Last week, April 24th - May 1st we went for a week long camping trip to Grayton Beach State Park, between Santa Rosa Beach and Seagrove Beach in the Florida Panhandle, aka the Emerald Coast. You can find a great video about the state park HERE. You will need to scroll down toward the bottom of the page to see the video, but the pictures are beautiful!
So, this is our home away from home that we take wherever we go! What you see is hubby checking out the ultra fancy (NOT!) breakfast station. We keep the coffee pot, toaster, etc. out on that table so we can do our own thing for breakfast. I have to say one of the really special parts of this trip was sitting outside drinking a large cup of coffee in the sunshine each morning. I'm not a huge coffee drinker - I love it, but I don't make it just for me - so I was surprised I enjoyed it so much this trip.
The blue bucket is where the water from the shower goes, and then we take the gray water to the dump station. We find that both of us can take a nice shower with less than 5 gallons of gray water. Pretty 'green', huh? The gray/bronze plastic bins are what we took food and stuff in, but while there we had to use the bins to keep outside stuff so scorpions couldn't get in them. Yep, scorpions. But they weren't the only critters we saw - oh no!
This is a view of the lake from the beach/bath house. They have nice picnic pavilions around. And the cool thing - I was standing at the beach house between the ocean and the lake! The state park is on Western Lake, second largest coastal dunes lake in the Florida panhandle.
On our drive down on Saturday we got to stop in Dothan, Alabama and pay a visit to a very dear friend (Hi Fay!) who I used to work AND go to church with before she deserted me and moved back to Alabama. But I still love her even though she did desert me! :o) I hadn't seen her in several years, so it was wonderful to spend a little time with her.
As we got closer to the beach, the weather got worse, and we ended up cutting our visit with Fay short because my Mama called from north GA saying her sister (my aunt) had called her and told her that Dothan was under a tornado watch and she knew we were stopping in Dothan. So we skeedaddled on south! As you can see by the picture above, the gulf waters were very rough. The waters of the Choctawhatchee Bay were also rough, and the winds were CRAZY! As we were just about to cross over the bridge across the bay, hubby and I both looked in the rear view mirrors at the same time and saw the canoe (which was strapped to the top of the camper) slide far right, and almost go off the camper! We were able to pull over and straighten the canoe and tighten the straps, but believe me, it was an experience!
Sunset on the beach. The wind was kicking up sand, so the pictures were blurry.
But we made it across the bay and on to the campground. We got everything set up, ran to Destin for a bite to eat and went back 'home' and collapsed. Oh, and by the way, the campground didn't have cable, so we had no TV for a week. And believe it or not, we really didn't miss it a bit!
Sunday morning we got up, walked on the beach, went to WalMart to pick up a few things and spent the rest of the day at the campground. Mid afternoon we were sitting next to the camper enjoying the breezes off the ocean, hubby snoozing in his reclining chair, and I was crocheting a dish cloth, when a brown thrush flew out from under our camper, under hubby's elevated feet, and landed a few feet away, looking back under the camper. I looked where the bird came from, and there, just under the edge of the camper near the 'breakfast station', was a snake. It wasn't large, only about 2 1/2 feet long, but it's head and tail were small and pointed, and it's middle about the size of a half dollar or larger. My first thoughts were a)I HATE SNAKES!!! b)pygmy rattlesnake. Hubby disagreed, and thought it was another kind of snake.
Anyway, in my book the only good snake is a DEAD snake, so it had to go! I told hubby to go get the rangers to get it out of there, but he wouldn't do it. We walked away from the camper, and the snake turned, went back under the camper and into the swampy/marshy area behind us, never to be seen again - thankfully! And a couple of hours later hubby was out riding his bike and ran into a ranger, and told him about the snake. The ranger confirmed my suspicious and said the snake most likely WAS a pygmy rattler. So there!
On Monday we drove west to the Florida/Alabama state line to visit the Florabama, a restaurant and bar that crosses the state lines, thus Flor Abama. But I forgot they had been destroyed in a hurricane a couple of years back. They are planning to rebuild, but right now it's a mess and they were recovering from the mullet toss the weekend before, so we just headed back and found somewhere else along the way for lunch. We walked the beach at sunset again. My favorite time of day on the beach!
Almost full moon just after the sun set.
On Tuesday we pretty much stayed close to home (our camper). We did take the canoe out on Western Lake, and paddled to the beach. Yes, there is one pont on the lake where a 40 - 50 foot stretch of beach is all that separates the lake and the Gulf of Mexico. It was gorgeous!!! And it was the only place I have ever seen where the state park rangers put cones out and allow people to bring their cars and trucks onto the beach and put them in the water right ON the beach. Too cool!
Oh, and we ran to the Publix a few miles away and got some things and I put together a one pot meal for dinner. Frozen Obrien potatoes, chunked ham, cheese, scallions, diced tomatoes - delicious. We did a lot of nothing folks! And it was wonderful to sleep, read, eat, craft, sleep, read, etc., etc., etc.!!!
On Wednesday we drove the 35 or so miles to Panama City Beach, just for old times sake. That was where we went on our first trip together in 1984 when we were dating. Some friends of hubby's had rented a condo - 3 girls and 2 guys - and I got to tag along. And that was the ONLY time until last week we ever went to PCB together. It was bike week (motorcycles) in PCB and so we didn't hang around long. On the way home we stopped at a place called Cocoons for lunch. Hubby got a BBQ Sandwich, but I got a salad sampler, and man was it GREAT!!! My favorite meal of the trip! I got chicken salad, marinated artichoke and tomato salad, greek pasta salad with feta and spinach, and marinated fresh mozzarella mini balls with grape tomatoes. It was just a wonderful meal - and my favorite type of meal, too.
The water closest to you is Western Lake, but the top edge, just above the beach where it meets the sky - that is the Gulf of Mexico.
Thursday we stayed close again, but hubby took his bike across 30-A to the bike trail that was supposed to be 4.5 miles long. I made him take his cell phone in case he got lost. Not long after he left I called him to ask where he had put my keys. A while after that he called me and said he thought he was lost, but was going to follow the wrong signs. MEN! I tried to get him NOT to turn and follow the orange signs, but he did anyway. A long while later he called again and said he was at the Point Washington State Forest, Eastern Lake trailhead. Fortunately I had seen that place as we drove by the day before, so I knew just where he was, and took the truck to pick up him and his bike. We guess he had probably been 12 - 15 miles instead of the anticipated 4 1/2!
Doesn't that look like snow? And yes, the sand there really is that white! And you can see the gulf just beyond the dune.
Friday we drove around a bit - up to Defuniak Springs, and around some small communities in the area, making a large loop. As we got almost to Panama City, the rains started. Now bear in mind, the radio weather guy said 'a few sprinkles on the beach and a little more rain inland'. If that is his idea of 'sprinkes', I really don't want to see a downpour! We had to pull off and wait for a long time for the rain to slack a bit, and watched many motorcyclists pull over to wait it out, too. It rained for about 11 to 12 hours straight, without stopping.
The house on the left was our favorite of the ones we saw on the lake at Grayton Beach village.
When we got home there was tons of water collecting in the awning and hubby had to keep using the broom to lift up the canopy so the water would run off. Finally I adjusted one of the canopy supports so it was shorter, and it took care of itself the rest of the night. On Saturday morning we started packing up and closing down the camper to come home. Thankfully it wasn't raining any more, but it might as well have been because it was so HUMID!
Lake/Beach/Ocean, in that order.
Hubby had to use the blue bucket to bail water out of the canoe, which had been under the bushes beside the camper. It had probably 50 - 75 gallons of water in it, just from that one day's rains.
Me and 'Red' the canoe.
The trip home was uneventful, although we did have to stop once and tighten up the straps holding the canoe on top of the camper.
Pelicans over the beach at Grayton Beach Village.
We have a trip to Savannah scheduled for October, but we loved this place so much that we may change and go back to Grayton Beach instead. We are just waiting to see what this oil spill does for the Florida beaches.
So there are the 'details' (Tara, Janean!) Overall it was a wonderful trip. Very relaxing, and isn't that what vacations are for after all? And if you are interested, Grayton Beach State Park also has cabins you can rent if you aren't into the camping thing. Thanks for taking this journey with me! Blessings, Becky