Friday, March 2, 2018

I Have Gone Around the Bend (of Florida, That Is)

My last sunrise at Biloxi

Last weekend, I blogged from Biloxi's back bay, where I stayed free for two nights at the Palace Casino, in a lot that was right on the water.  I was about to leave town, when my RVing friend Lelia mentioned on FaceBook that she was sorry she had missed me while I was in Biloxi.  Well, I was still there!  

Me and Lelia

So Lelia, her husband Rick, and I had a really great breakfast at IHOP.  I love finally meeting online friends in person!  Lelia and her husband, whom she calls The Ole Vet, stay at those great family camps on military bases.  It was fun to learn about their life today and about the exciting careers they both had.  

 My Camping World campsite backed up to the woods, and this squirrel and I watched each other

My next stop after Biloxi was Robertsdale, Alabama, where I stayed overnight free at Camping World.  This Camping World store even has free water and electric hookups and a free dump station!  Also, free coffee, cookies and popcorn inside.  

 Pamela and me

Even better, it turned out that my friend Pamela, whom I've known for probably 10 years or more online from playing a fun word game, lives only about 10 minutes away.  So we had a super breakfast and great conversation on Monday morning.  

 Kadi and me on the beach

I had hoped to see more of the Alabama coast, especially Gulf Shores, but by the time I ran a couple of quick errands after breakfast, I needed to start heading east because I was meeting up with another friend, Kadi.  I had snagged a one-night reservation at Fort Pickens Campground at the Gulf Islands National Seashore, and Kadi was available to come camping with me.  We had a great time catching up since we had last visited in person in the Southwest.  

 Very abbreviated information about Geronimo and the other 200 or so Apaches who were imprisoned at Fort Pickens

I stopped in to visit the museum at Fort Pickens after Kadi and I left the campground.  I knew I'd heard the name of the fort before, but it wasn't until I saw the museum displays that I realized where.  Fort Pickens is where the United States Army imprisoned Geronimo and about 200 other Apaches who had evaded being put on reservations.  It is really hard to imagine what life must have been like for these desert dwelling people, separated from family, eating what would have been very strange food to them, and living in the confines of a prison.  I don't imagine it was much consolation to them that they were at the beach.

 Andy never made any funny faces while eating oysters!  I kept waiting, but it didn't happen.

 Andy and me at the beach

From Fort Pickens, I headed up into Pensacola to pick up my nephew Andy from college.  We had a splendid afternoon.  We drove back down to the beach and ate lunch at Peg Leg Pete's, a very fun seafood restaurant.  The lunches were huge, but we managed to also tuck in an appetizer of a few oysters on the half shell and share a piece of Key lime pie for dessert.  

My lovely "campsite" at Panama Beach City

After I dropped Andy back at school, I headed east once more on the Coastal Highway (U.S. 98) and spent a restful free night staying at the Walmart in Panama Beach City.  There were Walmarts closer to Pensacola where I could've stayed, but those towns seemed very busy, so I waited until I got to a smaller, more relaxed town.  It was quiet overnight, and the next morning I got a lot of things done before leaving--paying bills, getting my check register up to date, etc.

 Sonja relaxing at Wright Lake

After visiting with friends and family along the Coast, I decided I'd take some quiet time to myself up in the Apalachicola National Forest.  I got reservations for Wright Lake Campground, near Sumatra, Florida.  After two weeks on the road, it was nice to stay in one place for a couple of nights.  And, in some ways, it was even nicer that I had no phone or Internet.  I finished one novel, completely read a second novel, played my flute, and worked on continuing to "debrownify" the interior of my RV, Brownie.

Painting and collaging Brownie's interior

When I left Wright Lake this morning, I really didn't know where I'd head next, so I just continued driving Highway 98 on a portion of the road that is called the Big Bend Scenic Highway.  This is a different Big Bend than the one I'm familiar with in Texas.  This is the Big Bend in the state of Florida, where the Panhandle and the rest of the state meet.   

 My Horseshoe Bay view

Personally, I think the Big Bend Scenic Highway would be far more scenic if it stuck to the Coast instead of going through forest.  But I was able to find the Coast again.  I took a right at Old Town, Florida, and ended up at Horseshoe Bay, where Dixie County has a nice tiny campground.  Arriving early today, a Friday afternoon, I was able to snag a site right on the water.  And I will stay the weekend.   

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