Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Although I enjoyed Ft. Pulaski and the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum, the more personal history is what I like best.  I found it on Tuesday afternoon at the Wormsloe State Historic Site. 

The Wormsloe Plantation Tabby Ruins (tabby is the name of a local building material that utilized oyster shells) are the oldest standing ruins in the state of Georgia, the remnants of a small plantation house built Nobel Jones in 1736.  He was among the first British settlers in Georgia, the surveyor of both Savannah and Atlanta.  He died just before the Revolutionary War began.

The family cemetery Wormsloe Tabby Ruins

The family cemetery

Remnants of a tabby wall

In 1828, a descendent of Nobel Jones built a larger, much grander, plantation home, which is still occupied by descendents today – adjacent to, but not part of, the Wormsloe Plantation Historic Site.  The original tabby house fell into ruins, of which a few walls remain today.

For me, this oak-lined driveway, a mile and a half long, is the highlight of the site and it’s history.  According to the information at the visitor center,  Wimberley Jones De Renne, a descendent of Nobel Jones, planted these oak trees in 1891 “with the birth of his son”.  Can you imagine?  There are over 400 huge oaks lining this drive. 

Over 400 oaks line the lane to the plantation house.

What faith in the future it takes to plant 400+ trees down a lane to your home!  Did he picture his children, grand-children, and future greats enjoying them?  Did he picture them grown to this amazing size?  He certainly never pictured me driving my Jeep Grand Cherokee down this lane, then walking back to snap a photograph with a pocket-sized digital camera, which I would download onto a computer and share with the world.

I loved walking down this lane, thinking about the farsighted man who planted 400 oak trees when his son was born.  How he must have loved his land!   It brought me great pleasure to walk his beautiful lane and contemplate his long-ago life.  That’s when I really enjoy history!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Confession:  I was a terrible history student, and haven’t improved with age.  The only time I find history engaging is when I am on-site – and then it is riveting.  Savannah has a LOT of history.

We figured Ft. Pulaski National Monument would be an interesting, fairly brief, stop on our way to the beaches of Tybee Island, an opportunity to brush up on our Civil War history, see what our friend Gypsy was up to during her winter volunteer job there, get a stamp on my National Parks passport, and use the restroom.  Surprise!  We were captivated as soon as we saw the impressive, moat-encircled, fort.  In no time at all, we were back in the days of the Civil War and the surprise fall of Ft. Pulaski to Union troops.

Some cannon balls are still lodged in the fort's walls.It was all about technology! 

Originally built in the 1840’s to protect the Savannah River and Savannah from foreign invasion, the brick walls of the fort were 8 feet thick and impregnable.  During the Civil War, Georgia State troops took and occupied the fort, secure in the knowledge that the walls could not be breeched with cannon typical of the time. 

Under cover of darkness, Union troops worked to build defensive positions on Tybee Island, two miles away – then hauled the newest technology into place: rifled cannons.  Once the pounding of the Fort’s walls began, it was only 30 hours until surrender of the fort.  The distance and accuracy of the new rifled cannons rendered masonry forts obsolete – a huge change in warfare.

The west (front) side of the fort was undamaged.  We walked the perimeter of the fort, marveling at it’s bulk and beauty.

The east side of the fort was pounded, and eventually breeched.  Confederate officers commanding the fort surrendered before the powder magazine was hit.

Front of fort Ft wall damaged
Cannon at Ft. Pulaksi Ft Pulaski prison

One of the many cannon guarding the fort, soon to be rendered obsolete.

Later in the war, Confederate troops (the Immortal 600) were imprisoned here.

Ft. Pulaski was a fascinating place, with plenty of opportunity to absorb history in a relevant setting.  We spent way more time there than we had planned, heading to Tybee Island (now seen in a new light!) as clouds formed and thickened overhead. 

The change in weather made a trip to the beach unappealing, so we headed to A-J’s Dockside Restaurant, which I had researched on the web.  Our po’boys couldn’t compete with those in LA and MS, but we scored with our shared cup of Crab Stew.  I didn’t take a photo because it doesn’t look at all luscious – pale, bland, and lumpy.  We were hooked at first taste – in fact, we ordered a quart to go when we left, and it was our dinner later that night!  Rich, sweet, filled with crab, a little kick of spice in the aftertaste… and did I say rich?

The mission begins with a briefing in the Nissen hut. The next day, we went from Civil War history to World War II history with an afternoon visit to the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum.  The 8th Air Force was activated in Savannah soon after Pearl Harbor, and the museum does a great job of explaining the events leading up to WWII and the role played by the 8th air force. 

After reading about the war in Europe prior to Pearl Harbor, we took our seats for “the Mission Experience”":

One of the Museum’s feature exhibits, the Mission Experience, enables visitors to attend a pre-flight briefing in the Quonset hut, receive ground crew orientation, and then become an observer with an 8th Air Force flying mission over enemy territory in the Museum’s immersion theater.

It was a well-done exhibit (and a welcome chance to sit down).  We finished up our visit with a turn on the gunnery simulator, where I trounced Odel and the enemy, shooting down 11 German plans to Odel’s 6.  And that was enough war for me!

Odel at the gunnery simulator B-17 being restored.

Taking advantage of today’s sunshine, Odel is off playing golf while I catch up on chores around the rig.  I plan to take the car and visit a couple more historic sites – not war history – when he returns… then we’re off to Charleston tomorrow.  It’s been a great (and too short) visit to Savannah.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


I managed to finish a second reading of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” just in time for our visit to Savannah – but what set the wider stage for me are the writings of Pat Conroy (I’m re-reading “Beach Music” now), with his lyrical and loving descriptions of the low country of Georgia and South Carolina.  So, in my innocent “mind’s eye”, I pictured Savannah as a city of graceful, restored historic homes, squares full of live oaks draped in Spanish moss, and refurbished civil-war era warehouses and business establishments, surrounded by low-country wetlands and forests. 

Colonial Park Cemetery Restored Savannah home
Above: A stroll through Colonial Park Cemetery
Below: Savannah Cotton Exchange building
Above: A beautifully restored Savannah home
Below: A square filled with graceful Live Oaks.
Savannah Cotton Exchange Love those trees!

When we exited Interstate 95 to travel the ten or so miles to Skidaway Island State Park (click here to read our review and see more photos), we came face to face with reality: miles and miles of urban/suburban commercial landscape – chain restaurants, gas stations, strip malls, upscale shopping, thrift shopping, medical centers, auto repair, pawn shops, home improvement centers.  Most of the route to the state park campground was stop-and-go traffic, with cars turning in and out parking lots, darting around Scoopy, running red lights – typical urban behavior. 

A drive-through - if you ignore the tree!Picture the Savannah that everyone WANTS to see as the compact center of a bull’s eye target.  Picture Skidaway State Park on the farthest outer ring of the bull’s eye.  Everything in between looks just like the urban/suburban fringe of any medium or large sized city in the U.S. – and why I didn’t expect that, I will never know.  :)  Romantic fool!

Check-in at Skidaway Island State Park is efficient: pay your fees, then drive into the campground and pick out any unoccupied site.  The ranger described the sites as “all pull-throughs”.

Say what?  Once we had navigated the narrow, twisting roads, we ended up backing in to our site, to avoid scraping our (closed) awning off on a tree.  Finally settled into our huge, level site, we took a long, lovely hike to counteract the psychic stress of the hectic traffic.

Scene from a hike at Skidaway Island State Park Back home, I flipped open the computer to research our next day: lunch and touring.  Though many friends and blog readers had recommended things to do in Savannah (in particular, take a trolley tour), we had very few suggestions for “must-eat” dining venues, even from confirmed foodies.

For us, one of the highlights of travel is the exploration of local food specialties.  Although I imagined that Savannah would have some special dish or cuisine that was particularly Savannah, it isn’t the case.  Savannah is all about southern cooking, the down home classics, served cafeteria style, buffet style, or home style.

Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room was recommended by a few folks, but I’m not a fan of standing in a long line to eat (waits of up to 2 hours reported), so hoped to turn up something different.  Paula Deen’s restaurant is a Mecca for her Food Network fans, but neither Odel nor I watch her, and have heard the place described as “good, but overpriced”.  Thanks to a tip from our reader Pamela, we Googled the “Masada Cafe” at the United House of Prayer for All People – and that was all we needed.   Our “Savannah Tour” agenda set, we fell into bed. 

Saturday’s breakfast was… NOTHING!  Our plan for the day began with an early lunch, as soon as the Masada Cafe opened, and we wanted to save room.  At 10:15 we took off, aiming for a point west of Historic Savannah, described as “off the beaten tourist track”.  Oh, so true.  When we arrived at our destination, a few minutes after 11 am, Odel stepped out of the car, looked at me, and said aloud, “What have you gotten me into this time”?

Odel has his doubts.

Warming up to the experience with a rib

The face of doubt Warming up to the Masada experience

Stepping into the church annex, home to the cafeteria-style cafe, my first impression was: CLEAN.  Unlike many of the “local favorites” we try, this was no dive.  Small, spring-time centerpieces graced the tables, there was no smoky residue to be seen, and the cafeteria line was spotless.  Iretha Durham, the wife of the pastor (35 years) of The United House of Prayer for All People, greeted us from behind the counter, apologizing that they were a little late in opening.

That gave us plenty of time to point, question and sample (NO waiting).  The offerings were pure southern, with one difference: in deference to the desire/need for healthier food choices, the kitchen seasons their “sides” without pork, using smoked turkey instead.  Lunch was “meat and three” – Yankees, that means a meat selection plus three sides.  I can’t even recall all the meat offerings, but I do recall our choices. 

For me: Oxtails and gravy, plus Savannah red rice (cooked with tomato juice instead of water), cabbage, and macaroni and cheese.  Odel: Fried chicken, Savannah red rice, string beans, and dressing with gravy.  Because the fried chicken wasn’t quite ready, he got a rib to chew on while he waited (refer to the smiling photo above).  Sweet tea to drink, of course.

Oxtails and the array of our sides.

Southern fried chicken, straight from the fryer

An array of southern foods. Crispy fried chicken

The highest praise given to southern food is “just like my momma used to make”.   My own momma is California born, like me, so I didn’t grow up on oxtails – but even I can tell this is fine, fine home-style southern cooking.  Odel pronounced the fried chicken as the best he’s ever had (I hope his momma doesn’t read this). 

When Odel visits Memphis, his home town, he always gets a special layer cake, made for him by Odel’s sister’s ex-sister-in-law, Miss Melissa.  I mean, ALWAYS!  When Odel attended a funeral during one visit, Miss Melissa snagged him before the funeral started, took him to her car, opened the trunk, and gave him his four-layer chocolate cake (and I don’t mean a piece, I mean the whole cake)!   Well, stacked at the end of the counter were slices of cake, packaged to go.  Good thing, because I don’t think many folks have the stamina for dessert following that meal – but we took a piece to go.  :)

A Savannah stairway Then we were back in the Jeep and off to the historic center.  We took your advice, readers -purchased our tickets, and happily settled in for a 90 minute narrated tour of the highlights of Savannah history.  The temperature was still 10 degrees below the forecast (just 55 cold degrees); we were full, warm and contented listening to our guide as he navigated the narrow, crowded lanes.  Of course, the Mercer-Williams house was on our tour.

The biggest surprises to me: Savannah was founded in 1733.  History here isn’t just the Civil War, but the Revolutionary War (and before).   I didn’t realize that Savannah is a busy port city, but we saw several freighters head up river as we walked around the city after our tour ended (and our tour guide told us that cruise ships will soon be coming to Savannah).  And, I didn’t realize that South Carolina is right across the river!

Another big surprise: the historic district, including the riverfront, is very small, very walkable.  Try as we might, we couldn’t walk off that lunch!

Friday, March 26, 2010


Laurie's first view of Atlantic Ocean, from Jekyll Island, GAFirst, thanks to the many, many of you who responded with great advice to our request for the “must-see, must-do, must-not-miss” attractions and restaurants between here and Memphis.  We got so many comments, and long emails with links, suggestions and details.  What a big help!

We sat down yesterday morning and worked our way through them all, making lists and adding push-pins to our Streets and Trips map.  Campgrounds in the area we will be traveling don’t seem to be full in April - yay, no reservations required.  We ended up with a general idea of where we want to be – and when – all subject to change, of course.  :)

By 11:30, we were hungry and tired of being indoors with our computers, getting a little cranky.  Another reader comment (thanks, Art in the Sun) had our mouths watering: the GA Pig, a BBQ restaurant just off the interstate, about 30 miles from here.  Now, you know we’ll drive a long way for an interesting dining experience (and we’ve been told we “have to” try Georgia BBQ), but this had an added attraction: it is right on the way to Jekyll Island, on the Atlantic coast, home to a state park with campground.  It took us all of two seconds to make up our minds.

Georgia Pig BBQ GA Pig BBQ was a fun stop, a little old cabin set in a grove of tall pines (I never knew the southeast had so many pine forests!).  The interstate exit had a cluster of truck stops with the usual fast food chains – Georgia Pig obviously was the oldest business and odd man out.  They did a steady business, though. 

The smell of smoky meat had our mouths watering before we got through the front door, and the interior was pure BBQ joint: picnic tables and benches, rolls of paper towels as napkins on the tables, a counter backed by the big, black maw of the smoke pit.  Laminated menus next to the register, where you place your order, with today’s special on a handwritten sign… in fact, handwritten signs everywhere! 

Odel ordered the Rib Dinner – pork ribs with two sides – and I got the lunch special, a chopped pork sandwich with two sides.  The ribs were a disappointment – too much gristle and not very tender.  The pork sandwich?  A total TEN!  The pork couldn’t have been better, so tender and smoky.  If you go, get the chopped pork.

Pork ribs, two sides, and a pickle (Odel’s)

Pork sandwich, two sides, and a pickle (Laurie’s)

Odels Lunch Lauries Lunch

Jekyll Island was another ten miles down the road.  The “historic area” of so-called summer cottages, flanked by three 18-hole golf courses,  was amazing – huge “cottages” built in the mid-late 1800’s by the very wealthy (Goodyear among them).  We drove slowly past, eyes wide… thinking maybe we should dump all the plans we just made and come back to Jekyll Island for a few weeks when we leave Charleston!

Summer cottage on Jekyll Island We headed to the north end of the island to tour the campground, and all thoughts of staying there vanished.  We looked at the campground, looked at each other, and said, in unison: ghetto! 

The campground gets great reviews on, but it definitely is NOT our style – closely packed sites, narrow roads… SO crowded.  It was difficult to tell where one site ended and another began, with rigs shoehorned in every which way.

Unlike most state parks, there doesn’t appear to be a limit on how long you can stay – it was obvious that many of the campers were snowbirds.  It would be wonderful to have easy access to all the island has to offer – long beaches, great bike trails, good walking – but the campground during “high season” was a real disappointment to us.

As soon as we were able to work our way through the maze to the exit, we were off to the beach, on the Atlantic side.  I believe this is the first time I have ever seen the Atlantic ocean from the eastern US – probably from anywhere.  I took the top photo to memorialize the moment.  :)

It is so different to be traveling once again in areas that are completely new to both of us.  There is so much we want to do, and so much we have to leave on the “some other visit” list.  In a few hours, we will be heading off to visit Savannah, GA (5 day stay), then to Charleston, SC, two cities dense with “don’t miss” locations.  We ALWAYS need maps, and the GPS gets a daily workout.  Quite a change from our travels of recent years!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Motor Oil cone Before we left Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, we took another walk along the bank of the Suwannee River.  As we walked, I remarked to Odel that the water was so dark, it looked like motor oil.  Later in the evening, I was looking back in our blog to see where we were around this time in prior years.  Well… last year at this time we were in Pismo Beach, eating “Motor Oil” ice cream, a locally made chocolate ice cream with Kahlua and fudge ribbons!  Gosh, I’d like some of that right now.

We had a short, easy, drive from the Florida to St. Marys, Georgia, just across the border – only 110 miles.  After we settled in, we drove the few miles to “historic St. Marys”, a small area of lovely ante-bellum homes and a pretty dock and harbor.  Much of the historic area is given over to the National Park Service, as St. Marys is the jumping off point for trips to Cumberland Island National Seashore.  At least half of the rest of the small town appears to be For Sale – homes and commercial buildings.  Looks like the economic turn-down might have hit this area particularly hard.

As seems to always be the case these days, there is way more to do around here than the time we have to do it!  Cumberland Island National Seashore is reputed to be a special place, but higher on my priority list is the Okefenokee Swamp (actually called Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, but to people my age who read Pogo in the comics, it will always be the swamp).  Today, away we went to the Okefenokee!

Graceful old home in St. Mary’s, GA

Orange Hall, built 1860-ish

A home in St Marys Orange Hall

What an interesting day!  We are on the east side of the swamp (25 miles away), which is the dry, “prairie” side.  Here there is not nearly as much water; it’s more of a peat bog that absorbs water until it is saturated, then water pools and ponds.  We are here in a rather wet time, I guess, as one of the trails was closed due to high water – and there was plenty of water for us to see as we hiked the trails and walked the boardwalk.

For me, the highlight was a visit to the Chesser Homestead, the only “swamper” homestead left in the Okefenokee (click here for an interesting narrative memoir).  The homestead housed a family of 9, and the original house and outbuildings were open to our wandering.  See the floor boards in the photo below?  We could look right down between them to the ground below. 

Alligator closeup Swamper House

Above: Roadside Alligator (he’s alive)!

Above: “Swamper’s” Homestead

Below: the swamp!

Below: Swamper’s Kitchen

Okefenokee Swamp Swamper Kitchen

The outbuildings and workstations needed to maintain the homestead surrounded the house:  a fenced vegetable garden, a mill for sugar cane (to make cane syrup), a hog pen, a corn crib, a well (though the house had a pump on the porch for bath and wash water), a whetstone… it was fascinating!  I think I could have stood the work – it is the dirt I couldn’t handle.  I’d work the garden, feed the hogs, chop the wood, stoke the stove… but only if I knew I could have a long, hot, soapy shower and clean clothes at the end of the day!  Yep, spoiled, spoiled, spoiled (as I am reminded each time we boondock in the desert).

It was a fun day – oh, I forgot to mention seeing real, live alligators – and I’m glad we visited.  Now it’s time to get some dinner going… later!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Spanish moss and azeleasSing it now:  “Way down upon the Suwannee River, far, far away…” Yes, that is where we ended our day on Monday, at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park (click here to read our review and view more photos).  Though Stephen Foster never set foot in Florida and never saw the Suwannee River, he made it famous throughout the country, and the State of Florida appreciated it.  “Old Folks At Home” is Florida’s State Song, and this park is Florida’s memorial to its author.

Spring is about to pop here.  The earliest azaleas are in bloom, along with a couple of small dogwoods.  And I LOVE the Spanish moss spilling off the trees.

This beautiful park has something for everyone: hiking, biking, canoeing on the river, a Stephen Foster Museum, a carillon tower that chimes on the hour and plays Foster songs for 15 minutes four times a day.   For us, the draw (besides being on our route to Savannah) was the extensive network of trails.

As soon as we arrived and set up, we took off walking, past the museum and carillon tower, through the gift shop, and on to the banks of the river.  The park brochure describes the Suwannee as a “typical blackwater stream”, and black it is, stained by tannins from the cypress trees growing in the river.  “Stream” threw me – to a westerner, it’s a nice-sized river.

The dark, fast waters of the Suwannee River

Tannins stain the water the color of dark tea.

Dark Suwannee Tea water

Too bad we don’t have more time to spend here but, after another hike this morning, we are moving on to Georgia for a three day stay in St. Mary (just across the Florida border).  Further exploration of Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park and its adjacent historic town will be another entry on the “next time” list!  Georgia, here we come.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Today is a travel day for us, from Carrabelle to Stephen Foster Folk Culture State Park, about 150 miles.  We’ll be overnighting there, then off to St. Marys, Georgia for a few days – to see the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (swamp) - before we arrive in Savannah.  We have reservations for all of our stays until we leave Charleston; we snagged a spot at Skidaway State Park for Savannah, but James Island County Park was full, so we will be at Oak Plantation for our stay in Charleston (weird that the county park is the more costly!).

Our next reservation, after we leave Charleston on April 4th, is in Memphis, arriving May 2nd.  We have almost a month in between, to travel in areas we are know nothing about.  We would like to see Asheville, NC, and I want to go to the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama (don’t ask me why… I was captivated by the idea from the first time I heard of it, years ago).  I want to visit Oxford, MS – mostly because I’ve heard it is beautiful, but also for the history.

Charleston to Memphis

The route shown on this map – a fairly direct line between the locations I mentioned - is just under 900 miles, about 6 days of driving for us (we average 100-200 miles with each move), so we have plenty of time to deviate.  We know that many of you readers have travelled these states – what advice do you have for us?

We don’t have much interest in big cities.  We like college towns.  In parks, we like space, so often look for state or county parks, or Corps of Engineers – but will pay the price to stay in “special” commercial parks (the waterfront site here at Ho Hum comes to mind) from time to time.  Restaurants?  We like to try regional specialties and to patronize locally-owned spots.  Quality is more important than quantity, and more important than ambiance.  We walk or hike every day, so look for historic or scenic spots that let us stretch out our legs for at least a couple of miles.

We’ve gotten great tips from readers, but usually AFTER we’ve left an area!  This time, I decided to see what we could learn BEFORE we make our plans.  Your suggestions for campgrounds, restaurants, dishes to try, places to hike, sights to see… we welcome them!  What is too good to miss??

Sunday, March 21, 2010


View from my chair outside Scoopy. Yesterday’s fabulous view shot was taken from site 38 at Ho Hum RV Park (click here to read our review and see more photos), a few miles east of the small town of Carrabelle, Florida.  We owe our thanks for that view to an anonymous reader who left a comment suggesting we stop here while traveling the Florida panhandle.  We checked the map and our schedule, and Carrabelle turned out to be just what we were looking for – a taste of Florida’s “Forgotten Coast”.

When we decided to travel east this year, neither Odel nor I had a great interest in exploring Florida’s peninsula, but we did want to see the famous white sugar sand beaches of the panhandle.  Time constraints (we will be near DC at the end of May, with a trip to Memphis between now and then) meant we had to decide whether to spend time exploring Florida or exploring Savannah and Charleston – no contest for us.

Carrabelle along the river Consequently, we planned to see what we could in the panhandle as we headed east.  Checking the map, it looked like a trip to Carrabelle from Panama City Beach would fit perfectly in our plans.  When Odel called Ho Hum to make a reservation, he asked the owner if there was much to do around there.  She responded “It’s not called Ho Hum for nothing!”  That sounded perfect to us, as we needed some down time to catch up on a few neglected chores: Odel wanted to wax Scoopy, and I needed to work on our taxes for 2009.

Though I was sad to say goodbye to JoAnn and Doug in Panama City Beach, I was happy to see the city itself recede in the rearview mirror.  It took awhile to leave the traffic behind, but once past Tyndall Air Force Base everything changed.  Mexico Beach, Port St. Joe, Apalachicola, Eastport, Carrabelle… all small towns strung along Hwy 98 on the Forgotten Coast. I-10, well north, is a much more direct route across the panhandle – traveling along the coast is for those of us who have time, a love of nature, and a limited interest in man-made attractions.  :)

Along the Forgotten Coast

Lots of water, big sky, little traffic.

Heading east Tidal flats

Our mail (with the all important tax documents) awaited us at Ho Hum, handed over as we checked in.  We unhooked the Jeep, pulled front-first into our waterfront site, and sat in awe for a minute, before beginning our familiar setup procedures.  Wow!

Odel working hard on shining Scoopy. We arrived on Thursday, and had two days of mostly sunny, cool weather.  We both got to work on our projects on Friday, saving Saturday (forecast: 70 degrees and sunny) for a trip to St. George Island State Park, on a barrier island just off the coast.  Odel fired up the grill early Saturday morning to grill chicken thighs to take for a picnic, and we were on our way around 11 am (with the chicken, coleslaw, and corn relish).  We had a free state park pass – an internet reward for completing a short survey about our experience on a prior visit to a Florida state park.  All set!

Yes, the day was perfect – in every way.  When we presented the free pass to the ranger in the kiosk, he rewarded us with a big, excited grin, saying “this is the first one of these we’ve gotten”.  We found a parking spot near a shelter with picnic tables, next to the beach, and set out on a long beach walk.  Warm!  Sunny!  Uncrowded!  Perfection!

The natural trail at St. George Island State Park

Miles and miles of white sand.

St. George Nature Trail Lot's of white sand at St. George State Park

We spent several hours in the park, then stopped at a little trailer in the small resort town of St. George Island to purchase a couple pounds of fresh grouper.  Dinner: grilled grouper and Thai Rice Salad, a new favorite of Odel’s.

Doug's Seafood, selling fresh shriimp, grouper and snapper. We awoke during the night to rain, and now our view couldn’t be more different.  The little palm tree is whipping in the wind, and white-capped swells are rushing towards the shore, the water a leaden gray, matching the clouds.  The sea gulls and pelicans have taken shelter, and there are no dolphins to be seen.  Quite exciting.

We’re leaving Ho Hum tomorrow, heading to a state park east of Tallahassee for one more night in Florida, then on to South Carolina – another new state for us!  We’re getting that map filled in, and having a great time doing it… :)

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Florida Paradise

Now, that’s what I talkin’ about!  We found our little slice of paradise in Florida.  The temperature is forecast to be around 72 today, with rain arriving tomorrow, so we’re off to a nearby island state park to enjoy the day.  It’ll on be on the blog tomorrow.  :)

Friday, March 19, 2010


Driving along Front Beach Road in Panama City Beach, Florida, you can’t help but think “Zoning officials and developers have made a bundle of money here”.  And “Hurray for Oregon and it’s publically owned beaches”. 

Looking towards PCB; the development starts at the edge of the state park.As we had heard before visiting the Florida panhandle, the white “sugar sand” beaches are gorgeous.  Even though the weather was cold and windblown while we were there, the white sand and variegated blue water made a beautiful combination.  When you could see it.

Along the beaches of Panama City Beach, except in those spots protected by the state parks (and perhaps a city or country park that we missed), the entire beachfront is lined with buildings.  I took this photo standing on a pier in the state park – the buildings begin at the edge of the park.

Some of the buildings are just two stories, most are higher, and many are giant, towering condominium complexes with their attendant multi-story parking garages.  What isn’t given over to homes and resorts is crammed with the services necessary for the visitors who flock here: restaurants, bars, nightclubs, water parks, t-shirt shops.  And, because we visited during Spring Break, cars, cars, cars and more cars.  The traffic was insane.

Doug and Odel hug each other for warmth in the cold wind. With guidance from JoAnn and Doug, we were able to find and enjoy those places where the coastline was in its more natural state, and we spent several hours walking along the beautiful beach during our time in the area.  We also – as always - spent several hours enjoying our food in the company of our friends.  Can you believe I don’t have any food photos for you?  True!  It was so nice to visit with JoAnn and Doug that I decided to leave the camera in my bag and simply be there, having a meal, visiting.  Relaxing.

But I will mention a new-to-me dish: Fried pickles!  We had some during our first dinner out in PCB (Panama City Beach) - sliced dill pickles, battered and fried.  Darn good. 

Our site in the tall pines at Pineglen RV park The next day, we did something very unusual for us – went to a buffet!  It is a favorite of Doug and JoAnn’s, and we can see why – the food was delicious, all southern specialties (another new-to-me food that I really liked was Speckled Butter Beans).  Fried pickles could be ordered on the side (extra charge), and I ordered them.  Even better than our first sampling: these had a thinner, crispier coating, with more spice.  A good batter and a crispy dill pickle – a great combination!

After three nights at pleasant Pineglen RV Park (this photo – click HERE to read our review and see more photos), yesterday was our travel day.  Rolling out of PCB, I commented to Odel that I wasn’t too impressed with Florida so far (after our massive traffic jam experience and the highly developed clutter of PCB).  That all changed as we continued east… but that is for the next blog!