Thursday, March 15, 2012

Florida's Forgotten Coast

2012 Mar 14

We are on our way out of Florida. We seem to have slowed down into super slow motion, but we are closer to the Alabama border than at any time since we began this adventure.

We had reservations in March at two Florida State Parks, after our stay at HoHum RV  in Carrabelle, Florida. First we stayed at St George State Park, on St George Island. After which we moved to Big Lagoon State Park, near Pensacola.

 At HoHum RV Park, Carravelle FL
HoHum was a small private RV park, with a number of sites available directly on the Gulf. Because of the local geography, while at HoHum, we had sunrises over the Gulf, instead of the sunsets we experienced while at Sunset Isle at Cedar Key. HoHum was pleasant, although the weather was not. We happened to be there during a damp, foggy period, with only sporadic and brief periods of sunshine. But, in spite of that small drawback, we liked it there. It's the kind of place you go when you want to decompress, unwind, read, write, or just veg out. There is a grocery store in the town, about 5 miles away, as well as a few restaurants, but generally speaking there is little to do in the immediate area. Although, there is the Camp Gordon Johnston WWII Museum and the Carrabelle History Museum, both located in Carrabelle. HoHum was a nice rejuvenation spot for us. We walked along the beach with Greyla and out onto the pier. We watched the dolphins, along with the ducks, pelicans, egrets, terns, gulls and ibis. 

Crooked River Light

After leaving Carrabelle, we headed west toward Eastpoint, Florida on 98. We were on our way to a barrier island named St George. Along the way we passed the Crooked River Lighthouse, so we had to stop. I am nuts about lighthouses. Have been since I was about 8 and saw the movie "Captain January". But I digress.

We arrived on St George Island on the final day of their annual three day chili cook-off. The crowds were insane and there was no parking, especially for a 30 foot long motor home in the center of the Island where all the chili action was happening. So, we decided to head directly to the other end of the Island where the state park is located and leave the pictures of St George Island Lighthouse for another time.

The state park turned out to be wonderful! The campsites were rather typical, but the trails were great! The inclement weather, however, seemed to be following us. Late on the afternoon of our arrival, one of the camp hosts came by to tell us to batten down the hatches, as extremely high winds and driving rain were forecast for that night. We managed to get a walk in along what I would call a maritime first trail before the rain began. The wind and rain were dramatic throughout the night. I felt very sorry for the couple of tenters we had seen earlier, on our walk. There is definitely something good to be said for being warm and dry in your comfy bed as the wind and rain whip about the outside of our fiberglass cocoon. 

Northern Parula
The following morning was fabulous! Sunny, breezy, and just right, as to temperature. Greyla and I went for a two mile hike through the maritime forest, leaving only our footprints behind. It was lovely. While we were having our coffee, after our return, there was a thud on the dinette window. A beautiful little bird had flown into it! Luckily he was just stunned. I picked him up, soothed him and let him perch on my finger until he seemed to come to. Then I placed him on the limb of a shrub next to our site and took his picture. He was so stunning! When I attempted to identify him, a thought he looked liked a Northern Parula, but the range seemed wrong. Turns out that was exactly what he was. the Park Ranger said that at their time of the year they often get "strangers" passing through from the tropics on their way back north. We would've stayed longer on St George if we didn't already have reservations further down the panhandle. 

The day we left, we stopped at the beach for a final look, since it was temperate enough for leaving Greyla in the motor home. (No dogs on the beach. Mostly because of nesting habitat of birds and also because of turtles.)  The beaches of St George Island are some of Raymond's favorites. While I like them, I am still partial to the northern beaches of Currituck County, NC. Raymond thinks the St George beaches are cleaner. Both are wide and beautiful. The sidewalks on the approach to the beach were interesting. They had the impressions of seashells, starfish, and seahorses, embedded in the concrete. It was very cool. 

St George Lighthouse

As we left the Island, we stopped to take pictures of the Lighthouse. St George Island State Park is definitely on the short list of places to revisit.

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