After visiting Sandy and family, we headed north. Since we bombed out getting reservations in the Keys last March (we were a week late), we decided to check out the Gulf coast along the Panhandle this year. This is supposedly a less-visited area, but very nice. We managed to get reservations at two state parks, St. George Island, and Grayton Beach, near Destin.
Accordingly, Saturday morning we hit the Turnpike. The first night we had reservations at Bee’s, a campground north of Clermont that I had stayed in several years before. Surprisingly, the woman at the desk recognized me when I walked in. We were in a full-service site, so the first thing I did was dump the tanks.
Next day, Sunday, was a longer drive to St. George. North of the Orlando area, the country is less flat and more open. First we passed through cow country (where cowboys first appeared), and then through horse country. In horse country we had a scare. There were two horse trailers lined up in the left turn lane, and as we passed them a car ran the stop sign and shot across the road right in front of us at high speed.
We stopped for a late lunch at Carabelle Beach (we wanted to get back to the Gulf before stopping). I noted with interest that the trash cans at the beach are bear-proof. Not what you normally expect at the beach. Of course, we were not far from Tate’s Hell State Forest. We made St. George Island in reasonable time, and got settled in across from the bathrooms (which I had arranged last March) only to find that they were closed for repairs.
Later in the day, Jean came down with something that had her coughing hard and drained of energy. She spent a rough night Sunday; but Monday was a pleasant day, so we strolled down to the beach. St. George Island is a long, narrow barrier island. We were interested in it because one of my favorite authors, Robb White, had spent much time there before it was developed. We had just recently read his memories of it and wanted to see it for ourselves.
Monday we took a stroll down to the beach, spotting Great Blue Herons along the way (and at the beach).
The tide was out, revealing a wide stretch of sand of various hues and textures(wide because it is a spring tide). The area below the high tide line was shaped by the waves into an interesting topography of ridges, channels, and ripples.
Jean found several good shells, but was frustrated in her search for an unbroken Sand Dollar. Afterward we took naps and another short walk. In general a quiet, restful day.
Next day, Tuesday, we drove to the closest beach access and carried our chairs down to the beach. Not many people there; it was windy and cool. We saw very little bird life: a pelican diving briefly, a couple of laughing gulls, a ring-bill, and briefly, a lone sandpiper and a willet. We sat for half an hour or so, watching the tide come in and wash over the raised sand in front of us. The day became more cloudy, so we headed back to the van. Fog came in behind us as we left.
We went back to the mainland in search of the Laundromat indicated on the campground map. After three tries, we found it, hidden behind a car wash. While washing our clothes, another couple came in and clued us in on the vagaries of the machines. We had a lively conversation until they left.
Next we drove further along to Apalachicola. This is a nice-looking small fishing town. We had lunch and took a short drive down to the waterfront. There we spotted and old Thunderbird and Corvette, each towing a matching tear-drop trailer.
Finally got some basics at the Piggly Wiggly and back to base. Since lunch was late and large, we just had a few snacks for supper. Jean was warm so she had a window open by the sofa. While I was reading to her, a woman came up and told her that we were under a tornado watch until 3:00am. They had opened the construction fence around the bathroom, which we were to use as a shelter if needed.
Shortly later I stepped out and the sky was clear, but with some fast-moving clouds, There were three people at the bathroom, standing around and chatting. I lowered the sofa but didn’t make up the bed and we laid down fully dressed. The sky clouded over and the people left the bathroom. There were short thunderstorms with lots of lightning and heavy rain. At 3:00 I intended to make up the bed and turn in, but the weather radio said the watch was until 4:00, so we just covered with some blankets and slept fitfully. Jean sat in the chair several times because of coughing fits that were bad when she laid down.
Today, Wednesday, it is colder, cloudy, and windy, but the threat has moved on. We plan on mostly hunkering down and relaxing. We may walk down to the beach to see what has happened, and will probably take a nap or two. A pickup came in last night towing an Airstream trailer, and carrying two absolutely gorgeous strip-built kayaks. They make mine look positively shabby.
Tomorrow we are off to Grayton Beach and hopefully better weather.