Photo: Carrabella Beach, on the Florida Panhandle, where we walked out to the point.
In the morning we drove west, towards Mexico Beach, stopping first for an early lunch at Carrabelle Beach. We went for a long walk on the beach, discovering that this was where the US Armed Forces practised for the storming of the beach at Normandy, which they did on D-Day in 1945, ending the Second World War.
Photo: We entered the panhandle from Talahassee, driving west to Alabama.
In our travels of the last few days we’ve passed by Ochlocknee, Apalachicola, Wewahitchka and Sopchoppy. Repeat those names ten times, fast please.
We set up at Rustic Sands RV Park at Mexico Beach about noon. About noon, because we had just crossed the time zone line and half of Mexico Beach is in EST while the other half is in MST. We rode our bikes all around the town, learning that properties, many of which are for sale, can be purchased for as little as $25,000.00. A three bedroom, two bath house on the water is offered at $100,000.00.
Now called The Forgotten Coast, this is as beautiful as any place we’ve seen in Florida but not as warm as the more southerly destinations. It’s been developed for a long time but seems to be more of a spring through fall destination because it’s not as hot and humid as the tropics.
Photo: Mexico Beach.
In the evening we did some laundry while visiting with some of the locals at the communal campfire, many of whom are workers stationed here at Mexico Beach while they construct a new power line. Walt, one of the workers, told us about a place where, at low tide, the trees’ roots are exposed to an extreme degree. We couldn’t find the spot in the morning, but we did get to see some of Cape San Blas, which runs perpendicular to the coast for twenty miles, from Port St. Joe to Mexico Beach.
We returned to camp for lunch before driving west to Panama City and Panama City Beach, which is a mega tourist area. Part of the draw is the thirty miles of white sand beach. The sand is called Sugar Sand because it’s so fine, and compact. We also discovered that the twenty miles that separates Mexico Beach from Panama City is occupied by Tyndall Air Force Base. It’s enormous and it explains the sighting of an F-18 fighter jet overhead yesterday.
Photo: We were told we’d see some of the wreckage left behind by Hurricane Katrina, but this? Actually it’s part of the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum at Panama City.
At sunset we went to Toucan’s Bar & Grille for a cocktail, about a ten minute walk from our park.
Photo: Toucan’s Bar & Grille at Mexico Beach.
Photo: Toucan’s, from the beach.
Photo: Janice waits for a drink at Toucan’s.
In the evening we were invited to play a card game called Screw Your Neighbour with about fifteen other people at the park’s community hall. Each person puts in three quarters and the last one in takes all the money. The game took almost an hour-and-a-half but the last one in was Janice, so she walked away with $11.25; the next couple of weeks’ laundry money.
After the game we sat around the community campfire until about 1:00am. Most of the people here are from Georgia and Missouri as well as one interesting and funny guy, Bernie, from Virginia, who had just sold his business and is motorcycling around the country.
We revisited Cape San Blas and Indian Point today. After quite a bit of exploring we still failed to find the elusive tide stranded trees. We did find the one-hundred-and-seven-year-old Indian Point Café though, which had come highly recommended for their gumbo. The reports were correct; the gumbo was excellent, as were the steamed shrimp.
Photo: The Indian Point Café where parons serve themselves draft beer, (they don’t even serve coffee). Patrons help themselves to beer, soda or bottled water from the glass fronted refrigerators). The waitress is the cook as well. One other guy stands shucking oysters and chatting to customers at the bar.
Photo: The beer taps at Indian Point Cafe.
We decided to stay an extra day here. We had planned to head for Alabama tomorrow, but the weather report is now calling for freezing rain.
That night we stayed at the campfire until 1:00am. Right near the end, all of a sudden, Janice felt like she was being stung on her feet by bees. By the time we were in bed they were extremely itchy and hot. In the morning her feet had what looked like pimples all over them. We Googled the symptoms and were fairly certain that she had been attacked by Fire Ants. The pharmacist confirmed it. The ants actually bite and inject a poisonous sack under the skin. The bites become extremely itchy but you’re not allowed to scratch because they can become easily infected, and scratching them drives the infection deeper. We got some cortisone cream, which helps slightly but still, they’re driving her crazy. Some people react to the bites the same as they would to wasp or hornet stings, with their throats closing and all. In North America, Fire Ants are normally only found in the Southeastern United States.
Photo: Janice’s feet after the fire ant bites.
We left Mexico Beach under sunny skies, once again heading into the storm. By the time we got to Pensacola and stopped for lunch, near the Florida/Alabama border, it had turned decidedly colder, a tide of dark clouds overcoming the sunshine. The forecast was for snow, freezing rain and even ice storms for the northern regions of the Deep South. Luckily for us we were below the real danger zone.
The sand at Pensacola is unbelievably white. It must certainly be the cause of the odd case of snow blindness on sunny days. I never got a picture because of the bitter cold and wind.
We crossed the border into Alabama…