Monthly Archives: November 2016

Nov 8, 2016 Three State Park in the FL Panhandle

We have spent most of November visiting three lovely state beach parks in the Florida Panhandle.  The first state park was Henderson Beach State Park in Destin.  Destin is a popular beach resort with traffic, box stores and many restaurants.  Directly across the street from the state park entrance was a Walmart Supercenter as well as many restaurants and stores.   We did not hear any traffic noise but what we did hear early each morning was the sound of construction equipment from a new hotel being built at the end of the park.  20161107_110435We had a very nice large private campsite a short distance from the beach.  It is easy to see why the Panhandle beaches are so popular with the white sugary sand and miles and miles of beautiful beach.  The beach in the park was sparsely populated and there were rip current warning flags flying while we were there.20161107_16295920161113_14174320161113_14174920161113_14180420161113_144029
While at Henderson Beach State Park we met Bill’s cousin June and her husband Randy for dinner in Destin.  You may remember us visiting June and Randy at their home in Niceville and enjoying the wonderful meals June prepared.  June and Randy invited their friends Wilhelm and Margrit, who are visiting Destin from Germany, to join us for dinner.  We also stayed up until 3:00 AM watching the election results!trump win cnnTrump
Next we spent a week at Grayton Beach State Park in Santa Rosa Beach. What a difference from Henderson! This lovely state park is isolated with not a restaurant, hotel or store in sight. We had a nice campsite with full hookups but the campsite itself was not as private as the one at Henderson. The beach was close by and while it had the beautiful sugary white sand, we noticed quite a few sand flies. While at Grayton we once again met June, Randy, Wilhelm and Margrit for another great dinner with a gorgeous sunset.20161115_16332120161115_164042
Our last Panhandle state park was St George Island State Park on one of the Gulf Coast barrier islands. This part of Florida is known as the Forgotten Coast which is unfortunate because it’s a beautiful part of Florida. St George Island is located between Apalachicola Bay and the Gulf of Mexico and is accessed by crossing a four mile long bridge. 20161121_17162720161123_155327The park has nine miles of secluded beach and I am sure many who visit the park hope it remains forgotten so that it never loses its charm and pristine beaches. We enjoyed our week on the island, walking on the quiet beach and geocaching around the island. The state park is located at the end of St George Island and the island itself has a small market, a few local restaurants and stores, and does not even have a post office. 20161119_14093720161119_14103320161119_14135120161119_14140020161119_14153320161119_14091920161119_145055This area is known for fresh oysters and we drove back across the bridge to Apalachicola to celebrate Bill’s birthday with a dinner at a seafood restaurant where he had oysters on the half shell. He said they really tasted fresh. 90% of Florida’s oyster crop (and 10% of the country’s oyster crop) is cultivated in Apalachicola where there are 7,000 acres of oyster beds.
I don’t often rant about something, but here goes. On our third day in the park a family arrived directly across from us. They had five children of various ages and two dogs. One dog was a basset hound which barked a lot, beginning each morning around 8:00. A basset hound bark is hard to ignore. The children ran up and down the narrow road screaming and squealing. I don’t understand why people pay to visit a park with a beautiful beach and sit in their campsite with their bored children screaming and their dogs barking. They stayed three nights and we rejoiced when they left. The next day a family arrived with a little white dog. They left the dog alone with a window cranked open for ventilation. We arrived back home from the beach and heard the most pitiful wailing. The poor frightened traumatized dog had his head out the small window and was struggling to get out. He appeared too afraid to jump down or could not get his body free to get out. Bill went over to try to comfort him and calm him down but that only made him bark instead of wail. The family arrived back home to our relief. This state park has a rule of no dogs on the beach. The next day they left again, leaving the windows closed and the AC on, but we could still hear the dog wailing inside. This folks, is the reason we do not have pets!! We want to be a good shepherd of animals at all times.
We are currently at a city park in the tiny town of Sopchoppy, about 30 miles south of Tallahassee. We are waiting for an appointment to have our major slide repaired on Dec 5th. I could do another rant about how long the wait is at all RV shops to have work done, but I guess one rant per blog is enough.
The good news is we finally had significant rain last night and we have friends visiting tomorrow. We first met Bob and Sharon in Feb 2014 when we traveled to Mexico with them in an Escapees Mexican Connection RV caravan. We have stayed in touch but our travel paths have not crossed since Mexico. They have been RVing in Florida and are passing through this area headed back west. They are going to stop here and visit with us for four days. We are really looking forward to seeing them. They are also full time RVers and we have many adventures to share and hear about.

Nov 5, 2016 Conecuh National Forest, ALA

On Oct 24th we left Stone Mountain and headed to Cartersville, Georgia (way northwest of Atlanta) so we could visit Bill’s sister-in-law, niece and her husband and children in nearby Acworth. 20161025_200707It was a nice campground except the campsites were 300 yards from an active train track. Trains ran frequently day and night and never failed to blow their horns. For that reason we shortened our stay from three nights to two. One day we drove over to Rome so Bill could do some genealogy research at the public library. The lady who could have been the most assistance was out due to the death of her husband so the research Bill did was not very fruitful. Rome is named for Rome, Italy. Last spring when we were in Italy we saw the famous statue of the Capitoline wolf with Romulus and Remus brothers feeding like baby wolves. Rome, Georgia has a likeness of the statue in front of their City Hall.20161025_110415
After leaving Cartersville on Oct 26th we spent a delightful four days at a Corps of Engineer park in West Point, Georgia (north of Columbus Georgia). It was a struggle to get satellite tv but Bill worked his magic and we settled into a great site with a view of West Point Lake through the trees. After a busy several weeks of visiting family and friends and sightseeing, it was great to just relax in the beautiful, peaceful setting.
Our next stop was supposed to be a privately owned campground in Hope Hull, Alabama south of Montgomery. We pulled into the campground in the early afternoon of Sunday, October 30 and knew we would not be staying. The campground sat right next to the interstate with a view of the cars whizzing by. We knew we would never be able to sleep and there was no good reason to stay in the area. Bill quickly got online and with no other decent campgrounds in the area, he found a national forest with campsites about an hour and a half toward our route to Florida. We didn’t know what to expect from this national forest campground with electric and water hookups, but we had no other choice and nothing to lose. We can pretty much deal with anything for one night as long as we feel safe.
We pulled into the Open Pond Recreation Area in the Conecuh National Forest in southern Alabama, about fifteen miles from the Alabama/Florida line. We immediately fell in love with this beautiful campground, large campsites and a view of a lake. With Bill’s America the Beautiful senior national park pass, the nightly camping fee was a whopping $8.00. Best of all the campground was quiet and peaceful with a beautiful view. After one night we canceled our reservation in Niceville, Florida and decided to stay here seven nights instead of three.20161103_16190820161103_161902
On Monday we drove to Niceville to see our dear friends June and Randy. June is a great cook and we had a delicious dinner and lovely visit with them. On Friday we returned to Niceville to have dinner once again with June, Randy, their son Chris and grandson Preston. June fixed another amazing dinner and we played a game of dominoes.20161104_211127
We left their house around 9:00 P.M. for the hour and a half drive home. Most of the drive home was through wooded areas. We saw deer along the way with their eyes glowing in the headlights. Near the Florida/Alabama line a car going in the opposite direction flashed his lights at us. The car in front of us slowed down and we could see at least two deer in the road in front of us. The deer moved to the side of the road and the car went by. Just as we passed the deer, one of them decided to run across the road in front of us and we hit it. Bill stopped the car and put on the emergency flashers and got out to check. It was pitch black dark, not a light in sight. He didn’t see the deer and he did not see any damage to the car so we continued home, both shaken and nervous about the rest of the trip. We finally made it home and were very grateful the deer incident wasn’t worse. Bill checked the car the next morning and there is minor damage to the right front fender.
Sunday, Nov 6th we head to a series of Florida Panhandle beach campgrounds on the Gulf of Mexico for much of November. We are really looking forward to being in our home state and near the water again.