"The Ultimate Guide to the Great Southern Beach Trek"

(the vacation starts when you leave your house)

Jenny Gilliam: Beach Photographer Extraordinaire


Jenny Gilliam Photography – Serving PCB, 30-A and Destin (scroll down the page to see a sampling of her talent!)

Growing up, we stayed at the Sandpiper Beacon for years – way before MTV Spring Breakers discovered it.  Back then it was simply a family place – and there was no Tiki Bar out back, just a little Tiki Hut.  There was also a spattering of palm trees near the pool that mom had us (three kids) stand among to take pictures.  Later, as a grown woman and mother looking at those pictures, I realized the abstract measurements being made:  the composition of the trees, surrounding surf and buildings (or lack of compared to today), along with our height, ranging from my smaller (younger) brother and sister to my much taller tween physique.

And I was struck by how much those pictures meant to me (and I’m sure my parents)!

That was a moment in time (and such a sweet time), that was wholly ours, captured forever.  Not only that, but those images are still part of my instinctual thoughts when I think of the Florida of my youth – pure happiness!

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Southern Airways Express: Fly to the beach in less than 3 hours!

Ricky on his first flight to the beach - or anywhere for that matter!

Ricky on his first flight to the beach – or anywhere for that matter!

I’ve previously posted about the “fastest routes to the beach“, but the new flight from Olive Branch (our primary residence – a suburb of Memphis) to PCB trumps any shortcuts my husband has found: his fastest 6:45 drive time is a tortoise’s pace compared to the 2:15 flight from OB to PCB.

Yes, you read that correctly: 2 hours. 15 minutes. And you’re there.

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Best. Beach. Food. Period.

buddys sea food

There are few pleasures in life as simple and perfect as hitting the beach at 10 am and not leaving. Not leaving to cook, not leaving to wash clothes, not leaving to go out to eat. Not leaving even when the sun goes down.

While hitting all the seafood restaurants is one of the perks of being on vacation, eating ON the beach (thus ensuring you don’t have to miss a wave or sunset or favorite song or some random spontaneous conversation) is a real treat – and one that too many folks overlook.

I have to give credit to Stan for this one.  Getting me off the beach is a pretty difficult task. So one day, several years ago, my lovely husband (who loves the beach, but the fisherman in him also loves hitting the docks in the afternoon to see the local catch) took off for an hour or so and headed to the marina. What he brought back started a whole new tradition for us.

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Don’t Wanna Leave at Jeanne and Stan’s Beach

Jeanne and Stan's Beach at Pinnacle Port

Jeanne and Stan’s Beach at Pinnacle Port

As many of you know, we finally fulfilled a life long dream of owning our own little place on the beach. We are so thrilled to have our own little get away, fondly nicknamed “Don’t Wanna Leave!”

We’ve had so many people ask us if it’s available for rent – so we’ve decided to rent it out on a first-come-first-serve basis, but only for a limited number of weeks (after all, we plan on using it ourselves quite a bit).  We created this post to tell any potential renters about our little piece of heaven.

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Fastest Routes (but it’s NOT a RACE – or so I keep telling my husband, anyway)

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US_98.svgEveryone has their “fastest” directions.

Jane: “Jeanne, did you hear Mary is headed to the beach next week?”

Me: (whipping my head around, wondering if Mary has a secret route that will shave another 10 minutes off drive time) “Which way do you go? Do you do  55 to Jackson to 49 to Hattiesburg to 98 to Mobile and on up the beach? Or do you do old school 78 to Tupelo to 45 to 98? Or do you go through Alabama? If so, do you go through to Dothan and cut back or do you take 167 from Troy and did you know we found a REALLY cool shortcut through Montgomery and you can even stay on 65 all the way to Georgianna and get off at exit 114 and then cut back on 55 to 331? Wait, what beach are you going to again?”

Mary: (blank stare, thinking “who IS this person?”)

Ok, so maybe not everyone has this type of passion for the most direct route from anywhere in the southern world to the beach – but when you make the trip as often as we do, it becomes quite significant (plus my husband is convinced he must beat his best time, everytime). It’s self preservation on my part to constantly look for new roads and improved routes and share this knowledge with him so that he does not feel compelled to show me just how fast the camaro will actually get us there.

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