Finally on Vacation
Last Tuesday and Wednesday we drove 1300 miles to finally have some vacation time in Florida. The weather has been so dry and the risk of fire so high that we decided not to pick up the usual supply of fireworks as we passed through Tennessee. But we arrived early enough on the Fourth at Art and Cheryl’s to still see a great show on the beach. There had been enough rain in the last week, evidently, to allow some of the regulars to still put on a nice display, so the festivities commenced at 9:00 and this time I got to photograph them instead of setting them off myself.
I love being at the beach on the 4th. We used to go to the Cape, but Florida has become the tradition in the last several years. The water is much warmer and the sand softer, and the sun much hotter.
Where we stay is just west of Panama City. It’s far enough west to be out of the typical “spring break” strip and into the newer developments along Highway 30A. If you have ever visited my website, you may have seen the section on 30A. I have been shooting a series of images here for the last several years and always find it rich with imagery every time I come.
Perhaps it’s just being away from it all year that makes it so stimulating when I return. Perhaps it’s because it’s so different from home in upstate New York. Regardless, it’s an amazing mix of old Florida that is gradually being replaced by the new high end developments and the new Florida architecture that started several years ago with Seaside.
You might have seen Seaside featured in the Architecture and Home magazines after it was originally developed because it was such a fresh and radical departure from typical Florida design. You may have also seen it in the movie, The Truman Show, with Jim Carey. The movie was filmed in Seaside. In the past we’ve usually been involved with the 4th of July parade in Seaside, but this year arrived too late. But I love wandering about in Seaside because of its atmosphere.
A wealthy vacation area of Florida’s new gulf beach front that still has some of the old flavor lingering among the beautiful landscaped greens, brick streets and private neighborhoods, art galleries, and signature architecture.
Old Florida is disappearing here. The old single story concrete block houses with slab floors and linoleum tile, screen porches, window unit air conditioners, a block walk from the beach like the one I stayed in when I was twenty. These are being replaced by condominium complexes, tightly packed houses in private developments that rise three and four stories high on a small foot print, architect designed, and landscaped carefully with sprinkler systems and private beach access.
Old Florida looked something like this.
New Florida looks more like this.
Some new homes here reach the extreme. This place has been under construction as long as we’ve been coming here. I believe they are almost done.
Just down the road here is the new development of Alys Beach. Unlike Seaside with its pastel ocean colors and white trim, Alys Beach is all bright white stucco with amazing architectural details subtly placed and with incredible attention to fine craftsmanship. It’s still in its infancy as far as developments here go, but promises to be a stunning visual experience as it grows with great lines, light and shadow, and intense accents.
What is consistent here are the beautiful beaches. They vary from year to year with the weather and storms, but nature has a way of healing its wounds and they are sun washed and white and beautiful and are a place where I can lay my body and close my eyes and lose the world. A slice of heaven at 92 degrees. I believe the water’s edge touches a primitive place in our being similar to what we feel when sitting around a burning fire at night.
The Gulf coast here is a jewel. Beaches comparable to the best in the world. I thank God and Nature for this place. I thank Art and Cheryl for so generously sharing it with us. I hate to leave here and count the days until I can return.
All images are copyright © George Cannon / All rights reserved.