I am a Floridian. I grew up near St. Augustine, and despite my family moving west to Louisiana and Texas during my teens, I still consider Florida my home state. Before moving to NC on January 1, 2000, my wife and I lived in Florida after I convinced her to leave NJ following 34" of snow in 24 hours during The Blizzard of 96. We were married in Florida and I finished college there (UNF). Our daughters were born here in Charlotte, but between Disney and the beaches, we've sort of adopted Florida as our family's second home. We love the estuaries, the wildlife and the peace and humility that comes from spending time next to the ocean. This year for Spring break we took our daughters to the panhandle of Florida. We stayed at a resort near Destin, but spent our days frolicking in the sand of Grayton Beach. I've been to a few beaches in the world, and while the water in the Bahamas is my favorite, the beach in Grayton is even better than in Maui.
Which brings me to the oil spill. Sure, no one knows what might come of this disaster, so it's premature to totally freak out. Raw crude spilling openly into an already fragile ecosystem is not a good thing though. And while you can argue that the Gulf of Mexico is resilient as hell, that doesn't change the fact. The idea of oil coming ashore on the beaches here is a real possibility – which would devastate this little stretch of sand tucked in the backwoods of Florida's panhandle. This is my home state. I'm proud that no oil rigs live off of its shores. And I'm hopeful that this current disaster steers clear of them. But mostly, I'm grateful that we had the chance to spend time on the beaches of the Emerald Coast. They really are a national treasure.