Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Leaving Florida

We spent our last two weeks in Florida just outside the little town of Carrabelle at a small RV park called Ho Hum—as in just another day in paradise. Carrabelle is on the Florida panhandle, which is also known as The Forgotten Coast. Well, only part of the coast is forgotten—the part where we were. It was uncrowded and peaceful and if we really needed anything from one of the big stores like Bed, Bath and Beyond, PetsMart, a Macy's equivalent or some such thing, then an hour drive north to Tallahassee was really no big deal.

We saw a bit more of The Forgotten Coast—the part not so forgotten—as we drove West through the panhandle toward Alabama. Lots of Snowbirds flock to places like Panama City, Fort Walton Beach, Mexico Beach and Destin. On an RV forum I occasionally visit, Destin is mentioned as though 'its the place to go.' Although it would be fun for family vacations, we decided we wouldn't be interested in spending time there. There was too much traffic and too many people and I'm sure it would certainly be worse in summer. High rise apartment buildings or condos studded the beaches and the main drag had a succession of stores specializing in swimsuits, swim noodles, flip flops, floppy hats, beachwear, beach umbrellas, sand toys, sand chairs, sunglasses, sunscreen and anything else one could possibly think of for fun in the sun. We saw a few water parks and an arcade—drop the kids off with some money and mom and dad can get a peaceful respite while the kids have a blast.

The town on The Forgotten Coast that peaked our interest was Mexico Beach. It reminded us of the Outer Banks only more colorful. There were rows of beach houses in shades of yellow and coral and turquoise with sandy yards and footpaths leading to beach accesses or the crosswalks to get you there. There were plenty of restaurants, markets and other modern conveniences, but it didn't feel overpopulated or frantically busy like the others places.

At Ho Hum, we reserved a premium site facing the Gulf of Mexico and it was worth it. We were privileged to awake to high tides lapping at the beach or low tides with water birds poking their beaks into the sandy mud searching for breakfast; either blue skies or gray, rain or misty fog or pink-orange sunrises every single morning. We had a variety of seagulls to entertain us with their antics and pelicans to wow us with their wave-skimming prowess. We had some chilly weather and some pleasantly warm days. One day in particular was so perfect that Rob and I sat outside for so many hours that we both got a bit sunburned. There were a few lovely sunsets, too.

We took a day trip out to St. George Island. We toured the streets and found a place to park next to a beach access on the gulf side of the island. The sand is fine and soft, very white, and covered with hundreds of seashells. The day was beautiful but it was marred with sadness. On our way over the bridge, as we widely passed a young seagull wandering around on the roadway, it leapt into the air and flew directly into the front side panel of our car. I made the mistake of looking into the side mirror and saw it laying in the road, a wing flailing. I was devastated. I can't think about it. I'm still devastated. 

Shortly after we arrived in Carrabelle, Rob needed to go to the VA, so we spent most of one day in Tallahassee, which is the state capitol. It doesn't even have its own international airport. You have to fly into or out of Panama City or Jacksonville. Panama City being the closest at 98 miles. I expected Tallahassee to be a much bigger town. It has a small town feel, even though the census population in 2000 was 150,600 and, reportedly, nearly 187,000 in 2012.

While Rob waited to be seen at the VA, I drove through parts of Tallahassee to pick up a few things at PetsMart and go have my hair cut. I googled hair salon reviews for the Tallahassee area and decided on one of the better rated salons situated between PetsMart and the VA. I called them on our way there and, lo and behold, they had a stylist who could take me exactly when I needed it. So let me give a shout out to Angela Garcia at Hair on Earth who listened to me, advised me and then gave me a cut so perfect that I wish I could go back to see her every time I need a trim. 

Just as I got into the car and starting texting Rob to see what was his status, he called me to say he was ready to be picked up and that we'd be giving a Veteran a ride home or he'd have to wait all day for his wife. We were glad to do it.

After hearing about it, I did an online search for sellers of tupelo honey in the area and found one that was supposed to be in the little town of Sopchoppy. Rob and I took a drive there, which was about 45 minutes, and found only a house where we thought a business would be. Maybe they produced the stuff but they certainly didn't have a retail location. Sopchoppy was quite quaint so we stopped at the town's grocery where handwritten signs advertising tupelo honey decorated its windows along with classified ads. I figured a place like that would probably have the real deal and it did—raw, unfiltered, with homemade labels stuck to the jars. Tupelo honey is purported to be the finest honey there is, pleasantly sweet and warm with a smooth, almost creamy, finish—and it is and it does. I highly recommend it.

We are now at the Ameristar Casino RV Park in Vicksburg, Mississippi, for a two night stopover on our way to Hot Springs National Park. We were going to stay only one night, but Rob had two days of long drives and we were expecting lots of rain so it made sense to rest up. We spent the first night after leaving Florida in a parking lot at the Island View Casino in Gulfport, Mississippi. It was free. But we went over to the casino for dinner and then breakfast the following morning. Rob registered to gamble with the casino and they gave him a card to take to a kiosk where you insert the card and choose a digital curtain. Behind our curtain was $50 that was automatically loaded onto the card and meant to be used in the slot machines. Rob spent (lost) $20 at the Blackjack table, then played a slot machine where we walked away with about $32 after cashing the vouchers. All told, the night cost us $15. Such a deal.

Off we go to Hot Springs tomorrow. It is supposed to be cold, but that's okay. We'll just stow the flip flops for a while.

Here's to wishing the North and Northeast a hardy thaw and California, rain.

Louis enjoying the sun and smells.

Our first evening at Ho Hum.

I love the gulls.

Sanderlings coming in to land.

Beautiful Heron.

I followed the Heron with my camera and got this overexposed shot. Happy accidents do happen.

A Laughing Gull.

And the Moon, too.

Sea foam. Who says it's green?

Low tide.

This little guy postured in an attempt to look tough and menacing. He just ended up looking cute.

Our fishing pier.

I love the centrical rings this gull made.

A lone pelican fading into the sunset.

Vibrant sunset.

The sand at low tide after a stormy night.

Leave me alone! I'm trying to sleep.

The beach on St. George Island.

At the Bayside Seafood Restaurant. Mediocre food and service.

I LOVE seagulls!

The Sopchoppy grocery store.

An assortment of sand balls courtesy of invisible crabs.

Lined up for the sunset.

This guy was waiting to catch tortilla chips.


  1. Too bad your site at Ho Hum wasn't a little closer to the water!!! Sounds like a great little place. Are you stopping in New Orleans?

    1. We decided not to go to New Orleans on this trip. We will go through Texas and see some folks we know instead.

  2. This has been such a wonderful journey for the 2 of you and the" kitty's" seem to be enjoying as well. The pictures are just beautiful Linda ,you do such a great job. Travel safe.

  3. I love the pictures. The seagulls...mine...mine...mine. Lol. Sorry, have been watching too much of Finding Nemo. What an adventure.