Heartlander Abroad: Mexico Beach, Fl.

Jul 31, 2014

An eerie calmness lay about the sea, the waves ceased to break, and the water temperature dropped 10 degrees in a matter of minutes. The Gulf of Mexico and all its inhabitants felt the presence of their greatest threat, the dreaded return of the one predator that could not be defeated, evaded, or defended against…

This is how my arrival played out in my mind, the entire Gulf and all its’ fish and crabs shivering in fear as I walked onto the beach, in slow motion, and accompanied by dramatic music. The reality was less cinematic, unless you consider “The Three Stooges” cinematic! Within a few hours of getting settled into our house, I walked out to the beach to check on my old honey-holes. I eased down to the rock jetty that was the source of my massive blue crab haul last year, and promptly received a push from a rogue wave, causing me to lose balance and slide off the moss-covered rock I was standing on and into a few more, each one more sharp and jagged than the last.

Like most people, I’m actively involved in social media, and recently saw the story about the man who was in the Gulf with an open wound and contracted some sort of brain-eating ameba, and died within a few days of coming home. My wife, sister, and 1,000 or so other people I know saw the video as well and warned me to steer clear of the water, being that the rocks cut me up pretty good. I used peroxide and triple-antibiotic cream every few hours, and had decided to stay out of the water for 24 hrs. My entire family was down at the beach, and I was sitting out on the deck watching them, when my neighbor got home and we started to chit-chat.

This gorgeous, sparsely populated stretch of beach is located right down the road from a large military base, and my neighbor, Scott, lives here full time and is a helicopter pilot, specializing in flying rescue missions. He asked what I was doing up here alone, and I showed him my injuries. He said “you know what the best cure for cuts and scrapes is? Salt water!” He swears by the healing power of the ocean, and being that he’s lived on the beach for longer than I’ve been alive and is the picture of health, I put my trunks on and headed to the water!

This morning (Monday) was the first day I fished. I was up at 5am looking for my fishing partner, my brother-in-law “Crow”. He was nowhere to be found, so I loaded up my four surf rods, four 4’ PVC shore rod holders, tripod, 40 lb backpack style tackle box, the five-gallon bucket that held water and the bait I caught last night, and my coffee and made the 50 yard walk through the sand in my flip flops. I no more than got the first stake in the ground, and here comes my partner…

Unfortunately, the wind was blowing around 40 mph and the waves were both enormous and relentless, slamming small patches of seaweed into my lines, and creating constant havoc. I managed a few catfish, and Crow caught a small flounder. In the morning we are heading to the pier, and Wednesday we’re going out fishing with a friend, from then on, who knows!

The best part of this particular locale, and why we drive past much more popular tourist traps, is the lack of people. Yesterday afternoon, we shared 150 yards of beach with one other family, and today is not much different. Now if go-karts and waterparks are your thing, this isn’t the place for you, but if spending time on the beach is your number one priority, the “Forgotten Coast” as they call it, is hard to beat.

The most interesting part of our trip thus far was our meal last night, but that story will have to wait, as I am nearly out of room and am being summoned down to the beach to see the latest seashell the kids harvested!