August 28

Beautiful day to paddle into Destin. I got moving and was escorted by some dolphins along the way. A paddler who is down around the keys told me about a spot that I could camp that would set me up nice for tomorrow but it was a stealth spot. Meaning that I would need to be sneaky and setup after dark and get out early. It was my only real option. Plus it was under a bridge. I have been wanting to sleep under a bridge this whole trip to feel like how the world sees Alcoholics.  I did plenty of drinking under bridges but never slept there.  I planned on getting something to eat when I arrived in Destin.  This would help kill some time. When I got closer I looked up restaurants on the yelp app. I try to find local and unique spots to get the full experience of the local culture.  I saw a restaurant that was in the middle of the bay.  It said it was on Crab Island.  After looking into it I figured it was an error.  I found a cool restaurant that I could paddle up to on the other side of the pass.  I headed for it and was only a few miles away.  When I got closer I started seeing boats parked in the middle of the bay.  I kept paddling closer and closer and I saw more and more boats.  Music was pumping.  Come to find out, it is like party cove.  The water is only a foot or two deep and people just anchor out and drink.  There are floating restaurants and bars.  There were probably 75 boats out there and it was a Monday.  After talking with people I found out that it is insane on the weekend.  I can only imagine.  It is definitely a place that if I was drinking, I would have thrived.  And I probably would have gotten so drunk that I would have slept in my boat floating aimlessly around the bay.  I paddled up to one of the bars to get some food.  I tied off and grabbed a bar stool.  I bellyed up and ordered a coke.  I found out that they weren’t serving food today because of how slow it was.  I finished my coke and decided that it was probably a good idea if I got away from the bar.  I paddled back through the boats to another floating “restaurant.”  I really wanted to stay in my boat to order food but decided I would just hop out and walk up.  I asked the guy what he recommended.  Chili cheese dog it was.  He got it quickly and I stood in the water and ate it on the deck of my boat.  I got talking to a group of cousins that were vacationing from all over.  They asked several questions about my trip.  If I was drinking we would have definitely become friends quickly and hung out all day.  I decided I had killed enough time and headed out to get closer to where I was planning on stealth camping.  A few miles out I heard a boat coming up next to me.  It was the crew that I had seen back at crab island.  You could tell that they had enjoyed there time on the island.  They asked if I wanted a beer.  One girl kept yelling that they had plenty of Patron left.  I politely refused.  She kept offering the Patron.  Finally one of they guys I was talking to asked if I wanted a bottle of water.  I replied with my standard “is it cold?”  They said it was and threw me a few bottles.  I continued on my way and the sky started getting darker.  The wind picked up a little more and things got choppier.  I made it to the bridge where I was told I would find a spot to camp.  I didn’t really see a good spot.  Right next door to it was a marina and the other Lulu’s restaurant.  Normally I wouldn’t have stopped because it breaks my "no more than one restaurant per day” rule.  But since I was waiting for it to get dark I justified breaking that rule.  I had quite a difficult time getting to the dock with the waves picking up.  I tied off and headed to the resturant.  It was rather busy so I took a seat at the bar.  I ordered a coke and some shrimp tacos.  I took a sip of the coke and something seemed off.  My mind started racing.  Did she give me a whisky and coke instead?  I didn’t think she had but wasn’t sure.  I know if didn’t taste like just coke.  Every sip I took I tried to figure out what was different.  I am pretty sure that if it did have booze in it I could tell.  And if it did have booze in it then she definitely wasn’t getting a tip because it was the weakest mixed drink I had ever had.  When I bartended I poured them like I liked to drink them.  Lots of booze, little coke.  With my mind racing I thought it was because of the coke but I realized it was because of the weather.  Still having some PTSD from the Mobile Bay incident, the weather coming in was messing with my mind.  I looked over the radar and forecast.  It was the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey that put a major hurting on Texas.  I kept debating back and forth on what to do.  There was a small possible campsite a few miles further but I didn’t even know if I could make it to it with the way the water looked now.  I made the decision to just get a hotel for the night since the weather didn’t look good at all.  I went back next door to the marina to see if it was alright to leave my boat tied up.  The office was closed but the security guard said it shouldn’t be a problem, just call in the morning.  I started unloading my boat and booked my hotel and uber.  While I was waiting I got talking to the other security guard about my trip.  When I told her the reason for it she told me about how her family had lost members both physically and emotionally to this disease.  It was a great conversation.  At one point she asked to give me a hug and thanked me for what I was doing.  To be honest it helped me probably more hearing her story.  Also if it wasn’t for this storm forcing me off the water I would have never met this lady.  My original uber came across on the app as a truck.  I was so excited that I would be able to just throw my gear in bed and go.  But he canceled and now I got a compact car.  I was a little worried till it arrived.  I noticed he had a NC license plate.  He was probably the best uber driver in the world.  He had cold bottles of water and more candy then you could ever want. We got talking and he had lived in Tennessee as well.  He was just going through some life changes and moved down to the beach to regroup before figuring out his next steps.  Even though he isn’t paddling across the country, it was nice to talk with someone else who is in a transition stage.  I got to the hotel and stayed glued to the weather channel.