Florida’s Forgotten Coast

ieFrom St. Marks to Mexico Beach is a fairly undeveloped stretch of Florida coastline dubbed Florida’s Forgotten Coast, and the spot we chose for our Tallahassee stop.  Campgrounds in town weren’t highly rated, so we opted for a nice county park right outside St. Marks. Also directly across from the road to lovely St. Marks lighthouse.  I get a lighthouse fix and get some friends & family time.  Boy did we ever!

St. Marks Lighthouse

We were oh so close to the St. Marks Lighthouse and just had to see that first.  It was a Jackson-friendly place and gave us all some trail dog time.  There was an interpretive trail a few miles from the lighthouse and afforded us some fantastic views of the area.  Pat told me to take pictures of “this”.  I asked what “this” was and he just waved his arms outward.  So here you go, “this”….

It was a gorgeous day as you can tell and the pictures just don’t do it justice.  Cool breezes and not a cloud in the sky.  Pat caught sight of the lighthouse in the distance and this turned out to be my favorite shot of the day.

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St. Marks Lighthouse

This is a birdwatcher’s paradise and many were stopped on the roads glued to their binoculars.  Turns out we missed an eagle’s nest along the way, but I did manage to catch this fellow and someone else flying by at the instant I took the shot.

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Here’s the lighthouse up close and personal along with some levee trail views.

This area is also home to some very diverse plant life.  The Blue Flag Iris was in full bloom along with the Zephyr Lillies (see my Way Down Upon the Suwannee River post for a picture of that one).  And did you know, the sandy soil that drains quickly is perfect for cactus growth?  Supposedly almost like desert conditions.

Back at the campsite, we were treated to more birds.  There was a pair of cardinals right out the windshield.  So nice to be in such a natural setting and not a view of another motorhome in front of you.

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Trip to Apalach

I mentioned before that our purpose for stopping close to Tallahassee was for a visit with my sister, but also with my oldest friend Lisa and her husband Al.  Seriously, we have known each other since we were 3 years old.  She’s been a part of every major life event for me ever since.  Needless to say, the farewell tour had to include Lisa and Al.  A nod to their tremendous hospitality since they cooked us dinner, took me out for a great Mexican dinner (Pat was sick), as well as gave us the guided tour along the Forgotten Coast.

Lisa did the honors driving that day and pointing out the sights.  Our bonus stop on the way to Apalachicola, or Apalach if you’re a local, was at the World’s Smallest Police Station in Carrabelle, FL.

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Yep, it really is just an empty phone booth.  There is a bench next to it, I guess to wait for someone to come along?

We had a great lunch on the water and browsed the artsy shops in Apalachicola.  The brewery there was inviting, but we didn’t go in.  Did get a kick out of the sign on the door….DSC00047

Turns out my craft beer name is Raging Catfish Pale Ale.  Have some fun and figure yours out.

St. George Island Lighthouse

Of course I have my lighthouse book and I’m seeking stamps for all the ones we visit.  St. George Island had a great addition.  This lighthouse fell into the Gulf in 2005.  Hurricane Wilma was apparently one too many.  All the salvaged pieces were used to rebuild it in 2008.  We were able to climb up in this one and even ascend into the lantern room, an area usually closed off in most lighthouses.  We had a grand view of the Gulf from the top.

Pat climbs through the hatch to the lantern room,  me at the top, shrimp boat in the Gulf, and the bridge from the mainland to St. George Island.

And my favorite picture of the two of use from the trip so far, thanks to Lisa –

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Judy & Pat at St. George Lighthouse

We were also fortunate that a random stranger agreed to take a picture of the four of us.

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Pat, Judy, Lisa & Al – St. George Island

Lighthouse #2 – Same Day!

And my personal best for lighthouses – 2 in one day.  After St. George Island, we headed back to Carrabelle and the Crooked River Lighthouse.  This one was also unique.  The first climb up an iron and steel tower with no outer walls.  I originally thought the view from the top wasn’t very impressive, but really was surprised when I reviewed the pictures.

The lighthouse, me at the base,  and the surprising view

Panacea

The cure-all, elixir, magic bullet.  I just love the idea of a place called Panacea.  It conjures up all sorts of happy thoughts.  Panacea, Florida is in fact a tiny coastal town and one we wanted to see since my brother-in-law Jimmy is working on completing his own welding shop.  He provided a shop tour and talked electrical with Pat.  From there we went to the Gulf Specimen Aquarium.

Not a big place at all and it caters to the smaller aquatic critters and features hands on displays.  Right up my inner-child alley!  We had some fun before we even entered…

I loved being able to pick up the specimens.  All are found in the Gulf and quite an amazing variety.

Sea urchin – before eensies, leopard crab and a big ‘ole crab that I was afraid to pick up entirely.  If the two crabs hadn’t been fighting over a hermit crab, I think I would have gotten pinched.

We were told that the female sting ray was very friendly and liked attention.  She did indeed and went around the edge of the tank flipping water on you until you would give her a pet.

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She was so incredibly smoooooooth to the touch!

I have to say that the octopuses (yes, I looked up the plural word), were the most amazing.  I had no idea they were so intelligent.  They didn’t photograph well, but they were the best.  Apparently they collect things that catch their eye.  Yes, attracted to shiny and interesting toys.  They decorate their area and steal the choice things from each other.  They had one octopus that they trained to open a jar to get his meal.  One would even wave a tentacle to the handler, take a toy from her and look it over, then hand it back.  Truly amazing creatures AND they can chomp a blue crab in seconds.  Saw that firsthand.

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After a seafood lunch, we ended our Panacea tour at the welcome center overlooking Dickerson Bay.  Great time with seester Elaine and her husband Jimmy.

Brew Bus

Our last big outing was back with Lisa and Al aboard the Tallahassee Brew Bus.  Pat and I weren’t quite sure what to expect, but thought it sounded like great fun since I’m into trying local craft beers.  We road the bus with 14 other people and met a very nice young couple.  He – loved IPAs, she – not really a beer drinker.  Pat as the Bud Light drinker could relate to her.  Ha!

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It was a fun afternoon going to 3 local breweries, mainly because Lisa brought along gourmet snacks and we paced ourselves nicely.  I can’t say the same about some of the other guests.  I was a little afraid for my camera since one of the over-served practically grabbed the camera to take our picture.

Things We Planned & Things We Didn’t

So, really long post, but an action-packed week in the Tally area.  In addition to the seester and Lisa visits, we were able to catch up with new full-time RVing friends Rich & Kathie for a BBQ dinner.  We met them in Bushnell and discovered our crossing paths in the panhandle.  All good things we planned.

Then there was my opportunity to drive the first leg of our epic journey.  Pat caught some nasty virus and was sick on bug-out day.  Gave me a chance to get back in the Lucy saddle again.  Of course he promptly gave me the nasty so I had to take a sick day leaving Tallahassee.  Things we didn’t.

Stay tuned for the next epic journey installment from Falling Waters State Park.  See you on the way!

 

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6 thoughts on “Florida’s Forgotten Coast

  1. I love lighthouses and have several pictures in my house. I’ll have to visit these in Florida- the picture of you and Pat in front of the lighthouse is great!

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  2. Great post. We loved spending time with you and Pat. And we look forward to keeping track of your journey along the way.

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  3. Hi Judy and Pat. I loved the blog part about the craft beers. I also am not a beer drinker but I found out that I am an “impaired nose job truffel”?????? 😉

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