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Christmas 2018 in Destin, FL

Updated: Aug 28, 2019

This year we decided to break from tradition and spend Christmas in Florida with the adventure pups and our new (as of September) T@G teardrop trailer. We are trying to camp as much as possible and the weather has not been cooperative so far. This was our first trip where it didn't rain, most of the time anyway. We have tried camping a total of three times so far. The first time we went to our friends' house for Labor day weekend and it poured. The second time was a five hour drive to Hot Springs, AR for my birthday and it poured almost the whole time. The third time we headed to Tyler State Park in Tyler, TX and took the bikes and it had poured recently so things were pretty wet again. The wind was also blowing at 35 mph while we were driving there and home. We were very excited to say the least that the weather was looking very good for this trip.

When this trip started, our reservations were at Fort Pickens campground. Because the website stated that if you will arrive after normal hours you will need to call ahead for the gate code, I called them while we were still driving and sure that we could not make it before the gate closed. The lady that answered the phone stated that we could still come there but if the government shutdown happened, everyone would need to leave the campground in the morning. Rather then panic, get mad, or turn around and go home; we decided to keep driving and start looking for other options just in case. I opened my RV Parky app and started looking for other campgrounds in the area that accepted dogs, were in our price range, and hopefully close to the beach since that is one of the big reasons for going there. I found three suitable places and saved them to my favorites and we continued on our way to Florida.

We arrived around 8:30 PM and used the code to access the gate. We found our site, in the dark, backed in and set up only what was necessary for the night. We put the dogs in the trailer, got ready for bed, and went to sleep. We made a plan that if either of us woke up in the night we would check the internet for news of the shutdown. I woke up at 3:30 AM and checked to see that it had in fact happened. I woke Dominic and let him know. We decided to wait till morning to try booking another site. We went back to sleep and got some much needed rest after the 16 hour drive.

When we woke up in the morning, we walked the dogs and had some coffee. Got ready for the day and headed to the ranger station to find out what was going to happen for sure. After meeting a few other concerned campers there and talking to them as the office wasn't open; we found out that no one else really knew what was happening. Finally a ranger came outside and told us that we did indeed have to leave the campground as soon as possible and prior to noon. Since we had anticipated this, I immediately called our first choice for a new campground. I got the owner on the phone and he stated that he had one site that stated that they were leaving early today and that if they still had that plan, he had one site open for us. It was a Christmas miracle!

We confirmed the open site and started packing up again. We got some breakfast and started the 60 mile drive to Destin. We arrived at Geronimo RV Resort in the early afternoon and met with the owner, I believe his name is Tom. We signed some papers, he showed us to our site, and helped us back in and we were able to talk for a while in the beautiful sunshine. We were able to set up camp in the daylight and without rain for the first time since buying our camper! It was glorious.

We unpacked the car and camper (our bed), set up our new 12' x 12' screendome tent behind the kitchen, and set up our Christmas decorations. We had one day to poke around the area and visit the beach then the next day would be Christmas Eve and we decided that we would open the presents that we brought with us and relax. Christmas day we had a video call with family and then slowly started packing up to leave in the morning.

On the 26th we woke up early and finished packing up the car and trailer. We stopped for breakfast and then hit the road. We planned to make the trip in two days rather than one since we were even farther away from home than when we arrived at Fort Pickens. I scoped out a campground about halfway home in Mississippi. Once we were almost to the campground though, we decided that it was too early to stop and Dominic was feeling ok to drive a lot more. We decided to try for home and started looking at the weather between us and home. We found that the storm we saw earlier was getting worse. We starting receiving messages from friends and family about a bad storm in our way. We had been checking the weather more frequently. After keeping an eye on it for another hour we decided that trying for home was not the best idea. We also found out that our friends' house was pretty close to our path home. They had been some of the people keeping us updated on the storm as our service was spotty in places. We got back in touch and settled on stopping at their house. It looked like the weather was going to cooperate for this plan since the rain that was currently upon our drive was going to have an intermission just in time for us to arrive and set up before a tornadic storm settled on that area.

We raced to the Smith's house, Subaca pulling the T@G as if it wasn't even there! We made it during a lull in the storm, set up quickly and headed inside to catch up. We got to spend a few hours with our good friends before heading to bed in the trailer. We left it attached to the car for extra stability but we put the stabilizer jacks and the front jack down to decrease the tongue weight on the hitch. We fell asleep until both of our phone starting screaming an emergency warning at us in unison. It was the tornado watch that we had feared. But, just like last time on this trip when something threatened our plan, we had a plan B. We each grabbed a dog in their bed and headed inside the house.

It was midnight and the rain was coming at us sideways. We are in a teardrop trailer which means that the entire inside of the trailer is a bed. Our shoes are outside and I only brought a pair of Chuck Taylors (AKA useless in the rain and hard to get on sneakers). We were running through inches of rain and I was barefoot, Dominic was in leather sandals which were not much better than being barefoot. When we got inside, we were soaked to the bone and freezing. Luckily, the puppies have fleece blankets which kept them dry and warm inside their beds. They were scared though so we zipped them up in our sweatshirts, their favorite place. We rested and watched the storm radar. After 1 AM the storm had passed and we decided to head back to bed. We got the adventure pups settled back in, changed our pants, and went back to sleep.

In the morning we got to go to breakfast and talk some more with Jeff, Darcy had to work, and then hit the road again. The rest of our trip home was uneventful thankfully. We had had enough adventure for one trip.

But, we immediately started looking forward to the next time that we could get away in our little trailer! ;)

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