Monday, February 28, 2005

05-01 The Journey Begins

The Roving Report
Week 1
April 10-16

The journey begins. This is week one in a year long journey. I headed out from Sawmill Campground, just outside of Dade City. My winter in Fla was awesome, having spent time in the Keys, South Fla and finally a couple months at Sawmill. I met so many great people. Donny and Jimmy from Canada, Ron from Michigan, Ken a transplant from St Simon’s Island and so many more including all the staff.

My first stop is on St George Island in the Panhandle of Fla. I took Route 98 also known as hwy 19 along the western edge of Fla. You won’t see the gulf along this route until you hit Apalachicola area, then your right on the waters edge. Route 98 is an awesome 4 lane divided hwy with only a few stoplights in each small town along the way. And did I mention, no traffic. I stopped for lunch at a tiny town called Sopchoppy. Sitting outside next to a black man who lives in the area. We sat on old wooden boards over what was once a flower box in front of a weather worn abandoned building. He talked about the houses being built along the rivers flood planes and gulf of Mexico, remembering the many times these areas flooded, wondering if they were smart to build in these areas. This whole area is low land, much of the Apalachicola National Forest is bisected by numerous rivers, flood planes and swamp areas.

As I continued my journey to St George Island, I saw all the land and homes being built and the many for sale signs in the area. The forgotten coast as it’s called has been found just in the past couple of years and real-estate agents are making a killing selling $700k and $1,000,000 homes and property all along the forgotten coast. It still has the character of old Fla, but don’t wait too long or you may miss it.

St George Island State Park is on the eastern end of the island and goes on for 9 miles. The campground being at about mile marker 8 once you enter the park. Miles of shore line, white sugar sand dunes, bay pine forests spread out so that you can see through the forest. I have had a pecker of birds coming to visit my campsite all week long. Everything from blue jays, cardinals, speckled birds, black birds and migrating birds ready to head north for the summer.
Apalachicola is a true fishing village where you can have a fresh seafood meal, oysters being the largest product caught along with shrimp, bay scallops and fish. The town is an easy walk along the fishing docks, through town with it’s shops, dining and historic buildings. The John Gorrie State Museum is in town. Gorrie being the inventor of the first air-conditioner. Thank-you-John!
You won’t find a Wal-Mart anywhere in the area, no shopping centers or strip malls. From Mexico beach to Port St Joe and Apalachicola you will find unspoiled beaches, tons of fishing opportunities, forest and the real Florida.

Personal thoughts. Full timing. Since this is my first venture into full timing, having been in the camper now for 5 months, it really is like having my home with me where ever I go. I don’t feel all that strange being in new places because I have so many familiar things around me. My furniture, my dishes, by own bed, my “gas” fireplace to keep me warm on the patio in the evenings.
I thought it would be difficult with new roads, traffic and all, but staying on the back roads keeps life at a slower pace and much more enjoyable. I know I’ll hit bad traffic eventually, but I’ll take it with much more ease knowing I can get off the beaten path..
I’ve got the food shopping and cooking down pat and always have more than enough to eat without having to make trips to the grocery store. I’ve cut down on the sweets to keep the weight off and if it’s not in the camper, I don’t eat it. I’m enjoying my walks and biking wherever I am and consider it my “job” to take care of my health. I have a different rhythm each day, depending on what the weather and day brings. I may start off the day with a walk, or wait till mid afternoon or evening. If it’s sunny and warm, I’m at the beach. Today, it’s sunny and cool so I’m going to explore Apalachicola again and lunch in town. Life is more relaxed and what I like to call a more civilized pace now that I’m full-timing it.

Till my next report,

Find something to enjoy each day, be kind to someone, and bring a smile to your face and someone else’s.

I’d love to hear from you and what’s going on in your neck of the woods, so e-mail me if you get a chance.

Next Stop Pensacola Fl.

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