Saturday, October 15, 2016

2016-33 Traveling the Panhandle of Florida


the Florida Panhandle beaches, ahhhh

Top Sail St Park, Continued

Ochlocknee River State Park

The Emerald Coast to the Forgotten Coast of Florida

Campground:  Ochlocknee River State Park.  30 amp elect/water.  $10 senior Fla rate.  Sandy sites with scrub oak shade trees and pines.

just a side of the road campsite, but it'll do for a few nights

A few more notes on Top Sail.  Because the beach is a fair distance from the campground and public parking lots, they have a free tram to take you and all your “beach stuff” down to the beach boardwalk.  I rode the bike I’d rented down the paved path to the beach last evening to watch the sunset and walk along the beach.  The Panhandle beaches are a pure white fine sand that squeaks under your feet as you walk to the water line.

sea oats

As I watched the sun setting, not the most spectacular of sunsets, I started up a nice conversation with a couple  as we leaned against the boardwalk railing.  They told me that the horse flies had been horrible all week long during the daytime at the beach.  They finally found some bug spray, deet that was %100  and it was about the only thing that kept the flies off of them.  My walk along the beach was fine in the early evening, even though there was barely a breeze to be had which of course would help to keep any flies away.

RV Camp Host info:

I talked to one of the rangers in the park and asked about “work camping, camp host jobs” and was told they are often in need of help.  So any of my RV friends looking for a premier location to do some camp host work, this might be the place for you.  Summers are always the greatest need for camp hosts but other times have a need as well.  Just go online to Florida campgrounds/volunteering to sign up. I did talk to a campground host and he told me they work 10 hour days, three days on/three days off.  Said it’s almost like having a full time job again.  His duties were to drive the tram hourly in the slow season and in between time he would use the blower to clean the pine needles off of the campsites.  Busy season the tram to the beach runs every half hour.

had a fun morning taking pictures of water lilies

my favorite shot

A Travel Note:  

As I was heading south, I had two routes to choose from.  I could have gone east through the Carolina's and Georgia along the Atlantic coast or head a bit south west and travel through Alabama into the Panhandle of Florida.  Of course that’s the route I chose.  At the time, there was no indication of hurricanes heading towards the U.S.

It really was a 50/50 chance I would take either route.  Since I’d never traveled through much of Alabama, I decided I’d head in that direction this time around.  In the last couple of days, the Tv stations have been showing all the destruction caused by hurricane Mathew.  Not necessarily wind damage, but mostly damage from rain as over 8 dams collapsed in North Carolina alone.  Parts of I-95 have been closed due to flooding, obviously a major north/south highway.  The flooding continues and would have made from some really difficult decisions on my part as to which direction to head trying to avoid all that mess.  If I could have even avoided any of it if I’d headed through the Carolinas and Georgia.

Call it luck, divine providence, what you will.  I’ve always felt to some extent guided along my path.  So what ever it is, thanks to the big guy in the sky and those above who are looking out for me and maybe guiding me in the right direction.


  • Did you know Florida is so big it has two time zones?
  • It usually takes me a minimum of three days to get through Florida.
  • Living in Central Florida, I have had breakfast and a sunrise on the east coast, driven across the state and had dinner and watched a sunset on the Gulf coast.
  • Many of Florida’s state parks have a historical, archaeological or geological aspect to explore.

Distance Traveled:  140 miles

I took hwy 98 all along the Gulf of Mexico to my next campsite in the Apalachicola area.  The closer I got to my destination the more I was able to enjoy the views of the Gulf of Mexico.  The small coastal town of Mexico beach is a particularly charming area, reminding of one of the quaint small beach side towns that used to be prevalent until they where destroyed by high rise condos and excessive building.  I stopped in the town of Apalachicola for lunch on my way to the next campsite.  It’s a nice historical town with lots of shops, restaurants and  old fashioned motels and hotels.  I think I’d like to stay closer to it the next time I’m traveling in Panhandle of Florida.  Even a great little museum on the invention of the air conditioner.

Apalachicola Florida

When I got to Ochlocknee River State Park, I once again was lucky to get the only campsite left for a three night stay.  I’ve been at this park a number of times in the past, it’s nothing fancy,  but anyone who enjoys canoeing and kayaking will enjoy the river, or a walk through the tall pines and saw palmettos.

White Squirrels

And of course the campground is famous for it’s white squirrels. Folklore says that they were introduced to the area in 1938 by the owners of the Breakaway Lodge, a hunting and fishing camp.  The Lodge owners first saw the white squirrels on a farm in Gadsden County.  They were given permission to capture two and took them back to the lodge as pets.  Mr Jones had built a 10’X10’ squirrel cage for them.  Mildred enjoyed hand feeding them peanuts.  One day the cage door was left open and they got out.  After a few days they came back to the safety and food in the cage.  Shortly after that, they had their first litter of white babies.  Mr Jones realized the exercise must have done them good since they had not had any offspring until their adventure out in the woods, so he built what is believed to be the first squirrel wheel for exercise.

The squirrels are not albino, their white fur is a natural mutation and they don’t have pink eyes.  Most have dark black eyes and they often have small patches of darker colored fur as well.

now that's tent camping


Water Lilies at Top Sail State Park

Top Sail State Park, Sunset shots

Ochlocknee River State Park 

Note:  This will be my last report for the travel season.  I'd like to thank all my readers for coming along on my journey and taking the time to drop me a line occasionally.  Knowing you are out there following my travels and sharing your thoughts with me makes my adventure that much more complete.

Once I arrive in St Cloud Florida for my winter stay, I'll send out a Post Script report on my new Rv Lot.  

Wishing you all the best of adventures, see you down the road......

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