Saturday, December 10, 2016

To the Florida Panhandle...and beyond!

Somehow we manage to find little jewels for camping and Saturday night, December 4th was no exception.  We stayed at a Cracker Barrel the night before in Lake City, Florida after departing Tampa.  Once again Allstays app got us there!  After a good breakfast Saturday morning we headed to our next destination.  

We knew we wanted to camp in Apalachicola National Forest, and Michael ended up finding Hickory Landing within the forest.  The ride in was pretty, and the campground itself was beautiful.  Not too big, which always appeals to us!  A few sites were occupied and all were within walking distance of the scenic Owl Creek. The bathrooms were the cleanest vault toilet set up we have seen to-date!  This campground only charged $3 per night, and with the appropriate national parks/forest pass, the fee is only a mere $1.50 per night!!  If we didn't have reservations elsewhere we would have stayed several days!

On Sunday morning, we headed to our next campsite, St. Joseph's Peninsula State Park, outside of Port St. Joe, Florida.  The ride was only about an hour and was pretty.  Route 98 is a scenic route along the Gulf, however, we veered into Port St. Joe on 30 A to do laundry since it was too early to check in to the campground.

Our first view of the Gulf!

Route 98 west.

We stayed at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park a year ago and loved the Gulf Breeze Loop which is situated behind sand dunes separating us from the Gulf of Mexico.  The beaches offer 9.5 miles of white sand and clear waters.  We took our chairs up and just sat watching shore birds and letting the water lap at our feet.

View from our campsite toward the Gulf.

A very friendly shorebird, a sanderling, kept visiting us!

A beautiful gray and breezy day with spotty rain showers.

Walkway from campground to the beach.

Campsites had water and electric.  They are mostly close together with minimal privacy.  We lucked out - no neighbors!

We had one day of high winds and heavy rain, with a tornado watch as in effect, but luckily nothing materialized except thunderstorms.  Having the travel trailer rather than the teardrop was fantastic as it was an indoor day!  Michael made pizza in the convection oven and we watched TV and read.

Wednesday, the 7th, we departed the peninsula and continued west through some neighboring towns.  

We found a Walmart in Lynn Haven for a free overnight, and a Camping World to have our propane tank filled and to buy Dicor lap sealant to seal around the spoiler on the roof.  We haven't had any leaks but since we have heard that this spot can be a potential problem, we are going to be proactive and seal it now.  We also bought some caulk to put around the sink edging where the factory caulking has come unglued.

Onward to Alabama and the Conecuh National Forest, on Open Pond, for 5 nights camping.  We found a non-hook-up site for $4/night overlooking the pond.

The campsites are roomy and there are loops with hook-ups.  We just decided to go without, and use solar.  Look forward to some hiking.  Meanwhile, temps are cold, freezing at night, and 40's during the day.  We have used the trailer heater for the first time, running it to take the chill off!  We are happy to have it.  A heatwave of 60 degree temps is due to arrive tomorrow!

Town square of Andalusia, the closest "big" town.  Very small!

Hope you all are having fun this holiday season!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Tampa Time!

After a terrific two week stay in Ocala, on Saturday, November 26, we headed to Tampa (Florida) to camp at Hillsborough River State Park and spend a week with my sister and brother-in-law.  An added bonus was a visit with both my niece and nephew and their families, a wonderful reunion!  We got a kick out of the kids, ages 7, 6, 3, and 2 1/2, as they ran and played, and I even got to join in the creative imaginary games of my youngest great-niece, Sophie!  There's something to be said about using your imagination when you're an adult!

Nephew Steven and great-niece Sydney!

Sister Linda with her hubby David and my great-nieces Sadie and Sydney, and great-nephew Mason.

Great-nieces Sadie and Sophie!

My nephew Steven with his wife, Lauren and son, Mason.  Glenn with his daughter, Sydney.

Niece, Sheryl with her husband Glenn.

The state park is really pretty, with lots of palmettos, tall palms, and other trees.  Sites are kind of close, but we lucked out in a nice spot with a campsite on only one side of us.  Each night we hear barred owls calling and we have had them in trees very close to our trailer!  No luck in actually spotting them, though.

My brother-in-law, David, has a orchid collection on their lanai in Tampa, and a couple of orchids were in bloom while we visited.  Even without blooms, there are unique plants there.

One day we took a ride over to Tarpon Springs, a community with a heavy Greek influence that goes back to the days when the first Greek divers for sponges came here to establish their businesses.  Along with boats in the harbor and piles of sponges, there were many Greek restaurants, and lots of shops, some touristy and some not!  We ate a terrific meal at Hella's followed by some yummy desserts from their bakery, and then we just meandered for a while.  

Flaming cheese...oompah!!  And, really good!

Key lime is definitely not a Greek dessert, but I couldn't resist!

Took a drive to Apollo Beach, where the big Tampa electric company plant, where the warm waters draw in manatees.  Except for two very distant manatees, too far for a photo but visible in the binoculars, we saw no wildlife to speak of.

With sister, Linda!

The best view of a manatee we got all morning!

We also went to a Cuban restaurant for lunch in south Tampa for great yellow rice and beans, fried plantains, yuca, Cuban bread and more.  The location isn't the best, but the food was worth it! Check the sign out carefully for a good laugh!

We left Tampa Friday, December 2 as we begin a northward drive toward the Florida panhandle.  Plans to camp a few nights at St. Joseph's Peninsula State Park starting Sunday.