Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sledding in Destin, Florida

I did some things today I've never done before – mainly because we don't usually have ice storms here in Northwest Florida.

It started sleeting about 4pm on Tuesday afternoon and didn't stop until after 3am Wednesday morning. Since the temperature never got above 28 on Wednesday the ice never melted, turning Northwest Florida into a winter wonderland.

For my friends that live in parts north this is a common thing but the only frozen stuff we deal with here are our Daiquiris, Margaritas and Bushwackers.

Northwest Florida has shut down. EVERY bridge is closed – which has effectively has cut everyone off. If you're the barrier islands, all bridges are closed so you're stuck. If you're trying to go to the north end of any of the counties, you can't because of too many closed bridges, icy roads and trees down along the roads.

Interestate 10 is closed from the Florida-Alabama line all the way to the east coast. I'm guessing most of I10 is shut down all the way to Texas but I don't know for sure.

Destin has closed up shop as well. There is not a fast food place or gas station open. We rode around a little this afternoon and Walmart and a new restaurant in the Palms Plaza are the only places we saw that are open.

About midday on Wednesday we ventured out to find the Destin bridge covered with almost an inch of ice.

Obviously it had been closed to vehicles for a while but it wasn't closed to foot traffic – which meant sledding down the middle of the bridge.

That was one opportunity I could not pass up so we came back home to see what we could find to use as a sled.

We went back with a rubbermaid container and some trash bags and proceed to carefully make our way to the top of the bridge. Walking on ice is just as hard in real life as it looks in the movies. With the wind gusting up to 30 mph is was wild up there.

We skidded and slid and sledded for a while but the cold was so intense that we couldn't stay for long.

On our way back to the car I heard someone talking about people playing on Wildcat Mountain. Many years ago there was a giant sanddune that ran through the middle of Destin. At some point the land was sold and the sand was hauled away to make room for a neighborhood.

Today, right at the edge of the neighborhood, is a giant sanddune – all that's left of the “mountain” and it's probably the only dune around not protected by state law.

There used to be a geocache at the top so I've hiked up that hill and it is nothing but pure soft sand. Sand that froze pretty solid Tuesday night. Sand that quickly became Destin's very own sledding hill.

There wasn't a wind chill factor like there was on the bridge and the ice was thicker so while the bridge was a cool experience, the mountain was more fun.

What was really funny were the items used to slide on. There's not a big supply of snow toys around here so people had to improvise.

There were laundry baskets

Rubbermaid lids

Boogie Boards

Dog kennels

And of course – an ocean kayak.

I know all of the road and bridge closures are a real pain for some people but I am really enjoying this.

We don't have ice storms often but when we do we play!
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