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Journal

Our 30A is an awesome blog.

Geaux Down Threaux Down

Joe Weaver

It was Mardi Gras weekend five years ago that a good friend and I decided to pack up and get out of the cold Nashville weather for a few days. We found a great rate on a studio at Gulf Place and booked it one month in advance. We had no itinerary, just looking forward to a quick winter break.

Little did we know how much fun the South Walton area can be late February. It was too cold to play in the Gulf or even sit by the water for longer than an hour. It forced us to seek out new venues, catch live music and explore the new haunts we'd otherwise be missing on our larger family trip. I didn't have to visit Watercolor Publix daily or plan every meal for 7 days. It was truly a new experience.

We made many new friendships with the locals, bouncing around from Red Bar to Marie's Bistro and all across 30A east to west. We settled at the Naked Grape (now La Playa) during a Gulf Place festival on Saturday; laughing, telling life stories... without a care in the world. We knew that day, this needs to become a yearly tradition. There is little to no traffic, no wait to be seated to eat; just snowbirds and locals.
 

Since that year, we have noticed more and more traffic, but nothing like the summer. I think more folks have discovered our little late February secret and are taking advantage of the easier times down south before spring break hits. The rates are much better and if you hit the right weekend, the temps are in the 70's and the sun feels incredible.

 

That weekend trip has become a winter staple in our schedules and we continue to tell new stories standing outside of Red Bar and making new friendships every year. We are calling it the Geaux Down Threaux Down and we encourage anyone and everyone to join us late February on this ongoing, incredible adventure.

Your hat is wrong.

Joe Weaver

I hear it all the time. "Your hat is incorrect. That's not right. I don't understand." Sometimes it's just a blank, confused stare until I get a chance to explain the idea that it's a home/away concept, then it seems to make sense. Not always though (some will never get it).

For some, there's no explanation needed, simply "where can I get that? Please make an Ohio, Alabama, Indiana, Mississippi, Louisiana version!" (in due time folks).

To us it's simple... love where you live, love where you play. Millions of people plan their year around that one or two weeks they spend staring at the emerald water and soaking up the Florida sun, eating fresh seafood from their favorite restaurants or sipping cocktails on their long-awaited patio(s).

To folks in Kentucky, Texas, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas and beyond, this is THEIR Gulf. No disrespect to Mexico, but we plan for a long time to return back to this magical place, season after season, and count the days. Mexico... it is your Gulf (proper), but when we finally get our turn to visit, it's ours!

That being said, it's VERY important you treat it like your own home. After all, the Gulf is the South's back yard, so clean up your trash, chair and toys when you leave and keep it as beautiful as you (hopefully) found it, so others who have longed for this journey can enjoy it as well... as you would your own home. Fill in your holes so sea turtles can nest safely and knock down obstructions such as forts, sandcastles or whatever.

Have fun, be responsible and be a good ambassador for your home state. Safe travels to you and yours, always.

30A via Arkansas, Part 1

Joe Weaver

When we first had thoughts about the "Gulf of" tees, there were some definite states that came to mind. You see the license plates on every other car along South Walton spring/summer – Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana... but one post made us certain that Arkansas is a strong 30A state.

I stumbled across a photo from @carolinacole3 on Instagram while working on a post from another Arkansas friend of ours (spoiler: future post) and asked if she'd be willing to contribute to a post. Luckily, she accepted and is excited to share her 30A vision from an Arkansas point-of-view:

I am from the second largest city in Arkansas, Fort Smith. Fort Smith is a town that borders Oklahoma.  It is known for being the gateway to the Old Wild West. A lot of famous outlaws have passed through our town. The movie True Grit was filmed about Fort Smith and filmed around our area. Fort Smith seems to move in slow motion; equally a good and a bad thing.  It has been a great town to grow up in. A town where everyone knows each other; also a good and bad thing. For me, as a photographer, Fort Smith provides an abundance of old buildings and beautiful golden fields to photograph. My town still reflects the spirit of the wild west, in its history, landscape and its people.

My parents used to live in Nashville, Tennessee. They started coming to the beach before I was born. And we have been going there every summer since. I am so blessed to have grown up knowing these beautiful white beaches.

I visit every summer and now for the past 3 years have been going for our family Christmas trip. We usually try to remain close to Seaside because we love the community feeling. We are a big tennis playing family and love riding bikes to the shops and restaurants.

30A, to me, is the most magnificent example of the laid back beach life. As soon as we cross the Bay Bridge, we can smell the salt in the air telling us we are almost there. The white sands make this area unlike any other beach in the United States. The pace is slow and the vibe is rich with a calm relaxed feel as people are walking and biking without a care in the world. The homes are cottagey and decorated with just the right amount of sand on the casual wood floors. The colors seem to be more important here, like an artist’s palette with smudged pastel pinks, foggy to celestial blues, vibrant oranges and every shade of green. You know you are somewhere special when you see the white picket fences, the brick walkways and beautifully designed beach pavilions. Finally, when you set foot on the white sandy beaches, it is absolutely breathtaking. Everything at the beach is more poignant: the music, the laughter, the cerulean sky, the glimmering water, the salty air, the colors, the vibe. As a photographer, it is my kind of place.

Feel free to see more of Carolina's work at carolinacoleman.com and follow her on Instagram @Carolinacole3