Our Spot on the Beach

Camping on the beach

Since Kerry and I have found our joy in our Airstream, Cella, we only think of our next place to camp when we contemplate a vacation. Like many people, however, we long for a trip to the beach to unwind. So, for the second year in a row, we decided to stake our claim on our spot on the beach. I say our spot because we can’t imagine even parking Cella any place else on the Gulf of Mexico. And, just like every time we have vacationed on the Gulf, we found new things to discover and appreciate.


When our children were small, we stayed in condos on the beach. These were all quite lovely and provided us with well equipped kitchens. For some reason, however, I never liked to cook in them. Maybe it was because they were unfamiliar. Maybe I wanted to be away from my usual chores. But, cooking in Cella is one of my favorite things on vacation. The clean up is harder; wash-up is constant because of the space limitations in a camper. Because our countertops are wooden, we also are stringent about keeping water off of them. And, there is no dishwasher. But, Cella is outfitted with things we love, and the kitchen feels like home just as our real one does on the farm. Even shopping for food for the trip is a joy. I make lists, look for ingredients, and stock the freezer, refrigerator, and larder before we leave.

When we arrived on our spot this year, we once again placed our outdoor rug on the sand, extended our awning, pulled out our aluminum camping table and director’s chairs, and chilled. By the time we were hungry, all we had to do was to step up into Cella and throw together our meal. See, getting dolled up for dinner is not our idea of vacation fun. Sitting under the awning and watching the beach until our tummies growl knowing our meals are minutes away is. This time, the only things we had to shop for were a few items I forgot to stock and fresh shrimp for our shrimp boil.


That having been said, we did eat out a couple of times when we were out shopping. I crave Ciao Bella’s pasta and must taste it every year. This little jewel of an Italian restaurant is one of several owned by the same gentleman, Guglielmo Ianni. Located at Silver Sands Factory Stores (outdoor mall), Ciao Bella Pizza da Guglielmo is considered his casual one, though over the years the meals have steadily risen in price ($19.95 for my Cappellini Toscana with salad, bread, & dip–well worth it). See CiaoBellaPizza.com.

On the road again with my camping purse

Unbeknownst to us, Florida had a tax free weekend, and the Florida coast had a tremendous rain that Friday, which meant one thing: HUGE crowds at Silver Sands. But, we wait until this trip every year to stock up on Kerry’s work attire and this year hit pay dirt at Banana Republic ($59 slacks for $25) and Sauccony ($95 for two pairs of sneakers).

For lunch one day we decided to stop at a little Thai place in a strip mall in Santa Rosa Beach called Thai Elephant. (We both love Thai food.) It was nondescript and seemingly nothing special. We walked in the door to check out the menu only to be greeted by the most charming and handsome young man who smiled and seemed so happy to see us! Kerry asked if I wanted to stay. Who could’ve turned down that delightful fellow? After I chatted with him (much to Kerry’s dismay I’m sure), he said that he moved to the area a couple of years ago after coming as an exchange student in prior years. The food at Thai Elephant was delicious! We ordered fresh garden rolls (made with rice paper), and after I described the Thai dish I loved the most, the server brought me Pad Woon Sen with chicken. See facebook.com/thaielephantauthenticthaicuisine@santarosebeach.

Our final day brought the discoveries I alluded to above. We were headed to our favorite, The Red Bar, in Grayton Beach, when we decided to stop in and look at a couple of consignment and thrift stores on the way. Boy howdy! One Goodwill (where we scored new Brooks Brothers and Billy Reid shirts for Kerry for $4.50 each) led to another–even a Goodwill Home Goods store! One thrift store led to yet a different one. Then pay dirt! We found the most wonderful consignment store called Ava’s Attic filled with glorious used furniture, art, antiques, and clothing. At Ava’s, I met a lady from Huntsville, AL, and we struck up a conversation that led to friendship on Facebook. She told me that she comes to Ava’s every time she visits the Destin area. She also told me about a terrific new consignment store in Huntsville that raises money for shelter animals. I can’t wait to visit that store and write my next post.

The owners of Ava’s Attic, mother and daughter team Susan Henry and Courtney Hood, told me that a Mrs. Thrift or someone from Nashville came to her store, went back to write her column about it, and as a happy consequence, sent 20+ new customers from Tennessee to her store. I asked her if the lady might be Ms. Cheap from The Tennessean, and she said, “Yes! That’s the one!” See http://www.avasatticindestin.com/.

Think about it. People are moving to the beach, moving away from the beach, buying and selling condos, and in general transferring large amounts of furniture and goods in the process. What better place to unload stuff rather than haul it all away or from place to place? Susan Henry told me a phone call will send their big truck out for pickup. It’s that simple. Now, if thrifting on the beach is a goal (as it will be ours from now on), people must make accommodations for hauling pieces home. Luckily for us, we had a pickup truck to haul a poster bed for daughter Annelise’s former room (after Kerry, with his packed tools, disassembled it) and a fairly roomy Airstream for the 3 barstools for daughter Catherine’s house.

The Destin/Sandestin area is a thrifters’/consignment shoppers’/bargain hunters’ mecca. Up and down the Emerald Coast Parkway, a person could spend hours or days hitting one after another. Kerry and I saved these shops for the last day as we were headed to The Red Bar, so we missed several that we will visit next trip. (Incidentally, we skipped The Red Bar after all of the shopping and chose, instead, to relax and cook at home one last time.)

All in all, I can say that as we relaxed under our awning and watched the waves, sat in small restaurants and enjoyed favorite foods, and hopped from one bargain store to the next, we were at peace. This is what a vacation is all about–finding your nirvana for the little time you have away from your real life. Finding your own spot on the beach.







Add Yours
  1. 2
    annie solomon

    Hi, Emily! Enjoyed your article, especially since larry and I have a similar situation. Not an airstream, alas, but a small RV, we call Harvey, lol. We’re hoping to take it to the beach this winter. Would love to know where your “place” is. We once stayed in Ft. Walton at an RV place that was right on the beach. We just opened the back and there was the ocean. We might go back there, but wouldn’t mine another place, if you don’t mind sharing!

  2. 5
    Denise Hunter

    Absolutely love this article..as I did last year too! Sounds like you had a glorious time with great food, super bargains and fun fillled thrifting !!

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