Before traveling to the Gulf in Northern Florida, I had visions of spending some time in the water and possibly even snorkeling if it was warm enough. During the few weeks we were in the area, I never saw anyone swimming. Even though it was Florida, it was still winter here in late January and early February. Most people I saw walking along the beach were wearing jackets and long pants. In the picture above, I am at Henderson Beach State Park in the Destin area.
Mark and I found it interesting that the beaches along the Gulf always have a flag to let visitors know the status of the water. There are four types – purple warns of potentially dangerous marine life; green is generally safe to swim; yellow means the ocean is rough, use caution and red is the most hazardous with potential high surf or dangerous currents. In the photo above, Mark encountered a red flag at Henderson.
We visited Miramar Beach near Panama City on a cloudy and cold day. I was disappointed at first that there would not be a colorful sunset, but actually I liked the cloud reflection on the sand and interesting lighting. It was a day of beautiful grey clouds and I no longer missed having a sunset. As I wandered down the beach, I met a group of “snow birds” that were glad to be in Northern Florida’s chill. They had just arrived from their home in Ohio where the day’s high was 20 degrees. Winter really is a matter of perspective.
At Miramar Beach I saw a sailboat stuck in the sand next to the surf. I did some research and read that “Phantom of the Aqua” belonged to a Florida man who in October 2017 was attempting to sail to the Virgin Islands to assist residents after Hurricane Irma. He got stuck in Hurricane Nate, abandoned the boat and was rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter. He thought the boat would be destroyed in the storm and was surprised to learn several weeks later it washed ashore. When we were there in late January, the boat had still not been picked up even though news articles written in October and November 2017 quoted the owner as making plans to get it off the beach. I just read a follow up article that in mid February the boat was finally salvaged with the help of an excavator and a tug boat. When the boat was pulled out to sea crowds on the beach cheered and the song, “She’s Gone” by Hall and Oates was played. In four months on the beach, the boat had become a celebrity to locals and visitors and people were sad to see her go. The original owner was unable to get the boat out and ownership changed a few times before she was back on the water.
One evening Panama City beach pier afforded us a lovely sunset. We arrived to the beach just in time to see the sun go down behind the pier. It made for a great photo op.
I wanted to share some pictures from our RV park called “Live Oak Landing.” It was located about a 20 minute drive north from the nearest Gulf beaches between the towns of Destin and Panama City. We stayed here for two weeks and this was one of my favorite parks on our trip – a lovely, quiet, tree filled park in the country with a scenic river next to the RV sites. The river system, called “Choctawhatchee” – (wow, that is a mouthful) was my favorite part of the park and a great place to hang out. The river’s course seemed a little mysterious to me as we never saw it outside the park and there were no nearby parks where we could see the river flow. Our park had a small pontoon boat that could be rented and I thought it would be interesting to explore this swampy river and see where it went.
Mark seemed interested to give the boat a try, but changed his mind when he stepped on it and was sure that it would easily tip over. It is hard to change the mind of someone who is not a water or boat person, so the river’s course remained unknown. And so I close with an evening picture along the river.
Thanks for reading! In my next blog more exploring in South Carolina.