Friday, March 18, 2016

Gulf Coast, 2016–part 2

From Gulf Shores, AL I headed back into Florida  I had 2 days between reservations so I stopped in Milton, FL at Avalon Landing RV park.  It wasn’t the greatest park as far as sites, but I really enjoyed my view.  My spot overlooked some water (bayou?) and it had a lot of pelicans, they were fun to watch – especially while divng for food.

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I don’t know what the pelican below is doing, but I saw it several times.

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I know pelicans have a throat pouch.  I am wondering if this pelican was rearranging the pouch?  or cleaning it??

I then headed to Topsail Hill Preserve State Park.  This is an expensive state park.  By the time all the fees and taxes are added on, it came to about $47 a night.  That is for a paved full hookup site with cable, so more amenities than most state parks, but too expensive.  I had planned on biking on the trail that runs from Topsail Hill for 20+ miles.  But it ended up being rather cold and windy, so I ended up only riding within the park.  But I still had a couple of 12 mile bike rides. 

My first view of the ocean and the beach taken from the boardwalk.  The ocean was about a mile walk or bike ride from my RV.   Most days the water was a beautiful blue. 


After a very windy night I found a lot of starfish on the beach.

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This was the first time I had ever seen deer at the beach.  I have seem them close to the beach, especially in the campgrounds under trees but not on the dunes.   They seemed to enjoy the dunes.  A local told me that they sometimes make it down to the beach and the next day I saw  tracks!

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Then I headed 12 miles down the road (well more like 15 or 16 because of a detour) to Grayton Beach State Park.  Again it was cold and windy many days and very few people on the beach.grayton beach15

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You can see the people above are in coats, one with a hooded parka on!

Below is a picture taken one cold morning after an extremely windy day and night.  My footprints were the only ones on the beach.

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The picture below was taken on an extremely windy day.  So windy that most people did not go to the beach because it felt you were being sandblasted.  I ended up putting the hood from my sweatshirt on and completely blocking my face with it except around my glasses.  I still ended up with sand in my nose and mouth and other places that I didn’t expect to find sand! And that was after only a minute or so on the beach.  

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grayton beach19I love the sign that I saw at a couple of the Florida state park.

After Grayton I headed back to St. Andrews State park in Panama City (which I covered in part 1).  From there I made my way back into Georgia where my first stop was St. Mary’s at Crooked River State Park (Feb. 21).  I’ll blog about that later.

Gulf Coast–2016 part 1

I know it has been awhile, but I thought I didn’t have that much to post since mostly I have been walking on beaches and around campgrounds and biking.   The I started going through everything and realized it was more than I thought!  So this will take a couple of blogs.

Before I start I wanted to post a few pictures that I forgot about from my December Sanibel trip.  For 5 – 6 days there were hundreds, if not thousands, of pelicans.  It was a great sight.


After spending Christmas with my mom and some of my family I headed to St. Andrews State Park in Panama City.  You may remember that my 2016 plans were totally changed in December, so I had to make some last minute reservations.  Since most campgrounds in south Florida fill up early I decided to stick with the panhandle.  I knew it would be colder than South Florida but warmer than other places.

I started and ended my Gulf Coast trip at St. Andrews State Park in Panama City.  I was there Dec 30 – Jan 5 and Feb 15 – 20.  There was a great overlook and trail that I really enjoyed, in addition to the beach.  The overlook was at a pond that had a Great Blue Heron rookery on a small island.  Also on my second trip I saw a 4 1/2 alligator every day right at the overlook.

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I learned that they have brought in a lot of sand and as you can see below it has really eroded.  There is a “sand cliff” of 6 feet or so.  I talked with the man and his grandkids on the left and he told me that since the sand comes from further out in the ocean you can sometimes find shells that you don’t normally see on the beach. 

st andrews16Most days I saw some type of military aircraft.

st andrews17Several days paragliders flew by - st andrews18

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A large sailboat passes by one day -st andrews20

From St. Andrews State Park I headed to Gulf Shores, Alabama Jan 6 – 15.  I tried to get into the state park, but it was full so I found a place to stay nearby at Sugar Sands RV park.  It is a very nice RV park and not too far from the bike trails I like.  I didn’t take many pictures while there.  I hiked and biked several times on the Hugh Branyon Backcountry trails. 


More in part 2.