The time has come to leave the heat and humidity of south Florida and start heading further up the Gulf Coast into the Panhandle of North Florida. Here we hope to find it a little cooler with clearer air, but hopefully not too much cooler!
On the 12th we started the almost 10 hour drive to get us into northwest Florida. This could be done in a day, but why rush? So, we decided to do our first “boondocking” adventure. Well, we have boondocked before thanks to Shelley & Rob, Lynn & Julie and Phil & Alex but in those cases we knew our hosts very well. We have joined a website called Boondockers Welcome, it is a site where fellow RVer’s list their properties for people to come and stay, for FREE! They list what size of unit they can accommodate as well as any amenities they offer. So, we looked at the map and found one just outside of Old Town, Florida. It is situated on the Suwannee River in one of the poorer regions of Florida. It also was at our half way point of our journey, so we contacted them and we were happy to hear they had a spot available. On our way to Butch and Judy’s place we stopped at the grand daddy of all Camping World’s in Tampa Bay. After some conversation with three older RVer’s in a big new motorhome we continued on our way to Old Town. Arriving at 5 pm just like
planned, we were invited to join Butch for dinner at a local pub on their weekly “night out” with Judy’s brother and his wife. Judy could not join us as she had a book club meeting but after she came home we sat and chatted with them for an hour before turning in. The setting with the moon coming up over the Suwannee and the silhouettes of the grand oak trees made for a very peaceful sleep before continuing westward in the morning.
We arrived at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park just east of Destin, Florida on the Friday afternoon of Martin Luther King Memorial
Weekend. The park is very pretty, our spot is surrounded by trees, so we can barely see our neighbours! There is a nice
winding paved 1.6 km walkway to the beach with a board walk over the dunes to protect them that ends in a very soft white sand beach. This is where we enjoyed watching the setting sun over the Gulf of Mexico. A few nights it was our own private beach as there was absolutely no one else
there! We were never disappointed or tired with this activity! It is amazing on how each day the view was different. We had sunsets without clouds, with clouds, angry storm clouds and without the sun
(yes that is correct!) . All of them were spectacular. On a couple of our walks we were even treated to nature in the four legged way. As we
cycled down for sunset we came upon a deer grazing along the trail. The next night we think we saw the same deer come out of
the dunes onto the beach as we were leaving. A few nights after that as we were walking over the board walk there were three deer leaving the beach and hiding in the dunes. It was such an awesome sight to see deer on the beach.
The cycling around here is good, but not great. Not a lot of options and the drivers are anything but courteous. With this said, it is still nice to cycle and see the Gulf of Mexico beside us. We have a couple of routes that we take and a few times were able to stop at a nice beachfront establishment to have refreshment breaks. We still managed to cycle over 350 km in the Destin area so I guess it was not all bad!
We had some good chats with fellow RV’ers, Bob and Jane who just started the fulltime RVing just a few days ago. We also fell in love with their dog Max, who they are looking for a home for. Yes, we had a discussion and decided it was not right for us to be that home!! 🙂
Other then meeting other RVer’s in the park and their furry friends we have just been enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of the long leaf/needle pine, saw palmettos ( a type of palm tree ) and walks on the white sand beach. One of our rainy days we went for a walk that took us through the nature trails to Campbell Lake. A body of water trapped by the sand dunes. It turns out to be a great place for alligators to live, however they all must have been sleeping because we did not see them. After walking through the pines we made the return trek home along the beach. It was a very nice almost 10 km walk. Another hike took us through a few of the same trails but then a nice loop to Morris Lake and over the white sand dunes along the coast with the final part bringing us along the beach again. This was a great way to explore almost 13.5 km.
The weather in north Florida was great for the most part, warm and cooler at night. The humidity did creep up during the first week of our stay which in turn built into a stormy weekend. We were under a tornado watch for about 36 hours, but other then a lot of rain and thunderstorms nothing materialized in our area. The worst of the weather was north of us in Mississippi and Georgia where some of the tornados were fatal.
Our stay in the Destin area was nice and relaxing where our regular day consisted of breakfast and coffee in the morning. Some computer time and then heading out on our bicycles before our daily workout. We then started to wind down with a walk on the beach at sunset and then finished the day with a margarita in hand…