Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Home and Thanks


So we towed home today –- cool weather, sunny skies and a tailwind.  We have been wandering for over a month, letting each day dictate where we will be.  But once headed home, it is hard to linger on the road, though we may have missed an opportunity to visit with a new friend we met last night.

At home we marvel at the lovely lawn and flowering azaleas (thanks Jeff), the tidy house (thanks to our pre departure diligence)  and the bushels of mail.  We set about our tasks.. filling the bird feeder and the sugar bowl, lots of unloading and washing and, surprisingly, a very short list of trailer tasks (thanks Lotti, our faithful silver friend.)

Al, doing his part to triage the Mail Mountain, found this quote in one of the magazines he felt obliged to review.  Comparing her long bike tour to the Odyssey, one author mused,

“But the riddle of Odysseus’s journey is not that he couldn’t go home, its that he didn’t want to.”

I’ll have to think about that.

 Meanwhile the blog will be silent for a while.  Thanks for all your comments and encouragement --- especially to you Dan and Rene.  We missed you on the road.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Florida Highlands

When we awoke to cool sunshine on St George Island, a wealth of new destinations spread out before us.  We could return to St Joseph SP for more beach time or press on to Gulf Islands National Seashore for another return visit.  There was Blackwater River SP, a canoeing destination upgraded since our earlier adventures in the area and the enticing “Falling Waters” State Park  which we had to see to believe. 
Now we had already sighted several outliers of the SpringBreakers, a species which migrates  to these parts in the Spring for mating rituals. Their characteristic call is, as yet, unpublished (and that is probably for the best.) When we called ahead, we learned that a concentration was already reported at St Joseph’s and more were expected. The rookery was full and the cacophonous calls filled the night.
Turning North, we reported our intentions to MB who snickered, guffawed and chortled.  Ah, she of these several decades a winter Floridian questioned the concept of a Florida waterfall.  HA! 
So, we present visuals  transmitted to you from the Florida Highlands  (324 feet above MSL, which I hasten to add, towers over the 281 foot hill we live on in Montgomery.)
We walked down the sturdy boardwalks to the Waterfall, congratulating ourselves on our propitious planning.  We arrive a day or two after a five inch rainfall and found the streams feeding the falls running copiously and clear for the first time in seven months.
The water drops down a 100- foot deep , 20-foot wide cylindrical hole where it disappears into a cavern. 



Later we walked more boardwalks around several more deep sinkholes and learned they were evidence of a subterranean water course whose ceilings had collapsed, and could again, suddenly and catastrophically.  We were re-evaluating that aspect of our propitious planning until we cleared the area. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

When Cotton was King

When cotton was King, Apalachicola was one of the richest seaports in the recently united states. Each year 55,000 bales of cotton were shuttled from this shallow water bay to offshore ships and on to the markets of the world. The wharves were lined with three story brick warehouses and the homes and hotels servicing the town were magnificent.
After unpleasantness lasting nearly two hundred years, the town is once again lively if not so extravagantly wealthy.  We enjoyed our walking tour, especially the tour of the Gibson Inn after its renovation.  The manager encouraged us to tour all the rooms; each space is different and each decorated with a different theme.   Some have “permanent guests” –- friendly spirits who have a repertoire of tricks. 



There are many dining choices,
IMG_2097 but we chose the corner Seafood Grill where the posted signs were generally ignored by the wait staff.
The Grouper was good though (and prettier than the wait staff.)


We were offered an attractive price on this boat by an equally attractive citizen and her  “associate.”


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Weather Tonight…a blow by blow

5:56PM Saturday.  We appreciate  the sisterly concern, Joan and Beth.  So far we are fine.  The weather has just slipped south to include us.  It’s 20 MPH from the South and raining a little. (Kinda pushed us off the beach). Predicting a shift to the Northeast about midnight with “WINDS 35MPH TO GALE FORCE. Widespread storms, some severe…”
We have showered and donned clean underwear, so we are ready.  All paraphernalia has been secured and, best of all, the redneck, NASCAR lovin, lowlife next door have been driven indoors. We much prefer a howling gale to another of their screech fests. (We can still hear them now over the gentle rain..)
6:30 AM  SO, THAT WAS EASY.  a little rain, a little wind.  We slept through most of it. 
We are just now getting some details of horrific weather up north.  Hope you all are well.

Chili Cook-off St George Island Florida

2012_0303pat_pics0007The citizens of St George Island view the Annual Chili Cook-off with mixed feelings. Sure, it benefits the Volunteer Fire Department and fills the rental condos in the off season but…
“Well, some us consider it a good cook off if our mailbox survives.”

Hordes of “Yahoos” (Identified by their frequent calls of  YaaHOOOO!!”) appear, rent every four wheel conveyance in several counties and ride around, beer cup in hands giving off their characteristic call.

Older citizens set up lawn chairs at protected corners and observe (with obligatory beer cup in hand).
Tourists actually pay an entrance fee to the Brave Firefighters and buy one dollar sample chili cups from the competitors or larger servings if you prefer (dare).


Chili Dogs


Other Animals were on exhibit


and Elvis was sighted!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Beach Biking Gulf Coast Style

We are walking the beach early as Meme has a mission to collect another perfect shell for the remaining grandchild. It’s Foggy, but we walk two and half miles up a nearly untracked beach before we see the first piece of litter.  We returned that to its rightful place and collected a few “acceptable” shells along the way.

We then unloaded the bikes and headed into the “sensitive” undeveloped end of the island.  With a permission slip and a key to the gate, we are free to ride a stabilized sand road five miles between the bay and the Gulf.
The road winds among the dunes which seem to be rebuilding after some climatological insult (Hurricane Denis, we learn) and we marvel again at all the well adapted plants which reach out and grab their place in the sun and hold the growing dunes in place.


“Ah, Senor Pizzarro, We have discovered the Great Salt Sea!”

This sand crab’s home is reputeIMG_2011d to have been the inspiration for the Sydney Opera House.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

From the Swamp to the Beach

..in two easy steps.  Well, that was the plan, but our intermediate stop at Lafayette Blue Springs Park was scrubbed when we learned that they have no camping.  Evidently, this happened in 2005, but word has not filtered back to the publishers of the Florida State Parks Guide (2010 edition.)
When in doubt, double back and have barbeque. (That’s a rule you can live by).  We found ours in Mayo at Rhodes –- thin sliced beef brisket with no sauce, Texas Style  (and the buffet looked pretty good too, especially the deserts.)
We redoubled our mileage and crossed the long bridge to St George Island State Park just as the fog lifted for the first time all day.  We found a lovely campground, took the last available unreserved site and counted four other Airstreams (always a  sign of refinement and style.)



We were pleased to meet Jim and Sharon who have been full-timing several years in their 19’ International and seem to have all their ducks (flamingos) in a row.
Chili cooking contest in town over the weekend and we seem to have a few contestants camping with us. “Mr. and Mrs. Chili Pepper have huge prize checks covering the windows of their Motor Home.