Blackpoll warblers take to the sky from their homes as far north as Alaska bound for South America, to nosh on an exotic spread of the Amazon's finest insects. Its one-way, nonstop journey there totals some 2,500 miles. Back to the same region they go, to the same nesting grounds, even to the same tree, year after year.
St. Louisans are known to complete similarly routine treks to Florida's panhandle specifically Destin and the surrounding area year after year. Though it's a journey that, at a mere 750 miles, when made by car with intermittent bathroom breaks, is decidedly less impressive. Yet no ornithologists we know can explain why St. Louisans flock here in droves. We even saw a Rams flag flying on the beach, as though we'd claimed this land in the name of our city's crappiest sports team.
We're staying outside of Destin in Seagrove Beach. Inside our third-floor oceanfront condo, the walls are painted a garish green, the color of poster board you'd buy to ensure your witty sign would be shown on SportsCenter. Plus, many rooms are accented in candy-apple red. The couple in the room next to us surprise! is from St. Louis. Gary lives in Soulard, and Carla grew up not three blocks from Drink of the Week HQ. They're getting married tomorrow, and when we ask where, they point at the sand.
Yesterday, we stopped a local in the liquor aisle at Publix and asked where we should have cocktails. Once her directions included "until it looks like you're gonna drive right into some dunes..." we were in. The Red Bar looks like it was decorated by drunken French pirates: It glows eerie red in the night, and inside at the bar, fat red Christmas bulbs cast a weird glow on French movie posters that overlap every inch of the sloped ceiling.
Stacy is slammed but somehow keeping up with the incoming cocktail orders, greeting the regulars and the tourists with equal élan. We ask her about Red Bar's specialty drinks and she comes back with a sample mojito. We like it enough, but we're looking for something more unique that we couldn't have gotten at nearby elbow poke-you-in-the-ribs-named places like Whale's Tale and Fudpucker's Beachside Bar & Grill.
So instead we settle on Absolut Stress, one of Stacy's trademark drinks, made with Absolut Vodka, Malibu Rum and cranberry and pineapple juices. Stacy pours with a heavy hand, but you wouldn't know it. The alcohol is mostly masked by the fruits' sweetness, but you get the idea that more than a couple will send you to the floor, betting your home on the Rams winning the Super Bowl. We like it, but we like the Red Bar more, and wish we weren't starting our two-day drive home so soon.
The next day we see Gary and Carla and give them a wedding present of leftover ice and bottled water, stuff that wouldn't fit in our cooler for the journey home. They thank us and promise to come visit the next time they're in the neighborhood. We say that it'd be great, but are doubtful it'll happen. Blackpoll warblers can find their way back to where they intend, but people rarely do.