Saturday, December 15, 2012

Florida Panhandle


Twin Lakes Resort is a quiet, woodsy little campground in the panhandle of Florida, just 10 miles NW of DeFuniak, Florida. Lots of oak and pine trees that are dropping lots of leaves and needles! The park host had to use his heavy duty leaf blower strapped on his back to clear off the debris from our campsite so we could at least see the green deck and the edge of the parking pad! After 2 days it was covered again! See our amaryllis pot sitting on the edge of the pad? The park is wedged between 2 pretty little lakes – both full of tree stumps and fish (according to the many pictures in the office!) Flocks of bluebirds bounce from the leafy floor to the multitude of branches above. Robins, woodpeckers, very vocal egrets and the resident trio of domestic gray geese also call this spot home! Not far from this spot is Ponce DeLeon Springs but we were the only ones on that gray overcast day who were there to admire this pretty little fresh water spring. The water was clear and you could see the roots as they dug down into the sand. So we set out to explore. DeFuniak because it is full of small quaint shops and historic old buildings that surround an almost perfectly round serene lake. Their Christmas parade did not come anywhere near the small town of Ida Michigan’s parade, but it had its share of fire trucks and police vehicles! Oh, yes - - and candy thrown all over! H and I kept the good chocolate and gave all the stale bubblegum and tormented tootsie rolls to the youngsters who sat next to us with their mom! One day we even found the beaches of the Gulf coast! Straight down Rt 331 was Blue Mountain - - never saw any blue mountains but the beaches were snow white and the crystal sand crunched under our feet! The only “mountain” part of the area was the high banks of reinforcements to protect the houses that sat up on their “cliffs”. On we went, pausing at several public beaches to see if they needed closer viewing. Thanks to H’s good eyes we stopped at one to watch a fella strap what looked like a huge fan or a small airboat prop to his back and like a 2 legged burro – carry it to the beach. Once he was hooked up to the awaiting parasail laying out straight on the beach, he walked into the wind and then flew up into the breezy bay air! Quite fascinating! On west we went then, to drive thru Topsail State Park/RESORT, and revisit Henderson Beach St Prk. Destin was our objective for the day to revisit the harbor and then watch the fondly remembered boat parade of our last trip thru this area! OK - - - here it is - - SPFB!! When I first retired from State Farm, we came to the panhandle then followed the Gulf road to Texas and got to see the boat parade while we were parked at beautiful Henderson Beach St Prk. The harbor has been built up and the lowly boardwalk is now a fancy walkway surrounded by shops and boutiques. We were there way to early in the day to wait till after dark and then drive 50/60 miles back to the campground. And if the area was now that commercial - - - could the parade be any better than the one in our memory??? I think not! We headed back “home” via yet another back road. H was napping in his recliner by the time the parade did start!

From DeFuniak it was back to the Gulf coast and points east. A stopover in Panama City Beach at a brightly colored tropical looking mall was in order to stretch or legs before we settled in at the Rustic Sands Campground in Mexico Beach, east of Panama City and Tyndal Air Force Base. Once we were settled in for the day, we headed back out to investigate the small town and to find the beach and fishing pier but the already gray sky got even darker. You could easily see the rain streaking down from the low hanging clouds out over the gulf. We found the pier and the downpour found us! 15 minutes later it had passed over and we gathered our sweatshirts around us and stepped over the puddles to go out on the long wet pier!

Had the weather been better we might have stayed another day but it was not to be, so back on Rt 98 to follow the coastline road thru Apalachicola. We were done with the Gulf for a while and the landscape had changed from beaches to deep forests. Over several rivers on thru many tall pinewoods we were heading for Old Town and a place to park for a day or so.