake up in pain. I had days where I wondered if I would ever be able to surf again.

I’ve met some amazing new friends in my recent move, and one of them teaches Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga. When I learned that, I was like, “Hell yeah! I’m in!”

And then I realized, “Oh, yeah. I’ve got serious work to do to get in shape for that!” Truly, I don’t. Since I have a basic foundation, I have since learned that I can enjoy practicing SUP yoga.

My SUP Yogi friend, who is also a life coach and photographer, Lindsay Havlicek Bell, who can do scorpions and all kinds of fun tricks that I want to learn to do…someday, during a casual conversation about Yoga a few months ago while chasing our toddler sons, asked how often I “practiced” yoga.

Practiced? Well, I “do” yoga a few times a week, when I’m working out, when I’m not unboxing a house and chasing my 2 year old. I hadn’t done yoga in a while, and I have never “practiced” yoga.

Mac following the tracks left by beach patrol at Grayton State Park.

What is “practicing” yoga? What makes someone a “yogi” and how on earth can someone go from “doing” yoga casually, like me, to doing a handstand and curving your back so that your toes touch your head? I mean, I’m flexible, but I am not a contortionist! And, I don’t know if I’ll ever truly get to that level, but I believe yoga is more about the journey than the destination. So, with full curiosity and thirst for knowledge, I did what any 40 year old wife and mother who has no time to go out to a yoga studio would do: searched YouTube.

And there I discovered delightful and quirky yogi, Adriene. Yoga with Adriene has over 2 million subscribers.

I started Adriene’s 31 Day Yoga Revolution #yogarevolution. I wanted something to encourage the journey of yoga and to learn from a true yogi. I didn’t want yoga for weight loss or hot yoga. I’ve done that. Race in, roll out the mat, enjoy the breathing and stretching. At the beginning of a class, I’m as tight as a coil, and afterwards I’m gumby. It’s awesome! But I knew there was more.

Adriene’s 31 Day Yoga Revolution has a theme for each day. Day 1:  Practice Ease

Lesson one:  how you are on the mat is how you are off the mat.

And, boy, was I distracted.

While practicing, ideas were flying through my mind: I’ll blog this experience – how often will I write? daily? weekly? writing…need to get up earlier every single day…need to finish my calendar, organize my to-do list for the day, week, month, year! I need to finish the dishes, fold that pile of laundry, get materials together for Mac’s learning time, and on and on. I was so distracted on the mat as I had been in life off the mat.

Day 2: Practice with Intention; off the mat? Live with intention. While in the transition of setting up house in a new town, getting used to a new life, looking for jobs, making new friends, starting a new business, and working at home taking care of my toddler, it’s easy to feel pulled and stretched like saltwater taffy. Intention was exactly what I needed both on and off the mat.

The immediate days following consist of the following themes: Honor your practice; PRANA Practice; Practice Rhythm; Attention (And Abs) Practice; Stability Practice, etc.

Themes of yoga practice spill over into daily life. I have received more from this practice than any class or other DVD yoga practice as I don’t feel rushed. I don’t feel the need to burn a certain amount of calories during a session. I don’t care about how I look other than proper posture.

Also, I have really focused on listening to Adriene as she instructs as opposed to watching what she is doing. I anticipate less. I need to anticipate less in life, as well. I find much of my practical daily life and even my faith is more focused. I hear better. I anticipate less. I wait. I steadily do what I know I should, and I move through my practice, as well as my day, taking everything as it comes. This is huge for me. I am a problem solver. My family and I joke that sometimes I try and solve problems that don’t even exist, yet. I anticipate potential outcomes and try and plan to avoid potential disasters or problems. That isn’t bad on a small scale, occasionally, but it can be a hinderance to living because that isn’t living in the present moment – the now.

Grayton State Park – appears virtually untouched.

Your time on the mat reflects your time off the mat. Listen, don’t anticipate. Don’t worry about what is coming next, but remain in the present. Learn. Enjoy the journey.

Thanks Lindsay. Thanks Adriene.

Namaste, J.