© 2012; 2001 Connecting: Solo Travel Network & Pamela Cavitt. Information
Note: This article is reproduced here for inspirational value alone and will not normally be updated.
Therefore, all facts, figures, and author's opinions are subject to change as time goes on.

Blissful Solitude, Seaside Florida – A Solo Travel Report

By Pamela J Cavitt

Take one hard working, dependable, 30-something mommy from somewhere in the Midwest. Add a heaping helping of job-related stress. Introduce a pinch of mid-life crisis, and what do you have? Me – before I escaped from family life for four precious, solitary days in Seaside, Florida.

Never heard of Seaside? Therein lies much of the beauty of the place. However, fans of actor Jim Carrey might have seen the movie The Truman Show which was filmed in Seaside a few years ago. Thankfully, I found that little evidence of Hollywood remains in this peaceful panhandle berg. Seaside was a pleasant forty-five minute drive from the Panama City Airport. Once inside the city limits, however, the car became unnecessary. I had everything I needed within a ten minute stroll of the natty one bedroom dollhouse I had rented from the Seaside Cottage Rental Agency.

Awash in pastels and punctuated by picket fences, the town is a quirky mix of funky houses, art galleries, restaurants, and shops. Its horseshoe layout opens onto a vast expanse of powder white beach. I am no athlete, but I could have thrown a rock from the balcony of my cottage and hit the sea oat fringed dunes. Things were already looking up.

I checked in then headed for the Modica Market to load up on provisions. Choosing when and what I ate without regard for my kindergartner's finicky palate was quite a novel concept. After a pleasant chat with the market's owner, I went strolling down the sandy brick lane. Feeling very cosmopolitan in my sundress and floppy straw hat, I chirped a perky "Ciao!" to an older couple pedaling by on a tandem bike.

Suddenly, my aplomb was shattered by the realization that something foreign had got into my mouth. Stumbling to a halt, I initiated an undignified search of my cheek and gum area to find the remnants of two insects – still kicking. I had just been introduced to Seaside's infamous love bug.

The Bad News

These harmless quarter-inch long, winged black insects apparently find Seaside a most romantic spot for a few days following Labor Day. Choosing to procreate there, in flight and en masse, they arrive in swarms each September.

The Good News

Actually, after that first distasteful meeting, I found the love bugs to be quite interesting in my own warped, voyeuristic way. And the good news is that the closer you get to the shore, the less likely you are to encounter these sex-crazed pests – just another reason to hang out on the beach.

Seaside's wide, talcum powder beach is one of the loveliest in the continental United States. So uncrowded was the shore and so unobtrusive were the fellow beachcombers that I felt secure enough to nap, completely blissed out by the solitude, the salty breeze, and the lulling surf. And so it went for four lazy days, nothing to do but exhale. I needed no more stimulation than this, although according to a schedule of events posted in my cottage, there were a variety of activities to enjoy.

I could have rented a bicycle ($5/hour) at the Seaside Swim and Tennis Club. Anyone wanting a tennis partner could check the bulletin board in the Club's Pro Shop.

Had there been a rainy day, I might have summoned up some creative energy at Fired Up!, a paint-your-own-ceramics studio. Free screenings of foreign films were shown on Friday evenings at Ruskin Place Artist Colony, and free concerts were scheduled at the outdoor amphitheater. Wine connoisseurs and wannabe's met at Fermentations, a wine bar and shop, for tasting parties on Wednesday and Friday afternoons ($12.00). Live jazz, blues, and bluegrass were also on tap at Fermentations on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday nights.

My final evening on the Emerald Coast, I did join a few other Seaside visitors to watch the sunset from the elevated beach side deck at Bud & Alley's Restaurant. A kid with a long blond ponytail perched on a stool in the dimly lit corner and softly strummed his guitar. The bartender quietly delivered a perfect margarita and encouraged me to participate in his nightly contest of guessing the exact time the sun would set. As I scrawled my best estimate on the chalkboard by the bar, I heard someone gasp, "Look! Dolphins!"

Everyone crowded to the deck rails and scanned the horizon. An immense school of dolphins passed in front, a steady parade traveling two by two leaping and plunging in unison into the glittering turquoise waves. Then I spied a lone one lagging behind the others. Arcing like a rainbow in the face of the setting sun, she seemed to me to be engaged in a joyous solitary ballet. After a while, she caught up with her family and they swam together into the dusk.

With a satisfied sigh, I realized that it was time for me to reunite with my family as well. I was ready to go home and face the frenzy with a renewed sense of spirit and peace – my own solitary seaside dance was done. I fished a couple of inebriated love bugs out of my drink and set them gently on the deck rail. "Ciao, little love bugs," I chuckled. "See you next year."

If You Go to Seaside Florida

PJC

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