Continuing to live the “Salt Life” and lovin’ it, we headed up the coast a short distance to Port St. Joe, to a wonderful RV park on the bay which had its own marina. We were just feet from the water’s edge where we could watch the shore birds on their daily fishing trips and gather at night to rest. We could see a couple of small islands where the birds gathered, by feather, which made it interesting as there were large numbers in each group. Birds also hung out on piers nearby and due to shallow water, fished nearby; we totally enjoyed their activities along with killer sunsets. We also had plenty of gators not too far off shore.
I did not know why this great area of Florida is called the Forgotten Coast so looked it up. Here is what I found on “Kate’s Travel Tips”:
“Unless you live in the panhandle of Florida chances are you haven’t heard of the “Forgotten Coast” …that’s because it’s one of Florida’s best-kept secrets! Florida’s Forgotten Coast includes communities like Port St. Joe, Apalachicola, Cape San Blas, St. George Island and more! This part of the state is called the “Forgotten Coast” because it seems to be the last part of Florida that hasn’t been overrun by strip malls, high-rise hotels and tourist traps. You’ll find beautiful beaches, forests, plenty of marine and wildlife, unique festivals and events, great local seafood and a welcoming community of locals!”
Something that caught us by surprise was the number of BEAR signs along the roads and in parks. Makes one think there may be bears in the area!! We did not see any, but learned some bear facts: Florida has only black bears; adults can weight from 150 to 400 pounds; females have from one to three cubs a year; bears have the best sense of smell of any land mammal, seven times better than a bloodhound.
And, we learned some bear tricks, like if you encounter a bear, remain standing with arms raised to look taller, and back away slowly speaking to the bear in a calm assertive voice (are they kidding?!). They say not to turn your back and run, but I figure that all I need to do is out run Don!
We drove out to a beach where people ride horses and got there just as a group was saddling up. We watched as they started off for the beach, leaving one lone horse tied up at the trailer. We walked along the beach for about 15 minutes and could hear that horse whinnying and prancing around the entire time. He wanted to be with the others and was so mad to be left behind.
Another day we had 18 mph winds so we drove along the beach to see the surf. When we stopped to take pictures, we got wet, but the scene and hearing the ocean’s roar were worth it.
We had never heard of Mexico Beach so enjoyed visiting that beautiful beach town. We had certainly heard of Apalachicola, “Apalach” as the locals call it, but had not been there either. I was surprised at how small the town is since it gets a lot of press, and impressed with the great stores in the small town. It would be a good place to live, well done, Apalach!
We were in Florida’s famous oyster area so expected to see the piles of oyster shells we saw in various places, but it was refreshing to learn the state is using the shells for mulch and erosion prevention. There is also a big oyster restoration program in place to protect the oyster beds. Some oyster facts from the Apalach National Estuarine Research Reserve: 90% of Florida’s oysters come from Apalach Bay; oysters can live up to 20 years; one oyster can filter 50 gallons of water daily; oysters change from male to female as they mature; pearls are not produced by true oysters. Also, 20% of the state’s shrimp come from Apalach Bay as well as 10% of the hard-shell blue crabs.
Continuing north along the coastline, we entered an area known for its scenic highway, 30-A, and the many beautiful beach towns like Rosemary Beach, Seaside, WaterColor, Santa Rosa Beach, Sandestin, Destin, Panama City and St George Island. We visited all the towns along 30-A and they are beautiful. Santa Rosa Beach was our favorite.
We walked in the most beautiful park in Santa Rosa Beach with art, (see feature image), and fountains everywhere. Even the city light poles were artfully done. The town has an ordinance requiring each home to have a white picket fence out front and abutting fences cannot be the same design. A pic of two butting fences is below. We also toured St. George Island from end to end. The east end is a very nice State Park which has the longest beach front in the state.
As we leave Florida, after about three months of touring the coastline, I must say we fell in love with the state. It is beautiful from one end to the other and we look forward to spending our winters in various towns along the west coast. I would not want to go back in the spring or summer due to tourism and intense heat, but it is awesome during the winter.
We will be on hiatus for a while as we head back to Atlanta and to Charlottesville for visits with friends and family and doctors. We are due to meet our travel companions, for the Alaska trip, in Montana on June 4.