Horseshoes and Hand Grenades

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that the family and I spent a few days in Destin, Florida last week. We stayed at the SanDestin Hilton which, if you followed my old MoreOrLess blog you may recall, I described several years ago as the skankiest Hilton. I am happy to report that the SanDestin Hilton underwent a $6.5 million upgrade recently and it is now a phenomenal facility.

I still didn’t like it.

In full disclosure, I’m a vacation snob. Our room was nice. The beds were extremely cozy and comfortable, and I liked having a sofa in the room so I didn’t feel like I was in bed, being lazy, when I was in the room. We kept snacks and drinks in the mini-fridge.  We had a view of the beach and the ocean – I finally saw porpoises playing in the surf, which I did not see in June. I could not have asked for more relative to the room.

When I’m on vacation, though, I like to relax. I don’t like lines, I don’t like crowds, I don’t like rushing from place to place to wait in lines with crowds. That’s where the “Resort” piece of the SanDestin Spa & Resort falls short for me.

If you want a chair beside the pool, you have to be willing to go to the pool deck at 7:30am and claim your spot by placing a towel on the chair – an activity I despise. In a relaxing atmosphere, a lounge chair isn’t something you have to race down the elevator at daybreak to claim. Alternatively, you do what we did and place our belongings on one of the claimed, but otherwise empty, chairs and go play in the pool with the kids. The downside to that is that whoever claimed the chair inevitably appears – and then negotiations begin.

Me: Do you really need all four chairs?

Claimer: Yes. My sons are at the beach but they might come up here.

Me: How about I just leave our things on this one chair and, IF your sons come back up before we leave, I’ll move our things.

Claimer: Hmmph.

It’s just a hassle – at least to me – and one that I prefer to avoid.

Additionally, I like to pay a price to stay somewhere and be done with the expenses related to the resort for the week. I don’t like to be charged for beach chairs & umbrellas. I don’t like to be charged for parking my car. I don’t like to be told that it’s $25 if I don’t turn in a beach towel. I don’t mind paying a few more dollars a night in the nightly rate to just have those things included.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a nice trip with the family and I had a good time. If it wasn’t for business, though, I wouldn’t stay there.

On to the horseshoes and hand grenades part of the post. Leah and the kids gave me a metal detector for Father’s Day this year. Admittedly, it’s an acquired taste, perhaps, but I’ve never NOT found money at the beach. I found just over a dollar in change and an OFFICIAL horseshoe last week. I also added to my collection of tent stakes. One day I’ll have a tent and those will come in handy. Anyway, it’s a lot of fun to me every time the detector signals something metallic. Every beep holds the possibility of finding something valuable. Most of the time, though, the beep means that I’ve found a bottle cap. Even some of those are interesting.

Sunday morning, I was out scanning the beach and this gentleman walked up to me, pointed at the metal detector and, in a Middle Eastern accent, asked “What is that?”  I explained that it was a metal detector, used for finding items buried under the sand.

“Oh, like bombs”, he said.

“NO, NO, NOT LIKE BOMBS. NO!”, I responded in shock and some desperation.

It occurs to me that searching for bombs on the beach, or wherever, is just common place to him.  Someone is always trying to blow someone else up with whatever crude or complex explosive they can find.

There is a world out there that, try as we might, we cannot understand. There are probably billions of people who would gladly – if it was their biggest problem of the day – walk barefoot, backwards, down 12 flights of stairs at 6:30 IN THE MORNING for the opportunity to claim a lounge chair beside the pool. They wouldn’t even write a blog post about it.

Have a great week, and thanks for stopping by.

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