Friday, May 11, 2012

3,498 Miles!

That's how far we drove during our Florida adventure.  How do I know?  I really should have recorded our odometer reading before leaving.  Now that is the ultimate low tech answer to the question!  Instead, I used our GPS tracks.  Here's the weird part: I budgeted 3,500 miles!  How did I do that?  I'm afraid I am a big time planner.  Just can't help it.  So I plotted out our journey before we left.  Added up all the route totals, then rounded the total up to 3,500.  Amazing!

Here's a map of where we went during out journey:

Home at Last!

We really did make it back to Virginia!  We arrived home on Monday evening after an 11.5 hour drive from Jacksonville.  A wreck on I-295 around Jacksonville forced us to take a detour that cost about 30 minutes.  Then we ran into another wreck on I-95 near South of the Border.  So guess what?  We visited Pedro!  The detour took us right through Pedro Land.  But no, we didn't stop.

I'm in the process of loading all my photos, thousands of them, to my imaging computer.  So I will be posting more pics once I have loaded them all and can begin to organize and edit them.  So hang on!  More to come.

Before we headed home we took some time to see some other sites.  You can see my photos of these areas here:

Final St. George Island pics:


Crooked River Lighthouse, Indian Mound and Monticello Courthouse:

St. Augustine:

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cape San Blas Lighthouse

Florida's long shoreline is protected by several historic lighthouses.  We drove out to Cape San Blas to see the lighthouse there.  The current Cape San Blas Lighthouse is the FOURTH lighthouse to be built there.  The first three fell victim to the encroaching sea and to hurricanes.  The current tower is built of iron.  It really is a narrow , tall hollow cylinder with a staircase inside.  The light is positioned in a chamber on top of the cylinder.  Iron beams support the cylinder and light.

Cape San Blas Lighthouse

One of Two Keeper's Quarters

Living Room Inside the Keeper's Quarters

You can see more of my photos of San Blas Lighthouse here:

Ulee's Gold

The movie Ulee's Gold was filmed on the water and in the forests of the lower Apalachicola River.  The Apalachicola Wildlife and Environmental Area (WEA) protects much of the floodplain forests.  After escaping from Tate's Hell, we took the back roads to the WEA to see the river from a tower and boardwalk.  It was a quiet, peaceful and beautiful place.

Boardwalk out to the Apalachicola River

Cyprus Lined River

Cool Tower

You can see more of my photos of the Apalachicola WEA here:

Tate's Hell

In 1875, Cebe Tate entered the swamp between Carabelle and Apalachicola with his dogs in search of a panther that had been killing his livestock.  When deep inside the swamp, Cebe became lost in the swamp for seven days and nights.  On the last stay, he stumbled into a clearing near Carabelle.  He lived long enough to mutter the words: "My name is Cebe Tate and I just came from Hell!"

Wednesday, Pam and I entered that same swamp now known as Tate's Hell State Forest in search of a stand of dwarf Cypress trees.  The trees are documented to be over 150 years old.  However, their height at maturity is only 15 feet.  We too became mostly lost.  That is because I followed our GPS!  It tried to take us on a "short cut."  Once we came to a dead end, I jumped out for a short recon.  A large field, covered in heavy undergrowth was between us and the dwarf Cypress.  Meanwhile the noseeums and yellow flies were eating me alive.  So we backtracked until we were back on the tried and true route.  We now understand why Cebe Tate called this place Hell!

Here we are back on the tried and true route through Tate's Hell.

Water Lilly in Bloom

Dwarf Cypress

Boardwalk through the treetops.

You can see more of my photos of Tate's Hell here:

St. George State Park Beaches & Trails

It was overcast Wednesday, so we took some time to explore the state park at the eastern tip of St. George Island.  It is a beautiful place with great beaches and white sand.  The interior features sand dunes, forests and ponds.

The Gulf of Mexico is Warm & Inviting

Beach Morning Glories Were Plentiful


One of two large beaches.  In addition, there are several access points without facilities.

Cypress grows well on the island and on the mainland.

Wooded Interior

Oysterman's Skiff.  These are still used today to harvest oysters from Apalachicola Bay.

You can see more photos of St. George Island State Park here:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Another Great Day on the Bay

Yesterday, it was too windy, and the surf too high to hit the beach.  So we chose to explore the State Park and tour the area.  I'll publish separate posts for each place we visited yesterday.

Here are some pics from around the house...


Note the man on the dock.  Our neighbor is checking his crab cages.  He does that a couple times a day.  He also fishes from the dock and seines for fish.

Osprey Returning to the Nest

We are blessed with a pair of Osprey who are nesting just fifty feet or so from our deck.  We believe they are incubating eggs.  One Osprey is always in the nest while the other hunts.  They often change places.  This one is bringing back breakfast.  Looks like bacon to me 8^)

Pam Watching the Sunset

Our rental house sits on Apalachicola Bay facing north.  The sun sets to our left and rises to our right.  While we have a clear shot of the setting sun, the rising sun is obscured by trees.

Bay Still as Glass

You can see more of my St. George Island photos here:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Went into Apalachicola yesterday to explore a little and to hit the local IGA.  We love IGA's by the way.  Nice little, but not too little grocery stores.  Love the town.  Great food.  Particularly the oysters!  Some shopping.  Lots of old homes.  Pretty streets.  Palm trees.  River town.

 Brown Pelican coming in for a landing.

A fisherman saw me panning my camera, taking photos of Pelicans diving for fish.  They do not do it very gracefully.  I was having trouble catching the moment of impact.  So he offered to help me and threw in one of the fish he caught.  The Pelican started his descent close to me.  I caught him watching me.

A Palm tree at Chapman Botanical Garden

The Chapman Botanical Garden is relatively new and smallish.  But quite nice for a short visit and some respite from a busy day.  BTW, we love the Palm trees in Florida.  They grow like weeds and are as common as Oaks and Pines in Virginia.

Fishermen Seining

On our travels through the area around Apalachicola, we have seen a lot of fishermen seining for fish in the Gulf of Mexico as well as in the swamps and bayous.

Orman House

The Orman house was built in 1838 by Thomas Orman.  It overlooks the Apalachicola River and is adjacent to the Chapman Botanical Garden.  Both properties are managed by the state as a single park.

The sunsets have been beautiful this week!

You can see more of my Apalachicola photos here:

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

St. George Island Light

While exploring the island yesterday afternoon, we visited the St. George Island Light.  In 2005, the lighthouse fell into the Gulf of Mexico.  In 2008, concerned citizens lead by the Apalachicola newspaper editor rebuilt the lighthouse at a protected location close to the town center.  They also built a keeper's house.  Both the lighthouse and the keeper's quarters were built using the original plans for the structures.

You can see more of my St. George Island photos here:

Scenes From Our Deck

After spending some time on the beach at St. George Island State Park, we came home for lunch followed by exploring the local shops.  I took these shots from our deck after returning in the late afternoon.

You can see more St. George Island photos here:

St. George Island State Park

We spent a few hours on the beach at St. George Island State Park.  The Park offers 9 miles of gorgeous white sand beaches.  It was warm, but not too hot with a nice breeze.  Not many people there.  Very nice facilities.  Learn more about it here:

You can see more of my St. George Island State Park photos here: