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Our recent trip to Florida is now almost a distant memory.

My husband and I spent four days on a beautiful beach a couple of weeks ago to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary.

I tried to soak up the sights and sounds and commit them to memory so that on these gray days, I could summon that summer feeling.

It’s not really working.

If it weren’t for the notes I took about the trip, I might think it was a dream.

We started going to Destin, our beach of choice, when I was pregnant with our 28-year-0ld son. I’d take pictures — on film — and get them developed while I was still in Florida. Because I am Type A, I’d often fill a photo album as I rode 11 hours in the car on the way home.

Many years ago, I started taking notes at the end of each day. It’s amazing what you forget.

My notes mostly revolve around the food we eat and the people we meet.

I got my notebook out from this trip and refreshed my memory about some of our experiences.

The people included a little gray-haired lady in the Starbucks we stopped at in Spanish Fort,

Alabama (one of my 14 bathroom stops), who was taking forever to buy flavored syrup and a bag of coffee beans. She wanted to know the origin of the beans, the ingredients in the syrup and was oblivious to the line forming behind her. Employees were coming out of the woodwork to take orders, bless their hearts.

Two of the most memorable characters we met were at a shoe store in an open-air mall. They were 50-something-year-old brothers, and somehow we got on the subject of young people. The brothers ranted about their young employees’ addiction to cellphones and lack of social skills and world knowledge, and we commiserated.

When we left, one brother said my husband and I “made their night.”

There are always interesting characters on the beach. One couple meticulously decorated their tent each day. They raised two full-size LSU flags and an American flag, and hung a small “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere” flag on front of the tent. Every day, the man stuck four wooden pink flamingos in the sand in front of the tent. The couple drank wine, and the man often stepped out to admire his setup.

Every time we go, I see a cute little family. One couple, who were there celebrating their second wedding anniversary, had an adorable toddling 11-month-old named Charlie. I asked how much she weighed. She was the same size as our 5 1/2-month-old granddaughter.

Tattoos are more prevalent than ever. Sometimes I surreptitiously take photos of people’s unusual tattoos.

Our wonderful waiter at one of our favorite restaurants had tattoos covering his calves. One was of Jesus; the other was Mary. The waiter also shared a story with us about how drunk he got on Mai Tais the first time he tried them.

The food in Florida was amazing, as usual. Shrimp and grits and pecan-encrusted grouper just taste better on the beach.

Pretty much everything is better on a beach.

We are planning an extended-family trip to Florida in June. I just have to hang onto my memories for eight more months until I can make some more.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or

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