Driving through Tyndall AFB Roger wanted to look for some new sneakers at the Exchange. We were successful and headed on west. The traffic around Panama City was as bad as we had been warned. My thought on that area is that someone took the worst of Cocoa Beach vicinity and Orlando and made things 20% worse. Doesn’t interest me at all and the traffic was horrible. I can’t imagine what rush hour is like. The St Andrews SP is a very beachy place with lots of sand dunes. Roger’s SP pass is coming in handy as we make our way along this Forgotten Coast. Roger was stationed at Tyndall in the 60s and is amazed at the development and environmental destruction.
We arrived at the Lane’s house exactly at 5:00 which surprised us all. Bill and Carolyn are very gracious hosts, allowing us to stay in their guest cottage and providing a wonderful filet mignon dinner with lots of genial conversation. Their house is lovely. It made me think of the houses I see on TV that you find in Alaska and seemed out of character for FL but at the same time I think that gives it more character and speaks to their individuality.
7 June Sunday - The first stop today was Grayton Beach SP where we had a pleasant nature walk that took us through several habitats. Towhees gave us an opportunity to study them and we also spotted a flycatcher, a finch some cardinals and mockingbirds. This would be the most birds we saw at any of the parks. They disappeared as the day warmed. At Deer Lakes SP there is a long boardwalk through the dunes that ends at the a beautiful sight of the aqua blue waters. I really got a feel of the Caribbean. It is a shame to look past the park boundaries and see the destruction of the dunes through development. To get these parks requires traversing 30A. What a mess. It is over developed and full of cars and people. You can have it.
Camp Helen SP has a nice nature trail and we saw lots of tiny frogs and skinks and I heard woodpeckers but never saw them. While looking for a place for lunch we tooled through Grayton Beach City. It looks like an interesting place but there were too many people and no parking so we moved on. Found Hurricanes Oyster Bar and split a salad and chilichonga. The last park was Eden Garden which has a decent nature trail but it had gotten so hot that the yellow flies were out and I was too tired to keep going. So, we headed to Publix and then back for a rest before going to dinner at the Bay with Bill and Carolynn. Life is good.
8 June Monday - Had lunch with Roger's sister LeAnna and her two boys along with some of their family.
9 June Tues - We spent three days in Santa Rosa Beach with Roger's Boone HS classmate Bill Lane and wife Carolyn. We enjoyed their wonderful hospitality and great conversation and are blessed and grateful to have such gracious friends. There are a lot of State Parks in the area and we used Roger's life pass exploring them. It is great that we have the state parks otherwise real Florida would be totally annihilated to make room for human habitation.
On our way to Vicksburg today we drove part of the Natchez trace.