A Fire in the Panhandle

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Barry got a business call yesterday morning as we were packing up to leave Henderson Beach State Park. The girls and I stepped outside to make sure we had everything packed up when we heard the roar of the waves from the Gulf. A storm was moving in so we quickly ran down to the beach to see how high the waves had become. We found them to be a only little bigger in height but massive in length. There was no telling where some of them began or ended. They also formed much farther out and came in much faster. They seemed to explode when they hit the shore. It was a beautiful morning so it was hard to imagine that a powerful storm capable of producing tornadoes was on its way. Eva was delighted to find the high-tide had spared her ‘sandman.’ She even put her cheek next to his and gave him a big hug goodbye!

Henderson Beach State Park is one of the best state parks we have ever visited. It reminded us very much of our favorite state park, Sleepy Hollow in Laingsburg, MI, because each site is very spacious and completely surrounded by thick woods and brush. The park is very clean, the bathrooms are new and modern and the trails are well maintained. The boardwalk to the beach is very long and winds almost in a zig-zag around the dunes in some places. It also has a lot of signs and plaques that educate about the plant and animal life in the area. Of course, the best part is the white sandy beach which is where we spent most of our stay. At the most, there might have been 20 people (mainly walkers) on the beach at any given time. One time we even had it all to ourselves for a good hour. Because of the Portuguese Man O’ War that littered the beaches, we weren’t able to swim but we had so much fun walking, collecting shells, building sand sculptures and just watching beautiful sunsets, that it didn’t matter. We hated leaving this beautiful park and hope to visit it again.

We drove along the Gulf for awhile and then turned up into Florida’s panhandle. I have always heard that the panhandle is ugly but that is far from true. It reminded us very much of our beautiful Michigan—except for the palm trees of course. We stopped at a camping world where we spent quite a bit of time talking to a salesman who is originally from our area of MI. When I went into the camper to check on the kitties, I saw that our sugar canister, a bottle of agave nectar and a glass bottle of syrup had fallen out of a top cupboard and onto the floor. Unbelievably, none of them had opened or broke. I breathed a big sigh of relief! By the time we left, it was raining. The weather alert we have on Barry’s phone kept warning us that we were still under a tornado watch and the dark clouds told us that the storm was about to hit. Fortunately, we had nothing but heavy rain. We got to the new park after dark. Our site was right up against a pond that has an alligator in it. I backed Barry in, keeping one eye on the trailer and one on the pond!

One thing about being on the road so much is that we have seen a lot of crazy drivers. The amount of people that try to outrun a semi-truck or a RV is really amazing. More than once, we’ve felt our hearts in our throats as we’ve watched someone nearly get wiped out because of their impatience.

Another thing that we have seen a lot of is gardens! It’s very strange for us to see vegetables growing in nicely plowed plots—IN JANUARY!!!

This morning the sun revealed that we were in a nice park. We were one of only a few campers but soon realized that we had no phone service whatsoever. Our internet has been a problem before, but we can usually find a spot where our phones work. We hated having to leave such a peaceful place but Barry relies heavily on his phone for our businesses. Fortunately, we found another very quiet park that has great phone and internet. Once again, we are backed up to a pond that is not home to one but a few “small” alligators. We are parked under a beautiful tree that is full of Spanish moss.

We haven’t been able to have a campfire since entering Arkansas last November. None of the places we stayed at in Arkansas or Texas allowed fires. The places in which we stayed in Louisiana and Alabama didn’t have fire pits at the individual sites. We were thrilled when we pulled into our new park and found a pit. (Henderson Beach State Park had pits also but we chose the beach over a fire.) Last night’s storm cooled the weather down enough that a fire was very welcome tonight.

While I made supper, Barry and the girls walked around the lake in search of alligators. They didn’t have any luck but the sky is so clear and bright tonight that it was perfect for a walk. This is such a beautiful place that we’ve decided to stay put at the park tomorrow.

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