|A typical Florida day at Navarre Beach.|
I fell in love with Florida years before I moved here. A childhood friend of mine had vacationed in Miami and came home with stories about the beautiful beaches, palm trees, a rainbow of flowers, bright blue skies, huge white marshmallow clouds and water that went on forever.
To a Southern California beach kid, I think I was seven at the time, Florida sounded like paradise. I vowed then and there that someday I'd go to that exotic land.
Through my school age years I read what books I could find at the library and learned about crocodiles, sea turtles, dolphins, manatees and colorful fish. I was hooked. I was also surprised that the state didn't have any mountains. How could that be?
|The west side of Navarre Beach.|
As years passed I met more and more people who had either vacationed in Florida, lived there or intended to travel or move there. I kept that goal in mind as I went through college and started a family. Florida was out there, on the other side of the world it seemed, just waiting for me.
Sometime in my mid-twenties I was introduced to the wonderful Travis McGee books by John D. MacDonald. I raced through that series and knew that Florida was where I belonged.
Eventually, my husband, Ben, and I moved to Florida. By that time, his parents had retired to the Florida Panhandle and mine were working on the east coast, in Daytona Beach. So we also had the excuse of moving closer to family. It was also a great place to raise our daughter.
We started out in Pensacola, on the Florida Panhandle, just minutes away from the Gulf of Mexico and those beautiful beaches I'd been dreaming about all those many years. After a year we moved to Ormond Beach, which is a bedroom community right next to Daytona Beach. A couple years later we were back on the Panhandle, in Fort Walton Beach. The next year we were living on a bayou off Escambia Bay.
|The east side of Navarre Beach.|
The Keys and Key West are favorites, so is Sanibel Island. Orlando is exciting with Disney World, Epcot, MGM Grand and Universal Studios. The Everglades is filled with those alligators I'd read about as a child and every kind of bird you could imagine, my favorites being Great Blue Herons, Egrets and Osprey.
The best part of Florida is the beaches, every kind of beach you can imagine. The beaches of Miami and Fort Lauderdale are trendy. Sanibel beaches are wall to wall seashells. In Daytona Beach you can drive along the sand. In the Keys, the beaches are thin strips of sand with turquoise waters in every direction. The Panhandle beaches are sugar-white sands, sand dunes covered graced with gently waving sea-oats and the most beautiful turquoise and emerald waters you've ever seen.
|A view of Navarre Beach from the pier.|
Now there are high-rises built along the west side of the Navarre Beach Pier and untold numbers of huge beach houses. The west side of the pier has been left in its natural state with the exception of a scattering of picket fencing designed to protect the sand dunes.
My husband and I have lived in Florida off and on over the last thirty years. We moved away to Las Vegas for eleven years, but frequently vacationed back here and checked on our bayou house that was rented out to a succession of renters.
When my husband retired we moved back to our bayou house, which had to be renovated after renters tore up the house and hurricanes took out dozens of trees. Living on the bayou was never the same after Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Hurricane Dennis in 2005.
Our house was built on tall pilings, so it didn't flood. But most of the other houses around the bayou flooded out and many were never rebuilt. After a couple years we sold our house and moved away to the Texas Hill County. But like I said, Florida is a state of mind, and it didn't take us long to move right back. Plus, our daughter and grandkids are here, so we're back in Florida to while away the days.
|The Pier Bar at Navarre Beach.|
Our beach days are only now and then, for leisurely strolls along the beach or sitting under beach umbrellas and gazing out at that turquoise water. Florida is a place to dream about warm sun, tropical breezes and paradise.
I'll be doing a lot of Florida posts this month, so please check back for more photos of other Florida beaches, the Everglades, the Keys, Sanibel Island and even Orlando. This is a beautiful, exotic state and I hope to share it with you all.
For those who know I love to add lists of books to my blog posts, here's one I'm sure you'll enjoy. As I already mentioned, I fell deeper in love with Florida while reading John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee series. So here is a list of those wonderful books in order. All the series is now available in eBook format for those, like me, who love to read their books on a Kindle, Nook, iPad or other eReader.
|Floridians fishing on the Navarre Beach pier.|
The Deep Blue Good-By
Nightmare in Pink
A Purple Place for Dying
The Quick Red Fox
A Deadly Shade of Gold
Bright Orange for the Shroud
Darker than Amber
One Fearful Yellow Eye
Pale Gray for Guilt
The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper
Dress Her in Indigo
The Long Lavender Look
A Tan and Sandy Silence
The Scarlet Ruse
The Turquoise Lament
The Dreadful Lemon Sky
The Empty Copper Sea
The Green Ripper
Free Fall in Crimson
The Lonely Silver Rain
|Me on the pier with the beach high-rises in the background.|
I've read every single one of the Travis McGee books and highly recommend them all. I guarantee that you'll soon fall in love with Florida too.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my book, Bayou Blues and Other Sorrows, which is a collection of eight short stories and eight poems, many of which originated from the years when we lived on a Florida bayou.
BAYOU BLUES - Amazon/Kindle/US
BAYOU BLUES - Amazon/Kindle/UK
BAYOU BLUES - Barnes&Noble/Nook
BAYOU BLUES - Apple/iBookStore/itunes
Bayou Blues and Other Sorrows is also available at Sony, Kobo, Diesel and Smashwords.
Bayou Blues and Other Sorrows is a collection of short stories and poems touching on issues that all may face at one time or another, from lost love to life changing crossroads to moments of pure happiness. These are heartwarming stories you won't want to miss.
The short stories are:
"A Kiss is Just a Kiss" – People are not always who and what they appear to be. A kiss is not always just a kiss, it may have consequences.
"I Love You, Joe Montana" – This is a story about love renewed.
"Checking Out" – There are many crossroads in life. Check out? Or is life too beautiful to leave behind?
"The Night of the UFO" – Pure happiness can come at the oddest of moments. So how many Whiskey Sours do you need to see a UFO?
"Earthquakes" – Some people enter the world with a bang.
"Faded Love" – Faded love is better than no love at all.
"Harry's Garden" – How far will a scorned woman go to get even with her cheating husband?
"Old Dogs Need Love Too" – A story about love lost and love found.
The poems are: "Bayou Blues," "Cartwheels," "In a Café," "Sweet Lips of Time," "Barefoot," "Sunshine and Promises," "The Turtle," and "Tumbleweeds."
I hope you'll give Bayou Blues and Other Sorrows a try. These are heartfelt stories and poems which I believe you'll savor and enjoy.
As always, please feel free to add comments below. I love hearing from my readers. Also, feel free to add Florida books that you have written or your favorites from other authors. Be sure to check back from time to time for more Florida posts.