In January of 1980 we landed in Sowal. Driving from northern Illinois through the harsh winter weather, we kids stepped out of the Uhaul and looked around bewildered. “Where the heck are we?” South Walton was like the set of Tarzan–wild and lush! We thought….there is no way this is our destination! I remember the first evening, in a trailer down San Juan Avenue in Seagrove, my mom asked me to run out to the car to retrieve her purse. I thought to myself “…. It’s dark….I know what’s in these woods! I know I’ll be bitten by a rattle snake, attacked by an alligator and ambushed by a black panther in one fell swoop. They’ll drag me to the gulf where a shark will finish the job.” I made it back inside with the purse however. I recall thinking…” Ok…that was a good start!”
The days and years that unfolded from there turned out to be the life of lifes… and Sowal quickly became a home of homes!! We surfed, played, rode the bus 20 miles to school (K-12 Freeport), played and surfed. Did I mention we surfed? Looking back it was truly living the life of Riley…albeit Redneck Riley. We didn’t have money. We didn’t have glamorous things. What we had was literal paradise at our toe and fingertips!
Fast forwarding to today I am humbled by the thought of the blessing it’s been to have been raised in such an incredible place. I am overjoyed by the thought that THAT paradise is still here. Driving along 30A, seeing the gulf, passing through our protected forests, watching conscientious developments, seeing happy and healthy people everywhere…WOW! Just the other day I was doing just that…driving along… I thought to myself, “Yup, my parents nailed it!!” While I love Chicago and the northern heartland, i must contend that nothing compares to life on 30A–then and now.