Recently I mentioned writing about more current locations and from time to time interspersing posts from earlier traveling as well. In this post I wanted to talk about some of our exploration along the Gulf of Mexico in Northern Florida, also known as the “Panhandle.” Although our RV site was not located near the ocean, we had a fairly easy drive of about 20-30 minutes to the beach towns. Before getting to Florida, what I was probably looking forward to the most was seeing the beautiful turquoise Gulf. In fact, the Florida Panhandle is known as the “Emerald Coast.”
Like California, Florida has many state parks – about 171 in total. I really enjoy visiting the state parks in California and wanted to see some in Florida as well. Luckily, there are half a dozen or so parks along the Emerald Coast. Our favorite park to visit was St. Andrew’s near Panama City which we visited twice. It was here I first got to see the turquoise water up close when I walked out on the pier. I think I exclaimed in joy at the color around me! In the picture below, Mark looks for dolphins which we saw swimming near the pier.
The beaches on the Gulf are known to have the most beautiful white sand. I spent some time here gathering sea shells and enjoying the bird life. The birds, including Ruddy Turnstones and Willets were so calm they even walked close by me as if I wasn’t there.
The dunes in this park and in many of the coastal state parks in Florida really add to the beauty of the beaches. The sea oats pictured below are an important part of conserving the dunes as they stabilize, increase dune growth and provide a habitat for birds and animals. These grasses are protected with no trampling or picking allowed.
After hanging out on the beaches for awhile, we visited the rest of the park. There are a few different trails for walking and hopefully seeing wildlife. We checked out Gator Lake with the heron rookery and nearby forest.
I loved walking among the coastal scrub with twisted, dwarf trees and palmettos. Deer can be spotted here like the one I found below.
Thanks for checking in! Next post I plan to talk about a Civil War era fort we visited in Georgia.