Part Of The Family

Twice a year, Barb and her sister Jan travel to Destin from Indiana.

When they do, they always stay at Sea Oats Motel – the last beachfront motel left in Destin. They prefer the old-timey feel of places like this. High-rise monstrosities and long walks to the beach are not for them. They’d rather sit on a ground-level patio in the evening and sip a drink while taking in all the sights, sounds and smells of the beach.

For 20 years, the two sisters have been making the long trek from Indiana.

But, they say, it’s always worth it. It’s such a welcome relief from their high-stress jobs and fast paced lives. Jan always insists that they go to Destin once in early spring, and once in late summer. This way, it breaks up the year perfectly and adds indispensable life-balance.

When the sisters first arrive in town, it’s usually mid-day because they’ve stayed overnight somewhere between Nashville and Birmingham. They’re hungry and tired of riding in the car, so they stop for some grilled local seafood – the kind you can’t get around Indianapolis. That means fresh, and with either a Caribbean or Cajun flair.

Being creatures of habit, Jan only wants shrimp skewers on this first stop and Barb prefers coconut shrimp. And, of course, a glass of red wine for each.

After lunch, they go straight to Sea Oats Motel, get the room key, and unpack the car. Once all is organized, it’s off to get groceries and whatever else they’ll need to eat or drink for the next few days. And every trip requires a stop at the seafood market so they can get local grouper, yellowfin tuna, scallops, or whatever else they get a taste for.

With a kitchenette in their unit and grill outside, Jan can make most of their meals right there without leaving the beach. She says one of the best things about these trips is sipping her morning coffee on the patio during the sunrise, when everything is still quiet – the only sounds being the waves and the birds.

Most days, Jan and Barb like to sit on the beach in their chairs. They’ll watch the birds, the dolphins, or the people walking by. Usually, they meet someone interesting from another part of the country and share stories – sometimes even making new friends.

Of course, the sisters won’t stay at the beach every minute. If it’s a rainy day, they’ll surely be visiting Silver Sands Outlet Mall, or Destin Commons. They also love to visit the docks at Destin Harbor in the early evening when the deep sea fishing boats bring in their catches. They’ll even go out and enjoy the nightlife once or twice – live music being their favorite.

Then when it’s time to pack up and head home, they stop and pack a cooler full of seafood to take along. Even though it’s always sad to leave, they’ll feel mentally and physically rested by the time they have to be back to work.

In both of their workplaces, they have little glass displays with real beach sand, shells and sand dollars – both as a reminder of past trips, and on stressful days, a flash forward to future ones.